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rocking stone, now, laying strong hand on a friendly root, with a thousand feet beneath, swings himself round this dangerous corner, now, with arms stretched out, and with more than a lover's eagerness, embraces the rock, and now steps lightly along the fallen tree that bridges the fearful chasm, and so, going before, shows me where to turn, and what to hold by, I regard—and on looking back at that tremendous path, and horrible abyss — regard with gratitude as my saviour. But for him, I had never achieved the pasSage; my body had been mangled, and my unburied bones left to bleach in the depths of that dark ravine.
And in a corresponding way, according to some, our Lord redeemed us. He set us such an example of every virtue, of patient endurance, of living, suffering, dying, that we also, by closely following his footsteps, may reach the kingdom of heaven. Alas for our safety farewell to the hope of heaven, a last farewell, if it turn on that. What a delusion | God knows, if it had not been for the everlasting arms that caught us when falling, and often raised us when fallen, and for the overflowing love that has pardoned a thousand and a thousand sins, I, and you, and all, had perished long ere now. We had never stopped falling, till, like a stone that, rolling down the hill-side and bounding from crag to crag, at length, with a sullen Sound, plunges into the lake, we had been lost in hell. Follow his example ! Tread his footsteps' Live as he lived Walk as he walked | Who is sufficient for these things? No woman ever bore such a son as Mary's ; for in him a clean thing came out of an unclean. Death has darkened many a house and church and land, but never extinguished such a light as was quenched in blood on Calvary; it was as if he had
raised his arm and plucked, not a star, but the sun from heaven. This earth was never trodden by such feet as walked the Sea of Galilee, and were nailed upon the cross. For more 'lan thirty years they trod earth's foulest paths, and, when heaven received him back, had neither spot nor stain. And as he lay dead three days in a grave, which, respecting its prisoner, did not dare to mar his face, or touch him with its corrupting finger, so in a world that has been the grave of virtue and holiness and piety, he passed three-andthirty years amid corruption uncorrupted, a friend to harlots, a guest of publicans, associated with sinners, yet sinless, holy, harmless, undefiled—like oil among water, separate from sinners. Again, I ask, who is sufficient for these things? What man liveth and sinneth not ? Who has not often to cry—“Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not ; and, when once down, what stops him from going straight down to hell, but the promise, which faith catches and holds and hangs by, “I will heal their backslidings, and love them freely?” We should certainly attempt always to follow Jesus, to walk as he walked, to speak as he spake, to think as he thought, and to mould our whole conduct and conversation on the pattern that he hath left us; yet our best attempts will leave us more and more convinced that our only hope for redemption, salvation, forgiveness, lies in the mercy of the Father and the merits of the Son. Pray for and make sure of an interest in these, for even after we have been made new creatures in Jesus Christ, the most that we can do—nor that without the aids of the Holy Spirit—is to creep along the path which the Saviour walked, and leave the mark of our knees where he left the prints of his feet.
3. Christ has redeemed us by suffering in our room and stead. Our ransom was his life, the price of our redemption his blood.
“Without shedding of lood is no remission;” “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” This is the grand truth, the central doctrine, the culminating point of the Gospel. It rises lofty above all others. And, as some Alpine summit, crowned with Snows and piercing the blue skies, rises up bright and clear, to catch the rays of the morning sun, and be descried from a far long distance, so the doctrine which cheers us, caught the eyes and revived the hearts of Adam and Eve amid the withered bowers of Eden. The promised seed was to bruise the serpent's head, and that serpent was to bite His heel. There was to be salvation, but salvation through suffering ; and, as could only be, salvation through the suffering of a substitute. It was as a substitute for sinners that Jesus was daily set forth in the sacrifices of the Jewish altar; and to one of these, as very graphically exhibiting the connection between bloodshed and sin forgiven, let me request your attention.
The offering I refer to was made on the greatest of all ceremonial occasions—the day of atonement. Two young goats, kids of the goats, are selected from the flock, and presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle. These young, innocent, spotless creatures, standing there in the sight of the silent solemn multitude, are a double type of Jesus, when, in the councils of eternity, he presented himself before Jehovah, saying, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.” The lot is cast— one for the Lord, the other for the scapegoat—to determine which shall represent our Saviour in the act of his death, and which in the fruit of his death, namely, the bearing away of the sins of the people. The first falls as a sin offering. The High Priest, having caught his flowing blood in a golden bowl, enters within the veil, and, alone, sprinkles it upon and before the mercy-seat. Coming forth, he goes up to the living goat; standing over it, he lays his hands upon its head; and, amid solemn silence, confesses over the dumb creature all the iniquities, and transgressions, and sins of the children of Israel. The prayer finished, that goat bears on its devoted head the guilt of the people as it has been ceremonially transferred from them to it by these blood-stained hands, and that holy prayer. And now, observe the act which foreshadowed how Jesus, by taking our sins upon him, bore them all away. The congregation opens, the vast crowd divides, forming a lane that stretches away right from the tabernacle into the boundless desert. While every lip is sealed, and every eye intent upon the ceremony, a man steps forth—a “fit” man ; and, taking hold of the victim, he leads it on and away through the parted crowd. All eyes follow them. Amid the haze of the burning sands and distant horizon, their forms grow less and less, and at length vanish from the sight. He and that goat are now alone. They travel on and further on, till, removed beyond the reach of any human eye, far off in the distant wilderness, nor man nor house in sight, he casts loose the sin-laden creature. And when, after the lapse of hours, the people descry a speck in the extreme distance, which draws nearer and nearer, until, in a solitary man who approaches the camp, they recognise the fit man who had led away the sin-laden victim, the people see, and we in figure also see, how our Lord, when he was made an offering for sin, took the load of our guilt upon him—bearing it away, as it were, to a land that was not known. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Let faith seize the reality of which that ceremony was the shadow. Behold Christ suffering for his people, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God! He bore our sins away on his head in that thorny crown, and on his shoulder in that heavy cross; and, most of all, amid that awful darkness, when he was indeed alone, and, cast off by God as well as man, his heart broke in that awful cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” Relieved thus from his load of guilt, knowing that all his sins were then atoned for, and, in the witness of God's Spirit with his own, possessing evidence that they are now forgiven, how happy should the believer bel Envying no man's state, and coveting no man's goods, with God's peace in our heart and heaven in our eye, oh, may it be ours to say from Sweet experience, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”