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him;" and this is stated in another place in this wise: "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee."* But how is this to be done? I reply, through the all-sufficient mediation of the Lord Jesus. Are any of you "agreed" with the Divine Being who was once your "adversary?" The apostle shows us how it was accomplished. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."+ This is the principle, and when any are gathered to his feet in humility and love, we have a display of its efficacy. Thus it follows in the same passage: “And you that were some time alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight." A similar statement is given in an epistle addressed to another church, composed of persons who had been gross idolators before their conversion to the christian faith. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." The pious Jew obtained pardon and peace with God through the immolation of victims, whose death on the altar of sacrifice was a typical representation of the decease of Him who should "redeem his people from all iniquity;" and by virtue of his obedience to death on the cross, we are to obtain the same blessings. As the man who is "without God" is distant from him in heart and life, so when this happy agreement is effected, he is conformed in heart and life unto him. The mediatorial and sacrificial oblation of the dear Redeemer on the tree, laid the foundation for the sinner's restoration: and it is by the influence of this
*Job xxii. 21.
↑ Col. i. 19, 20.
Ephes. ii. 13.
divine transaction, received into the heart, that the enmity is slain. However this doctrine of Christ crucified might be a stumbling-block to the malignant mind of a Jew, or appear as foolishness to the Greeks, who were the fashionable philosophers of the day,—yet to them that are called, under all circumstances, it is "Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God."* There is no fellowship to be obtained with the Majesty of heaven on any other ground. The merit of what many call their good actions, their repentance, their prayers, and their deeds of charity, will all pass for nothing in the matter of acceptance with Him. If you are really concerned to enjoy the divine favour, and to embrace the suspension of justice "whiles in the way," you must cast yourselves entirely upon the infinite merits of the Redeemer's obedience and sufferings, as the only foundation of obtaining peace. The King of Heaven does not receive those who have been rebels against him into his kingdom, but through this medium. He would compromise his dignity, and stain his moral perfections, if he were. "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."+ In a word, therefore, the reconciliation so compassionately urged on our attention and for our pursuit, consists in a return to the footstool of the Father of all mercies, with repentance of heart, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; there to embrace the provided remedy, and accept the proffered salvation.
Secondly. This is to be done without delay. There is no time to be lost; the direction is, to "agree with thine adversary quickly." How solemn and important is this counsel! We have not a moment to call our own; our
“breath is in our nostrils," and the next respiration might be the last. Every exhortation to return to God is of this description. Escape for thy life: look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain: escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."* When our Saviour came to the place where Zaccheus was, and looked up and saw him, He said, "Zaccheus, make haste, and come down." And thus the apostle speaks, + "Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.”+ The injunction is, " To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."§ And what are the examples of Scripture?" I made haste, and delayed not, to keep thy commandments," saith the Psalmist. The prodigal rose to return to his Father as soon as he had come to the resolution. The man-slayer fled with all speed to the city of refuge, lest he should be overtaken by the avenger of blood. And the shepherds came "with haste" to welcome the new-born Saviour in the city of David. And is there not wisdom in doing that work "quickly" which must be done if ever we are saved, and which we may not be able to do the very next hour? Ah, how unwise are men in the concerns of eternity! The neglect of the present time has been the everlasting ruin of thousands. Cæsar, the emperor of Rome, had a letter put into his hand by a friend, the night before he was slain, advising him not to go to the senate house on the next day, as a conspiracy was formed against him. He threw aside the letter with the seal unbroken, saying, "To-morrow is a new day,”||— but the postponement cost him his life.
Now this great work is to be done "whiles we are in with him." The reference seems to be, either to the two parties on the road, before they enter the court of
Gen. xix. 17.
+ Luke xix. 5.
2 Cor. vi. 2.
justice, or during the pending of the cause, ere the sentence is pronounced. The figure is replete with solemn instruction. It may be considered as reminding us, that the process of judgment is on the very point of commencing, if it be not begun already. Yet, however, " you are in the way with him." While ye live this is true,-after death all is over. You are particularly in the way with him in the use of ordinances, and in the house of prayer. Here He calls to you to "turn from your evil ways and live.” The Lord Jesus Christ also addresses you by his sufferings and his grace, saying, "Yet there is room." "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst, Come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."* In sickness, also, there is some opportunity of seeking his mercy. But how generally this is abused; because he can save at the eleventh hour, thousands presume that he will do so. The very presumption seems to furnish an awful reason for his refusal. And while I know that "the Holy One of Israel is not limited," or his "spirit straitened," yet there is cause for apprehension as to the avail of death-bed repentance. In a few cases it may be sincere and genuine, but in a very large proportion it is extremely doubtful. And who knows that he shall not be cut off" with a stroke."
Permit me, therefore, my respected hearers, to address a word of affectionate expostulation to you, before I dismiss this particular of the text. Young man, thou art now in the way with him; art thou" willing to consecrate thy service unto the Lord," and embrace the present opportunity? Remember, many of thy companions and neighbours have "died in their full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet."+ And art thou sure of attaining to
hoary hairs? Listen, I beseech thee, to the instruction of wisdom; "Forsake the foolish and live." Oh, crucify not the Saviour afresh, by unbelief, indecision, and disregard of his voice. Away with all the lying vanities of the world; they are beneath thy pursuit. If God be thy friend, thou hast every thing in Him. Young woman, you too, are now in the way of peace with Him: will you, therefore, cry from this time, "My Father, thou shalt be the guide of my youth?" Oh, let me recommend to you this reconciliation with God! You are not too young to know Him, or to be accepted by Him: you are not too young to approach his altar, and devote yourselves to Him. He says to you, "I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me."+ What do you say to this?
Will you not look to the
give Him your affections, and repose on his salvation. This is the path of pleasantness-the only way of peace. But there are some aged hearers of the gospel present, Do I express an unnecessary concern when I say, that I fear some of you have not yet sought this reconciliation which the Saviour enjoins? Amazing grace that has borne with you so long! Much longer it will not-it cannot, according to the course of nature. Still, however, you are in the way, for He can save at the eleventh hour. But the question will soon be decided; yes, for ever decided! Two or three more trembling steps, and you will step into the grave! A few more days, and all earthly concerns will close on you for ever! Will you, I again enquire, therefore, apply to Him without delay, who is "mighty to save?" Oh! be entreated to linger no longer, for "behold the Judge standeth at the door;"+ and prepared, or unprepared-agreed, or at enmity with
Jer. iii. 4.
+ Prov. viii. 17.
James v. 9.