« PreviousContinue »
been incurred by sin. It is “the second death,” the. always dying, but never dead, which gives its sting to temporal ill, and shews the penalty which man incurred, dreadful in its infliction, and unavoidable by all human
It is this eternal ruin of soul and body in hell, from which the love of God in Christ Jesus, our great propitiation, hath set us free. “ Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“ Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”
“God commended His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
These are the proofs of God's love to His fallen and undeserving creatures; and they assure us, with multiplied evidence, in every part of His gracious dealings in providence and grace, that “ being now, justified by His blood,” our sins atoned for, and our own imperfect obedience supplied by the perfect obedience of our Redeemer, “we shall be saved frorn wrath, through Him.'
If these be the express, the repeated assurances of God Himself, well may we ask, in deep astonishment at the strange history of mankind, whence can it be that so large a
portion of persons, professing to believe these things, appear so little interested in them as applicable to themselves ? How is it that the Saviour'sown assurance reinains ever fulfilling before our eyes, when He shewed His first hearers, that as there were but two roads to the future world, so they were dreadfully disproportioned in the numbers travelling in each : One, a broad road leading to destruction, and many going in thereat; the other, a strait and narrow path, leading to life, but of which He left the awful memorial, that “ few there be that find it."
When we consider that this was the very same Jesus, man's gracious Saviour, who also said, “Seek and ye shall find,” we may be soon brought to see why the road to life is thinly scattered with its travellers, while the other road remains, as it ever hath been, thickly thronged.
This strait and narrow road to life is to be found by seeking, and the seekers are few; the travellers, therefore, on the road to salva. tion cannot, comparatively speaking, be many, There must then, be some sad hindrance to the seeking of this unspeakable gift, this happy road which leads and soon ends in its direction to life; and we easily discover the cause which seems to keep so many from offered happiness There is a passage in Holy Scripture which at once brings this matter plainly before us: In the cheering consolations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are most expressly told by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Roman Christians, that “There is, therefore, now, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus; but he also shews who those are, who only can be said to be thus united to their Redeemer, and so saved from destruction: it is those “ who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit;"* Who, through that Holy One, are brought to the happy number of those, jf whom it is also said, that “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.”+ This is the manifest cause of the crowded travellers in the broad road; of the few and scattered pilgrims in the road which leads to life. It is this entire change of heart and manner of life from what natural corruption and the temptations of the world are ever pressing upon us all, which makes the weightier matters of the soul of small account, and gives the great hindrance to growth in grace here, and to any real desire for glory hereafter.
It is thisstumbling block and rock of offence, which makes the cross of a suffering Redeemer “ foolishness," in the estimate of the unrenewed and carnal heart, and calls down the * Rom. viii. 1.
+ 2 Cor. v, 17.
wonder of every thoughtful spirit, that man, redeemed by a Saviour's sufferings, will not take unto himself the mercies of a Saviour's love.
Thus have our thoughts been led to the general reflection, arising from the solemnities of this most sacred subject before us; and we are all ready at once to acknowledge, in the case of some wandering fellow creature, or professed infidel, that it were madness to
neglect so great salvation.” Perhaps this, of some similar expression of wonder at man's carelessness and insensibility of soul, hath been oftentimes issuing from the tongue of every one at all open to the conviction of religious truth. But we must never forget, as ever we hope for individual pardon, that salvation is an individual thing; that the terms of the Christian covenant belong to each of us; and that when the great day of inquiry shall come, we must each for ourselves give account of our own belief, our own acceptance, or our own refusal of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. It is the forgetfulness of this manifest truth, in the daily conduct of thought, word, and deed, which makes the case of him, who wonders at others' hardness of heart, the case of thousands; and shews assembled Christians, sitting in judgment upon the blindness and folly of others, that they too, in spiritual errors “are wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked."* To every one is the cross of the dying Jesus indi. vidually preached; by every one must that message from God be individually accepted and applied. If it be not so received, the acknowledged folly, which we justly ascribe to others, will return in its eternal consequences, and with tenfold misery upon ourselves : for, under the sentence of our unerring Judge, it is already foretold in Holy Writ, that “by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
Then let not the knowledge of a Redeemer's dying pains, endured, all of them, for our peace and pardon, be henceforth forgotten as knowledge most especially for ourselves. The message is from heaven, and is written for us
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' “ If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
These are the offers, these are the commands for every one. There is here no distinction in the various circumstances which a short abode upon earth requires; for whether we be high or low, rich or poor, we are all equally called upon to go to Christ here, that we may be for ever with Him hereafter. Let all of us, then, unite in the firm accep
Rev. iii. 17.