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strongly, even in the means of reconciliation which he hath provided. If your son had offended you, left your house, done all that he could to grieve and afflict you, thrown himself into vile company, made himself vile, you might yet, out of natural affection, say, “What would I give to be reconciled to him consistently with my duty!” Now, what has God given to be reconciled to us miserable sinners? He has given his own Son to bear the punishment of our sins, to pay the debt which we owed. And his own dear Son consented, in infinite love to a fallen world, to bear that punishment. Do not think that reconciliation with God was bought at an easy rate. This world was easily made by the Almighty power of God; we hear of nothing but God said, and immediately
But the world was not so easily redeemed. When man had sinned away his happiness, his heaven, sinned away the favour and image of God, it cost more to redeem his soul. Sin must be punished, and punished in the human nature. Oh, then, must not human nature, must not the whole human race, sink under the punishment? Who can bear the wrath of God and live? There was but one who could ; He, perfect God and perfect man, Christ Jesus. He bore the wrath of God and died under it; but he revived and rose again, and he is alive for evermore. He hath made him, saith my text, to be sin for us who knew no sin. This is the great mystery of godliness: Christ, the perfect spotless Lamb of God, was accounted as a sinner before God, because of our sins; our sins were laid upon his head; his soul was troubled on account of them; and, as if he had been really and indeed a sinner, God withdrew the light of his countenance from him, and he uttered that bitter cry upon the cross, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Now, because this is the great fundamental point of the Gospel, because this is the sinner's only comfort in life, or stay and support in death, I shall mention to you one or two other passages, besides my text, which are very full to the purpose. In Isaiah liii. the prophet thus speaks of Christ, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. For the transgressions of my people was he smitten. He bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. And John the Baptist's testimony of him was, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. St. Peter says, Who his ownself bare our sins in his own body on the tree; and again, Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. Among the Jews, when any one had committed a sin through ignorance, and the sin afterwards came to his knowledge, he was to bring a kid or a lamb, as a sin-offering, and to slay it, and the priest was to take of the blood of the animal so killed, and present it before the Lord. Thus an atonement was made for him, and his sin of ignorance was forgiven him,* and he was,--so far as outward things went, as to the being received again into the congregation and sharing the outward privileges of the people of God,-so far as these things went, I say, he was reconciled to God. Now, in this ceremony, when the offender laid his hands on the head of the beast, he did, as it were, confess his own sins, and transfer them, put them off from himself, and on to the beast. And when he slew the beast, he confessed that he was worthy of that death, to which the justice of God dooms all sinners, but hoped that the death of that creature might be received by the mercy of God instead of his own. But, my brethren, it was not possible for the blood of bulls or of goats to take away sin ; these sacrifices, these sin-offerings, all pointed forward to Christ, the great sacrifice for sin. Upon His head the sinner by faith puts his hands, humbly confesses them, and grieves over them; they are then imputed to Christ, and the sinner is reconciled to God. Thus is Christ made to be sin for us. And then, when God forgives sin, he forgets it also, blots it out, casts it behind his back, casts it into the depths of the sea; the sinner is accepted in Christ, is no longer accounted a sinner, yea, is accounted righteous in the righteousness of Christ. That we might be made the righteousness of God in him,t i. e. that we might have all that perfect righteousness which Christ wrought out imputed to us, and appear before God clothed in that white and spotless robe.
Now then, my friends, this is the way of reconcilement which God himself has provided ; a reconciliation at the expense of the life and death, the sufferings and bitter agonies, of his own dear Son. See, then, if God does not wish the salvation of sinners. You pay dearly for that you prize much ; see how dearly God paid for reconciliation with you. Oh, the love, the infinite mercies of God! and, oh, the ungrateful returns that we make! And then remember, that this love of God was free and unsought for on our part. Had we been eager for reconciliation with God, had we turned to him, and sought it with bitter cries and tears, then it had been a great thing, an infinite blessing, if God had heard and granted our request. But it was not for poor, humble suppliants that God provided this mercy, there were none such to provide it for,-it was for proud enemies. Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.* But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us.t When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. I Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.Ş And now, having thus reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, he commits the ministry of reconciliation to us his ministers. Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ. It is, therefore, as an ambassador for Christ, it is as though God did beseech you by me, it is in Christ's stead, that I stand here to-day. Think, I entreat you, what the words mean; God beseeching you, praying you to have mercy upon your own souls. In his name, then, I beseech you: but how can I find words to execute my office ?—the ambassador, the messenger of Christ to the souls, for whom he bled and died. What arguments shall I use with you? I beseech you, for Christ's sake. The salvation of your souls was the very reward sét before him, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame. The salvation of your souls was that for which he consented to be so humbled, to be tempted of the devil, mocked of men, set at nought, despised, rejected, spit upon, buffeted, nailed to the cross, numbered with transgressors, forsaken of his God, laid in the dust of death. Let him not lose his reward, let him see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied; let him have the delight this day of bringing home another lost sheep to his fold, rejoicing. Nay, my friends, let there be joy in heaven over you this day; let the angels carry up to their bright abodes the news of many a repenting sinner; let God himself, whose eyes are now upon us, oh, let him behold with complacency rebels overcome with love this day.-I beseech you, for my own sake: let me have the high honour of rescuing some this day from destruction, of presenting to my Master some souls that he died to save. Let me not return, saying, Lord, who hath
* Romans v. 7.
t Romans v. 8.