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u Jesus so loved us, that he gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour."
6 Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. But God commended his love toward us, in that while we were sinners Christ died for us."
These two parts of redemption perfectly coincide. The remission of guilt without renovation of heart, would be no real benefit, because if the power of sin remained in full operation, guilt and condemnation would immediately return. The pardon is necessarily suspended on our repentance of sin and deliverance from its power; for otherwise pardon would cease to be pardon. It would still leave us obnoxious to eternal misery.
Let us admire that grace which brings salvation in such a wise and wonderful manner. It teaches us to live soberly, righteously and piously, and thus to look for the blessed hope of salvation, through Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from iniquity, and purify us unto himself, and make us zealous of good works.
Let us all examine ourselves whether we are among those who have sold themselves to sin, If we find in ourselves the characters of such slaves, it becomes us to consider the dangerous predicament in which we stand. Slaves now, and bound over to punishment. Let us realize the infinite importance of a speedy deliverance. Final condemnation for sin we all dread. We wish this may be prevented. The prevention of it depends on our present emancipation from the slavery of sin. This emancipation as we have heard, is not effected by the powers of our corrupt and enslaved nature.
But God has put into our hands the means of deliverance, and he has give us reason to expect, in the use of these, such concurring influences of the spirit, as may be sufficient to render the means effectual. This, therefore, is the command of the gospel, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in you of his own good pleasure.”
You have perhaps felt, and now sometimes feel, the awakening and convincing power of the word. This effect is, doubtless, owing to a Divine excitement. Resist not the spirit obey its
strivings-yield to its impressions-attend on the instructions of the word. Receive them with a teachable mind--and wait upon God continually in the way which he has prescribed.
Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know. Seek eternal life by a continuance in well doing. This is a day of hope ; lay hold on the hope set before you.
BIGOTRY, PRIDE AND CARELESSNESS IN RELIGION.
ACTS XVIII. 12--17.
And when Gallio was deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection
with one accord against Paul, and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to
his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong, or of wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would, that I should bear with you. But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things.
RELIGION is a matter of such universal importance, that, if observation did not shew us the contrary, we should suppose it would engage the most serious attention of every man, who had an opportunity to acquaint himself with it.
Common reason teaches us, that we ought principally to attend to our highest interest. Religion instructs us what this is, where it lies, and how it may be secured. Religion therefore ought to be every man's first concern. And yet a great part of mankind, yea, many of super
rior rank and education, appear as indifferent to it, as if it were a mere fable or romance. And among those who seem to have some kind of zeal for it, you will see not a few, whose zeal is little else than pride, curiosity and party design.
These two tempers with regard to religion, indifference and false zeal, both equally wrong, and equally inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel, remarkably appeared in the persons mentioned in the story now before us. The Jews and Greeks, warmed
, against each other by religious differences, proceeded to open violence. Gallio was perfectly indifferent about the matter in question, and cared not which party was in the right, or whether either of them.
In order to understand the characters here exhibited, it will be useful to attend a little to the story. Gallio was governor of Achaia,
a one of the ancient Grecian states; but, at that time, a province of the Roman empire. The chief city was Corinth, a place distinguished by wealth, learning and vice. Here Paul spent a year and six months preaching the gospel; and he found considerable
The Jews had a synagogue in the city, the chief ruler of which was Crispus. This man, under Paul's ministry, became a convert to the gospel, and was baptized with all his family. He now, it seems, resigned his office, or was removed from it; for soon after his conversion, Sosthenes is called the chief ruler, and is represented as being at the head of the party, which rose against Paul.
In this synagogue Paul used to preach every Sabbath, not only to Jews, but also to Greeks, inany of whom came to hear this new and extraordinary preacher. The Greeks were a curious and inquisitive people, and very fond of hearing those who taught any thing new. The Jews offended at the doctrine of Paul, especially at his asserting the abolition of the legal ceremonies, and the sufficiency of faith in Christ to salvation, made an insurrection against him, and brought him before Gallio, the governor of the province, alleging, that he persuaded men to worship God contrary to their law.
We here see the force of prejudice, and into what palpable inconsistences it will drive men. The Jews condemned the Roy
man dominion over them as an unjust usurpation and a cruel oppression. They were anxious to shake off the yoke. Had a man pleaded in defence of it, they would have denounced him as an enemy of their nation. But they would apply to it, when they could serve their own turn by it. They would bring Paul before a Roman governor to obtain judgment against him even in a matter of religion, which of all things is most remote from the proper jurisdiction of a civil magistrate.
Paul hearing the accusation laid against him, arose to make his defence. But the governor stopped the process. He said to the accusers ; If it were a matter of wrong, or of wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would, that I should bear with you; but if it be a question of words, and of names, and of your law, look ye to it, for I will be no judge of such matters.” If ye had brought a charge against this man for any injury, or trespass, or violation of the laws of the state, I would patiently hear you. But if it be only a question, whether his doctrine be agreeable to your law; whether the name of Messiah belong to Jesus whom he preaches, and whether his religion or yours be the truth, I shall not interpose. You may dispute it out between you. So he drave them from the judgment seat.
Gallio, indeed, as a magistrate had no concern in this matter. But as a man, he was as much interested in it as Paul himself. Every man has a right to think for himself in things which relate merely to religion; and he ought to be at liberty to examine and judge without fear or control. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Though the magistrate is bound to aid and protect what he believes to be the true religion, yet he is never to punish men for a religious opinion, nor for speaking or professing that opinion, in case it interferes not with the peace of society, which truth never does.
But though Gallio had no right to decide judicially in the matter brought before him; yet it was infinitely important to himself, that he should decide conscientiously, and settle his own private judgment. The question referred to him, whether Jesus, whom Paul preached, was the Saviour of a guilty world, and whether the doctrine, which Paul taught, was the true way of salvation,