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Jesus Christ our Lord :"**"* Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come fye, buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price:”
-“ 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.”I- This is all simple, consistent, reasonable. I can conceive of nothing more irrational, than for a guilty creature to entertain the imagination for a moment, of ever obtaining life in any other way. He is condemned. He has no obedience to be a compensation for his disobedience ; no merit to weigh down the scale of his delinquency; no good to be his protecting shield from the sentence of the law against evil. No axiom ought to be clearer,-and but for the blinding influence of self-partiality, it would be discerned by every mind and acknowledged by every lip,-than that the sinner who finds life must be a debtor for it to mercy,--to the free and sovereign clemency of his justly offended but benignant Judge.
2. It is in the name, or for the sake of God's Son. Its being a gift arises from the character and desert of the sinner ;-its being “ In God's Son” arises from the character and claims of the godhead.-There is more than a propriety, there is a moral necessity, that all the proceedings of Deity should be such as to secure the full glory of his name,—that is, of his entire character. Of no one of those perfections which constitute his infinite and immutable excellence, must the lustre be tarnished, the honour compromised, or the claims relinquished. All must be maintained in their full amount of requisition and of glory, and vindicated from every injurious imputation or surmise in the eyes of a witnessing universe. Among other
* Rom. vi. 23.
† Isa, lv. 1.
# Rev. xxii. 17.
parts of his administration, it was necessary for him to bestow his gifts in a a way that should thus glorify him. From this arose the necessity of a Mediator and an atonement. But for this, as far as we are capable of discerning, these might have been dispensed with; and mercy might have gone directly to its object. Had it not, in the wisdom of the infinitely wise, been required for securing and manifesting the divise glory in the forgiveness of sin, the atonement would have been, what its adversaries have ever calumniously represented it, a needless encumbrance. But it is far otherwise. The sublimest of all ends is effectually answered by it. As the guilt of man rendered life necessarily a gift; the holinesss and justice of God made it necessary that the gift should be bestowed in such a way as should leave no stain, or appearance of stain, or most distant ground of suspicion, against his pure and inflexible righteousness.-Such was the simple use of the atonement made by the incarnation and obedience unto death of the Son of God,-The Eternal Word made. flesh. It is so stated, in terms the most explicit, by the Apostle Paul :- Whom God hath set forth, a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus."'* This is plain. The declaring of God's righteousness, in such a way as that, in the forgiveness of sin, the exercise of that righteousness might be made apparent, as unsuspended and unmitigated,—that so“ mercy and truth might meet together, and righteousness and peace embrace each other, "--that the honour of the law and government and character of Jehovah might
Rom. ii. 25, 26.
be untarnished, in bestowing life on those who were dead spiritually, and who deserved to die eternally; This is the gracious purpose of the atonement. And life cannot by any sinner be obtained otherwise, for this plain and sufficient reason, that it is the only way in which God, according to his own declaration, can confer it honourably, to himself. The appointment is not arbitrary and capricious. It is dictated by a necessary regard to the glory of his own great Name, the maintenance of which is inseparably associated with the happiness of the uni
Even if without assigning to us any reason at all, the Supreme Ruler had published it as his will that eternal life should be applied for in the name and through the merits of an appointed and revealed mediator, it would have been incumbent upon us humbly and thankfully to submit, and to. come for pardon and life in the way which his grace and authority dictated. But he has not left us in ignorance. He has told us the reason of the atonement, and it is a reason which, in the spirit of it, we are quite capable of comprehending and appreciating ;--so that our acquiescence is not a mere blind though grateful submission to authoritativedictation, but the intelligent and delighted bowing of the mind to an appointment of which the nature and the reasons are divinely explained.--In this epistle, as well as throughout the Scriptures, Christ is held forth in the character of a propitiation; and it is in this view of his official character and work, that connexion with him infers the possession of life : The LIFE was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that ETERNAL LIFE which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us."* That “the Life,”
Chap. i. 2.
Eternal Life,''is here used as a designation of Christ, we learn, not only from the preceding verse, in which he is called '" the Word of life," compared with the beginning of John's gospel, in which he appears as “the WORD," “ in whom was life, and the life was the light of men;" but also from the close of the epistle, which is clearly an explanation of its commencement:-" And we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ : He is the true God, and the ETERNAL LIFE.”
But it is as a propitiation that he is the life :—“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world :'* « In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might LIVE through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”+ In this last passage, the connexion of life with propitiation is marked with all possible explicitness. This, then, is the ground on which life is bestowed ;- this life is in his Son." No sinner on earth can find it otherwise than in Him. To all without exception who receive it, it is the gift of God for his sake.
3. We noticed that the life is not only bestowed for Christ's sake--but with Christ.--The observation is founded on the peculiar phraseology of the twelfth verse :-"He that hath the Son hath life; and he that HATH NOT the Son of God hath not life.” And this is in fine harmony with the representation of him which we have just been noticing, as himself “ the Life.” There are expressions, too, in frequent use with the Apostle Paul, which con
* Chap. ii. 1, 2.
† Chap. iv. 9, 10.
vey the same idea. He speaks of " receiving Christ Jesus the Lord,” for example, and of being made partakers of Christ.”- We thus receive Christ, and become partakers of him, when we believe the divine testimony concerning him. He then becomes ours, in the full virtue of his mediation. And it is with him, or in him, that we receive life. We cannot receive life but in receiving Christ. He is our life, because in receiving him we are delivered from condemnation, and “pass from death unto life" in the eye of law : he is our life, because in receiving him we are regenerated, and the truth concerning him becomes the principle of the spiritual life in our souls :-- and he is our life, because in receiving him, we obtain the divinely sanctioned hope of the life that is to come.
When Christ is ours, life is “ I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die :"*_ When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."14" I am crucified with Christ ; nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me:"12" which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
But on this part of the subject I cannot enlarge, without anticipating what more properly belongs to our next proposition. Before going forward to it, let me urge for a few moments, with all earnestness, on the attention of every reader, the incalculable value of the blessing in question—“ETERNAL LIFE!” -I have called it a blessing :-—but it is a vast assemblage of blessings. It includes in it all
* John xi. 25, 26.
* Gal. ii. 20.
$ Col. i. 27.