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WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR SOULS. THAT the Lord Jesus Christ “ came into the world to save sinners,” was shown in his whole course of life on earth, from his first coming into the world. Love never remains hidden. As soon as the Friend of sinners was born, an angel brought the news to shepherds, that they might hasten to his cradle,
Wise men from the east brought the best treasures they possessed, to offer them to the child Jesus ; but the gifts most valuable to him, were their own hearts, their souls. That they might be directed aright, he sent a star to guide their feet. The nation of Israel were too few to furnish subjects for his kingdom; the Gentiles also were called to partake of his salvation, Isa. xlix. 6. He seemed to say, Suffer these men to come to me, and forbid them not. For this cause have I come into the world, and taken the nature of
His appearance in the temple showed the same great truth. The aged Simeon rejoiced to see the child Jesus. The venerable Anna (for females are not shut out from this salvation) ceased not to praise God for his birth, and to speak of Jesus to many, whose souls he loved, for his delights were ever with the sons of men, Prov. viii. 31.
At the age of twelve years, Jesus was found in the temple, by his parents, hearing and asking questions, Luke ii. 46. Thus does a gardener rejoice to behold a young tree, putting forth early blossoms and fruit. This tree of life blossomed early, and if it is lawful thus to speak of the Son of God, he early showed a holy desire to make known the will of his heavenly Father, to cleanse the doctrines of truth from the leaven of the Pharisees, to point to the door of mercy, and the gate of heaven, as now open, and to give to all hungry souls a foretaste of the sweet and comfortable doctrines of his gospel.
At his entrance on his public work, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. Why was this done? To prepare himself, by fasting and prayer, for his holy calling, to save the souls of men, which he began to do, by overthrowing the enemy of souls with his own mighty word, that his people might be encouraged for their contest. He walked beside the sea of Galilee, not that he might catch fish, or seek his own pleasure, but to appoint agents, who should, by the power of his Spirit, become fishers of men, Matt. iv. 19. He went throughout all the land of Judea, and touched even the borders of heathen regions. How interesting is the history of the woman of Canaan, Matt. xv. 21 ; Mark vii. 24. Nor less pleasing is the account of the Samaritan woman, John iv. 6–42. He worked miracles, he preached everywhere, and spared no pains, in order to win the souls of men, to enlighten, convert, and to make them happy.
Nicodemus came to him by night, but he was not sent away. The gracious Saviour did not blame him for disturbing him from rest. His soul was in danger, and to save a soul, the Saviour was willing to watch for a night. Christ spent other nights in prayer, and he gave up the last night of his life on earth to pray, especially, for the souls of men, when on their account he sweat drops of blood.
Once, in going through Jericho, when Zaccheus, the chief of the publicans, desiring to see Jesus, climbed up into a sycamore tree, the loving heart of the Saviour perceived the wish of this poor sinner, and called him down that he might visit him at his own house, though many wondered that he should be the guest of such a sinner. But Jesus knew the worth of one soul, and he testified, saying, “ The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke xix. 10.
For the sake of one erring soul, that of Thomas, Jesus appeared a second time to his disciples, after his resurrection, and showed him the marks of the wounds that he had received, and encouraged him to believe. See, Christian ! thy Lord has rightly compared himself to the shepherd, that leaves his ninety-nine sheep, to go after that which is lost. A damsel whose necklace of pearls has been broken and scattered, seeks after them till she finds them, she would not willingly lose any. A brooding hen, that misses one of her chickens, will raise her voice, louder, and yet louder, till she receives a token that she is heard and answered. Such is the heart of my Beloved and my Friend, ye daughters of Jerusalem. Observe also, the call which the Lord Jesus addressed to the people at large, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28. Again, on the last, and greatest day of the feast of tabernacles, he stood, and cried, “If any man thirst, let him' come unto me, and drink," John vii. 37. He seemed as if his loving heart were kindled by the sight of so large a multitude of people, and could no longer restrain his inward desire that their souls might be saved.
One more remark must be added, that the Saviour never exercised the attributes of Divine power and justice, as he easily might have done, in bringing his enemies to shame and
destruction. Once, when his disciples, influenced by untimely zeal, desired to call for fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans, who had refused him a lodging, he answered, “ The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them,” Luke ix. 56. As if he had said, I would rather never be lodged under a roof, but sleep in the open air, while my visible work on earth remains to be accomplished, than that a single soul should, on my account, be sent into perdition.
Turning from his life, to his precious sufferings and death, it is easy to see what Christ has done for the souls of men. When the time was come for him to depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. The eternal High-priest, when he went into the holiest of all, bore upon his heart the names of his people. He cared more on their account than on his own, as he showed by his appointment of his holy supper, as a
erpetual remembrance of his dying loye, and a means by which our souls are united to him. When he agonized on the Mount of Olives, was it not for our souls ? His soul was sorrowful even unto death, that ours might be filled with joy. Thrice in that severe conflict did he return to his disciples, to show how much he cared for their souls, and the souls of others, which even the certain prospect of his bitter sufferings could not make him forget.
The manner in which this Lover of souls dealt with Judas, must not be passed over. Although his wickedness could not be hid from the Lord, who knew all things, yet the lips of the Holy One uttered no language of reproach, but spake with all meekness, “ Friend, wherefore art thou come ? Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss ?” As if to say, I have given thee many proofs of tender love; wilt thou abuse my friendly conduct by thine ungodly treachery?
The history of Peter is well known, and how the Lord restored him after his fall, by one glance of his power and tenderness. The loving Saviour, even when standing before his unrighteous and blood-thirsty judges, as an innocent lamb in the midst of wolves, had time to think, not only of his own painful sufferings, which he knew beforehand, but of a man who was swearing and cursing, and saying that he had never known his master. Yes, that man had a soul, which Jesus would not despise nor lose.
When the Lord Jesus hung upon the cross, and was near his end, he converted a poor thief, and delivered his soul. Lord, didst thou thus, in the pangs of death, concern thyself for one wretched man, who in his whole lifetime had never cared for thee, and had sinned against thee in many ways? He had a never-dying soul, and his salvation was a cause of joy to thee, even in the bitterness of death. When the Saviour, with his dying breath, gave up his spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father, he included also the souls of all who believed in him, and gave them full security as to their eternal inheritance. Thus did his love to souls appear through his whole life, from its beginning to its close: he was born for their sakes, he lived and taught that he might save souls, he died as a friend of souls, and for their sakes he rose again, and ascended to heaven, and lives for evermore. Christian! when thou art tempted to sin, answer with a holy freedom and courage, Can I, a child of God, bought with the precious blood of Christ, and delivered from the power of sin and Satan, again put myself under their yoke? Shall I tread under foot the Son of God, and slight the blood of the everlasting covenant ?
From all these considerations, sweet consolation flows to all sincerely inquiring souls. However mean your dwellings, however lowly your condition, you are not despised by God, he never will or can forget you. The most despised by the world, are soinetimes the most precious in the sight of God. The souls that are dear to Jesus, are sometimes clothed in the dress of a beggar, or so meanly and contemptibly circumstanced, as not to be discerned by the eye
of But Jesus himself was poor in the days of his flesh, a scorn of men, and despised as a worm, even when he was the object of the worship of angels, and the terror of devils. So are all his followers. A pearl or diamond is costly, even when it has fallen in the dust. And the broken vessels, which the world is ready to cast out, and tread under foot, may be vessels for honour to God, vessels of mercy, and monuments of grace. Psa. xxii. 7; Psa. xxxi. 13; 2 Tim. ii. 20; Rom. ix. 23. Shall the souls that have been chosen of God in Christ, from all eternity, be cast away because of their temporal condition ? Does God judge, like man, from outward appearance? Has he not often chosen the poor of this rld, and things that are base and despised? Can the Lord Jesus slight the souls for whom his blood was shed ? for whom he has suffered so much? Will he ever regard with indifference those who were once so dear to him ?
As God said to Jonah, so does the Lord Jesus speak to us. Does a man care for a fading plant, which grows up without
his skill or efforts ? and should I not care for the souls on whom I have spent so much care and pains, and who will outlive all earthly productions ? Away with all desponding thoughts, all distrust of the love of God our Saviour. No soul is too mean or unworthy for him to regard it. If dwelling in a weak and diseased body, worn with heavy distresses, temptations, and conflicts, burdened by cares and anxieties, despised, and almost overlooked by the proud of this world, still it is a soul, and has been purchased by the precious blood of Christ. If a child is sick, its mother is surely found at its bed-side; and those who seek for Jesus, will find that he is present, to comfort the souls of the afflicted. Christian Scriver.
BEREND STEIN, THE LABOURERS' PASTOR.
( From the German.)
I. THE CHURCHYARD.
It is interesting to observe, after the service in the house of God, on the Lord's day, what may be called another act of Divine worship. In the fine summer days, after the early service, all the attendants at church do not hurry away immediately to their homes, and their meals, where the blessed sabbath-quiet of the heart is often disturbed, and it is found difficult to bring the mind back to the Lord, so as to continue speaking and thinking of the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Many, therefore, who wish to have the sweet harmony of God, which had begun in the church, still sounding in their hearts, seek for it awhile in some retired spot; and find none better for this object than the churchyard. Those whose bodies rest there, once went also to the church ; now these bodies are assembled around it, as it were, a silent congregation. In their silence they have themselves become preachers. They preach by earth and mound, by grass and flowers. Their silent sermon is often more impressive than that from the pulpit. It is not contained in words, it falls not upon the the ear, it falls immediately into the heart.
I have often retired there for awhile, either alone, or with people both
poor and rich, and their minds have often been benefited. It is as if the soul approached in feeling to the tribunal of God, and thought as in his presence.
There they speak of those who sleep around, and very differently from what they say of them at home, or elsewhere. Some find
grace in their eyes, who formerly found none : they pass