Imágenes de páginas

justified freely by his grace.' The meritorious | in time by the bestowal of pardon through the procuring cause is the finished obedience and blood of the Son, and the production of purity by atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus-being justi- the grace of the Spirit. The apostle would refied by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath present to us the manner in which the three perthrough him.' The instrumental medium is faith sons of the adorable Trinity concur and co-oper-in his name Being justified by faith, we have ate in the salvation of God's chosen, devised by peace with God, who is the Justifier of him who the Father, procured by the Son, applied by the believeth in Jesus.' Holy Ghost.


And what is the final, blissful result? he justified, them he also glorified. The apostle, after looking back to the good pleasure and purpose of God from the past eternity as the originating cause, now looks forward to the glorification of the elect in the coming eternity as the ultimate end. They are the vessels of mercy which God had afore prepared unto glory. The Saviour said of them, when he was on earth, I appoint unto you a kingdom;' and when he shall appear from heaven to call them home, he will say, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'

'What shall we say then to these things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?' Not God: for it is he who justifieth them, since he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for them all; and if the Judge be for them, who can be against them? Who is he that condemneth them? Not Christ: for it is he who consented to be delivered for their offences, and who rose again for their justification, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for them. Shall the law accuse? It is satisfied. It is satisfied. Shall justice denounce? It is vindicated. Shall conscience torture? It is pacified. Shall satan, the accuser of the brethren,' dare to prefer a charge? He shall be put to silence and shame nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'


[ocr errors]

Even were the testimonies of scripture on this subject less explicit than they are, let us only connect together these two simple facts, (which are admitted by every humble Christian) namely, that salvation is of free grace, and yet that all men are not saved, and it is impossible to resist the conclusion that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God who showeth mercy.' Who maketh thee to differ from another?' 'Even so, Father! for so it seemeth good in thy sight.'

There are, it is true, difficulties connected with this subject which we cannot explain; but where is the truth of God-where is the work of God that is wholly free from difficulties to the limited capacity of short-sighted mortals? Often has it been asked: 'How can we reconcile the purpose of God according to election, with the universality of moral obligation, or the individual responsibility of man? If God's designs of mercy be restricted to a certain number of the human race, why is the gospel addressed to all? and how can it be the duty of all to believe it?' Now in reply to these and such like questions, it would be enough to remind the objector, that if salvation is of God's grace, and if all are not saved, the force of the objection lies, not merely against God's previous decree, but against his actual conduct; it is directed not more against the limitation of his gracious designs than against the limitation of his gracious influences, the only difference being that the former are secret and concealed, while the latter are open and manifest.

But the truth is, that according to the principles of scripture, such objections are wholly inadmissible. If it be one bible-fact that God hath chosen Christians unto salvation, and if it be another bible-fact that unto all men is the word of this salvation sent, and that they are accountable for the use they make of the means of salvation God has afforded them-then no difficulties, real or imaginary, in the way of reconciling these two facts together can invalidate the truth HERE is another explicit and solemn assertion of of either. Our business with things revealed, is the doctrine of an election by grace'-originat-not to explain, but to believe; not to harmonise, ing in the distinguishing love and foreknowledge but to practise. If in the course of our inquiries, of God the Father from eternity, and manifested we meet with some new truth that seems irre

Elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the
Father, through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of
Jesus Christ,' 1 Pet. i. 2.

concilable with one we had formerly admitted, | healthy or sick, live long or die soon, as that our shall we, on that account, reject either the one soul shall be saved or lost. But does any man or the other? Certainly not. Sound philosophy reason against the use of means for the se-will tell us to receive both, to reason from both, curity or increase of worldly property, the restorbut not to deduce from the one what might weaken ation of health, or the preservation of life, because the force of the other. Upon this principle the he is persuaded of the foreknowledge and presacred writers act; for they bring together into determination of God in reference to these matclose juxta-position, principles apparently the ters? And why then should he for any such most discordant, without ever pretending to re- reason exclude the use of means from the great concile them, far less insinuating, that the apparent concerns of religion? The invitations of the gosdiscrepancy should affect our reception of either. pel to faith and repentance are as universal and 'Work out your own salvation with fear and as binding as are the obligations of the law; if a trembling, for it is God that worketh in you.' man is saved, it will be because he has embraced 'Give diligence to make your calling and election those invitations, if he is lost it will be because sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never he has rejected them. fall.' Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life. No man can come unto me except the Father which has sent me draw him.'

[ocr errors]

Here, finally, is the great safeguard of the doctrine-namely, that it is an election to holiness, even through sanctification of the Spirit But in point of fact, the doctrine of predestina- unto obedience.' The decree is passed in heaven, tion is not attended with greater difficulties than but on earth it is known only by the result, and many other doctrines of revelation, which are re- that is a holy conversation and godly life. The ceived by all who profess Christianity. None, elect are chosen to be holy and without blame 'for example, will deny that 'God is of purer eyes to be created again in Christ Jesus unto good than to behold iniquity,' and yet none can deny works, wherein God had before ordained that they that iniquity abounds; but who has yet been should walk in them. To what are they preable to reconcile the holiness of God with the destinated, but to be conformed to the image of origin of moral evil? None will deny that 'God God's Son?- so that if a man's character be utterly is love,' but who can perfectly reconcile the good- destitute of the lineaments of the holy Jesus, he ness of God with the introduction of moral and possesses as yet no evidence of his being an elect physical suffering? Again, that the foreknow- child of God; while, on the other hand, in proledge of God is a necessary part of his omniscience portion as he is made to resemble the meek and is acknowledged by all who have correct views lowly Saviour, in the same proportion will the eviof the divine character. On the other hand, that dences of his election of God increase. And while man is a responsible agent is taught at once by the doctrine thus secures the interests of holiness, the law of conscience, and the word of the Most it also illustrates the nature of the final perseverHigh. But what speculations have yet harmon-ance of the saints. God's eternal purpose of ised these two facts, or fixed the precise point of their agreement? Who of mortals has ever discerned that hidden link in the great chain of truth, by which they are connected? And yet our consciousness of the impossibility of reconciling them does not lead us to doubt or deny either.

Another vulgar objection against the doctrine of election is often stated thus: If I am to be saved, I shall be saved whatever be my vices; if I am to be lost, I shall be lost whatever be my virtues.' But such an inference from the doctrine can only proceed from the grossest misconception of its true nature, and an utter disregard of the connection which God has established here, as throughout all his works, between the means and the end. Apply the same reasoning to the business of life, and its absurdity will be instantly apparent. As certain it is in the purpose and perception of God, that we shall be rich or poor,

grace does render absolutely certain the ultimate salvation of every one of the elect; but no man has any right to conclude that he is one of the blessed number, unless he is actually enduring in faith and obedience even to the end.


'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, John iii. 16.

NOTHING but our long familiarity with the marvellous fact here stated, can account for our ever reading this passage without the deepest emotion. How simple, yet sublime the announcement! how plain, yet how profound! The language is so perspicuous as to be intelligible to all, and yet

so fraught with mystery is the sentiment conveyed as to be beyond the full comprehension of men or angels.

The grand truth here exhibited is, that the originating cause of our salvation was the love of God in the gift of his Son. Even if this had not been so clearly revealed in the bible, the view which is there given of God's nature and character would have led us to a like conclusion. He is there represented as self-existent—' sufficient to himself alone;' and consequently independent, no less in being than in bliss. He is all-perfect, and therefore all-glorious. His personal felicity being uninfluenced by any thing from without, is necessarily incapable of diminution or of increase. What then, it may be asked, could have moved him to form men upon the earth at first, and when they had fallen from Him, and from happiness, what could have induced him to send down his Son to be their Deliverer? Was it merely that he might thereby found a claim to their gratitude, augment his own grandeur, and promote his own interests? Thy goodness, O creature, extendeth not to Him. He became not more glorious in himself, when he called into existence myriads of intelligent and exalted beings. They were but emanations of the Great Spirit-they were only manifestations of the innate, essential glory that had resided in Him from eternity. And can a man-can the poor worm man-be profitable unto God? Is it any pleasure-any personal benefit to Him, that thou art righteous? Or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him, or what receiveth he at thine hand?' Far less was it from any dread of thy continued enmity and rebellion that he interposed to save thee. Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? Will he enter with thee into judgment? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man—but if thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? Or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?' The combined legions of darkness have long been hurling their blasphemies, and directing their machinations against his throne-but all that shall only redound to the praise of the glory of his justice, which shall be magnified in their everlasting destruction.

[ocr errors]

Was there any obligation on the part of God to give up his Son for us? This will not be maintained; for if in any sense it could be said, that we deserved that Christ should die for us--it might be said with equal truth that we deserved salvation without Christ. If then there was no previous obligation of merit

on our part, or of necessity on his, and if there was no room for the exercise of any selfish motive to influence his determination-in what is it that the mission of his dear Son originated? In what can it have originated, but in his own goodnesshis desire to relieve our misery, and secure our happiness—in a word, in his love towards us—a love absolutely disinterested and sovereignly free -a love exercised without any antecedent obligation, and without the possibility of any adequate return?

Let this view of the Father's love serve to counteract certain notions which many entertain of the plan of salvation-notions most derogatory to the character of God, and calculated to affect materially our grateful and devout feelings towards him. They readily perceive the love of the Son in laying down his life for transgressors; but when they think of God the Father's share in the work of redemption, they picture him to themselves as a gloomy, relentless, blood-thirsty tyrant, who could not find it in his heart to love sinners till his own Son had been first sacrificed; whereas the wondrous truth is, that the death of Christ, so far from being the cause of God's love, was just the effect of that love. Christ's death was not intended to excite the divine compassion-any more than it was intended to excite the divine justice,—but it was designed to display and illustrate both in a way that never was done before, and so as to shed a brighter lustre over every other perfection of the Deity. But love was at the bottom of the whole;-love was the primary motive of all; love, the purest in its source, yet distinguishing as to its objects, for while it passed by fallen angels, it laid hold on fallen men. Oh! how unlike the God of the gospel, to be represented as if he had waited in calm indifference or stern impatience, until salvation should first be wrought out, and then coldly and reluctantly receiving the sinner to his favour on the bare ground of legal right. Why, what is the most glorious character he sustains, and the title by which he is most honoured? Is it not as 'the God of salvation-the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?' Did he not so love the world as to give his only-begotten and well-beloved Son-not sparing him, but freely delivering him up to agony and death for us all? Yea, did not He himself take the principal part in the actual infliction of the severest torments which the Son endured? The meek and holy Lamb of God suffered much indeed from the cruelty of men and the malice of devils; but all that was as nothing compared with what in the garden and on the cross proceeded directly and immedi

Who are they that shall be saved by Christ? They and they only who come unto God by him.' This denotes, in bible language, the first act of penitential faith, leading to the habitual exercise of humble devotion. To both these feelings men are naturally strangers. They are afar off from God;' being alienated from his service and love, and enemies to him in their minds and by wicked works. A consciousness of guilt and pollution, and a consequent dread of his displeasure, make them, like Adam, flee from his presence, and avoid his approach. The very first step then that a wretched creature must take in the way of returning to happiness, is a step towards God, the Author of all happiness. Being made aware of his danger whilst at a dis

ately from the hand of his Father God. Wasistence and unchangeable priesthood. It comprises he stricken, and smitten, and afflicted? It was a description of those who are saved by him, and of God. Was he bruised and put to grief? It an assertion of the boundless extent and perpetpleased the Lord thus to make his soul an offer-ual duration of his saving power. ing for sin, and to lay on the devoted head of the innocent Victim the iniquity of us all. Yes, it was his own Father, whose delight he had been from eternity, and in whose love he had from eternity rejoiced-it was even He who now so darkly frowned upon him, and kindled up against him his burning wrath, and pierced him through with his poisoned arrows, and sank him down with the weight of his avenging curse, and compelled him to drink to the dregs the cup of bitterness and trembling. It was his own Father who, standing over the agonised and dying Son, shut out for a season his cries and prayers, steeled his paternal bosom until the world's crisis should be past, and man's redemption secured and in words, the mysterious and awfully affecting import of which it will take eternity to un-tance from God, and believing in the revealed fold, called upon his justice to arm itself against his best beloved, and not to spare him: Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow! Smite the shepherd.' Who that reflects on these things will harbour the injurious thought, that God the Father sacrificed nothing for sinners, and took but a cold and passive interest in their salvation? Will he not rather, whenever he thinks of the precious blood of the spotless Lamb, devoutly remember, and thankfully acknowledge, that by God he was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world -by God he was manifested and given to the death-by God he was raised up and glorified? And all this he will cheerfully ascribe to nothing but what Paul emphatically styles the philanthropy of God our Saviour, or his 'love and kindness towards man.'

If love is to be found no where else, herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' 'We know and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.' 'He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?'


‹ He is able also to save them to the uttermost that
come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to
make intercession for them,' Heb. vii. 25.
THIS is the consolatory inference which the apos-
tle draws from the fact of the Saviour's eternal ex-

character of God in Christ as a God of mercy, and
embracing the calls and invitations of the gospel
to return, the penitent soul humbly comes to God,
as a wandering sheep comes to the fold, as a
prodigal son comes to the father, as a subdued rebel
comes to the sovereign, at once to offer allegiance,
and to implore forgiveness. But very need-
ful is it to bear in mind, that it is through Christ
alone that sinners, if they would be saved, must
go unto the Father. A deist may go unto God,
as did Cain, without a mediator, presenting his own
works, the fruit of his own ground, the result of his
own labours; but a believer goes, like Abel, by and
through another, making mention of his righteous-
ness, of his only, and offering only of his gifts, for
of these alone will God testify his acceptance.
Look at the Jewish high priest ministering and
acting in behalf of the people on the great day of
atonement, (for that is the apostle's own illustra-
tion), and you will at once perceive how they
'came unto God by him.' He has entered within
the vail into the holy of holies, carrying with
him the blood of the immolated victim. Ask a
Jew: What mean ye by this service?' And he
will tell you, that the high priest has gone in before
God for the people, and that they, if they would
be accepted, must go unto God by him, relying
on nothing but the sacrifice which he has offered,
and the intercessions and incense which he for
must approach unto God, if we would be re-
them has presented. Thus it is also that we
ceived of him in favour. We see the High Priest
of our profession entering heaven with his own
blood, and offering up along with it the incense of
his merits and his prayers; and it is upon Christ

so occupied that faith fixes,-it is on Christ so occupied that hope rests. But, whereas the Jewish worshipper, even on the day of atonement, had to stand afar off, with the vail of the temple interposed between him and the inner sanctuary, the devout Christian has free, unrestrained, constant access into the secret of God's presence with his Anointed, and may humbly urge, in Christ's name, at the throne of the earthly grace, the very pleas which the great Intercessor is urging for him at the throne of the heavenly glory.


'For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,' 1 Tim. ii. 5.

THE fundamental truth of revealed religion, that there is but one Saviour, is here connected with the fundamental truth of natural religion, that there is but one God. The latter is a truth which is admitted by all but pantheists or idolaters; it is proclaimed by that unity of design and operation which pervades the Creator's works; and the supposition of there being more than One Infinite Spirit-of whom, and to whom, and through whom are all things,' would involve a manifest absurdity. Yet not more true is it that there is only one God, than that there is only one Mediator.

The necessity of mediation between opposite parties arises from their being in a state of variance or enmity; and such is the lamentable state of things between God and man. "The carnal mind is enmity against God,' and God hath a controversy with every sinner. He is 'angry with the wicked every day'—and the alienation thus produced might have remained perpetual, had not a daysman or umpire appeared to make both at one, by laying his hand upon them both.' But this man shall be our peace,' inasmuch as he maketh peace by the blood of his cross, and preacheth peace by the word of reconciliation, and giveth peace by the sweet influence of his grace. God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses; and men being justified by faith, have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Being an accepted and ever living Priest, Christ is able to save those who come unto God by him to the uttermost—that is, in all conceivable circumstances of misery and helplessness, and always, unceasingly, even to the end. Unlike the Aaronic high priest, he has no need to renew his great oblation, or to devolve his office upon a successor. 'This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable, an untransferable priesthood,' i. e. a priesthood which can never pass into other hands. And hence the perfection of his sacrifice, and the perpetuity and prevalence of the mediation which he founds on it, qualify him for being so mighty to save.' From the lowest depth of guilt he can rescue; from the greatest degree of depravity he can recover; from the farthest point in backsliding he can restore; from the extremest length in wickedness, even from a life-time of transgression, he can redeem: yea, and at the eleventh hour, when the hoary-headed criminal seems about to drop like a rotten and withered branch into the flames of hell, He can pluck the fire-scathed brand from the burning, and exalt the saved sinner to a place in his kingdom and a throne by his side. An idolatrous and bloody Manasseh, an adulterous and murderous David, a cowardly and backsliding Peter, a blaspheming and persecuting Saul, he was able to save 'at their uttermost.' A crucified thief he took with him, 'at his utter-reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.' His most,' into paradise. Corinthians who were debased by every vice-unrighteous, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners'—he washed in his blood, sanctified through his Spirit, justified by his righteousness. And all these are set forth as proofs, pledges, patterns, of his long-suffering to forbear, his willingness to forgive, his power to redeem. So long as there are in this world sinners to save, there is a Christ to save them; for as his life in heaven can have no end, so his office of High Priest admits of no interruption, and his ability to save of no decay. Is there a sinner reading these pages who can be beyond Christ's uttermost?

And as he died on earth to make atonement, so he lives in heaven to make intercession. 'If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being

mediation for man in the world of glory is effected through his perpetual and prevalent intercession at God's right hand-an intercession based upon the perfection of the work which he accomplished here below. As the high priest under the law, who was the mediator of the old covenant, went in before Jehovah in behalf of the people, but not without blood, bearing on his breastplate the names of the twelve tribes of Israel;-in like manner, Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, appears continually in the presence of God for us, presenting before the throne the blood of the covenant shed for the remission of sins, and bearing on his heart and on his shoulder the names of his people-on his shoulder that he may

« AnteriorContinuar »