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mons must be obeyed. He can no more be overcome by violence, than subdued by intreaty; promises do not allure, threatenings do not awe, tears do not melt him. No human skill nor human strength can blunt his dart, nor could the wealth of worlds purchase one moment's exemption from his stroke. The king on his bed of state is as open to his assaults as the beggar on his bed of straw; and with the same ease that he enters the meanest hovel, he enters the kingly palace with its turreted battlements, and making his way through bolts, and bars, and hosts of armed guards, he reigns over royalty. Sinner! you may spurn every other yoke, you may throw off every other control, you may conquer every other enemy, but know that you are already death's doomed victim, and the yawning grave's assured prey.
Death's empire over sinful men is universal. There have been many extensive dominions, but his is the only really universal monarchy that has ever been on the earth. No country, no character, no condition of life, no age, and no circumstances, can withdraw us from his domination, or save us from his power. And it is specially noted by the apostle here, that he has reigned, as we know he continues to reign, over infants over those who do not live to commit actual sin like Adam, but who, by reason of their connection with and descent from him, carry within them the seeds of moral depravity, and consequently of bodily corruption; for whenever you see a human body dead, be it only the body of a new born infant, that body is dead because of sin.' There is perhaps nothing we are called to witness so mournfully and mysteriously affecting as the agonising sufferings which infants sometimes endure, and the death in which these sufferings often terminate so often, indeed, that it is a well known law of mortality that a great proportion of the human race die in infancy. The eye of the babe opens to heaven's light, and is then sealed in darkness; or if he is spared a few mouths to complete his span, it is only till his little tongue can lisp a parent's name, and then be silent in the grave. Ye Jacobs and Rachels! bereaved fathers and mothers, who have seen a darling child pining away with a sickness that was too plainly unto death, or convulsed with paroxysms of suffering, which harrowed up your souls, and were rendered doubly terrible by the inability of the poor babe to tell its distress but by the most piercing cries; ye who have had to hang over an infant's agony so intense and protracted, as to make you, who gave it birth, willing, anxious, thankful, to hear the last sound which pro
claims release from pain and life together; say, as you were compelled to witness a scene like that, which rent your heart's core with an anguish that could only find relief in the assurance that the beloved of your soul lay in your arms a shattered and lifeless corpse, O say what that accursed thing must be, which, under the government of an All-merciful and Almighty God, can entail such evils.
The empire of death, as it has been co-extensive with human existence since the fall, so it will end only with the world's dissolution. Adam, the first man, ‘lived nine hundred and thirty years,' but he died,' and so did his more immediate descendants, each in his turn. Enoch, indeed, the seventh from Adam, on account of his signal piety, was translated, that he should not see death; and the extreme longevity of his son Methuselah might excite the expectation that the power of death was, in some measure, to be broken; but he also, when within thirty years of completing his tenth century, fell before the destroyer. Think of the countless generations over whom 'death reigned from Adam to Moses.' What proofs of his power did not the flood exhibit! "Tis the carnival of death; 'tis the vintage of the grave!' — a whole world of victims, among whom, as in Nineveh, there would be many who, from their tender age, 'could not discern between their right hand and their left.' In the overthrow, by fire, of the cities of the plain; in the engulphing of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea; in the strewing of the wilderness with carcases in heaps by the sword, the pestilence, and the fiery flying serpent, what do we see but death reigning from Adam unto Moses? Nor since that period has he for a moment ceased to reign. There have been long-lived kings, and long-enduring kingdoms, but the only perpetual dynasty is that of death; and he is immortal on this earth until the day when it shall be burnt up. We every where see how he tramples to dust plants and animals, man and man's works; and even those Egyptian pyramids that appear to defy his destroying rage, are but the trophies of his might; for are they not the sepulchres of kings? monuments at once of man's frailty, and of death's conquest.
We too are the subjects of death. And what are we but the copies, so to speak, of long-vanished human beings, our prototypes in body and mind? and after us others will be born, wno will again look, and feel, and think, and act, and suffer exactly as we do, and over whom death will again reign.
Yet is there hope in Israel concerning this
• For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,' Rom. v. 17. We have seen the reign of death by Adam; let us now contemplate the reign of life by Christ. If misery follows naturally in the one case, much more will happiness follow in the other. If pollution has been communicated, much more will purity; if wrath has been transmitted, much more will love; if the condemnation of many has been the result of one offence, much more will the justification of many be the result of one atonement; if by one man's disobedience we became sinners, much more by the obedience of another shall we be made righteous; if death reigned by the sin of man, much more shall life reign by the grace of God.
thing; and if the view of sin and its deadly conse- | been previously imparted! It is the reception of quences humbles and grieves us, we shall be the abundance of grace' which entitles to and prebetter prepared to welcome and embrace the pares for the exceeding and eternal weight of message which proclaims the reign of life by glory.' The God who is rich in mercy, and abunone, Jesus Christ.' dant in goodness and truth, gives to his people to enjoy all spiritual blessings in rich abundance, and overflowing fullness. Does he pardon sin? He 'abundantly pardons.' Does he bestow the renewing influence of the Holy Ghost? He sheds it down abundantly.' Does he bless Zion's provision? He blesses it 'abundantly.' Did his Son come that believers might have life? It was that they might have it more abundantly,' when to all of them an entrance shall have been 'ministered abundantly into his everlasting kingdom.' And oh what a scene grateful rejoicing shall then be witnessed, when this mystery of God's grace shall be finished in God's glory. Think of the myriads who shall shine in brightness and beauty before the throne. Reckon up, if you can, the amount of real good that shall have been bestowed upon each through grace; and estimate also the imaginary good, but real evil, that through the same grace shall have been withheld. Endeavour to conceive of all the means and appliances in providence and redemption that shall have been successfully put in operation for their benefit. say, is not the grace that shall in ways so mysterious have effected a result so blessed, well termed abundant grace?' And when the many who have received, who are receiving, and who shall yet receive this grace shall meet, and mingle, and rejoice together, will not that be a noble anthem that shall rise from all heaven's borders, when this abundant grace shall, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God.'
Mark the grand source whence this life emanates:-it is the free gift of the grace of God. That is a point which seems to require little proof. For if we are all sinners against God, and lie under his deadly curse, how can life ever come to us but as a favour gratuitously bestowed, because wholly undeserved? Where is the merit to purchase it? Where is our atonement for past guilt-where our security for future obedience? Where is the willingness to save ourselves from sin if we could-where the ability to save ourselves if we would? By grace are ye saved!' is a principle which lies at the very basis of the Christian scheme. It is involved in every scriptural account of man's natural condition; it is revealed in every proclamation of the glorious gospel; it accords with the uniform experience of every humble Christian; it is the implied sentiment of every devout prayer, and the sweet burden of every spiritual song; it is that which animates the praises of the sanctuary below, and will form the exhaustless theme of rejoicing in the temple above, where as the foundation has been laid, so the head-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.'
But in order to that glorious consummation, think what a large measure of grace must have
The apostle, however, specifies one particular gift of grace, which, of all others, may be described as the one thing needful, inasmuch as it constitutes at once the title to heaven, and the meetness for heaven's enjoyment. It is the gift of righteousness. Now what is righteousness, but just that conformity to God's law, which He, as the Lawgiver, Governor, and Judge of the moral universe, can never fail to require? Even a human magistrate, if he allows a delinquent to escape with impunity, is held to be virtually conniving at the crime, and to be in spirit a partaker with the criminal. And shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Shall not He visit for sin? Or shall it be proclaimed through all the worlds of his wide dominion, that allegiance and rebellion, obedience and disobedience, virtue and vice, are regarded by him with equal indifference? Is there
unrighteousness with God? God forbid! Then | alty, and there is immortality. Immortal royalty! might the Deity as well cease to reign, as pro- that is the gift by grace which shall so abound mulgate a law guarded by no penalties, enforced unto many, in order that where sin abounded grace by no sanctions. But blessed be his name! in may much more abound. As sin had reigned his dealings with us sinners, he announces a me- unto death, and death had reigned over the sinner, thod by which his justice and mercy, his holiness so now grace reigns through righteousness unto and love, are made to harmonise gloriously, and eternal life, that the sinner, deemed righteous and in which he exhibits himself as a just God, yet a made righteous, may reign in glory. Under no Saviour; as just, and yet the justifier of him who figure is the happiness of heaven more frequently believeth in Jesus. In the finished work, the set forth, than under the idea of a kingdom, to obedience unto death of his incarnate Son, we dis- denote the high degree of perfection and power cover how he made him who knew no sin to be to which Christians shall with their forerunner a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the Christ be exalted. This reign is the subject of righteousness of God in him. Hence that gift assured promise. I appoint unto you a kingof righteousness which is given unto and put upon dom, even as my Father hath appointed unto all them that believe even the righteousness me.' It is the object of believing expectation. which is called the righteousness of God,' be- 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.' It cause by him devised, provided, accepted,-his is the theme of grateful praise. 'Unto him law being thereby fulfilled, his justice satisfied, that hath made us kings to God!' Hence the his government vindicated, and the high honours crown of righteousness laid up by the righteous of his throne maintained. Judge; hence the crown of glory to be bestowed by the chief Shepherd; hence the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. And that may indeed be termed the crown of crowns, which is incorruptible, unfading, eternal. Doth the crown,' asks Solomon, endure to every generation?' Earthly sovereigns, though enjoying the most vigorous health, and the most prosperous reign, may nevertheless be said to reign in death. Never are they secure from the attempts of open violence, or the inroads of insidious disease; and one or other of these things will one day terminate their life and their reign together. But the reign of saints in glory will emphatically be the reign of life,' the conscious reign of life; and it will doubtless form one of the sweetest and purest ingredients in their cup of enjoyment to know that nothing can possibly happen to interrupt or disturb it from without or from within, no sickness, no sorrow, no separation, no death. Theirs will be the life worth the living for, consisting of an immortality, not of being only, but of bliss,higher than the delights of Eden, equal to the joys of angels.
But while this is the only righteousness that can furnish a title to eternal life, there is another righteousness, the gift of the same grace, which is no less indispensable as a qualification for heaven's bliss. The one is that righteousness which having been wrought out and brought in by another, is imputed and received by faith; the other is that personal righteousness, that inherent holiness which is wrought in every believer by the Spirit of promise, who is a Spirit of purity, and without which no man shall see the Lord.' Did the gospel indeed assure a man that grace will abound to him though he continue in sin; did it profess to save him in his sins, and not from them; had it nothing to do with the heart, the will, the life, then you might conceive of a sinner delivered from the fire of hell, and yet as much resembling as ever, in spirit and temper, the devil and his angels. But this holy word of life knows no such characters. In providing for our peace, it secures our purity; in redeeming the soul from death, it renews the heart unto a new life; in justifying the person, it sanctifies the character; in changing the condition, it transforms the man; in exhibiting Jesus as a substitute in order to righteousness imputed, it also reveals him as a purifier in order to holiness implanted. And out of the fullness of grace which it hath pleased the Father should dwell in him, his people receive, even grace for grace; wisdom, peace, love, joy, strength, patience, grace in time of need, grace sufficient, yea abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness.'
Come we now to the glorious issue of all in another world. Shall reign in life.' There is roy
'Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters!' Isaiah i. 4.
Or whom speaketh the prophet this? Of a nation of idolatrous heathens? No, but of God's chosen Israel, whom he had sought out as a peo
ple for himself, to be to him a name and a of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundpraise. How deep were their obligations! how ness.' Sin is the plague-spot of creation; it distinguished their advantages! Them he had perverts all our faculties, and paralyses all our brought forth with a high hand from the house powers; it is the corrupt tree yielding corrupt of bondage. He had led them safe through the fruit; it affects and influences, yea, it moulds at depths of the sea and the dangers of the wilder- the root all our principles, aims, motives; our ness. He had subdued their enemies before feelings, affections, and desires; our temper, conthem, and given them secure and peaceful posses-versation, and conduct. And O let us never forsion of the delightsome land—had fenced them get, that it was nothing but this leaven of deabout with covenant-privileges, and blessed them pravity, spreading wider and deeper through the abundantly with covenant-blessings. Theirs was Jewish nation, and pervading the whole mass, the only country where Jehovah, the one God, that led them, at last, to fill up the measure of living and true, fixed his gracious residence, national guilt and national punishment, by the vouchsafed his special presence, recorded his great rejection and crucifixion of the promised and exname, revealed his holy will, established his pure pected Messiah. In the history of God's chosen worship, and manifested his excelling glory. Yet people we see exemplified this eternal truth, that see how unsuitable and ungrateful were their as with righteous men, and righteous bodies of returns! Instead of seeking to fulfil their high men, it shall be well, so with unrighteous men, destiny, of the Rock that begat them they are and unrighteous bodies of men, it shall be ill; and unmindful,' and they have forgotten the God who as their corporate capacity ceases with this life, had chosen them to receive such peculiar and ex- so it is in this life that the Judge of all deals with clusive honours. While the surrounding nations them. The deed of the Jewish rulers, confirmed pertinaciously adhere to their respective delusions, as it was by the cries of the infuriated populace, each one walking in the name of their god, the and the continued unbelief of the great bulk of only people who enjoyed the light of revealed truth, the nation, drew down upon them, as a people, constantly endeavour to extinguish or obscure it, the fearful judgments which had been denounced. and change their God and glory for lying vanities. God took away both their place and nation; And so darkened and degraded do they at length their beloved house was left unto them desolate; become, that their indulgent, but incensed, Father they were scattered throughout all lands, without must here make to heaven and earth the touching a country or a home; and to this day they reappeal, ‘I have nourished and brought up chil- main an astonishment, and a bye-word, and a dren, and they have rebelled against me. The ox hissing, and a reproach-testifying to the remotknoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; est corners of the globe at once the depravity but Israel doth not know, my people doth not and the degradation of the people laden with consider.' He then charges them with their ac- iniquity.' cumulated guilt as a nation. They were not merely 'sinful,' but laden with iniquity;' not merely evil-doers,' as to the outward act, but polluted in their hearts; deceivers and being deceived-corrupted themselves, and the 'corrupt
ers' of others.
Here then is a melancholy proof of the innate depravity and desperate wickedness of the human heart, in that a whole nation persisted with one accord in departing from the living God, though they enjoyed every advantage for seeking his favour, and securing his blessing. This is the very inference which the prophet himself drew from the mournful fact of his country's apostacy. If they had forsaken the Lord, and provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, and gone away backward,' or as the margin reads, had become alienated,' the cause of all this was to be sought for in the mental and moral disease of which they were the victims. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole
But are we, as a nation, verily better than they? Are not all men, Gentiles as well as Jews, under sin? We call ourselves a Christian people, but is the grand fundamental truth of religion, namely, the supremacy of God, generally admitted, and practically acted upon in our national affairs? Is God in all or in any of our national thoughts, feelings, aims? Is he duly acknowledged in our national counsels, or our national acts? Is he gratefully owned in public mercies? Is he humbly adored under public calamities? Is there a distinct and devout recognition of the Supreme Being, either by the governors or the governed? On the contrary, have not too many of our national deeds shown contempt of his high authority, and disregard of his holy law? And when the majority of a country manifestly acquiesce in the iniquitous acts of its rulers, then, in the sight of other nations, and in the sight of the King of nations, the guilt contracted becomes that of the country at large.
But in endeavouring to estimate the degree of our national depravity, we are bound to mark, not only the deeds of our rulers, and the grosser vices that abound among the people, but to conceive, as we best can, of the aggregate amount of sin committed by the entire community. Let each man isolate himself from the mass; let him search his own heart, and try his own ways; and if he engage in the scrutiny in a faithful and honest spirit, he will discover not only that he is a sinner, but that, considering all his advantages in this highly favoured country, he is a sinner before God exceedingly. Now if the sum of individual trespass be so great, what must be the amount of national transgression? Is it not manifest, that to us, no less than to Israel, does the description apply, that we are 'a sinful nation, a seed of evil doers.'
The sins of others we cannot, indeed, repent of, but we may well be filled with shame and confusion of face on account of the humbling proof they afford of the depravity of our common nature; and we ought also to feel deep contrition, that we have not used all the endeavours we might have done to arrest the progress of abounding iniquity. But if our own personal sins have greatly swelled the amount of national trespass, of them we may repent-of them we ought to repent. Let reformation begin at home. Let every man study the secret plagues of his own heart, and the besetting sins of his own character, and be found mourning apart as in dust and ashes. The same God who here spake to Israel, now speaks to us, saying, Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes. Cease to do evil; learn to do well. Seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'
mates that they do evil, much evil, and that continually; yea, that in all the good they do, there wanteth not sin. It thus explodes the absurd idea of moral perfection being found to exist here below; it even precludes the supposition of its ever being attained in this life. There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good,' and even in the good that he doeth, sinneth not.' There is not a just man upon earth, who, along with the good that he doeth, doeth not much evil also.
Nor does this assertion stand alone in the bible; it is confirmed by other passages no less explicit. 'There is none righteous, (i. e. absolutely or perfectly just ;) no not one. There is none that doeth good, (without sin) no not one. There is no man that liveth, and sinneth not. In many things we offend all; in all things we fail and come short of the glory of God.'
This testimony of scripture is confirmed by universal observation; for where, with the exception of one who was more than man, was there ever seen in our world a perfectly spotless life, a completely sinless character? Had such a man appeared, he could not fail to have attracted the admiring wonder of his cotemporaries, who would have transmitted with honour to posterity the memory of so rare a prodigy. But though the earth has existed for several thousand years, and during that period millions of men have been born, yet in no age and no country has there been found among those born in Adam's likeness, a single example of one who did no sin.' observation let us pass to
And from universal universal experience. Every man is, in a greater or less degree, conscious of guilt; is persuaded that he has left undone those things which he ought to have done, and that he has done those things which he ought not to have done. Every man is, on account of this conviction of present guilt, at some time or other apprehensive of future punishment. Every man who makes the attempt to abstain from all evil in thought, word, and deed, and to do his whole duty perfectly, finds the endeavour accompanied with great and insurmountable difficulties. Yea, who dare pronounce any one good work of man absolutely perfect, and without sin?
There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth Who will be bold enough to maintain, that his good, and sinneth not,' Eccl. vii. 20.
THIS is a clear and authoritative declaration of the sinful character of all men, and of the imperfect obedience of the best. It does not deny that there are, on the earth, those who, in contradistinction to the great mass of mankind, may be described as comparatively just,' pious, holy. It admits that these do good, much good, but it likewise inti
obedience, in any one instance, meets and answers the demands of that law which is spiritual, and reacheth unto the thoughts and intents of the heart? Who will presume to affirm, that in his best service there is no admixture of infirmity and imperfection? Who is there among the sons of men, who, in the review of any single transaction of his life, can lay his hand upon his heart