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found, and where tidings of such good were never proclaimed; even here, I announce the tidings of expiated sin, a pardoning God, a renewing Spirit, an opening heaven and a dawning immortality. Here peace anew shall lift her olive branch over mankind. Here salvation from sin and woe shall anew be found ; and here God shall dwell and reign, the God of Zion. •Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden ; and I will give you rest.' • Incline your ear, and hear, and your souls shall live ; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of Darid.' • The spirit of Jehovah is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek ; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.' will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with garments of salvation ; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a Bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments ; as a Bride adorneth herself with jewels.'
Every messenger of good news is, of course, desirable and lovely in the eyes of those who are deeply interested ; and a part of that lustre, belonging to the tidings themselves, is by a natural association diffused around him by whom they are borne ; especially because he is regarded as voluntarily announcing good to us, and as rejoicing in our joy. How glorious, how lovely then, does Christ appear, when coming with all the inherent splendour and beauty of his character, and the transcendent dignity of his station, to proclaim to us tidings infinitely desirable, of good infinitely necessary and infinitely great! Men to him were wholly unnecessary.
Had all their millions been blotted out of the kingdom of God, they would not even have left a blank in the creation. With a word he could have formed, of the stones of the street, other millions, wiser, better, and happier; more dutiful, and more desirable. How divinely amiable does he appear, when the tidings which he brings, are tidings of his own arduous labours on our behalf, and of his own unexampled sufferings ; labours and sufferings, without which, good tidings could never have reached us, and real good never been found in this miserable world! How divinely amiable does he appear, when, notwithstanding the apostasy and guilt of the race of Adam, he came, of his own accord, to publish these tidings of immortal good to rebels and enemies; and, while proclaiming them, ' rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth,' and found his delights with the sons of men.'
What, then, must be the guilt, what the debasement, of those who are regardless of the glorious declarations, hostile to the benevolent designs, and insensible to the perfect character of this divine herald! How blind, and deaf, and stupid must they be to all that is beautiful, engaging, and lovely! How grovelling must be their moral taste! How wonderful their neglect of their own well being! How evidently is their ingratitude ' as the sin of witchcraft, and their stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry!' Were these tidings to be proclaimed in hell itself, one can scarcely fail to imagine that all the malice, impiety, and blasphemy in that dreary world would be suspended, that fiends would cease to conflict with fiends, that sorrow would dry the stream of never-ending tears, that remorse would reverse and blunt his stings, that despair would lift up his pale front with a commencing smile, that the prisoners of wrath (then prisoners of hope') would shake their chains with transport, and that all the gloomy caverns would echo to the sounds of gratitude and joy. In our own world, once equally hopeless, these tidings are actually proclaimed. What must be the spirit of those who refuse to hear !
But, О ye followers of the divine and compassionate Saviour, infinitely different is the wisdom displayed by you! When this divine messenger proclaims to you peace and salvation when he informs you that he has died, that you may live; when he demands of you cordially to embrace his atonement, and accept his intercession ; you cheerfully hear, believe, and obey. Conscious of your own guilty character, and ruined condition, you have yielded yourselves to him with all the heart, in the humble, amiable, penitent exercise of faith and love, and finally chosen him as your own Saviour. On your minds his image is instamped; in your life his beauty shines with real, though feeble, radiance; in your character his loveliness is begun; in your souls his immortality is formed. On you his Father smiles, a forgiving God. On you his Spirit descends, with bis sanctifying and dove-like influence. To you his word unfolds all his promises, his daily favour, bis everlasting love. To you hell is barred, and all its seducing
and destroying inhabitants confined in chains. Heaven for you bas already opened its everlasting doors ;' and the King of glory' has entered in,' to ' prepare a place for you.' The joy of that happy world has been already renewed over your repentance. The Spirit of truth conducts you daily onward in your journey through life, and in your way towards your final home. Death, your last enemy, is to you deprived of his strength and sting, and the grave despoiled of its victory. Your bodies will soon be 'sown' in the corruption, weakness, and dishonour' of your present perishable nature, to be raised’in the incorruption, power, and glory' of immortality. Your souls, cleansed from every sin, and stain, and weakness, this divine messenger will present before the throne of his father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,' to be acquitted, approved, and blessed. In the world of light, and peace, and joy, enlarged with knowledge, and refined with evangelical virtue, he will unite you to the general assembly of the first-born,' and to the innumerable company of angels ;' will make you ‘sons, and priests, and kings to God,' and cause you to live and reign with him for ever and ever.' • All things' will then be yours;' you will be • Christ's; and Christ' will be · God's.' Anticipate, and by anticipation enjoy to the full, this divine assemblage of blessings; they are your birth-right. But, while you enjoy them, deeply pity and fervently pray for your foolish, guilty, and miserable companions.
CONSEQUENCES OF CIIRIST'S MEDIATION.
JUSTIFICATION BY THE FREE GRACE OF GOD.
BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE, THROUGH THE REDEMPTION WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESU'S,
ROMANS 111. 24.
In the series of Sermons which I have preached hitherto, as part of a System of Theology, I have considered the existence and perfections of God; the disobedience and apostasy of man; and the impossibility of his justification by his own righteousness: the covenant of redemption made between the Father and the Son; the character, mediation, and offices of Christ. The former class of subjects constitutes what is frequently called the religion of nature; the latter, the first branches of the Christian, or remedial system, grafted upon that religion. Perfect beings are justified by their own obedience, since they fulfil all the demands of the divine law. To them, therefore, the religion of nature is amply sufficient to secure their duty, their acceptance with God, and their final happiness. Sinful beings cannot thus be justified ; because they have not rendered that obedience which is the only possible ground of justification by law. Of course, some other ground of justification is absolutely necessary for them, if they are ever to be accepted, or rewarded. For this the religion of Christ professes to have made ample provision. In my examination of the character and offices of Christ, I have attempted to show that he has taught all which is necessary to be known, believed, or done by us, in order to our acceptance with God; and has accomplished the expiation of our sins in such a manner, that God, in justifying us, may be just to himself, and to the universe. Thus far it is hoped, the way to our return from our apostasy has been made clear and satisfactory.
The next great question to be asked, and a question of infinite moment to every one of us, is, In what manner do we become interested in the mediation of Christ, and entitled to the glorious blessings which he has purchased for man? This question is partially answered in the text. Here we are said to be justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption of Christ Jesus.' In this declaration our justification is immediately connected with the redemption of Christ,' as its meritorious or procuring cause. The source of it, also, on the part of God, is directly asserted; as is also the manner in which it was accomplished. We are said to be * justified freely;' and `justified by his grace.' All this is also said to be done 'through' by means of, or on account of, the redemption of Christ.' These subjects are intended to occupy the following Discourse.
In the course of my investigation I shall consider,
I. I shall consider in what sense mankind are justified under the Gospel.
The word “justified,' as I observed in a former Discourse, is taken from the business of judicial courts; and denotes the acquittal of a person tried by such a court, upon an accusation of a crime. The person accused, being upon trial found innocent of the charge, is declared to be just, in the view of the law; and, by an easy and natural figure, is said to be justified; that is, made just. In this original, forensic sense of the term, it is obvious, from what has been said in a former Discourse, that no human being can be justified by the law, or before the bar of God. As all mankind have disobeyed this law, it is clear, that he whose judgment is invariably according to truth,' must declare them guilty.