« AnteriorContinuar »
tory, with which from our very cradle, we are made acquainted, and wherein we read His mysterious birth, His sinless life, His constant, His bitter sufferings, His painful end, His atoning death, all written for our learning in the unerring word of God. In the short but awfully eventful period of His abode upon earth, we have an impartial and an impressive account of all that is necessary for us to know of what He did and suffered, for our sake:, His laborious and persecuted life, His unceasing toil in doing good: His sad usage from His own disciples, His mock trial, His dreadful sufferings and death, inflicted by those who, with all that malice, and power, and cunning could accomplish, could bring nothing against Him for which He could be condemned, even by an idolatrous ruler; Him of whom their own spies had said,
never man spake like this man.”* So great, so numerous were the deeds and the unexampled excellences of the life and character of the Redeemer of man, that His faithful and most confidential disciple winds up the whole of His history with a strong, an allowed, and a well understood declaration, after the fervent manner of eastern language. “ This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things; and we know
* John, vii. 46.
that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, to which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."*
Thus, in His bitter sufferings for our sake, Christ was made man; thus, in His almighty power and works He remained, as He had been from everlasting, very and eternal God : as man He suffered for man; as God He remained entirely free from all possibility of pain and ill; and so sin was answered for, and man, penitent and believing, could then be forgiven. In His own infinite knowledge of the purpose for which He came into this world, He Himself declared, that “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”+ And through His Holy apostles, we are expressly told that He “ gave Himself a ransom for all.” “That he might reconcile both,”. Jews and gentiles, “unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."S. Had Christ not suffered, we, who sinned, could not have been restored to the image of God, which we had lost; nor to the favour of God which had been forfeited through sin. Christ then is our sacrifice, our only, * St. John, xxi. 24, 25.
+ Matt. xx. 28. # 1 Tim. ii. 2, 6.
§ Eph. ii. 16.
our sufficient sacrifice, our Great High Priest, Himself the Paschal Lamb slain for the sins of the whole world. ;“ Surely He hath borné our griefs, and carried our sorrows':” He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for bur iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripesi we are healed.", "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”* He hath made Him to be sin,''. a sin offering “ for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”+ Weithus see what Christ hath done on our bed half. That which repentance could not have procured, Christ hath, by right of merit, and full atonement, obtained. Repentance can do no more than shew sorrow for the past: it cannot answer to justice for broken laws:' neither in divine nor human law can repentance do away the past, or expiate wilful transgrèssion.
Having now seen who Christ was, and what He hath done for us, let us consider the influence which all this knowledge is intended to have upon our conduct, as well as upon our understanding and belief.
One of the most humbling proofs' of our fall, that is, of our not now being in the state in which God designed man to be, is that strange alienation from God, that pride and self-will, that natural love of sin, and impatience of restraint, to which, in a greater or less degree, the whole human race are subject. Hence the extreme difficulty with which practice is made to answer to doctrine. Hence, too, we see how it is, that the human under standing, in matters of religious truth, is oftentimes, entirely convinced, as far as argument goes; and yet that the enjoined duties arising herefrom, are totally neglected, or very carelessly attended to. Asi Christians we can easily account for this'; iMan, in his natural and unrenewed state, I cannot discern those things which cans only be s spiritually discerneds thougbi he: mayıber in ipossession of arguments, wbichi most gundeniably, support their truth.si Unless;; therefore; the will be sanctified unto obedience through a power higher far than any within himself, the mind will never really believe; the conscience will never be really, and upon good foundation at peace, the daily life will never exhibit the fruits of a pure and holy doctrine.f* ; !1'389 in's
* Isaiah, liiï: 5, 6. * 2 Cor. v. 21.
These observations may be well applied to the solemn subject of this discourse. The doctrine of the text, proved' as it is by all the evidence which the Word of God itself has af. forded, one would suppose, must be produce tive of its intended fruits. But is it so ? Thou.
sands believe these sacred truths, so far as having their understanding convinced, if they have examined it; or their mind indolently at ease about it, if they have taken it at another's word through indifference to the examination of it themselves: and yet they seem to spend their days as if nothing were hereafter to be said, no retribution of reward or punishment rendered to every man according to his works; no strict account to be taken of the means and opportunities of religious knowledge, as the foundation of religious practice. Men like these appear to live senseless and indifferent to this sure condition of their being here, in their place of trial, just as if they would never hear more of the things done in the body, of the thiogs neglected to be done in the body ; nor had any account to give of the knowledge they have received, the truths they have heard, the Gospel of their souls' salvation into which they have been baptized. That all this should be open, continued, acknowledged among all ranks and conditions of men; that the plain and awful doctrines of religion should be heard, day after day, rung in our ears, meeting us wherever we go; that thus, in a measure, we should be almost com. pelled to go in to the marriage supper of the great Lord, and yet that men should still remain in impenitency and practical disbelief,