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to the weary and heavy-laden sinner, when he hears of a free and full salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ
This "sound" the true Believer "knows"
[A speculative knowledge of the Gospel is possessed by many who have no personal interest in it, and no desire after its blessings: but the true Believer knows it practically: he has felt its power; he has tasted its sweetness: and he has been brought to a reliance on it for the salvation of his soul. This distinction must be carefully made by us. It is not of a headknowledge that my text speaks; but of such a knowledge as enters into the heart, and engages all the powers of the soul It is such a knowledge as God alone can impart and all who possess that are truly "blessed.”]
In our text we have a rich description of, II. Their blessedness
They may not have much of this world: but they have much of God: they enjoy,
1. A sweet sense of his love
["They walk in the light of his countenance." This is a privilege of which a worldly man can form no conception: but it is understood, and experienced, by all who enter into the spirit of the Gospel. They can go to God as a Father: they know that he is reconciled towards them in the Son of his love and with a spirit of adoption they can draw nigh to him, and pour out their hearts before him, and hear him speaking peace unto their souls. In answer to their daily prayers he draws nigh to them, and "lifts up the light of his countenance upon them," and "fills them with joy and peace in believing.' Such is their daily "walk" with God, a foretaste of their happiness in the realms of bliss."]
2. An habitual confidence in his care
[They are subjected to a variety of circumstances like other men: but they have a Friend to whom they can go on every occasion, and from whom they can receive all such communications as they stand in need of. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, to which they run and are safe.” His perfections are all exercised in their behalf: and, being their God, he is " a God unto them," doing for them whatsoever their diversified necessities require. In Him "therefore, even in his name, they rejoice all the day;" spreading before him their every want, and committing to him their every desire. "They know in whom they have believed," and cast all their care on him who careth for them."]
3. An assured prospect of his glory
[In the Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ reveals himself to his people as a complete Saviour, who not only obtains a pardon for them, but has provided also a righteousness, wherein they may stand before God without spot or blemish. To him therefore they look in this view: and on him they rely, as "The Lord their righteousness." "In this righteousness they are exalted:" they are exalted in their own eyes, being no longer condemned sinners, but saints accepted and justified from all their sins. They are exalted in the eyes of God also; for he now "beholds no iniquity in them:" he views them as one with his dear Son, partakers of his nature, and joint-heirs of his glory. They are exalted also in the eyes of all the angelic hosts, who now delight to minister unto them, and will ere long give them the precedence in heaven, and take their station behind them before the throne of God"."
Say now, are not these happy? Yes: and David not only asserts it, but appeals to God himself for the truth of his assertion: "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance."]
1. Those who have no knowledge of this joyful sound
[How many amongst us are altogether ignorant of the Gospel itself! and, of those who hear it and profess to receive it, how many have no taste for that joy which it is intended to impart!--- Will you then call yourselves the people of God; or imagine that salvation belongs to you? Know, that "all are not Israel, who are of Israel;" nor are all Christians who bear that name. Whilst you are ignorant of the joyful sound, you can have no part or lot in those blessings which the Gospel is intended to convey.]
2. Those who know the Gospel, but find no blessedness in it
[There are, I must acknowledge, many of this description. But whence does this arise? Is it owing to any insufficiency in the Gospel to make them happy? No: it proceeds in some cases from a disordered constitution: in others, from imperfect views of the Gospel: and in others, from not walking steadfastly and consistently before God. But from whatever source it arise, I would say, Remember what an injury you do to the Gospel itself, and to the souls of men: the world around you will impute your gloom to religion, and take occasion from it to condemn the Gospel itself as a source of melancholy to all who embrace it. O! brethren, do not so dishonour the Lord Jesus Christ: but view the Gospel in all its freeness and all its
d Rev. vii. 11.
fulness, and all its excellency; and rest not till you have attained those rich blessings, which every true Believer is privileged to enjoy.]
3. Those who both know and enjoy the Gospel
[Happy indeed are ye, even though ye be in all other respects the most destitute and distressed. Let then your gratitude to God evince itself in a suitable life and conversation. As for your joys, the world knows nothing about them; and will therefore impute them to enthusiasm and delusion. But they can understand a holy life: that will approve itself to them as a good and genuine fruit of the Gospel. Let them then see, that this Gospel which makes you happy, makes you holy also. Let them see that it brings into subjection every unhallowed temper, every evil desire. Let them see that in every station and relation of life it elevates you above others, rendering you more amiable, more consistent. In a word, "let your whole conversation be such as becometh the Gospel of Christ;" and, whilst you are made partakers of a felicity which the world knows not of, endeavour to make your light shine before men, that they may be constrained to acknowledge the excellence of your principles, and be led to seek a participation of your bliss.]
THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST TO SAVE.
Ps lxxxix. 19. Thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty.
HOW joyful must these tidings be, to whomsoever they may have respect! Suppose them to refer to an oppressed nation; the raising up to them a mighty deliverer must be a rich, inestimable blessing and such were David and Solomon, who were raised up to govern Israel, and to put all their enemies under their feet. But a greater than David or Solomon is here. The words spoken by God to Samuel did certainly, in their primary sense, relate to David; as those spoken afterwards to Nathan did to Solomon'. But their ultimate reference was to Christ, who is the true David, and the Son of David. On him was
a 1 Sam. xvi. 1.
b 2 Sam. vii. 12-16. Compare 2 Sam. vii. 14. with Heb. i. 5. d Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24. and Hos. iii. 5.
e Matt. xxii. 42.
laid all the help that the Israel of God required; and God the Father declared beforehand, to his holy prophets, the sufficiency of Christ to discharge the office committed to him.
Two things are here obviously presented to us for our consideration:
I. The office committed unto Christ
What this was, may be known from the necessities of fallen man; because it was to supply them that he was sent into the world. It was then,
1. To make reconciliation for man
[This was a work which no man could accomplish for himself; a work which all the angels in heaven were unequal to perform. Satisfaction must be made for sin; made too in the nature that had sinned. The curse due to sin must be borne, even the wrath of Almighty God. Who could afford us this help? who could sustain this weight? It would crush in an instant the highest archangel. None could endure it, but God's co-equal Son. He cheerfully undertaking to bear it for us, the Father made him our substitute; that, divine justice being satisfied, and the law magnified by his obedience unto death, mercy might be extended unto us, and reconciliation be made between God and his offending creatures.]
2. To effect their complete salvation—
[It was not enough to die for them: they were wandering afar off, and they must be searched out; they were in rebellion, and must be subdued: when brought home to their Father's house, they are weak, and must be upheld; tempted, and must be strengthened; beset with enemies, and must be protected: they must never be left to themselves one moment: they must have every thing done for them, and in them: the whole care of preserving them, from first to last, must be devolved on him who undertakes for them: they must be "carried in the arms," "dandled on the knees," fed at the breast, and be watched over exactly like new-born infants. Nothing less than this will suffice for them. Though there be millions of them spread over the face of the whole globe, they must all be attended to as much as if there were only one. What a work was this to undertake! Yet was this "the help which God laid upon" his dear Son.] But weighty as this office is, we have no reason to doubt,
II. His sufficiency to discharge it—
To be convinced of this, we need only to consider,
1. His essential perfections
[He is said to be" mighty." But the angels are also called mighty; yet are they not therefore able to execute such an office as this. But Jesus is almighty: he is expressly called "The mighty God," even "God over all blessed for ever." In him therefore are all the perfections of the Deity. He is omnipresent, to behold the states of men; omniscient, to discern the things that will be most expedient for their relief; and omnipotent, to effect whatever shall be most conducive to their good. Difficulties can be no difficulties with him. He who spake the universe into existence, can be at no loss to accomplish, every where, and at the same instant, whatsoever the necessities of his creatures may require.]
2. His Mediatorial endowments
[As Mediator, he has received his qualifications from God the Father: and those qualifications are abundantly sufficient for the work assigned him. The Spirit has been given to him, not by measure, as to others, but without measure: "In him, even in his human nature, dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Hence "on him may be hanged every vessel, even all the glory of his Father's house."
But, not to mention the infinite merit of his blood, and the all-prevailing efficacy of his intercession ("through which he is able to save men to the uttermost"), he has, as man, qualifications which he could not have as God. He has, from his own experience of temptation, a tender sympathy with his tempted people, and a peculiar fitness and readiness to afford them all needful succour'.]
1. Those who feel not their need of Christ
[You cannot be persuaded that you are in a guilty, helpless, and undone state. But wherefore did God lay help upon One that was so mighty? Did he exert himself thus without a cause? If not, the greatness of the remedy should shew you the extent and imminence of your danger. Be persuaded then to put away your high thoughts of yourselves. Beg of God that you may feel in what a helpless and hopeless state you are without Christ: and never imagine that your repentance is at all genuine, till your sense of your misery corresponds, in some measure at least, with the provision which God has made for your relief.] 2. Those who are discouraged on account of their extreme weakness and sinfulness
[That you should be humbled on this account is right
f Isai. ix. 6.
Rom. ix. 5.
k Isai. xxii. 22-24.
h John iii. 34.
1 Heb. ii. 18.