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ritual import of that penitent language which we continually adopt! that we may see and bewail the height and depth, the length and breadth of our own sinful condition, and may thus be led to comprehend with all saints,” the height and depth, the length and breadth of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord !"
“ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the
law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
On the last occasion when I addressed you on the subject of our church liturgies, it was my aim to prove from Scripture, and from the Prayer Book, that God would be acceptably approached by us only in the character of penitent sinners. We collected into one view most of the confessional and penitential language of our ritual, confirming it by scriptural examples and precepts. If our conclusion were correctly drawn, it left us in the condition of fallen sinners, simply dependent on the absolute mercy and free forgiveness of
God. But here the question naturally arises, is it consistent with the perfection of all the attributes of Deity, that this free forgiveness should be extended to us? Our guilt is of such a nature that it is impossible that we can offer any atonement for it: tears of repentance, however sincere, cannot avert the sentence even of human justice, how much less that of the perfect and inflexible justice of God! Future obedience cannot expiate former transgressions. The law of God inflicts certain penalties on every offender; “ the soul that sinneth it shall die;" “ cursed is he who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” God is merciful indeed, infinitely merciful, but it is vain to suppose that he is not infinitely just, and holy also: how then can his justice be satisfied, and yet we sinners be saved from the ruin in which we have involved ourselves? The curse of God's violated law is suspended over the head
of every human being: how shall he avert it? The only way of escape is pointed out in the text. “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us : for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
It will be our object therefore, on the present occasion, to show that the church, in her public services, leads us to a simple trust in the great redemption which is in Christ Jesus, as the only mode of access to God : and we shall then briefly point out the strict conformity of that doctrine with the whole tenor of Scripture. May that Holy Spirit, whose special office it is to “ take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us,” exhibit his great salvation so powerfully to our minds, that we may all be enabled to seek and to retain those precious promises which are in Him!
I. In illustrating this important sub
ject from the church service, I would call your attention to one or two general features which we may perceive in it. One principle pervades the whole, the adoration of Christ as God! Many are the prayers directly addressed to him. “O Son of David have mercy upon us !” “ O Christ hear us!” “O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace!" By these and similar expressions our church proves herself to be built upon that immoveable rock, the doctrine of the divinity and proper godhead of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; for to worship or adore any other than God, is idolatry.
Further we observe that every prayer of our service concludes with the plea of Christ's merits as our ground of acceptance “ Through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “ For the honour of our advocate and mediator Jesus Christ, For the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.” “ Through the