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then can make trouble ?" He preserves and provides for his sheep, in the midst of wolves.
We may close this part of our subject with two or three reflections, which, though as to the substance of them I may have offered you before, are always seasonable and suitable when we are speaking of the power and grace of MESSIAH.
1. How precious is this Saviour! How justly is he entitled to the chief place in the hearts of those who know him! In the work of salvation, from the first step to the last, he is all in all. If he had not died and risen again, we must have died for ever. If he had not ascended into heaven, there to appear in the presence of God for us, we must have been thrust down into the lowest hell, If he did not plead for us, we could not, we durst not, offer a word in our own behalf. If he was not on our part, engaged to keep us night and day, our enemies would soon be too hard for us. May we, therefore, give him the glory due to his name, and cleave to him, and trust in him alone.
2. How safe are the people of whom he undertakes the care! While his eye is upon them, his ear open to their prayer, and his arm of power stretched out for their protection; while he remembers that word of promise, upon which he himself has caused them to hope; while he retains that faithfulness which encouraged them to commit their souls to him, it is impossible that any weapon or stratagem formed against them can prevail. There are many, it is true, who will rise up against them, but God is for them, and with them, a very present help in trouble. They are full of wants and fears, and in themselves liable to many charges; but since Jesus is their head, their security, their intercessor, no needful good shall be withheld from them, no charge admitted against them, none shall condemn them, for it is God himself who justifies the believer in Jesus.
3. If these things be so, how much are they to be pitied who hear of them without being affected or influenced by them? Will you always be content with hearing? Oh taste and see that the Lord is good?' Should you at last be separated from those with whom you now join in public worship; should you see them admitted into the kingdom of God, and you yourselves be thrust out, your present advantages would then prove an aggravation of your guilt and misery. As yet, there is room. Strive to enter while the gate of mercy remains open. Think of the solemnities of that great day. Many will then be condemned, though they who believe in the Son of God will be justified. Consider who will condemn them, God himself.' From his inquisition there
* Job, xxxiv. 29. VOL. III.
can be no retreat; from his sentence there can be no appeal. And consider what the condemnation will be. A final exclusion from his favour; a never-ceasing sense of his awful displeasure! a state of eternal horror and despair, without mitigation, without the smallest ray of hope. Can you deliberately give up all claim to happiness, and determine to rush' upon the thick bosses of God's buckler,* to defy his power, and to dare his threatenings, rather than forego the transitory and delusive pleasures of sin? and can you do this with the Gospel sounding in your ears? May the Lord prevent it! However, observe you are once more warned, once more invited. If now at last, after so many delays, so much perverseness on your part, you will honestly and earnestly seek him, he will be found of you. But if you persist in your obstinacy, your condemnation will be inevitable and sure.
THE SONG OF THE REDEEMED.
REVELATION, v. 9.
-Thou hast redeemed us to God, by thy blood, [out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.]
THE extent, variety, and order of the creation, proclaim the glory of God. He is likewise Maximus in minimis. The smallest of his works that we are capable of examining, such, for instance, as the eye or the wing of a little insect, the creature of a day, are stamped with an inimitable impression of his wisdom and power. Thus in his written word, there is a greatness, considering it as a whole, and a beauty and accuracy in the smaller parts, analagous to what we observe in the visible creation, and answerable to what an enlightened and humble mind may expect in a book which bears the character of a divine revelation. A single verse, a single clause, when viewed (if I may so speak) in the microscope of close meditation, is often found to contain a fulness, a world of wonders. And though a connected and comprehensive acquaintance with the whole Scripture be desirable and useful, and is no less the privilege, than the duty, of those who have capacity and time at their own disposal to acquire it; yet there
* Job, xv. 26.
is a gracious accommodation to the weakness of some persons, and the circumstances of others. So that in many parts of Scripture, whatever is immediately necessary to confirm our faith, to animate or regulate our practice, is condensed into a small compass, and comprised into a few verses; yea, sometimes a single sentence, when unfolded and examined, will be found to contain all the great principles of duty and comfort. Such is the sentence, which I have now read to you. In the Messiah, it is inserted in the grand chorus taken from the twelfth and thirteenth verses of this chapter. And as it may lead us to a compendious recapitulation of the whole subject, and, by the Lord's blessing, may prepare us to join in the following ascription of praise to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb; I purpose to consider it in its own proper connexion, as a part of the leading song of the redeemed before the throne, in which the angels cannot share; though the angels from their love to redeemed sinners, and from their views of the manifold wisdom and glory of God in visiting such sinners with such a salvation, cheerfully take a part in the general chorus.
The redemption spoken of is suited to the various cases of sinners of every nation, people and language. And many sinners of divers descriptions, and from distant situations, scattered abroad into all lands, through a long succession of ages, will, by the efficacy of this redemption, be gathered together into one.* They will constitute one family, united in one great Head.† When they shall fully attain the end of their hope, and encircle the throne, day without night, rejoicing, their remembrance of what they once were, their sense of the happiness they are raised to, and of the great consideration to which they owe their deliverance and their exaltation, will excite a perpetual joyful acknowledgment to this purport. They were once lost, but could contribute nothing to their own recovery. Therefore they ascribe all the glory to their Saviour. They strike their golden harps, and sing in strains, loud as from numbers without number, sweet as from blest voices, 'Thou art worthy; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
But though this song, and this joy, will only be consummated in heaven, the commencement takes place upon earth. Believers, during their present state of warfare, are taught to sing it; in feebler strains indeed, but the subject of their joy, and the object of their praise, are the same which inspire the harps and songs in the world of light. May I not say that this life is the time of their
* John, xi. 52.
Eph. iii. 14, 15.
rehearsal? They are now learning their song, and advancing in meetness to join in the chorus on high, which, as death successively removes them, is continually increasing by the accession of fresh voices. All that they know, or desire to know, all that they possess or hope for, is included in this ascription.
I take the last clause of the verse into the subject. The words suggest three principal points to our consideration.
I. The benefit, Redemption to God.'
II. The redemption-price, 'By thy blood.'
III. The extent of the benefit-to a people out of every kindred, and tongue, and nation.'
I. Thou hast redeemed us to God.' Redemption or ransom is applicable to a state of imprisonment for debt, and to a state of bondage or slavery. From these ideas, taken together, we may form some estimate of the misery of our fallen state; a theme which, if I cannot insist upon at large in every discourse, I would never wholly omit. For we can neither understand the grace, nor enjoy the comfort of the Gospel, but in proportion as we have a heart-felt and abiding conviction of our wretched coudition as sinners without it. They who think themselves whole, know not their need of a physician;* but to the sick he is wel
If a man, shut up in prison for a beavy debt, which he is utterly incapable of discharging, should obtain his liberty, in consideration of payment made for him by another, he might be properly said to be redeemed from imprisonment. This supposition will apply to our subject. The law and justice of God have demands upon us which we cannot answer. We are therefore shut up under the law, in unbelief, helpless and hopeless, till we know and can plead the engagement of a surety for us. For a time, like Peter, we are sleeping in our prison, regardless of danger.† The first sensible effect of the grace of God, is, to awaken us from this insensibility. Then we begin to feel the horrors of our dungeon, and the strength of our chains, and to tremble under the apprehension of an impending doom. But grace proceeds to reveal the Saviour and friend of sinners, and to encourage our application to him. In a good hour the chains fall off, the bars of iron and brass are broken asunder, and the prison-doors fly open. The prisoner understands that all his great debt is forgiven, blesses his Deliverer, obtains his liberty, and departs in peace.
We are likewise in bondage, the servants, the slaves, of a harder task-master than Pharaoh was to Israel. Satan, though not by right, yet by a righteous permission, tyrannizes over us, till Jesus Acts, xii. 6-10.
Matth. ix. 12.
makes us free.* The way of transgressors is hard. Though the solicitations, and commands of that enemy who worketh in the children of disobedience,‡ are, in some respects suited to our depraved inclinations; yet the consequences are grievous. A burdened conscience, a wasted constitution, a ruined fortune and character, swiftly and closely follow the habits of intemperance and lewdness; and they who seem to walk in a smoother path are deceived, mortified, and disappointed daily. If persons who live openly and habitually in a course that is contrary to the rule of God's work, speak swelling words of vanity,' and boast of their liberty, believe them not. We are sure they carry that in their bosom which hourly contradicts their assertions. Yea, sometimes their slavery is so galling that they attempt to escape, but in vain. They are soon retaken, and their bonds made stronger. The issue of the short-lived reformations, which they defer as long as possible, and at last set about with reluctance, usually is, that their latter end proves worse than their beginning. At most, they only exchange one sinful habit for another, sensuality for avarice, or prodigality for pride. The strong one armed will maintain bis dominion till the stronger than he interposes and says, 'Loose him and let him go, for I have found a ransom.' Then, by virtue of the redemption-price, the prey is taken from the mighty, and the captive is delivered.'|| Then the enslaved sinner, like the man out of whom the legion was cast, sits at the feet of Jesus, in peace, and in his right mind.' He becomes the Lord's freed-man.
For he is not only delivered from guilt and thrall, he is redeemed to God.' He is now restored to his original state, as an obedient and dependent creature, devoted to his Creator conformed to his will and image, and admitted to communion with him in love. These are blessings which alone can satisfy the soul, and without which it is impossible for man to be happy. While he is ignorant of his proper good, and seeks it in creatures, he is, and must be, wretched. Madness is in his heart, a deceived, disordered imagination turns him aside, and he feeds upon ashes, and upon the wind.**. But by grace he is renewed to a sound judgment, his mind receives a right direction, and he is turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.'††
II. What unspeakably, and beyond conception, enhances the value of this deliverance, is, the consideration of the means by which it is effected. For it is not merely a deliverance, but 'a redemption.' It is not an act of mere mercy, but of mercy har
* John, viii. 34, 36. Isa. xlix. 24, 25.
Prov. xiii. 15.
Eph. ii. 2. ** Isa. xliv. 20.
2 Pet. ii. 18, 19. Acts, xxvi. 13