« AnteriorContinuar »
the sin of the world. This is at once the glory and the hope of the Christian system. This is what marks it with a peculiarity, that makes it exceeding distinct from, and superior to, all other systems. Give up this point, and you confound the broad line of distinction, which separates it from all else that is called religion. Suffer this sun even to be eclipsed, and the race of man is covered with gloom. Quench his glory, and we are at once involved in ten-fold more than Egyptian night; we are doomed to wander in the shadow of death, on which no morning rays will ever dawn, nor one gleam of radiance ever fall to alleviate its terrors.
2. I remark, finally, that a Saviour suffering for us, the eternal Word, God manifest in the flesh, and in our nature offering an expiatory sacrifice, presents to the moral sympathies of our race, higher excitements to virtue and piety, and more powerful dissuasives from sin, than any other consideration which the Christian religion proffers.
I am quite confident, that I might safely undertake to establish the correctness of this observation, from the nature of our moral constitution, and the manner in which we are most successfully influenced to engage in the mortification of our sinful appetites, and in the practice of virtue. But I will not make such an appeal, because I choose to rest the whole subject on the Scriptures and the actual experience of Christians. \
Paul when speaking on the topic now introduced, says: "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
Rom. v. 8. "Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends;" but Christ has far surpassed this. The same apostle, says, " When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son;" Rom. v. 10. Here then is a consideration which will make every heart to vibrate, that is not lost to all sense of gratitude and of mercy. How many thousands have heard the thunders of Sinai unmoved; and even while their awful power has made the very ground to rock, how many have still turned a deaf ear to all the admonitions and threatenings which they conveyed, and grown more desperate in their resolutions to persist in rebellion against God; who yet have been melted down under the proclamation of Jesus' dying love, and fallen as humble suppliants at the foot of his cross. Yes, we may say with John, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us;" 1 John m. 16. And again, "In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might have life through him." But on what point did this love principally rest? Where did all the glories of benevolence concenter? The same apostle immediately informs us: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;" L e. when we were enemies to God, Christ died as our propitiatory offering, and made reconciliation for us; 1 John Hi. 9, 10. Herein is love indeed; and hard must be that heart, which can resist the
proposal of it: for if any consideration can avail to subdue the stubborn spirit of the human breast, this must be the one which has the most powerful influence of all.
I appeal to fact When the missionaries of the United Brethren undertook to preach the eternal power and Godhead of the Deity, as displayed in the creation, to the poor benighted Greeidanders, they listened, they gazed, they turned away with silent neglect The faithful disciples urged on them still more vehemently the attributes of the creator and judge of all, and their moral accountability to him. They listened, but their hearts remained like the eternal ice with which their region is overspread. Compassion for their perishing condition made the servants of Jesus more urgent still. One other chord there was, which perhaps when touched, might be made to vibrate. They touched it with a faithful hand. They proclaimed to the poor, gazing, perishing heathen, a Saviour, bleeding, groaning, dying for them. They pointed them to his bleeding hands, his wounded side; they bid them look to that Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. The sight prostrated them to the earth. Their stubborn hearts melted like wax before the fire. They fell at the foot of a dying Saviour's cross, and exclaimed: Lord Jesus, save us or we perish forever!
Yes, and millions of the ransomed, who have gone to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, can testify to the power of this mighty truth on their rebellious hearts. God so commended his love toward them, by disclosing a Saviour dying on their account, that they could no longer resist the invitations of his mercy. It was a mighty stream, rushing on with overwhelming power, and bearing every thing away before it.
That Jesus died, and died for us; that he was Our Substitute; that his tender compassion did take us into view individually; that he took our nature in order to enter most intimately, most endearingly, into our sympathies, and propose himself to us under the most attractive form, is the view which Paul took of the Redeemer's work. He was not an isolated monument of suffering, and of God's displeasure against sinners; not merely a sign that sin could be pardoned, by which only an abstract testimony coidd be given, like that which the rainbow gives of God's covenant to drown the earth no more—a symbol which might have served equally well for angels or for men. No; "Verily he did not assist the angels, but the seed of Abraham." Man was the object—the only object —of his incarnation, sufferings, and death. "Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining unto God, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people. For in that he himself suffered, being tempted, he is able also to succour those that are tempted;" Heb. n. 16—18. See what pains is here taken to represent the suffering Saviour as participating in our nature, and entering with the most tender sympathy into all our wants and woes. Is this to propose him as a mere example of suffering, cold, distant, abstract; or is it to make him such a high priest as we needed, one who can be touched with a feeling for our infirmities, having been tempted in all points as we are? Speak, ye whose hearts have been melted by a Saviour's love, and tell us. Speak, ye who live amid the horrors of eternal winter and storm; and ye who roam in deserts parched beneath a burning sun; ye who were without God and without hope in the world, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, speak and say, Is not this the Saviour you need? the Saviour who has cheered your desponding hearts? who has opened to you the prospect of glory? Is not this he whom your souls love? Speak, ye redeemed, encircling his throne above, and casting your crowns at his feet; is not this he who drew your souls to him by bonds of love stronger than death; whieh many waters could not quench, nor floods drown'? Hark! I hear the notes of that song which fills all the regions of heaven with harmony. It echoes back even to this distant world: "Thou Wast Slain, And Hast RedeemEd us To God By Thy Blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, and hast made U9 kings and priests unto our God forever and ever." O for a heart and tongue to unite with this grateful, happy throng, and begin on earth the notes which we hope to sing through everlasting ages in the world above!