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prayer for divine teaching, are the chief sources of our perplexities and disputes.
The extent of the atonement is frequently represented, as if a calculation had been made, how much suffering was necessary for the surety to endure, in order exactly to expiate the aggregate number of all the sins of all the elect; that so much he suffered precisely, and no more; and that when this requisition was completely answered, he said, It is finished, bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."* But this nicety of computation does not seem analogous to that unbounded magnificence and grandeur which overwhelm the attentive mind in the contemplation of the divine conduct in the natural world. When God waters the earth, he waters it 'abundantly. He does not restrain the rain to cultivated or improvable spots, but, with a profusion of bounty worthy of himself, his clouds pour down water with equal abundance upon the barren mountain, the lonely desert, and the pathless ocean. Why may we not say, with the Scripture, that Christ died to declare the righteousness of God,' to manifest that he is just in justifying the ungodly who believe in Jesus? And, for any thing we know to the contrary, the very same display of the evil and demerit of sin, by the Redeemer's agonies and death, might have been equally, necessary, though the number of the elect were much smaller than it will appear to be when they shall all meet before the throne of glory. If God had formed this earth for the residence of one man only; had it been his pleasure to afford him the same kind and degree of light which we enjoy ; the same glorious sun, which is now sufficient to enlighten and comfort the millions of mankind, would have been necessary for the accommodation of that one person. So, perhaps, had it been his pleasure to save but one sinner, in a way that should give the highest possible discovery of his justice and of his mercy, this could have been done by no other method than that which he has chosen for the salvation of the innumerable multitudes who will in the great day unite in the song of praise to the Lamb who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood.' As the sun has a sufficiency of light for eyes (if there were so many capable of beholding it) equal in number to the leaves upon the trees, and the blades of grass that grow upon the earth; so, in Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, there is plenteous redemption: he is rich in mercy to all that call upon him ;' and he invites sinners, without exception, to whom the word of his
* John, xix, 30. † Psalm, lxv. 10. ‡ Rom. iii. 25, 26, Psalm, cxxx. 7. Rom. x. 12.
salvation is sent, even to the ends of the earth, to look unto him, that they may be saved."*
Under the Gospel dispensation, and by it, God commands all men, every where, to repent.'† All men, therefore, every where, are encouraged to hope for forgiveness, according to the constitution prescribed by the Gospel; otherwise repentance would be both impracticable and unavailing. And therefore the command to repent implies a warrant to believe in the name of Jesus, as taking away the sin of the world. Let it not be said, that to call upon men to believe, which, is an act beyond their natural power, is to mock them. There are prescribed means for the obtaining of faith, which it is not beyond their natural power to comply with, if they are not wilfully obstinate. We have the word of God for our authority. God cannot be mocked,' neither doth he mock his creatures. Our Lord did not mock the young ruler, when he told him, that if he would sell his possessions upon earth, and follow him, he should have treasure in heaven.' Had this ruler no power to sell his possessions? I doubt not but that he himself thought he had power to sell them if he pleased. But while he loved his money better than he loved Christ, and preferred earthly treasures to heavenly, he had no will to part with them. And a want of will in a moral agent, is a want of power in the strongest sense. Let none presume to offer such excuses to their Maker as they would not accept in their own concerns. If you say of a man, he is such a liar that he cannot speak a word of truth; so profane that he cannot speak without an oath; so dishonest that he cannot omit one opportunity of cheating or stealing; do you speak of this disability to good as an extenuation, and because you think it renders him free from blame? Surely you think the more he is disinclined to good, and habituated to evil, the worse he is. A man that can speak lies and perjury, that can deceive and rob, but is such an enemy to truth and goodness that he can do nothing that is kind or upright, must be a shocking character indeed! Judge not more favourably of yourself if you can love the world and sensual pleasure, but cannot love God; if you can fear a worm like yourself, but live without the fear of God; if you can boldly trample upon his laws, but will not, and therefore cannot, humble yourself before him, and seek his mercy in the way of his appointment.
We cannot ascribe too much to the grace of God; but we should be careful, that under a semblance of exalting his grace,
* Isa. xlv. 22. † Acts, xvii. 30.
↑ Gal. vi. 7.
Luke, xviii. 22.
we do not furnish the slothful and unfaithful* with excuses for their wilfulness and wickedness. God is gracious; but let man be justly responsible for his own evil, and not presume to state bis case so, as would, by just consequence, represent the holy God as being the cause of the sin, which he hates and forbids.
The whole may be summed up in two points, which I commend to your serious attention; which it must be the business of my life to enforce; and which, I trust, I shall not repent of having enforced, either at the hour of death, or in the day of judg ment, when I must give an account of my preaching, and you of what you have heard in this place.
1. That salvation is, indeed, wholly of grace. The gift of a Saviour, the first dawn of light into the heart, all the supports and supplies needful for carrying on the work, from the foundation to the top stone; all is of free grace.
2. That now The Lamb of God' is preached to you, as taking away the sin of the world; if you reject him, which may the Lord forbid! I say, if you reject him, your blood will be upon your own head. You are warned, you are invited. Dare not to say, Why doth he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will?' If he will save me, I shall be saved; if not, what can I do? God is merciful, but he is also holy and just; he is almighty, but his infinite power is combined with wisdom, and regulated by the great designs of his government. He can do innumerable things which he will not do. What he will do, (so far as we are concerned,) his word informs us, and not one jot or tittle thereof shall fail.'
MESSIAH DESPISED, AND REJECTED OF MEN.
ISAIAH, liii. S.
He is despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
THE heathen moralists, ignorant of the character and perfections of God, the true dignity and immortality of the soul, and the root and extent of human depravity, had no better foundation for
*Matth. xxv. 16
Rom. ix. 19.
Matth. v. 18.
what they called virtue, than pride; no higher aim in their regulations, than the interests of society and the conduct of civil life. They expressed, indeed, occasionally, some sentiments of a superior kind; but these, however just and valuable upon the principles of revelation; were delusive and impracticable upon their And Brutus, one of the most admired characters of antiquity, confessed, just before he put an end to his own life, that having long been enamoured of virtue as a real good, he found it, at last, to be but an empty name. But though they had so little satisfaction or success in the pursuit of virtue, they were so pleased with the idea they formed of it, as generally to suppose, that if virtue could become visible, it would necessarily engage the esteem and admiration of mankind.
There was, however, one remarkable exception to this opinion. The wisdom of Socrates seems to have been, in many respects, diffierent from that of the bulk of their philosophers. Socrates having expressed his idea of a perfect character, a truly virtuous man, ventured to predict the reception such a person, if such a one could ever be found, would meet with from the world. And he thought, that his practice would be so dissimilar to that of other men, his testimony against their wickedness so strong, and his endeavours to reform them so importunate and unwelcome, that, instead of being universally admired, he would be disliked and hated; that mankind were too degenerate and too obstinate to bear either the example or the reproof of such a person, and would most probably revile and persecute him, and put him to death as an enemy to their peace.
In this instance, the judgment of Socrates accords with the language of the Old, and with the history of the New Testament. MESSIAH was this perfect character. As such Isaiah describes him. He likewise foresaw how he would be treated, and foretold that he would be numbered with transgressors,' despised and rejected by the very people who were eye-witnesses of his upright and benevolent conduct. And thus, in fact, it proved. When Jesus was upon earth, true virtue and goodness were visibly displayed, and thereby the wickedness of man became signally conspicuous. For they among whom he was conversant, preferred a robber and a 'murderer to him."* They preserved Barabbas; who had been justly doomed to die for enormous crimes, and they nailed Jesus, in his stead, to the cross.
When MESSIAH appeared, the Jews professed to blame the wickedmess of their forefathers, who had opposed and slain the prophets. If they regretted the ill-treatment the servants' of
*John, xviii. 40.
God had formerly received, might it not be hoped that they would reverence his Son ?'* concerning whom, under this character of MESSIAH, their expectations were raised by the Scriptures, which were read in their synagogues every Sabbath-day.
But he was despised and rejected of men.' Angels sung praises at his birth, but men despised him.' He took not upon him the nature of angels, but of man, yet men rejected him.' Sinful, helpless men rejected and despised' the only Saviour. "He came to his own, but his own received him not." How lamentable and fatal was their obstinacy? Pretended† Messiahs were eagerly regarded and followed by them; but the true MESSIAH was despised and rejected of men!'
Let us consider the clauses of the text separately, in the order in which we read them.
1. He was despised and rejected of men.' It would be a great mistake to imagine that the Jews were the only people capable of this ingratitude and obstinacy. If any person here thinks, Surely I would not have despised him, had I seen his wonderful works, and heard him speak as never man spake; possibly, that thought may prove you to be of the very same spirit with those who, while they thirsted for his blood, ignorantly presumed that if they had lived in the days of their forefathers, they would not have joined with them in persecuting the prophets. The prejudices which operated so strongly against our Lord's mission and ministry, were not peculiar to the people of one age or country, but such as are deeply rooted in the nature of fallen man. The same principles which influenced the Jews to oppose and despise his person, still influence multitudes to slight and oppose the doctrine which he taught, and which he commanded his disciples to preach and perpetuate to the end of the world. In proof of this, it will be sufficient to assign some of the principal causes of the contempt and hatred which he met with from the men of that generation.
1. They despised him' for what they accounted the meanness of his appearance. Though rich in himself he became poor for our sakes, and his poverty made him contemptible in their eyes. They expected MESSIAH would appear with external pomp and power. But when they saw him they scorned him, saying Is not this the carpenter's son ?' He who had not money to pay the tribute demanded of him, nor a house wherein to lay his head, was of small esteem with those who were covetous,
*Matth. xxi. 87.
Matth. xvii. 27. VOL. III.
† John, v. 43.
Matth. xxiii. 30.
Matth. xiii. 55.