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foes-a rock to shelter us in the heat of temptation-a support in the hour of trouble-a comforter in the season of sorrow-a horn of salvation, and an everlasting portion to his people. In Him is concentrated every excellence; and from Him new sources of joy continually spring up. The sunshine of a believer's blessedness is never enveloped in clouds and darkness; nor does the darkness of night terminate his lightsome day! Of all his children Christ thus speaks: "I have blessed them, and they shall be blessed: I have given them eternal life; and their joy no man taketh away: they shall for ever be with the Lord." Thus doth eternity complete the blessedness of the "poor in spirit!"
That there is such blessedness reserved for the saints, and that there "remaineth a rest for the people of God," are truths of which every follower of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to be fully persuaded; and, likewise, that he himself is capable of attaining to the one, and of enjoying the other. The future happiness of believers should be the subject of his frequent and serious meditation. A theme of this kind, upon which his thoughts are incessantly exercised, would have the happiest tendency to wean his heart from this world-to dissolve his connexion with time-to break off his sins by repentance and cause the most earnest pursuit after that blessedness which is promised to all who live godly in Christ Jesus.
And if we really believe in future blessedness, we shall manifest the efficacy, and the living power, and the embodying influence of that belief, by seeking after an interest in God, the supreme good. We shall seek a close union with our Divine Head, through whom alone we can be truly blessed. We shall likewise proclaim it to the world, not by professions of godliness, or protestations of faith, but by the holiness of our lives, and the consistency of our pursuits ; by abjuring every sin, and by renouncing every alliance, which can disturb our peace, or endanger our happiness; for certain it is, that the crown of blessedness shall never be the reward of a wicked and ungodly life. Such as bless themselves in their sins shall never be blessed in heaven. If, saith God, the sinner "bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine own heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: the Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord, and his jealousy shall smoke against that man*." Hear ye this, ye that profane the hallowed name, and break the sabbath-day, of the Lord; ye who swear by the one, and desecrate the other. Ye drunkards, and ye reprobate ones, pause ye, and dream not that ye are sailing to heaven while ye are thus under the pilotage of the Devil, and are steering a course as different as the east is from the west, or the poles the one from the other. A beast could as soon fill an angel's place, as a soul, covered over and spotted with the leprosy of sin, could dwell in the celestial mansions. Nor let the covetous man, who, like the worm, is always creeping on the earth in search of its shining dust, and its thick clay, think that he hath a claim to the blessedness of the Gospel of Jesus; for earth cannot ascend to heaven with the dross of impurity and sin, nor a lump of clay become as a bright star in the firmament of glory! Let those, therefore, who would secure this promised felicity, dedicate themselves wholly unto the Lord, rejoicing to spend, and to be spent in his service, never thinking that any thing they have done, or can do, can be sufficient for a Being to whom they are indebted for
* Deut. xxix. 19, 20.
such countless instances of beneficence and love; but let them be always aspiring after higher attainments of grace, and displaying, from day to day, greater ardour and intensity of feeling in his service, that they may finally be found worthy of "the kingdom of heaven."
Having now offered some general remarks upon the nature of the Beatitude mentioned in my text, the next point for consideration is that heavenly disposition of soul to which our Lord has annexed a blessing. And this I shall reserve as the subject of the next Sermon.
But let us not depart this night from the sanctuary of our God without an improving appropriation of what has been said to ourselves. Let us fervently and unostentatiously implore the gracious giver of every good and perfect gift that the gift of blessedness may be ours; that if we have it not, we may ardently pursue it, and never rest satisfied until this pearl of inestimable value be found. When, then, you retire hence, retire to some secret and hallowed spot, and there pray that the spirit of God would enlighten and direct you to its attainment; and give not sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids, till the rational and well-founded hope is your's, that the petition will be granted, and the blessing be conferred. Nor doubt it, that if poor in spirit, contrite in prayer, and firm in faith, your's will be the kingdom of heaven. Even so Lord Jesus let it be. Amen.
THE FORGIVING POWER OF GOD.
REV. J. H. EVANS, A.M.
JOHN STREET CHAPEL, KING'S ROAD, APRIL 10, 1836.
"God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God." PSALM lxii. 11.
THESE are very remarkable words; the manner in which the verse begins is striking and solemn. If God speaks once, let all the world stand in awe; but here we have this remarkable addition-" God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this." It introduces the main subject with a peculiar solemnity"Power belongeth unto God." It is not said that God hath power, but it belongeth unto him:" it is his property, it is his peculiar property, it is his pre-eminent and exclusive property. So in the passage which I read this morning (Daniel, ix), when the prophet says, " O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our Fathers, because we have sinned against thee," he adds, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness though we have rebelled against him." Laying down these two truths-our property is shame, because we have sinned; God's property is forgiveness, because he is God.
We do not deny that angels have strength; they "excel" in strength; one of them smote a hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians in one night. But the strength of all God's creatures is as nothing compared with His. Theirs is but a derived strength; his is uncommunicated—it is from himself; theirs is a changeable strength, the God who gave it to them can in one moment withdraw it from them: the power that is with GOD is a power as immutable as his throne-existing of necessity, and therefore as necessary as his glory. The power of all his creatures is but a finite power; but the power of God is an infinite power; it enables him to do all that he wishes to do, and all that is consonant with his own glory to do. It is the power of strength, before whom stands no opposition: it is the power of wisdom, which subdues all to his will it is the power of love which melteth the most obdurate heart, and conformeth it unto himself: it is Almighty power.
We purpose now to consider this perfection as connected with the pardon of sin; and I would regard the subject in a three-fold point of view: first, there was an infinite power put forth in the person of the Redeemer; secondly, it was displayed in his great work; and, thirdly, it is equally displayed in applying the benefit of that work to the heart and conscience of the sinner. May the Holy Ghost put forth his power in our hearts and consciences! If you ask how we are to know it, I reply, It is by our being brought to the foot of the
crcss of Jesus, and sitting there in our right minds, saying, "Lord, speak, and thy servant will hear."
In the first place, THERE WAS INFINITE POWER put forth in the Redeemer's PERSON. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? He to whom power belongeth, and only he. This is a deeply important subject, one on which the church of God has been more exercised during the last ten years perhaps than in any previous period, because a new heresy has sprung up, and thereby many have their minds confused, and their consciences debased. Sometimes the timid ones among God's saints are much opposed to any thing that looks like a standing up for truth, lest they bring with it a spirit that is contrary to that truth. May we never forget that whatever is contrary to the truth is from beneath, and that our only safe posture for entering into the truth is in the meekness of that truth which we profess to love. Not that I shall enter at all into the other opinion, but only state, in a few words, what is the truth, as it seems to me, which is in Jesus.
The law of God threatens death upon the transgressor: "The soul that sinneth it shall die." That law, as exhibited in the legal covenant, holds out an exhibition of another suffering instead of the transgressor; otherwise whence the necessity of continued victims and offerings of blood day by day? But yet the sanctity and purity of the law demands this-that there should be that union between the sinner and the victim that the Saviour should suffer in the person of the victim, so that he should suffer though in the person of another. This unfolds the great truth, that God has appointed for our Redeemer, our Goel, who is not merely our Redeemer, but our kinsman Redeemer, who stood forward as the great head of his seed, and died as the great surety of his seed; the doctrine of substitution: the great head, the great Goel, bearing all iniquity and all transgression in his own person, did undertake for his seed, and did suffer in the behalf of his seed, "to bring," as the Apostle tells us, "many sons unto glory."
But there were other apparent difficulties in the way. He who suffered must be a man: he must not be a newly created thing; he must not be of another race he must be completely and entirely of the race that sinned. Yet he must be a pure man; there must be in him not only no act of sin, but no sinful nature. The law of God as much demands sanctity of nature as it does sanctity of conduct; as much requires essential, spotless purity, as active purity. Now here was the difficulty-he must be a man of the same race, and yet a pure man. This wonder of wonders infinite power contrived; and the expression made use of in Luke, i. 35, seems to imply as much: "The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." Observe the perfection which is here specially alluded to; it is "the power of the Highest." The Holy Ghost never makes use of words which are not full of meaning and importance. It was a great display of Jehovah's infinite power in bringing forth, as it were, that holy thing in a virgin, herself impure, uncontaminated by her, a pure and holy thing. God declared it to be so, and that it should be called, "The Son of God." Here, then, were these difficulties removed; here was a man of the same race; here was a pure and holy man.
Some of you may be inclined to ask, "What importance is there in these
things?" Why was that written by God the Eternal Spirit ?—that is the simple answer to the question. If he wrote it, he wrote it that you and I might study it, enter into the holy tendency of it, and contend meekly, though earnestly, for the faith once delivered to the saints.
But there was still another difficulty: this man must have an infinite dignity. And how can we predicate that of a finite being? That infinite dignity could only exist by union with an infinite being: and hence it is believed that the infinite power of God was gloriously displayed in the person of the Beloved. That union of infinite with finite, eternity and time, God and the creature, that wonder of wonders that leaves all other wonders behind, is unfolded as a glorious display of God's unutterable power.
My brethren, so great is that mystery of godliness, that I never like to go one hair's-breadth beyond the divine record. We hear some talk about it the same as if they had been let into the very secrets of the divine bosom. But I simply believe it as I read it; I take it as God's word because it is God's word: and I find it safe to stop where the sacred record stops, and not to travel beyond "Thus saith the living God." Thus, while I can venerate men who see no difficulty in human creeds; while I can respect them, and in many respects sit at their feet, yet I dare to say this, that I cannot invest the word of God with the creeds of men; I dare not take any man for my master in such a doctrine as this of the incarnate God-a truth full of sweetness, a truth full of power. Well might the Apostle say, "Great is the mystery of godliness:" finite and infinite, time and eternity, united in the person of our glorious Immanuel! Now here was the difficulty got rid of. Here was a man, a man of the same race with that which had transgressed, a pure man, and who, in consequence of his union with Deity, had infinite dignity, glory, majesty, beauty, and that to all eternity. Here then was the display of that power which belongeth to God, and so completely was that power exhibited, and so wondrously was it put forth, that we may say of our Lord, though in himself and of himself "over all, God blessed for ever," independently and essentially God, as truly God as the Father and the Eternal Spirit-yet we may say, and say fairly, so that the acts of our Lord are to be considered so that we may speak of him as now living at the right hand of God, and in all that he doeth never lose for one moment that he is our incarnate God.
But now observe, secondly, there is an infinite power IN THE WORK Of our BELOVED LORD. An infinite power was put forth in his work. Nothing is more trifling in the eyes of men than sin: a few ejaculations-" God be merciful, I will do better for the time to come;" determinations formed in their own strength; and thinking that if they weep on their death-beds it is quite enough to move the heart of God to forgive them; that if they can express a little sorrow, and especially if they can say, " I have no hope but in Christ," though, at the same time, their hearts are unchanged, their nature unrenewed, and they are dead in sins. It is awfully absurd to see the trifle which the natural man esteems sin to be. But not so with God. It was a terrible work in which he was engaged. Talk of deep views of sin-if you and I had our hearts engaged on the cross of Christ, and had a full, broad view of that cross, what mourning after sin should we experience in the midst of the joy of the Holy Ghost! It was a dreadful work, a work which broke the very humanity asunder; it was a