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the power of sin in us, are very slow to believe it; but if it had not been satisfied by the death of his Son, we must have felt the power of it for ever in our own persons ; and the saying of the text, “ thereafter as a man feareth, so is thy displeasure,” – that is, God will not be displeased with us if we do truly fear him,-could never have been verified, if Christ had not delivered us from all fear of his displeasure, by being made a curse for us. It is a great word for sinners to hear, “ fear not, neither be discouraged ;" but if we belong to Christ, we may speak it assuredly to ourselves; for it is the glory and great comfort of the Gospel, that“ mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, can meet together” in the person of Jesus Christ, and justice have its course in his sufferings, without our punishment. The Old Testament is the book of God's wrath, and the record of his judgments upon sinners, with a glimpse or opening of mercy running through it; the New Testament is the book of reconciliation, pardon, and peace, and the full manifestation of the riches of divine grace to a lost world; but still in agreement with everlasting, unchangeable justice. And if the mercy of it does not work in us to a right end, to make us fear God, it speaks the same truth, and pronounces the same sentence upon us; for therein also “ the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” Rom. i. 18. “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment,” are Christ's own words, Matt. xxv. 46. And we are told as plainly, as that Adam should die for his disobedience, that “ those who know not God," so as to fear him, “and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” 2 Thess. i. 8, 9. Let us not, therefore, separate what God hath joined together, but consider the Old and New Testament as two different parts of the same design; one discovering to us the wrath of God for sin, the other his mercy in the pardon of it, and both to the end we may fear him; as we shall, if we know how much it cost to redeem us, and that if we are not made partakers of Christ by faith making us new creatures, “ the word which he hath spoken will judge us at the last day,” and give us up to the power of God's wrath for ever !—The sum of what I have delivered to you on the words of the text is this :
That there is wrath, and a power of wrath in God, very terrible to think of; which because we are backward to believe, and too commonly strengthen ourselves in wickedness by the denial of it, is confirmed to us by the fall of man, and a great many examples of God's judgments upon sin and sinners, recorded in the Old Testament.
That, according to another interpretation of the text, if we fear God, we need not fear his displeasure. For though we have always sin enough, in our very best estate, to put us in fear, considering the justice of God, and the strictness of his law, yet in Christ dying for us we are discharged from condemnation; and if we see the accursed nature of sin in his sufferings, and learn from thence to fear God, we are in a safe condition, may rejoice in him as a reconciled Father, and glory in the New Testament, as the covenant of our peace.
The Lord of his mercy speak to you where I cannot, and fill your hearts with an awful, continual fear and reverence of his holy name. When God saw how great the wickedness of man was upon the earth, it is farther said, " it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart," Gen. vi. 6. Oh! be
that man or woman, of whom it may be said, it repenteth the Lord that he made you, and that, speaking after the manner of men, it grieveth him for the curse you choose to lie under, and for the misery which he sees coming upon you! Let Christ remove it from your souls and bodies, and be very thankful that you have such a Saviour in his blood, and that for his sake, whenever you come to him in faith, the sins you repent of will never be remembered against you. God forbid that you should be doing nothing all your lives but“ treasuring up to yourselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Go home, and pray for yourselves that you may have the grace given you to consider the power of it, and so to fear the displeasure of God, as never to have the weight of it fall upon you. And the Lord be with you, in his love, in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ?
the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto hin, Blessed art thou,
Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Matt. xvi. 15-17.
This one saying of Peter, with the answer of Jesus, is the key to all Scripture, the grand design, completion, glory, and comfort of it; and therefore it is a matter of the greatest importance to us to be well grounded in it.
Take away this, and it has no instruction, no glad tidings, no salvation for you. Know this, and you will have à full opening into the meaning of the whole Bible. The fall of man, the curse of sin, and the necessity of redemption from it; the justice, mercy, and love of God; his hatred of sin, his judgments upon sinners, our inability to deliver ourselves, and his will to help and save us; all will break in upon us with a flood of light, and be found to have its full explanation in this one point, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord stir you up by means of this text, to look for your portion in him, as the sum and substance of all Scripture; and to search it diligently, to the end you may find him therein, as your God and Saviour, to the present comfort and everlasting salvation of your souls.
. We read in the foregoing words, that our Lord, in order to draw from the disciples a confession of their faith, asked them what the world thought and said of him, “ Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am ?" And when they told him that some said one thing, and some another, but none hit upon the truth, he asked again, “ But whom say ye that I am ?" To which Peter answered, in the name of them all, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" thou art that great Prophet that should come into the world; anointed, and sent of God, to be the Saviour of mankind; and though thou art like one of us, and appearest as a man, and nothing but the son of man, yet we believe thou art that Son of Man spoken of by the prophet Daniel, (chap. vii. 13.) and “ the Son of the living God.” Now, then, let Christ's answer sink down into your ears, and when you hear it, lift up your hearts to God in prayer for yourselves --" Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." O my soul ! how does this affect
thee ? Art thou seeking after, art thou come to this blessedness? For it is all thine, and belongs to thee as well as it did to Peter, and as sure as Christ spoke it, when thou canst take up the same words, and say with the same faith, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
You see, therefore, that this portion of Scripture hath life or death in it, and that we are Christians or not, and shall be happy or miserable for ever, as we do or do not receive it into our hearts. But before I open it to you
. I would pray for you and myself; and I cannot do it better than in the words of St. Paul, Eph. i. 17-23; “ that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him; the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that we may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards them who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places," &c.
I shall now, with the help of God, endeavour to show,
I. What we are to understand by Peter's confessioni of faith ; “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
II. The blessedness of making it truly, and from the heart ; " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona.”
III. In what way we are brought to it; " for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
1. What we are to understand by the words, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter said,