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their own: “For this cause, I," a worthless, helpless, ruined sinner, “obtained mercy, that in me," added to the other instances of long-suffering, “ Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe." O how this text calls upon you to renew your vows ! It bids you to remember where you were, and what you were, when vou obtained mercy. “ Hearken unto me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord; look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." Retrace in your memory the circumstances of your conversion to God. The book of your personal history ought to be a book of easy reference ; and you ought to be able, if you are living a life of thanksgiving to God, to be able to turn to that page of the book without difficulty. Open, then, the volume of your life: turn back till you come to the rise of religion in your own soul. Call to mind the deadness of your heart, when you came to church, and heard as though you heard not; when you used the words “miserable sinners," but never felt that you were a miserable sinner, though you confessed you were a lost and miserable sinner, and that you must be saved, if saved at all, by the mercy of Christ. Compare your lot then with your state now, when the words which you utter are the out-bursting of a broken and contrite heart. Recollect how the Lord found you, when, perhaps, like Saul, you were not seeking him - when you were hurrying on from crime to crime, and you were arrested, you could not tell how nor why. O now you recollect who it was arrested you, brought you by a way that you knew not, led you in paths that you had not known, and made darkness light before you, and crooked things straight. These things he has done unto you, and he has not sínce forsaken you;
notwithstanding your many provocations, he has been constantly doing you good; he still bears with you, still treats you with kindness, still designs your everlasting happiness; he has hedged you about, and you cannot escape the arms of his everlasting corenant, for it is “ ordered in all things, and sure."
There is a second lesson I am anxious to inculcate: No man can be sared but upon the principle of mercy. There are but two ways—the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace-in which you can be saved. The covenant of works is the principle of merit; the covenant of grace is the principle of mercy. You say, “ Are we not saved on the principle of merit ?" Yes, you are; but the merit of another, not your own. There are many Pharisees, formalists, and others, who will say that they are expecting mercy on the principle of merit. The Saviour (they say) has certainly infinite merit, but something is to be added by them, which is to qualify them to receive the abundant merit of Christ. Now, which of these principles do you receivethe principle of merit, or the principle of mercy ? Be assured of this, the principle of merit will not do, because the law of God is the most unrelenting law : I mean by that, it must have perfect obedience, it must have perfect payment : “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the law to do them :" “ If a man offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” The law of God must be like the nature of God-perfect : the nature of God is perfect and immutable; so is the law of God; it must be perfect as his nature. Then if you are thinking to go to heaven on your own self-righteousness, and are imagining that your respectability of character will weigh at all in the scale of your acceptance, let me remind you what the character of St. Paul was thus invests him with the inheritance that he has purchased. The doctrine to be established is this: That we are to look to the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom only it belongs, to introduce us to an actual participation of his grace By his obedience unto death the Lord Jesus had made atonement, and established an infinite claim upon God for whatever his people can require at his hand. It is now our object to consider how, in his character of Saviour, he brings the soul within the pale of the covenant, and confers upon it all the blessings contained in it. For, as we learn from St. Paul, it is “ by Christ" that we “ have access unto the grace wherein we stand;" and as we learn from St. Peter, Christ “suffered the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God." The end of what the Lord Jesus did and suffered, when actually realized in any case, is to make the soul God's temple. Now we ask, How does Christ apply to any soul wbat he has purchased and treasured up? We answer, in three ways. First, by the power of his resurrection; secondly, by the prevalence of his intercession; and, thirdly, by the efficacy of the Holy Ghost: and we purpose considering the two former points in this discourse.
In the first place, then, Christ Jesus made good his work, so as to render it available to those for whom he lived and died, by HIS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. It was this whick rendered all that had been done effectual: this invested Christ with power to apply the merits of his life and passion to those whom he redeemed. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is in one sense more important than his death ; for it was this which stamped the value upon his death, and rendered it available to the salvation of mankind. In Christ's resurrection we have evidence of our own : as the Apostle Paul speaks : “ That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Had Christ not risen, nothing that Þe did or suffered could be profitable to us at all; the devil would have triumphed over him in the very act that was intended to thwart and crush that wretched tempter. And so doubtless he, the father of all mischief, when by the treachery of Judas he had brought the Saviour to the cross, and with hellish malice had seen him expire thereon, and by his satellites had set a seal and a ward upon the rock in which he was imprisoned-doubtless he tnought that he had obtained his object, that he had again triumphed over us in our Substitute, even Jesus ; and that the tomb had sepulchred for ever the humanity of Christ. And had he done so, of course he would have crushed our redemption in its birth, and as effectually have spoiled us of our hopes, and rivetted his fetters upon us for ever, as if he had stifled the incarnate Saviour in the virgin's womb, or obtained the mastery over him in the deadly conflicts of the wilderness and the garden. And then would it have profited us nothing that the Surety had carried his enterprize so far, that no sin had ever sullied his perfected obedience, and that in his death he had rendered an inestimable sacrifice, had the Lord Jesus not presented himself in the heavenly courts to avow his victory and to claim his reward. And in this conviction, when enforcing the doctrine which he knew to be the main-spring of Christian hope, the Apostle avows, “ If Christ be not risen from the dead your faith is in vain, ye are yet in your sins.“ It had profited us nothing that we could point to the cross, could we not also point to the resurrection : to point to the
tomb in which they laid the crucified Jesus, could we not also point to the orifice through which he broke ; for it was the risen Lord who perfected what the crucified Lord had accomplished.
And thus we find, that all the parts of our redemption from sin and hell are ascribed to the power of Christ's resurrection ; whether we regard our justification, or our regeneration, or our fellowship . with God in worship and in service.
For instance ; if we allude to our justification, to our judicial acceptance and acquittal with God, we shall find the Apostle states, that “ Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification." You are told that you are to look for your justification, not so much to the death as to the resurrection of Jesus : not, as though we were not justified by Christ's death as the meritorious cause, but that it was by Christ's rising that he received power to apply to us the blood of atonement. For it was by his resurrection that the Lord Jesus was justified himself. Thus we read, “ God justified in the Spirit." And the expression is explained in another passage, in which it is said, that Christ was “ declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, and by his resurrection from the dead."
Now how was the Lord Jesus justified ? He never was an evil doer, and he knew no sin: but as the Surety for man he laid beneath a load of guilt imputed, and then died : and when he rose he was clear of all that guilt imputed. And herein was Christ's justification the proof and the pledge of both. For if his resurrection was the evidence when he appeared as a substitute, then, of course, those for whom he died and rose are also free. And his resurrection was a broad avowal, in the face of the universe, that Satan had no claim to urge against any one for whom he died and rose again. It demonstrated that justice was truly satisfied, that the debt was fully paid ; that the everlasting righteousness, for the justification of penitent and believing sinners, was brought in, and that they are justified in this their Surety's justification. So that if the believer, in a moment of dejection, is ever tempted to distrust the foundation upon which he rests, he has only to revert to the resurrection of his Lord; for this will furnish an infallible evidence, that the righteousness to which the gates of heaven were unfolded is a sufficient covering for all our sins.
Then, secondly, the resurrection of Christ is effectual to the regeneration, as well as to the justification of his people. We find that Christ's resurrection is designated as his “ birth," or his “ beginning." As we read in Acts, xix. in which St. Paul explains the expression in the second Psalm, “ Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee," as having reference to our Saviour's resurrection from the dead. The Lord Jesus was indeed begotten from eternity, in the first simultaneous burst of love; but still there was a sense in which he was begotten when he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his triumph over death. In like manner is the second birth of his people ascribed to the same glorious event. “ Blessed," saith St. Peter, “ be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And thus in Romans, vi. we are said to be “ raised to newness of life,” by virtue of Christ's resurrection; to be “risen with Christ;" to be “ raised up together with Christ:" expressions all implying our quickening into a new and spiritual life by the virtue of Christ's resurrection.
RESTRAINING PRAYER BEFORE GOD.
RBV. J. PARSONS.
POULTRY CHAPEL, JANUARY 27, 1835 *.
“Thou restrainest prayer before God.”—JOB, xv. 4.
The principle of this address, my brethren, is clearly one of a most grave and serious order; and although by some it might be treated with perfect unconcern and indifference, yet it could not be heard by a mind possessing aught of spiritual susceptibility, except with terror and alarm. It was, as you perceive by the connexion, the charge of Eliphaz against Job, at a time when the patriarch was sunk under the pressure of deep and peculiar afflictions, and when he gave way to despondency of soul. As it was applied to him by his visitor, it probably may be considered as unnecessarily harsh and severe, and not borne out and ustified by facts : although it will also be perceived, that the expressions of the sufferer exposed him to some imputation of blame. But whatever might be the ground of the original appropriation of the reproof, it is not to be doubted, that many now exist in the world against whom, with perfect equity, it may be alleged; and there are many (and perhaps not a few who are now in this
; assembly), who have reason to be startled and to be humbled, because they are guilty of restraining prayer before God. “Any explanation, my brethren, of the immediate connexion of the text, after the brief remarks which have already been made, probably will not be required. It is intended, therefore, at once to proceed to illustrate it, in such a manner as to embrace those general principles which it properly suggests, and which must be regarded as of high importance to the interests and the well-being of
The presentation of those principles cannot but be regarded as eminently appropriate to the specific occasion which has now assembled us in the house of God; because their recognition and their just application are evidently essential to the success of this, and of all other institutions, which are now imploring the charity and receiving the support of the enlightened and Christian world. But, my brethren, I do not affect to conceal at the outset, that the great object which I bave in view is, to enforce those general principles upon you as being individually responsible, and being individually immortal. Those amongst you whose spirits heretofore may have been the most elevated, will, I trust, find additional reason for continued watchfulness and care: and thosc who are now present, and by whom the guilt noticed in the text has in any manner been contracted, will, I trust, under God, receive such an inipuise, as will lead them on to pardon and salvation.
• On behalf of the British and Foreign Sailors' Sociely.
We have to request your patient and devout attention, while we notice, ir the first place, the employment, the importance of which is assumed ; secondiy, the habit, the indulgence of which is charged; and, thirdly, the evils, the infliction of which is threatened. All these are rightly involved in the ex. pression, “ Yea, thou restrainest prayer before God."
First, we shall proceed to notice from these words, THE EMPLOYMENT, THE IMPORTANCE OP WHICH 18 ASSUMED. It is, as you will perceive, the eniployment of prayer.
Prayer, as we need scarcely explain, is an application made by an inferior being to one who is superior, for the communication of a good, which it would benefit the one to receive, and which the other is able to bestow. He who prays must be conscious of his personal imperfection and personal wauts; he must be anxious to have those imperfections supplied, and those wants relieved; and he must exercise a just confidence, that the Being to whom he addresses bimself, is actually possessed of the knowledge, and the power, and the willingness, essential to procure the impartation of the blessing desired. All these emotions, my brethren, are essential to constitute prayer; where these are not, there may, indeed, be the form of prayer, there may be the name of prayer, there may be the attitude of prayer, and there may be the external appearance of prayer ; but the thing itself is absent: and he who professes to use it, is just as far from it as if the very first syllables of religion were unknown, and as if he were engaged in those employments from which religion is at the utmost possible distance of separation.
Now it must be observed more particularly, that the end and object of all prayer is God. This you will perceive to be clearly implied in the expression of the text; as we read “prayer before,” or “unto,” “God." You are doubtless prepared to remember, that God is alone adequately possessed of the various attributes to which we refer, as those essential to justify and to claim the offering of supplication to him. We have, for example, referred to knowledge; and he searcheth the hearts and he trieth the reins; there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight; “ all things are naked and open in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do :" he is a God of knowledge. We have referred to power; and “he doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth; none can stay his hand, or say to him, What doest thou ?" He speaks, and it is done; he commands, and it stands fast. He is the Lord God Omnipotent. We have referred again to willingness ; and his kindness is infinite, he waiteth to be gracious : he is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. These attributes of Jehovah must be regarded as in themselves commending and sealing his claim upon the supplications of all mankind. And in the volume of inspired truth, as you cannot but be aware, there are distinct and direct assertions of that claim, the most decisive and solemn which language can possibly supply. To address in prayer other beings, while there exists such a one as Jehovah, constitutes a folly and a guilt at once palpable and enormous ; guilt which can only terminate in tne infliction of his direst curses. And it cannot but be advantageous for us ever to remember, in regard to the importance of prayer, his own vindication of his own exclusive majesty : “ I am Jehovah, that is my name; and I will not give my glory unto another."