صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

He says,

seliever to the throne : through Him we have that introduction; and on the ground of his authority and of his merits, we stand in that state of gracious favour and acceptance. This is the third evangelical benefit; as honourable as it is advantageous.

The Apostle then directs our attention onwara to the future. Having described these three great privileges already realized, he directs our attention to that which is in reversion for us ; to that which is the subject of our expectation.

“ We rejoice in hope of the glory of God;" and with such an object before us the glory of God-we“ rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

“ And not only so," says the Apostle, “not only have we these things in possession, not only have we all that in reversion, and all that sparkling to the eye of hope, cheering us as we travel onwards through this world; but we also glory." Ah, my friends, in what? “ We also glory in tribulation.” What! Tribulation, suffering, affliction, persecution, temptation, a ground and occasion of joy and of glorying! How can these things be? My friends, sanctifird tribulation does the real Christian no harm; sanctified tribulation is a great blessing. To you it is given, in the way of royal favour and privilege, in behalf of Christ, “ not only to believe, but to suffer for his sake." If it be not a sweet and delicious potion, it is a salutary and healing medicine, intended to operate for our spiritual advantage. And therefore, says the Apostle, “ Tribulation worketh patience." And is not this a good reason why you should glory in it? What is a Christian without patience ? “ Tribulation worketh patience:" and as tribulation becomes an occasion for the exercise of patience, patience in its exercise acquires additional strength and vigour. In patience, therefore, possess your souls.

“ Patience worketh experience.And what is a Christian without experience? We must have experience in religion ; experience in the things of God. And how does tribulation work experience? Why, when we have grace given us to endure our tribulations with patience, with resignation, without murmuring, we prove the sufficiency of the grace of God to enable us thus to live, and thus to suffer : and thus “ patience worketh experience;" experience of the all-sufficient grace of God, and of his power and will to save.

“ And experience worketh hope." And what is a Christian without hope ? “We are saved by hope.” And how does experience work hope? Why the experience of the all-sufficient grace of God to keep and save in every trying moment, in time past and in time present. Such experience may work hope, and encourage hope for the time to come. He hath delivered ; and therefore he will deliver. And then this hope which the Christian indulges will not cover him with confusion; it will not make him blush; it will not disappoint the expectation which he entertains; for, says he, “ Hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God"—this is the very earnest of the heaven we hope to enjoy ; the very element of that heaven where we hope to dwell for ever and ever—“ the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." This love of God in the heart of man is indeed the religion of angels enjoyed by man--the religion of heaven realized on earth; for what can angels more than love God and his worship?

'T'ne Apostle then goes on to observe, that, as we liave been “ reconciicu iu

that “

God by the death of his Son," tnis fact authorizes the indulgence of the con. fident expectation, we shall be saved by his life:" for he lives to bestow what he bled on the cross to procure.

Is there any thing more that remains to be named? Any other part of the Christian's treasure yet to be specified? O yes, infinitely more :

“ Not only so, but we also"-in addition to all the rest—" we also joy in God” (what words are these !) “ we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." The atonement; the reception of the atonement; and the joy in God through Christ which this occasions, are the three points principally noticeable in the passage which I have read; and which may (God grant they may !) profitably occupy our attention this morning.

THB ATONEMENT, What means the Apostle by this ? My friends are aware, that “ to atone,” signifies “ to appease;" to propitiate, on the ground of some valuable consideration that is presented and accepted. Now, the Holy Scriptures, as it appears to me, most distinctly and clearly teach, that the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross, was the valuable-I will say the infinitely valuable-consideration that was presented to eternal justice, to make satisfaction for the sin of guilty man. Or, if we take the marginal rendering of these words, which perhaps is the more literal rendering, the idea is still substantially the same : there the word is rendered “the reconciliation." But then reconciliation supposes that there must have been some disagreement; and where that disagreement had existed, there must have been some consideration, and some ground, on which reconciliation was effected. Now

my friends need not to be informed, as though to this hour they had not been impressed with the melancholy fact, that earth has become hostile to heaven, and that man has rebelled against his Maker ; that man is not now the creature he was when God made him. To my mind it is utterly inconceivable, that the only wise God, the essentially holy God, could make man the creature he now is. “ The holy God” must have made man holy: “the righteous Lord, who loveth righteousness," must have made man, as a moral being, righteous : and holy and righteous he was when God formed him. But he is not so now : some sad thing must have befallen man since God formed him: and this Book tells us how it was, and what it was : that though God created man upright, and crowned him with glory and with honour, by transgression be fell. And man is fallen, say what you will. It is an awful fact; man is fallen from God: and the man that would question this, why heaven and earth would rise up to confront him : “ Hear O heavens, and give ear 0 earth, for the Lord hath spoken. I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” And, my friends, mark the aggravating circumstances with which that rebellion is there characterized. In the first place, it is most unnatural rebellion ; it is the rebellion of children against the parent of their existence. And have not all one Father, even God? Then again, it is most ungrateful, as unnatural; it is the rebellion, not only of children against their parent, but of rebels; of children that have been nourished and have been brought up; and yet, notwithstanding all this care and nurture, and bounty-after all they have rebelled against their Parent and their Benefactor. And think you this is true of the Jewish people exclusively? It is equally true

9

9

of us “ sinners of the Gentiles :" for sin is rebellion; and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." It is true of every man; of man in every clime; of man of every colour; of man of every language and tongue :

"Our species up in arms; not one exempt.". And what then is to be done? Is man to go on in his rebellion till justice hurl the rebel to the pit; till he is cut down ; till he is swept away with the besom of destruction ? Guilty, offending, rebel man could not reconcile himself: he could furnish no consideration sufficiently valuable: his fellow-man could not help him; an angel's arm could not rescue him from impending ruin. But, when his condition seemed to admit no ray of hope, a redeeming scheme was announced to the very first delinquents; and it was promised that a great Deliverer should arise, one that should suffer that man should be saved; and “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses."

Now, then, we say, this reconciliation or atonement is divine in its appointment. To the divine Father it belonged, as his absolute prerogative, to say what should be done on this awful emergency.

Had he doomed us to bear the punishment due to our sins, we had been undone. But it was his sovereign will and pleasure, that Jehovah Jesus should assume our nature; that in his instance the human nature should be immaculate and undefiled; and that in our nature and our world, he should live, and suffer, and die, and that his death upon the cross should be a proper atonement for the sins of our guilty race. “ And this,” says the Apostle, when speaking on the subject of our redemption by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, “ this was according to the will of God." This will which was absolute, and which was perpetual in its love, and dictated by his infinite wisdom, was the origin of man's redemption."

And have you, my friends, considered the word employed by the Apostle on this subject in another place, where he says, “ It became him"-a very remarkable expression—" it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings ?" He must be a complete Saviour by being a sufferer: and, says the Apostle, “it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things," to do this. It became him. Did it so? Why there are very many of our fellow creatures, (aye, and those who bear the name of Christian, too, and those who are self-named “ rational Christians" too,) who will not hesitate to affirm, that it became him, the Divine Being, to do no such thing. An inspired Apostle affirms that it did become him to do 80; and the only question with you and me is, Who is to be believed ? Ah, “ let God be true, though every man be a liar.” We say, that Jehovah alone was competent to say what it became him to do. We say no man was competent to say: no angel, not Michael, not Gabriel the archangel, was competent to this : Jehovah alone could see all his own infinite perfections, in all their relations to each other, and in all their relations to the universe of creatures : and he alone saw what these perfections required that they might be preserved in perfect harmony; that they might not eclipse each other's glory; that they might continue through eternity to shine,

“ In their full blaze,
And their whole round of rays complete."

It was

He alone was competent to say what the order and arrangement of his government required him to do in this emergency ; what the authority of the law properly demanded. And He who alone was competent to say what ought to be done, and what became him to do, had alone the right. What! had man at the bar the right? The culprit at the bar, was he to dictate to the Judge what

became hiin to do? Would this be allowed in any well-regulated government in the face of the earth? Did it become an angel to say this ? No, but to the absolute Sovereign of the Universe. He, then, alone, who had the absolute right to say what should be done, hath asserted his own eternal prerogative, and he hath instructed an inspired Apostle to say, it did become him. worthy him; and we bless him for it. “ It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

And now, my friends, you will perceive, that the result of this atonement, depends, not so much on the fact that Jesus lived, and suffered, and died. There are many who readily admit this; and where is the man who has any respect to his own reputation that would deny this ? Every well-instructed child in a Sabbath school could confront him if he denied this. But then they would inform you, that his sufferings were exemplary, not vicarious ; that his death was testamentary, not sacrificial. If there be any meaning in words, and if there be any certainty at all in the clearest arrangement of words in what we call language; then there is the greatest certainty of all that the death of Jesus on the cross was, by the wise, and gracious, and peculiar appointment of the divine Father, a real and proper atonement for the sins of the people.

Now, I am not going, at present, to travel out of the immediate connexion of the text to prove this: I will only repeat to you two verses in its immediate con.jexion, which are decisive on the point. The first is in the sixth verse. There the Apostle says, “ Christ died for the ungodly.” Now I put it to the candour and the good sense of every man, if it be conceivable that the doctrine of substitution, of vicarious sufferings, can be more simply, and therefore more certainly, expressed : “ Christ died for the ungodly." The other text is the one immediately preceding the text itself, where the Apostle says, “ We were reconciled to God"—the very word in our text rendered “ the atoneinent"_“ We were reconciled to God.” Ah! how was it? By the teaching of his Son, so instructive, so captivating, so important ? “ Never man spake like this man." “ Reconciled to God"-how ? By the exumple of his Son, so immaculate, 80 benevolent, so useful? “ He went about doing good." “ Reconciled to God" -how? By the tears of his Son, so frequent, so copious, so generous ? for “ Jesus wept,” and he was “a man of sorrows." “ Reconciled to God"how? By the pruyers of his Son, so fervent, so comprehensive, so continuous ? Ah, my friends, if men thus speak, thus hath not the Lord spoken! “ We were reconciled to God," says the Apostle, “ by the death of his Son :" that is the ground-that is the only meritorious ground, on which man can be reconciled to his God.

Then, let me say, that his atonement or reconciliation, being divine in its appointinent, is complete in its nature. Now, those typical atonements, which shadowed forth this great sacrifice under preceding dispensations of the church, were, however, in their own nature imperfect : they must necessarily have been

so, because it was the mere blood of the animal that was shed, in which there was no real intrinsic worth. Then they were imperfect in their very design. They were only intended to be shadows of better things to come. Then again the very circumstance of their repetition was a strong indication of their imperfection; because if one had been complete, why then repeat the sacrifice? Why the sacrifice made every day-every morning, every evening? Why the sacrifice every year, especially on the great and annual day of atonement? But because they were thus repeated, it is clear they were imperfect. But what speaks the Apostle to the Hebrews-which is a comment on the Mosaic institute, and especially on the Jewish sacrifices? He tells us that Christ was offered himself "once"—and that word is emphatic-" once for all." Why does he use that word" once?" Because once offered, it was complete; once offered, eternal redemption was procured.

The sufferings of our Saviour were intense. How did he suffer from man, and from devils! And what must his sufferings have been, when, according to the language of the prophet, "it pleased the Lord to bruise him," and to "put him to grief," and to "lay on him the iniquity of us all!" What must his sufferings have been, when his "soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death!" What must his sufferings have been, when his mental agony forced blood from the pores of his body, when there was no external violence on him whatsoever!

But still, though some men and some books describe the sufferings of Christ in a very touching, impressive manner, we do well always to remember, that without the supreme and essential dignity of Christ as a divine person, his sufferings in our nature could have been of no avail, no avail whatsoever. However holy in his person, however upright, however glorious, however benevolent, had Jesus been a mere creature--however high in the scale of being, but a creature still-his sufferings could not have expiated the sins of the untold myriads of our race. But then remember, he was "God manifest in the flesh." Remember, that "the Word that was with God, and the Word that was God," truly and essentially divine, "assumed flesh, and dwelt among us," and in our nature suffered. And though Deity could not suffer the divine nature is impassable-a body was provided for the Redeemer that could suffer, and did suffer, in the union of the human nature that suffered with the divine. That is the point that stamped his sufferings with infinite value: so that it was a sacrifice, and an offering, and a sweet smelling savour. There was a merit in it beyond all that mortals can express; beyond all that human thought can conceive: and it was fully adequate to all the great ends and purposes of its design. Hereby justice receives its demands; hereby the holiness of God is preserved untarnished; hereby the wisdom of God is testified in devising such an expedient; hereby the inviolable truth of God is preserved; the divine penalty of the law is inflicted, though it is on the person of our Substitute: hereby sin becomes remissible, consistently with all the claims and all the high attributes of justice, holiness, and truth; hereby the greatest hatred to sin is expressed, while the greatest compassion to the sinner is manifested.

What a meeting was that described by the royal Psalmist, referring to this: "Mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace bave kissed each other!" What then? Had there been some difference in the counsels of these

« السابقةمتابعة »