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tribulation, though there are many reasons why we should ; we do not rejoice in any thing we have of ourselves—not in our wisdom, our wealth, our might, our influence. No; if any man joy or glory, let him “glory in the Lord."
“We joy in God himself." How can we explain this? Here is a depth of ineaning which none but adult Christians can fathom. Let us endearour to explain this, by another and somewhat parallel passage, as it appears to me : “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." He that has received the atonement, and dwells in joy, “dwells in God, and God in him.” And where he dwells, he joys and rejoices. Thus there is a mutual indwelling: and the man that thus dwells in God, and that in a sense which is not in the power of language to utter, keeps himself surrounded with God, in the presence of God, dwelling in God as his portion and his all; he “joys in God;" and well he may. He “joys in God:" in all he has—in his wisdom to guide and direct; in his power to keep and defend; in his grace to renew and save.
But how can we thus joy in God? How can we thus come to God? How can we thus have access to God? The Apostle tells you how—“ through our Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, through this very atonement of our Lord Jesus. The way was shut up, we could not re-open it: the way was shut up, and man was shut out: but Jesus interposed his blood, and opened a way into the holiest of all. There was no access into the holiest of all but by the intervention of blood: and we cannot come to God, we cannot dwell in God, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I will fearlessly say, fallen man, even from the first moment of his apostacy to this hour, has never approached his Creator with success, but through the intervention of blood. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” If we are made one, it must be by the blood of Christ.
Then how rational is this joy. Not like the joy of the wicked, for which no reason can be given : but the believer has good reason for the joy which he feels. Jesus closed his eyes to shew us God; and through the atonement of Jesus we come to God; and he is our Father and our friend. Good reason have we to rejoice. How
pure is this joy. Those who dwell here, dwell in a sacred and holy atmosphere: there is nothing to tarnish ; nothing to defile. Not like the polluted and polluting joys of sin: all here is holy, spiritual, heavenly, and divine.
How lasting is this joy. Not like the short-lived joys of the wicked, which, to use the strong figure of the wise man, are “like the crackling of thorns under a pot;" you hear the crackling noise, and see the flash ; but it is over, and all ends in smoke and darkness. But this joy in God is a pure joy ; it is a permanent joy ; it is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away.
It is a plant of Paradise ; it is a divine exotic in the heart of the belierer; and it lives and it blooms. Yes, and it is not in the power of all the nipping frosts of adversity to blight this plant: it is not in the power of the cold, bitter blasts of winter—the winter of temptation and affliction—to destroy or to wither this plant of Paradise ; still it blooms. Aye, and the rough hand of death cannot kill this plant: it passes through the valley of the shadow of death, and then the noble plant, transplanted from this sublunary abode, shall flourish there, and put forth all its beauty. It is joy undying; joy ever during: “In his
presence there is fulness of joy; and at his right hand thero are pleasures for eveienore.' And I love that word “ more" that comes after the “ for ever: tor be the “ for ever” as long as you please, there is always the “ mors' behind it; and that is enough for me and for you: there is always soy, "more" heaven, more" glory, “ more” happiness, “ for ever."
Let us learn from this subject, my friends, how vital to evangelical, saving moligion, is this great doctrine of the atonement. No acceptance with God without the atonement; no joy without the atonement. Some who hear me may think I take strong views of this subject. I confess to you, the longer I live, my views on this subject are the stronger. The longer I live, the more I deem it my glory and my joy to preach Christ crucified; the atonement for sin. The doctrine of the atonement lies at the root of all religion. What can there be vital or efficacious in religion without this ? Let me use a figure, which may not have struck some of you. It is this—Can there be life in a systein where there is no blood? Is there any part of your frame that is vital, where there is not blood? You know there are the excrescences—the hairs of your head, and the nails of your fingers : there is nothing vital there; and there is no biood. But where there is iite there is blood: and I mautain that any system, under the name of religion, that does not provide for the blood of atonement and the influences of the Spirit, cannot be alive. There may be a body; and to look at it, it may be fitly framed. There may be a body of certain doctrines, and obligations, and forms, and ceremonies; and we are attracted by this body; we approach this body. We look ; but it moves not : we listen; it breathes not: we approach nearer still; we touch it—it is cold ! “ Why," we exclaim, “it is dead! It is a dead body! There is no breath ; there is no heat; there is no life!" How could it be? there is no atoning blood ! The vital fluid is not there; the Spirit of the Living God is not there, it is excluded by the system. And what is it, I ask, gives vitality, life, and warmth, to the evangelical system—the whole body of doctrines, duties, and ordinances ? I tell you what it is—It is the blood of the atonement; the vital fluid that circulates through all the veins of the evangelical system; every vein of the whole body of ordinances, and doctrines, and duties, and privileges : and it is this vital current that animates the whole, and that gives life to all, and effici. ency and power to all.
I wonder not, therefore, that the doctrine of the atonement has been so precious in the estimation of the saints and servants of God, the ministers and people of God, in every age of the world. I wonder not that the words of St. Peter have been so often reiterated by the saints and servants of God, living and dying, “ The precious blood of Jesus." “ The precious blood of Christ.” “What,” said a dying saint to me, but the other day, the pious widow of a long since deceased clergyman_“What should I do without the blood of the atonement !" O this doctrine is the basis of our hopes, our ground of confidence towards God the Saviour and our God. Continue, my dear friends, by faith to receive this life-giving truth, and your religion can never die.
Secondly: We learn that this life-giving religion is a joy-producing religion ; a happy religion. For where this is, there is joy, there is happiness, there is triumph, there is “ glory" in it-for that is the word. Who, then, art tbou
who art saying, with a solemn tone, Religion! Evangelical religion! Why it is at once the parent and the nurse of moping and melancholy. Serious religion! The most gloomy thing in the world. A serious Christian ! Why the most joyless creature in existence." Ah, my friends, it is too late in the day to come with any solemn tone like this. The religion of Jesus gloomy! The religion of Jesus a joyless religion ! No, no; the joy is our's, not your's.
“ Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less." Religion is the life of all our delights, and the soul of all our joys. Whoever thought of going to a man blind from his youth to learn from him the doctrine and theory of colours ? He never saw them in his life. He would say, thou blind also ?" Whoever thought of going to a man who never saw or tasted honey all the days of his life, to ask him whether it was sweet? If he be a honest man he would say, "I cannot tell ; some have tasted it, and say it is sweet ;
but I never tasted it.” There would be something like honesty in that. If you are an honest man, you will admit that you have never tasted, and therefore are incompetent to judge. But we have tasted, and we can tell : we, through the Holy Spirit, can tell you better things. We have tasted the honey out of the rock; the dropping of the honey from the comb: and this religion of Jesus, this religion of love, is “sweeter than the honey-comb."
Let us learn, thirdly, that this life-giving, joy-producing, religion may be our's even now. This word is emphatical : for, says he, “we have now received the atonement.” And the persons to whoin he addressed the words must have known that they had received the atonement, or they could not rejoice in God on that behalf. Now there are some well-intentioned professing Christians, as it appears to me, who rob themselves of much of the comfort they might enjoy, because they look at the blessing as beyond, at a distance, and something not to be presently enjoyed.
Will you allow me to relate to you a case which was related to me a few years ago, which occurred in the town of Liverpool, where I have spent nine happy years of my life. A man who had landed there from a very distant part of the world, and who had almost made the tour of the world, was going up and down in that town to witness any thing which might interest the stranger. He happened to go near our Leeds-street Chapel in that town. It was a fine summer's evening, about seven or eight o'clock. He heard a sound that attracted his attention. He perceived it was the sound of devotion : he followed the sound till he found himself in our Leeds-street Chapel, and saw some forty or fifty persons under one of the side galleries, engaged in singing and in social prayer. They sung with great spirit and great simplicity two or three verses ; then a person prayed for a few minutes ; another verse was sung, and another person prayed for a few minutes. He was riveted to the very spot: in all his travels he had never seen the like; the simplicity, the fervour of the people : and yet by their appearance they evidently belonged to the working classes, who, after the occupations of the day, had thus convened together for social prayer. He related this occurrence in several circles, and expressed his highest admiration of it: but there was one word (as the matter was related to nel to which he took an exception: and it was the very word in my text; it
was this word “ now.” Whoever prayed (and it appears some four or five persons were so engaged) every one without exception used the word now ;" and the gentleman thought it was going rather too far; that this was not inerely prescribing to the Divine Being what he was to do, but when he was to do it: he thought the Word of God had told men what he intended to do for them, therefore they were authorized to ask only what God had promised to give: but this word “ now” was carrying it rather too far. If that gentleman had been, after all, as familiar with his Bible as I am sure, from the account I heard of his character, he is with books of science and general literature, he would have found that this word “ now" is a favourite word in the Inspired Writings : he would have found that it occurs oftener in the Bible than in the prayer meeting. “ Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” We read of “ Save now, O Lord.” “O Lord I beseech thee send now prosperity,” says David. And we read of those who were sent forth to say, “ Come, for all things are now ready." And again, says God, “ Now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation." What! two nows in the same sentence? Perhaps that was more than occurred at the prayer-meeting. Then he might have read the text, “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” My fellow sinners, do not your wants, do not your desires, do not your prayers, say
now ?" Does not your Does not the Holy Ghost say now " Let then
“ now;" and you shall. (God grant you may !) you shall receive the atonement.
Then lastly, we that have realized this divine, life-giving, and heavenly religion, will not wish to monopolize it ourselves. What, monopoly in religion ! Why monopoly in religion is the worst monopoly of all. Religion is not the less to me because you receive it also : the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the less good news to me because it is also good news to you. The sun in the firmament is not less valuable to me because he gives light and heat to thousands of millions of my fellows, as well as myself: and if there be any difference here it will be in our favour: in giving we shall receive ; in blessing we shall be blessed. Have you received the atonement, and proved its efficacy; and do you not wish your fellow men to receive it too? Do you “joy in God” on this behalf; and do you not wish the millions of the human family to rejoice with you? I am sure your Christian feelings prompt you to this. Therefore it is you are come here this morning in such numbers : and what a cheering and interesting spectacle do I behold! Such a number of human beings-such a number of bloodbought, deathless, human beings, who must exist for ever and ever, concerned to know, and love, and live the truth themselves, and concerned to make it known to others! Is not this a spectacle worthy of angels to behold? And do they not behold it? And if some poor sinner in this assembly has received the conviction that he is such, and is beginning to heave the sigh, and to shed
“ The tear that from repentance flows," has not the angel who witnessed it carried up the glad-tidings; and is not the joy now circulating around the throne? And don't you wish to give angels joy? Don't you wish that your fellow-creatures may have joy? Then do ail vou can to send them that shall go and exhibit the great atonement, who shall take up this great gospel scheme, ana hiding themselves behind it, not wishing
people to see them, and admire their eloquence their zeal, and their learning— hiding, like John the Baptist behind the great Victim, and crying out, “ Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world." There are many willing to go, and there are multitudes willing to receive them, and waiting for them, and looking out for them, saying, "Come over and help us." And what is our reply? Why, "We are coming; or, if we cannot come ourselves, we are willing to help those who can come.'
Are you weary in well-doing? Are you going to abandon the cause? Not you. You have put your hand to the plough; and are you going back? No; you are looking onward and upward. It is the interest of Christ, and therefore
it is your interest.
But why speak I thus? Do I forget where I am? Do I forget before whom I stand? Have so many years gone by since the existence of the Society, when, with one or two exceptions, I have been permitted on those annual occasions to bear my humble testimony in behalf of this great cause, and have so often witnessed your liberality: and do I suspect you now? I do not: no surmise of the kind has any existence in this bosom. Your hearts are open, and your hands will be open too. Then "whatsoever your hand andeth you to do, do it with your might."