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perst all the ristians
Human wisdom and philosophy have been labouring for ages to find out the origin of moral evil, and ’ a remedy against it; but they have failed in the attempt. The world by wisdom knows not God, for darkness hath covered the earth, and gross darkness the people.
We need only to peruse the fabled absurdities of heathen mythology; to witness the self-inflicted tortures of the Hindoo devotee; to behold the superstitious penances imposed by the Church of Rome; yea, all the errors and evils which have abounded among Christians, Jews, Mahomedans, and Pagans in every age; to be convinced, that man can never, by any effort of his unassisted reason, discover the true source either of misery, or of mercy. The Bible alone reveals them both.
There, I learn that the sin of Adam is the source of human misery. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” “In Adam all die." From this fountain issue ten thousand poisonous streams which embitter life, fill the world with wretchedness, and carry unnumbered millions on their boisterous waves, till they are plunged into endless perdition.
There I learn, that God in Christ is the only source of mercy. “God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” “ Beside me,” saith Jehovah, “ there is no Saviour.” “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” .
All good in time and in eternity flows from him who is goodness itself. When man had destroyed himself, and was justly reaping the fruit of his doings, it pleased Almighty God of his own free mercy and grace, to reveal the wonderous plan of salvation, by declaring, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.”
This declaration of grace was unasked for and , unexpected ; and therefore proves to us fallen crea
tures, that God is the only source of mercy ; that God is love; for he so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
As God is the source of mercy, so the channel through which this grace descends, is all of mercy. Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. .
By this stupendous sacrifice, divine Justice is satisfied; the holy law is magnified ; the holiness of Jehovah is unsullied; and eternal truth remains inviolate; yea, by this amazing sacrifice all the divine perfections receive additional lustre in the eyes of saints and angels.
The whole volume of inspiration is occupied with tracing the various streams which flow from these sources of misery and of mercy; in opening the nature and effects of sin; and in revealing the nature and operations of infinite love.
To understand these aright, through the teaching of the Spirit, is to understand the Scriptures; to have an inward practical knowledge of them in the heart, is to be made wise unto salvation.
The excellent Archbishop Leighton thus beauti. fully describes this stream of mercy flowing from the Fountain of eternal love : “ The spring of these waters of salvation, hid in the councils of God before time began, was opened immediately after the fall ; and began to flow in a small but reviving brook. Increasing by degrees, and from the very beginning, making every place it passed through, fertile and pleasant; it soon became a large stream. At length the main current of the Gospel flowed in; and now it rolls on full of water, greatly enriching the earth, a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, the streams whereof, make glad the city of God, and · shall do so, till this river empties itself into the ocean of eternity.” .. . It is truly interesting to trace the windings of this sacred stream, sometimes blessing one country, and sometimes another, according to the purpose and grace of him, who directs its course with wise and unerring skill.
What cause for gratitude, that this river of the water of life flows in every direction through this highly favoured island. But oh! how delightful to taste its sweetness, and to feel through faith, its purifying and refreshing virtues. : Blessed Lord! be pleased to open my understanding, that I may understand the Scriptures. Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that I may. know myself as a helpless sinner ; and thee, as my only Saviour. Let me never cavil at the deep mysteries of thy holy word; but make me as a little child, humble, teachable, and submissive to thy righteous will. May the knowledge of my ruined state, through original and actual transgression, fill me with shame and self-abhorrenee. May the knowledge of thy sovereign grace and purposes of mercy, through a crucified Redeemer, fill me with gratitude and adoring praise. Make me more and more acquainted with the deceitfulness of sin, that I may watch against its subtle workings; and make me more and more acquainted with thee, my Almighty Saviour, that I may daily rejoice in thy salvation; be exalted in thy righteousness, and live to thy glory.
0! that I felt my soul upborne
On pure devotion's wings;
And sublunary things.
Where thou, blest Saviour, sit'st enthron'd,
In everlasting light;
The source of their delight:
“ The religion of a sinner,” as good Mr. Newton used to say, “ stands upon two pillars : what Christ has done for us in the flesh; and what he does in us by his Spirit.”
Christ dying for us and Christ living in us, is the very ground and pillar of the truth.
Come, O! my soul, retire from a busy, thoughtless world; collect thy scattered powers; explore the sacred volume, and examine with delight these glorious pillars, which support the fabric of thy hopes, and point to realms on high.
Consider what Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, hath done for thee, when he became incarnate. And may the review of this stupendous mercy kindle such a flame of love, as never, never will expire !
The mighty God graciously made himself of no reputation, but took upon him the form of a servant ; and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. ii. 7, 8.) And why did the ever blessed Jesus thus humble himself? O! mystery of love ! It was to save his people from their sins." (Matt. i. 21.) It was that he, who knew no sin, might be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. v. 21.) It was to finish the transgression; to make an end of sins ; to make reconciliation for iniquity; and to bring in everlasting righteousness. (Dan. ix. 24.)
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor. xv. 3.) He hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter iii. 18.) He bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness : by whose stripes we are healed. (1 Pet. ii. 24.) He was once offered to bear the sins of many. (Heb. ix. 28.) He is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, (John i. 29,).
Jesus, the beloved of the Father, was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil; (1 John ii. 8.) that we might live through him; (1 John iv. 9.) that he might be the propitiation for our sins ; (1 John iv. 10.) that he might be the saviour of the world. (1 John iv. 14.) He gave himself for us, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, (Gal. i. 4.) from the wrath to come; (1 Thess. 1. 10.) and that, through death, he might destroy him that had