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God sees the hope, the turning to the light though feebly and from afar, when it escapes our sight. Elijah thought that there was but one faithful one left in his day; God had seven thousand who had never bowed the knee to Baal, even in the darkest hour of Israel's history: and He has His eye on these prisoners of hope where we never dream of searching for them, in every country and in every age of the world.
III. This first promise to man, this fellowship of God with the sinning, suffering race, whose existence He perpetuated, pledged Him to the sacrifice of Calvary, the baptism of Pentecost, and the abiding of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, with the world. “ Emmanuel” meant-God on Calvary. There alone could the whole hope of man be realized, the whole promise of God be fulfilled. The God who stooped to share the burden, must at length bear it wholly and bear it away. Having endured sin in the world, and before His face, having taken charge of the future of a sinful race, He must make the full atonement for them. He must become their sacrifice; and the sentence of death which eternal necessities' imposed, He must, if He would spare them, execute on Himself. Sin being made exceeding sinful by His revelation of the law, He must endure the sentence of that law, that its sinfulness in His sight
might appear to all, and be stamped into the history of the universe for ever. The race which He had taken into the fellowship of His compassionate love, being dead in sins, He must, not teach, not guide, not help only, but quicken, if He would save; unless He could give a new mind, a new heart, a new life, to the world, He had lifted the burden of its sin and misery in vain. The whole economy
of grace, as we call it, the atoning sacri. fice, the quickening Spirit, the reigning Mediator on the throne, comes forth in virtue of that one promise which changed the misery of man the sinner into a discipline instead of a doom. From that gate
of Eden whence Adam gazed shuddering over the wilderness, Calvary was already in sight; yea, and beyond Calvary-as the dawn broke red and clear behind the agony of Gethsemanemon the dim outer edge of the wilderness which bore the cross on its rude breast, a golden radiance might be
It is the dawning of that eternal day of Restitution, when Adam, lost in Eden, restored in Christ, shall lead the line of his ransomed sons, clothed in triumphal robes, and crowned, to present them before Him of whom he was the figure, and in whom the likeness which he lost is restored transfigured, and glorified, the supreme celestial form through eternity. And, methinks, even in that hour of transgression, the fallen mau might have
caught the prelude of that exulting strain, which shall break like a flood of glorious harmony, as the voice of waters, and the voice of thunders, around the throne of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, when the triumph of Calvary is complete, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain ; blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
And then shall the Divine image be revealed in man. In the denizen of Eden it was but in embryo. In the pilgrim of the wilderness it was dark with shame and foul with sins. In the Man of sorrows the glory of manhood was unveiled, but the stain of tears was upon it, and the shadow of a great agony; in the Son of Man enthroned at God's right hand it shall at length be manifest, in the day of manifestation of the Son, and the sons; and then, and never till then, shall the prophecy of the form which was God's likeness in Eden be fulfilled, and the universe comprehend what God meant by Man.
And now, brethren, what is the deadly, damning sin of man ? What is it which God's mercy cannot compassionate, and God's redemption cannot
Not the nature which we bring into the world, not the infirmities and sins which
ich grow out of it. The Lord bears witness against these in tones which, though full of tender compassion, are full of
an awful warning, for the end of these things is death. But these are but the fringes, as it were, of the essentially deadly sin, the sin which man makes for himself within the laboratory of his own life It grows not out of infirmities of nature, but out of that malignant perverseness of heart into which the indulgence of the desires of the flesh and of the mind inevitably hardens at length. Brethren, everywhere, everywhen, from the first hour of man's transgression, to the last hour of the existence of the world, “Herein is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” God made man to be redeemed; and “God is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” The resisting that purpose, the refusing that reconciliation, the loving sin more than the merciful Saviour, the hell of self-will rather than the blessed and glorious heaven which is opened through the Gospel—this is the crowning, the damning sin, the sin from which there can be no release.
“The deaf may hear the Saviour's voice,
The sin of humanity is the rejection of its
Saviour. This is the sin which man knows to be his
own, the fruit of his free-will, the full, deliberate election of his spirit, the burden of which he must bear eternally.
The turning away from any light of God which is shining in him, the resisting of the Holy Spirit who is striving even in the children of disobedience, the closing of the door of the heart against the Light of the world, the Man of sorrows, who is standing there amid all its tangled weeds and briars, and pleading for an entrance—these make the true and final damnation ; the eye which can bear that glance without melting into tenderness, the heart that remains bare and dry under the blessed dew of that love, the form that can stand before the Cross and make light of those dying agonies, and can trample under foot as an unholy thing, that most precious blood—this is the second and utter death.