« السابقةمتابعة »
brought reclaiming influences to bear on your soul, Acts vii. 51. Had you never committed a sin against your fellow men, your everlasting condemnation would be just; but you have destroyed your own soul, Hos. xiii. 9; and you have encouraged others in sin, which may finally insure their ruin.
It can be no excuse of your course to say you have been sincere. This plea will not suffice ; for " there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death,” Prov. xiv. 12. You cannot plead that conscience has not condemned you; for by constant sinning you may have perverted and hardened it. You cannot hope that God will be indifferent to your sin : he is "jealous” for his law, and by his word and providence he has declared his opposition, in terms that should make every transgressor tremble. If you rely on a vague expectation of the general mercy of Grd, your hope must perish: he offers no mercy except that which he bestows through Jesus Christ on those who repent and believe the gospel. If you trust in the promise of future repentance, it must prove delusive ; for if now, under clear conviction and the most pressing motives, you feel you are unwilling to repent, much more will this be the case when, by practice in sin, convictions are stifled, motives weakened, and the heart has grown hard. If you trust to your morality, the outward and partial performance of social duties cannot answer the demands of a law which is “exceeding broad” and spiritual; nor can present obedience, even if it were perfect, atone for sins that are past. If you expect that at death some change will be produced in your moral character, by which you may be saved, you are fearfully deceived : he that is then unjust shall be unjust still, and he that is filthy shall be filthy still, Rev. xxii. 11.
You are, then, condemned; nor can you derive from yourself or your fellow men the least hope of deliverance. If you are ever saved, it must be by the unmerited mercy of God, so exercised that his justice, holiness, and truth shall be glorified, the authority of his law be maintained, and a thorough and deep-rooted change produced in your moral character.
Such a plan of salvation the widsom of God has devised. And from the cross of Jesus Christ the invitation is directed to you, “LOOK UNTO ME, and be ye saved,” Isa. xlv. 22.
He is a Saviour in every respect suited to your case. He has removed all legal obstacles to your pardon, and yet upheld and magnified the law. He has glorified the attributes of God, and yet can offer mercy most freely to all who will receive it. He has every qualification to invite your confidence and engage your affection. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. i. 19.
vated your sins, on the ground of his “everlasting righteousness” you may be pardoned and restored.
He is full of grace to sanctify. “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin," 1 John i. 7. His Spirit and his word can make you clean, 1 Pet. i. 2, 22. Wait not to make yourself better, and then come to Christ with your imperfect goodness as the price of acceptance: come as you are ; he will make you better, and render you acceptable in his Father's sight.
He is full of compassion. He came to save sinners. Whosoever cometh to him shall in no wise be cast out, John vi. 37.
He is full of sympathy. He knows, for he has felt, the wants, woes, trials, and temptations of men; and his call is, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28.
“ All power in heaven and in earth" is given him, to protect and uphold his people, Matt. xxviii. 18. If you are fearful that you cannot hold out, he can keep you, John X. 27–29. “ He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him," Heb. vii. 25.
He is full of wisdom. The past, the present, the future are open to his eye. He will keep you from the paths of the destroyer, and guide you into the ways of safety and
peace. He is full of glory to crown. He will own you in this world, will guard you from the snares of prosperity, will cheer the dark hours of adversity with his presence, will convert your last conflict into a scene of victory, and raise you to his Father's house, to reign as “kings and priests” with him for ever, Rev. i. 6.
He will be made wisdom for your ignorance, righteousness for your guilt, sanctification for your pollution, and redemption for your ruin. Will you accept him as your Saviour ? Then, in humble dependence on Divine grace, make and seal with your heart some such engagement as the following:
“In view of my sins, most unreasonable and wicked, as committed against God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I profess my sincere sorrow, and my earnest desire to forsake them heartily and for ever. I now receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. Disclaiming every other ground of hope, I trust alone to his atonement for pardon. Knowing my ignorance, I receive him as my instructor, and bind myself to follow him. And acknowledging and renouncing my past rebellion, I receive him-as my Master and Lord, submitting my will cheerfully to his, and consecrating myself and all to his service for ever.” Make such a consecration as this from the heart, and you
shall live. Why will you die? An innumerable multitude have resorted to Christ and been saved. Hear the experience of one. Cowper, the celebrated Christian poet, at one period of his hisat length he opened the Bible and read Rom. iii. 25, Christ Jesus “God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” “ Immediately," he says, “ I received strength to believe, and the full beams of the Sun of righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement he had made for my pardon and complete justification. Unless the Almighty arm had been under me, I think I should have been overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. My eyes filled with tears, and my voice choked with transport; I could only look up to heaven in silent fear, overwhelmed with love and wonder. I lost no opportunity of repairing to the throne of grace, but flew to it with an earnestness irresistible and never to be satisfied. Could I help it? The Lord had enlarged my heart, and I could now cheerfully run in the way of his commandments.” It was in such a state of mind that he composed this hymn, and may God give you grace to adopt it as the language of your own heart:
There is a fountain fill’d with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
Lose all their guilty stains,
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
Wash all my guilt away.
Shall never lose its power,
Be saved, to sin no more.
E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
And shall be till I die,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
power to save,
Lies silent in the grave.
JUSTIFYING FAITH.—We are not justified by our believing, but by the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we believe to the salvation of our souls. Our righteousness is by faith in Christ, which is a living faith that produces holiness.
I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided ?"-Luke xii. 19, 20.
THE SINNER CONDEMNED.
That such as die without repentance will not be able to stand in the judgment, can be denied by none who receive the Bible as a revelation from God. Many who cannot be persuaded to forsake their sins are yet free to acknowledge, that if they continue in their present condition until death they will be doomed to hopeless misery. So the Bible everywhere teaches. “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment." Sinners “ shall be punished with everlasting destruction.' The word of God indeed inculcates all this most plainly, and in every form of expression.
But it teaches more. It not merely declares what shall be, when the judgment is set and the books are opened; it anticipates the decisions of the final day, and pronounces sentence of condemnation even now upon every unbelieving and impenitent sinner. It pronounces him guilty; and tells him plainly, that the wrath of God, as a mighty mountain, rests upon his soul in the present world, before he has had a hearing at the grand tribunal. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” These are the words of Him to whom all judgment is committed.
The state of the sinner is not that of one who is merely suspected of crime, but whose guilt has not been established. Nor is it that of one who is arraigned, awaiting that trial which may ascertain his criminality and consign him to punishment, or may establish his innocence and send him back to freedom. Before one thus arraigned can be sentenced, witnesses must be summoned, and his guilt be clearly proved. But it is not in this light, unrepenting sinner, that the Bible contemplates you. You are already arraigned and convicted. The sentence of condemnation has gone forth from the lips of Him who is to be the Judge of the world : “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in ail things written in the book of the law to do them.”
Look again at the nature of that deliverance which believers are said to experience. " There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." " Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. The state of the believer before his deliverance was that of condemnation. There is no admission of his innocence. On the contrary, the act of pardon itself assumes his guilt. It tells him unequivocally, that without forgiveness he is undone, and that “ the wrath of God abideth on him.” Whilst it lays him under everlasting obligations of gratitude to Christ, it gives him a more vivid impression of that obligation, by reminding him, that without it there is nothing before him but a "fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.” God's system of grace abates nothing from the fearfulness of the unpardoned sinner's condition. Whatever is true of those who are in Christ Jesus," it is not true of you who have slighted the Saviour, that you are free from condemnation; no, the frowning eye of God is upon you, as a criminal.
On the list of the condemned you are reserved for the officer of justice, to be led forth, at the time appointed, to execution.
O sinner, how appalling is your situation! You have not even the poor alleviation of looking forward to the close of a long life, before the sentence can be executed upon you. When the convicted criminal has received his sentence from the lips of the judge, no principle of justice is violated, though he be carried at once from the place of trial to the place of execution. It is true, in Christian communities, some delay of days, or weeks, is usually allotted to the criminal after he is doomed to death. But this is the mercy of the court. No claim of justice can be set up.
Justice has condemned him to death. How then can it plead for delay? And what should hinder the immediate execution of the sentence upon the transgressor of God's law? His guilt is already ascertained. The crime is fastened
him. Yes, sinner, and that sentence is