« AnteriorContinua »
and heavy, btit our divine 'suretý hare the.n all. The original punishment denounced on our fallen parents, Jesus endured.
Cursed is the ground for thig sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread till thou return into the ground." Poor, accordingly, was the lot of the Son of God in this world, and liard his fare. Born of mean parents, and bronght up to labour, he was exposed to the fatigue and toil of a low, menial, and dependent estate.
Ye know thie grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; how that, thoughi he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so poor that, while the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, he had not wliere to lay his head. The law of God denounced reproach and disgrace upon the transgressor, that he should be: come a proverb, a taunt; and a curse. This punishment Jesus endured. He submitted to be reproached as a wine-bibber; å glatton, a friend or associate of publicans and sinners, a Samatitan, and Demoniac! He was reproached on the cross, as unable to save himself. These foul aspersions deeply affected his spia tits. it
« Reproach," says he, “hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness: I looked for some to take pity, but there was hone ; and for comforters, but I found none. The law denounced on the sinner, " a trembling heart and sorrow of mind."
This punishment, in all its fearful extentJesus endured. “Now,” said he,“
soul troubled ; and what shall I say? My soul is exceedinglý sorrowful; even unto dcath." It is impossible for our minds to enter into the anguish and trembling of his heart, in the garden of Gethsemane, wliere his sufferings seem to have come froth the immediate hand of God, and to have been overwhelming beyond all power of created conception. The law of God denounced on the transgressor, divine desertion, or the with drawing of God's favour from the soul : “ Be titou instructed, Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee: your iniquities have separated between you and your Go:l, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hcar. Jesus suffered this punishment in all its severity; he well knew the sacred and exquisite joy of fellowship with God, and therefore must have very keenly felt the awful blank in his soul when that fellowship was suspended. Henee the doleful cry," My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far froin helping me, and from the voice of my roaring? Omy God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hcarest not, and in the night season,
and am not silent." Anong the threatenings of God's most holy law, are these tremendous words : " And it shall come to pass, the Lord rejoiced bver you to do you good, and to multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought." But even this dire punishinent Jesus endured; for “ it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief.' Tlve jirstice of God rejoiced over tite sacrifice. The sword of
Jehovah was satiated with blood; in a word, Jesus was made a curse for us, he died for our sins, he was cut off out of the land of the living, and made his grave with the wicked.
By thus bearing the sins of his people, Jesus, our divine High Priest for ever removed them, so that when the iniquity of Jacob shall be sought for, it shall not be found. “ Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world; in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. We have an advocate with the Fam ther, Jesus Christ, the righteous, who is the propitialion for our sins: whose blood cleanseth us from all sin : By himself, he purged our sins; and having, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, he purges our conscience to serve the living God. He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
This oblation of himself derives infinite virtue and worth from the dignity of his person ; “for) in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." He is God manifest in flesh. The con gregation of the faithful is “ the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood;" the willingness of his heart to suffer; his matchless patience and fortitude in suffering; the magnanimity of his soul in regard to his murderers ; his resignation to the will and unshaken confidence in the faithfulness of his heavenly Father; with the other divine virtues which shine in bright assemblage around his cross, added worth unspeakable to the sacrifice, and lead the troubled mind to repose unsuspecting confidence in its boundless merits.
This is the foundation which God hath laid in Zion, and on wbich perishing sinners should build all their hopes. It is a sure foundation, having supported the honour of all the divine perfections, and justified the confidence of redeemed multitudes, numerous as the stars of Heaven : all other foundations are sandy and insecure. On the expiatory sacrifice of the Lamb of God alone, let us lean for the restoration of peace with God. He that thus leaneth, or believeth, shall never be confounded; for by this one offering hath our great High Priest perfected for ever he reconciliation and deliverance of them that are sanctified.. In proportion to our entire confidence in this atonement, will be the peace of our own conscience, and the inward joy of our heart.
Hath Jesus borne our sins and expiated our guilt? Then, under a sense of his authority, and constrained by his love, let us cheerfully submit our necks to his yoke. His law is love, his service, perfect freedom. Let us bever view his statutes as a burdeni, but rather as a chain of gold, a diadem of beauty; every requisition as an invitation to present happiness, every prohibition as the warning of paternal love to avoid misery and woe. Let us bear al:o the pres tire of sniffering which, in his wisdom and goodness, he may allot to us. The guilt of our sins being by his atoning sacrifice removed, the ills of this wintery life seein to low their weight on our shoulders. The mind becomes strong to bear; gratitude for the sacrifice of the cross animates the heart to endure the hardest trials, while the joy set before us raises the heart above the things that are seen, and makes tlte soul to spring forward from under the burden, in the full assurance that our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a tar more exceeding and eternal weiglit of glory.
Now, my soul, “ Unto him that loved thee, and hath washed thee from thy sins in his own blood, be glory and domirrion for ever! Amen."
As an Appendix to the above Essay, the Editor begs leave to subjoin the
follow ing Extract from a very interesting Conversation between Mr. Boswell and that literary Colossus Dr. Samuel Jounson, whose senti. ments, though not uniforinly evangelical, were strongly in favour of this great doctrine of ATONEMENT :-
“ I talked to him of original sin, in consequence of the fall of man, and of the atonement made by our Saviour. Afier some conversation, which lie desired me to remember, be, at my request, dictated to me as follows:
“ With respect to original sin, the enquiry is not necessary : for whatever is the cause of human corruption, men are evidently and confesseelly so corrupt, that all the laws of Heaven and Earth are insuficient to restrain them from crimes. Whatever difficulty there may be in the conception of vicarious punisl.-ments, it is an opinion which has had possession of mankind in
There is no nation that has not used the practice of sacrifices. Wbocver, therefore, denies the propriety of vicarious punishments, holds an opinion which the sentiments and practice of mankind have contradicted from the beginning of the world. The great sacrifice for the sins of mankind was offered at the death of the Messiah, who is called in Scripture, " The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.” To judge of the reasonableness of the scheme of redemption, it must be considered as necessary to the government of the universe, that God should make known his perpetual and irreconcileable detestation of moral evil. Ile might indeed punish, and punish only the offenders; but as the end of punishment is not revenge of crimes, but propagation of virtue, it was more becoming the divine clemency to find another manner of proceeding, less der structive to man, and at least equally powerful to promote good ness. The end of punishment is to reclaim and 'warni. That punishment will both reclaim and warn, which shews evidently such abhorrence of sin in God as may deter us from it, or strike us with vengeance when we have committed it. This is effected by vicarious punishment. Nothing could more testify the opposition between the nature of God and moral evil, or more ama ply display his justice to men and angels, to all orders and suca cessions of beings, than that it was necessary for the highest and purest nature, even for Divinity itself, to pacify the demands of vengeance by a painful death, of which the natural effect will be, that when Justice is appeased, there is a proper place for the exercise of Mercy. - The peculiar doctrine of Christianity is, that of an universal sacrifice and perpetual propitiation. Other prophets only proclaimed the will and the threatenings of God; Christ satisfied his justice.
Boswell's Life of Johnson, vol. iii, p. 288-290.
In perfect conformity to this, were the sentiments of our great epic poet, Multon, who puts into the lips of Deity the following sublime language: - Speaking of Man, foreviewed as fallen, he ways,
“ Die he, or Justice must; unless for him
Some other able, and as willing, pay
Pár. Lost, B. 11%
ON SCRIPTURAL PREACHING.
The great business of a minister of the gospel is to explain and to enforce the truths contained in the word of God. This is the only method by which those desirable effects can be secured, to the promotion of which he professes to dedicate his time and talents. He must allow, that liis attempts to promote the best interests of bis fellow-creatures, will be available only so far as they are accompanied by the energy of the Divine Spirit. The great question then is, In what way may that indispensable blessing be reasonably and confidently expected ? Now, the truth of the gospel is that alone which God has promised to render efficacious to the conversion of sinners, and to the edification of believers ; and it is that alone which, in its own nature, is adapted to answer these purposes. The display of the grace and love of God, through a crucified Saviour, is calculated to cherish every holý
disposition in the hearts of the disciples of Jesus; it is the con, tinued source of their love, joy, peace, and hope, the constant spring of that obedience which is the genuine expression of those delightful feelings.
We are 'not, however, to rest contented with a knowledge of those plain and fundamental truths of the gospel which may
be considered as "? the first principles of the doctrine of Christ;" should feel desirous of “ going on to perfection;" of having a clear and consistent view of the whole system of revealed truth; for we may be assurçd, that our growth in grace will be in exact proportion to our growth in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There is no erroneous idea that a Chrişe tian can adopt, more hostile to his improvement, than the notion (alas! that it is so common) that he may make advances in holi, ness, while he ceases to make advances in knowledge. To the man who has adopted this sentiment, the Scriptures will be but of little further use. He may indeed haye recourse to them ocą casionally, as a school-boy has to a lesson he has already learned, in order to refresh his memory; but he will not study them diligently, as if he expected to find much additional and valus able instruction. A great part, perhaps the far greater part, of the Scriptures will be of no value at all; he might be deprived of it, and be conscious of no loss. When he goes to the house of God, to hear the preaching of his word, he neither expects, nor desires, to receive by the sermon any new light on any doc trine of the gospel. If his feelings are agrcrably moved by the forcible language, or animatedl address of the speaker, his object įs gained; he returns home pronouncing a high encomium on the popular preacher. He is apt to grow weary of attending the ministry of one man, and longs to hear a variety, which, he conę tends is far preferable to a statel ministry: and so it is on his principles; for some variety the human mind must have, if possible ; and if it is indifferent about a variety of matter, it will be so much the more eager to obtain spide variety in the manner of delivery. But the intelligent and serions hearer, who wishes to have unfolded to his view the whole compass of scriptural truth, may be expected to have recourse to a stated ministry. But is it likely that he will thus le able to obtain the advantages he desires ? In many places, blessed be God, he inay! But it is a lamentable fact, that there are pretchers who will exceedingly disappoint his expectations. Their sermons prove that they are not diligent and laborious students of the Scriptures. They do not take sufficient pains to lead their people into the whole of revealed truth. They dwell chiefly upon some favourite view of some particular doctrines, to the blame ble neglect of many others equally important, so that the man of God is far from being, by their ncans, thoroughly instructed and furnished.