Imatges de pÓgina

those accomplishments by which his Father behooved to be glorified, and after having magnified the law, and made it honourable, by pouring out his soul unto the death for us, he went up on high, and by an arm of everlasting strength, levelled that wall of partition which lay across the path of acceptance; and thus it is, that the barrier on the part of God is done away, and he, with untarnished glory, can dispense forgiveness over the whole extent of a guilty creation, because he can be just, while he is the justifier of them who believe in Jesus.

And if the barrier, on the part of God, is thus moved aside, why not the barrier on the part of man? Does not the wisdom of redemption show itself here also? Does it not embrace some skilful contrivance, by which it penetrates those mounds that beset the human heart, and ward the entrance of the principle of love away from it, and which all the direct applications of terror and authority, have only the effect of fixing more immoveably upon their basis? Yes it does, for it changes the aspect of the Deity towards man; and were man only to have faith in the announcements of the gospel, so as to see God with the eye of his mind under this new aspect,-love to God would spring up in his heart, as the unfailing consequence. Let man see God as he sets himself forth in this wonderful revelation, and let him believe the reality of what he sees; and he cannot but love the Being he is employed in contemplating. Without this gospel, he may see him to be a God of justice; but he can. not do this without seeing the frown of severity directed against himself, a wretched offender: With this gospel, he sees the full burden of violated justice borne away from him; and God stands before him unrobed of all his severities, and tenderly inviting him to draw near through that blood of atonement which was shed, the just for the unjust, to bring the sinner unto God. Without this gospel, he may see the truth of God; but he sees it pledged, to the fulfilment of the most awful threatenings against him: With this gospel, he sees the full weight of all these accomplishments, resting on the head of the great sacrifice; and God's truth is now fully embarked on the most cheer. ing assurances of pardon, on the most liberal invitations of good will, on the most exceeding great and precious promises. With

out this gospel, he may see the government of God leaning on the pillars of that immutability which upholds it; but this very immutability is to him the sentence of despair; and how can he love that face, on which are stamped the characters of a stern and vindictive majesty? With this gospel, the face of God stands legibly revealed to him in other characters. That law which, resting on the solemn authority of its firm and unalterable requirements, demanded a fulfilment, up to the last jot and tittle of it, has been magnified, and has been made honourable, by one illustrious sufferer, who put forth the greatness of his strength, in that dark hour of the travail of his soul, when he bore the burden of all its penalties. That wrath which should have been discharged on the guilty millions he died for, was all concentred upon him, who took upon himself the chastisement of our peace, and on that day of mysterious agony, drank, to the very dregs, the cup of our expiation. And God, who planned the whole work of this wonderful redemption,-God, who in love to a guilty world sent his Son amongst us to accomplish it,-God, who rather than lose his alienated creatures, as he could not strip his eternal throne of a single attribute that supported it, awoke the sword of vengeance against his fellow, that on him the truth and the justice of the Deity might receive their most illustrious vindication,-God, who, out of Christ, sits surrounded with all the darkness of unapproachable majesty, is now God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing unto them their trespasses; his tender mercy is now free to rejoice amid all the glory of his other bright and untarnished perfections, and he pours the expression of this tenderness with an unsparing hand, over the whole extent of his sinful creation-and he lets himself down to the language of a beseeching supplicant, praying that each and every one of us might be reconciled unto him--and, putting on a winning countenance of invitation to the guiltiest of us all, he tells us, that if we only come to him through the appointed mediator, he will blot out, as with a thick cloud, our transgressions, and that, as if carried away to a land that was not inhabited, he will make no more mention of them.

And thus it is, that the goodness of God destroyeth the en

mity of the human heart. When every other argument fails, this, if perceived by the eye of faith, finds its powerful and persuasive way through every barrier of resistance. Try to approach the heart of man by the instruments of terror and of authority, and it will disdainfully repel you. There is not one of you skilled in the management of human nature, who does not perceive, that, though this may be a way of working on the other principles of our constitution,—of working on the fears of man, or on his sense of interest, this is not the way of gaining by a single hair-breadth on the attachments of his heart. Such a way may force, or it may terrify, but it never, never can endear; and after all the threatening array of such an influence as this, is brought to bear upon man, there is not one particle of service it can extort from him, but what is all rendered in the spirit of a painful and reluctant bondage. Now, this is not the service which prepares for heaven. This is not the service which assimilates men to angels. This is not the obedience of those glorified spirits, whose every affection harmonizes with their every performance; and the very essence of whose piety consists of delight in God, and the love they bear to him. To bring up man to such an obedience as this, his heart behooved to be approached in a peculiar way; and no such way is to be found, but within the limits of the Christian revelation. There alone you see God, without injury to his other attributes, ply. ing the heart of man with the irresistible argument of kindness. There alone do you see the great Lord of heaven and of earth, setting himself forth to the most worthless and the most wandering of his children,-putting forth his own hand to the work of healing the breach which sin had made between them,-telling him that his word could not be set aside, and his threatenings could not be mocked, and his justice could not be defied and trampled on, and that it was not possible for his perfections to receive the slightest taint in the eyes of the creation he had thrown around him; but that all this was provided for, and not a single creature within the compass of the universe he had formed, could now say, that forgiveness to man was degrading to the authority of God, and that by the very act of atonement, which poured a glory over all the high attributes of his charac.

ter, his mercy might now burst forth without limit, and without controul, upon a guilty world, and the broad flag of invitation be unfurled in the sight of all its families.

Let the sinner, then, look to God through the medium of such a revelation; and the sight which meets him there, may well tame the obstinacy of that heart, which had wrapped itself up in impenetrable hardness against the force of every other consideration. Now that the storm of the Almighty's wrath has been discharged upon him who bore the burden of the world's atonement, he has turned his throne of glory into a throne of grace, and cleared away from the pavilion of his residence, all the darkness which encompassed it. The God who dwelleth there, is God in Christ; and the voice he sends from it, to this dark and rebellious province of his mighty empire, is a voice of the most beseeching tenderness. Good will to men is the announcement with which his messengers come fraught to a guilty world; and, since the moment in which it burst upon mortal ears from the peaceful canopy of heaven, may the ministers of salvation take it and up, all the round with it go among tribes and individuals of the species. Such is the real aspect of God towards you. He cannot bear that his alienated children should be finally and everlastingly away from him. He feels for you all the longing of a parent bereaved of his offspring. To woo you back again unto himself, he scatters among you the largest and the most liberal assurances, and with a tone of imploring tenderness, does he say to one and to all of you, "Turn ye, turn ye, why will you die ?" He has no pleasure in your death. He does not wish to glorify himself by the des truction of any one of you. "Look to me all ye ends of the earth, and be saved," is the wide and the generous announcement, by which he would recal, from the very outermost limits of his sinful creation, the most worthless and polluted of those who have wandered away from him. Now give us a man who perceives, with the eye of his mind, the reality of all this, and you give us a man in possession of the principle of faith. Give us a man in possession of this faith; and his heart shielded, as it were, against the terrors of a menacing Deity, is softened and subdued, and resigns its every affection at the moving spectacle

[ocr errors]

of a beseeching Deity; and thus it is that faith manifests the attribute which the Bible assigns to it, of working by love. Give us a man in possession of this love; and animated as he is, with the living principle of that obedience, where the willing and delighted consent of the inner man goes along with the performance of the outer man, his love manifests the attribute which the Bible assigns to it, when it says, "This is the love of God, that ye keep his commandments." And thus it is, amid the fruitlessness of every other expedient, when power threatened to crush the heart which it could not soften,-when authority lifted its voice and laid on man an enactment of love which it could not carry,-when terror shot its arrows, and they dropped ineffectual from that citadel of the human affections, which stood proof against the impression of every one of them,-when wrath mustered up its appalling severities, and filled that bosom with despair which it could not fill with the warmth of a confiding attachment,--then the kindness of an inviting God was brought to bear on the heart of man, and got an opening through all its mysterious avenues. Goodness did what the nakedness of power could not do. It found its way through all the intricacies of the human constitution, and there, depositing the right principle of repentance, did it establish the alone effectual security for the right purposes, and the right fruits of repentance.


« AnteriorContinua »