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to death and to the curse of God. But Jesus Christ, the divine representative of man, sustained these penalties in his stead, suffering on the cross the bitterness of death, as one forsaken by God. Thus was the divine law sustained, and the authority of the divine government vindicated, in the punishment of transgression. Every barrier that excluded a guilty race from the means of pardon was removed; the darkness that enveloped the throne of God, the righteous Sovereign of the universe, was dispelled; and the voice of mercy was heard issuing from that throne whence before had proceeded the denunciations of justice-" God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; and whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out." Jesus Christ is thus the way of access unto the Father, and no man cometh unto the Father but by him.
II. But Jesus Christ is also the truth.
The Word, the wisdom of God, in him dwells the truth of the Godhead, and this truth he has manifested to the children of men. In him was light; and this light hath shone upon us, dispersing the spiritual darkness that overshadowed us, and guiding our feet in the way of peace.
Jesus Christ was the Teacher sent from God: full of grace were his lips, and never man spake like him. He disclosed what reason had sought in vain to discover-the terms on which the offended Sovereign of the universe would admit to his favour man, who had rebelled against him. He renewed in full lustre that light of divine truth which our first parents lost at the fall, and which successive revelations by the prophets could not wholly restore.
All the divine attributes were seen to harmonize in that cross which Jesus Christ displayed, and on which he suffered; mercy and truth there met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other. He divested the Divinity of those corporeal infirmities and passions with which human reason had clothed him, and revealed God as a Spirit, to be worshipped, not with the vain oblations of a corrupted heart and fancy, but in spirit and in truth. Human reason had ineffectually sought to fix the varying rule of duty-Jesus Christ established that rule, so easy to be understood and so easy to be applied-" Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you." The various duties that result from our social relations, and the faithful discharge of which is necessary to render these relations a source of happiness, are delineated and enforced in the Gospel of this divine Teacher, with unequalled clearness, tenderness, and force. Those duties, which terminate more directly on man himself, and which are more immediately necessary to his individual perfection and happiness, are summed up in the injunctions to be "pure, as God is pure;" to be "perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect." And to give life and fervour to this holy code of morals, this divine Teacher infused into it the principle of love, love to God and man-displaying itself in every relative and social virtue, in the faithful and resolute discharge of every duty.
Thus Jesus Christ proves himself the truth, bringing down divine truth from her habitation in the highest heavens, to dwell with man as his companion and his friend; and by the influences of his Holy Spirit, dispensed to all men, but more especially and fully to the members of his church, his
mystical body, which is the mean and pledge of his grace and mercy, he prepares the soul for this celestial visitant, dispelling from the understanding and the heart the errors and the prejudices that would oppose her righteous dominion.
Jesus Christ being thus the way and the truth
III. He is also the life.
He is life to man dead in trespasses and sins, quickening him to the life of holiness and virtue, to the comforts of God's favour, and to the joys of his love. He is life to man cast down and oppressed by the burden of sorrow, animating him by the view of the Divine goodness and compassion, sustaining him by the succours of his Holy Spirit, and, above all, cheering him by the prospect of the bliss that awaits him when his journey is closed, in that region where sorrow and sighing flee far away.
Yes, in this respect, Jesus Christ is emphatically the life, restoring man from the dominion of death to life and immortality. On the scenes beyond the grave, shadows and darkness rested, which no human hopes could penetrate; Jesus Christ shed upon them everlasting light, assuring us that our existence is not confined to a few fleeting years, but is commensurate with the ages of eternity; that the grave is not the boundary of our prospects, nor death the spoiler of our joys; that these prospects extend through scenes of immortality in the presence of God, and that these joys shall flourish in that city of the great King where flow rivers of pleasure for evermore. We tremble not at the stroke of death: our divine Lord hath deprived death of his sting. We shudder not at the darkness
of the grave: he hath illumined it with the light of life, and spoiled it of its victory. Shaking off the bands of death and ascending to heaven, he shows that an immortal life is destined for his servants, where this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality; where they shall shine as the sun, and as the stars, for ever and ever; and where, made kings and priests unto God, they shall sin no more and sorrow no more, but shall reign with him for ever.
These exalted hopes we owe to thee, blessed Jesus, thou life of men! But for thee, death would have gloried in the extinction of our being, and the grave triumphed in his victory over our joys. But thou hast shown us the path of life; and, sustained by thee, we pass through the valley of the grave to the region of peace and immortality, where our nature is perfected, and our joys consummated for ever-thou hast opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
To whom then, brethren, shall we go, but unto Jesus Christ? He only is the way, the truth, and the life.
In regard to the means of restoration to the favour of God, and the terms on which our offended Maker will pardon our transgressions, human reason can gratify us with only uncertain hopes; for she in vain essays to reconcile the attributes of mercy and justice, and to render the pardon of sin compatible with the claims of divine holiness and of the violated authority of God.
On the infinitely important subjects of the nature, the perfections, and will of the Being who made us, what doth reason teach man-rather, into what errors and corruption hath it not plunged him?
For, guided only by its suggestions, men changed the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible things, worshipped the creature instead of the Creator, and almost entirely extinguished the sentiments of virtue in the grossness of their corrupt hearts and imagination.
When we close our eyes upon the world, what is our destiny? Here, too, human reason can do nothing but conjecture; and we want certainty. Certainty, on every subject relative to our spiritual character and immortal hopes, is assured to us only by Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. He only, through the atoning efficacy of his blood and the merit of his obedience, hath opened to us the way of access to the Father. He only, by the instructions of his word and Holy Spirit, enlightens us in divine truth-in the knowledge of God, our duty, and our hopes. And he only hath brought life and immortality to light, and by his resurrection and ascension assured us of victory over the grave, and of a life of glory for ever in the kingdom of heaven.
To whom then shall we go, but unto him? For it is his own unerring declaration-" No man cometh unto the Father but by me." The pardoning efficacy of his blood and the merits of his obedience may indeed extend to many to whom he is not manifested in his written word, and, through him, their sincere but imperfect obedience may be accepted. But we, to whom this Saviour is proclaimed, can come unto the Father, through him, only by a true and living faith. On his merits only we must repose for the pardon of our sins, humbly confessing and renouncing them; to the instructions of his word and the guidance of his