Page images

The salvation of the body is accomplished in its resurrection from the dead, whereof we have the assurance in the resurrection of Christ's body, which was of the same mortal and corruptible nature as that in which we are found. As in Adam all die, so in CHRIST shall all be made alive. And to this end Christ both died and rose again, and revived that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. As the entertainment of sin established the empire of death over man fallen, so the conquest of sin, and of him who had the power of death, by our representative, restores that immortality to the body for which it was originally created. This peculiar and distinguishing doctrine of Christianity was one of the fruits of Christ's undertaking for us; and while it is full of hope and comfort, to those who embrace and obey the gospel, increases the horror and despair of those who reject it. Because it is for the purpose

of judgment that the dead shall be raised, that soul and body, once more united, and for evermore incapable of decay or dissolution, may suffer or enjoy, according to the deeds done in the body, to all eternity. Oh! what a price will those who now sacrifice to the flesh then pay, for the short lived, unsatisfying enjoyments of sense ; and what a rich reward will those who now crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts of a fallen nature, then reap. O that we could realize this awful truth as we ought, and see the intemperance and thoughtlessness of both old and young falling before it. But alas ! while this is unbeeded iniquity will abound.

The salvation of the soul is accomplished by restoring it to the image from which it is fallen. As sin committed proved the death of the soul, the destruction of its faculties of knowing, loving, and pleasing God, so by the destruction of sin is the soul restored to its original health, and rendered capable of all that the gospel requires. Now, it is only by the Spirit of God (that same Spirit which formed the life of their souls in our first parents, but departed from them when they sinned) that this can be wrought in us their progeny. And this Spirit is the purchase of Christ's death, who, when he ascended up on high, led captivity captive and received gifts for men. This is the turning point of the religion of the gospel, which is, therefore,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

called, emphatically, the dispensation of the Spirit. It is by this SPIRIT that we are convinced of sin and moved to repentance. It is by this Spirit that we are renewed to holiness and confirmed in faith. It is by this Spirit that our union with CHRIST is witnessed, and the atonement of his death personally applied to the pardon of our sins and acceptance with God. And it is by this Spirit dwelling in us that our mortal bodies will be raised at the last day. This precious gift is the promise of the Father and the purchase of the Son. As without His quickening, renewing power, all the other parts of our redemption and salvation would have been in vain, so unless we obtain and follow the Spirit we can never be prepared for heaven. And what is thus so necessary for all is freely offered to all under the gospel; it is offered to our prayers, to our earnest endeavours to conform to the will of God; yea, he is present in every one of you, my hearers, at this present moment, though ye know him notready to perform his gracious operations upon your hearts and bring you back to God, turning you from sin. He stands ready to enlighten your ignorance, to strengthen your weakness, to reprove your folly, and admonish your carelessness. And how often have you grieved him, and turned away from the gracious convictions he hath wrought in your hearts. O turn not away from his wholesome though sometimes painful discipline, but yield yourselves to the truth which saveth ; that, renewed in the spirit of your minds, the salvation wrought out for you by the Son of God may be accomplished by victory over sin in this life, by the attainment of the mind that was in Christ, and by the final triumph of soul and body together, over death and hell, in the great day of eternity. Thus shall the gracious purpose wherefore God gave his Son, and that Son consented to be given for us, be answered. Thus shall he see of the travail of his soul, and his second coming welcome you to the joy and glory of his heavenly kingdom.

The religion of the gospel, my friends, is a provision of God's mercy to save your souls from eternal death, not absolutely, but on condition that you apply the means furnished you, to conquer sin and attain to that holiness without which no man shall see the LORD. The sentence of eternal death stands firm against

every son of Adam who rejects the gospel and the love and compassion of God in giving his Son; and the sufferings of that Son for you will increase that condemnation beyond all power of expression. From this there is no escape. It is the appointment from heaven and cannot be reversed. Take, then, the warning of this day, and let the application of what has been said lead you to a serious consideration of what God hath done for you -of the answer you will be able to make when your account is called for, and from this judge of your state. In vain will Christ have been given by the love of God, if the purpose for which he came and suffered is not answered. In vain will faith in him be, if that faith is not fruitful in holiness. In vain shall we call bim LORD, if we do not the things which he says. Alas! alas ! that so many who know all these things should, nevertheless, remain unmoved by them, and never take a single step godward; who hear to condemnation, and make a preached gospel the savour of death to their souls; whom neither love can draw nor fear drive from the follies of the world and the witcheries of sin. Merciful LORD! point the truth of thy word to their hearts ; and let this, thy holy day, witness thy power to save, by bringing some poor sinner from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.




“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made

the righteousness of God in him.”

This fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith, on which the gospel with all its gracious invitations, encouraging promises, and enlivening hopes, is founded—from which all the appointments, ordinances, and means of religion derive their whole efficacy, and to which, as the procuring cause of pardon, grace, and everlasting life to sinful mortals, it continually refers the devout worshipper of God and his Christ, forms at all times a proper and profitable subject for the meditations of Christians.

It must, consequently, be to all a most solemn and impressive subject, my brethren and hearers, seeing it involves in its consideration the heinous and destructive nature of sin, the utter insufficiency of all and every human means to expiate the guilt of its commission, the wonderful provision of God's love, mercy, and wisdom, to constitute sinners righteous in his sight by the merits of Christ, and the personal interest each individual present has in this only propitiation, atonement, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, whether original or actual. I shall, therefore, consider the text as comprising the following points of doctrine :

First, that all men stand in need of a Saviour.

SECONDLY, that the righteousness or morality of our lives can avail us nothing for acceptance with God, otherwise than under the shield of Christ's perfect righteousness.

Thirdly, that we can secure an interest in the satisfaction made to the divine justice by the death of Christ, no otherwise than by so receiving the testimony God hath given of his Son as to believe and obey the gospel.

Fourthly, that to those only who thus receive and apply it is this wonderful appointment of God, set forth in the text, made effectual to salvation.

For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I. First, then, we learn from the text that all men stand in need of a saviour.

Our condition with respect to God, how we stand in regard to his present and future favour, is infinitely the most important of all our concerns, my brethren. It may be well or it may be ill with us in the present life; we may enjoy or we may suffer; but in either case we can look to the end of it. In another life, however, this advantage is done away, and whatever our condition shall be, it is a never ending and unchangeable one. And this it is which stamps with such superlative folly the guilt of those who neglect to consider, with the attention and seriousness it deserves, the ground of their expectations, whatever these may be, when death shall close the scene of temporal things and introduce them to those which are eternal.

One very strong proof of the divine original of the Scriptures of our faith, is their agreement with the universal impressions of mankind; whether aided by revelation or left in the darkness of their natural state; and the complete relief which these Scriptures give on the difficulties of our present, and on the anxieties respecting our future condition, is one of the most convincing arguments for our thankful reception of them.

Were we innocent creatures we could not possibly reconcile the sorrows and sufferings, the pains, diseases, and deaths, under which the world labours, with the loving kindness and tender mercies of our heavenly Father, and were we only obnoxious to temporal evils, though we should fear and dread them, yet our fear could not be of that indescribable quality which accompanies the expectation of those which are future, and to which death is but the prelude. This demonstrates, I think, that there is something radically wrong in the constitution of human nature. Death could not be so much the object of fear and abhorrence to all men, seeing it is so certain a remedy for the miseries of time, were it not that there is something thereafter still more to

VOL. II.-19

« PreviousContinue »