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why an offered heaven and a threatened hell have so little power to move you from the tents of sin ? why a stricken conscience is put aside to another opportunity ? and you will learn that it is through unbelief, and awake, perhaps, to the danger of your state.
Oh! the wretched condition of that person who lives without God in the world, without a Saviour, without faith, without hope, without love, exposed to all the claims of the law without a shelter from its vengeance—who must come to death and judgment with nothing to present to God but a body and soul poisoned with sin, and fit only for the society of devils and damned spirits. Oh! the misery of the gospel sinner! How will the fallen angels mock at him, and glory over him, in the great and dreadful day of the Lord! How gladly would they embrace what he makes light of—salvation provided, righteousness wrought out, a Saviour offered, peace given, heaven opened, and glory promised. Awake then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, and no man cometh unto the Father but by him ; for there is none other name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved, only the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Among the many inventions which men have sought out on the subject of religion, or, which is the saine thing, on the means of obtaining and securing the favour of God, there is none more prevalent in the present day, or more ruinous to the souls of men, than that of a partial reception of the gospel. But few can be found who are hardy enough to reject and disclaim it altogether. Though there are some such, yet there are multitudes who receive it no farther than to claim for their sins the cover of its mercy, while they refuse their hearts and lives to its transforming grace and holy requirements.
But, as it must be evident to all that this desperate delusion which makes Christ the minister of sin, could have no place were the gospel with its awful discoveries and merciful provisions more carefully considered, I trust it will answer my purpose for your edification, so to apply the words of my text as to show the folly and insufficiency of a partial reception of Christ and his message ;
First, to man as a fallen sinner; and,
Secondly, to the same creature as a penitent believer. This I shall endeavour, with God's help, to lay plainly before you; and, then,
CONCLUDE with an application of the whole.
To do this to any advantage we must consider both the condition itself and its consequences. A train of thought, my hearers, too seldom permitted to occupy the meditations either of the more serious or of the more thoughtless portion of those who are, nevertheless, the subjects of this tremendous ruin, and the objects of that rich redeeming love whereby its desolations are staid and its miseries may be averted.
The state of man as a fallen sinner, is that of alienation from God, condemnation to eternal death for the violation of his boly law, without the means of escape or the hope of deliverance by any thing in himself. And the consequences of this state are, spiritual death, or the loss of that faculty of the soul by which God is apprehended as the chief good, loved supremely, relied upon unreservedly, and obeyed implicitly; the prevalence of the animal nature, or flesh, as it is called in Scripture, whereby the original order of the affections and desires is perverted, so that instead of being in subjection to the law of the mind, the mind or reason of the man is become subservient to the law in the members; and the exposure, without remedy, to natural evil, in pain, sickness, decay, and death of the body—with fear, alarm, disappointment, sorrow, and suffering, both of mind and body, as the bitter fruit of that heavy curse which sin has entailed upon this earth, and upon all its inhabitants.
This is the true condition of fallen man when considered as unredeemed, and is indispensable to any rational comprehension of the actual condition of mankind, and of their obligations and duties under the advantages of revealed religion and instituted means of grace. It is also bis condition as redeemed, with this difference, that what in the one case was absolute and irrecoverable by man himself, is now, by the undertaking of the LORD Jesus Christ as man's representative, become conditional and recoverable. The spiritual death consequent on the first transgression, and which precluded the possibility of trial, is removed by the restored competency of moral beings to apprehend the truth of their condition, and to apply the means provided for their restoration to the favour of God and to eternal life, through the grace given them in Christ Jesus. And thus St. Paul argues in his epistle to the Romans—As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so, by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men, unto justification of life. And again, in his epistle to Titus—The grace of God which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men. Now, this free gift and measure of divine grace, are equally the purchase of the death of Christ, by virtue of which the gospel is preached to us, and we are rendered capable of believing its truth, embracing its promises, obeying its precepts, and inheriting its reward.
Of this new state, Jesus Christ, as the purchaser and procurer, is constituted the Lord and king. It is the kingdom of God's dear Son, as the apostle expresses it. Whatever relates to its government and administration is delegated to him. GOD hath put all things under his feet and gave him to be head over all things to the Church, in which Christ ruleth as a son over his orn house ; angels, and authorities, and principalities, and powers, being made subject unto him. And all that concerns its close and consummation, is to be transacted by him in person.- The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to the deeds done in this body, whether they be good or whether they be evil. With the deepest truth, therefore, is it said in my text, Without me ye can do nothing.
Would fallen man, then, blind and ignorant as he is in himself, know the truth of his actual condition, he must come to JESUS Christ, the word and the wisdom of God, a light of the Gentiles to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. No where else can certainty and satisfaction be obtained on those points which are beyond the range of his experience and observation.
Would fallen man profit by the knowledge thus revealed from Heaven, he must come to Jesus Christ, that the Spirit of life may quicken him to apprehend the saving truths of the gospel. The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life, says our blessed LORD.
Would fallen man be delivered from the condemnation under which he is held by reason of original sin, he must come to Jesus Christ, who hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
Would he be released from the guilt of his own personal sins,
he must come to Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
Would fallen man be quickened into spiritual life, he must come to Jesus Christ, who alone baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. Would he be reconciled to God and translated into the kingdon of his dear Son, he must come to Jesus CHRIST, who hath made peace by the blood of his cross—in whom God was reconciling the world to himself, by whom only we have access to the Father.
And would fallen man be furnished for this his new relation to God, and for the duties and the hopes which belong to it, he must come to Jesus Christ, the prophet, the priest, and the king of this gracious dispensation of mercy and love. For in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, of whose fulness we have all received, and who tells us in my text, without me ye can do nothing.
Thus indispensable, my dear hearers, is the LORD JESUS CHRIST, to all spiritual attainment in fallen man. As he interposed by the will of God between the sentence of the law and its infliction on the first transgressors, and by consenting to suffer the penalty in their stead obtained a reprieve for them, so did he also obtain for them the means of recovery and salvation; and in due time came forth from the Father, to proclaim the glad tidings to the world, to expiate the guilt of sin by the sacrifice of the cross, and by the high discoveries of the gospel to draw mankind to that eternal life which is only to be found in him. But to be found it must be sought, as the one thing needful, as the main concern of this short and uncertain state of being. For salvation is the fate of no man's nature, but the purchased reward of faith and renewed obedience to the law of life in the gospel. As the undertaking of the Son of God restored the moral competency of human nature, that competency must be put forth by each individual, according to the conditions of that dispensation of the grace of our LORD JESUS Christ, under which it pleases God to call bim into being. Under the light of the gospel, more especially, is this duty indispensably required of