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promise to “whosoever believeth in him;" and this word whosoEVER includes every one; it is as wide an expression as can be; here is a way of salvation pointed out even for the chief of sinners; for those who deserve to perish, who are perishing; God declares that if such a one believe in Jesus, he shall not perish. You should therefore at once believe in this promise.
Let us now notice how exactly the beautiful parable of the prodigal, in Luke xv., teaches the same truth. The father who is there described did not need to be changed. He was good; and his bowels yearned over his prodigal son: when the prodigal returned, he found his father the same that he had always been. This father represents that God who gave his Son to die for sinners, from love to them, that they might be saved. Now look at the prodigal. He departed from his father, because his own heart was evil. But the Scripture tells us, that when he came to himself, his thoughts were very different. He now remembered how good his father was; he felt that his only hope lay in his father's love to him; this made him feel, more than he had ever done before, the sinfulness of his past conduct. He now goes back to his father. His father has not altered; he rejoices to see his son changed in his mind and returning; and he delights to receive him, and to forgive him. It was the prodigal who needed changing, not the father. It is you who need changing, not God: if you are really changed in mind, God will receive you. He declares that he will in his gospel: he invites you again and again to return unto him.
He said to Israel, Hos. xiii. 9, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself;" the people of Israel had been the authors of all the evil under which they then suffered :—“but in me is thine help.” Israel must look to God, and to God alone, for help, as the poor prodigal could only look to his father; and God encouraged Israel thus to look to him, and he is still saying to each of us, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved."
But in order to convince you that God is a God of love; that he has opened a way of salvation for sinners; that every sinner may be accepted in this way; but that, if this be neglected, or mistaken, or rejected, there is no other way in which a sinner can escape, notice some other passages of Scripture.
In 2 Cor. v. 20, 21, we have God's message of mercy as spoken by his ministering servants : “ Now then," says St. Paul, “we are ambassadors for Christ." Christ's ministers are ambassadors sent to speak of peace from their heavenly Father, the King of kings; “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Here observe that ministers beseech you, to whom they deliver their message, to be reconciled
“HE BEGGED HARD FOR MERCY.”
hiem to be sin food gave his could not we the aw
but it is on your side; your ignorance of God and unbelief of his word are opposed to him, and ministers have to beseech you in the most solemn manner, that this bar be removed. The hindrance is solely in your own heart; as we saw in the case of the prodigal, the only thing which kept him at a distance from home, was his own wicked state of mind. Man by nature has a heart at enmity with God; his mind by nature has in it dislike to God, opposition to God's plans and purposes, and rebellion against his will. How dreadful! How certain to bring aggravated ruin! The apostle therefore says, “ We pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Oh, consider this truth well, and pray earnestly to God to give you his Holy Spirit, that you may be born again, and so have a mind and disposition thankfully to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.
But the next verse (21st) shows us what God has done, that there might be no bar on his side to reconciliation with the sinner. His holy and just law once stood between himself and the sinner: it had pronounced death as the awful punishment of sin; and this just law could not be broken. In love to sinners then, God gave his Son, as we read, “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," ver. 21. God's dear Son took our sins upon his own guiltless head. He suffered the punishment which was due to us. And now by his merits a sinner can be forgiven and received by a holy God; a sinner, unworthy in himself, but looked upon as worthy for Christ's sake. God now invites the sinner to return, bids him be reconciled, and receive the gifts of pardon, peace, and salvation, which in his mercy he has provided. “We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
You have heard of Christ as a Saviour. No change is necessary in him. He came " to seek and save that which was lost." You do not need to pray to him, in order to alter his mind. He has said, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out," John vi. 37. It is you who need to come to him. He is quite willing to receive you now, if you come to him ; and if you come to him you will be saved by him. Remember that he complained respecting the Jews, and gave it as the only reason why they were lost, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," John v. 40. They wanted the will, the heart, to come. May your heart be wrought upon by the Divine Spirit, that you may come to him! It is not enough merely to profess with the mouth, but we must believe with the heart, Rom. X. 10. “He is able to save to the uttermost," Heb. vii. 25. You have a heart by nature at enmity with God, unsubdued to his will; but Jesus can give you a new heart. He invited the woman of Samaria to seek from him the Holy Spirit's influence, and he declared that he would have given it, if she had asked, John iv. 10. Ask it, then, of him. He is as willing to change your heart now by that blessed influence, as he was to change hers then. He stood also and cried publicly, “ If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.-But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive,” John vii. 37, 39. Apply, then, to this gracious Saviour, for the Spirit's teaching, and influence, and power, to be exerted on your heart; remembering that Jesus said, “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him,” Luke xi. 13.
While you thus view God as merciful, and are earnest in prayer, do not depend on such cries as may be uttered in the moment of anguish, and which generally arise from the fear of punishment; but seek mercy in God's appointed way. This mercy has been displayed in appointing Christ Jesus as “the Way” in which a sinner may be received by him, John xiv. 6. God's mercy has never opened any other way of saving men ; nor will he save one sinner in any other way. When God declares his own name, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7, “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin;" he expressly adds, " and that will by no means clear the guilty.” A Redeemer must be found; some one must suffer. Our Lord Jesus Christ did so; he died, the just for the unjust; and thus God is merciful, “ forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin;" and at the same time just in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
May the Lord give you, reader, to know the way of salvation provided even for you. May you be enabled to put your trust in the Saviour's death for sin. May you be taught to look to him as the only way to the Father, and through him seek earnestly the way that you need. May you receive from him his Spirit to change you, and to humble you, and to bring you back with a broken and contrite heart to our heavenly Father; and may you be enabled to understand, to believe, to apply to yourself, and to rely on those gracious promises which the Saviour has made to sinners! Amen.
While men neglect or despise the gospel, Jesus, “the wisdom of God," assures us that its blessings are a “ treasure,” Matt. xiii. 44.
On this subject it is important that a correct opinion be formed. It is adaptation to our wants and circumstances that constitutes the value of every blessing. To those perishing from thirst, a cup of cold water would be of far higher value than mines of wealth. What, then, is man's condition, what the circumstances in which the gospel finds him, and how far does it meet them? Is he not guilty and condemned ? Conscience bears witness to the truth that “ all have sinned," and acquiesces in the sentence passed upon the guilty. But, in the gospel, we are assured that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin," 1 John i. 7, that God "might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus," Rom. iii. 26, and that, by Jesus Christ, "all that believe are justified from all things," Acts xiii. 39. Is not man depraved and polluted? The very spring and fountain of his moral being is corrupt; the “imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually," Gen. vi. 5. The Holy Spirit is offered as the sanctifier, to convince of sin and show its evil nature, to renew the heart and implant within the desire after that which is good and holy, to
prompt to the performance of duty, and supply the necessary strength. Have not man's sins estranged him from God? A thick cloud hangs between him and the light of God's countenance, and he feels his darkness and separation. But, blessed be God, by the blood of Christ, those who are “afar off” may be “ brought nigh,” and being no longer “strangers and foreigners," may become “ fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," Eph. ii. 19, may approach him as a loving Father, from whom they have hitherto shrunk as an offended Judge. Is not man the subject of trouble and care ? Beneath some burden, all groan, with some sorrow; all hearts ache: “man is born unto trouble." In the gospel of Christ, God is a God of consolation. It opens sources of comfort to the mourner in all his grief, and springs of delight, unknown in the desert of the world, and eternal in their duration. So long as the soul shall continue to exist, the gospel makes known a God to serve, a Saviour to love, and the angelic and ransomed hosts as companions, and the mystery, wisdom, and goodness of God's ways to man, its eternal theme of wonder, and its never-ending source of praise.
If, then, the gospel be the only remedy that meets man's condition-if it meets it fully-if its beneficial effects are as lasting as the necessity of his case requires—is it not a “treasure above all price ?" Yet what multitudes neglect, despise, and reject it as a thing of no value! How is this to be accounted for? The Scriptures point to the only true explanation. It is to be found in the debased condition of man's moral nature. There are two principal causes of defect in sight, disease or injury of the eye, and the false and imperfect medium through which we view an object. Unhappily similar causes are at work in concealing from man the value of the gospel. Man's spiritual sight is impaired. He perceives not the desperate state of his own nature and condition, he feels not his spiritual wants and necessities, and has no sense of the awful realities of eternity. The language of the heart of man is, “ I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing." The might of his own arm, and the strength of his own mind, are his reliance. He has no nght perception of the real nature of God's requirements, and of the spirituality of his law. To be the honest, respectable citizen, and the decent, blameless moralist, is the utmost of his effort in a right path. While in words he will acknowledge himself a sinner, he feels nothing of his guilt and danger. Men also view religion through a wrong medium, and thus they see not its value. Men look at its bearing upon their pleasure and fancy. Pleasures which are sinful must be wholly resigned. But happiness is relative; it