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DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL ?
everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world ; but that the world through him might be saved,” John iii, 16, 17. .
Here then is the announcement of the great fact of the gospel, salvation by God's grace, for Christ's sake, to all who believe in him. This announcement is the plain gospel message. Whoever receives it into his mind and into his heart, so as to believe in and trust this Saviour entirely and alone, is saved; for as Jesus also said, “ This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day,” John vi. 40.
Now in this gospel we are told of two things, each of which requires to be noticed and understood. The first is the provision made, and the second the benefit it confers.
The PROVISION is the work of Christ, or rather Christ in his work, from his birth, throughout his life, sufferings, and death, to his resurrection and ascension into heaven. The Holy Scriptures tell us very plainly what the nature of this work of Christ is. At his coming into the world it was announced that his name was to be “ Jesus," that is, Saviour, and that his name should be called “ Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us," Matt. i. 21, 23; so that “God was manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. iii. 16. In his life he was “without sin," perfectly “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb. iv. 15, vii. 26; yet he endured a life of suffering, and at length “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Phil. ii. 8, being “ crucified and slain.”
Wherefore did this wondrous Being come into the world and endure this life and death? The Scriptures tell us that “ Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead;” and further declare as follows :—“ Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit,” | Peter iii. 18. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself," Col. i. 19, 20. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare his righteousness :--that he might be just, and yet the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,” Rom. iii. 25, 26. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," 2 Cor. v. 19. “ In due time Christ died for the ungodly,” Rom. v. 6.
The death of Christ was for mankind, and was undergone in the character of our substitute, as by it we have received “the atonement,” and God reveals himself as reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. It is a fact full of joy-joy that shall ceaselessly fill the hearts of the millions who are redeemed thereby.
Here let us pause for a moment, and look at the wonderful character of this event, and consider the amazing love of God to us shown by it. Think of the innocence, the dignity, and holiness of the Sufferer, and acknowledge that this is indeed the most stupendous fact that men or angels can contemplate.
A ransom of such an infinite price must have procured an infinitely glorious redemption. Suffering so great, and a death so full of woe, must have wrought out for us some mighty deliverance from evil, and opened some boundless store of good. And these blessings must be within reach. Is there any announcement in the gospel that such is the case? There is. The gospel proclaims deliverance from the deserved sufferings of hell—from the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched; it announces eternal life and blessedness, such as "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man" to conceive.
The precious blood of Christ has been shed : on the ground of this God grants remission of sins-a remission once for all, full, free, and unreserved. Unable yourself to make an atonement in any way satisfactory to the justice of God for breaking his law, God gives pardon on the ground of that atonement which has been made by Jesus. He receives sinners, although unable to make any expiation for their sins. No “hard condition” is in the way to hinder any from receiving the full fruits of Christ's death. Having no righteousness, and unable to work out one of our own, God offers to count us righteous so soon as we believe in the Saviour, through whom he bestows his grace. We are unable to purify our corrupt nature ; but he sheds abroad the Holy Spirit in the heart. He stretches out his mighty arm, and bids you lay hold of it and be saved. He dispenses an effectual remedy to deliver the soul from death ;-all he asks of us is to receive it. Such is the gospel. It looks to the past, and blots out sins for ever. It looks to the future, and renews the mind, conferring on the believer the privilege of the sons of God, and bestowing a heavenly and eternal inheritance.
Friend, as you now understand, so receive the gospel. The way of salvation is made known to you. Oh! put it not away from you. As God has set before you life, choose not death. Sin is destroying your soul. It is daily laying up wrath for you against the day of wrath and final retribution. Haste, then, to Christ, in whom alone you can find deliverance. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts xvi. 31.
WHAT DOES GOD BEHOLD? The Scriptures declare, that “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” Prov. xv. 3; and that 6. His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings," Job xxxiv. 21. And the fact thus revealed is both awful and encouraging; awful to the hardened sinner, but encouraging to the humble believer. A like declaration is made in the first Epistle of Peter: “ The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil," 1 Pet. iii. 12; Ps. xxxiv. 15, 16; and these words are well suited to man's understanding; for we naturally turn our eyes full of joy upon that which is pleasing to us, rejoicing to gaze on whatever is lovely to the sight; while upon that which is loathsome or causes us pain or sorrow we look with an expression of sternness or grief. So our God, that pure and holy Being before whom the angels veil their faces, looks with delight upon those in whom the image of Christ appears, while of such as are seen only in their own natural vileness it is said, “God is angry with the wicked every day," Ps. vii. 11.
But who are the good to whom God looks and listens with favour? It is evident that they are such as are pleasing to God. And who are pleasing to God ?-None in their natural' state, for that state is enmity against God; but those who please God, and upon whom he delights to look, are such as, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are made pleasing to him by their
union with Christ, through a true and living faith in him. It is only in Christ, that even the holiest on earth can stand unappalled when that sin-hating eye is fixed upon them.
If then we desire to rejoice in the thought that the all-seeing Godis marking our steps, and following us in all our ways, we must each one receive Christ into our hearts with a true and loving faith as our Saviour and our righteousness. We must ask our own hearts, Does God see me resting on Christ alone to justify me before him, and, as a dear child, striving to obey him, and walking as one of the happy people of whom Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” John x. 27 ?
But again, who are the evil whom the Lord is against ? The Scripture answers this question:“ They are all gone aside, they are together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one," Psa. xiv. 3. All then are evil; no room is left for boasting ; no man in his natural state must say, “ God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” Sin is the leaven which has leavened the whole lump; in Adam all died. All born into this world are, by nature, out of Christ and eyil; and it is only by being born of God, and believing in Christ, that we can escape from the pollution of the fall : for “ Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? not one." Job. xiv. 4. There must be a 'new creation, no partial amendment will do; the old man must be crucified, the new man must be created; and until this great change has taken place, no one can say, I am righteous.
If so, let the important question be heard—“.What do the eyes of God behold in you?” And bear in mind, that God sees not only the gross sins of the murderer, the adulterer, the infidel, the prostitute, the thief, who bear their characters, as it were, stamped upon their brows, and walk shamelessly among their fellow-men, without even pretending to any respect for God's commandments and ordinances; but he searches out all those lesser iniquities--the “ little sins," as they are called which are daily committed, unknown to any other human being, by those who would gladly be thought respectable, or even religious. Once more, then, what does God see in you?
When that gracious Being looks down from heaven upon the congregations assembled professedly to worship him, what does he see?-the knee bent, the lips moving, the hands clasped, the heart—where ? in the world, in the shop, the farm, the comtinghouse, the haunts of pleasure, or of vice? Fellow-men might look on and say, How devout, how attentive, are these worshippers; but God's eye marks each deceiver.
Again. Heads of families, husbands, wives, parents, masters and mistresses, what do the eyes of God behold in you? He marks all the petty hypocrisy and artifice by which you blind
WHAT DOES GOD BEHOLD ?
sees the lifted hand of cruel wrath falling on the helpless victim; he sees the wages spent in greedy selfishness, when the dependent ones at home are pining for bread; he sees through all the flimsy pretences by which things are made to appear what they are not; he marks every unchaste look and every unfaithful deed; he knows every evil example set before your children or servants; every fraud, every theft; the false coin passed under cover of darkness; the damaged goods with the fairest side displayed; the short measure given; every act of dishonesty and selfish injustice. The eyes of God see all your deeds, however trifling you may think them.
Servants! what do the eyes of God behold in you? Alas! often the false, half-hearted service of men-pleasers ; active industry in your master's presence, and wasted hours in his absence. He sees you set out for the place of worship, and go elsewliere; he sees you going stealthily out when you think your absence will not be discovered; he sees the master's property given to others; he sees the money thrust into your pocket, instead of paying it where it was due ; he marks you when you give the bribe of sweetmeats to the children under your care, that they may tell a lie and hide your fault: all these frauds, and many more, will appear against you at the day of judgment.
Ye young-who are just entering life—what does God see in you? Oh! how much of evil and sin does he witness in your young hearts! He sees you going to meet the evil companion you have promised to avoid ; he sees you clothing yourself in finery, to attract notice in the streets; his eye pierces into the secret dens of iniquity, where you are drinking, gambling, jesting, dancing, while your father seeks you sorrowfully, and your mother is pleading for you on her knees; he sees you join the party bent on theft; he sees you concealing the lewd novel, or indecent song-book, and taking up the Bible when your parents or your minister come in. Oh! be assured you are always under that searching look; you cannot escape from Him with whom you have to do. “ Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea ; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee," Psa. cxxxix. 7-12.
Tremble, sinners, as you think of Him who never slumbereth nor sleepeth; try to believe in the reality of his presence; try to feel that you are never alone: “ There is no darkness, nor shadow