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than a short reprieve; during which the execution of the sentence is suspended. The gospel not only gives men a reprieve, but also affords them means of escaping every thing in it, of a penal nature. If pardon is not taken out, during this season of mercy, death will prove the unalterable execution of the sentence. If the nature of Christ's death be considered the penal nature of death will be better understood. It was not a temporary separation of soul and body only, but all the wrath of God due to sin, or what was equivalent to eternal death, was included in it. The law is not altered, “ It is appointed unto all men cnce to die,” here there is no discharge: but Christ having died to expiate sin, all that is penal in it is taken away, for such as believe in him; whereas in respect of unbelievers, all that is penal remains. It is something very different from paying the debt of nature, as many chuse to express it. The judgment follows, and it will be found “ the wages of sin." How necessary, then, is it, Christians, for us to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be conformed to his death?” This would deprive death of its sting, in our case; this would dispel the fears of death which sometimes assail our minds; and in dying we should sleep in Jesus by faith, being assured of a glorious immortality. Let unbelievers consider that death, armed with the power of Jehovah, and arrayed in all the terrors of Deity, will seize upon them; and will prove the beginning of sorrows which will never be mitigated, nor terminate. Beware, then, of treating the gospel with indifference, as it alone furnishes you with security against all that is terrible in death; and be assured that if
impenitent, you will meet God clothed with terror, and will find that his wrath is a consuming fire. “O that you were wise to consider your latter end!”
6. The doctrine of atonement by Jesus Christ is the infallible, the only path to holiness. This truth, with others inseparably connected with it, has been represented, “ as giving wrong impressions concerning the character and moral government of God, and as relaxing the obligations to morality and religion.” Such a representation strongly indicates ignorance of this truth, enmity against it, or a want of the experience of its excellence.
Nothing is more necessary to religion and morality, than just conceptions of God, and of his divine perfections. Religion, strictly taken, respects God; morality respects men. The former is the spring and life of the latter. It consists in supreme love, profound reverence, and holy obedience: the latter includes love, with the conscientious discharge of every duty which arises from the various relations which subsist among men. Just conceptions of God will equally influence both.
We have no standard of religion and morality but what results from the moral perfections of God. This is the moral law. It expresses the nature of these perfections, is equally unchangeable, and points out to us what tenor of conduct we ought to pursue as suitable to their nature, and to our moral relation to God. Hence the injunction often repeated, “ Be ye holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”
In the sufferings of the Son of God, we see a very striking display of justice and holiness, and the immutability of the moral law. This law could no more admit of a relaxation, than these perfections could undergo a change; for if it could, it would have been done in this case; but the utmost farthing was demanded. Can
there be a more powerful incentive to holiness? Had God relaxed the law, and dispensed with the penalty, men would have concluded that sin was no great evil, and would be no great hindrance in the way of their access to the divine favour. This would have natively led them to consider sin as a trivial matter, and to be very remiss in the pursuit of holiness. That sinners should not be pardoned, but through the atoning sufferings of Jesus, must be resolved into God's infinite love to holiness; which proves “ That without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" and should operate on us as a powerful inducement to the study of it. But if we suppose that God is all goodness and mercy; that he can easily pardon without any satisfaction; and that he so relaxes the rigour of the law, as to make allowance for human error and imperfection, and to sustain a sincere and imperfect obedience, in place of that sinless perfection which the law requires, we effe&tually destroy the first and most powerful inducement to holiness. We do not consider the law as “ holy, just, and good," nor obedience to it as either glorifying to God, or advantageous to ourselves.
A just view of the malignity of sin mușt tend to holiness, because it will excite men to avoid it. It is infinitely hateful to God," who is of purer eyes than to behold it,-evil shall not abide with him." Can those, then, who pursue it, expect to enjoy his favour? The primitive glory of man lay in his assimilation to his Maker; and though sin has defaced this, he ought still to aspire after it, as his greatest glory. This will lead him to view sin in its true light, and to avoid it as hateful and pernicious. In proportion as he pursues assimilation to God in holiness, he will be like him in hating sin. The soul's happiness lies in the enjoyment of God, but this is unattainable without holiness, and if this is regarded, ho. liness: will be studied. That sin is so hateful to God, so degrading to human nature, and the teeming source of all misery to men, cannot be better seen than in the bitter sufferings of the Son of God. If the excruciating agonies of the soul of Jesus, arising from the bitter cup of which he drank, and the suspended sense of his Father's love, are considered in a true light, the nécessity of holiness, and the destruction of sin will convincingly appear. This ought to excite every soul to pursue both with avidity.
But the most powerful considerations can have no influence on the sinner, to oppose sin and pursue holiness, so long as he remains dead in trespasses and in sins. The power of sin in the soul must be subdued, a new life implanted, and every thing necessary to prosecute boliness, with success, communicated. These all flow from the atonement. The death of Jesus secured the death of sin in the soul. « Our cld man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Rom. vi. 6. Sin is a spiritual defilement in the soul, and stains every act of obedience we try to perform; the blood of Jesus removes this defilement, “ by puri. fying the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” It was his great object “ in giving him- . self for his people, to redeem them from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
While the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin, they that " are his crucify the fies) with the affec. tions and lusts.”---But a new life, springing from the death of Christ, is conveyed to the soul. That glorified life which Jesus now lives, is the effect of the blood of the covenant, and the life of his people proceeds from
the same cause; for if they “ are dead with him, they shall also live with him.” Paul ascribes his life to the cross of Jesus, “ I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Sun of God." Gal. ii. 20. All believers are created in Christ Jesus unto good works." In virtue of his death, he has the fulness of the Spirit that he might be a source of sufficient supply to all his people. The law of the Spirit of life in him frees them “ from the law of sin and death.” He preserves the new life which he implants, advances it towards perfection, and leads them to the mortification of sin, and the practice of universal holiness. They no longer live after the flesh; “but through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body and live.” By sinning, Adam became a killing head; but by dying “ Jesus, the last Adam, became a quickening Spirit.” i Cor. xv. 15. “ He has life in himself-he quickens whom he will-by his Spirit that dwells in them.” ,
This is the way, the alone way, of holiness. Every thing necessary to promote it flows from the death of Jesus. His death is the root from which their life springs. It was his design it should be so; hence, he assures them that, “ Because he lives they shall live also.” The truth of this is well expressed by the Apostle, Rom. vi. 4. " Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
7. THERE is no situation, no circumstances, in which the believer can ever be placed, but the death of Christ will furnish him with abundant encouragement and consolation. God may sometimes assign him some difficult work to execute, or exercise him with some heavy trial,