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SER MON IV.
THE MISERY FROM WHICH CHRIST SAVES
1 TIMOTHY i. 15.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all ac
ceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
“ BEHOLD the fire and the wood : but where is the lamb for a burnt offering ?”
My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” - Ages rolled away after this prophecy was given. Abraham and Isaac returned from the mount where they had foreshadowed the love of the eternal Father, and the obedience of the only-begotten Son. One patriarch after another was, moreover, gathered unto his people. Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham : Esau and Jacob buried Isaac : Jacob yielded up the ghost : and afterwards Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. Still, however, the answer of
faithful Abraham was echoed on,-'God will provide himself a lamb!' It was the language of pious exultation ; it was the unceasing voice of prophecy ; it was the substance of all the multiplied types and shadows contained in the Jewish ordinances. The altar of the tabernacle, while it journeyed slowly and painfully through the wilderness, repeated, from stage to stage, the uninterrupted promise,— God will provide himself a lamb:' and the more stately altar at Jerusalem, while it smoked with its thousands of victims, and was surrounded by its multitudes of worshippers, cried with a clearer and a louder voice,-in the midst of the courts of the Lord's house it continually cried, - God will provide himself a lamb ! And, at last, came one who was greater than a prophet : there was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, —“ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
the sins of the world !” He whose day Abraham beheld afar off, he whom Moses foreshadowed, and Isaiah foretold, and the Baptist pointed out, is the subject of that faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, , « Christ Jesus came into the world to save sin
May God, the Holy Spirit, enable us to receive this saying by faith in our hearts; and thus to become partakers of the salvation which our blessed Redeemer has wrought for us !
Many and various are the aspects under which we may consider the work of Christian redemption, and may
learn to estimate its value. At present, we confine our attention to this one inquiry, What is the ruin, what is the ultimate misery, from which Christ saves us? What, as far as may be learnt from Scripture, will be the unhappiness of a sinful creature who shall depart into the eternal world without having been made partaker of the great salvation of the gospel ?
I. When a sinner shall have been cast into outer darkness, we have reason to believe that one part of his misery will consist in a lively sense and perception of the happiness he will have lost. The rich man in the parable lifted up
eyes, and beheld Abraham afar off; and Abraham afterwards reminded him that between them there was a great gulf fixed. And by this it is intimated that the condemned soul will perceive itself to be shut out from the joys of heaven.
Now, it is evident that there are persons to whom this calamity must, at present, appear as but a trifle. The happiness of another life is the prize which is held forth at the end of the Christian course ; and yet there are many men who refuse to labour for the attainment of it. To them, the things that are seen appear to possess an importance which does not belong to them ; while they regard the things that are not seen with comparative indifference. Let then the joys of heaven be lost, and, if they are no better than they are too often supposed to be, the loss will involve no great affliction. The pain of such a privation, it may be thought, will be easily endured. But, we must remember that hereafter all false calculations will be destroyed. The veil which a man's bad passions and corrupt desires may have drawn before celestial things will one day be torn asunder and removed. Heaven will burst upon the view of him who shall have lost it, not such as his careless reflections, or his weak imagination, had formerly depicted ;--but it will burst
upon his view, and appear before him for ever, such as it is and such as it will be,-the region of a happiness and a glory which the outcast will discover only to envy, and which his heart will conceive only to despair of. He will see the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and he will behold multitudes from the east and from the west partaking with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob of the heavenly banquet ;—and dark and harrowing will be the thought, that himself is everlastingly shut out.
II. But this is not the whole even of the pain
of privation. Exclusion from heaven will be attended with separation from God. Depart from me, ye cursed.” --Here again I must explain how separation from God can be a source of misery. An unholy man seems even to desire such a separation; he says in his heart, · Depart from me, O God:' and while he refuses to draw nigh unto his Maker, it can give him no pain to be told that he will remain at a distance for ever. But, again let it be remembered that we are not speaking of now, but of hereafter. Now, indeed, the darkness of the understanding and the depravity of the will, for the most part, go together; and the man who is living without God in the world knows not, or thinks not, of the happiness which none but God can give. Hereafter, however, it will not be so; the will may continue to be depraved, but the understanding will be enlightened ; and, though the sinner may continue to hate his God and to flee from him, he will yet feelingly know that in his favour alone happiness and life are found. He will know that to be separated from God is to endure a loss as great as God himself is great. He will perceive that the reciprocal love of God and his creatures is to those creatures the source of all their blessedness; and, at the same time, he will feel it to be utterly impossible that himself should