« הקודםהמשך »
following purity? Do we find them seeking their supreme happiness in the sense of God's favour? Alas! we see the very reverse of all this. Man in one shape or another of transgression, goes astray from the womb, as the Scripture has testified.
Man, in short, in every stage of his existence gives evidence, that he is not right, or even like the other creatures of God in this world, They follow their instincts from the earliest periods; they never controvene them; they obey implicitly the impression made on them originally by their Creator for their own happiness, for all their happiness lies alone in the line of the development of their instinctsbut man is the contrary.
Man is : obviously inade for God; he is formed by the very nature and constitution of his mind to be a moral agent, and to be a religious creature, which none of the inferior animals can be. Though explicitly formed for these ends, you see him going wrong instead of right; and acting diametrically opposite to his constitution as a creature of God. Though he has reason, religion and the interests of his soul are the last things to which he will attend. He feels accountable, and yet he turns this into affliction, and misery; going on perversely in a way which he himself suspects is not right; this feeling was intended by God for his guardian, but he himself makes it his own tormentor eren before the time.
What else means what we so often hear of? an evil conscience—nothing but this feeling of accountability acting on the sinful character, and telling him that he has accumulated evil on himself, and that in the sight of the eternal God, whom he has offended, and who is to be his judge. Indeed, had we time we could follow this up, and shew that man is as remarkable for acting contrary to his nature and to his true interests, as the inferior creatures are for acting in coincidence with the instincts which God gave them.
What then is the inference? That one is right still as first enacted, and that the other is wrong and perverted from his original. Perverted and marred by their parents' sin. Thus we are born in sin, and by consequence the children of wrath ; and as true as it is that God hates sin, he abhors it, he denounces his vengeance against it, and sooner than pardon it, he will give up to death his own, his only Son, to testify to men that while he forgives their sin, it is not because they deserve it, but because he is merciful, and in his rich mercy found an expedient whereby “he might be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly who believe in Jesus.”
Now then, what is the first thing that our hand findeth to do? To seek reconciliationby our birth we are sinful and corrupt-we should seek to be born again, and to be created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works. This is what we most need—this is precisely what is most brought before us in the gospel;—when the Apostle Paul would characterize the gospel, he does it in words to which I shall beg your attention :-“ And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ; as as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God. 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.”—2 Corinth. chap. v. 18, 19, 20, 21.
What then is one of the circumstances in which man is placed ? He is exposed to God's righteous vengeance by his sins. The gospel is the ministry of reconciliation, announcing that God is reconciled to man, and praying man to be reconciled to God and embrace his salvation, for God has provided a ransomthat his Son came to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. Thus God is represented in the Gospel, as reconciled in Christ Jesus to miserable sinners. Thus the gospel shews at once our ruin, and points to the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, and says, “Whosoever believeth in him shall be saved.”
This then is the first thing our hand findeth to do to embrace the plan of mercy which he has provided and revealed, committing ourselves into his hands, to have all our sins pardoned and our iniquities blotted out.
My dear friends, we have lived to no purpose unto this day, unless we have already come to God through the faith of his Son, to receive his rich pardon and forgiveness. I must correct myself-I said we have lived to no purpose, but this was incorrect, I must retract my words; we have lived to purpose, we have treasured up wrath for ourselves against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, our guilt we have made greater, our conscience we have the more hardened, our condemnation we have the more accumulated.
But we are not merely exposed to condemnation ; we are also under the influence of cor
rupt principles. It is not enough to be pardoned, we must be released from their dominion, we must be created anew; all title to Heaven lies in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, but God has connected with this a meetness for heaven, and a possession of the dispositions which are consonant to the Divine will. When Paul addresses the Corinthians, after adverting to what they had been, he gives us this view—“ And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”' 1 Cor. vi. 11. It is not merely justification that cancels our guilt which we require, but we require also the cleansing and purification of our nature, so as to fit us for that state to which God will raise us; and the blood of Jesus Christ, which rescues from the guilt of sin, is that also in virtue of which we are rescued from its power and dominion.
In vain have we lived until now, unless we have received heaven's rich provision, a new heart, a right spirit—“From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you ; a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”_-_Ezekiel