Page images

itself, “ Behold there is none that | to hate the thoughts of God, to hate doeth good, no, not one."

the presence of God, and, instead of Contemplating it as he made it, God hastening to meet the manifestation of requires of man the exercise of all the the Lord God in the garden, with all holy powers which he bestowed upon the buoyancy of conscious love, he him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy ran to hide himself among the trees. God with all thy soul, and with all It was not because God had ceased to thy heart, and with all thy mind, and love him-nay, God loved him still ; with all thy strength.” This is the the language of God to him was still voice of God's holy law. When Adam that of love-it was still that of holy stood in his original creation-state his law-it was still, “Thou shalt love whole character was a response to this the Lord thy God.” To command him law. He needed not to have the law to love was a mark of love to him ; for propounded in words—his character it was the same as commanding him was instinctive obedience to the law. to be happy, since the love of God is He had the will to please—he had the happpiness in every creature. GOD heart to love. The love of God is holi- loved him still, I say, for the voice ness, holiness is happiness—Adam was of the law is the voice of love; for the happy. But when Adam violated ho. voice of the law is, “thou shalt lore," liness, and that pure law of creation, and to love is to be happy. When the absolute dependence of every crea

God commands us to love him, he ture upon the Creator-when he broke commands us to be happy. God loved through the restriction which was the him still; it was he who ceased to outward and visible sign of his de. love God. pendence—when he did in effect say, Oh, my brethren, would that this “I will be dependent no longer-I principle were plainly stated to you, will not hold the garden under an- so that you must needs see it; would other-I will have no covenant of re- that I could make it so plain to you, servation in my lease-I will have no that you would all be forced to see lease at all ; the garden is my own, and to feel, this night, that the sepaI will break through all restraint; I ration between you and God is not see not, and, therefore, I will not ac- that he hath ceased to love you, but knowledge, any superior to myself.” that you have ceased to love him. How When he did so, determined to please shall I attempt to make this plainer to himself, he threw away the will to you? The palpitation in the heart of please God, and with the will to please the criminal, when he hears the trumhe lost the heart to love. Endeavouring, pet sound for the approach of the judge then, to justify himself against the of assize, though there be no sentence convictions of his own conscience, pronounced; the trembling blush in and feeling, at the same time, that God the debtor's face at seeing his cresaw through the false excuse, he began | ditors, though no demand be made;

( To be continued.)

London: Published for the Proprietors, by T.GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, Strand;

and Sold by all Booksellers in Town and Country.

Printed by Lowndes and Wbite, Crane Couri, Fleet Street.

[blocks in formation]

the reluctance of the mischievous child | reason why he should lower his deto greet his father on his return home, mand upon them, and change his oralthough no disapprobation hath been ders? Nay, brethren, it is an aggraexpressed ; these are tints in the leaf vation of their guilt; it manifests how of that crimson dye which hath stained utterly reckless they were of the duty the parent bud—the dye in all its due to their superior. It would not be deadly hue, which stained Adam, is righteous in God to ask less of man traceable in the natural character of than perfect love; it would not be every man, in the natural alienation righteous to lower his demand, to from God of every man; for let flat- meet the state into which his creature tering metaphysicians lie as they will, has fallen. It would be a confession, upon this subject, the true character a practical confession, that his first of man, by nature, is that his heart is demand had been too high, had been alive to the calls of frivolity, of vice, too rigorous. No, the Gospel is not of avarice, of ambition, of pleasure, a mitigation of the law; the Gospel is and of profit; but, dead to the voice not a lowering of God's demand upon of God-of God's holy love.

us. My brethren, to say that it is, is And yet that voice, that call of God to spoil both law and Gospel-to reto mankind to love Him is still a present the law as too severe, and the righteous call, because the inability Gospel as a modification of the law, as under which we now involved a meeting of the necessities of fallen man of answering the call is no excuse by a kindness which connives at sinfor us, neither is it any reason why I am bound to say that such a repreGod should lower his demands upon sentation brings a false charge against

Shall inability, contracted by God's holy law, and makes a false rewilful wickedness, be pleaded as an presentation of God's holy Gospel. excuse for continuance in disobedi. There is no mitigation of the law; the ence? It would upset the whole law of God is a holy, just, and good frame-work of society if it were ad- law; and the grand achievement of the mitted. A general has a right to Gospel is to bring man into obedience the obedience of his soldiers. He to the first and great commandment of commands them to march, but if, in the law. For what is the achievement the meantime, through their wilful of the Gospel ? It is to bring man to the wickedness, they have involved them- | love of God. And what is the first and selves in such a state of drunk- great commandment of the law? It is, enness, that instead of being able “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." to march they cannot stand—is their There is no opposition between the drunkenness then an excuse, is it any law and the Gospel in this respect.



VOL. 11.

The Gospel is God's plan for bringing | loved God, but that he loved us, and his creature back to the obedience of sent his Son." How then? How then? that holy law. And now what do we If he gave his Son for the salvation of see? If the voice of the law had been man—if he gave him to bring back, to the only voice of God which had receive, to restore the worst of sinners, reached this fallen world, the only what becomes of his holy law, what consequence that could have resulted becomes of the sanctions of that law? would have been sullen unconcern and My brethren, "Herein was manifested eventual ruin ; because, although even the love of God, that he gave his Son that voice would have been a voice of to be the propitiation for our sins." love, yet it would have worn such an In one gift he accomplished two great aspect to fallen man that he never purposes—he gave a proof, an intelwould have loved in return. He felt ligible proof, of his love to us; and he himself condemned by the voice, though made a full provision for our guilt still it were a voice of love. There is no against him, in order that a sense of condemnation in the commandment, guilt past might not stand in the way "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,”- of our return to his open arms. In the the condemnation is in your own soul- opening of his arms to us he put away you want love. The commandment the guilt—he gave his Son to be the is full of love; it is an invitation to be propitiation for our sins. Help was holy; and I say there is no condemna- laid on him that was mighty. Jesus tion in it—the condemnation is in you Christ hath endured the penalty which -it is in the rising of resistance against was incurred by violating the law of God—it is in every one of you, and creation and flying against that depennot in God towards you; and the dence which we should have enjoyed voice of God's holy law, although it for ever. Jesus Christ has come under were a voice of holy love, would not the curse which we have incurred, and have gained access to your alienated the Father hath been pleased to bruise hearts. It was too high, it was too him for us. unmixed love—too divine to reach you. Such a satisfaction was not reIt was needful that God, in compassion quired by our Father's heart, his to you, should, as it were, humanize heart was with us ; the satisfaction this love, that it might get access to was required by our Father's justice, you.

our Father's government. It is not a But there has come another voice, satisfaction winning our Father's heart not an opposing voice, but a prevailing to us—no, it is a satisfaction emanatvoice, in strict harmony with the former ing from the eternal love of our Fa. voice which came from God. It is a ther's heart, and harmonizing with a proclamation of God's manifestation his heart, his hand of righteousness, of his love, not in words only, saying, his government of equity. It is the Thou shalt love me," but in deed hand of everlasting infinite love which also, giving the Son of his love for the wields the sword of justice, and finds world. God so loved the world,” a sheath for it in the bleeding vicarious that after it fell from him he still com- sacrifice of his Son.

Love prompts manded it to love him ; not only so, the whole work, it is love-all love; but “ God so loved the world that he and it is in strict conforinity with the gave his Son—that he gave his only law. Love in conformity with law is begotten Son.” “In this was mani- | the definition of the Gospel. This love fested the love of God, that he gave his of God surviving the provocation of Son." “ Herein is love, not that we his creatures, this love of God fore

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

No man


ordained to be exhibited thus in his is the glory of Jesus in the hearts of
Son, was revealed, in a measure, to his his people, “ This man receiveth sin-
people of old in the types and pro- ners-THIS MAN RECEIVETH SINNERS."
mises bestowed upon the Jewish na- Yes, it is indeed his character, he re-
tion. In virtue of that revelation, in ceiveth sinners. He is come as God's
virtue of the manifestation made in right hand to receive sinners, and
those types, God's invitation went out bring them unto Gon–he is come as
by the mouth of his prophets to the the out-stretched arms of our Father,
people, encouraging them to come to spreading themselves towards the chil-
him, expostulating with them for going dren of Adam to subdue them to him.
away, arguing with them and telling self, and engrave the characters of
them that he had no pleasure in their love legibly upon them; and, a voice
death, and saying to them, “Why, from behind utters with tenderness to
why will ye die, O house of Israel: every heart, “ Come, come unto me, all
As I live, saith the Lord, I have no ye that are weary and heavy laden,
pleasure in the death of him that dieth. and I will give you rest.”
Turn unto me. Let the wicked for- cometh to the Father, but by me.”
sake his way, and the unrighteous It is kindness to tell you so, connected

his thought” — his unworthy as it is, with “ Come unto me.” thought of a loving Father—his inju- My brethren, this is the characterious thought, that thinks harshly of ristic of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. so kind a GoD—" let him forsake his It is the outstretched arm of GOD thought, and turn unto me, and I will our Father who would makeus ashamed have mercy upon him ; to your God, of our averted face; who would overand he will abundantly pardon him.” come our evil with his good; who This language was first proclaimed to would, by pressing his endearing love the Jewish nation ; and when the upon us, make us weep tears of bitter Son of God came in the flesh-when self-reproach, for our unkind ingratihe who had laid in the bosom of the tude towards him. It is this maniFather, and who was to manifest fested love of God that opens the source the Father's heart to men,

as I of genuine repentance in the human have already explained to you—when soul. Oh, what is repentance? Why he came forth; the surviving love do we hear of repentance going before of God to his creatures— surviving the knowledge of God's love ? Impostheir continued provocation

ble! Fear of punishment may go benot only exhibited in the gift of the fore, a writhing under a sense of enSon, and not only exhibited in the durance may go before—that is the light of the holy law by the death and characteristic of hell; but repentance, sufferings of his Son, but it was re

true sorrow for sin, true brokenness peated in human accents, it was dwelt of heart, the true sacrifice of God, a upon and manifested with all the ten broken and a contrite spirit, a heart derness of human sympathy, it was ex

that weeps not because of punishment, plained by acts and deeds, unto men ; it but because of sin, because of offendwas explained by the hand of kindness ing God, there is no such repentance stretched out to the helpless sinner by but in the assurance of God's love. the way-side-by the word of kindness There is no true repentance but in addressed to the sinner in the house or the assurance of God's love towards in the street; it was exhibited in that us. No man ever yet had true re. which was the reproach of Jesus in pentance, but the man who believed the mouth of the Pharisees, but which at the moment that God loved him;


and unless we can carry the proclama- past delinquency, without endeavourtion of God's love to your heart, ing to harrow up their feelings by we shall never break that heart into setting forth before them the pecupenitence. Nothing else can break it. liarity of their offences, that pecuIt may be tortured by the law, but liarity in which they differ a little broken it can never be, but by God's from their fellow-creatures in the love declared to you in his blessed sight of one another, but which word. God's love to you must be de- makes no essential difference between clared before there is any alteration in them and others in the sight of God your character, before there is any that without stating this to them amendment, and the element He puts we may go with an open heart and in action upon you, in order to reduce hand to tell them that God loves them you into a different state of character, in Christ Jesus, and astonish them by is the proclamation of his love borne his kindness. I have seen instances home to your souls by the power of the of this myself, where such persons Holy Ghost. And when the love of God have been absolutely amazed into a is thus carried home to the heart of the subdued state of heart by the kindness sinner by the power of the Spirit of which has told them fully of God's God, that heart is broken for sin, and free love. The language of their soul then coeval with the assurance of has been, and sometimes they have God's love is the bursting forth of the expressed it as well as they could, penitential tear-the penitential cry. “ What! me? Love me? Impossible!

The freeness of that love, then, is It is possible that God may love those the mode--the sure mode of procuring that have not transgressed as I have, repentance; and, oh, what do they but he cannot love me. You cannot mean, therefore, who will have re- be serious in telling me so." They pentance first, before we venture to cannot believe the blessed truth, and tell sinners that God loves them? Oh, yet it is in believing this that the first what do they mean who will harass saving impression towards God is and plague a poor trembling wretch made and can be made upon their who knows he deserves hell and hates character. the thoughts of God, because he hates But, my dear brethren, think you the idea of being punished. What do that such persons are sinners above they mean who will tell him about all the persons that we have to preach punishment and terror, instead of to? I tell you nay, but except you telling him about the love God to change your minds concerning Godhim, that he may be won back from except you repent of the evil thoughts his wanderings, that he may be made that you have in your heart towards ashamed by God's kindness. My your Father-except you repent of the brethren, it is God's free love that is alienated state of your soul towards the characteristic of the Gospel, so as a God of love, “ye shall all likewise to make it suitable to us.

perish.” Oh, what are differences of You will, perhaps, some of you, feel character between man and man in now, in the recollection of the more the sight of God? They resemble but immediate object for which we are the differences of elevation in the dif. assembled to-night, that this charac- ferent portions of the face of the earth teristic of the Gospel is peculiarly when compared with the height of suitable for the poor occupants of a heaven. They resemble but the differ. penitentiary. We may go to them, ence of the distance between the valley and without any reproach for their and the hill as compared with the height

« PreviousContinue »