« PreviousContinue »
There must therefore be a way to escape. But the way to find it is not to deny or disbelieve the reality or extent of our danger, but rather to ascertain it, that so we may see our need of deliverance, and be stimulated to seek the means of safety: neither have I laid before you the penalties of transgression or the evidence of divine wrath with a view of exciting in you any needless alarm, but that I may set before you the truth of scripture, and that through the divine aid I may excite in your
minds that conviction of sin and of the certain consequences of sin, which may lead you to ask with seriousness—What shall I do « to be saved? Who shall deliver me from the wrath to come?'
Into a consideration of this question I trust to be permitted to enter in the evening : and may almighty God grant us all not only to understand, but to find the only sure way of peace and salvation !
Isaiah liii. 6.
The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
WHAT has been already said must, (I think) have convinced you, that the wise and good and holy being, by whom we were created, has given us a law, but that we have none of us kept it, as it ought to be kept, and are all consequently subject to the sentence of his righteous displeasure. His law has been reduced to this narrow point, that it commands us to love him with all our strength, and to love our neighbour, as ourselves : and this is what none of us has hitherto done. The consequence is, that the wrath of God rests on the world ; and every thing in nature and providence bears witness to it. Fire and
hail, snow and vapour, wind and storm, fulfilling his word, reveal his wrath from Heaven, while Pain and Death are his executioners
We have seen also, that the consequences of his displeasure are eternal, that the wrath which is present, is light, when compared with the wrath to come, and that, unless it be remitted, it must burn with inextinguishable fury on the head of the transgressor for ever and ever,
These are discoveries, which, if they were to end here, would embitter our lives to no purpose with fruitless anxiety and unprofitable lamentation. For what, if all we, like sheep, have gone astray? What, if we have turned, every one to his own way ;' The evil is done; the plunge is taken ; and it is better to divert our thoughts from a recollection of it than to occupy them with reflections upon a misery, for which there is no
But happily this is not our condition. There is a remedy within reach. There are means of escape.
We took notice in the morning, that although Hell and all its miseries are denounced in fearful language against all the doers of iniquity, those miseries were never designed for our species. They were formed for another order of beings, for the devil and his angels; and, if we enter into them, we intrude into woes, that do not belong to us, and lay hold of an unhappiness, which is not our own. This single consideration would lead us to hope, that he, who never meant us to be miserable, might yet provide means for our deliverance : and yet how could that object be accomplished ? How could he, consistently with the truth of his character, the honour of his law, the demands of his holiness, remit a penalty, so solemnly denounced, and receive back transgressors into favour? The law had pronounced distinctly—The soul, that sinneth, it shall die.' 6. There is no
peace,”—saith my God—“ to the wicked." Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them.' How shall the curse be removed, and the forfeited blessing recovered ?
This is a problem, well worth all our search; for on the solution of it all our hopes depend. But in vain should we perplex ourselves to find that solution, if the almighty had not himself provided it for us : for it is evident, that, unless our sins be pardoned, the evil is without a remedy, and the wrath of God must abide upon us. But, if this be so, who shall assure us of pardon? We may reason and speculate about probabilities. But the question is a question of fact— Will God pardon trans
gressors ? —; and none, but God, can answer it. It is a secret, which must remain, locked up in the counsel of his own will, unless he be pleased to reveal it: and one of the greatest benefits of the bible is, that it does reveal it.
Let us then turn to the bible, to discover it! What is the remedy, which it discloses for the moral maladies of our species ? It has made known to us our guilt. How does it provide for its removal ?
Hear the answer of the text! The lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.' May the lord enable us to understand the true force and full meaning of this consolatory declaration of his holy word, and bring all, who are here