Page images
PDF
EPUB

general outline of the life of a christian. When we estimate the difficulties, the temptations, and the natural reluctance, arising from a sinful heart, by which this life is hindered, we may say with Solomon-Happy is the man, that ' feareth alway.' But yet on the other hand, when we think on the grace of our lord, Jesus Christ, on the purpose, for which he suffered, and on his readiness to receive even after the most grievous offences those, who have abused and neglected his mercy, provided they truly repent, and embrace his offered salvation, we may say on the other hand — Happy is the

man, that hopeth alway.' It is by these two anchors of the soul, that it is kept steady in the course of salvation. When we at the same time fear to offend him, and yet believe in the goodness, which forgives and overcomes our offences, we are then led in the way of life: and at our last hour also, when time is behind us, and eternity before, the dread of sin and the reliance on Christ must be, as it were, the two wings, on which the holy spirit of God will waft us over the abyss, which separates us from the mansions of bliss and glory.

SERMON XV.

Hebrews ix. 27, 28.

As it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after

this the judgment, so Christ was once offered, to bear the sins of many ; and unto them, that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

OUR inquiries my beloved brethren are now drawing to a close.

We began by investigating some of the evidences, which establish the existence of a supreme being, the creator and governor of the universe, of a being, infinite in power, wisdom, goodness, and every other moral excellence, who, though we see him not, and though too many of us continue strangers to his name, is about our path, and about our bed, and spieth out all our ways.

It infinitely concerns us not only to know, that there is such a being, but also to be well informed, what treatment we may expect at his hands : and accordingly it appeared in the second place, that he has graciously condescended to reveal himself to his intelligent creatures, not only by declaring to them his name and attributes, but also by making clearly known, what is his will concerning them. He has given them a law: and that law we now possess, having been once written by the finger of God in the ten commandments, and being still preserved to us in the bible. Moreover we have it reduced for us into a still smaller compass, and are authoritatively instructed, that, if in obedience to his just expectation we love him with our whole powers, and love our neighbour, as ourselves, we have fulfilled all, that it requires from us, and may confidently assure ourselves of his favour.

But unhappily the next subject of our consideration brought before us a fearful truth, that there is not a man upon earth, who has

lived up to the righteous demands of this law, and that we are consequently, one and all, exposed to the holy displeasure of a being, who will not be offended with impunity, and who has an universe at command, to execute the purposes of his wrath.

This discovery however served in the end to make known to us still greater and more wonderful attributes in the divine mind, and to introduce us to a view of that almighty mercy, which prevails against judgment to the pardon of all disobedience and ingratitude. We were thus introduced to that gracious son of God, who was appointed by the love of the father to save a ruined world, and who by the sacrifice of himself has reopened the door of hope to those, who by their perverseness and disobedience had closed it upon themselves. We saw, that although we stand, condemned for our sins, we may yet by believing on his finished salvation be justified through his blood. We saw, that the father is so well pleased with that wonderful act of love, which was performed by his son in living and dying, as a substitute for man, as to impute the righteousness, which he wrought for sinners, to all, who believe in bim: and the end, for which he thus imputes to them a righteousness, which is not their own, is, that, being justified by faith, they may have peace with him, and, being freed from the distress of an upbraiding conscience, may henceforward serve him acceptably with godly fear.

Nevertheless, as the satisfaction of Christ's atonement removes only the guilt, but not the pollution of our nature, he has prevailed by his merit and intercession to procure for us the gift of the holy ghost; whereby we may be disposed to embrace the offer of his salvation, and to walk anew in the way of his commandments. Thus the doctrine of justification led us naturally to that of sanctification ; and we learned, that the life of a christian is one, in which the holy spirit leads him, and he obeys the impulse of a superior agency. Hence it may be truly said, that a christian walks with God, that he is united to Christ through the spirit, and that the life, which he lives in the flesh, he lives by the faith of the son of God, who loved him, and gave himself for him.

« PreviousContinue »