« PreviousContinue »
ties of us all. That he was wounded for our transgressions, that he was bruised for our iniquities, that the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and that with his stripes we are healed.”
Such are the sacred testimonies of our God; such is the gospel which the immediate disciples of our Lord were commanded to preach to every creature. And we are now to consider,
What the believers of this gospel are saved from, or what we are to understand by that salvation, the believers of this gospel were made partakers of?
And first, as guilt is the parent of terror, and every man who cometh into the world is born in sin, and brought forth in iniquity, in ignorance of that truth, which is made manifest by the preaching of the gospel; the moment the sinner hears this gospel, and gives credit to the divine report; that moment he is saved from those terrors of the Lord, which induced the Apostles to persuade men to believe the truth,—from those tremendous fears, with which the sad conviction of his being a sinner, and God an avenger of sin, tormented his benighted mind.
And although he still acknowledges himself a sinner, and God an avenger of sin, an implacable eneiny to every transgression, yet is he saved from tormenting fear, in consequence of believing, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses: having made Jesus to be sin for them, that they may be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Does the sinner tremble at the sentence, “Cursed be every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the Law, to do them, and that from a full conviction that he is a lawa breaker, and that God is true.” The moment he believes the gospel declaration, that Jesus was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, he is saved from this hell in his bosom.
Is he in bondage to the fear of death? and is he, by this king of terrors, bound in chains of darkness? The moment he hears and believes the glad tidings of the gospel, viz. that “ Jesus hath abolished death,” that moment he is saved from this bondage. Is he conscious of the blindness of his mind, and fearfully apprehensive he shall die for lack of knowledge? No sooner does he hear the elucidating word, which bringeth salvation, “ By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities;” in unison with, “ All we like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all,” together with, “He is made of God unto us, wisdom ; " no sooner does the singer believe these gospel truths, than he is saved.
Is the sinner miserable, from the knowledge of his unrighteousness, when he is told, the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven? he is saved from this misery the moment he hears and believes that the name whereby the Redeemer shall be called, is " the Lord our righteousness." Is he convinced that without holiness no man can see the Lord, and that if he regards iniquity in his heart, the Lord will not hear hiin? Is his soul distressed in consequence thereof? Does he feel the sentence of death in himself, from the consideration of these testimonies being true, as God is true?
When the gospel is preached to him, assuring him that Jesus is made unto him sanctification, that this great High Priest wears on his head, for us, holiness to the Lord, and that we are authorized to view that head, thus adorned, as our head, hearing that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God ;-when these divine gospel truths are heard and believed, he is completely saved from condemnation or damnation. Should he be told that if he loves the world, or the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in him;" and should he conceive that the Fa. ther and the Lord Jesus are one, and, should it be added, “ if any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be accursed;" suppose, I say, these passages in sacred writ, should come home to him with damning power; when he learns in the same sacred records, that Jesus was made a “curse for him ;" when he hears his Redeemer say,
“ Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;"—the instant these salutary truths are by this man believed, he is saved from all that misery by which he was tormented.
Thus are we saved," if we keep in memory what we have heard, except we have believed in vain,” for it follows of course, that this salvation is always proportioned to the strength of our faith.
But upon this occasion, I hold it to be indispensably necessary, to dwell for a few moments upon a consideration which is generally passed over in silence. The difference between that salvation purposed by God, as the Father, before all worlds, before the birth of time, carried on by the Son in time, and fully completed, when he cried with a loud voice, it is finished, and gave up the ghost; and that salvation commenced and carried on by that spirit, which taketh of the things of Jesus, respecting the above finished salvation, and showeth them unto us, giving us peace and joy in believing.
The former is like him in whom it is found, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The latter is like the fluctuating being in whom it is found, always ebbing and flowing. Now the mountain stands strong and can never be removed. Anon we ask, hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious ?
The first salvation is complete with respect to quantity and quality. Jesus who hath purchased and restored the whole of Adam's lapsed posterity hath done all, for all, so that He who sent him to seek, and to save that which was lost, and to destroy the works of the Devil, says, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
For us, as we believe but in part, and are saved but in part, we are sometimes found staggering at the promises through unbelief, and we frequently ask, how can these things be? Jesus upbraided his immediate disciples, for their unbelief and hardness of heart, and it is but in proportion as we believe, that we are in this sense saved.
We make a strange jumble when we blend these two salvations together, for it indisputably follows, that we are saved not by Christ Jesus our Lord, but by ourselves, and what is more extraordinary still, by believing what is not true, until we make it true by believing.
For example, should news be brought that General Washington had gained a complete victory over the enemy; that he had driven them from our borders, this news would from some obtain credence; as many as believed this report, whatever were their previous fears respecting the enemy, would by this report, be entirely exempted therefrom ; saved therefrom. Were they under constant alarm at the approach of every warlike ship, did their fears oblige them to fly upon every alarm, they are now no longer driven about, they are saved from terror.
But, is it their believing this report which saves them from the enemy? Certainly not; for if this news be not true, they are not saved, although they have believed they were, and if it be true, chey are saved from the power of the enemy, although not from their fears respecting this enemy, whether they believe it or not. So with regard to the things which make for our eternal peace. Is it our believing which bruised the serpent's head? No, it was the woman's seed that bruised the serpent's head. Is it our believing that saved us from the power of the adversary ? No, it was because the seed of the woman bruised the head of the adversary, that we are saved from his power; for his head being bruised, his power to destroy was by that means taken away.
Again, was it our believing that saved us from the curse of the law ? No, it was “ Jesus being made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, by being made a curse for us." Was it our believing saved us from that death, which was denounced as the wages of sin ? No, it was the death of Jesus, “ by which he abolished death, as well as him that had the power of death, that is the Devil." Was it our believing that reconciled us to God? No, it was God being in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. Is it our believing makes God love us? No, “God so loved the world, that he gave them his Son,” which Son died for them, while they were yet sinners. Is it by our believing we shall obtain everlasting salvation ? No, we shall be eternally saved, because Jesus is our redemption. Is it our believing that blotteth out our transgressions, which were as a cloud, and our iniquities, which were as a thick cloud ? No, it is Jesus being “the propitiation for our sins." Is it our believing that presents us faultless before God, with exceeding joy? No, it is the blood of Jesus that cleanseth from all sin.” Is it our believing that presents us before God without spot or blemish ? No, it is our being one with his human nature, as he was one with the divine nature. “ 1 in them, and thou in me, that we may be made perfect in one.”
It is very easy to perceive that our believing can never effect events of such great magnitude, for two reasons. First, that the power of Emmanuel was necessary to their accomplishment, and, secondly, that having accomplished all which he came to perform, the grand work of salvation is the gospel preached, which must of necessity firecede our believing, and is in reality the glad tidings we are said to be saved by believing.
What then, you will say, are we saved from by believing? I have already enumerated a few particulars, and I shall enlarge upon this head by pointing out, and addressing myself to two distinct characters, the Pharisee and the Publican.
Jst. The Pharisee. Should you not only believe the word of the God of truth, as proclaimed in the gospel, but also in the law, you would be saved from that detestable spirit which is ever prompting you to say to your publican brother, stand off, come not near me, for I am holier than thou. That divine la would convince you that you were not more holy than the vilest offender, inasmuch as you would be convinced that you had in the course of your life, at least offended in one point. You would not suppose that those on
whom the tower of Siloam fell, were sinners worse than you, nor would you any longer go about to establish, as the matter of your justification before God, a righteousness of your own. You would be saved from that soul-condemning obstinacy, which will not sabmit to the righteousness of God by faith.
If you could believe the word of the gospel, you would be saved from that ignorance and pride, which hath dominion over you ; you would no longer strive to be, what none but God can be, a Creator; you would see and acknowledge, that you were created anew in Christ Jesus. If you believed the gospel as preached to every creature, you would be saved from all that wrath, malice, envy, uncharitableness, and every other anti-social principle, which now maketh havock of your benevolence; you would measure the same measure to others, that you measure to yourself: to sum it all up in one word, you would be saved from the old leaven of the Pharisees, and all the direful consequences which flow therefrom, from that certain misery, condemnation or damnation that results from unbelief He that believeth not shall be damned, damned as long as unbelief continues, and that will be as long as you discredit the gospel report, which will be as long as the veil is upon your heart, and that may be with some, until the veil is taken from all hearts, “and the face of the covering from all people, and the rebuke of his people taken away from the whole earth, as the mouth of the Lord hath spoken."
Blessed be God for the assurance of that auspicious day of the Lord, which shall perform all this, which shall convict of sin, of unbelief, which shall produce a consciousness of transgression, and an acknowledgement of guilt, and which shall exhibit the open book, the last book which shall be opened, the Lamb's book of life, in which the name of every individual of the human family, all the members of the Redeemer, shall be found written.
Blessed be God for the assurance, the scriptural assurance, that the universe shall not then contain a human unbeliever, for they shall all see, all know, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. At this period, the condemnation or damnation, consequent upon unbelief, will be no more, for all the ends of the earth will look unto the Redeemer and be saved.
2dly. To you who are still in the Publican character, should you be able to receive the Lord's sayings, could you believe the word of the gospel, that is preached unto you. | If you believed in your VOL. I.