Obrazy na stronie

drive them all away. His grace, and not our merit; his glory, and not our deservings, are the standards for the Lord's manifestations of mercies to his people. "Not. by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." (Titus iii. 5, 6.)


And if I detain you one moment longer, before that we enter on the subject of the sermon, and add another observation, it is but with a view of farther encouragement to timid souls; namely, to remark, that as the new birth, or spiritual life, like salvation itself, is the sole free gift of God; so in every child of God, where it is given, it is alike given. The babe in Christ is made as truly a partaker of spiritual life in Christ, as prophets, or apostles. The different degrees of attainment in spiritual knowledge and enjoyment of spiritual things make no difference in spiritual life. "All (as the Holy Ghost states by Peter) that have obtained like precious faith, through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, are alike made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Pet. i. 1-4.) And most blessedly is it stated elsewhere, by another apostle: "For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body; whether we be Jews or Gentiles: whether we be bond or free: and have been all made to drink into one spirit." (1 Cor. xii. 13.) The Lord enable his people to have these things in remembrance, while we now proceed to the farther prosecution of the subject, under the distinct branches proposed.

I am first to call your attention to the scriptural statement of salvation itself: which will form the proper introduction to our knowledge of it.

And I begin with observing, that all the persons in

the GODHEAD, by covenant engagements, took equal part in it. Our most glorious Christ, by the union of the human nature, with the divine; thereby becoming the visible Jehovah, as the Executor, and Administrator of all the purposes intended in this vast accomplishment; did indeed, by his own incommunicable work, bring salvation; (Isaiah lxiii. 5.) but considered in this high administration, we include, no less, all the original and everlasting decrees, among the persons in the GODHEAD, formed from all eternity respecting the church. The mystical body of Christ was chosen in Christ by the Father, to be "holy, and without blame before him in love, before all worlds." (Ephes. i. 4.) And in like manner, the church was anointed in Christ from everlasting, by the Holy Ghost, to the same. The time-state therefore, in the fallen, degraded, and lost condition of the church from which the salvation by Christ became necessary, did not, for in fact it could not, counteract, or do away the eternal purposes of God, in his trinity of persons, as concerned the church. The original design of Jehovah could never be defeated. The church was chosen in Christ, was adopted in Christ, and accepted in Christ, before there was any world; and must be found so, when all worlds will be done away. But this lapsed state, in which the church is now degraded, gave occasion for the display of the great salvation by Christ. And the Lord Jesus Christ in his own Almighty person, and by his own Almighty deeds, hath done more in the recovery of his church, than all sin hath, or could have done, in her apostacy. A few leading particulars will be sufficient in point, by way of illustration.

By the Adam-fall transgression, the church, as well as the world at large, was become guilty before God. "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

sinned." (Rom. v. 12.) The salvation therefore wrought by Christ was to do away sin, and make an end of it; and to destroy death, and bring life and immortality to light by his gospel. He was not only to do away sin, and make an end of it, but, in the destruction of death, he was also to "destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and to deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage." (Heb. ii. 14.) Yea, in salvation our most glorious Christ was to do more than all these. For as the church, by her fall, had lost all righteousness, he was to restore her to a better righteousness than she had lost. And thus, this one of the glorious persons in the GODHEAD accomplished, by assuming into union with his divine nature that holy portion of our's; (Luke i. 35.) and, in the double nature as our Surety, most completely and fully wrought salvation. He put away sin “by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb. ix. 26.) He conquered death by his own death, when he suffered "the just for the unjust to bring us to God." (1 Pet. iii. 18.) And he brought in everlasting righteousness for his body the church, when "by the one offering of himself once offered, he perfected for ever them that are sanctified; (Heb. x. 14.) and which is "to all, and upon all them that believe." (Rom. iii. 22.)

But we must not stop here. It is not enough to contemplate the completeness of the mighty work; in order to have a clear conception of it, we must consider the church's right in it, by which all Christ did, and all Christ suffered, were to all intents and purposes virtually as much her's as if done, and sustained herself in all the persons of his people. He acted as her Head and Husband, and Surety. It was not for himself, that he bore the pains of death; for "he had done no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." (1 Pet. ii. 22.) And without an eye to his church, that he came as her glorious Representative, and Sponsor, there was

not a pain Christ endured, or a reproach offered to his Almighty person, but would have been not only unjust, but blasphemous. Oh! the blessedness of the prospect, when in contemplating this Almighty Sufferer, we contemplate his whole body the church in Him!

And to add one word more, on this soul refreshing subject, when we take into the view the infinite dignity of his person, and the infinite value and merit of his work-what an all sufficiency in both to comfort the most desponding mind of any one, and of every one, of the Lord's people, when reeking under the deep sense of sin! All that we have lost of nature holiness in Adam is more than compensated, in spiritual holiness, in our most glorious Christ. And as the rich, the full, the all-sufficient salvation, God" manifest in the flesh" wrought in our nature for us, is so truly his own, as to be his own only; so is it so abundant, that it were high treason to the majesty of heaven, to attempt by any thing of our's to add to it, or to take from it. That precious statement of God the Holy Ghost concerning his person, and concerning his salvation, stands at the very portals of every part and portion of revelation, to crown the whole. "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." (Col. ii. 9, 10.)

From this view of salvation as it is in itself, and wholly found in the glorious person, and incommunicable work of our Lord Jesus Christ, I proceed now, as was proposed, under the second branch of this discourse, to shew, that the very design of the preaching of the gospel, by divine teaching, is "to give the knowledge of salvation unto his people ;" and that their encouragement and comfort can only by found in this knowledge, "by the remission of their sins."

And here, without going over again what hath been before remarked, and indeed is too plain a principle

of the gospel, to require a moment's suspension for belief; it will be sufficient to say, that the very first step to the knowledge of salvation must be made, when by regeneration, or the new birth, the sinner is rendered capable, by a spiritual life, of apprehension both of his own sinfulness, and Christ's all suitableness, and all-sufficiency. Until I am spiritually alive, I can have no spiritual desire, or action. And when the Lord hath given me these, the Lord giveth me with them also a sense of sin, and the desire of salvation. And when once a consciousness of my utterly helpless, and hopeless state, as I am in myself, is fully revealed. in my soul, then there will be an unceasing looking after Christ which nothing can satisfy, until Christ is "formed in the heart the hope of glory!" In your enquiry, therefore, for "the knowledge of salvation" make a diligent search in yourself, and your own heart, for the evidences of the new life. This blessed gift, which in every one to whom it is given, forms the beginning of a new period in a man's history, is discoverable as a cause, (as every other cause, more, or less, is) by the effects. Every faculty of the new born soul is alive to action. The eye to see spiritually; the ear to hear spiritually: and the mind, and conscience, will be engaged in the spiritual exercise of grace, as testified by acts of " repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!" Will you suffer me to recommend these heart-searching enquiries to your closest investigation? Hezekiah was well taught in this school. And when he had learnt of God" to go softly all his years, in the bitterness of his soul," as he tells us he did, he added: “O Lord! by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit!" (See Isaiah xxxviii. throughout.)

[ocr errors]

Let me call upon you to another observation. The knowledge of salvation cannot be said to be fully attained, until that there be a revelation made in the heart, personally, and satisfactorily, that we ourselves

« PoprzedniaDalej »