Obrazy na stronie

sin having tainted the fountain, it embittered and polluted all the streams. "In Adam all die."*

Human pride revolts at this humiliating truth, though it form the basis upon which redemption rests. The glorious doctrines of grace, like the rainbow, shine the brightest in the darkest cloud. All, then, are sinners without exception. The violated Law of God condemns the whole human race. Hence it follows, that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified. Where, then, is salvation to be found? Only in and through the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. As we are lost under the covenant of works, so we can only be saved under the covenant of grace.

Will, then, the whole human race be saved? The Scriptures tell us, that none, to whom the gospel is preached, will be saved, but those who truly believe in Jesus; who receive him into their heart by faith and love; who mourn over and forsake their sins; and who bring forth the fruits of the Spirit in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. With respect to the Heathen, who have never heard the gospel, nor enjoyed the means of hearing of a Saviour's love, the Judge of all the earth will do right.

The carnal mind is enmity against God. With a darkened understanding, a rebellious will, and corrupt affections, the natural man, like Naaman, turns away in a rage from the simple, but efficacious remedy of God's providing.-(See 2 Kings v.)

Every man, woman, and child, in every age, would thus reject Christ and his great salvation, if God did not, in his rich mercy, incline the hearts of some to embrace Jesus as their only Saviour. If left to ourselves, we should never come to Christ.† And so powerful is this corrupt bent of the will to evil, that we never could come to Him, if God did not make us willing in the day of his power, if he did not draw us by the secret but constraining influences of his Holy Spirit.‡

* 1 Cor. xv. 22. + John v. 40.

John vi. 44, 65.

The God of all grace does not force us to come to Christ against our will; but he sets before us our lost condition by nature, the hatefulness of sin, and all its direful consequences; the suitableness of Christ to all our wants; his loveliness and preciousness in all his offices and characters; the beauty of holiness, and the bliss of heaven; and then, by an all-illuminating and attractive energy, he convinces and captivates our minds to embrace freely and fully, Jesus Christ, as all our salvation, and all our desire. "By grace are ye saved,”


was the delightful theme of St.

Such a soul, thus choosing Christ as its portion, is a vessel of mercy, "sanctified, and made meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."+ Such a soul is declared in Scripture to be "chosen in" Christ "before the foundation of the world;"‡ for wherever the doctrine of election is mentioned, it is invariably connected with holiness. These holy souls, transformed by divine grace into the image of Christ, form, collectively, the true Church, the body of Christ, of which he is the head; the spouse to whom he is the husband. They are called the people of God, the children of God,—the heirs of God. They are admitted to a delightful fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. They are the temples of the Holy Ghost; the habitation of God through the Spirit. They are the wheat among the tares; the good fishes among the bad; the wise among the foolish virgins; the fruitful among the unfruitful branches, as declared by our Lord in his parabolical descriptions of the visible Church, in which the good and the evil mingle together until the day of final separation, when the people prepared by the Lord, shall for ever inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.S

How monstrous, then, are the objections made

by some persons to this doctrine of grace, who assert

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

that if any one be elected he will be saved, how unholy soever his life

may be.

As the Bible is designed for the instruction of all mankind, so all may read their character in that sacred volume. The whole human race is divided into two great classes, believers and unbelievers, saints and sinners, the righteous and the wicked; those who serve God, and those who serve him not. In one or other of these distinctive classes will all be ranged at the judgment day, when Christ will separate the righteous from the wicked, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.*

To each of these two broadly defined characters, the blessing and the curse; the promise and the threatening, is made. Hence it is said: "He that believeth, and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned."+ The wicked "shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."+

Should any one, through divine grace, become a believer in Jesus, he changes his state before God, he becomes entitled, through the merits of Christ, to the blessing and the promise; is made a member of Christ's mystical body; and thus, by the work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope, evidences his election of God.

The way and means for the salvation of sinners, was fore-ordained; even the incarnation, sufferings, death, and glorification of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; as also our sanctification through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.

Faith is likewise the divinely-appointed instrument, by which the sinner is enabled to lay hold on Christ as his Saviour and Advocate with the Father; and the moment any one is empowered through grace to believe from the heart in the Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed and set forth in the Scriptures, he passes from death unto life, is adopted into the family of God, becomes a member of the Church militant, reads

*Matt. xxv. 32.

Mark xvi. 16.

Matt. xxv. 46.

his title to glory in the work of Christ, and, through the sanctifying grace of the Spirit, progressively advancing in his soul, makes his calling and election


This exalted blessing is not in Scripture offered to a few no! blessed be God, the offers of salvation are made alike to all; the invitation is general, the command to preach the gospel is unlimited; "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."* None are excluded, but such as through unbelief exclude themselves. The destruction of sinners is the fruit of their own voluntary choice; the free act of their own rebellious wills, in opposition to the sweetest calls of mercy, the gracious strivings of the Spirit, the powerful checks of conscience, the solemn alarms of Providence, and the recorded threatenings of Scripture. Thus man is the author of his own misery, and wilfully adjudges himself unworthy of eternal life. Whatever excuses men may now make for their sins, a day is coming, a day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, when he will render to every man according to his deeds. Then will every unbeliever, every unconverted sinner, like the man without the wedding garment, stand speechless and self-condemned before the Judge of quick and dead; while all the happy members of Christ's family, his Church redeemed from the earth, shall appear before him without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,"† giving to God the glory of their salvation, and praising and adoring the Lamb that was slain; who washed them from their sins in his own blood, and made them kings and priests unto God.

The Scriptures of truth, and the preaching of the Gospel, are the two great instruments in the hands of the Spirit for enlightening the world and turning sinners from the power of Satan unto God. It is, therefore, our duty, as it is our privilege, to sit under a faithful ministry, and to read the word of God + Eph. v. 27.

* Mark xvi. 15.

with earnest prayer, that the promised blessing may accompany the means.

The Spirit always addresses us by the word, and treats us as rational creatures; therefore, we are proper subjects for invitations, warnings, cautions, directions, &c. To enter into the niceties of controversy tends to confuse the mind, not to edify it. The way of salvation is plain and clear. The mode of effecting it is far beyond our conception. The incarnation of the Eternal Word, and the secret operations of the Holy Ghost on the human soul, are subjects which will for ever occupy the meditations of the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven. Here "we see through a glass darkly,"* and yet, quite clear enough to condemn us, if we miss the heavenly road. What we want is a humble, childlike spirit, to receive the great truths of the Gospel as PRACTICAL TRUths, which are revealed, not to make us disputers, but disciples of Jesus Christ, to restore us to the love and favour of God through faith in his blood; and to a holy conformity to that divine image which we lost by the Fall. This is the new birth, the new creation, that transformation which passes upon every soul before it can be admitted into the Paradise above.

It is of great spiritual importance that we consider all the doctrines of the Gospel in this practical view. They were not given us as subjects for speculation, but as most precious truths, on the right embracing of which our everlasting salvation depends. What will it avail, that I fancy myself to be one of the elect of God, if I am destitute of their character as pourtrayed in the Holy Scriptures? We are told, and painful experience teaches us, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."+ This heart must be changed by divine grace, before we can have any scriptural hope of enjoying heaven ; and if our hearts are changed, it will be effected by the grace and power of Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith, the giver of true repentance,

* 1 Cor. xiii. 12.

+ Jer. xvii. 9.

« PoprzedniaDalej »