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Father's will, and he has so effectually fulfilled it, that neither can he be deprived of the merit and just reward of his merciful work, nor the world of the infinite benefits derived from it. All we have indeed like sheep gone astray, but the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
purpose and grace of God,” which was in the divine mind “before the world began,” has now been “made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”* What wonder, then, that there was with the angel who first communicated the news “a multitude of the heavenly host of those benevolent spirits who rejoice at the conversion of a single sinner, praising God for his goodness, and exulting at the happiness of man, when salvation and redemption were sent to all the world; how joyful were they who sung, and how highly favoured those who were permitted to hear, that hymn of gratitude and triumph, "Glory be to God in the highest, and on the earth peace and good-will towards men,' the only heavenly music that has ever come to human ears, celebrating the greatest and happiest event that ever was witnessed upon earth. But let us not suffer our feelings to evaporate
* 2 Timothy, i. 9, 10.
in wonder and rapture, let us go with the grateful and humble shepherds, and “ see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” If the Lord has indeed comforted our hearts with the assurance that unto us has been sent a Saviour, if the gracious intelligence has excited a lively interest in our breasts, and we feel an earnest wish that he should be our Saviour, that he should save, not merely the world in general, but us individually, from our sins, let us immediately go to him, let us hasten to seek him out, that we may behold that great light which beams from his face, and enjoy the certain evidence of personal conviction, that we really have a Redeemer, and that when our desire has been satisfied, we may be able to say with devout Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for our eyes have seen thy
, salvation.” Let us go without fear or hesitation, he will receive us with kindness and favour, for he hath said “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Let us go with an humble expression of our sinfulness, in having been ignorant of him so long, with pious gratitude that we are yet permitted to know him, and to taste of his goodness; with affectionate love, because he has come to redeem such unworthy sinners' as we are; with a sincere desire henceforth to serve and
please him who has shewn such exceeding love to us. If we pretend to go to him, still retaining and delighting in those sins from which he came to save us, it is but going to deride and insult him; it is not going like the wise men of the east to fall down and worship him, and to present unto him gifts expressive of our homage, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, but rather like his cruel persecutors and murderers, with the mockery of royal ornaments, the purple robe, and the reed for a sceptre, and the crown of thorns, while in our hearts we intend to crucify him afresh, and to put him to an open
shame. My brethren, ever bear in mind that there are two sorts of salvation, of both of which we must be partakers, or light and immortality have been brought to light in vain for us. There is a salvation, which must be accomplished in this life, and a salvation which does not take effect, or at least will not be experienced, until we rise again from our graves. We must in this life be saved from the power and dominion of our sins, and then we shall hereafter be saved from the condemnation which is due to them ; but if we have not tasted the first redemption, we shall never be permitted to share in the second. If after death we would hope to come to the resurrection of eternal life, we must previously die unto sin, and
rise again unto righteousness;
"every one that bath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as
he is pure.
It is a fundamental and fatal error to suppose that we shall be saved in our sins, when the
promise only is that we shall be saved from them. “ The grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared (indeed) unto all men,” and therefore all men are included in the offer of
mercy. But what does this grace of God teach us? That
? we may live in sin and yet be saved ? No; but that “ denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world ; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us (observe well what follows), that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”“ These things,” adds the apostle, “ speak and
, exhort, and rebuke with all authority ;” and a little after, when writing on the same subject, he says, “ this is a faithful saying, and these things
I will that thou affirm constantly." I say
then (as I am charged) “ with all authority," and I trust that I shall " affirm it constantly,” that Christ will not be a saviour to that man, who is not redeemed from iniquity, and purified unto him. For Christ
is holy, his laws are holy, heaven is a holy place; therefore the followers of Christ, the professors of the gospel, the candidates for heaven must also be holy. If you were in bondage to an enemy, and some friend were to pay a price sufficient for your ransom, yet how would you be the better for it, if your chains were not taken off, and you remained still in your captivity ? Even so, though Christ has purchased your salvation, yet if
you continue still enslaved to sin, how is your sad condition mended ? God the Son has done enough to merit your freedom, but unless he really "make you free,” you will never “ be free indeed.” And
” how shall he make you free? By imparting to you his spirit, that you may have power to subdue your sins, and to burst your bonds asunder. This is the only possible way; for “ if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.' Think you not, that “to whomsoever ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ?” Whoever is your master, from him you must have your reward. If therefore you are the servants of sin, you must expect no other wages than those of sin ; and “ the wages of sin is death ;” “ but the gift of God (if you choose him for your master)" is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “ If any man serve me (says Christ,) let him follow me; and