Obrazy na stronie

among men, for the help especially of the toiling and the sorrowing. In this society there is always the presence of a Visitor yet more august-the good Lord Himself, who as the simple hymn hath it, "died to make us good." He comes into the mystic circle, into all congregations of His people, into all companies of the saints; into all assemblies of sinners who are weary of sin, who fear it, and are longing and striving for purity, and righteousness, and peace. He comes to see the guests, to provide the feast, to give tone and zest to the fellowship; to be Himself the object and the centre of love. Yes, we may now be well contented to leave off for the time thinking of good men, that we may together look to Him who is altogether good-the "chieftest among ten thousand and altogether lovely," and better still, who is the ever-flowing fountain of goodness to fallen men. He teaches us, transforms us, restores us, dresses us in robes of saintly purity, introduces us into heavenly society, keeps us company along the stages of our journey, and often spreads the table and makes the feast, where common eyes see nothing but weary nights and troubled days. Do you doubt this? I have before me at this moment, the image of a good man whom I knew, and whom I last saw, tossing wearily on a troubled bed, not far as the event proved, from the gates of Paradise. You would have said, judging from the outward aspect of things, and I would have said at first view, —“Here, alas, is a scene of unrelieved sadness, and misery, and pain." But what were the words I heard. I think they were the last words I heard from his lips :

"Blest Jesus, what delicious fare!

How sweet Thine entertainments are,
Never did angels taste above,
Redeeming grace and dying love!"

Oh! Unseen Lord-Who thus givest Thyself as bread of life to men! Lead us all to the banquet. Although here we may wet our bread with our tears as we eat it-lead us to the higher and better thou hast in reserve! let us pass along to meet all the good of every age, and to see thee in Thy glory, at the banquet, and in the fellowship of Heaven! Amen.


One God and One Mediator.

I TIMOTHY ii. 5-6.

"For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men-the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”

The Revised Version gives this in a way somewhat more pointed and emphatic. It reads thus, "There is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, Himself the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all." It is marvellous how much Gospel meaning, how complete a Gospel, in fact, is condensed in these simple words.

Let us look at them in the light of the context, that we may understand their practical intent. They express one of the grounds on which the Apostle urges the exhortation with which this chapter begins. It is an exhortation to prayer, intercessory prayer, for all sorts and conditions of men. "I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be

made for all men. For kings, and all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

One reason for this is that such prayer would be acceptable in the sight of God, Who "would have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." And another motive,—or another ground for believing in the efficacy of such prayer-is that set forth in the text, viz., that there is but "One God," one in essence, one in purpose, one in the whole method and aim of His life, looking down with one common regard of love upon all His human children "without respect of persons." And also, that there is but one Mediator between God and men," the same Mediator for all, Himself a "man," and in the truth and perfection of His manhood related to all, giving himself a ransom for all." Thus, you observe, throughout the whole of this passage the word "one" is put in some kind of opposition to the word "all." The oneness of God's Being, and Fatherhood, and love; and the oneness of the mediatorial character of Christ and of the ransom he offers-in opposition to all the varieties of condition and office among men. Diverse as they may be in these respects, there is "One God" above them all, who loves them all, and would fain gather them all into one in Jesus Christ His Son. And this is why we have such confidence in our intercessory prayer.

But now I want to direct attention to that which is really the central thought of this passage:


The economy under which the whole human race exists is a mediatorial economy, of which Christ is the living Head.

1. The foundation of this grand truth is the fact that God and man are related and yet at variance-naturally related,-morally at variance. The ideas of mediation, atonement, reconciliation, all imply this. It is because there is an essential and eternal bond between God and man, but no moral oneness:-because sin has marred the natural relationship-but could never dissolve or destroy it,—it is because of this, that there is room for anything like mediation.

No argument is needed in support of this fundamental fact. It is beyond argument. It is a matter of inward consciousness. There is something deep within us all, that tells us we have to do with God-tells us that there is a link between Him and us that can never be broken; that His fatherly authority holds us fast, and must hold us fast for ever. And side by side with this there is the sense of guilt, alienation, moral separation,-what St. Paul calls an "enmity" that must be "slain." These two elements of consciousness go together. And the remarkable thing is that the sense of moral alienation from God is often that which most awakens or intensifies our sense of the strength of the bond that binds us to Him. Just as it was when he had reached the lowest depth of shame and distress that the Prodigal began to think of his forsaken father and home, and resolve to retrace his steps. So often it is when our hearts are wounded and broken by the sorrows of life or the sharpness of our own self-reproaches,-that we become alive to the fact that we have a Father in Heaven who still claims us as His own. And it is "out of the depths" that our souls yearn for the joy of restoration to His favour.

2. Now the necessity of mediation arises from the simple fact that man is

utterly incapable, on every ground, of setting himself right with God. He can never of himself rectify the sacred relation that has been violated and abused. The hold Revelation has, and ever must have, on the moral nature of man arises mainly from the fact that Atonement-the reconciliation of God and man -is the grand principle that from first to last inspires it, and that in this it meets the deepest necessity of our being.

The late Dr. Chalmers, in tracing the connexion between natural and revealed religion-observed that "as nature abounds with those fitnesses which harmonise with the constitution of man in a state of health,-so Christianity, as a restorative system, abounds in fitnesses to the same constitution in a state of disease." It is one particular aspect of this diseased state, then, with which we have now to do,-viz., that which consists in the sense of separation from God. And I know of no passage in which both the disease and the remedy it demands are more strikingly set forth than in a certain passage in the history of Job. In the depth of his distress, the thought of the dreadful distance, not so much natural as moral, between him and the Infinitely Holy One seizes upon him. But what can he do? What power has he to bridge over that great gulf?"How shall man," he exclaims, "be just with God? If he will contend with Him, he cannot answer Him one of a thousand. He is not a man as I am that I should answer Him and we should come together in judgment, neither is any days-man betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both." How full of meaning is this as expressive of that solemn necessity of atonement by mediation to which every awakened spirit, in the Majesty of the Divine Presence, bears witness. When men are at variance they can meet each other on one level. They are both alike fallible and sinful. A compromise can be made. Each has something to yield. He who is himself imperfect and prone to err, who himself has his own errors of thought and heart and life to answer for, dares not be exacting and unyielding towards his erring brother. His very con. sciousness of personal defect forbids this, and binds him to be considerate, lenient, forgiving. But what mortal, sinful man can stand before the high and holy God? "How shall man be just with God ?"

And let us not suppose that it is only certain severer aspects of God's character that are a terror to us. All His attributes are against us as transgressors. If one is, all must be so-for they cannot act discordantly. They are independent and distinct. There is no schism in God.

His love is an infinitely holy love-a "consuming fire" to all that is false and evil. Before He can justify us, there must be something that makes it just for Him to do so. Before His mercy can flow out in our forgiveness there must be a righteous channel through which it must flow.

The Parable of the Prodigal illustrates our moral position as wanderers from God. Perhaps you say, "Well, there is nothing about mediation and a mediator there. He returns to his abused father, and the father with an overflowing heart receives him back."

True-but however touching a picture that Parable may be of the compassionate love of the Heavenly Father, with other lines of our Lord's own teaching in view, we cannot for one moment suppose that it was intended to set forth all that is included in the restoration of the sinner to God, It says nothing about the grounds of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Indeed the analogy there instituted could not set forth all this. The fatherly

relationship among men is not to be taken as the measure of the Fatherhood of God. It is but the dim and distant shadow of that, true, as far as it goes, but not complete. There is no such perfect blending and balancing of all attributes in the earthly father as in the Heavenly, no such unfathomable mystery of holy love, no such absolute righteousness, no such infinite and infallible knowledge of what that righteousness demands.

The human father acts by the impulse of mere parental affection when he receives the wanderer home. But he cannot even conceive of the Divine Father doing this, except by the consenting voice of every part and power of His perfect nature. "He is not a man as we are"; not "one like unto ourselves." His ways are not to be judged by the lower standard of our human ways. It is not that He is less fatherly-but rather that He is infinitely more so that His Fatherhood takes in an infinitely wider range than ours, and that it pays respect, not as ours does to this person or that,―to this race even or that, as standing apart and alone-but to all interests, to all beings, all races, all worlds, as overshadowed by its boundless wings. How easily may men go astray when, with their poor narrow view of things, they think to affirm dogmatically what is consistent or otherwise with the Holy Love of God! While on the other hand, what absolute assurance, what calm satisfaction, what a rapture of repose there is for the sin-stricken soul that takes refuge in its embrace-simply receiving the blessed Gospel message:-" Now is manifested the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe. For there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. Being justified freely by His Grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God :—to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness,—that He might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus."


3. But now let us consider further THE VIEW THE TEXT GIVES US OF THE PERSON OF THE GREAT MEDIATOR. "One Mediator between God and manthe man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." It is literally "Mediator of God and of man" which clearly suggests the relation in which He stands alike to the Divine and the human between whom the reconciliation is to be brought about. And then it is not affirmed of Him that he is a man— as if he were but one of many-but "the man." Indeed the article is not used in the original at all,—but simply the word “man ”—“ Man, Christ Jesus." There is something special and extraordinary in His Humanity. Essential manhood is His attribute. He gathers up all our human nature into Himself, becoming its second Head. As if the sum and substance of all mankind were in Him: the representative man related alike to every man. Jesus Christ Himself man." Thus do God and man meet together and become one in the glorious mystery of His Being and Mediatorial position. The representative of God to man-He is himself God. The representative of man before God-He is Himself man. His complex nature as the God-man fills up the whole interval between the Creator and the creature, and unites the two. It is itself the image and the pledge of His reconciling work. It contains within itself a prophecy of the blessed time when all discords shall be harmonized, all "middle walls of partition" shall be broken down, all enmities shall cease;

[ocr errors]

when the whole Universe of Being-things in Heaven and things on Earth -shall be gathered together into one Divine Unity, and "God shall be All-in-All."

But there is more here than the indication of such thoughts as these about the person of Christ. There is a declaration of something that He has done for us, the sacrifice that He has offered on our behalf, and in which the real efficacy of His mediation consists. "Who gave Himself a ransom for all." Now this may seem to introduce an idea with which mediation has nothing directly to do, i.e. which is not an essential part of it. We can imagine mediation without anything of this sort. There may be mediation, e.g. between friends who have been alienated from one another without any idea of a "ransom " being introduced, without anything like a price being paid, on either side, to make amends for wrong done, or to bring about a reconciliation. This, no doubt, is perfectly true.

But we must remember that we have to do here, not with our own mere abstract ideas of mediation, but with revealed truths about the actual Mediation of Christ. And this is how the Scriptures set it forth. This is the way in which the New Testament represents His mediatorial work as the offering of Himself as a sacrifice for us. Its view of our spiritual position as sinners is that of those who are in bondage-" sold under sin, tied and bound with the chain of sin," resting under the curse of the Law that condemns sin, doomed to the death that is the natural issue, the due wages of sin. There can be no doubt whatever as to this being the Scriptural view of the position of humanity at large and of every individual man composing the general sum of humanity. Hence the light in which the redeeming work of Christ is presented. "He gave Himself a ransom for all." "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,"-with all its fatal consequences. "His blood is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our's only-but also for the sins of the whole world." This word " 99 ransom no doubt brings to our minds the thought of His death as the price He paid for our redemption, inasmuch as that was the climax and crown of His obedient, suffering life—and "without shedding of blood there was 66 no remission." But the greater and more comprehensive truth is this-that "He gave Himself for us." He Himself-in the complex mystery of His Being, the sinless perfection of His character, the consummate beauty of His Life, the absoluteness of His self-surrender-He is ransom," through whom we receive forgiveness of all the sins of the past, and in whom we rise up unto the freedom and dignity of a Divine Life for ever "God was in Christ, reconciling us unto Himself, not imputing unto us our transgressions."




Think then, how wonderfully this Scripture doctrine of Mediation, in all its aspects, meets the deepest necessities of our fallen nature. When the soul within us is aroused from its slumber and we begin to look Heavenward, the Great God seems to be indeed "afar off" from us-ineffable, unapproachable. A Being Whose infinitude and changeless Eternity are an unfathomable mystery to us; Whose absolute purity fills us with dread-a Light in which there is "no darkness at all" and in which our darkness cannot for a moment dwell-a fire that will utterly consume both us and our sins. No wonder we tremble before Him.

But "when Immanuel's face" beams upon us, how completely does it banish

« PoprzedniaDalej »