« PreviousContinue »
to a military triumph, where the conqueror returns victoriously from the field of battle, amidst the shouts and plaudits of the inhabitants, who come forth to hail him welcome to his native place? (Ps. xxiv. 7, 8; Ps. xlvii. 5, 6.) That angels felt a deep interest in what Christ did on earth, is most incontestibly proved from Luke ii. 13; Matt. iv. 11; Luke xxii. 43; Matt. xxviii. 2; Acts i. 10; And having announced the birth of Christ,-ministered to him in the wilderness,-strengthened him in his agony,attended him at his resurrection,- did not
"Cherubic legions guard him home,
And shout him welcome to the skies?”
"He was received up into heaven." Who received him? Did not angels, principalities, and powers? Did not the spirits of just men made perfect receive him into that exalted state of felicity? St. Luke declares "a cloud received him: "--but who can tell what amazing scenes were unfolded beyond that cloud? Sketches of Sermons, Vol. iii. Page 121.
CHRIST ALL, AND IN ALL.
THE evangelical preacher of Jesus Christ, though he should have ever so deep acquaintance with the scene of philosophy, forgets it when he ascends the pulpit to show unto his hearers the way of salvation : and, as Aaron's serpent swallowed up the other serpents, so does the wisdom of the cross all other wisdom. The glorious person, the mysterious incarnation, the amazing satisfaction of Christ Jesus the Lord, the glories of his exalted state, his mediatorial characters, offices, and relations: These are his darling themes on which
he expatiates with a peculiar delight.-And whether these topics, that have not the most immediate relation to Christ, are the subjects of his discourse; yet still it may be said of all his sermons, what the Apostle says of Christians," Of him are ye in Christ Jesus;" they have no being but in him; in him they live and move. Whatever mystery-whatever privilege-whatever duty he chooses to explain, still Christ is all in all. If he insists on a divine attribute, he declares how it shines forth in Christ with the brightest evidence.-If on a promise, he explains, how in Christ it is Yea, and Amen.-If on a command, he inculcates the necessity of obedience, by motives drawn from Jesus Christ; and how impossible it is for us to obey, without being first united to him as the head of vital influences. Christ is the beginning; Christ is the end; Christ is the middle; Christ is the all of every sermon. With him he comforts the drooping heart, and with him he corrects the wandering transgressor. M'Ewen.
THE Gospel of God is his embassy of peace to men, the riches of his mercy and free love opened and set forth, not simply to be looked on, but laid hold on. The glorious holy God declaring his mind of agree. ment with man in his own Son; his blood is beaming forth in it, to wash away uncleanness, and yet this Gospel is not obeyed. Angels are not so concerned in this great mystery as we are; they are but mere beholders in comparison of us, yea, they seem rather to be losers some way: this our nature, inferior to theirs, is in Jesus Christ exalted above them; we bow down to the earth, and study and grovel in it, rake into the
very bowels of it, and content ourselves with the outside of the unsearchable riches of Christ, and look not within it but they, having no will nor desire but for the glory of God, being pure flames of fire, burning only in love to him, are no less delighted than amazed with the bottomless wonder of his wisdom and goodness, shining in the work of our redemption.
As a system of divine things, it is inimitable; and as a system of morals, incomparable. This last even its bitterest enemies cannot but acknowledge. Even the Jews themselves, while, by every device and blasphemy that malice can suggest, they impugn its truth and divine origin; yet, as a system of morals, they cannot but confess its purity and pre-eminent superiority. This is what no other religion can boast of; for, while it reveals the Godhead in all its purity and excellence, it teaches man, that as their Creator is holy, so they, his creatures, should be holy likewise. It forbids and denounces every sin, and restrains the practice of every vice, while it inculcates and enforces every virtue, and promotes and encourages the growth and culture of all those delightful qualities which can adorn and dignify the man, and make him meet for the service and reward of an holy God above.
I observe, that Christianity is superior to the religion of nature, in that it affords to man universally, a reasonable, efficacious, and honourable salvation.
And this is one of the glorious peculiarities of the Gospel dispensation-all other systems found the basis of human hope upon the false foundation of their own merits. The Brahmin and the Hindoo wash away their sin by voluntary tortures and mortifications, (like the Papists in the Christian world.) The Mahometan by shaving, ablution, &c., and the slaughter of the
enemies of his creed. Thus they attempt to justify their claims to heaven, and to wipe away the iniquities of the soul.
But all these means are false and erroneous. It must be obvious to all, that man is an utterly lost and perishing creature, that his nature is corrupt, and "very far gone from original righteousness," "so that no good thing, either to will or to do, dwells in him." How then can we suppose, that, by his own polluted merits, or righteousness, he can ever attain to the possession of that heaven from which he first, by his transgression, fell? For it is "manifest, that by the works of the law (that is, human merits) no flesh can be justified or saved; " and if so, how much less can the absurd methods which the children of reason and nature allow, profit to the saving of the soul? As if the scarifying of the flesh, the shaving of the head, the washing of the body, the immolation of human victims, or the shedding of the innocent blood of those who dare to oppose such hideous abominations, could wash away sin, or purify the soul from its innate corruptions.
But away from such absurd fictions, and let us turn to the pure Gospel of Christ.
. It is manifest that all have sinned, and that man of his own strength can for himself do nothing; wherefore the Gospel informs us, that God, in his infinite mercy, has been pleased to ordain an universal salvation, by which all men may be justified in his sight, and reinstated in the possession of heaven; and the Gospel sets forth Jesus Christ as "the Fountain of cleansing for all people," a propitiation by his death for the sins of the world, to be effectuated to mankind by faith in his merits and atonement.
Now all this is most rational and sublime. We have on our parts irrecoverably sinned. Jehovah the Son,
the second Person in the ever blessed Trinity, covenants with Jehovah the Father for our redemptioncomes into the world, takes our nature upon him, and suffers in our stead; he himself pays the penalty of our transgression by his death, which the Father accedes to as an equivalent offering for us. He accepts the sacrifice, and on our faith in Christ, and his atonement, releases us from the penalties of our transgressions, and restores us to favour and happiness.
This is the Gospel plan, and however infidelity may sneer, and scepticism may cavil, compare it with the religions which nature and reason can point out, and we shall find Christianity shine superior to them all, and triumph with unequal glory over the absurd fabric of heathen superstition.
M. M. E.-Pulpit, vol. viii. p. 288.
1st. Its divine origin. This Gospel is the word, not of man, but of God. It is from heaven, and not of men. If it were of men, it would be liable to all the errors and imperfections to which human nature is liable; but because it comes from heaven, it is true and divine. Nay, had it come from men in point of excellence as to its provisions, still it would have been defective, because it could not have been authoritative and binding. But its doctrines and duties are not proposed as the opinions of men, but as the infallible truth of God. It comes from heaven, clothed with the majesty of Him whose name it bears, enforced with all the authority of a divine law.
2nd. Its adaptation to the circumstances of mankind. It is not merely authoritative; it is a system of blessing; it is adapted to the circumstances of those to whom it comes.
"A medicine for our every wound,
All, all we want is there."