« VorigeDoorgaan »
Sweet is the peace which Christ bestows,
peace the worldling never knows;
grace and promise never cease,
XXIII.—THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this . grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”—Eph. iii. 8.
The work of conversion was never more wonderfully displayed than in Saul of Tarsus. The man who thought that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, and persecuting the followers of Christ, even unto death, boldly preached the faith which once he destroyed. From a proud Pharisee, he became, in his own eyes, less than the least of all saints; and from a reviler of the Gospel, and a despiser of the Gentiles, he was made a chosen vessel to proclaim the glad tidings of salva
tion before kings and rulers, and to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The heart of Paul was full of the loving-kindness of the Lord !-Language seemed too weak to express his debt of gratitude, or to speak his
Saviour's praise. Enlightened by the Spirit of Truth, he saw in Jesus all that was gracious and glorious. Christ was the theme on which he loved to dwell. Christ crucified was his glory. In the midst of philosophers, he determined to know nothing but Christ crucified. In the synagogues of the Jews, he feared not to declare, the only foundation of the sinner's hope, the only name whereby he could be saved. Christ crucified was the Alpha and Omega of his commission. He was sent, and he delighted in his mission, to preach both to Jews and Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ.
It had been well for the Christian Church, if all her ministers, in every succeeding age, had drank into the spirit of the Apostle, and made CHRIST CRUCIFIED the great subject of their preaching. Take this Truth away, and the key-stone is removed from the arch. The Church, destitute of this foundation, is built upon the sand. In this Truth, all the prophecies and promises unite: and from this Truth, as from a centre, all the consolations which gladden, and all the divine influences which purify the heart, proceed. The whole of Revelation, before the coming of Christ, was but an unfolding of the Covenant of grace. In the fulness of time Christ appeared as God manifest in the flesh. To him, who is the end of the Law for righteousness, gave all the prophets witness. He died upon the cross. He made an end of sin. He brought in everlasting righteous
He glorified the Love, Justice, and Holiness of God, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
How unsearchable are the riches of Christ. How wonderful, how surpassing all human conception are the mysteries of grace. Oh! that I could feel
soul softened under the beams of mercy, which emanate from Eternal love, and shine with so mild a glory in the person of Jesus Christ.
“Stronger his love than death and hell,
The first born sons of light,
The length, and breadth, and height." Nothing but sovereign grace and power me from sin and hell. When I look into my heart, what do I there behold ?-a den of wild beasts-a cage of unclean birds-a nest of vipers-a loathsome sepulchre. Pride turns from the view. Self-love sickens at the sight. Can I recover myself from this abject state. Alas! no! All ability to perform any thing that is good and acceptable to a holy God was lost in Adam, from whom I have derived a nature altogether sinful and corrupt. Power, indeed, I have to provoke my Creator, and to rebel against the sovereignty of God, but none to serve Him aright. What, then, can such a creature expect? Infinite justice demands my destruction to vindicate the holiness of God, whose law I have broken times without number. All excuses fail. In the bitterness of selfreproach I can only confess, that I have destroyed myself, that God is just, that I deserve to feel the heaviest stroke of his righteous indignation.
But, oh! my soul, contemplate the unsearchable riches of Christ, in extending a free unmerited pardon to thee; yea, even to thee; promising to blot out all thy sins, if thou wilt only believe in his word and trust in his grace. Lord, enable me to believe, to receive thee by a loving faith; to live upon thee day by day; yea, every fleeting moment, for strength to conquer my corruptions, to subdue my enemies, and to perfect holiness in thy fear. Put forth thy power in my soul. Dispel the mist of ignorance and error. Dissipate the dark cloud of doubts and fears. Arm me with strength for the performance of every duty, however arduous, and with might to withstand my spiritual foes, however violent their opposition. And oh! divine Saviour, complete the unsearchable riches of thy grace in the consummation of all felicity, even an everlasting deliverance from the guilt and
power of sin ; an everlasting enjoyment of thy glorious presence in heaven; an everlasting resemblance to all thy moral perfections; an everlasting union to all the blessed saints and angels; an everlasting separation from sorrow, pain, and death. Oh! may these unsearchable riches be my present and future portion ! May I know, and love, and serve thee here, and then see thee as thou art, and love and serve thee as I ought, in thy kingdom of bliss and glory.,
The unsearchable riches of Christ, which are the portion of every true believer, are neglected, forgotten, or despised by an unbelieving world. Pleasure, wealth, and power, form the world's trinity. Before these idols they bow down in adoration. All their thoughts, time, and talents are employed in their service. No sacrifice is deemed too great to obtain possession of these vanities. Thousands, who call themselves Christians, who have been baptised in the name of Christ, and who make a nominal profession of Christianity, worship these idols which Satan hath set up. Every thing to which we give the heart, becomes our idol. This was the sin of the Israelites of old :—They set up their idols in their heart.
The low views which men in general have of the infinite Holiness of God, is the chief reason why they consider sin as a light thing, and seldom trouble themselves about it till death opens their eyes, and the terrors of hell
them. Too many, alas ! even in their departing moments, feel in their death ; but die with the same unconcern in which they lived. The soul-destroying errors of Socinianism spring from this fatal source—inadequate
Ezek, xiv. 3.
views of the Justice and Holiness of Jehovah, and the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
The Holiness of God is one of his brightest attributes. Mercy may be withheld, as in the case of the fallen angels and impenitent sinners, “He took not on him the nature of angels."*
66 They are reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."t “My Spirit shall not always strive with man." | Justice, also, may be satisfied, and sheath the sword of vengeance. Christ suffered the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. But holiness cannot be dispensed with. This perfection of Deity is glorified both in the salvation of the believing penitent, and in the destruction of the wicked. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,” is the angelic note of praise ;—the adoring theme of the hierarchy of heaven.
At the Cross of Christ, Holiness shines forth in all its brightness; while love kindly raises the sinner from the lowest depths of wretchedness to the highest seat in glory: “ To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise."-Oh! my soul, stand still and behold the salvation of God.' Pray without ceasing, that these unsearchable riches of Christ may extend even to thee. Then shalt thou become a monument of redeeming grace, and mingle thy everlasting praises with the ransomed hosts above.
Blessed Jesus ! out of thy fulness may I daily receive wisdom and strength. The riches of thy grace are unsearchable, but not inaccessible. Never can I comprehend the height and depth of thy redeeming love, yet every moment I can taste its sweetness, and feel its sustaining power. Oh! how vast are thy designs, how glorious thy purposes, as revealed in the covenant of grace.--All is infinite. Thy love is an everlasting love. Thy covenant is an everlasting covenant. From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Oh! that my heart may now
+ Jude 6. # Gen. vi. 3.
Heb. ii. 16.