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heaven on all who are of the character described in my text.-Let us briefly consider these several offices.
1. Christ takes away the sin of those who truly repent and apply to him by faith. For he offered himself a victim to the justice of the Divine law. He made, by his one oblation of himself on the cross, once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. This sacrifice has been accepted by the Father, and the benefit of it is transferred to all those who repent and believe the Gospel. They are no longer captives detained legally or irreclaimably in bonds: "The prey is taken from the mighty. The lawful captive is delivered." The ransom is paid, and the price of redemption accepted in heaven.
2. They are freed also from the power of sin: And this not merely by the stronger motives to holiness which are proposed in the Gospel, or the more awful sanctions of the Divine law which Christ has set before us, but by the positive help which he communicates through his Spirit to all who believe on him. This is one of the distinguishing excellencies of the Christian dispensation. It not only forbids transgression, but assists and enables men to abstain from it. "This shall be the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."
3. It is the office of the Saviour to impart peace to the soul. And shall there not be peace, when the hope of pardon is granted, and when those corruptions, which are the bane of tranquillity, are restrained? Shall there not be peace, when the treasures of infinite love are opened to the soul, and it is recognized as a faithful saying, "that God so loved the world, as to give his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should have eternal life?" Shall there not be peace in the breast which feels the force of this inference, "He that spared not his own Son, how shall he
not with him also freely give us all things?" Shall there not be peace, when the conscience is at peace, when the passions are at peace, when the Gospel speaks peace, when God confirms peace to the soul? The Gospel is the ministration of peace. Peace is the legacy of Christ to his Church. "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you." "And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep the hearts and minds" of his people through Jesus Christ.
4. The title to a glorious inheritance is also conferred by him upon those that believe.-As in the year of jubilee, every inheritance which had been sold reverted to its original owners; as every debt was cancelled and every captive set free, so that then there was an end of bondage and poverty, of distress and disorder, and a new civil æra commenced;-in the same way does the Gospel proclaim a jubilee to repenting sinners. It institutes a new order of things for them; with new resources, and hopes, and privileges, and prospects: with deliverance from the thraldom in which they were involved; release from all debts which they had contracted; recovery of all rights which they had alienated; and restoration to their franchises and honours in heaven. Their sins are pardoned; their nature is renewed; their hearts are sanctified; they are restored to all which they had lost by the transgression of their first parent. Having been slaves, they are become sons. Having lived long as "aliens and strangers," they are now made "fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God."
Thus we see that Christ came upon earth to confer various important blessings upon mankind: but our title to these blessings depends upon our possessing the character to which they are appropriated; and our enjoyment of them, upon our embracing by faith that Gospel which is the medium by which they are communicated. We see, therefore, again, the evil of a careless disposition. It prevents attention to that Gospel by the knowledge and realizing apprehension of
which those blessings are conferred. At this season, then, in which we celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God, and meditate upon the hope set before us, let us pay particular attention to this point. Let us see that we have that humble penitent disposition which the Gospel requires. Let us learn to be thankful to God for his inestimable gift; thankful from the experience of its value, from the enjoyment of the freedom, peace, and hope which it communicates. These blessings are of the most valuable kind: they deserve the highest return of praise; they are a gift worthy of God, who bestowed, and of the astonishing means which were devised to convey them. But take these away, and the glory of the Gospel is departed. It sinks down to a mere system of ethics. It no longer answers to the title which it bears: "glad tidings of great joy." The characteristic title of "Saviour" becomes an empty name, and the whole system becomes little better than a modification of philosophy; a set of pure rules and decent ceremonies alone. But we have not so learned Christ.
I recommend, in a particular manner, the consideration of this subject to those persons, and I believe they are not a few, who are in some degree persuaded of their guilt and unworthiness, but who rest in that persuasion without taking any steps, at least any proper steps, to remove them. I say, without taking proper. steps; for there is an infinite variety of methods to which our minds will have recourse when the conscience is oppressed with guilt. I do not merely speak of listening to the suggestions of infidelity; or fleeing for refuge to dissipation or to vice; of studiously banishing all serious thought upon the subject. These are the resources of the disingenuous, and of the hardened sinner. But I speak rather of the palliatives, which many are disposed to apply,-remedies short of that which alone is complete and satisfactory. Such persons will acknowledge their guilt, but they flatter themselves that it may be less than their fears represent
it. They are not quite sure that they have not proposed an unnecessary degree of strictness: they think that God may prove more merciful than He is represented in the Scriptures; or they depend on good qualities to redeem bad actions, and are disposed to think their own both numerous and valuable. They promise yet greater amendment and a higher degree of purity hereafter; and thus, in any or all of these ways, they seek to obtain a peace which at the best is but short-lived and deceitful, and which will fail those who trust to it when they need it most. Believe me, my brethren, there is no solid peace to be found but in a sincere and faithful application to the Saviour. Extenuation of guilt, or confidence in our own power of amendment will but increase the evil. Dismiss such vain expectations. Come at once to Christ, as guilty and miserable sinners; confess to him your sin, and implore from him grace to know it better. Give up all subterfuges, and place your whole trust in the Saviour of sinners. In his promises, and in his intercession, you may find solid peace. And be persuaded, in applying to him, that it is his whole yoke which you must take upon you; that all partial reformation will be useless: you must become his disciples in spirit and in truth; nor can you enjoy any solid peace till this is the case. But when once the heart, abandoning its refuges of vanity and lies, is disposed cordially to embrace the Gospel-salvation, and to surrender itself wholly to Christ, then the promises of my text will be found true in their fullest extent. The broken hearted will be healed, deliverance will be granted to the captives, and a jubilee proclaimed to the destitute and hopeless. Then the benefits of this salvation will be clearly known; and they will be found to be worthy of all which has been done to procure them.
May we thus yield ourselves to God in Christ, that we may enjoy these benefits in time and through all eternity! Amen.
THE DUTY OF GLORIFYING GOD.
1 Cor. x. 31.
Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
ONE great object of religion is to bring men to a sense of the duty which they owe to God. It is declared of the unregenerate (as distinguished from the righteous,) that God is not in all their thoughts; that "they have no fear of God before their eyes;" that they are "without God in the world;" that they are "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." On the contrary, real Christians are described as living no longer to themselves, but unto God; as serving, fearing, and loving God; as putting their trust in him, and as doing every thing to his glory.
The precept, therefore, which is given in my text is not to be viewed as a mere command to practise any particular branch of virtue, but rather as an exhortation to adopt and employ that general principle of true religion which will not only direct to all virtue, but sanctify even the common actions of life.