« PreviousContinue »
I have no disposition to overstate this matter. But unless holy precepts, to work out a righteousness which should be you do discern your actual state by nature, and become ac- imputed to all, and put upon all that believe. He voluntarily quainted with your necessities, it is vain to point your notice assumed your guilt to be laid upon himself, that he might to the provisions which the gospel has made for your rescue bear its curse. This has been done. If, now, you will thankand relief.
fully accept his righteousness, to be laid upon you, the work We cannot better illustrate the natural condition of fallen of the Son of man for you will be accomplished, and your man than by comparing it with the actual condition of fallen inconceivable load of guilt shall be carried away to a land of angels. They contracted guilt and were unable to remove utter forgetfulness. it. They lost the divine image in which they were created, In this great offering of the Son of man, he has restored and were unable to restore it; and having no provision made the relation of peace between God and your souls. He has for them by God himself, they are left to endure the penalty thus rendered God's purposes of love to you perfectly conof their transgression in endless, irremediable misery. I sistent with the holiness, justice and faithfulness of his own know not that there is a shadow of difference between us and character. He has silenced the denunciations of the offended them in this respect, except so far as the sovereign grace of law; he has satisfied the utmost claims of divine majesty ; God in which they found no interest, has interposed for us. and has done every thing which is necessary to be done beThis, I believe, to be the very truth before God; and all the yond the limits of your own perverted hearts, to save you difference between us and them, is the difference which grace from your lost and ruined state. Having thus opened a perhas made.
fect and sufficient way to rescue your souls from the everlastBut if this truth were really felt among you, our work, in ing punishment of sin, he is now able to apply to each of establishing the truth of the gospel, would have no difficul-you, for the conversion and cleansing of your individual ties to encounter. It is the pride of your hearts which inter- hearts, the full atonement which he has made. poses the great obstacle to your acceptance of the gospel. 2. For the exceeding sinfulness and depravity of your You are so averse to see your necessities, so disposed to hearts, the gospel provides the influence and power of the contend for some remnant of goodness or power in yourselves, Holy Spirit, the third person of the blessed Trinity, whose which shall lessen your obligations to God, that the provisions grace is freely offered to you to bring back your affections of the Son of man are shut out from you and despised. But unto God, and to renew you in holiness after the divine could you feel and acknowledge yourselves to be wholly lost, image. and for ever lost, you would be ready to hear of a Saviour To save you from your native enmity to God, by the power with thankfulness, and to embrace with anxious desire the of this Spirit it takes away your evil hearts of unbelief, salvation which has been provided for you in the gospel. gives you a spirit of submission to the divine will, and You would rejoice that “the Son of man had come to seek causes you once more to render unto God that which is his and to save that which was lost."
II. We will proceed to consider the means which the gospel. To supply your utter incapability to restore the divine has provided for your deliverance from this lost condition. image to your souls, it works within you by the same Spirit
The object of the Saviour is a single object; it is “ to seek both to will and to do. It thus reveals the Saviour to your and to save that which is lost.” Every other purpose which acceptance, and fulfils the good pleasure of his grace, in the gospel accomplishes, and every other aspect under which your final salvation. the Saviour is presented, is subordinate to this. As a teacher The difficulties which your lost condition opposes to your of morals, a revealer of wisdom, a guide in life, the character salvation beyond your own hearts, the gospel provides for in of the Lord Jesus is honourable and comforting. But all the infinitely sufficient mediation of God the Son; and the these characteristics and offices are merged in that one glo- difficulties which arise from this lost condition within yourrious, indispensable character; "a Saviour to the chief of sin- selves, the gospel removes by the power and operation of This is the character which the text presents.
God the Holy Spirit. The first object of Jesus was to seek a world that was lost; As, when you were all without strength, Christ died for a world that had started out as it were from its proper orbit the ungodly, and thus came to seek and to save a world of submission to God, and had wandered off, unknowing and which was lost; so while you are individually dead in tresunknown, in regions of everlasting darkness and despair. pass and sins, the Holy Spirit comes as the great gift of Christ Like the shepherd, whose ninety-and-nine sheep had re- to apply the work which he has finished to your souls, and mained in his protection, while one only had gone astray, thus as the great agent to the Son of man, to seek and to save Jesus left the innumerable hosts of beings who still owned each individual sinner among you from his lost estate. his just dominion, and came to look for this one poor race of This last provision of the gospel for the attainment of its creatures, that in the wonderful method which he had de-great object, is as full and sufficient as the former, which we vised, he might save them from destruction, and bring them have already considered. back to acknowledge and to delight in the holy government Your personal inability to save yourselves is an entire of their Creator.
inability, though it be the result of sin, and no imperfection Having visited and found this alienated world, his next in the original constitution of man. So far as relates to any object was to save it; to put an instant stop to the course of spiritual feeling or power, you are naturally utterly destitute condemnation and ruin; to arrest all proceedings of violated of both, and are dead in your sins. justice, and to subdue the purpose of rebellion which actuated In this condition, the Son of man comes by his Spirit to the heart of man. In the accomplishment of this end, he has seek and to save you. This Almighty Spirit quickens you rendered the forgiveness of man consistent with the character by his divine power; and it is by this power alone, the of God, and has provided means to reconcile the alienated power which raised Christ himself from the dead, that any heart of man to God, from whom it had been averted. one of your souls can attain the least disposition to serve
In its pursuit of this grand object, the gospel has made and honour God. Having quickened or awakened your every provision which the lost condition of your souls de- souls, the Holy Spirit discovers to you the extent of your mands. And it offers to your acceptance a salvation in every wants, and humbles you under a sense of them; he then respect honourable to God, and adapted to your utmost wants. stirs you up to cry after God; he then reveals the Saviour
1. For the inconceivable guilt which presses down your to your view, enables you to exercise faith in him, and to souls in death, the gospel has provided a substitute and surety receive him in the gracious offices which he sustains for you. in the person of God's dear Son. He has given himself a Having done this, he fills you with a principle of love to ransom for all. He came as the Son of man to stand in the Christ, and constrains you to devote yourselves to him. sinner's place. He was born of a pure virgin, that he might. From this, he gives you ability progressively to mortify be a partaker of the nature of man, while he should not par- the indwelling power of sin, to honour the Saviour who hath take of his guilt or inherit his corruption. Of all our sinless called you by a holy conversation; and from day to day he infirmities he was made the subject; but in regard to our transforms you more entirely after the image of Christ, and corruption of nature, he was free from sin. He was a victim renders you meet to become partakers of the inheritance of without spot and blemish; and having no sins in himself to the saints in light. He is thus sent as the great instrument demand atonement, he could make himself an offering for the of God, to apply individually to your souls the perfect and sins of others. In his sacred person were united both God all-sufficient redemption which the Son of man has wrought and man: and having humbled himself to death, even the death out for you: and under the gracious provisions of the gosof the cross, for us, God“ laid on him the iniquities of us all.” pel, you have access through Jesus Christ by one Spirit unto For you he suffered, for you he bore the penalties of the the Father. broken law, which, without his merciful intervention, you In the means of deliverance which are thus provided for would have suffered in eternity: and for you he obeyed its your free acceptance, the gospel accomplishes its one great
THE GOSPEL WAY OF SALVATION.
object; “to seek and to save that which is lost.”. These upon the earth. Home, children, friends, comforts and joys, means are perfectly sufficient for the end designed; they all crowd into his bewildered mind. But these are gone. supply every possible want; they meet every possible de- He shall see them no more. He is lost, and many a heart is ficiency; they come up boldly to face all opposition: and swelling with anguish at the fear he will return no more forthe sinner who is willing to embrace them, finds them ever. No sound arrests his ear but the desert's blast, or the ministering to his soul a full and final salvation.
wild beast's roar; and hope, and peace, and reason too, have Let it be remembered that the single object of the gospel taken their flight from his disordered mind. in reference to yourselves, is your everlasting salvation from But would you complete this picture of woe? See, a a condition of utter ruin and death. Every other purpose messenger of kindness comes to this lost man to tell him which it attains in accomplishing this is partial and unpro- of a path to his home, and to lead him back to its secure fitable, if this be not attained. If in this life only, you have repose. He wakes him from his dream, intreats him to hope in Christ, you are of all men most miserable. To arise and go with him, assures him that he will lead him in attain this great object of your salvation from ruin, it provides safety to his own abode, and with a thousand words of syma perfect atonement and righteousness in the Lord Jesus to pathy and love intercedes with him for his own deliverance. reconcile God to you, and the all-powerful sanctifying in- But reason and feeling and recollection have gone, and fluences of the divine Spirit to reconcile you to God. It though he is lost, he refuses to hearken to his guide. He declares to you, that God has accepted the mediation of the will listen for a moment to his kind offer and then lie Son of man, and is reconciled to you; and it asks if you will down in the madness of despair, finally to perish, and turn accept it also, by the power which is given you from on a deaf ear to every intreaty and remonstrance. You pity high, and be reconciled to him? Whenever you are indi- the image which fancy has created, but you are lost, and vidually ready to do this, the great object of the gospel has will not pity the actual miseries of your own ruined, deserted been attained, and the Son of man has sought and saved that souls, nor allow the Son of man, this messenger of mercy, to which was lost.
bring you back to his Father's house in peace. III. In concluding my remarks upon this important subject, I must ask you to examine with the utmost fidelity, how far this object has been attained among you.
“ The Son of man has come to seek and to save," this whole congregation of sinners, pressing forward to the judgment seat of God. Had the gospel produced its proper effect, there would not be in this assembly one transgressor still
LECTURE XI. alienated from God through the blindness of his mind. But alas, how far are we from this result! what mean the number of slaves to the world, of captives to Satan, to whom the solemn voice of the Almighty God this night comes in the By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves : warnings of his word? What mean the giddy children of it is the gift of God.--EPHESIANS 11. 8. folly and mirth, for whom hell has opened her mouth, and still enlarges herself without measure? Whence the swarm The great object of the gospel is the eternal salvation of of infidel hearts that yet lift up themselves in rebellion man. To accomplish this object has been the design of the against the Creator of heaven and earth ? O, how very Son of God in all that he has done and suffered and taught. partially has the great object of the gospel been attained The accomplishment of this purpose is all that man requires. among you ! Could I go from soul to soul before me, and Let the sinner be saved, and he may be happy in the prospect see the mark of God's infallible determination of character of it, though he be poor and deeply afflicted with the trials of rise upon your foreheads as I approached each ; upon what this world. Let him live and die without the prospect of numbers should I read that solemn word, Lost, Lost! in this salvation, and all the wealth and indulgence of the many cases, perhaps, beyond the reach of recovery! and world cannot purchase for him the comfort which he wants. what would be the probable result-but, that the greater The few years of his existence here are but of small importion of this assembly of immortal beings would be pro-portance. Whether they pass away in sorrow or in joy, claimed to be still under the wrath of God and without hope they will soon pass, and their pains and pleasures will be in the world? This fact is awful; is it a fact? Am I now alike forgotten. addressing hundreds who are denying the Lord that bought So far as this life is concerned, it would be reasonable in them, and bringing upon their souls a swift destruction ? you to dismiss anxiety and care. But you have to die; and And are you careless and unconcerned under such views of after death, the judgment; and after the judgment, eternity. your character and condition? Do you feel nothing? Have These claim your notice and consideration. Seventy years you no desire to be brought back to the fold of Jesus? of life you may be allowed to despise; but the countless Have you no wish to be saved in the day of his power ? ages of your future existence you cannot despise. For them Will you choose as your portion, the darkness and despair the great question is to be settled, and to be settled here, in which unpardoned sin will inevitably involve you? I do Shall you be saved or lost? ask you honestly and affectionately, will you determine to The object of the gospel of Jesus is to settle this all. drive the Son of God from your souls, and lie down upon the important question. It is to save you with an everlasting unbeliever's everlasting bed ?
salvation. But how you shall be saved, how you shall esI would speak to you, as a poor sinful creature, with humil- cape the just judgment of God, and come before his spotless ity and tenderness; but I would speak to you also, as the throne in peace, forms another question, which the gospel minister of God to you for good, with authority and much alone can determine. assurance; I warn the multitude of dying and yet uncon- To answer this momentous question is my purpose at this verted sinners to whom I speak, that they cannot escape the time, while I bring before you, as the subject of the present just judgment of God; I call upon you in the name of the discourse, the gospel way of sulvation. glorious Redeemer, who desires not your death, to awake You find yourselves by nature in a state of utter ruin and from the ruinous delusion which you are playing upon your condemnation. You have no peace with God, and no comown hearts. Lay up no more sorrow for the last days. Be fort or hope in yourselves. Eternity is filled with the blackno longer infatuated with the false promises of the destroyer. ness of darkness forever; and you see that you shall have The Son of man has sought you, O shall he not be allowed no hope when God takes away your soul. God in his to save you and bless you with peace ? Every thing is wait- righteous indignation against you is a consuming fire, and ing the result of your own determination; heaven and hell you feel that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the are suspended upon a moment's choice: and this night you living God. But how you shall escape his anger, and be either go back with the shepherd to the fold, or you bind made secure from the proper consequences of your own sins, yourself the more irrevocably to the power of Satan. is a matter utterly beyond your power to determine. It is a
Poor deluded sinner, lost ! O, how much is meant by matter which would have remained a mystery hidden in God that one word lost. The man has wandered from his home, forever, had it not pleased him, in the riches of his grace, to the shadows of the evening are stretched out, the coming reveal it to you in the gospel of his Son. darkness hurries on despair. Alone in a wilderness, wearied To the decision of this matter, the present text comes with with the day's anxiety and fatigue, with no track to lead him the wisdom of God, and it answers as from the very throne to his home, no prospect of repose but on the bosom of the of the Most High to every question and every doubt, “ By desert, no shelter for the night but the chill atmosphere of grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves ; his solitude, with what feverish delirium he throws himself it is the gift of God.”
In considering this subject, the text presents three natural|you all as the chief of sinners, and presents the full glories divisions in the three assertions which it makes :
of its salvation as honestly to one as to another, asking no1. “ By grace are yo saved," as the cause and instrument. thing but your thankful acceptance of the gift which it offers. II. “ 'Through faith," as the method.
2. But how shall you accept this gift, and apply this free III. And " The gift of God," as the origin.
salvation to your own souls? The text answers you under the I. “By grace ye are saved."
second aspect, “Ye are saved by grace.” The Holy Ghost When our thoughts and desires are first turned to the must come upon you, and the power of the Highest overshaglorious blessings of the gospel, and we ask with the jailor dow you, before, in the acceptance of this salvation, you can at Phillipi, “What shall we do to be saved ?" probably in be created anew after the divine image, and be made the sons all instances the first idea which occurs to the mind is, that of God. A real conviction of your sinfulness and danger is we must do something, in order that we may in some way the result of his power. He gives a true repentance for sin; merit and earn the salvation which we want. The perform- he leads your hearts to the Prince and Saviour who has been ance of some particular duty, the hearing of some particular exalted to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. He bepreacher, the reading of some designated book, the new stows upon you that new heart and new nature which is proobedience of our life, or even our own grief and sorrow for mised in the covenant that God hath made with his people sin, are suggested to our minds as a price which we must under the gospel. His power is all-sufficient, and it is alone pay for the blessing which we want; and it is sometimes sufficient to create in you the gracious dispositions and long before we are willing to trust ourselves to the free and character which God is ready to accept. sovereign grace of God, to be saved in the way which When you are dead in your sins, he awakens you to life. shall seem best in his sight. The salvation of the gospel is While you are infirm and feeble, he sustains and strengthens altogether a salvation by gracc. The term grace is used you. He leads you to the fountain of living waters, and generally to convey two distinct meanings; the one of which clothes you with a new and divine life; and from the first is a consequent upon the other. It means the original un- hour of your spiritual existence to the hour of eternal trimerited favour or mercy of God, from which our salvation umph by the grace of God, you are what you are. has flowed as the cause, and the influence of the Holy The gospel requires no human power in the work of your Spirit, by which that salvation is applied to us, as the salvation. 'It depends not, in any degree, upon your own instrument.
wisdom or strength, or determination. It demands nothing When we say "ye are saved by grace,” we mean to as- of you which it does not promise to work within you, so sert that your salvation flows exclusively from the unmerited that from the divine fulness you may receive grace upon mercy of God, which has provided and offered a Saviour, grace. When it commands you to repent or believe, or be and that it is applied to you exclusively by the new creating obedient to God, it has before offered to your acceptance power of the Holy Ghost, who takes of the things of Christ, the very gracious qualities which it requires you to exercise; and shows them unto you and enables you to believe in your and there is not a single quality which it calls for that can hearts on him.
flow from any other source than its own sufficiency. The first aspect of the text declares ye are saved by grace, This view of the gospel way of salvation is most imto the exclusion of all human merit, in the purchase of your portant, and cannot be too deeply impressed upon your salvation. The second, ye are saved by grace, to the exclu- minds. The Saviour asks from you nothing but what he sion of all human power, in applying this salvation unto you, first offers to give you. There is not a grace in the reand in converting you unto God.
newed heart which has proceeded from any other power. Let these two be distinctly considered :
The same spirit upholds and sanctifies the steadfast be1. The gospel teaches us, that we are saved by the free liever, which consoled and transformed at first the penitent grace and unmerited mercy of God, to the exclusion of every transgressor. The gospel will set none of you up upon an thought of human works or deservings. The idea of merit independent stock of grace. Your manna must fall every in a fallen and imperfect being is entirely absurd. Con- morning, and be gathered before the sun is hot. Your sider the situation of our first parents after their disobe-barrel and your cruse shall never fail, but they shall never be dience, and what could they do to recommend themselves to filled. As your day is, and only so, shall be your strength; the favour of the God against whom they had offended? I and you might as well close the shutters of your house to will not ask what they could do to merit the gift of God's keep the light of the sun which you have received, as think dear Son and the influences of the Holy Spirit upon their of retaining grace and strength when cut off from immediate souls, for it is obvious that no thought of the possibility of and uninterrupted communication with the great source of such a method of restoration could, by any means, enter into both. You will live only while Christ lives in you; and their minds. But what single personal act or service from the first to the last, the work of your sanctification is could they render to God for which he should be induced to all divine, and the glory belongs entirely to God. pardon their disobedience and restore them to his favour? The gospel way of salvation is in these two aspects a What can the fallen angels now do to restore the image and salvation by grace, to the exclusion of human merit and hufavour of God to themselves ? and they are as capable of man power. The provisions which it had made earning their salvation as is any unconverted sinner upon to accept, and then promises and gives you the power to the earth.
receive them. The full foundation for your hope was laid But it may still be said, that since God has mercifully when the Prince of Life offered himself upon the cross as a bestowed a Saviour upon us, we should do something to de-sacrifice for your sins. You will be able to build securely serve his favour, or to repay him for his kindness. I would upon this foundation when the Spirit of God shall be alask, then, what can we do? “ Without him we can do no- lowed to lead you back from your love and pursuit of sin, thing." And if the communication of his grace must pre- to acknowledge and receive him as your righteousness cede every good act in us, it will be self-evident that we can and peace. do nothing to deserve it; and must be dependant upon God's The text yet more definitely points you to this way of sovereign pleasure for the ability both to will and to do. salvation, wherrit goes on to state the method in which you
The truth is, as the first gift of a dying Saviour sprung may be interested in it. from God's unmerited love, so must our salvation by him in II. “ Ye are saved by grace through faith." all its parts. We have nothing to offer him. All our suffi- Every gracious provision of the gospel is made independciency is of God ; and render him what we will, we only ent of ourselves ; and the work of our salvation is accomrender him that which is his own.
plished when we are finally interested in those abundant The gospel opens to us, therefore, a way of salvation per- provisions for our wants which God offers us in the gospel fectly free. It has provided every thing which our souls can When we are united to Christ, we are partakers of his abunwant; and having made such abundant provisions, it asks dant mercy; our sins are pardoned through his atonement; us to receive them without money and without price. Its our souls are justified through his obedience; and because salvation is clogged with no conditions. Accept it as the he lives, we shall live also. While all these provisions are gift of God to those who are perishing, and it is your own beyond ourselves, it is by faith alone that we can be interfor ever. The depth of your sinfulness forms no difficulty. ested in them. The foundation is laid; it is perfect; it is Salvation is as freely offered to the pirate in his dungeon, as all-sufficient. Whether we believe or not, it remains the to him ho is, in morality of conduct, not far from the king- same. God cannot deny himself. Would you then be dom of God. Whosoever will, may take a blessing, to made partakers of that grace whereby you may be saved, which man can add nothing, and for which man give no- you must believe God's record respecting his dear Son; and thing. Whatever you have been, whatever you have done, then look to him for the communication of his purchased the gospel does not ask a question about it. It addresses benefits to yourselves. You must rest yourselves with con
fidence upon that unmerited love of God which has offered studes of men who have opposed this casting down of human you salvation, and that all-powerful influence of his Spirit merit and ascription of all praise and glory to the grace of which may apply this salvation unto you. There is no other God; still the Bible teaches the same thing, and the plain conceivable method in which you may obtain an interest in and simple way of salvation which it first laid open to sinthe mercies which God has treasured up in Jesus Christ; ners it lays open now; and it seems to me that nothing can and if you look through the scriptures, you will find that be more plain and evident, and intelligible, than is this way your simple faith in the power and promises of Christ is the of salvation which the gospel offers. While on the one side only instrument ever spoken of there, as the one which shall there is a poor wretched creature, wanting in every thing and secure to you the work which he has finished. If I have having nothing to give, on the other there is a bountiful Sovetreasured up in my house abundant provisions for the desti- reign and Lord, who offers every thing freely, and asks no tute, which I offer freely to their use if they will receive price from the subject of grace. them, how can they obtain the blessing but by believing that The gospel is provided in all its operations as a remedy it is there, and will indeed be bestowed, and then asking in for existing evil, and as such it is in every part exclusively this spirit of faith for the bestowal? God's treasures are laid " the gift of God.” up for you. They are not now to be made, or to be increased Let us come back to consider the actual state of a fallen in any degree by all that you can do. Believe that they are being, the actual condition of your own souls by nature, and there, believe that they are all-sufficient, believe that they you will find yourselves to be entirely in a guilty, polluted will indeed be bestowed, and then ask them with the desire and helpless condition. In this state of spiritual ruin, God of faith, and you shall not be sent empty away.
has provided for you a remedy; and he both inclines and It is true you are required to repent, and to obey the com-enables you to apply that remedy. For your guilt he apmandments of God, in a new life of holiness; but these are plies to you the atoning blood of Christ; for your pollution the results of a true faith. You can have no repentance unto and weakness he sends the Holy Spirit, to begin and carry on salvation without believing in him whom you have pierced, a work of grace within your hearts. By looking to Christ that he may give it to you. You cannot obey a single com- you may obtain peace with God and in your own conscience; mand but by his power dwelling within you; and these gra- and by yielding yourselves to the influences of God's Holy cious dispositions and habits, instead of purchasing salvation Spirit, you may become renewed and sanctified in all your for you, are themselves a part, and a most important part, of powers. Your renovated health will begin immediately to that very salvation which is offered to you in the Lord Jesus appear. You will be enabled to mortify all your former corChrist as the purchase of his cross.
ruptions, and to walk holily, justly and unblamably before Do you ask for a godly sorrow for sin ? for a total subjec- God and man, and will become gradually transformed into tion of your unholy affections ? for the dominion of holiness the divine image in righteousness and true holiness. But to and love within your hearts? May not Jesus reply to every what then shall be ascribed the nge which has taken request, “ Believest thou that I am able to do this ?" And place within you? Will it not be altogether owing to the will not his bestowal of them, and of every thing accompa- remedy which God has prescribed and enabled you to apply? nying salvation, depend upon the answer which your con- To your latest hour you will continue to apply the same sciences would be obliged to render to a question like this ? remedy; for through the whole of this life you will be only Only believe, we may still say to you, and these and all convalescent and not perfectly recovered ; and when in the other mercies shall be bestowed. The treasury of God's full establishment of your spiritual health, in the heavenly love, in which attribute the scripture says he is "rich," is inheritance, you will tell the history of your restoration to freely open to you. Every thing which you want is there ; the sole honour of that Almighty Physician who visited you and a coming thither with faith will show you such provi- in your lost estate, and brought a balm which was adequate sions of grace as pass“ man's understanding. You can pur- to your need. chase nothing, you can render nothing, you can offer nothing. Now is not this perfectly plain and simple ? Is it not exWhen you are by faith vitally interested in Christ, you will actly the gift which every sinner wants for the peace of his want nothing more. You will find no deficiency for your mind and for the sanctification and salvation of his soul ? own power to supply. While he dwells within you by Yet in this representation all is of grace. Both the Saviour faith, every holy trait, every lovely disposition, every spi- himself, and unmerited salvation through him, are the free ritual habit, every heavenly desire, shall spring and rise, and gift of God; and not according to works of righteousness flourish and spread abroad in your hearts and character, from which we have done, but according to his mercy we are Christ who dwelleth in you. But until by faith you yield saved by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of to him, you are dead in your sins; and a naturally dead man the Holy Ghost. might as justly be expected to rise up and offer a price for I have thus endeavoured to set before you the gospel way of that life, the possession of which was implied in his very salvation. You find it a way perfectly adapted to your powrising, as you expect to offer anything but a depraved, cor-ers and to your necessities. It calls for your sincere thankrupted and dead spirit, upon which Christ may show the fulness to God, who has been willing to provide it, and your power of his grace. You must be saved by grace, and that cordial acceptance of the gift, while it is so freely presented. grace shall be applied to your souls by faith ; and even here But all will be of no avail to you unless you embrace with again, to take away all pride and glorying from yourselves, rejoicing, the remedy which is thus presented. Let not the the grace and faith and every mercy, spring not from your-subject, therefore, be allowed to rest in your understandings selves; they are all “ the gift of God," a gift to those who unfruitful and barren. Seek to have your hearts interested are poor and destitute and perishing in their
in it; hear the voice of the Spirit, which says to you, “ This III. “ The gift of God.”* This last assertion does not refer is the way, walk ye in it;" and turn not to the right hand or particularly to the faith which is required before, but to the to the left. whole salvation by grace of which the text speaks. Every In concluding the remarks which I have now to make, let part of man's salvation is equally a free gift. The original me beseech you to seek a deep acquaintance with your real purpose to save, the glorious sacrifice which has been made, state before God, and the application to yourselves of the the offer of that sacrifice to you, the acceptance of it by your gracious remedy which is offered you in the gospel. hearts, and the peace and holiness which this acceptance Had you but a due preparation of heart for the reception gives, are alike the results of a principle of love in God, of the gospel, were you truly convinced of your unworthiness which looks to no merit, or strength, or recompense, in the and danger, the glad tidings of salvation would distil as the ereatures to whom the gift is made.
dew upon your souls, as the showers that water the mown The same determinate counsel and purpose of divine grass. Did you feel that the sorrows of death compassed mercy which delivered up a Saviour to be crucified for you, you about, and the pains of hell had got hold upon you in the will, in the last day, finish your salvation by crowning you deep and piercing sense of your own guilt, the sound of with him. Your last breath will be as much dependant upon salvation purchased by our incarnate God would transport him as your first; and eternity will be spent, not in personal your souls, as it did the angels, when they sung, “Glory to congratulations upon your own strength or wisdom or per-God in the highest; and on earth, peace, good will towards severance, but in raptured hallelujahs of thanksgiving to him men." Unspeakable joy would spring up in your hearts who has loved you and given himself for you, and washed from the thought of an indwelling God, undertaking your you from your sins in his own blood, and redeemed you cause and working effectually upon yo souls. The great from every kindred and tongue, and people and nation, to and universal reason why you hear the gracious invitations make you kings and priests unto God for ever.
and promises of the gospel so inattentively, and with so litAlthough the truths which I have here presented to you have tle effect upon your characters, is, that you are not convinced been controverted in every age, and there have been multi- of your danger. You do not feel and mourn over your lost condition. “They that are whole need not a physician.")
. The Redeemer was not yet born in the lowly nature which Because so many of you believe yourselves to be whole, the he had assumed. But the faith of Zacharias was led forremedy is heedlessly rejected, and your souls are left to ward to him, when it is more than probable that none of his perish. O that God would tear off from your hearts the veil auditors, beside his own wife, understood the allusions which which Satan and the world are uniting to weave over you, he made. “Blessed,” he says “be the Lord God of Israel, and make you to see the pollutions which are there open to for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised his view! Why are you so anxious to deceive yourselves up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant Dain this matter? There is a day before you when hell shallvid." In the figurative language of the Israelites, a horn imbe naked, and destruction shall have no covering; when every plies great strength, and in the text, “ a horn of salvation," is false excuse shall fail, and every extenuating plea shall be a strong salvation; an all-sufficient salvation; a salvation to come utterly useless; and when, though discovery shall be the uttermost; or, as in our prayer-book, “a mighty salvaperfect, it shall be too late to be beneficial. If you are in- tion," because accomplished by the mighty God of Israel, solvent and ruined, why attempt to delude yourselves with although he stooped to be a babe in the family of his servant the contrary belief? But are you not? Then Jesus is no David. The reference of this high title, “The Lord God Saviour to you. You may as profitably own Mahomet or OF ISRAEL,” to the child who was to be born of Mary, beBrahma for your Lord as Jesus. He will not, he cannot save comes evident in the succeeding verses of the hymn, in which you till you feel yourselves to be lost. I pray you look at Zacharias addresses himself to his own child, whom he now your characters in the mirror of God's infallible word; and held up in dedication unto God, “And thou, child, shalt be while he proclaims that you have altogether gone out of the called the prophet of the highest, for thou shalt go before the way, acknowledge the truth of his representation, and be face of the Lord to prepare his ways;” and this perfectly willing that he should bring you back to himself in peace. corresponds with the statement of the angel before the birth
Upon this deep acquaintance with your own character and of John, “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from state alone, can be built a proper acceptance of the gospel. his mother's womb, and many of the children of Israel shall However your understandings may be enlightened with a he turn to the Lord their God, and he shall go before him," knowledge of the gospel way of salvation, it will profit you the Lord God of Israel, in the spirit of Elias, to turn the hearts nothing while this knowledge is merely speculative. Though of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisthe patient in the hospital might deliver a lecture upon his dom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. own disease, and the adaptation of the remedy to his want, it The great event for which Zacharias thus praises God, would avail but little should he still refuse to apply the was the incarnation of the Lord God of Israel; the whole remedy to himself. If you neglect the gracious remedy of sum and substance of the gospel. This raising up a mighty the gospel, or substitute any other in its stead, you do so to salvation in the family of David, in the birth of him who your eternal ruin. I beseech you to look to Christ for the was to be the Saviour of the world, Zacharias says was a fuljustification, and to the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of filment of all the divine promises of salvation to the people your souls. In no other conceivable method can you find sal- of Israel. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath vation from the condemnation of the law, the bondage of sin, visited and redeemed his people, as he spake by the mouth of and the everlasting punishment of hell. There is no other his holy prophets, which have been since the world began." name given for salvation, but the name of Jesus, and that This incarnation and suffering of the Son of God, is the subname is worse than useless to you, unless it be permitted to ject of the gospel. This gospel has been proclaimed by the dwell in your heart, as your hope and comfort. Yield your inspired prophets of God, from the beginning of the world. selves to his power. Be willing to be saved by grace through The interesting subject which I now propose to you, the hisfaith, and so receive the unspeakable gift of God, that history of the gospel, will lead me, first, cursorily to trace these power may operate within you, to bring you home to that different publications of the gospel to men, from the earliest fold of ransomed sinners which is under one shepherd, Jesus ages of the world, in order to show that the great truth upon Christ, the Great Bishop and Shepherd of souls.
which we rest our hope, the incarnation of a mighty Saviour,
From the day of man's fall from God one great plan has
and divine mercy. This one plan is the redemption of the LECTURE XII.
world, by our Lord Jesus Christ. For this the earth and
men have been suffered to exist. For this the mighty revoTHE HISTORY OF THE GOSPEL.
lutions of the sons of men have been overruled. For this the
least event in the life of each individual subject of redempBlessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and re-tion is made to operate; and all things work together for deemed his people.
this unspeakable good to those who love God, who are called As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been according to his purpose. since the world began.-ST. LUKE 1. 68 and 70.
The scriptures teach us that all the various parts of man's
salvation have been devised from the foundation of the world. In one previous discourse I have considered the great ob- The great covenant of redemption between the persons of the ject which the gospel designs to accomplish, which is to seek Deity, in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and to save that which is lost. In another I have spoken of united to bring back the captives of Satan, was made before the way which the gospel lays open for the attainment of the world was created. The great sacrifice which the law this object, which is by grace through faith, as the gift of God. demanded, and which this covenant of redemption provided,
Before I proceed to consider several distinct attributes and was then appointed, and Jesus is called the Lamb, slain from characteristics of the gospel, I wish in my present discourse the foundation of the world. The book of life was then to set before you the history of the gospel. By this expression prepared, and the saints are said to be those who are written I do not mean the narrative of facts which the writings of the in the Lamb's book from the foundation of the world. The Evangelists contain, but the history of the gospel itself, as everlasting home for the saints was then provided; for thus a dispensation to man, showing its origin and its progress, in says Jesus of the redeemed, “ Then shall the king say to the clear manifestations of its grace to those for whom it was them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my father, designed since the fall of man.
receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundaAs an appropriate introduction to this subject, I have setion of the world.” The view which is thus presented of lected my text from the sacred hymn which Zacharias uttered the great salvation of the gospel, is high and comforting. at the circumcision of his son. This hymn was uttered by For the everlasting good of the feeblest Christian, the power the immediate inspiration of God, for it is said, " that Zacha- of Almighty God has been exerted from the beginning of the rias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied” in the world; and the gospel, which in its rich and attractive invidivine language which is here contained. Every assertion tations is preached to us, is the simple, but glorious intelliof necessity which this hymn makes, must be infallible and gence of that which occupied the wisdom and the love of eternal truth.
heaven, before this world was formed. The son of Zacharias was to be the forerunner of the Lord. The redeeming visit of the Lord God of Israel, of which Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world; and on the occasion Zacharias speaks, was planned and determined before the creof his public dedication to God, his father prophesied of the ation, and has been announced as the object of faith to the character and work of that Saviour before whom he was to people of God, in every age since the world began. This I be sent.
will proceed to exhibit to you, and may your hearts unite