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blessings will be granted, in that measure which is conducive to their best interests. Add to this, that foretaste of heavenly pleasures enjoyed by the Christian', and it will be easy to account for the language of St. Paul, when he says, "Eye hath not seen, nor ́ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them
unto us by his Spirit"." Believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory".
It is not, however, till this life is ended, that the felicity of the people of God is complete. Here they share with others the sorrows attendant on a state which sin has embittered. Soon, however, they will be brought into the actual possession of heaven, which in this life they have but obscurely seen through the glass of faith. And if the indistinct vision of it, at such a distance, occasions so much satisfaction, oh! what ineffable bliss will hereafter result from fully realizing it in endless perpetuity! "Happy are the people that are in such a case; yea, blessed are they who have the Lord for their God"."
5. Contrast, with the delightful prospects of a Christian Believer, the sinful and unhappy condition of one who is ignorant of God. Every service performed by him is unprofitable to himself, and unacceptable to God; because it does not spring from faith and love, which are essentially necessary to constitute a religious act worthy of the Divine notice PP; for, except obedience arises from love to God, it is but a bodily worship, wasting itself in empty forms and ceremonies".
Nor is this all: in such a state, whatever a mani think to the contrary, he has no real enjoyment in life, nor any just expectation of good hereafter. Sorrow and destruction await him, if he goes down into the grave in a state of enmity with his Maker: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God"."
To avert this dreadful calamity, pray, all ye who are far off from righteousness, that you may become the children of grace by regeneration. God is the only true source of happiness. They who know him, have "a joy which the stranger intermeddleth not with." You are invited to partake of the blessing. Christ is ready to save you. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"." A sense of want on the one hand, and of danger on the other, should urge you to strive after the possession of a benefit so important and durable.
6. Do you desire, then, that a spiritual change may be wrought in you? Have you the least wish to cast away your past insensibility, and to live to the honour of God? Then listen to the encouraging invitation of Gospel mercy. Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." He is able to quicken you, and by his Spirit to infuse the breath of heavenly life into your souls. To him, therefore, come, with holy confidence. Be not discouraged on' account of the number or magnitude of your sins; for Jesus assures you, that, if you believe in his name, he "will in no wise cast you out"."
ON THE ATONEMENT OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR
Rom. v. 11.
We also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. THE notion, that God might be appeased by piacular offerings, has been very prevalent in almost every known region of the earth. Ancient poets and historians frequently make mention, in their writings, of different kinds of animals having been sacrificed by the devotees of paganism, to pacify the anger, or procure the favour, of some imaginary deity; whose smile they were anxious to obtain, and whose wrath they sought to avert.
It must be confessed, that such a practice seems quite repugnant to the dictates of reason and self- · interest; for it is not credible that mankind, who have always valued the life and service of useful animals as a part of their best possessions, should wantonly shed their blood, if no advantage was to be derived from it. It is, therefore, very improbable that. sacrifices should have been the result of human invention: their origin must be traced to a higher source, even to a Divine institution.
1. The use of sacrifices is mentioned in Scripture, soon after the defection of Adam. To cheer his mind, which was ready to despond under a sense of the magnitude of his guilt, and to counteract the mischief produced by the artifices of Satan, Jehovah promised, immediately after the entrance of sin, that the seed of the woman (that is, Jesus Christ, who was to be born of the Virgin Mary) should bruise the
serpent's head. The accomplishment of this glorious prophecy shews that Christ has obtained this triumph over the Devil, by his voluntary death; through faith in whose prospective merits, we trust that our first parents would recover the endless possession of their forfeited inheritance.
Not long after, we are informed that they were clothed with the skins of beasts"; which probably had been slaughtered by the command of God, as a typical atonement for their transgressions, and with a particular design to prefigure the death of our blessed Redeemer; an event which was to happen, at the time fixed by the counsels of Infinite Wisdom®.
And no doubt the same reasons induced Cain and Abel to bring their respective offerings to the Lord. The oblation of the latter was highly approved, but that of the former was rejected. The cause of this preference is stated by the Apostle, i. the following passage: "By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it, he, being dead, yet speaketh."
Thus, in the first ages of the world, the atonement, in its infant form, would easily find its way from the progenitors of our race to their immediate offspring; and from them, by a regular line of descent, to their posterity. This mode of conveying the doctrine is sufficient to account for its prevalence among the Patriarchs. Noah before the Flood, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob after, severally presented sacrifices to God; till he saw fit to establish the rite of sacrifice, as the grand peculiarity of the Levitical dispensation.
a Gen. iii. 15. Gen. iv. 3-6.
ib. iii. 21. • Heb. xi. 4.
e Gal. iv. 4.
Under the Mosaic economy, Priests and Levites were appointed for that particular purpose. The Altar of Atonement, in the Jewish Tabernacle, streamed, day and night, with the blood of innocent victims, which were slain "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Under the Law, the most trivial, as well as the greatest offence, whether it was committed knowingly or unwittingly, could not be forgiven without an expiation. The Gospel Covenant, also, was confirmed by the "shedding of the atoning blood of Christ, without which there is no remission"."
Our Saviour's death was clearly typified by the Legal offerings, which pointed to him as the great sacrifice, to which they especially referred. Hence St. Paul affirms, that they were "shadows of good things to come";" which could "not make them that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; being imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
2. Atonement signifies a sacrifice offered with a view to bring about a reconciliation between God and man, who had previously been in a state of variance and disunion. This is precisely the light in. which the Bible places before us the atonement of our Saviour. The whole world had apostatized from God, and trodden his laws under their feet. To ib. x. 1. ix. 9, 10. ii Psalm xiv. 1—4.
See Lev. throughout. i Heb. ix. 11-43.
Heb. ix. 22.