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it begins to change. Putrefaction seizes it; and the body once so dear and pleasant, the parent, the wife, and the child, becomes a mass of corruption, and must be "buried out of our sight;" must be consigned to the dark, cold, and loathsome grave, to become the prey of sordid worms. What a terrible proof does all this afford of our sinful state! Surely, man is fallen, and God is angry.
And now what shall we say to these things? Is this the state of man? How necessary is it that he should know it! We observed at the beginning, that it is one of the first principles of our religion, and without knowing this we cannot understand the rest. "When the veil is upon the heart, the veil is upon every thing." There are three things, the absolute necessity of which we may learn from what has been said; namely, Redemption, Repentance, and Regeneration.
God hates sin with infinite Sin renders us abominable in his "The wages of sin is death." "He will render indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” How then can we escape the damnation of hell? Blessed be God, he hath so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son to be our Redeemer and Saviour. Jesus Christ has died for sinners, "the just for the unjust, to bring us to God." By his blood, reconciliation is made for iniquity; and by his Spirit, our nature is renewed; so that we may be fully restored to the favour and image of God. O Jesus, what hast thou not done to loosen guilt and pain, to sweeten adversity, to blunt the sting of death, to restore happiness in some degree to the earth, and to ensure it in eternity !"
2. See also the need of Repentance, or such a sight and sense of sin as leads to godly sorrow and self-abhorrence. "Sin is the only thing that God hates, and almost the only thing that man loves :" but grace will make us hate it heartily, and ourselves on account of it. Alas! how far from this are many who yet call themselves Christians! Hear the proud Pharisee crying, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are;" or boasting that he has a good heart and a clear conscience; that he does his duty to the best of his power; and did never hurt any body in all his life. This is the wretched cant of poor deluded souls, who know not the "plague of their own hearts." God forbid this should be our case! Let us rather, like the good men we read of in Scripture, confess our sins, loathe ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes. Then shall we thankfully receive the free mercy and forgiving love of God through Jesus Christ.
3. From hence, also, we learn the necessity of Regeneration. Nothing short of this is sufficient: for "striving against nature is like holding a weather-cock with one's hand; as soon as the force is taken off, it veers again with the wind." If we are born in sin, we must needs be born again. So our Saviour solemnly declared to Nicodemus, John iii. 3: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." We must have a new heart, that is, a new disposition of heart; such a change within as may be justly called a new creation; and this is far more than the baptism of water. We must be "born of water and of the Holy Ghost; that is, we must experience the power of the Spirit on our minds, which is like that of water on the body, to cleanse and purify it from sin. Water, in baptism, is "the outward visible sign;" but there is also " an inward spiritual grace;" and this is "a death unto sin, and a new birth unto
righteousness." The regenerated person hates sin, and earnestly desires deliverance from it. The sin
cere language of the soul is," Go, sin; go for ever, thou rebel to God; thou crucifier of Christ; thou griever of the Spirit; thou curse of the earth; thou poison in my blood; thou plague of my soul, and bane of all my happiness."
How important then is the knowledge of our fallen state!" It is the devil's master-piece to make us think well of ourselves." It is God's great and gracious work to discover to us our true condition. May the Holy Spirit so bless what has now been said concerning it, that, discovering the disease of our nature, we may highly prize the Great Physician of our souls; may lie low before the holy God in the dust of humiliation; yet look up to him for pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace, daily to renew us in the spirit of our mind; till being made meet for heaven, we are admitted into that blessed state, where sin and sorrow shall be known no more; and where, with all the redeemed, we shall celebrate our glorious recovery from the ruins of the fall, ascribing salvation unto God and the Lamb for ever and ever! Amen.
EPHESIANS i. 7.
In whom we have Redemption through his blood.
HE word Redemption is, perhaps, the most comprehensive that our own language or any other can afford. Redemption itself is certainly the greatest blessing that God can bestow, or man receive. It is this that strikes the joyful strings of the heavenly harpers. This is the burden of that ever-new song, which none but the redeemed can sing "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain; for thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
The salvation of man, under whatever name it is described, always supposes his fallen, guilty, ruined, and helpless state; nor can we understand one word of the Gospel aright without knowing this. Man is dangerously diseased; Christ is the physician, and salvation his cure:-he is naked ; Christ covers him with his righteousness:-he is famished; Christ is his meat and drink:-he is in darkness; Christ is his light:-he stands at the bar, accused, and ready to be condemned; Christ appears as his surety, and pleads his righteousness for his justification. So here in the text:-Man is in bondage; Christ pays the ransom, and procures his discharge.
Come then, my friends, and let us attend to this great subject; and remember, that we are fixing our minds on the same delightful theme that en
gages the hearts and harps of glorified saints; and which will employ our grateful tongues to all eternity, if we are found among the ransomed of the Lord.
Redemption, among men, is the deliverance of persons out of a state of captivity and bondage, by an act of power, or rather by the payment of a price for their ransom. The recovery of God's chosen people from the ruins of the fall is, therefore, described by this term; because they are, by nature, in a wretched state of bondage and slavery; from which they could never deliver themselves; and in which, if not delivered, they must perish for ever. But Christ, the Son of God, out of his infinite love and compassion, undertook the deliverance; and by paying down a sufficient price, even his own precious blood, as a ransom, delivered them from ruin, and restored them to liberty.
That we may better understand this redemption of lost man, let us consider-His Captivity-His Helplessness-and The means of his Deliverance.
Consider, first, the state of man as a captive and a slave. Captives, among men, are persons taken in war, and made prisoners. In many cases they have been used very ill; put to shame; doomed to hard labour; confined in chains, prisons, or mines; led at the chariot-wheels of their conquerors; and sometimes put to death in a wanton and cruel manner. To this day the poor Negroes are treated as captives, and kept in a state of bondage. Ships are sent from England, and other countries, to Africa, on purpose to procure hundreds and thousands of them for slaves. They are stolen, or procured under various and wicked pretences; torn from the bosoms of their dearest relations; forced away from their own country; closely stowed together in a ship; and, when brought to the West Indies, sold like beasts in a market. They are then doomed to hard labour,