Page images

not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them." Gal. iii. 10. If you have obeyed it in some respects, or even in most things, this will not excuse you for having disobeyed or neglected it in others. The law of God admits of no composition; and makes no allowance for any failure whatever. The apostle James assures us (chap ii. ver. 10.) that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."-And the reason which he gives for this is, that it is the same authority which enforces each of the commandments; so that whoever disobeys any of them, tramples upon all the authority of God. Instead, therefore, of inquiring who can forgive sins but God, it might be asked, how can God himself forgive sins committed against that law, which he himself hath given to mankind for the rule of their conduct, and by which he has appointed that men should be judged? This question must for ever have perplexed a convicted sinner, if the gospel had not told us that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" for "God made him to be a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. v. 19, 21. On this ground there is encouragement to hope for pardon. "There is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared." Yea, "it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." So that, if any of you had been distressed and terrified on account of your sins, you see it is not right for you to despair of forgiveness. Christ was crucified, that he might bear the punishment due to your sins; and, after being buried, he performed the greatest miracle of all, in raising up his own body, by his own power, from the grave, in order that he might prove he had fully discharged the debt which sinners had incurred. He afterwards ascended up to Heaven; and in some of

his last words to his disciples, said, " Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." Mark xvi. 15, 16. We are all under condemnation; for all have sinned. No obedience that we can pay in future to the law of God, can make amends for past sins: but Christ has power to forgive them; "for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."


When a certain person came to Christ on earth, he seemed to doubt his power to help, saying, "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us." Jesus said unto him, "if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Lord," answered the poor man with tears, "I believe; help thou mine unbelief." So, under your fears about the possibility of your sins being forgiven, go to Jesus by prayer; plead that he has said, "He that believeth shall be saved," and cry, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

I hope you are now satisfied as to the power of Jesus to do you good. If so, it should be your chief concern to know whether he is WILLING also to do you good, and all the good that you need. May the Spirit of Christ make you as earnest on this point as reasonable creatures, with the word of God before them, ought to be! What would it profit you if you could gain the whole world, and should lose your own soul? You think, perhaps but little of this now: but you are near the hour of death; you don't know how near; and if you have your reason then, you will wonder how you could have been so stupid through your lives, as not to be concerned, above all things, to know whether Christ was willing to save your souls. It may then be too late, and you would, in vain, give the whole world for a few minutes' time, like those which we yet have to spend together. But "Now," I

have to declare to you from the Scriptures, "now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation!" "Oh seek the Lord while he may be found! call upon him while he is near !"


You have heard that Jesus Christ is the ever blessed God be assured then, from the gracious character in which God has revealed himself in his word, that he will not despise any soul that is truly humbled and contrite on account of his sin. "The tender mercy of God is over all his works." You see every day what compassion he shows to the evil and unthankful. His rain descends, and his sun-beams shine on the land of the wicked, as well as on that of the good. And has he less compassion on your souls than on your bodies? By no means. He desireth not the death of a sinner,

but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live. "Turn ye," said the Lord to the rebellious house of Israel, "turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" How long already has God delayed avenging himself upon us for our sins? Why?"Not that he is slack concerning his promise, but that he is long-suffering to us-ward; not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance:" for, "except we repent, we must all perish;" but a godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation.

You have heard that " God was manifest in the flesh," in the person of Jesus Christ. Astonishing as it is, it is certain that he took upon him the form of a servant, suffered infirmity, want, contempt, persecution, and a shameful miserable death. So wonderful an event must answer some good purpose. The prophecies of the Old Testament concur with the sayings of our Lord himself, and his apostles, in the New Testament, to teach us what was the design of the sufferings and death of Christ. "He bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquitres; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes


are we healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all."Isa. liii. 4-6. "I am the good shepherd," said Jesus; "I lay down my life for the sheep. They shall never perish; but I give unto them eternal life." John x. 14. Whom God hath sent forth," says the apostle Paul, "to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. iii. 25, 26. And can any one believe that Jesus humbled himself as a man, and suffered as if he had been a malefactor, for the sole purpose of saving sinners, and yet suspect that he will refuse salvation to those that seek it from him? It was for "the joy of saving sinners, that he endured the cross, disregarding the shame." Well may it then be said, that there is joy in heaven over every sinner that repenteth." May you now believe in Christ, that he may see of the travail of his soul" in your salvation," and be satisfied!"



Consider what is said in the text, "He went about doing good." He not only never rejected one request for help of all the numberless persons who applied to him, but he went about, in order to "seek and to save that which was lost." He travelled for this purpose on foot, with much weariness and faintness, from one end of the land of Canaan to the other, again and again. He compares himself to a shepherd, who seeks far and wide for a poor wandering sheep, that never could have found its way back to the fold. So his willingness to do good to sinners, is still proved by his command to those who are intrusted with the Gospel, that they should preach it to all mankind, by his providence, in sending his disciples throughout the world; without which the Gospel would to this day have been unknown in England; and by the influence of his Spirit upon the hearts of all them who are made wil

ling in the day of his power, to lay hold on the hope set before them; for what but the sovereign grace of God makes any of you, who long for his salvation, to differ from the rest, who reject it to their everlasting destruction? If we feel any love to God, it is "because he first loved us :" and he hath said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."

[ocr errors]

Brethren, the Scriptures inform us, that besides the two great purposes for which, as we have observed, Christ came into this world, there was a third. He came, not only to declare to us the will of God, and to offer himself up for the pardon of our sins, but also "To leave us an EXAMPLE, that we might walk in his steps." "He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." We are unworthy to be called Christians if we do not imitate him. Let us set his bright and blessed example before us, as the text holds forth. Let us do all the good we can to those around us, both to their bodies and their souls; yea, even to "our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers;" but especially to our relations and friends, and to those who serve God. Let us remember Christ's labour and patience in going about to do good to those who either could not, or would not come to him to receive it. We are humbly trying to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, in coming here to do you good. Our consciences bear us witness that we earnestly desire your welfare, and have no other end in view. We know nothing that can do you greater good than to lead you to think more of God and eternity, and to promote in you the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. We hope that God is visiting you by our means, and that he will, by his Spirit, make this meeting useful to your souls.

If we remain strangers and enemies to God, it is not for the want of power or willingness of Christ to do you good. Do not forget what has been said to you on this subject. "I beseech you, brethren, by the

« PreviousContinue »