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for which it has been given, be such as to shut up every man who professes to look into it, necessarily, and without fail,—as in the case of mathematical truth,—to the same conviction and inevitable conclusion. There must be room for the exercise of faith; there must be room for the exercise of earnest desire, and honest, single-minded investigation; there must be room for the existence and full play of human responsibility, in order to prove men, to test their faith and obedience, to make manifest whether they really desire to know the will of God and to do it, whether they are willing to become as little children, that they may enter into the kingdom of God, and be instructed in its profound mysteries; or whether they prefer their own wisdom, and conceptions, and wishes, to His revelation.
“For judgment,” said our Lord Himself,—and His words embody a solemn truth, and convey a solemn warning,—“For judgment I am come into this world, that they who see not might see, and that they who see might be made blind.” While they who think they see, and imagine that they stand in no need of Divine illumination, are left to wander in darkness, they who are sensible of their blindness, and who desire, however feebly, yet honestly, the teaching of the Spirit of God, will be led and guided into all truth. Taking the Word of God as a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path, and looking up to Him who inspired it, they shall be enabled to behold wondrous things out of His law, and shall know of the doctrine of Christ, that it is indeed of God, and fitted to make men wise unto salvation.
Are there those here who are still wandering amid the wretched sparks of their own kindling ? If so, I would say to them, Why grope in darkness as the blind, when God reveals, and in good faith presents for your acceptance, One who has been expressly anointed to preach recovering of sight to the blind ?
Receive the wondrous gift, and you shall be enabled to say, “We looked unto Him and were lightened, and our faces were not ashamed. Once we were blind, but now we see."
CHRIST'S MESSAGE OF MERCY
MEN OF JERUSALEM:
JOHN DOBIE, D.D.,
“Beginning at Jerusalem.”—LUKE xxiv. 47.
The time of Christ's departure from this world was now at hand; for, having “finished the work given Him to do,” He was about "to ascend to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God.” That Christ had completed His work to His Father's perfect satisfaction was evident from the fact, that the Father had raised Him from the dead. Christ, having "offered Himself without spot unto God,” was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, and thus His Sonship and Messiahship were publicly attested, as also the completeness of His substitutionary obedience and death. After His resurrection, Christ did not show Himself openly to the world. He told His disciples, previous to His death, that He would not do so—" Yet a little while and the world seeth Me no more, but ye see Me; and because I live, ye shall live also.” It “ behoved Christ,” however, to show Himself to His disciples, in order that He might confirm their faith in Him as the Messiah, for they were to be His witnesses to the people; and also, that He might teach them many and glorious truths, and duly commission them “to go into all the world and preach,” in His name, "repentance and remission of sins.". Christ's death and resurrection were necessary to enable him “ to give repentance.” Repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit in a human spirit; the Spirit, by His indwelling and inworking, convinces the sinner of sin. To quote the quaint words of an old writer-"The Holy Spirit convinces the sinner of the fact and the fault, the filth and the folly, the fruit and the fountain of sin;" the sinner having the true nature of sin thus revealed to him, is led to hate it, sorrow over it, and turn
But for the death and resurrection of Christ, the Holy Ghost could not have been given, and therefore, sinners never could have experienced that repentance which is necessary to salvation. Christ's death and resurrection were also necessary, in order to His giving to sinners “the remission of sins ;" for, “without shedding of blood, there is no remission.” Christ having thus, by His death and resurrection, purchased the blessings of salvation, it behoved him to proclaim and proffer them to all men; for all men need a Saviour, and Christ is the Saviour of all men, inasmuch as He has, by His perfect obedience and atoning death, opened the door of mercy to the whole human family.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Whilst our blessed Lord and Saviour graciously commissioned His disciples to preach repentance and remission of sins, in His name, to all nations, He also gave them the special injunction “to begin at Jerusalem,” to give the first offer of mercy to the house of Israel,-yea, even to the very men, who, through pride and prejudice, had wickedly and wantonly shed His precious blood. In the sequel of the discourse I shall state and illustrate what appears to me to have been some of the gracious purposes contemplated by our Lord and Saviour, in commissioning His disciples to give the first offer of mercy to the men of Jerusalem.
I. That the promise of the Father might be fulfilled.
For these, and other reasons, it “behoved Christ” to give to His disciples the special commission in the text—"To begin at Jerusalem."
I. That the promise of the Father might be fulfilled.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the appointed instrumentality for the conversion of sinners and “the perfecting of saints," and therefore it was that the great apostle of the Gentiles gloried in it, and persevered in preaching it, despite the great and grievous persecutions to which he was subjected. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” To the Jew first.” Paul does not mean that whilst the Gospel is adapted to the salvation of Gentiles, it is in a very special manner adapted to the salvation of Jews. No! it is as much adapted to the spiritual condition and exigencies of Gentiles as Jews. What Paul means is, that it was God's gracious promise that the Gospel should be preached first to the house of Israel a promise which His holy prophets duly announced.
Isaiah, in the second chapter of his prophecies, foretells the future greatness and glory of the Christian Church—“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” The law of morals went forth from Sinai, but the law of mercy went forth from Zion. Christ began His ministry in Galilee, and most of His disciples belonged to Galilee. Christ did not say to them, 'Go home to your relatives and friends, and tell them of the great and gracious redemption which I have wrought out, and give them the first offer of mercy through my atoning blood.' No! He said to them, “Tarry in Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high :" for, let us bear in mind, that something more is necessary for preachers of the Gospel than natural talent and learning; one thing is specially needful, viz., "an unction from the Holy One." Without such an unction, the preaching of the Gospel can neither be pleasant to the preachers themselves, nor profitable to their hearers : and so Christ said to His disciples, “Tarry in Jerusalem, until ye receive the Holy Ghost," and then go forth into the streets of the city, and the courts of the Temple, and preach,“ in My name, repentance and remission of sins." What the disciples were commanded to do, they did; and thus the promise of the Father was fulfilled, “That the law should go. forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
The Gospel is “the rod of God's power,” of which David speaks in Psalm cx., that rod with which Christ has already subdued
many nations, and with which He will yet subdue all nations ; for “He will overturn and overturn," until all the kingdoms of the earth become “the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Anointed."
Ezekiel, on one occasion, had a glorious vision. He saw a stream of water issuing from beneath the threshold of the temple, flowing out of the city, and thence away to the north, and the south, the east, and the west. Wherever the waters came, wonderful were the transformations they produced—they converted barren lands into fruitful fields. The blessings of the Gospel are frequently in Scripture compared to water, to rivers of water, to fountains of water, and to refreshing showers. The waters which Ezekiel beheld flowing out of Jerusalem no doubt symbolized the glorious Gospel, its “beginning at Jerusalem," and thence going forth to all the nations of the world.
Whilst I hold that I am entitled to put a literal meaning on the names “ Zion and Jerusalem,” in the passages I have quoted, still I admit that they have also a figurative meaning, and have reference to the Christian Church,—that Church which is divinely planned, securely founded, and compactly built, and which is the habitation of the Most High, and the repository of Divine truth, through the instrumentality of which the dark places of the earth, now the habitations of cruelty and crime, are destined to be enlightened, and filled with love and righteousness. Indeed, the predictions in regard to the future peace and prosperity of “ Zion and Jerusalem ” are so glorious, that they are credible and intelligible only when interpreted as having reference to the Christian Church. Yes! whatever revolutions may take place amongst the nations, and whatever commotions may disturb the churches, still, we have no cause to tremble for the “ark of the living God :" for we have the sure word of prophecy“Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be to us a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby; for the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us.” My brethren, let us frequently and fervently “pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that peace may be within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces.” It is our interest as well as our duty to do so; for “they shall prosper that love Zion."