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competition with other systems, merely as one method of lifting human nature out of its guilt and misery ; nor does it seek to secure popularity by flattering proposals, or unprincipled concessions to the desires of the corrupt heart. True, it contains “exceeding great and precious promises,” and opens up magnificent prospects; but these are joined with the most humbling and withering exposure of man's wickedness in heart and life,
with the declaration of God's uncompromising hatred of the sin which the sinner loves so well, and with the most authoritative demand that the lost should instantly submit to God's holy salvation. While human systems of " life-philosophy" are competing busily for pre-eminence, and perplexing the human spirit that is in quest of truth, by their conflicting views of man's chief end and of the ways by which it is to be reached, the wisdom of God appears in the person of Jesus Christ, saying, in tones of infinite majesty, and, to those who hear devoutly, in tones, also, infinitely tranquillising, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." The lordly exclusiveness of this claim of the Son of Man is abundantly proved to be in harmony with fact and with righteousness by the nature and influence of the gospel He proclaims. There is not one need of human life that cries to Him in vain for supply. His grace and truth abound at every point to meet the wants of suppliant humanity. And the nature of the power exercised by His truth has been illustrated not only by the moral elevation of the individual sinner on whom it has taken hold, but by the purer morality and higher civilisation of every nation that has come under its beneficent and holy influence; while that aspect of His testimony which looks toward the claims of the divine honour may be briefly described in the words of the angels' song at His birth, as being “Glory to God in the highest.”
Seeing that the revelation of Jesus Christ not only excels all human expedients for raising the fallen, but is itself the only revelation, specially provided in infinite wisdom, that can teach men how to live and how to die; seeing that the life of the sinner depends on a right relation to Christ as the Revealer of the Godhead; seeing that “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved;" every question bearing upon
the matter or the manner of the witness He bears to the truth, and upon the duty of those who hear it, must needs be profoundly interesting.
I. Touching THE MATTER OF CHRIST'S TESTIMONY, it might be said, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, both throughout inspired by His Spirit, and both containing the truth concerning Himself and His saving work, are His testimony to a fallen race. Not only have we manifold references in the Old Testament itself to the coming Messiah as the blessed Hope of the old dispensation, and manifold references by Christ and His apostles to the relation He sustained to the Old Testament Scriptures; not only did God at sundry times and in divers manners speak to the fathers by the prophets concerning His Messiah, but Christ Himself at sundry times and in divers manners appeared to men, quickening the faith, and giving buoyancy to the hope of the Church by frequent foreshadowings of His great mission. He appeared in the garden of Eden to our fallen first parents as the “ Voice” or “Word” “ of the Lord God," and subsequently to Abraham, and Lot, and Jacob, and Moses, and Joshua, coming down upon Mount Sinai to give the law, dwelling also in the holy of holies in the tabernacle and the templenot being “ thought to dwell” there, as unbelieving rationalism without reason is disposed to say. The Old Testament Scriptures are, therefore, in many ways intimately connected with the name of Jesus Christ—so intimately, indeed, that they are His word, and but for Him they never would have been penned. The same thing may be said of the New Testament, not only as to the records of His own personal teaching, but as to the writings of His servants under the exalted direction of His good Spirit. All Scripture is “the Word of Christ,” who, as the Great Revealer of Truth and the Saviour of sinners, is “ the Same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Hence, as might be expected, the doctrines of the whole Word of God with reference to God, and man, and salvation, are in perfect harmony with the personal teachings of Jesus Christ in the days of His flesh.
Fixing our attention chiefly upon the latter, let us consider soine of the leading doctrines which go to make up the testimony of Christ.
1. He taught the doctrine of man's spiritual ruin by reason of sin. This doctrine—which is unquestionably the doctrine of the whole Bible, and as unquestionably the doctrine of experience also, wherever men's eyes are opened to see themselves-includes the sinner's rebellion against God, his guilt and loss of the Divine favour, his depravity, his degradation, and the impairing of all his moral and spiritual powers, so that he is utterly unable to recover himself; while over his whole perverted life there hangs the dark cloud of condemnation and wrath, which ever deepens in gloom as he pursues his sinful course, and at length envelopes all the finally impenitent in eternal night. On this subject the teaching of Jesus Christ is very full, clear, and emphatic. He came to seek and save that which was lost, “ to call .... sinners to repentance,” to warn men that if they believed not on Him they must “die” in their “sins." The doctrine of the absolute necessity for faith, on the part of hearers of the gospel, in order to life, and of the condemnation and continued death of the unbeliever, was taught in such words as these :—“He that believeth not is condemned already;” “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him;"“He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Besides proclaiming man's ruin to be such that he needed an objective salvation, and that he must be lost for ever if he rejected it, He taught also that the sinner is spiritually powerless and helpless, even in the presence of such a salvation, until it is divinely applied. He contemplated man as “ dead in trespasses and sins,” when He said of His sheep, “I give unto them eternal life;" “ the Son quickeneth ;” “ the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God;” “no man can come unto Me,"—that is, believe unto salvation—"except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." If anything more were needed to establish the doctrine of man's spiritual ruin, we have more in the brief record following immediately upon our Lord's proclamation of this most humbling truth regarding man's condition :-“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him." They did not know their need, and refused to hear of it from the lips of Him who was the Wisdom of God. They preferred to remain in unconscious ruin, proudly ignorant of themselves, and contemptuously rejecting the testimony of the Faithful and True Witness.
The truth to which Christ thus bore witness has always been unpopular since mankind began to entertain the devil's suggestion_“Ye shall be as gods.” It has been reserved, however, for the “ Enlightenment” of this time, not only to deny the doctrine, but to assert the opposite doctrine—and that in the name of Christ! We hear much from the rationalistic school of “ Christians” of the “Divine possibilities” in man,-a doctrine which, it is needless to say, looks liker a bitter satire upon human life, not to speak of Holy Scripture, than a serious attempt to speak the truth. All that man needs, it seems, is to set some "grand ideal” before him, and endeavour to realise it by developing his innate “possibilities," refusing alike the righteousness of Christ for justification, and the power of the Holy Ghost for sanctification ! And this is called Christian doctrine, and not only so, but the result of a "profounder apprehension of the essential ideas of Christianity!” With these “thinkers," the salvation of Christ is an antiquated and effete superstition, at least, according to the view that has been entertained by the Church since the beginning; for, according to their views, man needs no Saviour and no salvation, in the Scriptural sense of those terms. Facts go to prove that the teaching of Christ as to man's guilt and spiritual helplessness, and not this doctrine of man's greatness, and worth, and latent capacities for spiritual achievement, is THE TRUTH that tends to elevate mankind. · We are not aware that any practical benefit has resulted in any age from teaching that makes men proud and self-sufficient, and we have yet to be shown that there is any such benefit accruing to the world from this new, but yet very old, doctrine of man's divinity. On the other hand, is there not the greatest wealth of facts to show, that all that is great, and good, and imperishable in selfsacrificing work for God and man, has resulted, directly or indirectly, from that doctrine which has brought the guilty sinner in conscious ruin to the feet of the Almighty Saviour, to be washed in His atoning blood, quickened by His power, justified by His righteousness, sustained by His hand, and sanctified by His indwelling Spirit? The history of the Church shows, with unmistakeable clearness, that this is the true way to Divine possibilities; for Christ says, “All things are possible to him that believeth.”
2. The absolute sovereignty of God's grace, in providing and applying salvation, formed a kindred and equally distinctive element in the testimony of Jesus Christ. It would be difficult to imagine any teaching more emphatic in repudiating every proud claim of right on the part of the sinner, than many of the recorded utterances of our Lord. Even in that magnificent revelation of the Divine love on which the sanctified intellect has delighted to dwell during the last eighteen centuries,—“God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” the perfect sovereignty of God's love is implicitly taught. The gift of God's Son was an ineffable display of love, for this, ainong other reasons, that it was a gift, unmerited and spontaneous. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Moreover, the expression, “should not perish,” implies not only that it was otherwise inevitable that men should perish, but also that they deserved to perish in their enmity to God.
The question, therefore, Is there to be any remedy provided for the Fall? Is there to be a salvation at all ?—which may be supposed to have agitated the human mind after the first transgression-if, indeed, hope could rise so high as even to entertain such a question—was clearly one the answer to which depended wholly on the sovereign will of God. In the exercise of His royal right as the offended Monarch, He might have answered, No; the guilty rebels must be left to the death that was solemnly and expressly threatened. This death could not have been righteous'y threatened, if it could not be righteously inflicted in all its meaning, even to the complete and final excision of the fallen from the fellowship of the holy, to have their lot in the “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The nature of the grace of Cod then appears in that He “Sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world”—as He might have done, without any blot upon His moral excellence as the Unchangeable God—“but that the world through Him might be saved.”
What is thus true of the whole race of man, is true also of every individual member of the fallen family. No one can have any natural right to the grace of God. Indeed, grace and right are, in that sense, terms irreconcileably opposed to each other. “ The Son quickeneth whom He will.” The will of the Saviour, and not the good qualities of sinners, determines in what directions His quickening grace shall go forth. And His will is at one with the sovereign will of the Father, that marked out the objects of His favour before the world was. “All that the Father hath given Me shall come to Me.” “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing.” “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” Every sinner being, as we have seen, guilty and helpless, there is no possible or conceivable principle upon which grace can operate but that of pure sovereignty. The moment the idea of merit on the part of the sinner enters into the matter of regeneration and acceptance with God, that moment grace disappears from the entire transaction. “And if by grace, then is it no