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You will guard against the first beginnings of evil. What a purifying effect on your heart and life such a habitual confession of sin must produce! Well may it be the appointed means of maintaining your fellowship with God. Truly does it make for righteousness.
I say then to all, confess your sins to God through Jesus Christ, who, by His death, has become the Propitiation for the sins of the whole world. To the vilest sinner I say it, and also to the ripest saint. Would you enter into fellowship with God ? Confess your sins. Would you maintain your fellowship with God? Confess your sins. Let all confess, with the most perfect assurance that God will forgive them their sins, and will cleanse them from all unrighteousness. And sooner would the throne of righteousness be overturned, and God Himself cease to be, than that He should either cast out of His fellowship, or refuse to admit into his fellowship, one who makes unreserved confession of His sins.
THE GOSPEL FOR ALL:
THOMAS SMITH, D.D.,
“ And He said, It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel : I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest by My salvation unto the end of the earth."- ISAIAH xlix. 6.
The forty-ninth chapter of Isaiah appears to us to be one of the most awfully solemn passages that the Word of God contains. According to our understanding of it, it does no less than detail the negotiation held in the councils of eternity betwixt God the Father and His eternally-begotten Son, as preliminary to the establishment of the covenant of redemption. The detail is given by the Son Himself, who calls upon the islands and the people from afar to listen to His voice, and to hear from His own mouth the terms and conditions on which He had undertaken the work assigned him; the promises in which His Father guaranteed His success in the awfully difficult, but sublimely glorious work that was given Him to do ; His own determination to carry out, in dependence upon the fulfilment of these promises, the great work which He had undertaken to do; the appalling sufferings which He had consented to endure; and the results that should accrue to Jew and Gentile, respectively, from His fulfilment of His covenant engagement. The chapter, therefore, uplifts, as it were, the veil which conceals from created eyes the inner sanctuary of heaven, and discloses to us a glimpse of the Eternal Son in the bosom of the Eternal Father, as He was in that eternity which preceded His incarnation, when He was daily the Father's delight, and when, there being as yet no creatures to exercise the Divine providence, the Three Persons of the Godhead were, each to other, all-sufficient for the perfection of Divine blessedness. Surely, if anywhere on this earth, and at any period of the world's history, there has been a manifestation of the Divine majesty which made the beholder exceedingly fear and quake; if anywhere in the Word of God there is a solemnizing and soul-subduing revelation of things above human apprehension, above the conception of created intellect, there comes forth to us from this chapter the warning voice, “ Take off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” For it is at no ordinary time in the history of heaven that the veil is uplifted, and that we are permitted to be spectators and auditors of the august conference. It is at the moment when matters are being decided, on which more of the Divine glory and the interests of His creatures was to depend, than ever depended or could depend upon any other decision of the Divine Council.
A capable artist can find no worthier exercise for the highest order of powers, than in depicting the scene in the cabinetcouncil of some earthly monarch, at the moment when it is determined to risk the hazard of war, in offence or in defence, to unsheathe the sword, with the consciousness that the earthly fates of many kingdoms may hang upon the issue, and that the sword may not return to its scabbard until it be bathed red, and made drunk in the blood of myriads of slain. But ah! in this august conference, it is not the fate of one or two kingdoms that is at stake, but of the world in all its extent, and in all its generations, and it may be, of far more than this world ; for it seems probable, that, whilst Christ, in His coming into this world, laid not hold of the nature of angels to redeem them,—of whom those who stood needed not redemption, and those who had fallen were not within the bonds of the covenant of redemption,-it seems probable, we say, notwithstanding, that all the intelligent creatures of God have had their condition and destiny modified by the incarnation, and life, and sufferings, and death, and resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. While we invite you, then, to draw near and behold this great sight; while we call you, with rapt attention, to listen to the solemn and mysterious words, we would charge you to beware of treading on holy ground, save with unshod feet and solemnized hearts. May the Spirit of grace enable us to approach the contemplation of this scene with becoming reverence, and make us to experience that it is good for us to be here !
The scene is of course described (as, indeed, the very necessity of the case required, if it were to be described at all to human apprehension) in human language, after the manner of men. The representation is made as if the scheme of redemption were gradually disclosed by the Father to the Son; as if the Son were disconcerted for a time at the severity of the terms imposed upon Him, and the conditions required of Him; and as if this gave occasion to the Father to point out to Him the glorious results that should follow His undertaking and carrying out the work that was to be given Him to do. In particular, He is represented as staggered at the anticipated unbelief of the Jews, and their national rejection of Him as their King and their Saviour. “Is it really so ? Is Israel not to be gathered after all ? Am I to do so much and be so much, and at the end to find that I have spent my strength for nought and in vain ? Am I to go to my own, and My own not to receive Me? Am I to return to My throne as a King without subjects, as a Saviour without saved ones? Am I only to have the credit of good intentions; and alongside of the record of these intentions, is it to be inscribed in the annals of heaven that my work is at the best but a noble failure ? I might go forth with tears bearing precious seed, if only I had the prospect of returning again with joy, bringing with Me the sheaves of a plentiful harvest. I might endure the cross and despise the shame, if I could set before Me a recompense of reward, to which I might have respect in the long, dark, dreary night of My agony. Most gladly would I gather Jerusalem's children as a hen might gather her chickens under her wings; but what if they will not be gathered ? What if their rejection of Me enhance their guilt, and fill up the measure of their iniquity ?” And then, in answer to this remonstrance, the Father is represented as consoling Him with ineffable tenderness, and as setting before Him a far more glorious recompense of reward than would have been merely the national salvation of the children of Israel according to the flesh,-a reward abundantly more glorifying to God's attributes, a reward far more gratifying to the Son's desire to benefit and bless mankind, a reward infinitely more fraught with blessing to the children of men. “It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel? I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.” And then, because He can swear by no greater, He sweareth to Him by Himself as the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and the Holy One. “Though Thou be despised and rejected of men, though Thou be abhorred of the nation, though they hide their faces from Thee, though Thou be despised and not esteemed, though Thou be put for a time in subjection to the malicious hatred of the rulers of the people; yet kings shall see Thee and arise, princes shall fall down and worship Thee.”
“ The kings of Tarshish and the isles, to Thee shall presents bring,
And unto Thee shall offer gifts, Sheba's and Seba's king.
As if it were said: “What were it after all, if the Jewish nation were to acknowledge Thee as their king, and were to set Thee upon the throne of David, and Thou wert to sway the national sceptre from the lion-propped seat of Solomon, and wert to embrace under Thy rule the re-united tribes, and the whole region of the covenanted land, with all its viņes and olives, its milk and honey, its sunny slopes and its flowery plains ? This were but a small honour, and an insignificant glory, in comparison with that which awaits Thee, when I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine heritage, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thy throne shall not be in Jerusalem, but upon the height of the heavenly Zion. Thy rule shall not be over a nation merely, but over the world. — over Asia with all its mighty continents, and Europe with all its wide domains, and Africa in its vast extent, and America in all its length, from the frozen Greenland to the frozen land of fire, and over all the islands, great and small, on ocean's broad bosom— These shall be prepared as a kingdom for Thee, and all their teeming millions shall be a willing people in the day of Thy power. All their various languages shall be vocal in Thy praise; all their various wealth shall they lay as a tribute at Thy feet; all their various endowments shall be consecrated to Thine honour and Thy service; and over them all shalt Thou rule in peace and righteousness, and the sceptre of Thy kingdom shall be a right sceptre. At Thy mouth shall they hear law; and through all the borders of the habitable world, no word shall be heard but Thine, no name shall be named but Thine, for in Thy name every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Thou art Lord.”
Friends and brethren, it is the fulfilment of this promise, made by the Eternal Father to the Eternal Son, that is the object of the great missionary enterprise to which the Church of the