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aspirings, hereafter to look into that heaven of heavens, where the glories of Redemption will be more peculiarly revealed, and where the Lord God Almighty may be for ever unfolding to our view those plans which occupy
His infinite mind.
1. From this subject we are led to admire the character of God's Government.
He governs good men—he governs angels—not by physical strength, but by moral influence-not by an arm of arbitrary power, but by appealing to the noblest sympathies of moral nature. He does not command his Potentates to take their 'stations, and keep worlds in awe by thunders of despotism. But he sends forth His own Son, in the mild majesty of the Prince of Peace; and he makes His angels ministering spirits.
" In the fullness of time," he selects our world, as a theatre, on which to make one grand exhibition of His own character--calculated to secure the love, respect, and confidence of all worlds. And thus good beings, in all worlds, are made obedient and loyal subjects, from choice;—not by force. This is emphatically a free Government. This is a kind of government worthy of rational beings, and worthy of God.
2. How exceedingly limited are the views of those, who think that the great object of Christ's coming into our world was, “to publish a good system of morality! and to set us a good example !"
How contracted and pitiable are their thoughts of Christ ! O, ye men of reason, who yet see no grandeur in the heights of Calvary ;-commune with your Bible—commune with your God—if peradventure ye may yet “behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world;" and may, like learned Paul, be brought to count all human science " but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
3. We learn, how very imperfect are the views of those, who suppose, that the only object of Christ's coming into our world was to save sinners.
This was indeed one great object, and worthy of our endless gratitude :-But Oh, what is the salvation of millions who creep on earth ?what is this, compared with those glorious displays of God's character ? or compared with that eternal confidence in His government, which is inspired among the loftier and wider provinces of His empire ? Sinners
can now accept the offered grace, and angels will rejoice, and give glory to the Lamb; or sinners can now despise the Saviour's love, and trample on His blood, and fall under his curse, but those same angels will still celebrate His goodness, and adore his eternal justice.
4. We learn, in the next place, from this subject, that we ought never to distrust the wisdom of Providence, even in events which seem dark and mysterious.
Little did the mourning disciples think, when their Lord was crucified and buried, that from the darkness of Calvary a light of Redemption was bursting forth on our ruined race. And little do we think, when clouds of fearful portent may seem to hang round our Churches, and when thick darkness broods over more than half the nations- little perhaps do we think, what'a Spirit of lightning from on high may soon break forth to electrify and purify our Zion ;-what showers of heavenly influence may soon descend, to flow out in streams of salvation through the world. But let us never despair. Let our fervent supplication ascend up continually,—Arise, O Lord God, into thy resting-place, thou and the Ark of thy strength; make the voice of truth to be heard by the slumbering millions ; and make thy name glorious over all the earth.
5. From this subject let Christians be provoked to self-denying sacrifices in the cause of humanity, and untiring devotedness to the Saviour.
Says St. Paul, The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead; and that He died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him, that died for them and rose again.” O Christianknowing the terrors of the Almighty, when pressing heavily upon the poor convinced sinner; knowing the only Saviour, who could remove that heavy load of guilt; knowing the only Rock of safety amid the terrors of a crumbling Universe; having seen the glory of a reconciled Jehovah, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ;" can you ever cease to pray, that others also may build on that Everlasting Rock-and that "we all, with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of God, may be changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord ?" Having stood on Mount Calvary, and seen, with an eye of faith, that great Sacrifice, which fills heaven with adoring wonder and praise; having " entered into the holiest by the blood of Jesus ;" and held "communion with his Father and your Fatherwith His God and your God;" and having a name written in the
Lamb's book of life,” for your security when“ worlds are burnt up;"'. can you now shrink from any effort, which might make an ungodly world to feel, that there is Foundation to the Christian's faith ?—Can you decline any sacrifice, which might quicken the wings of the Angel having the everlasting Gospel to preach ?" Remember, brethren, your responsibility is greatly increased by your knowledge of duty and your personal relation to the Saviour. Possibly a thousand fold heavier weight of responsibility rests upon you, than upon your rich and covetous neighbor. Now, then, when the Redeemer's great promise is fulfilling-when his Spirit is hovering around us, and is beginning to move on nations long enveloped in darkness; let there be a moving army of the faithful ;-let our " youth of promise," and all the saints bestir themselves like angels ;"- let the ministers of God be “ flames of fire;"—from the "high places of Zion " let there be a going forth of all that is elevated in thought, and bold in enterprise, and self-denying in piety, for quickening this poor drowsy world, and bursting away from it the chains of darkness and hell, and reclaiming its degraded nations to the holy empire of God.
6. From this subject let the wicked and the worldly, amid the blaze of gospel light, be constrained to repent ånd believe.
Sinner, louk on Him, whom you have pierced, and mourn. Cannot the love of Christ dissolve your soul in sympathy and penitence ? When he poured out that blood, " which was to sprinkle many nations," all nature sympathised in His sufferings. And why did the rocks rend? why did the earth quake? why did the dead awake? why did the sun hide in darkness ? why did the Eternal Son assume our nature, and expire in agony? It was that he might redeem rebels, such as we are, from eternal burnings, and wash them from guilt in his own blood, and clothe them in the splendor and likeness of their Redeemer. And have you no gratitude? Is your heart harder than the rocks, which rent asunder !-more insensible than the dead, who started from their tombs! Ponder well the theme. For “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin;" and never will you repent-never will you abhor sinnever will you love Christ—if not when standing by his cross, and "beholding how He loved us.” Was ever love like this? The Son of God yielding to death, " for your sakes !" And what a death! It was not that “ His face sweat as it were great drops of blood;"—not that His hands and feet were nailed to the accursed tree; not that His head was crowned with thorns, and His body pierced by the soldier's sword.
the hour of the travail of His soul! It was the hour, when He, whose "sword is bathed in heaven," cried, “AWAKE, O SWORD, AGAINST MY SHEPHERD, AND AGAINST THE MAN THAT IS MY FELLOW.” Enter into the meaning of those words, coming, as they do, from the mouth of the Almighty! Think of that sword of Omnipotence, descending with its dreadful weight upon God's own Son! and remember, He was our Substitute !
“ He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed.” Blessed Jesus! and didst thou voluntarily bow thine head beneath the stroke, and thus finish thy part of the holy Covenant ?mand shall we not repent of sin, and believe on thy name?
In view of that Covenant, sealed with blood, does one heart still linger, and “go after its covetousness !"- · RETURN UNTO ME, FOR I HAVE REDEEMED YOU, SAITH THE LORD.” It would seem as though in view of such a Treaty, issuing in broad characters from Heaven, and ratified with blood on earth, a wicked world would, at once, give up their rebellion, and say with one voice, " Lord, we do return to thy kingdom." Ohaste, then, sinner, hasten, with true penitence and faith, to lay hold on that Covenant-promise, for to-morrow may be too late. "God is angry with the wicked every day." " His Spirit shall not always strive." He may arrest you suddenly. You never hear His thunder till the lightning has struck. O haste, then, * to be found in Him, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," for there is no other refuge for the guilty.
Fellow-sinner, give heed to this expostulation; for "precious blood” has been shed ! and blood is at stake between thee and me. I now leave thee at the foot of the Cross. There only is mercy. And " to-day” only is there any promise of forgiveness. Then "seize the kind promise;" for “we know not what shall be on the morrow. To-day, all ungrateful as thou hast been, thou canst not open thy Bible, without being struck with the affecting truth, that the kindest words that ever dropped from the lips of God or angel, are addressed directly to thyself;" Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” But to-morrow, "this gospel of the kingdom may be taken from thee.', Or rather, that Holy Spirit, who alone can " guide thee into all truth," may be withdrawn, and thou be left to believe a lie."
And how aggravated must be the guilt of such as reject the salvation offered through the blood of the Son of God.
7. The reflection very naturally follows, that incorrigible sinners must be punished with immeasurable severity.
Say not, in hardening impenitence" It will surely be well with the wicked, because God is merciful." We see to what results even the mercy of God may lead. It was Infinite Mercy, that was concerned in the events of Calvary; which wakened that agonizing cry, “My God, MY GOD, WHY NAST THOU FORSAKEN ME!" And sinner, “if these things be done in the Green Tree, what shall be done in the dry ?" If Infinite Love could thus reveal itself in almighty vengeance on the Son of God," who knew no sin," but only deigned to be our Substitute;in what untold severity must it come on those, who are personally guilty ! especially if their guilt is aggravated a thousand fold by a willful rejec. tion of the All-Glorious Substitute! As you value life, then,—or as you fear death eternal-beware how you trifle with blood !-beware how you trifle with the mercy of God, revealed in the death of His Son. " Whosoever shall fall on this Stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.” In the most benevolent deed that the heavens ever witnessed, God has demonstrated to the universe, that iniquity can not go unpunished. And having thus strikingly demonstrated, that misery is not inconsistent with mercy,— who shall dare to say,—(in opposition to God's word,)—that He will not eternally magnify "the riches of His glory in them that are saved," and in the view of all holy beings, by permitting them "to go forth and look upon the carcasses of them that have transgressed—where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched”-because they
have despised our Lord Jesus Christ ?". If God failed not "to show His wrath, and make his power known,” when His own Son was to be the sufferer,—think you that His abhorrence of sin will become all mildness, and pity, and weakness ;—when His incorrigible enemies are to be the victims?—and when millions of angels are crowding round, to witness His truth, and to adore His justice! 0 ye blind guides—ye traitors! who cry, Peace, peace, --when there is no peace, saith my God to the wicked;"—ye murderers! who would launch your fellow beings into a boundless, ocean, under all their weight of guilt !-give back your delusions to "the father of lies;" " for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever." For "where the tree falleth, there it shall be :"—then " he that is filthy, let him be filthy still."
Finally, we learn from this subject the great propriety of frequently commemorating the dying of the Lord Jesus.