« PreviousContinue »
may be regarded as the JUBILEE OF THE WORLD. And so it was considered by the heavenly Host; who proclaimed it as “ GLAD “ TIDINGS of great joy, which should be to “ all people.” When our Saviour saith above, that he came “ to give deliverance “ to the captives;” and, in another place, that he came to give his life “ for the life “ of the world,” it is implied that the world was LOST. He saith, expressly, “ the son “ of man is come to seek, and to save, that “ which was lost.” And again, “ the son “ of man is come to give his life a RAN“ SOM for many."
And now, my brethren, let us apply this subject to our individual improvement; first in faith, as redeemed by Christ; and secondly, in practice, by imitating the conduct of Christ in redeeming the captive, and releasing the debtor.
1. Let every man ask himself, whether the Gospel hath, in any sense, been truly considered by him as GLAD TIDINGS. If he believe not that he is lost, and that Christ is come to pay his RANSOM, the Gospel is no Jubilee to him. He is yet in his bondage. He is yet “ tied and bound with the chain “ of his sins,” whether he feel that chain or not; and he will remain thus bound, until he begins to be sensible of his captivity. But when the day-spring from on high shall have visited him, then will he contemplate, with joy, the power and willingness of him who came “ 'to deliver the " CAPTIVES, and to set at liberty them that “ are bound.” And that æra of his life, when these salutary reflections first occupied his mind, will be to him as the year of release ; “ the ACCEPTABLE YEAR of the " Lord.”
There are men who say, that they need
no ransom! But the voice of the human race is against them. Almost all nations look out for a Redeemer. And, in this respect, the heathen world will rise up in judgment, at the great day, against “ Chorazin and Bethsaida.” In the pride and strength of life, men may say, they need no ransom : But, when they come to die, they are sometimes permitted to see their need of it; and, their having slighted or rejected the Redeemer, is the real cause of that depression of spirits and ultimate despair, which often assail the soul, on its being summoned to enter into the invisible world.
Let us then believe this solemn and eternal truth, that Christ is come, To DELIVER US FROM THE WRATH TO COME. * Let us pray, that, in this our day of health and reflection, we may be enabled to see our souls as God sees them; that we may feel our need of a ransom, and “ flee for refuge «. to the hope set before us."
* 1 Thes. i. 10.
2. We are also to apply this subject to our improvement in a practical way, by endeavouring to imitate the example of Christ in redeeming the captive, in releasing the debtor, and in forgiving the trespasses of our brethren.
Would, then, a man know whether he hath a just sense of Christ, as giving his life a ransom for his soul; let him ask himself, whether he hath any concern about the souls of others ; whether he hath ever done any thing, or means to do any thing, for the soul of his neighbour. For his concern about the spiritual welfare of others, will be proportionate to the solicitude he hath felt about the eternal state of his own soul.
Again, would the Christian know whe
ther “ God, for Christ's sake, hath for“ given him his debts ;" let him ask himself, whether he hath forgiven the debts of others. First, whether he hath forgiven injuries received in word and in deed ; especially, offences that wound his pride ; for these, perhaps, are the debts most difficult to forgive. But these debts must be forgiven ; for our Lord hath said, “ If ye for“ give not men their trespasses, neither will “ your heavenly father forgive your tres“ passes.” Secondly, whether he hath forgiven debts of money and obligation, in cases where the debtor could not pay, or could only pay with extreme difficulty. If the penitent sinner hath ever had any just sense of the mercy of Christ to himself, he will be merciful to his brother. If his Lord “ hath forgiven him his ten thousand s talents,” he will not take his brother by the throat, and say, “ pay me that thou "s owest.” My brethren, there are many