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GLAD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY.
TIME IS SHORT-ETERNITY IS LONG.
"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”—JEREMIAH vi. 16.
Reader, whoever thou art, soon it may be, very, very soon, the clod of the valley shall cover thee, and “the worm shall feed sweetly on thee,” Job xxiv. 20. “ Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down : he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not,” Job xiv. ), 2. On the day when thy poor body shall be cold and motionless, the sun shall shine as brightly, the birds shall sing as gaily, men shall pursue their different objects with as much earnestness, as when thou wast full of health, and youth, and spirits. Few, very few, shall ever think of thee; and even from the minds of those few, soon shalt thou pass away and be forgotten.
Reader, thou must die; “ the dust shall return to the earth as it was,” Eccles. xii.7 ; but thou hast that within thee which can never die; thou hast an immortal, never-dying soul. And yet, perhaps, thou hast to this moment lived as careless about thy soul, as if thou hadst it not. It may be thou hast gone on day after day, week after week, month after month, yea, perhaps, year after year, as unconcerned about its eternal state, as if hell were a tale, and eternity a trifle.- Die thou must; when, thou knowest not. It may be this hour, this moment; but, should it be this moment, where would that soul be!
Dost thou know the way of salvation? Perhaps thou dost not; perhaps thou thinkest that thou canst save thyselfthat thy bad works are not so bad but that thy good works may by some means or other prevail upon God to forgive thee—that if a man does the best which he can, Christ will do the rest.
But if this, my friend, is the way of salvation, it is a way the Scriptures know nothing of. 'If thou hast a Bible nigh at hand, I would entreat thee, as one that feels concerned for thy eternal happiness, to turn to that Bible; for in Matt. i. 21 we read, “ Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” I pray that thou mayest be enabled spiritually to understand that text. If the Son of God had the name of Jesus because he saves from sin, how then canst thou save thyself? To talk of saving thyself, is as much as to say, I believe not the Divine record; for it is clear that if a man believes that he can save himself, he cannot believe that salvation is by Christ alone. Observe, Jesus is not described in that verse, as one who helps a man to save himself from his sins, but as one who saves from sin. Man does not throw his own works into the scale against God's law, and because they do not weigh heavy enough, put the work of the Saviour into the scale with them to make the balance even; if this were true, man would be in no small measure his own saviour. But “thou shalt call his name Jesus," which word, Jesus, signifies Saviour," because he" (it is not said the people shall save themselves) “shall save,” not help,“ his people from their sins."
“Hear the word of the Lord.”—“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," 1 Tim. i. 15. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost,” Luke xix. 10. “ Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John xiv. 6. “ Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ," I Cor. iii. 11. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins,” Acts x. 43. " Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts iv. 12. “ Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom. iii. 24.-While that multitude which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, are for ever saying, “ Salvation to the Lamb!” Rev. vii. 10.
In all these passages this one thing is declared, that Jesus is the Saviour, and that there is salvation in no other than in and by him. What follows from this? This plain truth, that he who seeks salvation by his own works, either in whole or in part, seeks to be saved in a way which is contrary to that pointed out in the Bible.
“ Hear the word of the Lord.”—Instead of allowing man's works to be thrown into the scale with Jesus, it declares that his people are justified from sin by his blood alone.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Eph. i. 7. “Being now justified by his blood,” Rom. v. 9.
By whose stripes ye were healed,” i Peter ii. 24. “ Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. ** The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” 1 John i. 7. The saints
earth sing, 66 Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," Rev. i. 5. In heaven their song is still the same,“ Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood," Rev. v. 9.
Dear reader, I would desire thy attention to one more text. And as we are told that Christ opened the understandings of his disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures, Luke xxiv. 45, so would I pray that he would enlighten thine understanding, and open thine heart, Acts xvi. 14, that thou mayest read and attend to the things which are here written. The text to which I would call thy attention is this, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24. Observe, my friend, how the religion of the world is cut down, root and branch, by this single verse. It is not said that man's works, his tears, his repentance, his faith, his private prayers, his public devotions, his honest dealings, his alms-deeds, his good tempers, his warmth of feelings, bare the sin, but it was Jesus who bare the sin. See how very carefully this truth seems expressed, “Who his own self bare our sins”—it is very remarkable. It is not merely said, who bare our sins, nor, who himself bare our sins, but it is, who his own self, Jesus, and nothing but Jesus-Jesus, and no one else, “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”
All our sins were laid upon Jesus according to that verse, “ The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa. liii. 6. Having put himself in the place of sinners, he suffered in che same way as if he himself had really committed the sin;
"for the transgression of my people was he stricken,” Isa. lii. 8; and thus did Jesus save them from their sins. His bearing their sins and the punishment due to their sins, for, or instead of them, is their justification from sins, or else
Christ died in vain; for if Christ bare the sins of his people, and the punishment due to their sins, for, or instead of them, and after all his people are not saved, but shall themselves bear their own sins and the punishment, or any part of the punishment due to those sins, it necessarily follows, that Christ would fail of his purpose, and would have borne their sins in vain. But, blessed be God, that same scripture which declares “ who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree," declares also, that “ with his stripes we are healed.” Thus was sin punished, God glorified, and still the people saved : thus is salvation by any works of ours completely denied ; thus is salvation by the work of Jesus completely established.
Reader, this day is this great salvation proclaimed to thee. This day it is declared to thee, that “as Moses lifted up
the serpent in the wilderness,” that the wounded Israelites might look on it and be healed, so has “the Son of man been lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” John iii. 14, 15. This day are these glad tidings of great joy set forth, that, “ by him,” that is, by his work, “ all that believe are justified from all things,” Acts xiii. 39. This day it is said, as Paul and Silas said to the jailor at Philippi, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts xvi. 31. The word of the Lord declares that all that believe are justified; whosoever believeth shall have eternal life. I suppose thee, hitherto, never to have received the truth of God. What then has been thy past state ? Hast thou been decent and orderly in
Remember there is but one way of acceptance before God; that way is by the blood of Jesus. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus : whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” Rom. iii. 22–25. Hast thou been a great and notorious sinner, a profligate, a drunkard, a blasphemer,—the way is still the
The word of God says to every unconverted soul, Repent, and believe the gospel,” Mark i. 15. No worthiness in the sinner can be any warrant to go to the cross, and no unworthiness any reason for staying away. I will suppose the grossest sinner, the most notorious sinner, the most abominable sinner, and yet God himself says, “ whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life," John iï. 16. Here is no exception, no limitation; what is that case which whosoever will not take in ? whosoever,
whatever he may have been, no one is shut out who believes the record which God has given of his Son; no one excluded, who believes on Him.
Reader, believest thou on the Son of God? This tract may have been blessed to thy soul; “ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans x. 17. Believest thou what God has spoken of his Son? Believest thou on the Son of God? What, leaving the wretched system of a wretched world, salvation by works, which the Bible describes as a covering too narrow,” Isa. xxviii. 20; a “spider's web,” Isa. lix. 5; “filthy rags,” Isa. Ixiv. 6 ; dost thou believe in Jesus as the way, the only way, whereiu: thou canst be saved ? Is it so with thee? Then, as the Bible is true, thou art a saved soul: for “ he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life,” John iii. 36. Adure the love, the distinguishing love, of thy God: who having chosen thee in Christ before the foundation of the world, Eph. i. 4, given thee to Christ, John vi. 37, and united thee to Christ, Eph. v. 30-32, did give Christ to thee, John iii. 15, to die for thy sins, in time, that in him thou mightest be saved for ever. Adore Him who has called thee out of darkness into his marvellous light, 1 Pet. ii. 9; for what Jesus declared, when Peter said to him, “thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” may be said to thee, “ Blessed art thou, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,” Matt. xvi. 17. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. xii. 3. God by his Spirit has given thee to believe now, because thou wast chosen in eternity. have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee,” Jer. xxxi. 3.
And dost thou ask where good works are to be placed, since, in the way of acceptance, they have no place? I answer, they are the fruits of that faith which rejects all works, except the work of Christ, as the ground of justification before God; but which produces all holy obedience as the fruit of such justification. The good seed sown in the soul by the Spirit of God, is the word of God, Luke viii. 11; that word which declares that Christ justifies the ungodly, Rom. iv. 5; faith receives that word, 1 John v. 9, 10; that word received into the heart, brings forth fruit, Luke viii. 15; and by their fruits all who have received this seed are to be known, Matt. xii. 33.
As before the seed is sown there can be no gathering, so before the truth is received, no really good works can be