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which represent grace and merit as wholly incompatible, and which assert that the conjunction of human effort with the righteousness of Christ, in the matter of justification, vitiates the influence of the latter. “ But what things,” says Paul, “ gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them refuse, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
The satisfaction of Christ is a sufficient ground for an unlimited offer of pardon to sinners, and a sufficient warrant to all to whom it is offered to seek it. The gospel does not testify that all are forgiven, yet it proclaims a forgiveness which all are warranted and invited to appropriate. It not only tells you that there is forgiveness with God, and that He is a God ready to pardon; it not only declares that He is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself
, or actually forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin; it also proclaims to every person to whom its message comes, that the pardon procured by the atonement of Christ is for him, and that he has full liberty to take it as his own.
It assures you that God for Christ's sake forgives even the chief of sinners; and whatever, therefore, may be the number or the heinousness of your transgressions, you are authorized to receive in its application to yourselves this testimony, and, in the way of believing, of acknowledging the Saviour, and of relying on the sufficiency of his satisfaction, to say, “God for Christ's sake hath forgiven me.” “ 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 answer to the question, What must I do to be saved ?" is clear and explicit: “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “ Him that cometh unto me," the Saviour declares, " I will in no wise cast out." “ He that believeth in me is not condemned.” Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." “ There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
How great is the encouragement which this subject furnishes to the sinner who feels his need of pardon, and who is anxious to obtain it! God is willing to forgive; the atonement of Christ is a sufficient ground for the bestowment of forgiveness; and from the benefits it secures, none are excluded but those who exclude themselves. Go, then, to the Judge of all, and deprecate His dealing with you according to your demerit. Adopt the prayer of the publican, “ Be merciful to me, a sinner.” But apply to Him for pardon through the blood of the everlasting covenant. To seek it otherwise is to insult the Majesty of heaven, whose mercy you need and should implore. Ye are come to God, the Judge of all, whose prerogative it is to forgive; but ye are also come to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling. Fear not that pardon is unattainable. He who sent his Son to be a propitiation for your sins, and who is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, will lend a gracious ear when you cry to him for mercy. If you are conscious of your need of pardon, and willing to receive it as God's free gift through Christ Jesus, you are as much warranted as sinners can be, to go to the mercy-seat, and take it as your own. Neglect not then the great salvation, but lay hold on the hope set before you.
But how powerful is the call to gratitude which this sub addresses to believers! You have been made partakers of a blessing unspeakably valuable. Forget not, then, the obligation you owe to Him from whom you have received it. Adopt the language of the Psalmist, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.” But your gratitude must not evaporate in words. It must be an operative principle, animating you to glorify the God of all grace in your bodies and spirits, which are his. Meditate on the value and the freeness of the blessing of forgiveness, till your hearts, burning within you, constrain you to exclaim, “ What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanks. giving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” And in proportion to the multitude of
love be strong toward Him through whom much has been forgiven youtoward Him who “ was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities; on whom was the chastisement which brought you peace, and by whose stripes you were healed.”
your sins, let
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON ;
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, LONDON.
J. & W. Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
THE GOSPEL SLIGHTED. That the gospel is worthy of all acceptation, and that despising it, is consequently a sin of unparalleled magnitude, are propositions which will be almost universally admitted. Few will hesitate to concur in the condemnation of those who are so far lost to their duty and true interest, as to trample under foot the offered blessings of salvation, and indignantly spurn away the gracious overtures of peace and reconciliation made to them by God himself. But there is no small reason for suspecting, that very many, in the condemnation which they pronounce upon others, are, like David with respect to the rich man in Nathan's parable, criminating themselves. The class of gospel despisers is a much more numerous one, and comprehends a greater variety of characters, than most persons are apt to imagine. Those who make a mock at all religion,-infidel and profane scoffers, form but a small part of it. Such persons indeed occupy the foreground among the despisers of the gospel ; but there is a long and dense train who follow after, including many who think themselves, and are thought by others, to be “not far from the kingdom of heaven.”
Among these, we must mention, next to the scoffer, whom we have placed in the front, those who, although professed believers in the gospel, allow themselves to treat with ridicule things sacred ; to whom the ministers and ordinances of religion, and even the Scriptures themselves, furnish an inexhaustible source of jest and merriment. Surely it is a clear case that those persons entertain in their hearts but a mean idea of the gospel, whatever they may allege to the contrary, who can make it, in any form, the subject of their ungodly mirth. We are well aware of what is usually pleaded in behalf of these despisers of sacred things, that it is not Christianity, but fanaticism and superstition assuming its name, that they wish to expose to scorn and ridicule. But though we were to admit the justness of the plea, their conduct still remains incapable of vindication, as they cannot but be aware, that the contempt they aim at what they call fanaticism, strikes against the gospel itself. The truth however is, that the plea in question is a mere pretext, fabricated for a special purpose, to satisfy their own minds, and impose upon others, and that all their shafts are really levelled against the very religion that came down from heaven.
Its spirituality, its purity, its opposition to the high thoughts and lofty imaginations of men, render it an object of strong dislike to every unrenewed man; and as men can with greater ease neglect and despise what is an object of ridicule, than what is an object of fear, they endeavour to make religion appear as contemptible as they can, that thus they may have some excuse for disregarding it.
Another class of persons, more different in appearance than in reality from that just mentioned, and who consequently come also under the description of despisers of the gospel, are those whose hearts remain entirely unimpressed under the dispensation of gospel ordinances. They are persons who, it may be, treat with external respect every thing sacred ; they never allow themselves to utter a disdainful or slighting word regarding the ordinances or ministers of religion ; but though in these respects exemplary, they feel not the smallest interest in divine things, no more than those do, who without scruple employ them to point an epigram, or season a jest. Under the delivery of the most awful truths, calculated to make the ears of them that hear tingle, they sit without feeling a single movement of apprehension or concern.
The burden of the Lord, which ought to weigh down their spirits, and which the ministers of the gospel cannot deliver but“ with a trembling hand and faltering lips," is scarcely sufficient to repress an unseasonable expression of levity. The threatenings, denunciations, and curses of the Divine law, pointed and barbed even though they be with all the terrors of the Almighty, fall as ineffectively upon them as the dart and the spear
the scaly hide of leviathan, which were counted by him but as straw or rotten wood. With the same unconcern they will hear the affecting details of all that Christ did and suffered for sinners, and will listen with as little interest to them as to the commonest tale that is told, nor feel them more effectual in exciting sentiments of affection and gratitude than a fable or a song. The words may enter their ears, but they reach not their hearts. They feel upon the subject very much as Festus did, and it is likely, did not decorum forbid, would express themselves in a similar slighting manner; characterising the doctrine of Christ as a superstitious question “ of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.”
Now, that the acting in this cold and heartless manner, with respect to the gospel, is a despising of it, must, we think, be quite manifest. The gospel was intended to engage the teelings and affections; and therefore, wherever it fails in