Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

salvation, as the gift of God procured for us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

3. But while we acknowledge that the blessings of the gospel are entirely of grace, and not of works, lest any man should boast; let us also consider, that as original sin is inherent in our nature, we should be constantly watching against its predominating influence in our hearts and lives. Though we cannot now claim salvation by our imperfect obedience; though “ Christ is become the author of salvation to all those who obey him ;" yet we are still required “ to put off the old man with his deeds, which are corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We are still required to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, that we may attain as the end of our faith the salvation of our souls." And good reason have we to stir up all our energies in resisting sin, since it is so congenial to our natures, and so ready on all occasions to prevail against us.

Let us consider, that we are prone to evil by the very constitution of our minds, and therefore we should watch and pray that we enter not into temptation, knowing that though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”

4. Finally, as all mankind are sinful and perverted, let us endeavour to exert ourselves, as far as our ability and opportunity extend, to reclaim others from the error of their ways, and to build them up through faith unto salvation. Let us take an interest in promoting the spiritual welfare of our fellow-creatures, by advice, reproof, correction, or instruction in righteousness, and thus we shall save their souls from death, and cover a multitude of sins. If we thus improve our natures, (perverted as they are,) in personal holiness, and in social virtue, we shall at last be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

SERMON III.

ON THE

CHRISTIAN SALVATION,

1 TIM. I. 15. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

No sooner had man fallen from his integrity, than a Saviour was provided for restoring him again to the divine favour. That the scheme of our redemption by Jesus Christ is founded upon the state of misery in which we were involved by original sin, will appear by considering, that if we were still as upright as when God created us very good, there would have been no necessity for that dispensation of mercy revealed in the gospel. For it would be absurd to suppose, that Christ came to redeem us from the condition in which we had proceeded from the hands of our Creator. The angels in heaven who have preserved their integrity, are now as perfect as they ever were, and therefore no Saviour is provided for them: hence it may be presumed that if man also had continued in the possession of primeval innocence, he would thereby have secured the loving kindness of God in this life, and everlasting happiness in the life to come. But, as we are now degenerate in our nature, and wicked in our practice, we are thereby obnoxious to the divine displeasure, and exposed to “ everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.”

Yet as God was not willing that we should perish, he determined to establish another plan of administration for the human race, by which the evils arising from the fall of Adam might be removed by Jesus Christ, and all who received him as their Saviour, be restored to that condition of holiness and happiness, for which they were originally destined. For the accomplishment of this purpose, our Saviour who was the eternal Son of God, assumed human nature, in which he rendered a complete obedience to the law of God, and fulfilled all righteousness in our behalf, suffered in his own body on the tree a punishment equivalent to the misery which we should have endured to all eternity, and thereby reconciled us to God, procured from him the remission of our guilt, and freedom from condemnation, because “ he redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” But not only hath Christ obtained the pardon of our past iniquities, his merits are also efficacious to cancel every future transgression ; for we are assured, that “ if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us."

And that our natures may be restored in some measure to that rectitude from which we have degenerated, he hath promised to renew us in the spirit of our minds, by a divine agent who worketh in us effectually to will and to do God's good pleasure, that by enabling us to persevere in well-doing through life, we may be meet for the inheritance of the saints in light,

Such is the end accomplished by the incarnation and death of Christ, for saying sinners who believe in his name, and live in obedience to the precepts of his gospel. But in order to understand more completely the doctrine of redemption, let us consider,

I. The necessity of Christ's mediation to procure the salvation of man.

II. The nature of his mediation which was interposed for this purpose.

III. The efficacy of it in promoting the end intended. IV. The practical improvement of the subject.

1. The necessity of Christ's mediation to procure the salvation of man will appear from the following illustrations. It will readily be allowed that we and all mankind are sinners, and as such obnoxious to the divine indignation. Scripture declares, that “ cursed is every one who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them;" and that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish are our portion as workers of iniquity. This being the condition in which we are placed, it is the most important inquiry which the human mind can make, whether we must necessarily suffer the punishment due to our offences, or whether God will pardon us and restore us to his favour. We cannot indeed expect such compassion if we continue impenitent, for even our fellowcreatures will not forgive us any injuries we may have committed against them, unless we promise amendment, and form a resolution to avoid the like offences for the future.

If we continue therefore in the practice of transgression, we need not seek the favour of God, since he will by no means clear the guilty. But we may perhaps entertain the hopes, that our repentance for the past, and reformation for the future, will be sufficient to restore us to the divine acceptance. This however does not appear to be the case, either from the deductions of reason or the declarations of scripture. Reason will tell us, that though we endeavour ever so sincerely to amend our conduct, yet God must be displeased at our past iniquities, since he cannot look upon sin but with detestation and abhor

Our past evil deeds, therefore, can never be cancelled by our present good actions. They will still remain as debts which we are liable to discharge, by suffering the punishment which our righteous lawgiver may inflict upon us.

However penitent therefore we may be for our past offences, however careful in our future beha

rence.

do butun du

Thus, when men ruin their fortunes by extravagance, or their health by excess, their sorrow and contrition for their misbehaviour does not remove the evil consequences of their wickedness and folly: or, when persons incur the penalties of human laws, by violating the rights of society, no wise government deems it expedient to release such individuals from the punishment which their crimes deserve, because they profess the most sincere regret, and promise never to be guilty of similar offences. Wherefore, if repentance is not effectual to prevent the temporal calamities which God hath connected with vice in the present world, we have no reason to expect that it will be more available to secure impunity from those miseries denounced against transgression in the world to come.

Yet though repentance and a desire of reformation are not of themselves sufficient to prevent the natural result of profligacy or vice, still when a disposition to turn from our evil ways exhibits itself in our behaviour, it excites the compassion of others who may afford us relief, to make an offer of their generosity to extricate us from the embarrassments in which we are involved. Also, when by .capital crimes a person has forfeited his life to the laws of his country, his sincere contrition and purpose of amendment, though unavailing of themselves to procure the clemency of the sovereign who can grant him a pardon, may be effectual to induce some powerful and benevolent individual to sue for a release from punishment, and thus secure his life. In the same manner, our return to a sense of our duty, accompanied with an earnest desire to obey the will of God for the future, might lead us to expect, from the analogy of the present constitution of things, that God would accept of some mediatorial influence on our behalf, for the sake of which he might pardon us when we repent and amend our lives. And accordingly the scriptures represent the interposition of Christ in our behalf as intended to obtain for us the pardon of our sins if we forsake them, and restoration to the divine favour, by what he has done and suffered in the capacity of our Saviour. They teach us, that God being desirous to save penitent transgressors, hath devised a method by which

« PreviousContinue »