Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

1st. The superior greatness of the Gospel may be seen in the universality of its application. All former religious institutions were restrictive in their regulations. In the Mosaic economy, none but the members of the Hebrew nation-none but the circumcised and the initiated could participate of its blessings. But the provisions of the Gospel are free as the air we breathe, and extend to all who will accept or receive them. It is one of the distinguishing and blessed features of the New Testament, that it knows no restrictions, and has no territorial limits.. Christ Jesus has tasted death for every man. The benefits of his mediation are confined by no boundaries, no seas, no landmarks. They extend to polar realms and equatorial climes, overlook all national distinctions, and cover the entire area of the world. With Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scy. thian, bond nor free.” The blessings of his atonement extend as well to the Hindoo-to the Chinee--to the African-to the savage inhabitants of the isles and the mountains, as to the Jew who trod the sacred walks of Jerusalem, or to European kings amid the glory of their palaces. In every land, and isle, and mount, and vale, everywhere that living man has set his foot or sinful wretch is found, the Gospel extends its saving efficacy, and proclaims to the believer a free and full salvation. Nor is there any want either natural, spiritual, or social, in the whole catalogue of human infirmity and need, which it does not provide for. Every tear of anguish it wipes away. Every pain it either removes or alleviates. And every wound of bruised and suffering humanity it kindly binds up and heals. So that looking at the universality of its application both as respects all men, and as respects all the wants of men, we may well call it a “great salvation."

2nd. The great expense at which the Gospel was procured and salvation provided also tends to enhance its greatness. It was not by an easy process, or by a little expenditure that the work of redemption was accomplished. It has cost more than arithmetic can calculate or finite mind conceive. As to the labor bestowed upon it, multiplied thousands including angels-patriarchs—prophetspriests—and kings have lived and toiled for its completion. The Son of God himself also gave it years of personal and unceasing attention and labor. . As to self-denial, it cost the Savior the unaccountable humiliation of a temporary resignment of his seat in glory,

an assumption of a frail and death-stricken nature, and the deep abasement of living with the vile in a world of sorrow and finally dying as a doomed malefactor among thieves and murderers. As to pains and sufferings both of body and soul, it cost the Lord Jesus maltreatment and insult of every imaginable character—all the distresses attending a life of abject poverty-the cruel harasses of a tempting devil—and all the woes of a despised and homeless outcast, Nor was this all. Let the blood-tinged rocks of Gethsemene repeat the tale of suffering which there oppressed and wrung his soul—let the hill-tops of Calvary tell the unpitied agony which pierced and crushed him there until the valleys echoed with his bitter groans; and then let the estimate be made of the dying Re. deemer's grief. And as to the price that was actually paid in addition to all this, all the treasures in the mineral kingdoms of a thousand worlds cannot fully represent. It was a great-an incalculable—a matchless price. It was the price of blood! Not the blood of bulls, or of goats, or of the cattle upon ten thousand hills. It was a price which exhausted the treasury of heaven, and drained the last life drops from the bleeding heart of the Son of God! Such was the cost of our redemption. Looking then at the heavy expense of its procurement, surely it is to be regarded as a "great salvation.”

3d. The greatness of salvation will further appear from the miraculous works required for its permanent establishment. Dr. Young in his Night Thoughts, remarking on this point, says

“For this, laws from the skies were published, were repealed ;
On earth, kings, kingdoms rose, kings, kingdoms fell ;
Famed sages lighted up the pagan world ;
Prophets from Zion darted a keen glance
Through distant age; saints travelled ; martyrs bled ;
By wonders, sacred nature stood controlled ;
The living wore translated ; dead were raised ;
Angels, and more than angels came from heaven;

And O! for this descended lower still!”— It was by numerous signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost,” that the church of Christ was planted in the world. Prophecy, that intellectual miracle by which the mind is made to pierce through the dark vista of coming time and lay open to preceding generations the mysteries that are to follow, with the complete fulfillment of all its minutiæ--the Savior's strange

conception—the angelic annunciation of his advent to the shepherds of Judea-the voices from the clouds which were heard approbating his course—his transfiguration on the mount—the terrible signs, darkness, earthquake, rending of the tombs and the temple's veilthe startling events of his resurrection and ascension, were all prodigious exhibitions attending the first institution of christianity. And divers other wonders, for the most part accompanied by the volitions of Christ and his apostles, of a more simple character, are also to be taken into the account. The blind were made to seethe lame to walk—the deaf to hear—the dumb to speak—the sick were healed—multitudes were fed and satisfied with morsels—the mad and furious elements were tamed-devils were cast out-the territories of death were invaded—and the putrid dead were stirred to life. All this was connected with and necessary to the establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom. And in view of such wonders, how justly is the Gospel called a "great salvation.”

4th. But the real magnitude of this salvation is only to be estimated by its underived efficacy and blessed results. The virtues of all other availing institutions of religion have been derived. They are something extraneous to the systems themselves. The orig. inal organization of the church of God on the other side of the flood, with all its subsequent ritual changes, depended entirely for its efficacy upon the virtues of the New Testament provisions. No acceptable services were rendered, no ceremonial was profitably observed, no sinner was pardoned or saved, but upon the virtues of the long-promised redemption of the Gospel. This salvation however, is altogether sufficient in its own underived and intrinsic power. And as to the blessedness of its results, Paul himself, aided as he was with his visions and revelations of the Lord,” faltered beneath the conception of their glory, and merely exclaimed, “ 80 great salvation.” Look, my hearers, at the miseries from which it delivers. First sum up all the sorrow, despair, remorse, and dying agony of a guilty world as endured this side the grave; then look at the woes of a coming eternity. Go in imagination with the only less than inspired Pollok down the dark, eternal, uncreated night to the barren territory of the damned. Look upon that lake of burning fire, with tempests tossed perpetually, where overhead, and all around wind wars with windstorm bowls to storm-lightning, forked lightning crosses-thunder answers thunder muttering

sounds of sullen wrath; and see earth's stricken millions wandering through all that dungeon of unfading fire, burning continually yet unconsumed, for ever wasting yet enduring still, dying perpetually yet never dead. Listen to their curses loud, and blasphemies which make the cheek of darkness pale-their groans that end not—and sighs that always sigh without relief or intermission. Follow them still through all the indescribable and increasing woes which eternity has in reserve for them; then tell if you can the blessedness of a complete redemption. Who can estimate “so great salvation.”

Look next to the joys which it secures—the happy tone which it gives to human society-the peace of conscience it producesthe consolation it affords—the blissful hope it inspires even in this world, and then the untold joys of the heaven it has rendered attainable. Aye, let your fancy rest upon those innumerable multitudes around the throne, with whited robes, and glittering crowns, and waving palms. Hear their triumphant songs as listed in loud hosanna to their king. See how every heart is big with rapture, and every breeze is laden with the overflowing joy-how every landscape glows with gladness, and all the hills and vales of heaven ring with shouts of “Alleluia ! salvation and blessing, and honor, and glory unto the Lord God and unto the Lamb." Whilst from every quarter of the far distant skies the loud“ Amen, Alleluia !” is echoed back to swell the mighty anthem that sounds for ever and ever. Follow them on in their course of ever augmenting joy, until with Paul you are compelled to admit that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” the extent of their blessedness; nor even then can you form a full idea of so great salvation. Its lengths and depths, and breadths and heights, are all past our knowledge. The apostle with all his supernatural acquaintance with spiritual things, did not attempt to designate the boundaries of its magnitude. But after the loftiest flight and widest grasp of his imagination, he still saw new beauties, wonders, and sublimities spreading before him which no language or thought could reach, yea, so overwhelming was the contemplation of its glory and magnificence, that his only and faltering exclamation was _"80 great salvation !"

The conclusion from all this is, that if there be any religion in the world worthy of serious attention, it is the religion of the Gogpel; and that if under those former imperfect dispensations every

transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how utterly out of the question that those should escape the Divine wrath who offend against or neglect so great salvation. If every act of impiety was justly punished when duty was not so plainly laid down, nor the motives to obedience so imposingly presented, how can vengeance slumber when deviations are made and guilt perpetrated amid the meridian blaze of a perfect revelation ?

And that the word spoken by angels was steadfast,” we are not left without reason to believe. The Scriptures on this point are not silent. Instances of the most fearful character are recorded for our profit. Noah was an angel or messenger of the Lord sent to preach righteousness to the wicked antediluvians, and to declare unto them the Divine purpose concerning them. And though he manifested his sincerity in the preparation of the ark, the people only despised his prophesying and rendered additional insult to God. Nor did he pass by their disobedience as a light affair; but to demonstrate the steadfastness of Noah's words, he arose in the fierceness of his wrath-threw open the windows of heaven_broke up the foundations of the deep-rolled out its angry waters over every city, plain, and highest mountain peak—and hushed every blaspheming voice beneath the laving billows of an ocean world! Most of the communications given to Moses were given through the medium of angels; yet they were steadfast. Not only were the offenders excluded from the land of promise, but were cut off in the wilderness by plagues and judgments the most distressing. Sodom and Gomorrah had also heard the message of angelic visiters, but having mocked and despised it, Jehovah has shown its steadfastness by consigning them to a wofül oblivion. Nor was there any transgression or disobedience which did not receive its just recompense of reward. How then can they escape who neglect so great salvation? Is not the case made out that they cannot escape? Aye, it is not with the spirit of inquiry alone, but of inquiry under the deep conviction that no answer can be given, that the apostle exclaims, How can they escape? Their rùin cometh like a whirlwind, and their damnation like the lightning in fierceness.

How can they escape? They have had time, opportunity, and motive enough ; the means were amply sufficient, and the calls to penitence sufficiently urgent; everything which rational man could desire they had proffered them. Having then neglected and slight

« AnteriorContinua »