« AnteriorContinuar »
soul and body in hell. The mightiest monarch can no more than kill the body. The Judge of all can shut the soul out from his favor forever. He can destroy it in hell. What a price, then, is put into the sinner's hands to get wisdom. But oh, what a forfeiture if he fail! He must become an eternal bankrupt in spite of all that Heaven has done to make him rich, honored, and happy.
Look at Christ, my impenitent friends, in the position in which he is now before you, and say if you do not discover much-if you do not discover every thing which ought to bring you to Christ. If infinite love, and exhaustless goodness could draw you, you would come. If the fear of having arrayed against you omnipotent power, and unbending justice, and rejected and slighted goodness could alarm you, you would be alarmed, and flee from the wrath to come.
IV. I present Christ in one other attitude--as he appears in the promise made to our first parents. Whatever had been transacting within the veil-in the Holy of holies above-nothing of the stupendous scheme of mercy had before transpired on earth -not an intimation had been given before in this world, nor in the outer court of heaven where angels and archangels stand and worship the uncreated Divinity in the inner sanctuary, that there could be such a thing as the pardon of sin. Not a fact had transpired in the whole universe to warrant any such hope. This transcended the experience of angels. Their own dominions and principalities had been invaded by sin. Like a malignant sirocco, they had seen sin sweep over the fairest of the heavenly fields, and lay prostrate in its course some of the loveliest plants of Paradise. But they knew nothing of any system of restoration. Every victim of sin, they had seen instantly seized and cast out of heaven as a putrid mass-an infectious nuisancereserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. And what less can they expect, should a similar insurrection break out in any province of God's vast dominions?
But what did they at length witness? The earth was created and fitted up for human habitation, with every comfort and convenience which could contribute to the well-being of a holy race. Nothing was wanting that could make holy beings happy. No disease had yet floated in its virgin atmosphere. No tear had flown; no groan had given signs of pain; no malignant passion had yet poisoned the social joys of a new and happy race. The intercourse, too, between heaven and earth was familiar and sweet. Man bore the image of his God, and he was the welcome companion of angels. Thus did this new world, formed, fitted up, beautified by the hand of infinite Perfection, issue from its chaotic cloud, and as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoice as a strong man to run a race. Every thing
to angelic or human ken, gave promise that this planet was added as another star in the crown of the Sovereign Ruler of the skies.
But a change comes over the scene as the earth rolls on, measuring out its annual rounds of blessedness to a loyal and happy pair, its brightness is eclipsed. Its song of joy is turned into a wail of woe and lamentation. The earth is now dark; its beauty is defaced; its gold has become dim, its most fine gold changed; and all its pleasant things are laid waste and become the heritage of the spoiler. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain. But what has wrought this change? What has drawn the curtain of thick darkness over a world so recently illumined by the brightness of the Father's countenance? What has so soon changed this happy spot into an abyss of woe? Oh! it is sinsin that has extinguished the light of heaven which used to shine So sweetly here. It is sin that has struck the fatal blow-that has brought death and all its woes. It is sin that has laid man in ruins, and drawn the sable folds as a winding sheet about this fallen world.
Contemplate the world in the position in which it is brought by sin. It stood in the same relation to God that the sinning angels did when they apostatized. As far as any former development of grace went to show, there was no hope in heaven or earth for sinning man. He, with all his wretched posterity had only to look forward to blackness and darkness forever-the companion of fallen angels, reserved in chains of darkness unto the great day. But, in the midst of this general gloom-amidst the groanings of the prisoners and the cries of them that are bound, what do I hear! It is but an indistinct voice-but it is the sound of peace to the troubled soul. It is the voice of liberty to the captives. It is light to them that sit in darkness-pardon to the guilty-life to the dead. It was the first intimation that sin might be pardoned and the sinner saved from remediless woe. It was the first note of redeeming love that was ever struck in this lower world-the first the heavenly choir ever sung. Yet our ears may have become so accustomed to the sounds which then were so wondrously strange, so sweetly sublime to angelic ears, that we may well nigh have overlooked this first announcement of mercy to our ruined world. It came in terms like these: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
No sooner had man fallen than Christ entered on the mediatorial work. He had undertaken it, prepared himself for it, provided the chief actors and the place on which they should act, but nothing had transpired on earth till now. The moment Satan dared place his polluted foot on this beautiful and holy earth, the angel of the covenant-the mighty angel that John saw standing on
the sea and on the earth, the Proprietor and Governor of both, met him at the threshold, and raised the banners of his empire there. Man had sinned, and Satan now claimed the entire race as his own. His claim was disputed by the vicegerent of heaven -and from this time the conflict began.
What a day was this in heaven-what a day to man! The annunciation of pardon to the sinner through the blood of the Son of God formed a new era in the history of the universe. Not a question could have risen before, that inevitable perdition was the portion of all that sinned. But a new song is now heard in heaven, and new hope smiles on earth. By the entrance of sin all had become dark. Spiritual night covered the earth. But the morning had come-light began to streak the eastern horizon. The promise" was the first dawning of gospel light on this dark world. It was the sure precursor of the Sun of Righteousness. Christ was in this promise, the Saviour of a race yet to be born. Can you view him in a more interesting posture this side of the cross? It is in this position you see him more especially as the Hope of the World. The star that now arose on the dark and troubled waters of sin, was the star of hope. But for this light, the world had remained in total, unbroken darkness. But for this hope, man, in all his passing, hapless generations, had been shut up in the prison-house of fell despair forever. Had not Christ appeared as the seed of the woman that should bruise the serpent's head, man had been bruised, crushed, ruined, beneath the power of God's violated law.
What a pleasing, vital interest, have we, then, in this first presentation of the Lamb of God that should take away the sin of the world. Not yet incarnate, not yet presented as an offering for sin, yet he stood pledged to the great work of expiation and intercession, and held forth the unfailing promise that he would accomplish the work given to do.
The subject urges on us a few brief reflections:
1. If Christ occupies the positions here assigned him, under what obligations are Christians to be entirely his? His by crea tion, by preservation and government, as well as by redemption, how ought we to be his in affection, in honor, in service? How ought we to render him what is so richly his due? We owe him all things; and what robbery if we do not yield to him the whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. What, then, means this indifference, lukewarmness, deadness? Has Christ laid us under no obligations required nothing of us-assigned us nothing to do? Shall we live as drones in the common hive? What do ye more than others, who make no professions?
2. What a comfortable security the Christian has, that if he trust in Christ he can never fail.
3. If Christ be what has been represented, how desperate is the case of the impenitent sinner! If you make Him who is the
Owner of all things, and the Governor of all, your enemy, and provoke him to shut you out from his favor, whither will you go -where will you seek a refuge? You become an outcast, destitute and wretched indeed. Hell shall be your only portion-the only spot where you shall find a place.
Will you, then, sinner, not stop and contemplate this "great sight?" The King of Glory, the Author and Finisher of salvation for you, you see here approaching this rebellious province and entering on his self-denying, humiliating work. He comes to vanquish Satan, to destroy sin, and to save sinners like you. Will you not, then, hear his voice, accept his offering, and receive him for your Saviour? He knocks at the door of your heart, will you not arise and let him in ?
BY REV. DAVID H. COYNER,
A FUNERAL DISCOURSE.
"Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God."-AMOS iv. 12.
THE nation of Israel still persisted in rebellion and impenitence, notwithstanding the repeated warnings which God had given them, and the judgments he had already inflicted upon them. They must, therefore, expect more decisive marks of divine indignation against them for their sins. God was about to meet them, and in incensed wrath; and he warns them to prepare for an event so tremendous. God will show himself the adversary of the wicked; and will make them feel that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." He is the heart-searching and omniscient Judge of all men; the Creator of the mountains; the sovereign Disposer of the winds and of the storms; the high Arbiter of every man's prosperity and adversity; and he turneth the bright morning of success and triumph into the dark night of adversity, sorrow, and deep despair.
To this view of God, the prophet calls the people in the words immediately following our text. But passing by the circumstances of the Israclites, upon whom God was about to take vengeance by means of the Assyrian armies, let us improve the warning in our text suitably to the present very impressive occasion.
I. We shall show the certainty of a future judgment; where we all must meet God.
II. We shall aim to show what each one must now do, that we may then meet him with comfort and peace.
I. At death, God passes a particular judgment upon every man. Every soul, at death, passes, according to the decision of the Almighty Judge, immediately either into Paradise, "and when absent from the body is present with the Lord," or is in hell, waked up in the misery of the lost. But at the Resurrection-at the last day-there will be a general judgment; and "they that have done good, shall come forth to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation." This will be a most awful day.
"A day of wrath, a dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away;
And louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead."
That a time is approaching when God will reward the good and punish the wicked-the terrors and fears which haunt the guilty conscience, clearly indicate. This testimony is felt by all men, and all are possessed of this apprehension by the moral constitution which God has given them, and they cannot free themselves from it. The heathen, as is proved by their religious history, were fully possessed of this peculiar apprehension. What but the certain dread of meeting God, in terrible judgment, filled the breast of Belshazzar with so much consternation when he beheld the ominous fingers which wrote, in mysterious characters, his doom, upon the wall of his banqueting-room. And why did Felix, the Roman governor, tremble when his prisoner reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come? It was the irresistible conviction that he should meet his injured and offended Creator in solemn judgment. We, therefore, have the proof in our consciences that we must each of us stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to answer for the deeds done in the body.
There is another strong proof of the certainty of a future judgment derived from the perfections of God. Although sin and transgression often make the lot of the sinner hard in this life; yet this world cannot be the place of retribution. Here we often see wickedness and the basest deceit and hypocrisy for a time triumphant; whilst the upright, pious, and devoted servants of God are often cruelly oppressed. Now, if God reigns over men, and be just at the same time; and if the scriptural declaration be true," that the Judge of all the earth will do right;" and if he be a God of immutable holiness, justice, goodness, and truth-he will-he must-necessarily punish the bad and reward the good.
But, not to mention other cogent reasons which might be named-such as our relation to him as our Creator, and our absolute dependence on him as such, and his being the moral Governor and Lawgiver of us his rational creatures, to whom we are accountable and must answer for all our words and deeds-we will now refer you to the Holy Scriptures, in which this awful but very useful doctrine is fully taught, in plain and express terms, both in the Old Testament and the New. Jude quotes a prophecy of Enoch: "Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Abra