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You have heard the knave boast of his frauds, and the drunkard of his excesses; the spendthrift of his extravagance, and the miser of his hoardings; the profane man of his blasphemies, the licentious man of his debaucheries, the angry man of his violences, and the infidel of his contempt for the Bible and its Author. And have you not in all this, an illustration of the shamelessness of
Redemption stops these evil boastings. It turns man's eye to the source of all true glory, and constrains him to love the Lord with all the heart, to serve him with all humility and boldness, and to rejoice in him as the perfection of beauty. It cleanses him from pollution, creates his heart anew, clothes him in the white robe of the Saviour's righteousness, and fires him with heaven's devotion.
3. He is redeemed from the sufferings consequent on sin, in
the future world.
Even here, his deliverance begins, and advances, amid tears, and prayers, and bitter self-condemnation; but it is perfected only, when this mortal puts on immortality.
Sin and sorrow are inseparable companions. The tie that binds them together is not always clearly seen, because the eye is blinded. But that tie is strong as Heaven's decree. Grace alone can break it; nor is it ever broken by Grace itself, further than the power of sin is crushed.
The suffering consequent on sin in this world is light, in comparison with that which follows it, in the world to come. Here every cloud is tinged with light, and every gloom is penetrated by hope; the bitter and the sweet mingle; the sad and the cheerful blend their colors on the same cheek. It is not a world of judg ment, but of trial; not of despair, but of mercy. The inflictions of justice, are reserved for the future. Armed with truth and power, what heart can endure, what hand be strong, in the day when they fall!
You remember the consternation of Adam, when he but heard the voice of the Lord God, inquiring, "Where art thou?" Only conscience had then arraigned him. Sentence had not proceeded against him. But fain would he have hid himself behind the trees of the garden, or have plunged into the recesses of the earth, to escape the eye that had ever before filled him with delight. Keen was the anguish of that hour, when the terrors of the Almighty encircled him, and the miseries of the future crowded on his vision!
You remember too, the fear and trembling that seized the host of Israel, when Jehovah came down upon Sinai, and darkness covered the mount, and mighty thunderings rolled around it, and the voice of the trumpet, exceeding loud, forbade the approach of man or beast, while the eternal law of righteousness was announced. Even the holiest and most favored man of all the tribes was constrained to say-"I exceedingly fear and quake."
Now, if the manifestations of justice, made by way of anticipation, and softened by the interposing bow of mercy are scarcely supportable, what must be the sufferings they will create in the soul, when made in all the awful reality of a sentence from the lips of God, to everlasting punishment! How are they to be sustained, when made not in the gentle inquiry, "Sinner! where art thou?"-nor in the rolling thunder and the lightning's flash, but in the actual overflow of that fiery indignation which shall consume the adversaries! How are they to be sustained, when God shall draw the glittering sword, and his hand shall take hold on vengeance, and he shall throw open all the treasures of his wrath, and exclaim, "Now will I laugh at your calamity and mock when your fear cometh, when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction as a whirlwind!"
Redemption secures the soul's deliverance from the torments of pride and envy, jealousy and malice, revenge and despairfrom the gnawing of the worm that never dies, and the fury of the fire that never shall be quenched.
And more than this; it elevates the soul to a participation in the glory and felicity of heaven! It introduces it to the presence of God, where is fulness of joy, and gives it a throne on the right hand of Jesus, with a kingdom and a priesthood that shall never fail.
Happy the believer thus distinguished! Thrice happy he, who looks forward, with humble confidence and joyful hope, to the hour of perfect assimilation to his Saviour and his God!
III. The quality of this redemption.
It is precious. The nature of it-deliverance from guilt, shame and suffering, demonstrates this. But it still more strikingly appears,
1. In the expense at which it is effected. "Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb, without blemish and without spot."
How often, my Hearers, have the unparalleled love and condescension, the voluntary and dreadful sufferings of the dear Redeemer, been brought before you! How often has it been attempted to warm your hearts, and expand your conceptions of Him whom men persecute but whom angels adore! Is it speaking unadvisedly to say, there is not another theme in the compass of human thought, that so imperiously demands, and yet so rarely receives, undivided attention; or another, so well calculated to abase human pride, to inspire hope in the bosom of dejection, and enlighten the darkness that rests on "the bourne whence no traveller returns!" And yet, how little is it loved, how reluctantly contemplated!
But, fruitless as the effort has ever been, to render the doctrine
of "Christ, and him crucified," acceptable to an unbelieving world, it must still be proclaimed in every ear, that there is no other name given under heaven, whereby any can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ.
And, it must be told, that when the Son of God laid aside the robes of divinity, and took upon him the form of a servant, and subjected himself to every sinless infirmity of man, that he might sustain the penalties of a broken law, when he agonized in the garden and when he bled on the tree, it was for no fault of his own, nor from the compulsion of superior power; for he was a lamb without spot, a voluntary sufferer, guided by a purpose formed in the ages of eternity, in view of motives more tender and vast than ever came within human comprehension.
And it must be told, till even the deaf shall hear, that his blood alone redeemeth us from our vain conversation; and that he has not only purchased the church with his blood, but washed and sanctified her therein. Had this work involved only an expense of power, like that which first called light out of darkness; or of wisdom, like that displayed in the arrangements of the material universe; we might have viewed it with awe and admiration. But it was more than this; it was the laying down of life, the life of the God-man, at the call of justice and mercy united, as the sole condition on which pardon could be tendered and the sinner saved. Here then, Heaven poured forth its richest treasures, its best gifts, its largest bounties. Heaven bled, that man might never die. Such being the price of Redemption, can its preciousness be questioned?
2. In the fact that it magnifies the Divine law, this appears. The law of God, an emanation from eternal truth, wisdom, and goodness, a transcript of the Divine character, is the safeguard of all that is glorious in holiness, lovely in benevolence, and sublime in majesty and strength. It is the bond that unites the interests of heaven and earth; the pervading principle of that delightful harmony which forms the basis of the joys of saints and angels. Can it be trampled on, and leave uninjured the intelligences for whom it was made? Can it be violated with impunity, and leave unimpaired the happiness of the universe?
Redemption would be a term of saddest import, if it failed to secure the great ends of the Law, while it brought salvation to the sinner. That would be no salvation, which should cost the sacrifice of a single principle in the government of God. Heaven would be annihilated, God dethroned, the whole fabric of the moral universe be dissolved, and no sound but of discord and war, be heard throughout God's works.
By the sacrifice of Christ these evils are avoided. promise is made with rebels. No safety is left to them, except in the unreserved acknowledgment of the justice and benevolence of the law that condemns them. With that acknowledgement, attested by faith in the great Atoning Sacrifice, they are saved.
Precious indeed is that Redemption, which defends the government of God from reproach, while it secures peace and consolation to the penitent believer. Precious!-because it encircles the throne of God with transcendent glories, showing its foundations to be immovable, and at the same time pouring a flood of light into the habitations of men, and creating new and boundless joys throughout all ranks of holy intelligences.
3. In the perfect adaptation of the plan to the circumstances of men, this preciousness yet further appears.
Were Redemption to be purchased by us for ourselves, what have we wherewith to pay the price? Is it wealth? But what is the wealth of a thousand worlds paid over into the treasury of the Lord? All worlds are his. Is it righteousness? But our righteousness is a falling leaf which the wind carrieth away. Is it tears of penitence? But tears will sooner whiten the Ethiopian's skin, and change the leopard's spots, than wash away the stains of our guilt. The truth is, we are condemned in the fine of ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay. Silver and gold are trash; prayers and tears are vanity; love and obedience, even, are nothing worth except as testimonies of faith in Christ. They cannot go back over past transgressions, and make recompense for them. We have no equivalent to offer for our disobedience. And no equivalent is demanded, no compensation is claimed. We are required to "come to the waters," there to wash and be clean, to drink and live forever; and then we are free, "without money and without price." Nor is it the depth of shame into which we have fallen, nor the extent of guilt we have contracted, neither the multitude nor the aggravation of our offences, that will bar us from the presence of God, when willing to come to the fountain opened. Wretched and miserable as we are, poor, blind, and naked as Heaven sees us to be, we may yet come boldly to the throne of grace, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. How perfectly adapted, then, to our circumstances of poverty and helplessness!
4. In the unfading glories which it pledges, Redemption is precious.
We need an angel's wing, an angel's eye, and more than an angel's experience, to enter fully into that blessedness which remains to the redeemed of the Lord, hereafter. None but glorified saints, not the noblest spirit of heaven who never fell, can fully understand the raptures of those who sing day and night, without ceasing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, for he hath washed us in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God forever." Only they can know the pleasures of safety who have escaped impending dangers; and they alone can know the sweets of pardon, who have felt the bitterness of condeinnation. Look, then, steadfastly to heaven, O thou that believest! Look to that world where God, enthroned in glory, dispenses mercy to whom he will; where love and praise mingle in ceaseless song,
without a discordant note; where all is order, harmony, security and joy, without interruption and without end! All this the purchase and pledge of redeeming love! Is not such a redemption precious? Believe,-it is yours!
IV. The closing up of this redemption. "It ceaseth forever." There is a time when the overtures of mercy will cease to be made; when that voice of love which once said, "Lo! I come to do thy will, O God!" will be heard no more; when the joyful sound will be unknown beyond the limits of heaven; and earth will be no longer the theatre of rich and distinguishing Grace.
There are those infatuated by sin, and led captive by Satan, who will not listen to the voice of the preacher pleading never so wisely;—who are engrossed with the cares and pleasures of this life, and resolved to have nothing to do with thoughts of eternity, and who, cutting themselves loose from restraints to enjoy what they can, risk the future on the uncovenanted mercy of God.
For them, persevering in their folly, there is no redemption. They lie down in the narrow house, unwashed and unsanctified; they arise, unclothed and unprepared for admission to the society of the Holy.
The day of death closes up their accounts. It terminates their hopes. It banishes each cherished illusion forever. The voice of the Spirit and the Bride no more says to them, "Come." He that sitteth on the throne, no more says, "Look unto me and live!" Neither threatening on the one hand, nor entreaty on the other, meets them now; but awful realities of what they once heard much and believed nothing, surround them; and no sounds are heard but of wailing and woe-nor visions seen but of miseries without end.
O, could they blot from memory the recollections that will haunt them then; could they forget how solemnly they used to be admonished, how affectionately they were entreated; how urgently they were pressed to flee to Christ and accept of eternal life; one chief ingredient in their misery would be annihilated. But forgetfulness itself is no longer theirs! Their abused privileges rise up together to their remembrance; the instructions they received from the Bible, the sanctuary and the godly friend; the exhibitions of deathless love at the sacramental board; and the unnumbered providential mercies they shared; all rush upon their minds with a force resistless, and a terror that no imagination can paint.
Conscience, too, now awakes to its long neglected charge, and while calling up their mis-spent time, their prostituted talents, vain pursuits and debasing indulgences, it points them to the throne of an offended God, bears testimony to his justice and benevo