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the flowery garden which he had forfeited by his disobedience, even then was the Gospel preached. "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," was the beginning of that evangel of love, which pious Abel, and saintly Enoch, and righteous Noah, and faithful Abraham transmitted from generation to generation. Moses saw the day of Christ, and as a faithful servant, prepared for his advent. Aaron, arrayed in his priestly robes, heralded the approach of that great high priest, who, in the fulness of time, of ficiated at his own death, and thereby abolished all earthly priesthoods forever. David, with exultant hope, looked through the vista of ages, and in the spirit of prophesy adored Messiah the King. Solomon built the Temple, but he saw that its walls would crumble-even its foundations would pass away when the Lord of the Temple should come to build his Church of Immortal Souls. From Eden to Ararat; from Ararat to Sinai; from Sinai to Calvary; from Calvary to every mountain and valley, made vocal with praise to God, the same Gospel has been transmitted; it has been shining brighter and brighter to the perfect day-and now the prophets, and priests, and kings, that once shone like stars in the firmament of Revelation, are lost in the effulgence of the Sun of Righteousness.
It is a great mistake to suppose that Christianity or the Gospel were new in the days of Christ. Before Abraham was, Christ was; and from the date of the apostasy, the Redeemer began his work of restoration. Abel, and Seth, and Abraham, and all the patriarchs, were saved in the same way and by the same means as we must be saved, if saved at all. Theirs was the dawn, but ours is the meridian fulness of truth. And how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation as that which has been prepared through ages of Divine working, and at last consummated when Jesus exclaimed, "It is finished!"
This vision also shows that our Saviour is Divine. There is no Unitarian infidelity in the writings of the Prophets. Their writings contain no sharply-cut system of theology, but the inspiration under which they wrote, moved them to describe the coming Messiah, as Jehovah, as Lord, as King, as an Eternal Priest, as an Everlasting Saviour, with a power limited by no infirmity; a wisdom narrowed by no ignorance; a love, vast as the infinite. Great as was the reverence of the Jew for the one only living and true God, yet, when the Jew became a Prophet, and wrote or spoke under the guidance of inspiration, he applied all the titles of Divinity to that mighty Redeemer who should take the form of our poor humanity in Bethlehem. Isaiah tells us that he saw the Lord on a throne, high and lifted up, before whom seraphim waited in devoutest reference; and the apostle John interprets the vision to have been a revelation of the glory of Christ. Surely they have little respect for the scriptures of truth, who refuse to admit that Jesus is therein represented as God over all blessed forever.
III. The nature of this vision shows us the folly of those who say that Christianity is a cunningly devised fable. A cunningly devised fable! As well might you say that the wonderful organism of the human frame is a fable. As well might you claim that the stars fell into their astonishingly exact orbits by chance. As well might you assert that the mid-day sun is a painted illusion, as to charge Christianity with a fabulous origin. A religion that has the three attributes of Eternity, Universality, and Immutability, cannot be either false or fabulous. Platonism has changed, Mohammedanism has changed, Hindooism has changed-but Christianity-never. Ecclesiastical systems, religious pomps, human creeds, indeed vary. But the great doctrine of salvation through a crucified Redeemer, has never changed. Under the silent influence of electricity, the clouds may be fashioned into a thousand shapes; vegetative life may blush and bloom in myriad colors; but electricity is always and everywhere the same. Now operating with greater, and now with less intensity. And thus is it in the kingdom of Christ, forms of worship and modes of government vary, types of piety change-but underneath them all flows on that great truth which issued from the bosom of God as its native fountain, touched our world at the gates of lost Eden, thus flowed on through all changes of time, and to-day thunders in our ears with the accumulated force of centuries, “Öther foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus the Lord." Tell me not that Christianity is a fable, when it has remained the same uncorrupted word and doctrine from the beginning until now. Tell me rather, that it is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation. And the seraphim, from their exalted place before the throne, will cry, "Amen," while all Heaven will ring with the hallelujah of "Honor, and glory, and power, to the Lamb forever."
This vision shows, also, what effect would be instantly wrought upon the minds of men, were they willing to behold the true character of that Redeemer, whose love they now spurn. Did they see Him as He is, the very brightness of the Divine glory, clothed with infinite holiness, possessed of infinite power, exercising an infinite love, and able to inflict the penalty of infinite justice upon the unbelieving and disobedient, they would sink down overwhelmed with confusion and anguish of heart, exclaiming, “Woe, woe, for mine eyes have seen the Lord."
My friends, you have the vision of Isaiah in actual history. What the prophet saw but obscurely, you may see without the slightest hindrance. Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth before you. From this book He speaks from these pages, you read the record of his life-and the Holy Spirit waits to touch your eyes as with the rays of celestial light; and everything which man can ask or God can give, has been done that you may behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. If ye still refuse to
see him in the mild radiance of His grace, ye shall see him in the terror of His power when He comes to judgment. Every eye shall see Him, and they that pierced Him. Then shall ye cry in vain upon the rocks and the mountains to hide you from the terror of His power.
Oh raise now to Heaven the supplicating cry for light to shine upon your darkened eyes, that ye may behold the Lord of Isaiah's vision as your friend, Redeemer and portion. Then will you leap, like the thirsty hart panting after the water-brooks, to drink from the life-giving waters of his truth. Then if awed by his majesty, you will be encouraged by his grace; if convicted of your sins, you will be pardoned by his voice; if doubtful of your own strength, he will aid you with his omnipotence, and then, through the battle of life he will be your captain of salvation. In the hour of death his everlasting arms will be beneath you, and at last when the great white throne is set, and the dust yields up its tenantry-when heaven is passing away as a scroll, and the strong foundations of the earth are dissolved-when the thunder of his judgment voice rolls over the troubled spirits who defied his power-when all hell, trembling under the searching light of his eye-when the words of doom, Depart, ye cursed, fall from his lips, you, who have seen his glory, as revealed on Calvary, will be among those who enter heaven, with the grateful acclaim, "Now, thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
THE STRENGTH AND POWER OF SIN ILLUSTRATED.
"But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."-ROMANS vii. 23.
In this graphic and emphatic language the Apostle describes the conflict between the conscience and the sinful propensities of the heart. Some, indeed, suppose rather, that he is describing the conflict between religious principle and the sin which remains in the soul, partly sanctified. In either case he is delineating the strength and power of sin in and over the human mind. To illustrate this truth let us measure its strength by the strength of principles and feelings which it must overpower before it brings us into captivity and subjection to its influence.
I. Let us view its strength as exhibited in the conduct of men, in reference to the present life.
1. It overpowers the love of reputation.-Man is a social being. He seeks the friendship and respect of those around, with avidity and diligence. Attack his reputation, and you arouse all the in
dignation of his soul. He appeals for redress to the laws of his country, and he rarely appeals in vain. Sometimes, too, to the disgrace of our nature, he seizes on the sword of vengeance, which public happiness has wisely trusted to public tribunals only, and vainly seeks reparation in the blood of his enemy. Yet this reputation which is so often sought in blood and guarded at the expense of blood, exercises less influence over the mind than is exercised by sin. Cast your eye over the community, and how many will you see sinning, to the ruin of their reputation? How many who ardently desire the respect of others, forfeit that respect rather than deny themselves the indulgences of sin? Keen is the pang they suffer while they witness the decay of once blushing honors; death-like is the sensation when they witness those who formerly admired their amiableness or talents, now shrinking from their society, or coldly extending the reluctant hand:-yet they bear it, rather than break from the influence of sin. Facts, then, teach that the love of sin is stronger than our love of reputation. 2. The strength of sin overpowers our love of ease. Some men seem to delight in activity for its own sake; but the mass of mankind are roused to energy only by the spur of want, or the hope of securing provision for future ease. Yet you will find men under the influence of sin, endure fatigue and privations which are almost without a parallel in the efforts of the pious. They sleep not, except they do evil.
3. The strength of sin overpowers the love of health. The votaries of pleasure spend their days in luxury and riot, while they see disease and premature old age rapidly advancing to seize on their prey. The intemperate man raises, with trembling hand, the bowl which he knows to contain the seeds of pain and sorrow; and for a few short hours of mad intoxication voluntarily consents to drag out a life of weakness and disease.
4. The strength of sin overpowers the ties of natural affection. Men pursue sensual pleasures when they are absolutely certain that their conduct will disgrace not only themselves, but their connections. How many fathers, in the indulgence of sensual appetites, break through the ties with which nature has bound them to their children! How many husbands sacrifice affection and tenderness and domestic peace, to the baleful spirit of gambling and intemperance! Even how many a youth has pained the heart of a doating mother, while with thoughtless rashness he treads the flowery paths of self-indulgence! Nor is this done from insensibility to the claims of nature. The heart of the gambler, in the hours of reflection, is stung with remorse-the heart of the drunkard, in the hours of sobriety, often is wrung with anguish for the grief of his family-and the erring youth, while reason gains her sway over his soul, would assuage parental sorrow almost at the expense of life itself.
5. The strength of sin overpowers the tenderness of compassion. Mercy is an attribute that shines bright among the glories of the
Divine character,-and it is, too, one of the brightest ornaments of human nature. Yet this loveliest feature of the heart is not seldom defaced by the workings of sin. The pages of history are filled with little else than cruelty and bloodshed, and in spite of the natural tenderness of the human heart, at the present how we must confess that it is no libel on man to say we live in an unfeeling world.
6. The strength of sin overpowers the fear of punishment. After all the laws and penalties that human ingenuity can devise, the world is full of sin. Not only does it operate secretly in the heart, but walks abroad in society, in contempt of public feeling and public threatenings. Fear, the strongest principle of our nature, is unable to restrain it, and the records of our courts, the columns of our newspapers, the cells of our prisons, present a constant testimony of the inefficacy of every effort to overcome the strength of sin.
II. Let us next look at the strength of sin as manifested in the conduct of men, in reference to the government of God, and to a future
1. The strength of sin overpowers the convictions of conscience. And the start of terror-the bloodless cheek-the forebodings of fiery indignation, testify that the power of conscience over the soul is not feeble. Multitudes, however, rush to the commission of deeds for which they have often been brought before the bar of conscience and have suffered the bitterness of its punishment. Multitudes have felt the power of conscience pressing on their souls, like a body of death, while they have been hurried forward to crimes which they are fully convinced will add new tortures to those already insupportable. "O wretched man that I am," is the language of many a heart that yields to the cruel dominion of sin.
2. The strength of sin overpowers the operations of the Holy Spirit on the heart. The Scriptures represent the Spirit of God as striving with men, though there are degrees of opposition which the Spirit is pleased not to overcome, but to leave the sinner to his own chosen way. Hence the case is not unfrequent of those who have resisted his influences, and been torn from hope and salvation by the overpowering strength of sin. The Bible set before them the way of life, the Spirit prompted them to walk in it, angels began to rejoice as they bent their feet towards the narrow road, they thought themselves almost within the narrow gate, when their steps were suddenly averted and their souls borne far from the pathway of life by the strength of sin. And as an oak, stretching its withered leafless branches amid a forest of verdure, testifies to the power of the lightnings of heaven, they stand, amid souls flourishing as the cedars of Lebanon, an awful monument of the resistless, withering power of sin.
3. The strength of sin overpowers our firmest resolutions to reform our lives. Men sometimes awake from the stupidity of years, and