« ForrigeFortsæt »
ness, he refuses to listen to the voice of any human charmer, charm he ever so wisely. God alone is able, to create a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within him: for creation is an attribute belonging solely to the Deity. Man must be brought back to the image of his Maker, that image which was lost by the fall of Adam: or he must for ever remain excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
THE FIRST WORK OF GRACE IN THE HUMAN SOUL.
When the Almighty created man, he foresaw all the fatal consequences which would result from his violation of the divine commandment. Though justice required the punishment of the transgressors; yet mercy provided a wonderful remedy, by virtue of which Adam and all his posterity might have the means of escaping eternal perdition. The fulness of time being come, the only begotten of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; the Lamb virtually and typically slain from the foundation of the world; this glorious personage took our nature upon him, and was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. After spending a life of unwearied benevolence and heavenly
purity, honouring the Law more highly by his perfect observance of it than it was ever dishonoured by the transgressions of the whole race of man, our Lord closed his ministerial labours by offering himself up, a voluntary self-devoted sacrifice, for the sins of the world. The benefits of his death and passion extended as widely as the baneful effects of the fall had done *: and we are repeatedly told by the inspired writers, that he suffered for the sins of all ment. None are excluded from being partakers of these blessings. Every contrite sinner, every soul that wishes for salvation, is freely invited to approach to the throne of mercy, assured of a welcome reception through the all-sufficient merits of the Redeemer. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat ; yea, come, buy milk and wine without money and without price !
But, although the redemption of mankind be thus unlimited and universal: and although God willeth not the death of any sinner, but rather that all should turn unto him and repent: yet, by reason of the obstinate folly of the wicked, the gracious purposes of the Almighty fail to produce universal salvation. All day long, saith the Lord, have I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people * Enter ye in, saith our Saviour, at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction,
* 1 Corin. xv. 22.
Heb. ii. 9. Coloss. i. 20. 1 Tim. ii. 4. 6. | Isaiah lv. 1.
many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it t. Hence it is evident, that many unhappy persons, whom the god of this world hath blinded, will either expressly reject, or carelessly neglect to avail themselves of, the benefits of Christ's death and passion. All those, who are infatuated with the pride of infidelity and who madly defy the living God, exclude themselves with a high hand from the pale of the
* Rom. X. 21.
Matt. vii. 13.
Church: and all those, who, like the devils, believe and tremble; who acknowledge the divine authority of the Gospel, but are strangers to its influence; who live, to use the emphatic words of Scripture, without God in the world, dead in trespasses and sins; all these, if there be any truth in the plain declarations of our Lord and his Apostles, have no lot nor portion in the Son of God.
I. How happens it, then, that some receive the word with joy and bring forth fruit meet for repentance : while others either sullenly reject it, or remain alike uninfluenced by its threats and its promises ? No man, saith our blessed Lord, can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him *. But in what manner doth the Father draw mankind unto himself, in order that they may not perish, but receive everlasting life? The Apostle informs us, that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost +.
1. It is, therefore, the peculiar office of