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been brought to us, as this intelligence from heaven respecting our salvation ? And let us receive the Gospel in its true character, as a Gospel of salvation; and let us steadfastly adhere to it in that view, rejecting every representation of it which detracts from its saving character and design, as fallacious.
In any other character, it suits not man. As a revelation of duty, it was not necessary; for we already knew more than we were willing or able to practise; and, in that light, it had only come to condemn us. Nor was it introduced merely to supply us with a system of means and motives in order to our attaining higher degrees of virtue and piety; for this would have left former sins without atonement, and our disordered natures without cure
or renovation. To have given us new obligations, without new strength, had only been to render us the more inexcusable. To have summoned us to the love of God, in the abstract idea of his perfection, without any manifestation of his love, pity, and compassion to ourselyes, involved as we are, in circumstances of great difficulty and unhappiness, would have only provoked our enmity and distrust.
But our God hath not dealt so with his afflicted creatures on earth, unworthily as they have acted in rebelling against him. He could not remit the guilt of such treachery without condign animadversion; for that would have held forth to all his responsible creation an example of impunity in revolt, highly injurious to the authority of the Supreme Ruler, and tending to encourage others to undo themselves by like disobedience. But having wiped away the reproach of man's guilt, by making Christ a propitiation for their sins, he comes forth in the unimpared majesty of holiness, in the full manifestation of peace and goodwill, beseeching man to be reconciled. Now, in Christ's stead, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, “ be ye reconciled to God.”
THE GOSPEL ILLUSTRATED IN ITS TRUTH, CHARAC
TER, AND CALL FOR CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST.
EPHESIANS 1. 13. “ In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the
word of truth, the gospel of your salvation." THERE is reason to fear that the Gospel is sometimes exhibited, and sometimes receiv. ed, in such a way, as to leave men greatly ignorant that union, or even spiritual approach to Christ, is necessary in order to the peace, comfort, and establishment of a saved state. The Gospel, however, not only calls for belief in its facts, and consent to its doctrines, but also for a constant dependence on Christ for the blessings of that salvation which it generally declares. It is the manifest tendency of the Gospel to lead sinners to Jesus the Saviour, that they may for ever confide in him, as the Apostle signifies in this quotation from Isaiah,—“ There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall reign over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust.” And if we come short of this exercise of faith, what shall we be profited by
a concession that the Gospel is true, or by the knowledge that its character is saving ?
When we preach the Gospel, we make known to man the certainty and the grace of the Christian dispensation. We disclose a fountain of life, suitable to a sinner, however dead in sin; sufficient, too, for all the world, and proposed, in fact, to all, unconditionally, not excepting the chief of sinners. And hence it is styled, by an Apostle, “ the common salvation.” Every part of it is free to any creature that is willing to receive it—the pardon, the comfort, the sanctifying grace, and the life everlasting. Over this common salvation the Lord Jesus Christ presides by the appointment of the Father, who is infinitely pleased that in him should all fulness dwell. And he having an unsearchable riches of grace in himself, announces it to sinners, and proclaims, “ Whosoever will, let him take.” Surely that is a common salvation, which is permitted, granted, and held forth to the reception of all.
But we need not tell you, that the bare distant contemplation of a common salvation, will not carry any, soul of man to heaven. This salvation has been common to men for ages, and yet have multitudes, no
doubt, perished in every age. And this salvation has been long common to us, as well as others, yet are some of us, perhaps, at this moment destitute of any known interest in its special blessings. Is it so, brethren? Or can each of you say of the common salvation, “It is mine—I feel it-I prize it-by means of it I live in peace, and rejoice in the hope of glory?" Or may ye
be likened to poor men, born in a rich and fertile country, who, though that country be common to them and other inhabitants, cannot call a single spot of it their own ? They look at the beauty of its landscapes, and see on every side plenty, opulence, and grandeur; but nothing belongs to them of all they behold, and they continue indigent and joyless, though each of them, in common with its wealthiest proprietor, may say, “ It is my country.” As a common country to men without property or means of subsistence, so is a common salvation to those who enjoy no interest in it blessings.
But the question recurs, How is such interest acquired? Having respect to the exercises of our own minds only, without adverting to what moves us to these exercises, at present, we answer,—It is just by coming unto Jesus in the belief of Gospel truths,