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him who comes to deliver us from so shameful, from so dangerous, from so grievous a slavery? A man lying fast asleep, in the dark, on a bed of filth, and on the brink of a dreadful precipice, is not, at first, pleased with him who rouses and gives him light; but he no sooner sees the condition he is in, than he blesses the hand that disturbed him, and lays hold of it, that he may be drawn to a distance from his foul and dangerous situation.
But he comes also to save us from the punishment of sin. Were the sinner exempted by the intention of God, and the natural course of things, from all apprehensions of suffering on account of his sins, his indulgence to the inclinations of a corrupt nature would prevent his ever having any thoughts of quarrelling with sin, merely because it is sin. But whereas sin and misery are inseparably linked together by their own nature, and by an unavoidable course of things, if providence do not interpose; and whereas. God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness,' and condemn the wicked to punishments inconceivably severe and dreadful; the guilty have reason to take from hence the most fearful alarm. He hath sinned, perhaps grievously sinned, nay, it may be, is in the utmost danger of persevering in his sins, though he knows, at the same time, that
vengeance lieth with sin at the door.' What shall he do in this deplorable distress? He cannot reform himself. Well, but Christ, as hath been shewn under the preceding head, hath come to do that for him, that is, effectually to aid his weakness. Yet still the dreadful question returns, how he shall be delivered from the guilt and punishment of his sins, already committed, which no repentance can undo, or atone for. Why, here too Christ comes to take both the guilt and punishment of sin from all who shall use their best endeavours to second the motions of his holy spirit, in order to a truly Christian faith and a thorough reformation. Of all our weaknesses or faults, I know none of worse consequence than this, that we either cannot or will not, form a right notion of the rewards or punishments which are set before us. The criminal is hanged, because he does not rightly conceive that sort of punishment, till the instant of his suffering ; and the obstinate sinner perishes for ever, only because he knows not what hell is, tell he goes thither.
If we set before our eyes the tortures and horrors of that extreme, that eternal misery, we must inevitably have endured, had not Christ taken our guilt on his own head, and atoned for all our sins, we shall perceive, we shall feel, how exquisitely sweet, how highly important, how every way 'worthy of all acceptation,ʻis the saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,' especially if,
In the sixth and last place, we consider, by what means he came to save us from the punishment of our sins. Divine justice requires, that no sin shall go unpunished. Either therefore we must suffer for our own sins, or another, sufficient for so great a purpose, which no mere creature can be, must suffer for us, must suffer death, the original wages of sin; must suffer it by divine appointment, and yet voluntarily. Now, no one, but the son of God, was sufficient for such a purpose. None else had power to lay down his own life,' for none else had a life of his own. None else could offer up a sacrifice of dignity equal to the guilt of all our sins. Neither the cattle upon a thousand hills,' nor their immediate possessors, nor the hosts of heaven, belong to themselves, or have any property, strictly speaking, of their own. The divine nature alone is the universal proprietor. From this nature therefore alone could a proper offering be made. But the divine nature is purely spiritual, and incapable of death or any other suffering. Our redeemer therefore and our sacrifice, must have been man, as well as God, or he could not have suffered, at least, in the offending nature, which appears to have been necessary. • Wherefore when Christ cometh into the world, he saith,' unto the father, 'the sacrifice and offering (of beasts) thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure ; then said I, lo, I come to do thy will O God.' And what was this will ? Why, that the son of God should take on him the frail and miserable nature of man, that he should be born of a woman' in a low and indigent condition; that he should be hated, despised, and persecuted of men,' during the whole course of his life, that he should be 'arraigned, accused, spit on, buffeted, scourged, crucified between two thieves.'
And was it for this he came, as at the present season ? What matter of wonder, and of love, on the part of man
kind! As the highest of all beings, his birth is proclaimed by “a multitude of the heavenly hosts ;' while, as the lowest of men, he is ‘born in a stable,' and 'cradled in a manger! Heaven and earth belong to him, 'yet he hath not where to lay his head! The eyes of all things wait upon him for their sustenance, but he himself works at a common trade, or depends on the poorest of mankind for his own! He silences the winds, he smooths the billows, he awes the storms, and-is despised! He heals the sick, and-is hated ! He gives sight to the blind, and—is persecuted! He speaks as never man spake, and—is called a madman ! He raises the dead, and—is tortured to death himself! Whether shall we stand more amazed at him, or ourselves?
But where is our gratitude and our love, if this amazement does not make way to them both ? Nay, whither is banished the common sense of rational creatures, if after hearing, if after firmly believing all this, we can be any longer wedded to our sins ? From our own nature he springs; by our own hands he is scourged! By our own hands he dies! and in his last agonies mixes his blood and prayers together for us! Can man behold his death with indifference and contempt, while every being in heaven, with infinite admiration, beholds him trampling under foot, and triumphing therein, over death, and hell, and all the powers of darkness? Is it possible, that man, thinking, sensible, generous man, can be an unconcerned spectator of this transaction, undertaken and perfected for the salvation of man alone?
If now, ‘this is a faithful saying,' and too fully proved to be rationally questioned, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,' surely it must be worthy of all acceptation. What then is the acceptation, wherewith we are to receive it? No doubt, as hath already been observed, with all the conviction of our understandings, and all the warmth of our hearts. There is no reason why we should be more incredulous to the wonders of infinite mercy in the work of our redemption, than to those of infinite wisdon in that of the creation. Is it not reasonable, that mercy should go as far to save an immortal, as wisdom, to accommodate a temporary being! And if our convictions, as to the truth of our Saviour's coming, are perfectly rational, how is it possible, that our gratitude, in regard to the end of his coming, should not be warm in proportion to the clearness of those convictions, and the boundless mercy of that end ? But are we stupidly to sit still under this conviction and gratitude, while eternal goodness comes thus to visit us ? Should we not go forth to meet him with a spirit and turn of mind, correspondent to those with which he comes ? Yes, as he came to us from the happiness and glory of heaven, so we should go out, from the pleasures and pomps of this world, to him. As he came with great humility into this world to speak and act as a servant, so should we go into his church with not only lowliness of mind, as frail and wretched creatures, but with broken hearts, as abominable sinners. As he was born for us of an heavenly father, and of a pure virgin, so must we be born anew to him of the spirit, and of pure and virgin hearts ; we must be born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.' As he eame into the world, not to gratify the desires of his fleshly nature, nor 'to do his own will but that of his father;' so should we go into his kingdom, not to please ourselves, nor to do our own will, but to please and obey God. As he came to suffer and die for us, so should we go to mortification, and a death unto sin.' As he came with no other view, than to save us, we should go to him with no other view, than to be saved by him. By his birth of a woman he came in general to all men, and comes by his spirit, his word, and ordinances, particularly to every man, but each of us in particular must go to him, or we shall never meet him. He came from heaven into this world, that we might go from this world into heaven. He became the son of man,' that we might become the
sons of God. He humbled himself, and took on him the form of a servant,' that we might be exalted into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. He became flesh,' that we might become spirit. He became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. He took our nature upon him, that we might take his, and become one with him, as he is one with the Father. As he hath emptied himself, that all we may receive of his fulness' he should receive of us the pleasing fruits of that which he hath sown in our hearts, glory for mercy,
grace. Surely it is impossible, he should taste these with an higher relish, than a grateful heart perceives in paying them. But as Christ the treasurer of these fruits, lays them up for those who offer them, that the end may be eternal life,' the profit must as far outgo the pleasure, as eternity does time.
With these let us compare those of our own ways. Have we not already tasted how bitter is the forbidden fruit, the fruit of sin? Can we any longer delight in pulling from that tree, and even shaking it to the last apple, which bears nothing else but remorse of conscience, and the wrath of God; but sickness, and misery, and fear, and death? If our souls are as thoroughly surfeited, as they ought to be, with this fruit, so sweet at first, yet so nauseous, so poisonous at the last; it is time we should taste that which grows on the cross of Christ, the true and real tree of life. Behold it is here placed for us on the table of God, who, in the language of a most gracious inviter, saith to us, ' Come, take, eat-Drink ye all of this. O taste and see how gracious the Lord is! O, come hither, and behold the works of the Lord, that he hath done for us, that ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth all knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God.'
If we come worthily to this repast, we shall renew our spiritual birth-right, whereby we were ' born of the will of God,' and shall renounce our own wills, in order to be governed by his. Here, in the name of reason and faith, let us compare and choose. Our dwn wills, experience tells us, are blind, and misguide us into every sort of error; but the will of God shall guide us into all truth.'
Ours are irresolute, his steady. Ours are wicked, and hunt for destruction, both of soul and body, his holy, and always intent on the happiness of his creatures. Ours look downward through sin into a pit without bottom; his, always upward through righteousness into regions of light and endless glory. If we give ourselves up to our own wills, the flesh shall corrupt us, the world deceive us, and our enemy shall finally triumph over us; but if we take the will of God for a lamp unto our feet,' we shall never go