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save that which is lost,” and who has said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Flee to God, and not from him. Flee to the arms of his mercy; flee to the heart of his bleeding Son.
Perhaps the reader has fled thither, where grace triumphs and extends its triumphs. Let him learn, then, to appreciate that goodness of God which has led him to repentance. After our first parents had fallen, nothing was farther from their thoughts than a true return to the God they had offended. They would have remained strangers to him always—forever undone, but for that condescending grace which pursued them in their flight, brought them forth from their hiding-place, not to confound and destroy them, but to convince, humble, and forgive them. Thus it is that the God of infinite mercy draws the sons and daughters of men with “cords of love, as the bands of a man.” We “love him because he first loved us.” It is God who first seeks the sinner, and not the sinner who first seeks God. It is only thus that the miserable and guilty exile is brought back to his father's house. No man makes the first advances. God meets him in his wanderings with the treaty of reconciliation in his hands, and counsels him to retrace his steps. Precious truth !
“Jesus sought him, when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God.”
How touching is that memorable appeal, Adam, where art thou? Whence is it that thou hast fled from me, thy Maker, thy Father, thy Shepherd, thy Saviour 2 What hast thou done 3 Never can these expostulations be forgotten by his people, and never can they give him the full glory which his grace deserves. Though they spend an eternity in praising him, it will be but to acknowledge that he alone is worthy to be praised; that all honor and glory are his due ; and to unite their hearts and combine their efforts in “forming one refulgent, unequalled crown, not to be placed on his head, for it would be unworthy, but to be cast at his feet.”
WoRDROUs truth, there was no great interval between the first sin and the first promise. Those portentous clouds which hung over the garden, had scarcely begun to cast their shadows, when the halo of an unexpected and bright prediction encircled these first transgressors, and sent its radiance to distant times. Strange prediction marvellous promise ! “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” * This is the first promise recorded in the Scriptures. And that hope might gently and gradually find its way to the despairing bosoms of the transgressors, it is contained in the sentence pronounced on their betrayer. He was the first and great transgressor, and on him incensed justice first fell. What was death to him, was life to them. They could not comprehend its import; bright as it was, it was but a ray of light that illumined their dungeon. Nor did it at first disclose the full, rich truth, that his degradation was man's honor, his defeat man's victory, his overthrow man's redemption. Our first parents probably understood it to imply no more than that it contained a prediction of life to the woman, because it spoke of the “woman's seed;" a prediction of conflict between her seed and the serpent, in which the tempter should be vanquished by One in a nature inferior to his own, and in which the woman's seed should be ultimately triumphant. It was the woman's seed, and not the offspring of the man ; and could therefore be applicable only to him who was the Virgin's Son. It is a singular promise, but so emphatic and compendious as to require subsequent revelations to develop its import. It includes the sum and substance of the gospel; it is the germ of that Tree of Life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. A brief analysis of it is the design of the present chapter. It contains the FIRST REVELATION OF GOD's PURPosBs of MERCY TO OUR WORLD. There is nothing contingent, or accidental in the arrangements of the divine mind. “Order is heaven's first law.” Nothing can happen which is not foreseen by an all-knowing God. There never was a period when everything that he does, did not come within the arrangements of an antecedent and eternal purpose. He is wise and immutable, and therefore thought of everything beforehand; everything exists “according to the counsel of his own will.” The purposes of creatures discover weakness and imperfection; and therefore are liable to change. On God's part, everything is fixed and permanent. The mind of creatures is too narrow to comprehend many things at once; their heart is too inconstant to remain undivided in their pursuits; their passions are too unstable to flow long in any one direction. God is “ of one mind, and none can turn him, and what his soul desireth that he doeth.” It is a revealed fact, and not a problem to be solved, that the infinite God, whose thoughts are as far above man's thoughts as the heavens are higher than the earth, has interposed in the concern of man's salvation by a settled purpose and a stated method. If his perfections require definiteness of arrangement in all the minor affairs of the world in which we dwell, so that a sparrow falls not to the ground without his providence; much more is it required in the method of the great redemption. The purpose is not fortuitous and unexpected; it belongs to “the everlasting gospel,” and this revelation of it is the first explication of that “mystery hid from the foundation of the World.” *