Page images

Every legal obstruction to the salvation of man is thus taken away. Guilt is atoned; redemption from condemnation is procured; and every demand which the law can prefer against the sinner, whether of requirement or of sanction, is completely answered. 'He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.' 'We have redemption

through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.' No impediment to the most ample pardon now exists. "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.' Through faith in the atoning death of Emmanuel, those who before could only give vent to the shriek of horror, may now sing in full anthem, 'Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.' And the sinner, who formerly crouched, and trembled in every nerve at the sanctions of the law, may now lift his head in humble confidence, and, bidding defiance to a whole universe of accusation, say, 'Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.'

The moral obstructions to man's salvation are thus also removed. God's benevolent design embraces sanctification as well as pardon. There must be emancipation from corruption as well as from the curse; an active, vital, and prevailing holiness, as well as forgiveness. Now, Christ 'gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from ALL iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.' The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from 'For what the law could not do, in that it

all sin.'

was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.' 'We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.' 'Wherefore Jesus, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.' With such passages as these before them, it is wonderful that the doctrine of atonement should ever have been represented by its enemies as hostile to the interests of morality, or that any who profess to believe it should ever have taken occasion from it to indulge in sloth or wallow in licentiousness. The moral influence of the cross is great and direct, through the accompanying power of the Spirit. It restores to the favour of God; lays restraints on the springs of moral corruption; weakens the power of temptation; dissuades from the practice of sin; and furnishes the most powerful motives to sincere, constant, and universal obedience. Its tendency to inspire a hatred of sin has already been remarked. Nor does it supply a less energetic stimulus to the cultivation of personal holiness. The view which it gives of the divine purity, and justice, and love, the demonstration it furnishes of the rectitude and inviolability of the divine law, and the obligations of gratitude and love under which it brings us, are all directly favourable to the interests of moral obedience. It is even the grand instrument in bringing about a moral regeneration of nature; it being by the influence of this doctrine, that the divine Spirit melts and subdues the adamantine heart

[ocr errors]

of the sinner, and transforms it into the image of Christ.

It no less infallibly secures the happiness of man, here and hereafter. The sovereign purpose of God extends to man's deliverance from misery, as well as from guilt and pollution. And, by the sufferings of the Son of God in our stead, was foundation laid for whatever can contribute to his present or eternal felicity. That communion with God, which is the source of all true enjoyment, is to be had only through this medium. 'Through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.' 'Seeing that we have a great high priest, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace.' 'Having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in the full assurance of faith.' Those prayers and praises, by means of which the intercourse with heaven is kept up, are accepted only for the sake of the Angel with the golden censer, who ministers at the golden altar which is before the throne, and out of whose hand the smoke of the incense ascends up before God. It also opens up a well-spring of consolation to the believer, amid the innumerable ills to which he is exposed in this evil world. When burdened with guilt, it purges the conscience from dead works.' When beset with satan's wiles, it affords him comfort to reflect that, 'in that the merciful and faithful high priest himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.' When visited with afflictions and trials, he is comforted and upheld with the thought that 'we have not an high

priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.' When in the arms of death, and the soul about to be dismissed from the body, a believing view of the Son of man standing on the right hand of God, 'a lamb as if he had been slain,' can enable him calmly to resign himself, in the spirit and language of the proto-martyr, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Nay, when anticipating the day of final account, and conceiving himself to stand before the bar of a righteous God, he can possess himself in patience, seeing he knows that there 'shall be no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,' and that the blood of the covenant shall secure for him an honourable acquittal, and infallibly protect him from the wrath to come: the tribunal of eternal justice appears to be encircled with the rainbow of mercy, and, instead of the shriek of shuddering horror, he is enabled to give expression to the language of confiding hope and exulting anticipation, 'Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for ever more.'

It is, besides, the procuring cause and sole security of eternal glory. Through faith in this blessed truth alone can any of our outcast family 'rejoice in hope of the glory of God.' Heaven is procured, prepared, taken possession of, and retained, by means of the atonement. The blood of the covenant constitutes the title to its possession. The heavenly things themselves are purified with better sacrifices, than those by which the patterns of things in the

heavens were purified. We have boldness to enter into the holiest of all only by the blood of Christ, and to the Lamb in the midst of the throne are the redeemed indebted for the permanency of their glory and bliss. Those immortal honours, those glorious hopes, those perennial enjoyments, which are imaged by crowns of glory, palms of victory, harps of gold, and rivers of life, have all their meritorious source in the cross. Heaven has every thing about it to deepen the recollections of Calvary; and, could we conceive a soul suddenly snatched from the foot of the cross to the sanctuary above, it would undergo no violent change of feeling, for it would still breathe the atmosphere and be surrounded with the symbols and memorials of atonement. Yes: the central object of attraction to men and angels is 'the Lamb in the midst of the throne.' The robes of the redeemed are 'made white in the blood of the Lamb.' 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,' is the burden of the

celestial song. And those enlivening, gladdening

streams which send forth into the heart an everwelling tide of unmingled bliss, 'proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.' 'Not one thought in the crowd of eternal ideas, not one note in the compass of eternal anthems, not one moment in the round of eternal ages, can there be, but refers to Christ crucified. Heaven is no place for flight from the recollections of Calvary! It is filled with the apparatus and monuments of atonement! Its atmosphere is brightened by it-redolent of it-vocal with it.'

« PreviousContinue »