« PreviousContinue »
ed away, and all things became new.* The idolaters of Ephesus who refused to listen to the Apostles, and shouted forth the praises of their great Goddess Diana, were as completely dead in sins as the worst of you, but God quickened them together with Christ, and raised them up together and created them anew unto good works.† The woman that was a sinner, proverbially a sinner, and, as we have every reason to believe, addicted to that species of sin which in a peculiar manner "hardens all within, and petrifies the feeling; " this woman bearing too faithful a likeness to too many modern sinners, was roused from her stupor of sensuality by the life-giving grace of God, her sins which were many, were all freely forgiven her, her heart was subdued into penitent tenderness, and she loved her heavenly Physician much.t
Lydia was such probably as the better sort of industrious characters among you, busy in her worldly affairs, and regular as it should seem in her attendance upon the ordinances of religion, and "the Lord opened her heart that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." Job would bear comparison with
* 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, 11.—and 2 Cor. iv. 6, and v. 17. + Acts xix. 21 to the end.-Ephe. ii. 1 to 10.
Luke vii. 36 to the end.
§ Acts xvi. 13, 14.
the very best among you, and God shined into his soul with such an overwhelming conviction of sin that he perceived his religion had been till then no better than hearsay, and abhorring himself, he repented in dust and ashes.*
Jesus Christ raised from the dead three bodies, whose different states were illustrative of your different characters. Lazarus was falling to corruption in the tomb. The widow's son at Nain was laid upon the bier for the funeral. The ruler's daughter reclined still upon the bed where she had just expired. Is any thing too hard for God? He spake and it was done, Lazarus come forth." Young man I say unto thee arise." "Talitha cumi." "The words that He speaketh, they are spirit and they are life. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and they that hear shall livé." With such a power as this revealed among you, none of you need despair, and whatever your character may be, without this mighty power. of God, none of you can be saved.
Hear O Lord God of Hosts and have mercy! Come, O eternal life giving Spirit, breathe upon these slain that they may live.
*Job xxxviii. and following chapters.
ON THE PRESENT HAPPINESS OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
PSALM LXXXIX. 15, 16.
"Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.
"In thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted."
NOTHING can be more evident, and nothing should be more earnestly and pointedly and repeatedly insisted upon, than the marked and decided distinction every where drawn in the sacred Scriptures between the people of the world and the people of God: between those who are living in the unconverted carelessness of their natural hearts, and those who are born again of the Holy Spirit: between those who are ignorant, spiritually ignorant of the glad tidings of salvation in Christ Jesus, and those who intimately and vitally and personally and experimentally know the joyful sound. There are, indeed, various classes, of characters on either
side of the line of separation, as there are various climates both north and south: but although individuals on each side may differ exceedingly from one another, some being, as it were, in higher and some in lower latitudes; and although in many cases it may be extremely difficult accurately to mark the distinction, (hypocrites making so plausible a profession, and many Christians acting so inconsistently as they do,) yet still there is a decided distinction; and He whose penetrating eye surveys the windings of the world of spirits, beholds the two classes as effectually separated as the northern and southern hemispheres.
The language of the Bible is perfectly express on this subject, declaring darkness to be on the one side, and light on the other; death to be on one side, and life on the other; cursing to be on one side, and blessing upon the other. The great multitude of the unconverted are constantly spoken of as cursed: coming into the world under the curse of original transgression; living in the world under the curse, the daily accumulating curse of a continually broken law: dying under this aggravated curse of an offended God; and in the great day of final judgment hearing these words from him who sitteth upon the throne, "Depart from me, ye cursed." On the other hand, the people of God are as constantly spoken of, as a blessed
people: not indeed by nature; in that respect they are children of wrath, even as others, born in the same sin, and under the same curse of the same broken law; but by grace; "Christ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them, as it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree." And now, all the guilt they had contracted, and all the wrathful curse they had so well deserved, being transferred to Christ and borne by him, they are themselves declared to be in every respect blessed. In respect of their privileges and state in the sight of God: in respect of their character and conduct amongst men: in respect of their own individual feelings and dispositions and tempers: and even in respect of their sufferings, they are declared to be a blessed people.
Of their state in the sight of God, we read, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, O Lord! and causest to approach unto thee that he may dwell in thy courts. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works. Behold, I have received commandment to bless, and he hath blessed; and