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great joy, which the gospel of Christ announces, as though it were a matter in which we were uninterested; notwithstanding the eternal salvation of our immortal souls depends upon the reception
God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. What a gift was this! How wonderful was it that it should be bestowed upon such rebellious and ungrateful creatures as we are; upon those who, by their rebellion against God, had forfeited His favour, incurred His displeasure, and exposed themselves to His wrath and indignation. Yet, of His infinite love and compassion to our ruined race, He bestows this gift freely, and all the benefits connected with it, upon the sinful children of men: to those who were under the sentence of eternal death, the wages of sin, He gives eternal life. He does this, however, not in the way in which an arbitrary monarch might do it, but in a way consistent with His justice and holiness; by providing a sacrifice for sin in the stead of the guilty transgressor of the law, by the shedding of whose blood a propitiation has been made; that thus He might be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.80 Thus He provided that His law should be magnified and made honourable, while He pardoned the guilty transgressor. What a wonderful provision of mercy was this! Let us contemplate it with
gratitude, adoration, and praise.
God hath provided a ransom for sin, a Lamb for a burnt offering,B1 by the shedding of whose precious blood, pardon and peace are brought home to the conscience of the sinner. In consequence of which it is testified that, He that hath the Son hath life. He that hath the Son, is he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God, or he that believeth the record that God gave of His Son. He that thus hath the Son, by believing in His name, hath life. That eternal life which God has promised to give to His people is bestowed upon all them that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; they receive pardoning mercy through faith in Him; they enjoy reconciliation with God; they look up to the God of heaven as their reconciled Father in Jesus Christ; they partake of the gracious and sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost; they are acknowledged as the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, who shall be glorified together with Him hereafter in His everlasting kingdom. They are made partakers of spiritual life here on earth, in consequence of which it is their high privilege to hold intercourse with God at all times, to have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ; and they shall partake of the glory to be revealed at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to
80 Rom. iii. 26; viii. 17. 81 Gen. xxii. 8.
82 2 Thess. i. 10.
be admired in all them that believe in that day.8 What a blessed and glorious hope is this! May it be our happiness to possess it, that we may rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
On the other hand, it is declared that he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. He that does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that does not seek for pardon and righteousness and eternal life through faith in His name, is in a state of spiritual death. He is dead to God. He is dead in sin. He is living without God in the world. Being without Christ, he can have no good hope of that blessedness which is only bestowed in and through Him. He is in the road that leadeth to eternal death, to everlasting misery; for he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. What a dreadful state this, for any human being! And yet is it not to be feared that numbers in our professedly Christian land, have not believed with the heart in the name of the only begotten Son of God? are yet in their sins, and in danger of perishing everlastingly? Let it be our business to flee from the wrath to come, to the hope set before us in the gospel, that we may not be found among those who, dying in their sins, shall know the bitterness of eternal death; but among them that believe to the saving of the soul, who shall be owned by the Lord Jesus at His appearing and His kingdom.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
CHRIST OUR SACRIFICE AND EXAMPLE.
1 Peter ii. 25.
FOR YE WERE AS SHEEP GOING ASTRAY; BUT ARE NOW RETURNED UNTO THE SHEPHERD AND BISHOP OF YOUR SOULS.
THE earliest triumphs of Christianity appeared in the lower orders of the community. companions and the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ were poor men, mostly in the humble station of fishermen on the lake of Galilee; and when He went about preaching the kingdom of God, it is said that the common people heard Him gladly; while the scribes and pharisees, the rich and the learned, rejected the counsel of God. It was at that time asked, Have any of the rulers believed on Him?83 and asserted that the ignorant mob only were cursed by being led away through
this delusion. In process of time, however, Divine truth made its way from the cottage to the palace. And although not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called, yet some in stations of eminence were led to account it their highest honour to be the servants of Christ; as appears by the apostle Paul's numbering among the saints in Christ Jesus, some that were of Cesar's household.85 But as many Christians were of low degree with regard to worldly rank, the apostle Peter exhorts such, in the verse before that which commences the Epistle for this day, Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. The servants addressed in these words were in a state of slavery, a condition which subsisted universally in the heathen world, and for putting an end to which we are indebted to Christianity. These persons were exhorted to be contented in the station allotted to them by the will of God, knowing that he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman. The apostle therefore addressed such: Art thou called being a servant? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. They needed not to trouble themselves about being in slavery; although they might gladly and thankfully embrace an opportunity of being made free, which was
83 John vii. 48. 84 1 Cor. i. 26; vii. 21,