« FöregåendeFortsätt »
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners—that is, whilst they continue such; but that even such wicked persons may be reconciled to God, appears from what he immediately adds, (1 Cor. vi. 9–11.) “Such were some of you, but ye are washed; but ye are sanctified; but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Some people may think that there was no occasion for Christ Jesus the Mediator to make an atonement, to bring about a reconciliation between God and man; but Heaven knows best what was necessary to reconcile man to God, and Heaven has the best right to decide on that subject. It ill becomes sinful man to tell his offended Maker what is necessary or right. The proud spirit must be brought to submit to Divine Wisdom ; every lofty and self-exalting imagination must be humbled ; if not, man is still persisting in his opposition and enmity to the divine will. The tempter said at the beginning to our first parents, “ If you do disobey Heaven, it is by no means sure that you will die ;” and so he says still, to deceive men, “ If you do not submit to the Saviour, and only try to be good yourselves without him, you are not likely to be condemned.” But in the first instance, man knows by sad experience that what Satan suggested was a lie; and what reason is there to suppose that the suggestions of Satan and of our own foolish hearts shall prove true, in opposition to the inspired declarations of God's Holy Spirit in the Bible !
Now submission to Christ, that man may be reconciled to God, is what is required of all; and this submission implies repentance, and faith, and obedience; a sincere desire and endeavour from henceforward to perform all our duties to God and to man, so far as we know them; and constant prayer
in our hearts to God to enable us to know our duty better, and always to perform it. And all this is quite practicable, without scholarship, or learning, or riches; so that no man need make an excuse. All must try to perform their duty according to their stations; kings
and subjects, and magistrates and people, and parents and children, and masters and servants, and teachers and scholars, and poor and rich, and old and young. For all are God's creatures; and if we fear God, and love and serve him, we shall never desire to ill use or harm any of his creatures. When men are reconciled to God, they become reconciled to each other. The love of God shed abroad in the heart does away with national hatred, family feuds, and personal animosities.
Finally, The man who would make his peace with God must submit to the Saviour Jesus Christ, for out of Christ Heaven has not appointed any way of reconciliation ; but in Christ God is reconciling the world to himself. And oh, how condescending and how kind is the language of Heaven! The Apostle Paul says, for himself and the other Apostles, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Oh, wonderful! God beseeching, and Christ entreating man to be reconciled. On Heaven's part, then, there is nothing to hinder reconciliation and friendship-“Wherefore," O men, “ let my counsel be acceptable to you. Break off your sins by righteousness," and be at "peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Only say not to yourselves, “ Peace! peace! when there is no peace;" for “there is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked;" that is, to him who still goeth on in his trespasses ; but he that confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy.
DELIVERED ON BOARD THE WATERLOO, NEAR CHRISTMAS ISLAND,
DECEMBER 25, 1823.
[Bethlehem, a small town, about six miles south of Jerusalem, was called the “ City of David” in consequence, probably, of David, king of Israel, having been born there an event which occurred about a thousand years before the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Bethlehem, or the “City of David, is a place well known, and much frequented by Christians of different countries, Latins, and Greeks, and Armenians; and it is supposed, that the very field is known where the shepherds were watching their flocks, when the angel announced the birth of our Saviour.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived at Nazareth, which was about seventy miles north of Jerusalem; and the occasion of her coming to Bethlehem, about eighty miles distance, was, an order issued by the Roman Emperor, Cæsar Augustus, that all persons in Judea should repair to their native place, to have a list of their names taken. Whilst Mary was at Bethlehem, Jesus was born ; and on that occasion, an angel from heaven appeared during the night to some shepherds, and speaking audibly, called upon them not to be afraid, for he brought them good tidings, which concerned all people in the world, these tidings were, that a Saviour was born-Christ, the Lord.
To commemorate this event, the 25th of December has been fixed on; it is not, however, certain that Christmas-day, as it is called, was the precise time of our Saviour's birth ; nor is the keeping of this holiday commanded in the Sacred Scriptures ; but if it be observed with decorum, and be not profaned by any excess, the observance of it may be rather useful than otherwise.
The commemoration of any event ought to correspond to the nature of that event; and what we have to-day to commemorate, is not some domestic or national occurrence, but the birth of the Saviour of the world; it seems, therefore, incumbent on us to consider the nature of his salvation, and how it concerns us. ]
Acts, v. 30, 31.
“ Jesus, hath God exalted to be a Prince and a SAVIOUR." A
Saviour is a deliverer; one who rescues from some evil. A man who delivers his country from foreign enemies, is sometimes called the saviour of his country; and people speak of saving a man from drowning, or from any similar calamity. Whenever men speak of a Saviour, it is understood that some evil is hanging over, or bas actually come upon those who are to be saved. The same as when men speak of a physician, it is understood that there are sick persons to be healed.
Now the erils to which men are subject, are some of them bodily evils, otherwise called natural evils; such as sickness, poverty, and so on : others are mental evils; such as concern the mind, or the thinking part of man--the soul; and these are sometimes called moral, or spiritual evils. Such bodily evils terminate when the body diesthere is no sickness or poverty in the grave; but as the soul, or spirit, never dies, the death of the body does not deliver from those evils which are of a spiritual nature, nor from the punishment which awaits the bodies of the wicked after the resurrection : hence calamities, or evils, are some temporal, or enduring only for a few years ; and some of them eternal, or never-ending. But all human calamities, whether bodily or spiritual, temporal or eternal, are, without exception, the consequence of sinning against God. We are taught, that man was originally made a holy, obedient, and a happy being. Then there was no sickness, no death, no affliction. But man sinned. He disobeyed God, and became wicked and miserable. At the beginning, the Bible assures lis, man was made in the image of God;
he resembled the Divine Being in these three things ;-in knowledge, in innocence, in holiness ; but by transgression he fell into a state just quite the reverse, a state of ignorance, and of guilt, and of wickedness. Now to deliver man from these three evils, the Saviour is appointed, and sustains a threefold character; he is a Prophet, a Priest, and a King. A Prophet, or Teacher, to teach ignorant man; a Priest, or one who offers sacrifice, to atone for man's guilt ; and a King, or Prince, to bring man into a state of willing obedience to the divine law.
Since the time when man fell from his original state, he has become ignorant of the Divine Being. He knows not the living and the true God. In many parts of the world, both in ancient and in modern times, as in China for example, people bave imagined that there were many gods, and that they were such beings as sinful man himself is; hence they made images of their gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands-a bit of carved wood, or a rude stone. In other parts of the world, where idols or images are not used, as in our own country, there is still great ignorance of God prevailing ; and many false opinions, some of which set the divine perfections at variance with each other. There are people who, contrary to Scripture, think that God is so merciful he will not punish sin; and, by this notion, his holiness and his justice are set aside altogether; and these persons live and die without repentance, and never apply by faith to the Saviour.
There is much ignorance also amongst men, concerning the holy and spiritual law of God. Man is very ignorant of his duty to God, and often has no desire to know the truth; and hence it is, that many are so careless and jovial whilst living in disregard of their religious duty; and, consequently, still under the wrath of God. Most of men think, that simply avoiding great crimes, is fulfilling their duty; whereas, the Bible declares every one accursed, who continues not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them.
Further, fallen man is ignorant concerning a future state; the state after death. Some people, who think