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His workmanship, in Christ. (Eph. ii. 10.) God taketh it to be his prerogative : “ I am the Lord that sanctifieth thee.”
The righteousness of Christ is unto all, and upon all that believe, and there is no difference. (Rom. iii. 22.) In inherent righteousness, there is a great deal of difference: one hath more grace, and another less. In sanctification, there are degrees; but as to imputed righteousness, they are all equal. None of the saints hath finer linen, or are decked with a better vesture than you are. There is a difference in the degree of faith which receiveth this righteousness, but there is no difference in the righteousness itself. A giant or a strong man holdeth a precious jewel, so doth a child : the jewel is the same, though a man hold it with a stronger hand : it loseth nothing in the child's hand. So here the righteousness is the same, though the faith be not the same.
Christ is well pleased with all his sorrows and sufferings, so he may gain the church, and espouse her to himself in a firm league and covenant: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” (Is. liii. 11.) As if he said, “Welcome agonies, welcome death, welcome curse, so poor souls be saved.” As Jacob counted the days of his labour nothing, so he might obtain Rachel ; yet there is a vast difference between the love of Christ and the love of Jacob.
Rachel was lovely; but we are vile and unworthy creatures; and Christ's love is infinite, even beyond his sufferings, and the outward expressions of it, as the windows of the temple were more large and open within than without. Well, then, every one of Christ's wounds is a mouth open to plead for love. He made himself so vile, that he might be more dear and precious to us. Certainly, if love brought Christ out of heaven to the cross, to the grave, should it not carry us to heaven ? to God ? to Christ, who hath been so gracious to us ? Thus God hath deserved our love.
Fruit is for the owner; the profit of trees returneth to the husbandman and master. (See Job xv. 8, and Phil. i. 11.) The spiritual life beginneth in God, and its tendency is to him. God must have the glory of all, but you shall not be without the comfort of it. “ Ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. vi. 22.) The grave is but a winter: it taketh off your leaves and verdure for the present; the sap and life remainoth in the root.
We are first called to grace, and then to heaven. First, the sweet voice saith, “Come unto me;" and then the great voice, • Come up hither.” From self, sin, and the world, we are called off, that we may enjoy God in Christ for evermore. For the other sort that are kept off by their own fears, they are wont to allege, « It is true there is mercy in Christ for sinners, but Christ doth not call them.” My brethren, what do you look for? An audible voice to speak to you, “ Thou, John; thou, Thomas,” &c. In the tenders of the Gospel, you are included, as well as others, and why will you exclude yourselves ? If God say,
« Sinners," you
should subsume and reply, “ I am chief.” I remember it is said, “ Christ calleth his sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” (John X. 3.) How doth Christ call them by name? By speaking expressly to their case, as if he did strike them upon the shoulders, and say, 6 Here is comfort for thee." As at a feast, when there is a dish that we affect, set upon the table, though all the company be free to make use of it, yet we say, “Here is a dish for me;" so should you apply and take to yourselves your own portion, though it be propounded generally. Yet, when God directeth the tongue of his messengers to speak so expressly to your case, that is all the calling by name which you can look for, since oracles are ceased; and therefore you should say, “ This was a dish provided for my hungry conscience, intended for me,” &c. But they will reply, « Sure there is no mercy for me
e_I am so unworthy.” I answer, “ The invitation taketh no notice of worth, but of thirst.” “Let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” (Rev. xxi. 17.)
“TAKE WITH YOU WORDS, AND TURN UNTO THE LORD."
HOSEA xiv. 2.
What a wonderful display of divine love and divine power we have here! Here is the King of heaven himself addressing his rebellious subjects. He tells them the truth in the first instance“ Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity"_but he condescends himself to draw up the petition for pardon which he will accept from them on taeir return. “ Take with you words"_“I will give them to you ready for your use." As we call the Lord's Prayer a “model for prayer," so is this prayer, “Say unto him." What? Oh! my friends, here is the greatest, the most important part of the petition in the first clause, “ Take away all iniquity.” There is more implied in this than mere royal pardon : here is the entire removal of
The sacrifices and services of the scape-goat, as recorded in the 16th chapter of Leviticus, was the Gospel acted under the law, and shewed how “ Christ would appear once in the end of the world, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself:" not only take away the punishment of it, the shame of it, the burden of it to my own conscience, but remove it entirely as thou didst David's The Lord hath put away thy sin: thou shalt not die.” This is grace above mere pardon! Does not such an assurance as this break the hard heart of rock into a thousand fragments? Does not the love and pity of our Sovereign melt those fragments till the heart of stone is indeed dissolved into a heart of flesh ?
6. Take away all iniquity.” Oh! we are taught here how iniquity is to be taken away. We cannot remove sin from ourselves, nor can the Lord “ receive us graciously,” and hold free communion with us, unless our sins be removed. But am I to expect that the Lord will take away mine iniquity, so that I shall be free from it in. herently, or so that I shall be without it, and never feel it, nor fall by it any more? No, no; sin will never be taken out of me, or eradicated from my fallen nature, so long as I remain in a timestate. The Lord's taking away my sin is a very different act from all this ; and the true knowledge that the Lord hath taken away your sin and my sin is the one foundation for faith and hope in God. And let me add, there is a necessity for our own knowledge of the same, as without it we cannot have "everlasting consolation and a good hope through grace." Take away all iniquity. The grace of the Gospel, or the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, is the sole remedy which the Lord hath provided for the taking away of sin, and the assurance that our iniquity is thus removed by Him on whom were “laid the iniquities of us all,” will change the rebel into the loyal, loving subject. The arms of rebellion laid down, his heart's desire will be to imitate those nearest the throne, who fulfil the commands of their Sovereign, hearkening to the voice of his word, while his prayer is, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?”
LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD.
On! how often have you refused this advice; you have scattered your cares to the four winds, or you have hid them in your own heart; you have permitted the worm to feed upon the bud; perhaps you have thought, “I can do nothing else.” The wife has said, “Oh! if I had a religious husband, how would I blend my soul with his ; but, alas ! for me, he has no religious sympathy;" or the husband says, “Oh! if my wife were a help-meet, what solace should I have !" while the child exclaims, “Oh! if my parents were but godly!" But if you have not found sympathy in the domestic circle, probably you have unbosomed yourself to a friend; it may be he was a worldly friend, and he suffered you to shew him your bleeding heart, and yet refused you any sympathizing balm! You leaned on earth, but the reed broke! You leaned on earth, but the spear pierced you more and more, making a deeper and yet deeper wound. But suppose your friend be sincere, yet he cannot go with you far enough; he may walk part of the gloomy path, but as the clouds gather he leaves you, There is a point at which all human friendships terminate; “ I can go no farther with my friend." There is none you can get to enter into your soul; the workings of secret anxiety, and its sorrowful forebodings are too big for utterance; you have apprehensions which you cannot explain.
But, thank God, "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and he allows you to come to him when all human joys have fled. There is a wonderful effect produced by human sympathies ; and shall not a greater effect be produced by Divine ? He can be “touched !” the God-man, your brother! bowels melt with love." He sees the whole soul naked and open ; he hears the inexplicable groan, and enters into all your feelings, for he knows whereof you are made. I fear we do not sufficiently value a throne of grace; we had rather tell our sorrows to any one than Him! and yet see his love! “ Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee;" and see how great the condescension; he stoops to ask your friendship! and it is the very nature of divine friendships to have no reserves.
You are pre
THE SINNER'S CONDITION. O SINNER, hast thou any hope, or inheritance, or treasure beyond the grave? Alas, none! Your hope and portion lie below. And yet you are on the brink of the grave, and a step carries you beyond it. Here you have no continuing city, nor yet do you seek one to come. You have a treasure, but it is on earth ; a portion, but it is in this life; good things, but they are here. sently going to eternity, where you have nothing, and whither you can carry nothing of all you have here. What a prospect you have before you! A blank eternity! An eternity of unsatisfied desire, without anything, without even hope. Behold before you an immortality utterly unprovided for; and within a day you may be compelled to enter upon it. Still there is an opportunity of changing the prospect; still the hope of the Gospel is set before you; still you may lay hold of it, if you will but fly for refuge to Jesus.
“AH, MASSA, YOU NO UNDERSTAND it." A Few years since, there lived in one of our large cities a poor coloured woman, named Betty, who had been confined by sickness for nearly twenty years. By the few friends that knew her she was familiarly called poor Betty. Betty had seen comfortable days. She had been kind and good at service. Eighty years shed their blight upen her robust limbs, before they yielded to the hardship of toil. She had acquired a hale constitution by sporting for twenty years upon her native hills, upon the burning sands of Africa, before the slave-ship stole its guilty, accursed way over the waters, laden with chains and manacles to bind her limbs, and to mar her sable beauty, to agonize her soul, and to subject her to the horrors of the middle passage. Betty had long been blind, and was said to be 105 years old. An aged daughter whom God in mercy to his bruised reed in a strange land, had kindly permitted to be the companion both of her bondage and her freedom, arranged and administered the few comforts with which former industry and present charity furnished their decayed cottage. Betty was indeed à relic of former days, and was noted both for her good sense, and her discreet, warm-hearted piety,
Mr. B. was a man of wealth and business in the same city. His ignature was better than silver on the exchange, because it was nore easily transferred. His sails whitened the ocean, his charity
laddened many hearts, and his bounty gave impulse to many enevolent operations. Notwithstanding the pressure of business, Mr. B, often found time to drop in and see what became of poor Betty, His voice, and even his step, had become familiar to her,