« ForrigeFortsett »
“ the end of the world;" He, who could promise to give his disciples “ a mouth and wisdom, which do
enemy could gainsay or resist:" He, whom “ all
angels worship,” came into the world, was made in the likeness of men, became flesh, and tabernacled among us. But what brought him down from the realms of light? Love! not to our character or conduct, but love to us as lost sinners !-He pitied our wretchedness, while he abhorred our crimes ! He anticipated even our desires, and our consciousness of misery and danger! “ It is a faithful saying, and “ 'worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came ( into the world to save sinners : even the chief of
sinners.”—“ Ye know the grace of our LORD “ Jesus Christ; how that though he was rich, yet
your sakes he became poor ; that ye, through “ his poverty, might be made rich."
When he thus assumed “the form of a servant,” from compassion to the lost and wretched; he did not appear in a state of outward splendour, but in the deepest poverty ; and while he refused to act as a Judge, and shunned those who would have made him a King ; yet, as the tender Shepherd seeking his lost sheep, he performed, and so dignified, the office of a preacher, by making that his peculiar constant employment.
With weary, toilsome steps, he traversed the whole land of Israel; (a stranger to those accommodations with which the most of us are indulged ;) and made it the business of his life to seek out and save the lost. He pitied the ignorant and neglected, “ be“ cause they were as sheep not having a shepherd;"
and allowed himself no space for rest or refreshment, (often reserving only the nocturnal hours for secret devotion,) that he might lose no opportunity of bringing lost sheep to the fold of God. This was his meat, his pleasure, and his joy : and here, especially, he hath left his ministers“ an example that they * should follow his steps.” This was the business of his life : still more, this was the end of his
agony and death. “ All we, like sheep,” (says the prophet, above seven hundred years before the Saviour's birth,) “ All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we " have turned every one to his own way; and the "LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”— “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he opened "not his mouth.” In like manner another prophet, in the name of God says, “ Awake, O sword, against “the Shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, "saith the LORD of Hosts; smite the Shepherd.” And thus Christ, taking these prophecies as be.' longing to him, says, “I am the good Shepherd; " the good Shepherd layeth down his life for the
sheep.” View then, the incarnate Word and Son of God, IMMANUEL, agonizing in the garden, and expiring on the cross; not for sinners as already repenting, but to make way for their repentance and salvation !-Oh, the depth of his condescension and compassion ! the riches of his liberality! the greatness of his self-denying love !-words fail, and even imagination is lost on such a subject. But can we suppose, that he stooped so low, and laboured and suffered so much, for sinners, while impenitently re
bellious; and then that he will, after all, reject any of those, who in consequence are brought humbly to seek his salvation ? Consider him as stooping, and bleeding, and dying, for the vilest of rebels and enemies: and then conceive him, if you can, sternly rejecting the humble requests of the poor supplicant who with tears and confusion, and deep contrition, intreats his mercy, and determines to know no other hope.
Before we proceed, let us not forget to think of this gracious Saviour, weeping over ungrateful Jerų. salem, and the miseries to which it was devoted; and praying when nailed to the cross for his murderers;
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they “ do.” Nor let it be lost sight of, that Jesus is “ the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
The commission and instruction given to his apostles, when he sent them forth to preach the gospel, were perfectly coincident with these encouraging representations of his personal ministry. “ Other “ sheep,” says he, “ I have, which are not of this “ fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear
my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one
Shepherd.” “ Neither pray I for these alone, but “ for them also which shall believe in me through “ their word.” “Go ye into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature, he that be“ lieveth and is baptized, shall be saved ; and he that « believeth not, shall be damned."*- Indeed, what is the commission of Christ to his ministers, in
John X. 16. xvii. 30. Mark, xvi. 16.
every age, but that expressed in the words of our ordination service ? · To seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad; and for his children, who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they ' may be saved through Christ for ever.' all most solemnly promise to do, when we are admitted to our sacred function; and this must form one grand object of all our subsequent ministrations, if we would fulfil the vows of God that are upon us.
And what are our instructions in this great con. cern? We are commanded to preach, “ Repentance " towards God, and faith towards our LORD JESUS “CHRIST:” to assure our hearers, of every character, that “ all things are ready;" to invite, persuade expostulate, “ instantly, in season, out of season;" and even “ to compel them to come in ;" certainly, by no other compulsion, than that of convincing arguments, urgent persuasions, and reiterated exhortations. “ Now then, we are ambassadors for CHRIST; “as though God did beseech you by us, we pray
you, in Christ's stead, we ye reconciled to God.” -“ We also, as fellow-workers together with him, " beseech you also, that ye receive not the grace of “God in vain.”
We are instructed, not only to inform you of what God has done for the salvation of sinners, and of what Christ has suffered for sins, and of his prevailing intercession for all “who come to God by " him ;” not only to propose these blessings to you : but also to urge most earnestly your acceptance of them; to take no denial; to renew our invitations and expostulations; to venture your displeasure and contempt, in seeking your salvation ; and never to remit or cease from our endeavours, till you
forsake our ministry, or either you or we are called to the tribunal of God.
And what is that peculiar work of the Holy Spirit, of which so much is said in the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament, and of which, alas ! so little is heard from many pulpits in this Christian country? “ He shall convince the world of sin, of righteous
ness, and of judgment.” “ He shall glorify me; " for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto
you."--His first work, as proceeding from the Father and the Son, consists in quickening the dead in sin, bringing the prodigal to himself, humbling the proud heart, subduing the stout spirit, awakening the careless conscience; and shewing the criminal his guilt, the justice of God in his condemnation, and the future judgment, with all its solemnities and awful consequences. When this has been effected; and the convinced transgressor is brought to despair of salvation, except through mercy by faith in CHRIST JESUS: the same effectual Teacher glorifies the Saviour, shews the suitableness, fulness, and freeness of his salvation ; and brings the desponding penitent, to “ count all but loss for the excellency of the "knowledge of CHRIST, and his atonement and righteousness.
This then is the fact referred to. The sinner hears the gospel, is brought to repentance, to submission, to earnest desires of salvation, to a cordial acceptance of Christ, according to the degree of knowledge al