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repentance and confession of sins,* a condition necessarily preparatory to salvation. Viewing this fact in connection with Jesus, "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," there arises a question which demands a reply before we proceed.
Why was such an One, bearing the above character, submitting to an act of identifications with repentance and confession of sins ?
The reply is found in the significance of that little word “us," in Matt iii. 15, and it is here that the vicarious position of Jesus is so wonderfully conspicuous. Not on his own account was this action performed; he who was " that holy One and the Just," needed neither repentance from nor confession of personal sin. It was “the just " representing "the unjust,” declaring that he was about to show how he would " bear their sins on his own body on the tree,” that brought him to the baptism of John. By the will of God in order to the perfect work of Reconcilation," he who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”f Here is perfect vicarious action. There is an emphatic clearness in such a statement that shows how completely the objective view of what Christ has been as to his sufferings, and what he now is as the personal standard of divine righteousness, is substituted by the Spirit of truth as a perfect ground of confidence for the believer. The transfer of all that God demands is made from self to Christ. Hence the assurance that both the confession and repentance that he entered into for “Us," was deep, full, heartsearching, perfect. We may feel quite confident that he left no one sin unconfessed in the ear of the Most Holy, no one transgression unrepented of to him, who could be satisfied with nothing short of the effectual action that must necessarily precede the utter oblivion of all sins and iniquities. As an act therefore of the Son, it must have been supremely acceptable to the Father.
Jesus, having assumed the position of substitutional responsibility of the weight of the sins of God's people, there must of necessity follow the suffering of the full penalty due thereto. This he declared himself willing to bear in the action of his baptism. He stood thus on the banks of the Jordan, $ where Israel once had stood : but there was no parting of those waters for him that he might pass through them unscathed. No! the full power of those billows was to be borne ; he must go into them, they must pass over him ; for only thus could he prefigure the coming cross whereon he was about to submit to the full wrath and judgment of God against sin, in order to its abolition, and to the possibility of the remission of the sins of the family of faith.
When therefore Jesus was put under the typical waters of judgment, it was for “ U8;" he carried with him the whole family, thus declaring them as sinners, to have been judged, executed, and buried. The full award due to sin passed over them, they were “buried with him by- or in
* Matt. iii. 6 ; Acts xix. 4.6.
+ This appears to be the meaning of the untranslatable word, “ baptism." Rom. vi. 1-11, Col. ii. 12, seem to afford warrant for it, which is confirmed by the action of the Lord Jesus.
2 Cor. v. 21. $ Every event connected with this river in the history of Israel, together with the fact of its termination in the sea of death, will show that its waters are emblematical of judgment. See Ps. xlii, 7.
Baptism into death.” But in that Jesus was raised again out from those waters, we are further assured that, bearing still his representative character, those who believe are identified with him in this act also ; that is, they “ shall be planted in the likeness of his resurrection."* “ Dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord." Hence follows the important exhortation, “He died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, AND ROSE AGAIN.”+
IV. Seeing that the perfected work of atonement is hereby prefigured at the beginning of that life of righteousness of the Christ, who through the eternal Spirit was about to offer himself without spot to God ;f is it to be wondered at that, as Jesus came up out of the waters of his baptism,“ the heavens were opened to him ? Did this not foretell that, when he should have suffered, he should enter into his glory? But still in his representative character, returning to the heavens, entering thither as “ the forerunner for us” within the Father's house. Nor are we surprised that the Spirit of peace should first descend and rest upon him, who in his own person was to become the peace of the entire family of faith, brought nigh and reconciled unto God through his blood.|| Whilst, to crown the wonders of this instructive scene, we listen with joy anspeakable to the voice of the Father, erst at the birth of Jesus borne by angelic messengers to earth proclaiming peace, and the good pleasure of God in Man. That Man his beloved Son in the perfect fulfilment of all righteousness.
But yet once more. This voice, though spoken to Jesus, was for him as he then prefigured “the first-born from the dead,” and not therefore for him alone. The same Spirit of peace as the Spirit of adoption has borne witness in harmony with the spirits of believers that they too are sons of God, quickened and raised together with Christ, s and loved with an equal love as that which the Father bestows on his firstborn Son.** To each member does he say, as chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”.
V. The result of the baptism of Jesus being a manifest declaration of his being a Son of God in humanity, in the garb and situation of apparent weakness, was an opportunity for Satan to attempt such a victory over the Second Man as he had gained over the first. By the same means too, adapting bis wiles to the condition and circumstances of Jesus, and this is written for the admonition of all who, in baptism or otherwise make a public profession of being sons of God. Temptation is sure to follow, and must be submitted to, that the genuineness of the faith may be proved, by which the declaration of sonship is avowed. It is evident from the nature of the temptations of both the first and the Second Man,tt that the attractions and evanescent glories of this present evil world are all that Satan has to offer. His appeal is to the lust of the flesh, of the eyes, and the pride of life. But the weapons of victory are provided by our God who is rich in mercy, and they are, the sword * Rom. vi. 3-6. n. vi. 3-6.
† 2 Cor. v. 15. Heb. ix. 14. | Heb. vi, 19, 20.
ll Ephes. ii, 13-18. & Rom. viii. 15, 16; Ephes. ii. 5, 6.
** John xvii, 23. ti Luke iv, 1-12.
of the Spirit, the Word of God, exceeding great and precious promises in an open heaven, an eternal weight of glory, and joint heirship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who shortly, at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, shall be invested by the Father, together with his body, the Church, with the sovereignty of all those kingdoms that he indignantly refused from him who now holds it, Satan the god and prince of this age.*
CHRISTIAN SPEECH.--A SERMON. "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”—COLOSSIANS iv. 6. IF I were entering a manufactory, and saw in the hands of the maker a I piece of intricate and delicate machinery, with fine wheels and springs, I would naturally ask him, in my ignorance, What is that called, what do you intend by that, what is the use of that? When I see in God's great moral and mental manufactory certain men called out of the multitude, and touched with his hand with its most delicate touch,—men to whom he has imparted certain divine things which are not possessed by the mass or the multitude, I naturally ask, What are these men for ? My text replies, “ that they may be ministers of grace :” that they may instrumentally communicate to others the things which God has given to them. When I look at the fact that there have been elaborate preparations for certain results, that God has spoken in this Book about things which he calls “ redemption,” “election," "adoption," "sanctification," "justification," and many other things of that class, all of which are strictly defined, I put this question to myself: “What is all this for ? What is God's object? Is it just to save these men from ignorance and sin ; and does his object terminate with that? Having placed these men on a higher platform than that which they occupied as natural men merely, and bestowed upon them all these things, this light, and these hopes,—what is the object of it ? He speaks of himself as a workman and of us as his workmanship, and he must have an object in doing all this. Why, for example, has he not dealt with the entire mass as he has dealt with this selected multitude ? He could have done so had it pleased him. Why has there been a principle of selection adopted during this economy of grace?” The answer is here : he has called these men out of darkness into light, and says, “ Ye are sons of light: shine !" he has called these men from their state of corruption and given them salt, and says, “Use that for me;" he has called them from their state of guiltiness, and delivered them from sin, and made them holy men, and he says, “Now let your purity recommend your principles to others; " he has told us most distinctly that by no works of ours previous to regeneration in Christ can we do anything for ourselves or others. The fact is we cannot; the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them as a natural man. But the Scriptures tell us plainly that salvation in Christ is free to us, and then God says, “ As soon as you get that, you must serve me; I give you the qualification,-use it for me; I bestow upon you the power, -put it forth for me; I have planted, - you will bear fruit; I have cleansed, you must shine ; I have given you light,-reflect it; I have placed you under obligation, you cannot pay me, hand the interest of my capital over to others; the talents are mine,-use them for the good of others.” Brethren, a Christianity which shuts itself up in itself is a poor thing, a mockery of God and man; a Christian man who is content to go through life's journey doing nothing for him who saves him is an unprofitable servant. Well, now, I could talk a long while in this strain, general. ising on the principles of our faith. You will bear in mind, my Christian brethren, the great thing taught in this Book, and consequently taught here--I say “consequently," and I mean it, for this Book is my only guide you will bear in mind the great fact to which your attention is called, that God our Saviour makes us Christians that we may be Christlike men ; that he has bestowed upon us a free salvation that we may freely give ; that all the precepts of his gospel spring out of these doctrines—the doctrines embody precepts and give them birth. He never asks any man to do any thing in his own strength. That to me is clear; hence when I hear men telling the ungodly to do this or that, without telling them to surrender at once to God's grace, I say, You give them an impossible task; it is not to be done; it is not God's way. His way is, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," and when saved, "Son, go work in my vineyard."
* Rev. xi. 15.
| This discourse, by the Editor, reported in a local paper, was, like all his sermons, extemporaneous. The reader will therefore excuse the absence of that literary finish which ought to characterise written compositions.
The precept before us is given to Christians, to persons who have passed from death to life in Jesus Christ. You will notice the chief points of the text: we have in it “ speech,” and “salt,” and “grace." Take these in their order. First, “ speech.” What a piece of wonderful mechanism is the human mind! What a marvellous thing is the power of uttering intelligent sounds which the hearer is able to translate into ideas! The tongue is man's glory or disgrace, and is so times without number. Speech is the great attribute of man. God made the tongue; he gave man this power of speech; he has spoken to us by his prophets and by his Son; and more than once in an audible voice from heaven to bear celestial witness to the accepted One. But it is impossible for us to speak about things of which we are ignorant. No man can discourse on science, or philosophy, or art, unless he knows something of the subject on which he speaks. Nothing is more distressing than to hear a man talking at length about matters of which he has no conception ; the blunders and errors are absolutely ludicrous which we sometimes hear from the lips of men who think they understand, but who understand not that about which they are speaking. So, if our speech is to be in accordance with the grace, light, and purity of the faith, we must under. stand that grace, light, and purity. If a man would speak to his fellow. men for Christ, he must himself have received his education from Christ. If we are to talk about things of intense and eternal interest, it is obvious we must go to the only source where we can get correct information regarding those things. So then, in accordance with the principle just laid down, that the Lord asks no service of men without qualifying them for it; so here, if our speech is to be of the character required, we must anderstand the things about which we pretend to speak. You see how important it is that we should be rightly instructed in the way of the Lord, that we should have clear conceptions of his modes of dealing with mankind, that we should have right ideas of the position of our Lord Jesus Christ in the mental, moral, and spiritual universe. How sad to be ignorant! A prophet complained of old that his people were destroyed for lack of knowledge, and this is true, to-day, in thousands of instances. If we wonld, in one word, so speak as Christ would have us, we must understand Christ, and then we shall have the qualification to talk about him, as well as the motive for doing so- loyalty to him.
"Salt:" one of the most precious things in the creation! What wonderful qualities it has ! It preserves the corruptible from corruption; it is used by all mankind; God speaks of his own covenants as covenants of salt in more than one instance, to give us an idea of their perpetuity, as well as of their purity. Our Saviour selects this most precious thing and applies it to Christians—" Ye are the salt of the earth.” Under the old dispensation all the sacrifices had to be salted, and our Lord, in selecting salt as symbolic of the purity of speech which he required in his followers, gives us this idea—“The world is a mass of corruption; it is in darkness and ignorance ; it is smitten with the leprosy of sin; it is under the dominion of the prince of darkness : I leave you behind ; I am going away to my Father to wait the time appointed for the establishment of the universal kingdom, and I call you to be my witnesses in my absence, for you are the salt of the earth.” Now, there is this great fact, that the world, without Christian principles, would be an unendurable place. No police power, no magistrates, no government could keep it from terrible anarchy and final ruin. The world is one vast mass of corruption. I am not speaking too emphatically ; but for Christian principles, in their indirect influence, society would be absolutely intolerable. There are millions of men who are not Christians in the New Testament sense, who are nevertheless greatly influenced by the indirect bearing of Christian principle upon their convictions and their conduct. Here is the honour the Lord has bestowed on his followers : “ Ye are the salt of the earth, and I want you to be ministers of grace to men." We might pause here for a moment to take a glance, as far as we can, at what has been done through the indirect action of Christian principles upon civilised nations. There can be no doubt that the truths of this Book have told wonderfully in every possible direction, and that we should have to mourn over things immeasurably worse than they areand they are bad enough—but for the bearing of the light of benevolence and the kindness which every Christian man has in him, and bears with him every day of the year. The silent action of consistent Christian men tells wonderfully upon the world.
Now let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. We are not required to be talking religion constantly ; we could not do it. God does not expect it; but we are required to have religious speech. Do you see the distinction ? We are not required to be constantly preaching the faith, but we are required to have the influence of faith upon our every-day speech and conduct. We could not carry on the world's commerce, and politics, and business, if we were required to be constantly speaking by the Book; but the text means not to have one