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fastly continuing in the faith nor yet disclaiming its principles. But this is not the character of the true Christian. Daily is he strengthening or adding to his graces. He is not like the painted post which points the way but is itself destitute of motion and vitality; he is "like the tree of life planted by the rivers of water, which bringeth forth his fruit in due seawhose leaf fadeth not."
In this onward and upward course of holiness, the Christian is animated by the "joyful sound." It ever and anon calls upon him to "gird up his loins and be steadfast." When the children of Israel were coming near the Red Sea, they seem either to haveslackened their pace or to have stood still. There was no wonder in this. The chariots of Pharaoh were heard rattling behind them, the waters of the deep were seen rolling before them. Moses cried unto the Lord, but the only response which Jehovah made unto his servant was, "speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." And forward they did go and they did prevail. The same encouragement which Moses held out to the Hebrews to proceed, the gospel holds out to every Christian to persevere. It calls upon him to " go forward." Go forward in duty, in faith, in humility, and in dependence upon promised aid; and as the sea was made a pathway to the Hebrews, and a grave to their enemies, so your difficulties will be made to you a road to glory, and to your foes a road to ruin. "As thy day is so shall thy strength be." Since by its promises and hopes it thus exhilarates the Christian to duty and perseverance, the gospel is a "joyful sound." Its music, like the music of the harp of David, dispels melancholy.
4th, Because it makes known an atonement for sin. One of the prominent doctrines of the gospel is, " behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." Christians interest themselves much in the sufferings and death of Jesus. It is generally the case that men of the world take little concern about the doings and the sufferings and the sacrifice of
"the Lord of glory;" and this is precisely what we should expect of them. They have other objects to attract their attention, objects of ambition, of power, of fame, of wealth, of aggrandisement; and therefore is it that they "care for none of these things." But there is something like a similar charge to be brought against some professing Christians. The doctrine of the cross is still to some of them what it was to the ancient Greeks, nothing but "foolishness." They can listen to something that is novel and attractive; to something that has seldom been adverted to or described, but the scene of Calvary has been delineated times without number; the sufferings of the Saviour suspended on its accursed tree, the cries which he uttered, the prayers which he offered up, the insults which he received, and the impressive accents "it is finished," with which he gave up the ghost, have formed the themes of multitudes of discourses-employed the pencils of a thousand artists-awakened the harps of a thousand poets. In these scenes there is nothing of the charm of novelty now; that charm is broken, that interest has passed away, and therefore is it that they give little gratification to many professing Christians. A description of them falls upon the ear like the song of him who has a very pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument.
It is very far otherwise with the genuine Christian, the Christian who is feelingly alive to vital godliness. To him the doctrine of the cross is the most "joyful sound." To him it is sweeter than the sweetest music; it is sweeter than the noise of many waters, than the harping of harpers upon their golden harps. It is to him "all his salvation and all his desire." Like Martha and Mary and John, he loves to take his stand at the foot of that cross and contemplate him who appeared once in the end of the world to take away sin." The reason of all this is obvious. It is the cross of Christ which destroys sin. It is the cross which subdues corruption, conquers Satan, triumphs over the world, and secures glory. It is the
cross which makes sinners saints, makes men companions of angels, reunites heaven and earth, reconciles the creature and the great Creator. "God forbid, then, that I should glory, save in this cross of Jesus, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I am crucified unto the world." Let the men of the world rejoice in their chambering and wantonness; let them delight in those riches which perish with the using; but let mine be the Saviour's love and the Saviour's blessing; let mine be the friendship of my Father and my God; let mine be the hope, if not the assurance, of eternal salvation; let mine be the glorious and spiritual body of the resurrectionmorn; let mine be that crown of glory, and that diadem of righteousness which fade not away; but above all, let mine be that Christian humility which receives all these honours only through the cross of Calvary.
5th, Because it proclaims a triumph over Satan. The descriptions given us in revelation of the punishments of the wicked, are short but expressive. Little is said, but much is understood. Privation and sorrow are some of their distinguishing qualities; but the most distinct is, they are eternal. "For ever," is the cry which is continually lifted up in hell. "Its terrors are for ever; its groans are for ever; its curses are for ever; its fire is for ever; its undying worm is for ever; all is for ever, and for ever, and for ever." To this state Satan would have reduced the whole human race. The train was laid; the plan was devised; it was so far executed; man was perishing.
But, thanks be to God, who hath given us a victory through Jesus Christ. Jehovah "laid his hand upon one that was mighty." Christ "having spoiled principalities and powers, made a show of them openly, triumphing over them." "Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that God the Lord might dwell in the midst of them."
6th, Because ultimately it will diffuse joy throughout the
universe. The success of the gospel has been progressive. The little leaven leaveneth the lump. The stone cut without hands is swelling into a mountain. What we say of the gospel in general, we say of the joy which the gospel diffuses in particular. It too has been progressive. It has been expanding by degrees over the world, and over the universe.
When you cast a pebble into the bosom of yon placid lake, you observe there is first one little ring circles out from around it, then a second but a larger, then a third but a larger still, then a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth, and these wider and wider, till at last so numerous have they become, and so far have they stretched outward, that, in the distance, they are totally lost to the eye. Now, so is it with the joy created by the triumphs of the cross. The point from which it radiates is the cross itself, and its moral gyrations, if we may so denominate them, will extend to the ends of the earth. At first it was confined to the little circle of the apostles, then it reached the disciples at Jerusalem, from Jerusalem it spread over Judea, from Judea it travelled over the Roman empire, and from the Roman empire it visited the whole of the ancient civilized world.
At this present moment there are multitudes of our fellowcreatures who are involved in all the darkness and ignorance of heathenism-who see an image of God in every star that twinkles, in every flower that blooms, and in every leaf that quivers to the breeze-and yet, who are found bowing themselves to the stock and the stone. In their deserts and solitary places there is no messenger of peace seen to point the way to a crucified Saviour-there is no missionary to court and woo perishing souls to accept of the amnesty of heaven -there is no voice of mercy heard giving the invitation, "Ho, every one that thirsteth." The gloom of a spiritual night has settled down upon them, and the coldness and the deadness of the grave have come over their poor, miserable, dying souls."Where there is no vision, the people perish."
But the time has to come when a light shall arise and shine upon these benighted nations-when the cry shall be heard, "Awake, thou that sleepest; arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light," when one creed shall be recognised by Jew and Gentile, by bond and free-when one Redeemer shall be acknowledged from pole to pole-when Christianity shall become universal-when there shall be but one shepherd and one sheep-fold, one church and one "blessed people," one faith, and one Lord, and one baptism." These shall be the days of millennial bliss-the days when inanimate nature herself shall burst forth in praise of her Lord; when the desert shall be flushed with vernal beauty, and the mountain tops wave with corn like Lebanon; when the little hills shall break forth into singing, and the forests clap their hands together; when the floods shall join the universal Jubilee ; when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days. All this joy the gospel will create, and for this reason it may be denominated "the joyful sound.”
But the joy which the gospel will create is not to be confined to earth. It will extend farther; it will reach higher; it will awake a Jubilee among blessed spirits. Nay, it has done so already, and it will do so still. "There is joy in heaven among the angels over every sinner that repenteth." The cry, "it is finished," was echoed not only by the rocks and hills around Golgotha, it reached the highest heavens, it entered into the holy of holies, it came up before the throne of the Eternal, and there, as it died away upon the ear of seraphs, it drew forth another burst of hosannahs to Him who sits upon the throne. But if such be the joy which the gospel produces among angels now, who can describe the joy which will pervade them, and pervade the whole universe, when the ransomed of the Lord will return to Zion, when time will be done, when eternity will have commenced, when there will be "new heavens and a new earth!"