Page images
PDF
EPUB

various difficulties that may be conjured around such an apparently simple, and, indeed, such a really simple question as that of the existence of a material universe. In like manner we know, since the God of infinite truth has communicated to us the information that there has been “opened (in virtue of the death of Christ) a fountain for sin and uncleanness.” But we are incompetent to answer all the objections which acute and sophistical reasoners may readily array against this fact.

· Let us then, dear hearers, banish every doubt, and receive with gratitude and joy the doctrine of the atonement. Let us embrace this truth as the leading principle of divine revelation—the very corner-stone of our immortal hopes. Let us contemplate the death of Christ, as a great transaction which has in some way expiated the offences of men. Let us behold, in the blood shed on Calvary, the medium of our restoration to the favour of Jehovah the “fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." True, we know not how that blood is capable of washing away our transgressions. Nor need we know. It is enough for us to learn, on the authority of Him who cannot lie, that such a relation subsists between the sufferings of Jesus, and the justice of Heaven, as to render the pardon of human culprits a safe and an honourable measure on the part of their offended Sovereign. There is a real, though an unknown something, in the circumstances attending the crucifixion of the Messiah, which has made it possible for the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, to show pity towards our rebellious race, without tarnishing his own moral purity, or affording encouragement to beings yet unfallen, to become the imitators of our disobedience. In other and scriptural language—God bath set forth his Son to be a propitiation for the remission of sins, in order that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.

The death of Christ, then, was a satisfaction for our sins. Yes, and it was a full satisfaction. The offering which he made of himself, was infinite in value. This is evident from the fact of his divinity. It is also evident from the circumstance, that the invitations of the gospel are addressed, and its blessings promised, to the whole human family. And it is further evident from express declarations of the New Testament, with which you are all familiar, and which, therefore, we shall not now quote.

But the provision which God has made for the salvation of men, further consists in a process of moral renovation, begun and continued in their souls through the agency of the Holy Ghost. And here the figurative language of our text becomes eminently significant. The gospel may well be considered as opening a great “fountain for sin and for uncleanness," since it reveals a method by which fallen and corrupt human nature may be restored to its original rectitude and purity. Other systems of religion promise forgiveness to the offender, and lead him to entertain a vague anticipation of happiness beyond the grave. But they present no consistent and effectual plan for reclaiming him from the influence of his native depravity, and rendering him fit to dwell in the presence of the Holy One. Numerous rites and ceremonies, however imposing in their nature, bave not the smallest tendency to emancipate from the chains of unhallowed habits. Nor can mere ethical precepts, even

. when recommended by the most attractive speculations of philosophy, subdue the sinister propensities, and control the irregular movements of a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The sinner “must be born again.” He must become “ a new creature." A great and radical change must pass upon him, ere he can be truly and permanently happy. The universe affords

not solitary spot to which a being alienated in his affections from God, may resort for tranquillity and enjoyment. Should the justice of heaven pursue bim with no positive inflictions of misery, still he would be the victim of constant self-reproach—inextinguishable fire would rage in his bosom-he would feel the worm that never dies gnawing at his soul. Yes, it is certain, that without regeneration may can never find peace and bliss, either in the present or the future world. He must be renewed in the spirit of his mind-his moral nature must be touched and moulded again by the plastic hand of the Creator the image of his Maker must be restored to his soul,or he will remain for ever wretched. A change so complete and transcendent as be needs, can be effected only by the interposition of divine power. And, blessed be God! he has made the most ample provision for such interposition. He is willing to exert his power in the regeneration of the human heart. He has opened “a fountain for sin and uncleanness,” in which the most polluted of mankind the vilest transgressor that lives on this earth-may obtain purification. He is always ready to impart the renewing and sanctifying influences of his Spirit, to those who sincerely desire and earnestly implore them. No individual ever put up to the throne of his heavenly Father the ingenuous petition, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God! and renew a right spirit within me,”—and met with a refusal, or an unkind reception. The uniform language of Jehovah is, “ Ask, and ye shall receive.

6 The doctrine which asserts the necessity of a divine operation on the human heart, like the doctrine of the atonement, has been much objected to. It has been contended, that those passages of Scripture which seem to speak of such an operation, are nothing more, in reality, than figurative allusions to the effect of moral suasion.

But we submit it to the common sense of every unprejudiced person, whether the language of the sacred writers on this subject, is not entirely too strong to be explained away in any such manner. 66 A fountain for sin and uncleanness"_66 born again"_66a new creature”_" the workmanship of God”_"temples of the Holy Ghost”66 washed and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Are these tropes and metaphors ? If they be why then, farewell to all our religious knowledge derived from the Bible. On the same principle, it may easily be shown that the resurrection of the body—the immortality of the soul—the ministry of Christ-and, in fact, the very being of Deity-are mere figures—the embellishments of rhetoric.

Brethren, it becomes us all to be grateful to God, for the provision which he has made for our recovery from guilt and moral defilement. 0! let us not cease to thank the beneficent Author of our being, that he has not left us unpitied, to perish in our trangressions. Let us rejoice that “a fountain" has been " opened for sin and for uncleanness.” Let us call upon our souls and all that is within us, to bless and praise Jehovah for those animating promises of pardon and sanctification, which the precious volume of his grace contains. .

Nor let us be contented with general emotions of gratitude, elicited by the view of what God has done for the benefit of mankind. It will be of no advantage to us, dear hearers, that “a fountain" has been opened for sin and for uncleanness," unless we actually betake ourselves to this fountain, and obtain the application of its purifying streams to our polluted souls. And O! have we done this? Have we secured an interest in the blood of Christ? Have our numberless offences against our Maker been pardoned ? Have we been regenerated ?

[ocr errors]

Have old things in us passed away, and all things become new? Do we now love God supremely? Can we say that we give to him undivided hearts? Can we look up to him and exclaim, " Whom have we in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that we desire besides thee?” Happy they who can answer such queries to the satisfaction of their own consciences !

Brethren, these and similar queries are particularly important to those among you who have made a public and solemn profession of faith, and contemplate a renewal of this profession on the next Sabbath. Then the table of the Lord will be again spread. Then the great fountain for sin and for uncleanness will be exbibited, in significant and affecting emblem, to your view. Prepare, communicants, prepare for the scene that is before you. Examine your

. selves, and so eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, which represent the body of Christ broken, and his blood shed for the remission of sins. Compare your lives—not merely your external conduct, but the temper of your minds, and state of your hearts—with the requirements of the holy volume. And remember, too, that in this, as in all other matters, you can do nothing without the aid of your heavenly Father. To him let your supplication arise—« Search us, o God, and know our hearts; try us, and know our thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting."

And what shall we say to those who have not yet come to the fountain for sin and uncleanness—who forsake this fountain of living waters, and hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water? We entreat you, dear hearers, to pause, and reflect upon the inevitable consequences of your present career. Believe us, there is no pardon for the guilty—there is no sanctification for the polluted—there is no happiness for the

« PreviousContinue »