Page images

displeasure of our Maker, and cannot banish the gloomy apprehension, that death may summon us to his presence to be tried as culprits, and then consigned to everlasting wretchedness and despair. Such is our situation. And how are we to obtain deliverance ? Are we competent to save ourselves ? Surely not. For what can be more evident, than that if we have once offended the Deity, no after services—no subsequent conformity to his will—can invest us with a title to his favour, unless, indeed, it were possible for our obedience to rise above our obligations, and thus constitute an overplus of merit-an extra fund of goodness—wbich we might draw on for the absolution of our former transgressions ? We have often said, that between subscribing to the monstrous doctrine of supererogation, and conceding that no human being can stand at the divine bar on the footing of his own deserts, there is not, so far as we can perceive, any alternative. It follows clearly and conclusively, that the only refuge for human offenders is in the clemency of the Most High. The question, then, must arise, Will the dread Being whose law we have broken, and against whose authority we have risen in virtual rebellion, condescend to pardon our trespasses? We know, that his benevolence is unbounded; for the whole frame of nature is refulgent with the living lustre of this divine attribute. But do we know, that it is fitting for the Deity, consistently with his character as a moral governor, exercising a supreme regard to the purity and general happiness of the universe which he has made, to forgive the transgressors of his law? Is he not just, as well as good? And does not reason, therefore, render it highly probable, that some plan must be devised by which his justice may be satisfied, before he can extend his pardoning mercy to guilty men ? Now the execution of such a plan would require instrumentality of some sort.


It could not take place without a suitable apparatus of

And surely the expedient most likely to prove effectual, would be for a personage of sufficient dignity and influence to lend his friendly offices in procuring a reconciliation, on proper terms, between the Sovereign of the universe and his offending subjects.

We come, then, to the conclusion, that a mediation of some kind between God and men is necessary to redeem our fallen race from impending destruction. There is here, as in all other respects, the closest and most striking analogy between natural and revealed religion. The Christian system beautifully coincides with the universal plan of providence. The doctrine of the New Testament, in relation to a Mediator, involves the same principle, which pervades, so far as we can discern, the entire economy of the divine administration, and forms its most distinctive feature.

We proceed to remark, that it is not enough for us to know, that a mediation of some kind is necessary to our salvation. A more important item of knowledge is to be assured, that an adequate mediation has, in fact, been provided. And for this information we are indebted wholly to the sacred Scriptures. They, and they alone, impart the valuable intelligence, that there is constituted in the universe a system of means—an apparatus of agencies--for conferring upon us the pardon of sin. In short, they announce, that Jesus Christ has, in pursuance of his Father's appointment, and his own acceptance of the office, become a Mediator between God and men.

We do not propose, on the present occasion, to lay before you a detailed view of the character and offices of this Mediator. We shall merely remark, in general terms, that he is represented in the sacred Scriptures, as at once God and man—a partaker in personal unity of

[ocr errors]

two distinct natures, the divine and human-one who by bis intimate relation to both parties, might, with peculiar propriety, stand in the gap, if we may so speak, between sinners and their offended Sovereign. He is also described as submitting to a life of humiliation, and a death of exquisite anguish, in order to remove any obstacles which the justice of heaven had interposed to the forgiveness of human culprits. He is further exhibited as arising from the dead to demonstrate the efficacy of his mediatorial work; and as returning to heaven, not to lay aside the gracious office which he had assumed, but to continue the execution of it by appearing as our Advocate with the Father-our all-prevalent Intercessor before the mercyseat of Jehovah. He is now able to save, and that to the very uttermost, all who come unto God by him. In him there is plenteous redemption for guilty men. His blood cleanseth from all sin; and his grace is sufficient for any exigencies of those who trust in him. There is no offence which he cannot pardon—no evil which he cannot remove-no affliction which he cannot alleviate. He sits upon his mediatorial throne, creating all things newsending forth his Spirit to hush the tumults of a disordered world-displaying the power of his grace in the resurrection to immortal life, of beings dead in trespasses and sins. In a word, it is his province to rescue human offenders from the degradation and wo to which sin, if unexpiated, must reduce the soul, and raise them to a condition of honour and felicity superior in some respects, even to that which the unfallen spirits of Paradise enjoy.

There is another important truth involved in the text, to which, in the last place, we would ask your attention. When the apostle says, that “there is one Mediator between God and men,” he must be understood as implying, that there is no other; just as when he says, that “there is ONE GOD," his object plainly is to assert the absolute unity of the divine essence.

The Scriptures expressly assure us, that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of sinners. They unequivocally declare, that other foundation for the immortal hopes of the human soul than he, has not been laid, and cannot be laid.

And yet the only Mediator between God and men is, in many instances, rejected and even dispised by those, in behalf of whom his friendly offices were performed. Yes, it is a truth which admits of no denial, that the gospel, notwithstanding its peculiar adaptation to the exigencies of mankind, meets with a reception in the world by no means suited to its merits. One whom experience and observation had not convinced of the fact, could hardly prevail on himself to believe, that a system of religion so 'admirably calculated to promote the highest interests of man, would be undervalued and repulsed by the majority of those to whom it was proposed. We have frequently referred to the anecdote of Melancthon, who commenced the work of the ministry with the sanguine expectation, that he should be able to exhibit the nature and the claims of the gospel in such a light as to ensure its universal acceptance. The excellence of Christianity appeared to him so decided, and its requisitions so reasonable, that, with the characteristic enthusiasm of youth, he did not for a moment doubt, that all obstacles would vanish, at his touch, and that the unanimous exclamation of his hearers would be,“ What must we do to be saved ?” But a few experiments served to convince him, that he had been indulging an unsubstantial day-dream, and forced him to acknowledge, that old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon.

And here let it be understood, that when we speak of the rejection of the one Mediator between God and men, we allude not merely to those who are professed infidels, but to all who do not receive Jesus Christ truly and practically as their only Saviour. Where Christianity is nominally or virtually the established religion, the great mass of the community yield a tacit and an inoperative assent to its doctrines. But the form of godliness is one thing; its power is another thing. “The picture of a man,” says an energetic writer on this point, “is not a man. The mere

professor of a religion, in the speculative belief of which we have been educated, and with whose forms of worship we have been familiar from our earliest years, is utterly insufficient to entitle us to the benefits of Christ's mediation. In short, the distinction between nominal and real piety, is an essential and immutable one. Now, in the view of this distinction we may surely affirm, that numbers in Christian lands reject the great and only Mediator. Yes, and may we not apprehend, that there are those even in this assembly who thus act? To conscience, dear hearers, we appeal. Tell us, is it not a fact, that while you admit the gospel to be a revelation from heaven, prescribing your present duties and unfolding your future destinies, you live as if it were all a system of imposture? How miserable is your condition! You dwell on the banks of the river of salvation, without attempting to taste its limpid stream. You repose under the shadow of the tree of life, without making an effort to grasp its golden fruits.

But why is it that any thus reject the one Mediator between God and men ? How are we to account for conduct, which, on the first glance, bears all the marks of fatuity and insanity? Does it proceed from an utter indifference to the sublime blessings which the gospel promises to mankind beyond the grave? In some instances it possibly may; but generally it results from the hope,

« PreviousContinue »