Page images

The apostle tells the church at Corinth that some of their number had been of the vilest characters. “ But,” he says, " ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” It is then evident that God is able and willing; to forgive the greatest sinner; who repents, however many and however great his sins.

2. God will forgive the greatest number of repenting sinners, however great their num; ber. If only a few sinners could be forgiven, there would be a very evident deficiency in what has been done for the salvation of men. If God could forgive only a few sinners, he could not consistently offer salvation to all. Nor would his ministers then know how to address their hearers. And their hearers would have some pretence for closing their ears and har. dening their hearts, against the calls and offers of the gospel. But through the atonement of Christ, God has made provision sufficient for the salvation of all mankind. And to every person, where the gospel is preached, pardon and eternal life are freely and sincerely offered. Christ says by the prophet Isaiah, “ Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I am God, and there is none else." He commissioned his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, saying, “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." "There would be no propriety in

this commission, unless God were able and willing to forgive the greatest number of sinners, who repent and believe the gospel, however great their number.

3. Upon repenting sinners God bestows blessings of infinite value. Such sinners are not merely saved from the present wrath of God, and from the endless punishment, which they deserve ; but they are made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light : “ an inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled and which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven.” Too often when men profess to forgive each other, there is an appearance of unkindness. The offender, though said to be forgiven, is still treated as guilty. But God treats repenting sinners with the utmost kindness. father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” He is their constant and faithful friend, while they are passing through this dark vale of tears. He makes their light affliction, which is but for a moment, work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. He enables them to sing the song of triumph over death, and of victory over the grave. When their flesh and their heart faileth, he is the strength of their heart, and their portion for ever. He receives them to himself when they die. He then“ wipes away all tears from their eyes : and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” Repenting sin. ners shall for ever dwell in the presence of God,

66 As a

where is fulness of joy, and at his right hand, where are pleasures for evermore. They are not only saved from the endless torments of hell ; but they are made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.'

4. The blessings of the gospel are granted to penitent sinners on the easiest conditions. From eternity, God desired to exercise his loving kindness in the most gracious and endearing manner. He could not be contented to do good to such creatures only, as deserved no evil. He desired to manifest the greatness of his goodness, by bestowing eternal glory upon such creatures as deserved his eternal wrath. In the work of redemption, the desires of his heart are fully gratified. Upon every sinner, who repents and believes the gospel, God bestows eternal life and glory, upon the most desirable conditions. For sinners may obtain the great salvation, if they will only throw off the filthy rags of their own righteousness; and be arrayed in “fine linen clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints.” If they will only leave their broken cisterns that can hold no water, and come to Christ the fountain of living waters, they shall have in themselves a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Hear what Christ says to sinners by the prophet Isaiah, “Ho every one that thirsteth; come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money ; come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” At Jerusalem, “ in the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto ine and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” And now from heaven he is ever crying, “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come and sup with him, and he with me."! “The spirit and the bride say, come.

And let him that heareth say, come.

And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” It is evident then that

every sinner may receive the great salvation of the gospel, on the very easiest and lowest conditions.

5. All holy beings greatly rejoice in the salvation of repenting sinners. Among those who mind earthly things, there arise frequent and severe contentions. When one has received a favor, envy and malice rankle in the breasts of others. But when a vile and guilty worm of the dust is saved from endless puniskiment, and made an heir of glory, then all holy beings engage with all their hearts, to promote his happiness. In the parable of the prodigal, there is a striking description of the readiness and compassion, with which God receives and pardons repenting sinners.

" When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” The angels greatly rejoice in the salvation of sinners. With what deliglot and gratitude did the heavenly host praise God at the Saviour's birth, saying, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." “ There is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth.” What love and joy are excited in the hearts of saints on earth, when sinners are called from their native darkness, into the marvellous light of the gospel ; when they are delivered from the chains of Satan, and brought into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God. By the salvation of every sinner, who repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, the joy of all holy beings is greatly increased.

6. In the salvation of sinners, the great and holy name of Jehovah is for ever glorified. The law, by which every sinner is condemned, is holy, just and good. And the holiness, jus. tice and goodness of God, would have shone with exceeding beauty and glory, if he had inflicted on all mankind, the endless punishment which is threatened in the law. But instead of dooming sinners to hopeless and endless woe, according to the law ; through the unsearchable riches of his grace in Christ Jesus, he bestows upon every penitent and believing sinner, the perfect and eternal joys and glories of heaven. Now, “ if the ministration of con. demnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. In this was manifested the love of God to. wards us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through

« PreviousContinue »