Page images

from amidst all nations, people, and languages, “ from " the east and the west, from the north and the south*.” Though the Heathen were universally alienated from God, by evil works and an evil conscience, he has undertaken to reconcile them, and to bring those near who were once afar off. By their knowledge of him, their prisons shall be opened, their chains brokent, their condemnation reversed, and they shall be renewed, and accepted in the Beloved, as the true children of Abraham. He shall likewise conciliate peace between Jew and Gentile, make of both one peopleţ, pulling down the walls of separation and prejudice, that with one heart and mind they may love, serve, and praise him. For where faith in him obtains, all distinctions are lost and superseded. “There is,” then,“ neither Greek “nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, 'Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and

" in allg.”

Much has been already done by the Gospel. Multitudes have been turned from darkness to light, and from the worship of dumb idols to serve the living and true God. And we expect a time when this promise will be more extensively and literally fulfilled; when the kingdom shall be the Lord's to the end of the earth ; when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, all Israel be saved, and the nations shall learn war no


From these characters of the Saviour, we may collect the character of his people. For they, beholding his glory, are changed, (according to the measure of their faith,) into the same image. The incommunicable perfections of God, such as his sovereignty and all-sufficiency, can only produce in his people correspondent impressions of reverence, submission, and dependence; an attempt to be like him in these respects would be highly impious, and was indeed the original source of our apostasy from him. 'Man, by indulging a desire of being like God, rebelled against him, aspired at independence, and preferred the gratification of his own will to the righteous and equitable commands of his Maker. The unavoidable consequence of this madness is misery. It is not possible that he should be happy, till he be reduced to his proper state of subordination. But that light of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ, which is revealed to the renewed heart by the Gospel, has a transforming effect upon those who receive it ; they are made partakers of a divine nature, and resemble him, whose they are, and whom they serve, " in righteousness, goodness, and “ truth."

* Luke xii. 28, 29. Eph. ii. 13-16.

† Isa. xlv. 14. $ Col. üi. 11.

They are righteous as he is righteous. I speak not of their relative state, as they are accepted and accounted righteous in the Beloved, but of their real character. They learn of him to “ love righteousness and “ hate iniquityt." Their principles are right, drawn from the revealed truths of God. They comport themselves as becomes weak and unworthy sinners, and ascribe the glory of their salvation to the Lord alone; and therefore the general tenour of their conduct is governed by the righteous rules of his precepts; of which they have the most endearing and animating exemplification in the conduct of their Saviour ; from him they learn to frame their tempers, desires, and hopes, and

* Eph. v. 9.

+ Psal. xlv. 7.

great de

thus give evidence that they are, in deed and in truth, a saved people. His love, in proportion as it is realized in their hearts by faith, teaches them likewise to love one another, and to exercise benevolence to all men. When they understand the true nature of his spiritual kingdom, which consisteth not in external distinctions and forms, “ but in righteousness, peace, and "joy in the Holy Ghost* ;” and that it is his sign to form to himself a people from amongst the nations of the earth, who shall be one body, enlivened by one and the same spirit, they acquire a large and comprehensive mind. They rise above the influence of names, parties, and divisions; are freed from the narrow views and interests of self; and “put on, as the “elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humility,

meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, and forgive

nesst,” in conformity to the pattern and will of their great Exemplar. Thus he speaks peace to them, and hushes all their angry, tumultuous passions into a calm.

Such is the spirit and tendency of the Gospel. Let us try ourselves by this touchstone, measure ourselves by this rule, and weigh ourselves in these balances of the sanctuary. They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, have put off the old man, and are renewed in the spirit of their minds. If he be indeed

your King, your consciences will bear you witness that you revere, imitate, and obey him. If he be your Saviour, you certainly must be sensible yourself, and others must observe, that you are different from what you once


And if any of you should be convinced, that hitherto you have been a Christian only in name and in form,

+ Col. iii. 12.

* Rom. xiv. 17. Vol. IV.


but destitute of that which constitutes the life and

power of real godliness, this will be a good beginning. For though it be high time that you should in good earnest attend to these things, blessed be God, it is not yet too late. He is a righteous and a gracious Saviour ; seek him as such, and he will speak peace to you also. His sure promise is recorded for your encouragement, “ Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast "out*."



ISAIAH XXXV. 5, 6. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of th deaf shall be unstopped: Then shall the lame man leap a

an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. How beautiful and magnificent is the imagery, which the prophet, in this chapter, represents the effe of Messiah's appearance! The scene, proposer our view, is a barren and desolate wilderness. when he, who in the beginning said, “ Let ther

light, and there was light,” condescends to visit wilderness, the face of nature is suddenly change his presence. Fountains and streams of water b. forth in the burning desert, the soil becomes fruit clothed with verdure, and adorned with flowers. The towering cedars, which were the glory of Lebanon, and

John vi. 37,

the richest pastures, which were the excellency of Carmel, present themselves to the eye, where a little before, all was uncomfortable and dreary. How is it that so few of those who value themselves upon their taste, and who profess to be admirers of pastoral poetry in particular, are struck with the elegance and beauty of his description. Alas, we can only ascribe their indifference to the depravity of the human heart. They would, surely, have admired this picture, could they have met with it in any of their favourite authors; but descriptive paintings in this style, so exquisitely combining grandeur with simplicity, are only to be found in the Bible, a book which their unhappy prejudices and passions too often lead them to depreciate and neglect. But they who have a scriptural and spiritual taste, not only admire this passage as a description of a pleasing change in outward nature, but consider it as a just and expressive representation of a more important, a moral change, of which they have themselves been, in a measure, the happy subjects. The barren wilderness reminds them of the state of mankind by the fall, and of their own hearts before Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness, arose upon them with healing, with light, power, and comfort in his beams. In that memorable hour, old things passed away, and all things

became new. The Lord, by shining into their hearts, · and showing them his glory in the person of Christ,

has created for them a new heaven and a new earth. The works of God around them in his creation and providence assume a different appearance. Before, they lived without him in the world; but now, they see his hand wherever they look, they hear his voice in every event; for now the principles of his grace are planted in their souls, and they are no longer barten

« PreviousContinue »