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The claims of justice must not be sacrificed at the shrine of mercy. God must be just while merciful, equitable while compassionate. His honour will not allow him to befriend the sinner, without receiving satisfaction for his offences.
With what rapture should we contemplate the fact, that he has devised a scheme whereby all this has been effected! He has laid help upon one that is mighty. He has exalted one chosen out of the people, his elect, in whom his soul delighteth. Now he, as the covenant head of the church, loved it, became its surety, and gave himself for it, that he might redeem it from all iniquity. The Father transferred its guilt to him, and “made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;" and thus reconciled us to himself, by Jesus Christ.
There is therefore no way of commencing this acquaintance, but by the cross of Christ. Vows, and penances, and promises of amendment, are not sufficient. Satisfaction to divine
justice, and cordiality to the sinner, meet only in the cross.
They blend their rays, as the colours of the rainbow, and form a halo of glory round that celestial spot. The cross is the centre of all God's purposes of mercy to fallen man, around which they shine with so resplendent a lustre, that they eclipse all other systems intended to lighten man into the secret place of the Almighty. If you therefore sincerely desire to be a friend of God, and to live habitually in his favour, Christ's atonement must be the basis
which your hopes are raised. He causes all his love to settle on his Son, and your's must fix on him also. He is well pleased with the work of his Son, and you must be satisfied in it also. He has depended on the pledge of his Son, and he will have you depend on it also; for “him hath he set forth for a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” He has set him forth as the brazen serpent was exhibited by Moses, that you might behold his virtues, and, looking on him, live.
Disdain not this method of love. Any thing put in competition with him will be ruinous to your soul. He cannot allow the most splendid sacrifices to compensate for faith in his Son. “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ;" the first and great commandment of the gospel, which indeed includes every other. To observe any other while this is despised, is but to offer an insult to his wisdom and authority. Certainly we should not account that man our friend, or wish him to be familiar with us, who, in spite of all instituted decorum and our repeated entreaties, scaled our wall and climbed in at the window, rather than enter in by the door. And what is your conduct, but a neglect of Christ, the door by which all who are received into our Father's house as his children must enter in; while you, like a thief and a robber, climb up some other way? How can you hope for the friendship of God, upon principles so opposite to his revealed will? Be not deceived, either by the delusions of Satan, the antiscriptural opinions of false teachers, or the pride of your own hearts. God will not be mocked. “ He that believeth on the Son of God hath life; and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” This is his command, O beloved, and this is his promise : "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
This little work may now be in the hands of one who still thinks that something must be added to the perfect work of Jesus; that something recommendatory in him is essential to this blessed acquaintance. Is this your condition, beloved reader? Do you ask in sincerity, “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God ?" What can I bring to commend myself to his notice? “Shall I come before him with burntofferings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I
give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?” God shall give you an answer of peace; for
if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee? but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” He has required satisfaction for thy offences of another, even Jesus, his dear Son; and he gave it, and that work is for ever finished.
Of it he has testified his approbation in raising him from the dead, and setting him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. There is therefore now no more sacrifice for sins. He does not ask any propitiation of you. All the wonderful and gracious work of constituting a sinner righteous in his sight, belongs to God, and to God alone. Let me call your attention to that full description which the apostle gives of the nature of the righteousness required, and the manner in which you are to possess it. “Now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being wit