« PreviousContinue »
Governor of the Universe, consists in of Christ, all difficulty on God's part maintaining inviolate the influence of is removed out of the way, and his these laws, that are indispensable to boundless compassion to a world the happiness of his creatures. It is living in wickedness gushes forth, unonly by motives that their influence restrained save by the sinner's own can be maintained. Hence God can- voluntary rejection of the offered not pardon sin on any terms except mercy. Be it distinctly remembered, such as are consistent with these mo- however, that the very difficulty tives—such as will take away the hope which is thus removed, owed its exof impunity, at least as well as the istence to the fact, that motives alone punishment of the original transgres- can operate on the mind ; and that sor. His justice (to say nothing of by no other influence can sinful creahis goodness) forbids that mercy tures be converted to holiness, or kept should be extended to the guilty on holy after their conversion. Were it such terms as to endanger the happi- otherwise, it is manifest that there ness of the innocent. Hence the ne- would have been no conceivable necessity of Christ's death as a propitia- cessity for the death of Christ, and tion for sin, that God might be just consequently his precious blood would in justifying the sinner who believes have been shed in vain. Such a supand obeys the gospel of his salvation. position would be highly derogatory But the whole of this reasoning, from to the divine character. first to last, is founded on the admis- To the prayerful consideration of sion that holy beings can only be all who love the Lord Jesus in sinmaintained in holiness by motives. cerity, the foregoing thoughts are afCould they be so maintained by a di- fectinonately commended. rect operation of the Spirit, the diffi
J. S. culty which made it necessary for Christ to die, would at once be moved
COMMUNINGS IN THE out of the way.
SANCTUARY.--No. IV. Now, it is obvious, that if a sinful being could be converted to holiness
“ Thou, which hast showed me great and sore
troubles, shall quicken me again, and shalt bring by a direct operation of the Spirit, me up again from the depths of the earth."-Psalm
lxxi. 20. (whether physical, metaphysical, or whatever it may be called) by the It appears, at first view, somewhat same means, and with much greater strange that Christianity, which brings facility, holy beings could be pre- life and immortality to light, and served in holiness. This, however, opens to faith the transcendent glois impossible. No creature can be ries of the spiritual world, should, considered holy or sinful, except so nevertheless, have here assembled its far as he is influenced by motives— votaries to present to their contemno man or angel can be kept holy ex- plation the emblems of death and cept by motives—and no sinful being sorrow. It would seem as though can be converted to holiness except its far-seeing gaze were suddenly by the same influence.
| obstructed, and its distant hopes obHence, justice to the innocent made scured; or that all its movements it impossible for God to justify the and influences were reversed, and its guilty, except in such a way as would noblest purposes altered; so that now in no respect weaken the motives im- its paths, like those of earthly glory, pelling the rational universe to holy “ lead but to the grave.” Nor is it a obedience. The example made on less singular thought that death should Calvary in the person of Jesus Christ become, under any circumstances, a strengthens, instead of weakens subject of commemoration. Strange, these motives. Hence, by the death that the very consummation of human
woes, and the chief object of human the no less immutable laws of divine fears, could be made a matter of grace! voluntary contemplation-a matter to “Except you eat the flesh and be celebrated-a source of happiness drink the blood of the Son of Man," and hope! And stranger still, that said Jesus, “ you have no life in yourwe should have met to celebrate the selves.” This is but the expression death, not of an enemy, but of our of the law of spiritual being. “As best and truest friend !
the living Father hath sent me, and But it is in the sanctuary of God I live by the Father, so he that eateth that the enigmas both of life and me, even he shall live by me.” “ This death are solved; that the mysteries is the record, that the Father hath of religion, and even those of nature, given to us eternal life, and this life are revealed. It is here that truths is in his Son. He that hath the Son concentrate ; that extremes meet, and hath life, and he that hath not the Son the first and the last, the beginning of God hath not life.” If Jesus had and the end, are one. It is here that not died, we could not have lived. He, who, in the beginning, brought For it is only through him, who died light out of darkness, educes good for us, that we can live to God. It from evil, joy from sorrow, life from is only by partaking of that bread death, and glory from dishonour. It which came down from heaven, and is here we begin truly to realize that which was given for the life of the we dwell amidst the antagonisms of world, that we can live for ever! spiritual and natural contrarieties, | And this celestial food is received, and that an omnipotentand omniscient not merely in the communion of his friend has wisely ordained our lot, body and blood, when we commemothat we might become acquainted rate his death, but in every institution with opposite and contrary affections, of Christ; in every act of faith ; in and learn by experience how immea- every emotion of love; in every joy surable the height of that supreme of hope ; through every medium by love which holds the nice balance of which we can lay hold of Christ, and our destiny, and how unfathomable enjoy the divine mercy and salvation. the depth of that divine wisdom which, How delightful to reflect that we can from the very lowest abyss of misery thus, at all times, have access to this and depression, builds up the loftiest heavenly food, whether in the midst abode of joy.
of the assembly of the saints, or in It is here, in view of these sacred the throng of the ungodly; whether emblems of the divine philanthropy, in the family or in the closet; at that we may appreciate that strange home or abroad ; in sickness or in and solemn truth, as fully verified in health; and that the just can thus respect to the body as the soul, that live by faith amidst all the trials and we can live by death alone. Not corruptions of the world, and all the only do we sustain our animal life by darkness and desolation of the grave: the lifeless forms of once living plants “I am the bread of life,” said Jesus : and animals, but even our own cor- he that cometh to me shall never poreal frame itself subsists by its own hunger, and he that believeth in me decay, and, like the light of a lamp, shall never thirst." lives by the very waste which tends How precious the life which this to destroy it! How well we know, spiritual food imparts! How just then, that we can live only by that and striking the relation between this which has died for us—by that which life and the food by which it is sushas yielded its life for ours! And tained! As the effect must correspond how admirably the irrevocable ar- with its cause, celestial life can prorangements of Nature itself illustrate ceed only from the bread of heaven. Food that is itself corruptible, can and the doctrine which the fact remaintain only a perishable life. There- veals. fore, said our Lord, “labor not for How important, then, the solemn the meat that perisheth.” “Our declaration : “ Except ye eat the flesh fathers did eat manna in the desert," of the Son of Man, and drink his replied the Jews: “as it is written, blood, ye have no life in yourselves."* He gave them bread from heaven to As there is a necessary connection eat.” Nay, rejoined Jesus, “I say to between natural life and its food, so you, Moses gave you not that bread also between spiritual life and the from heaven.” That manna was cor- means by which it is sustained. ruptible, for, if kept, it bred worms Mortality and corruption depend upon and perished. It could not sustain, food that is perishable. Eternal life therefore, but a perishable life. It is equally dependent upon that food was evanescent, and disappeared which endures for ever. Well, therebefore the rising sun. It was fitted, fore, did our Saviour say: “ Whoso therefore, only to support a life which, eateth my flesh and drinketh my like a “vapor, appears for a little blood, hath eternal life, and I will time, and then vanishes away.” | raise him up at the last day. For my “ Your fathers,” he therefore added, | flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is “ did eat manna in the desert, and drink indeed. He that eateth my are dead.”
flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth But the food by which spiritual in me, and I in him.” How happy life is sustained is imperishable. “I he who can truly realize, by experiam that bread of life,” said the Re- ence, those precious spiritual truths ! deemer. " This is the bread which | How blissful the assurance that in becometh down from heaven, that a coming partakers with Christ we share man may eat thereof and not die. Ithat divine nature in which life is inam the living bread which came down herent ! How wonderful the thought from heaven. If any man eat of this that we who are but, as it were, the bread, he shall live for ever ; and the creatures of yesterday, may lay hold bread that I will give is my flesh, of the very attribute of the Deity, which I will give for the life of the and be invested with imperishable world.” Thus it is “living,” incor- life and joy! And how inscrutable ruptible food alone that can impart the wisdom, power, and goodness, true life and incorruptibility. And which can thus cause the natural to oh ! how striking the literal fact which give place to the spiritual—which can perfects the agreement of these truths, compel weakness to reveal power, and that when our Lord gave his flesh death itself to yield us life! R. R. for the life of the world, that “living
# This passage is very improperly rendered in food” saw no corruption! For he our trans
our translations, “ Ye have no life in you," or,
" You have not life in you." The true sense is thus was the “true bread from heaven;"
quite lest. For. to say that any one has life in him," is a very different proposition from this-that
he has life in himself." * The first denotes merely God which came from heaven to give the possession of life; the latter implies not only the life to the world.” It was not pos possession of life on the part of the person spoken of,
but also that this life is an essential part of his nasible that he should be held by death | ture. It is precisely the same expression in the
original here, as in verse 26th of the preceding chap. in the bondage of the grave. God
ter°(the 5th of John), where it is said: “As the would not leave his soul in Hades, Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the
Son to have life in himself.” Life is thus declared nor suffer his Holy One to see cor to be an essential attribute of the divine nature, ruption. The food of spiritual life and it becomes an essential attribute of all who be
come partakers of that divine nature through Christ. must be imperishable as that life, and Hence, using the very same expression, our Lord
affirms by necessary implication, that all who eat a just correspondence must obtain
his flesh and drink his blood, have life in thembetween the figurative and the real ; | selves. And he affirms of the just, accordingly, that
they cannot die any more, being made equal, in this the type and the antityre; the fact, respect, to angels."
CHRISTIANITY AS AN them the light of the knowledge of ETHICAL SYSTEM.
his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
It may sometimes be well for us, Our solar system has a centre. who live amid divine affluence from There is an imperial orb, vast in mag- the cloudless sun, to bear in mind nitude, and resplendent in brightness, that there were, even in heathen midsupplying the stars and satellites with night, a few bright morning stars— light, heat, cohesion, and motion. heralds of the dawn. From Socrates, Among visible things it is the most Plato, and Aristotle, of Grecian, down sublime symbol of pervading God- to Cicero, Seneca, and Marcus Aurehead. No sooner does it come forth lius, of Roman fame, there were many in solemn state from the orient gate- luminous points. Some of them, with way, than the shadows and spectres solemn dignity and pathos, moralised of darkness flee and perish in their on the virtues; some of them, with flight. Creation is redolent of glad amazing eloquence and acuteness, ness. The mountains which hold fel- unfolded the philosophy of natural lowship with the clouds, the seques- religion ; others, in magnificent rhetered glens of old romance, the wa- toric, sometimes touching the borders ving forests of religious solitude, the of poetry, discoursed on the highest strong and free rivers, the hidden yet good and the first fair, and the possimusical rivulets—all lift their voices bilities of another existence. But in reverential joy. The morning whence came it that they produced hymn arises in a melody which might so little fruit ? and how was it that breathe life into the dead. Though Christianity, administered by illiterate all forms of idolatry are deadly, yet men, produced such amazing results there is the mild and the malignant in so short a time? in that ancient disease. Hence we There are three things which contemplate with different feelings heathenism could not supply, which the Persian on the mountain top di Christianity does supply; and the lating his eyes to catch the first beams absence of which from all other sysof the great luminary, and the Egyp- tems of philosophy and ethics leaves tian upon his knees amid the slime of them in necessary decrepitude and the river Nile adoring some hideous pauperism. First, a perfect model crocodile.
character; second, a sufficient motive The spiritual system likewise has power; third, a security for eternal a centre. The sun of righteousness life. arose with healing in his wings, 1. The best men of the heathen giving great light to those who were ages had their virtues blended with sitting in the shadow of death, re- many infirmities and shameful vices. viving and warming them into life by Had the people even taken the most the day-spring from on high. In the conspicuous in moral purity as their strong language of the ancient histo- patterns, their elevation would not rian we may say, the world was illu- have been remarkable. The rays of minated in a moment. Sorcery, virtue and goodness were scattered sodomy, slavery, female degradation, and feeble, so that there was nothing with their loathsome abominations, to kindle holy emulation. There was were speedily shamed away. The no real character sinless and undelegion of unclean demons, driven out filed, and the ideal of such a one of humanity, entered into swine, and could not arise from the soil of the ran down into the Dead Sea God, human mind. Never was this fundawho shined out of darkness in the mental want supplied untilChristianity earlier and inferior creation, shined appeared. When the Son of God into the hearts of the Apostles, giving was manifested, then a fire began to
burn with radiant lustre, which caused from sinners, and made higher than men to turn aside and see that great the heavens.” “Leaving us an exsight. All the graces and virtues ample, who did no sin, neither was congregated in the temple of his soul. guile found in his lips, who, when he All things pure, beautiful, and eternal, was reviled, reviled not again; when were harmoniously combined. We he suffered, threatened not, but comlay emphasis on the fact, that a per- mitted himself to Him who judgeth fect model character humanity could righteously.” not have without the incarnation of To possess such a character as our the eternal word. The foundation model allows room for expansion of fact in the scheme of redemption is soul and consecration of life, which the beginning of human glory, the could not otherwise have been conspring-head of ethical fruitfulness. ceived. There is scope for continual “The word was made flesh, and dwelt advancement. As we proceed in among us, and we beheld his glory, strangling impure desires, rooting out the glory as of the only begotten of base passions, and resisting the wiles the Father, full of grace and truth.” of the Evil One, we still find the “No man hath seen God at any time, Lord Jesus high above us; but his the only begotten Son, who was in smile of encouragement is sweeter, the bosom of the Father, he hath and his voice of consolation more declared him.” “Lord, show us the melodious. As we attain the summit Father, and it sufficeth us.” “ Have of one blue mountain, another still I been so long time with you, and stretches heavenward, and the Lord yet bast thou not known me, Philip? is always on the highest one. But He that hath seen me hath seen the the labour is full of life, bracing the Father, and how sayest thou then spirit with godlike energy, and difshow us the Father ? Believest thou fusing through all the faculties a not that I am in the Father, and the celestial glow, as the presage of life Father in me?” In the profound eternal. wisdom of his teaching—in the serene 2. We may easily perceive that triumphant majesty of his works—in the masses of men are driven backthe heavenly charm of his unpolluted ward and forward by contrary forces life, God was revealed, that the and opposing influences. They are human spirit might be kindled, puri- drifted by impulses, which obtain fied, and elevated. But we never mastery in turns. They toss upon could have risen towards God, had tyrannic billows, which have almost he not in pity stooped down to us. entire control; but a close inspection The human nature could not strive of society will bring before us a class towards the divine, until the divine of a different mould and spirit. They laid hold upon the human. Since direct the winds and the waves of then, earth is blessed in the embrace circumstance, or breast them successof heaven; and man, in contrition, fully. Their passions, though deep, wonder, gladness, and reverence, are directed by energy of reason ; leans upon the arm of a Father and they stamp their impress and supera God, with Christ as the elder bro- scription in the living world. They ther, the first-born of the family. leave deep and distinct foot-prints on There might, before this, be a feeling the shore and on the rock. All after God, a groping round a dead things give way before them, for an inwall ; but that dark wall was circular. vincible spirit lives and flames within. Reason discovered no passage into If we mark these men, and learn their light and freedom-no ladder reach- history, we soon discover that fact ing to the blue ethereal. “He was and principle which we now desire to holy, harmless, undefiled, separate 'make prominent. We find that each