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His gifts also, while they are of high value in themselves, endure for ever. At the same time he never reproaches us on account of his blessings; and demands of us no unworthy sacrifices.
From these observations we learn,
1. How to estimate this legacy of Christ.
To a being in the situation of man, as described in the former part of this Discourse, such a gift is plainly and preeminently necessary. Condemned, loathed, and afflicted by his Maker, he has no friend to whom he may betake himself for consolation, and no refuge to which he may fly for safety. Whatever he does God is present to see and to retribute. An enemy here, he is an enemy everywhere; an enemy from whom there is no concealment, defence, nor escape. Still the circumstances of the unhappy man would be less dreadful, if he could find peace and support within. But there conscience arms herself against him; while his rebellious passions bring their pain in hand, and are frequently followed by remorse and despair. When he looks abroad, he sees his fellow-creatures at war with him also, and from them seeks in vain for an alleviation of his sufferings.
In this situation Christ proclaims to him peace with God, with mankind, and with himself; ' peace passing all understanding;' peace, which the world can neither give, nor take away.' Henceforth nothing is desirable in his sight, but that which God chooses; nothing lovely, but that which God loves. To know the divine will is in his view to know all that is necessary; and to obey it, all that is useful. He is assured of the divine protection, and is therefore safe: for he knows that no enemy can endanger his welfare, or disturb his repose.
In the mean time, his soul has returned to its rest,' and is quiet. The storm is past, and is succeeded by serenity and sunshine. If he finds enemies abroad, he disarms half their rage by his own meekness; the rest he sustains, pities, and forgives.
In times of danger, when God comes out against mankind,
to judge the world in righteousness,' he enjoys the unspeak
able consolation of believing that this awful Being is a friend to him. When therefore the tempest rages, the famine desolates, or the pestilence hurries its victims to the grave; when a thousand fall at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand, it shall not come near HIM.
Afflictions will, however, reach even him. It is necessary, that he should be chastened: and chastening in its very nature is grievous. But for this grief the peace of the Gospel provides a sure and delightful alleviation. The pain, he knows, is inflicted by the Father of his Spirit, that he may' become a partaker of his holiness and live.' He receives it therefore with patience and resignation; and thus strips disease of its languor, robs pain of its sting, and lights up a cheering lamp in the dark chambers of sorrow.
In death, that melancholy and distressing day to the wicked, his eye penetrates the gloom, and descries the glorious morning which dawns beyond it. On the other side of this narrow, gloomy valley, spreads a world of peace; where no storm ever blows, no enemy ever invades, and no danger ever threatens.
There all are friends. God is his friend; Christ is his friend; and none but his friends are found among the innumerable company of angels, or the general assembly of the first-born.'
2. How greatly is this blessing enhanced by the consideration, that Christ has given us HIS OWN PEACE.
'Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I give unto you?' In this declaration we are reminded of the glorious character of him, who bestows the legacy, and of the wonderful things. which he has done to procure it for us. Christ is divinely great and excellent, and the gift is suited to his characteris excellent, noble, and divine. It is the rich fruit, the genuine evidence, of virtue; a seal impressed by the Saviour on the soul, as unquestionable proof that it has become his; a living witness, that he has there taken up his residence, as in a temple in which he is pleased to dwell. It is his still, small voice,' whispering in delightful accents, that he is there; and that he is there on his own most benevolent purpose of purifying it for heaven, and quickening it with immortal life. The
His gifts le dure for ev
done and suffered to procure this great and endearing. For this end, rin of God, and thought it no robbery be made himself of no reputation, was men, and became obedient unto death, the cross.' In the peace which Christians resented with a perpetual memorial of these of him, who thus in his flesh abolished the preached, and became, 'peace to them f, and to them who were nigh.' Whenever serenity of soul is enjoyed by us, we cannot ... revilecting that with boundless benignity the Son came man; lived a life of unceasing humiliation eg, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended event, and there intercedes for ever, that this blessing What love can be compared to this? What ier was ever so lovely, so endearing, so peculiarly
vine; the end for which it is
s the peace of Christ also, this glorious possession as. ses a new character of excellence and worth. In him this eace was the result of consummate wisdom and supreme recale; a divine harmony of perfect intelligence and immea
rable love. It was a possession completely independent. None could give it; none could take it away. In the pure, serene, eternal mind of the Saviour it dwelt of course, inseparable and for ever. It was the necessary and immortal offspring of immortal excellence: the co-eternal splendour of light eternal. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever he had formed the earth and the world; then was it by him, as one brought up with him; and was daily his delight, rejoicing alway before him: rejoicing (with a divine prescience) in the future habitable parts of the earth, and placing its delights in the sons of men.'
In his mediatorial residence among the children of apostate Adam, amid all his sorrows and labours, amid all the opposition, rejection, and persecution which he experienced, amid all the living anguish and dying agonies which he sufthis celestial companion, this divine inmate of his bosom,
perpetually sustained him; and diffused fortitude and serenity around his soul. Thus sustained, thus tranquillized, he smiled in agony and triumphed in death.
To us, as to him, it is peace passing all understanding;' peace, which the world cannot give, nor take away.' Grace and Mercy descend first in the train of infinite blessings, 'from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ;' and Peace enters our doors immediately behind them. A guest fresh from heaven, and from the presence of God, Peace bears all the characteristics of the world from which she descends, of the region in which she was born, of the family to which she is allied, and of the Parent from whom she sprang. Gentle and serene, beautiful and lovely, she becomes a willing companion to every humble, faithful follower of the Lamb, to every genuine child of God. Her own angelic disposition she breathes insensibly into the soul, her softness and gentleness she infuses into the heart and her living smiles she spreads over the aspect. At once the man is changed into a new creature. His soul, before the region of darkness and storm, is cleared at once of the clouds by which it was overcast. Its tempestuous passions cease to rage and ravage, and a heavenly sunshine illumines the world within. The universe, to him heretofore a vast kingdom of war and opposition, is converted into a delightful residence of quiet and harmony, in which an immense multitude of the inhabitants, such as no man can number,' are become his friends, and in which the hostilities of the rest will only work together for his good. God also, seen by him before in clouds and darkness,' which were very tempestuous round about him,' has unfolded to him the light of his countenance, and given him a lively and transporting earnest of serene, unclouded, everlasting day.
JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST.
FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT MEAT AND DRINK, BUT RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, AND JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST.
ROMANS XIV. 17,
ON the last Sabbath, I considered the nature and importance of spiritual peace. I shall proceed to examine auother consequence of regeneration; viz. joy in the Holy Ghost.
In the text the apostle declares, that the kingdom of God' is formed of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' By this kingdom he intends plainly, not the kingdom of creation, nor the kingdom of providence, nor, in a strict sense, what is usually called the kingdom of grace. The word kingdom is here used in a figurative manner; and denotes the effects of that secret, invisible, incomprehensible influence over the hearts of mankind, which is exerted by the Spirit of grace in the work of sanctification. This influence is the great engine of the divine government over the hearts of intelligent beings; and is often with the utmost propriety termed in the Gospel the kingdom of God. Of this influence, 'righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,' are effects primarily important; and in the text are, figuratively, called by a name which, in simple language, would properly belong