« ÖncekiDevam »
saved, or that it is impossible to save them. No; this is the message to be proclaimed, “He is able to save to the uttermost, even the chief of sinners."
Hear the noble language of this vocation. “Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.”
, “Preach the gospel to every creature.” “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." “Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” Now God commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent.” With these free and large invitations, can the hearers of the gospel doubt whether they might be saved? Can they think the gospel of truth a pious fraud? Will they blaspheme God by supposing him insincere? Perish such a thought in every heart; and let it be anathema in every theological creed.
The gospel invites all to Christ, because he tasted death for every man. A general call is founded on a general atonement. Such a noble message would not be founded on the ignorance of the messenger. His commission does not run—"Come, because, for aught I know, some of you may be elected to the feast, and therefore I invite you all.” No; but, "come, for all things are ready, and yet there is room." Thus has he a more sure word, a more distinct testimony, worthy of all acceptation.
The tone of legislative authority is employed by the gospel when it summons all men to use the appointed means of saving their souls. It says, "Hear, and your souls shall live." The call of the gospel is a command to the sinner to comply with the provisions and designs of the atonement of Christ. It comes from the throne of God, invested with all the authority of that throne. All the authority of the divine government says, "Repent and believe the gospel," and, therefore, faith in the gospel is regarded as an act of homage to the throne of God; and unbelievers are condemned as those who, "obeyed not the gospel.”
V. Sinners of every description, of every class, and of every grade of depravity, have been saved; and,
therefore, it is not the greatness of any man's sin that makes his salvation impracticable.
It is a grievous and lamentable fact that, notwithstanding the ample provisions of the atonement, many sinners are still perishing. Here is a matter for the serious and very painful inquiry, why and how do these sinners perish, while others have been actually and efsectually saved? What obstacles remained in the way to prevent their salvation? We have seen that there were but two great obstacles in the way of saving transgressors—the honor of the government, on the side of God; and unwillingness to be holy, on the side of man. Were there more obstacles in the
of those who perish, than in the case of those who are saved? Was the atonement insufficient to reach the case of those who perish? Were they excluded from availing themselves of the benefits of the atonement? Were their sins too great to be pardoned? The gospel of the truth of the case answers all these questions with a decided negative. If the sins of those who perish were too enorinous to be forgiven, then the atonement did not reach their case. If they are decretively excluded from all lot in the matter, then an
obstacle God's part still continues unremoved. Far is this from the God of mercy and truth. He solemnly proclaims
. and announces, that every obstacle on the part of his law is removed, entirely and for ever, by the substitutionary propitiation of his Son; and that consequently, he sincerely invites, and earnestly beseeches the offenders, to lay aside their enmity, and be reconciled to him by the blood of the cross.
Let any of my readers suppose themselves standing by the margin of the fiery gulph of woe, and asking the miserable spirits of wicked men, “Why were you lost, were you sinners too great to be saved?” The voices of a thousand awakened consciences would break on your ears—"No; sinners as great as we were, have been saved from this place of torment-we perished for no other reason than the neglect of so great salvationwe would not be gathered."
It is plainly declared in the Word of truth that the greatness of man's sins is no obstacle to his salvation, It was to a seed of evil doers that God said, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as white as wool.” In full harmony with this declaration is the
” language of the New Testament. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin; he is able to save to the uttermost; he came to save sinners, even the chief. Around this glorious testimony, is a cloud of witnesses formed of such characters as Adam, and David, and Manasseh; a Saul of Tarsus, a woman of Samaria, a converted thief; the sinners of Jerusalem once clotted with the blood of a murdered Savior, and the sinners of Corinth once plunged in a sink of unutterable filth and corruption. The salvation that was enough for them is enough for my reader-enough for the greatest sinner. The healing water of the sanctuary will send its mighty tide to fill all the sinuous creeks of retiring despair, and to cover the highest Alps of guilt and sin. Since the mediatorial remedy has already been successful in the worst cases, “beginning in Jerusalem," the salvation of no sinner is impossible.
VI. The word of God ascribes the perdition of those who are lost, entirely and totally, to theniselves.
On every one who perishes under the gospel, God sets a brandmark, which the consuming fires will never efface, “He heard the sound of the trumpet, he took not warning, his blood be upon him.” It is this character that will make his face gather blackness in the day of, judgment, and clothe him with eternal shame in heil. Hear how God speaks of these self-destroyers. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,”—“this is the condemnation, that men loved darkness rather than light.” “They rejected the counsel of God against themselves," "ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." "How oft would I have gathered you, but ye would not."
The destruction of sinners is never ascribed to an arbitrary perfection of God, never to a secret decree, never to an exclusive edict, but totally and thoroughly to their own love of sin. It is one of the bitterest ingredients in the cup of those who are lost, that they cannot ascribe an iota of their torments to any but to themselves. It would even gratify their inveterate enmity against God, if they could trace a tittle of their sufferings to an arbitrary or capricious purpose in the mind of God. If the salvation of those who are lost was not once a possible case, there was no difference between their case and that of the fallen angels; and it is difficult to show how they can be justly blamed for perishing, when their escaping was in very deed and from very appointment, actually IMPOSSIBLE.
The evidences which I have thus enumerated prove to my own mind, that the provisions of the atonement contemplate the salvation of ail men as truly possible. The gospel is an authoritative warrant to induce every sinner to belive that his salvation is a possible case. This gospel is a document signed by God for this purpose, and may be pleaded with God by every suppliant
, for mercy. It encourages every sinner to apply for mercy at the throne of grace. The sinner's warrant for acceptance is not that he is one of the elect,--that he has some previous fitness,—that he feels love to the divine government: his only warrant is, that the gospel of the God that cannot lie, assures him that, “Him that cometh He will in no wise cast ont.” It assures him individually that “God sent his Son to the world not to condemn the world, but that THE WORLD THROUGH HIM MIGHT BE SAVED. ." It gives him this assurance as one of the world."
If words have any meaning, the meaning of the gospel is, that the salvation of every one of the world” is a practical case. While a man is in the world” he might be saved.” When he is
““ out of the world,” his case is settled irrecoverably.
The Duty of every one who hears the Gospel, to be
lieve that Christ died for him.
I wish to argue this subject with men as accountable sinners, and not as curious disputants. I wish myself to forget, and I wish my reader to forget, that the matter of this section has ever been a controversial one. I take it as a shame to polemical divines and to Christian churches, that the great measure provided to settle the grand controversy between God and man, should be turned into an instrument of strife and contention arnong men themselves, yea, even among Christians themselves.
In the wording of the head of this section, my meaning is that it is the duty of every sinner who hears the gospel, to adopt and employ the words of the apostle Paul concerning Christ, "Who loved me and gave himself for me." These words are frequently quoted as embodying the frame of mind commonly called “assurance." The word “assurance” as used in theological discussion or religious conversation, means what is really the “full assurance of hope,” though it is often misnained the full assurance of faith." The “assurance of hope" is the Christian's confidence and persuasion as to his personal state towards God, and his final salvation from sin. The “ assurance of faith" is the penitent sinner's confidence in the designation, sufficiency, and applicableness of the atonement of Christ to his own case and condition.
The "assurance of Faith" is the frame of mind with which a sinner is taught to approach the throne of atonement in Heb. x, 19, 20. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us