Page images

by his own right hand, and has given him the Spirit without measure, in order that he might bestow everlasting salvation on sinners, by raising them to spiritual life now by his grace, and to the full fruition of eternal life at the resurrection of the last day.

Such is emphatically the GIFT OF GOD. Such is the main blessing of the Gospel. Such is the free salvation which is in Christ Jesus. Let us then ask ourselves, before we proceed, whether we understand this fundamental truth, whether we receive it into our hearts, whether we believe most cordially, what we profess, that eternal life is the gift of God, and that it is in Christ Jesus, even in him only. If we perceive aright this commanding doctrine, we shall be prepared for seeing every thing else in religion in its true light. Without it, all will be dark


To confirm the view thus taken of the gift bestowed upon us in the Gospel, let us go on to consider,


-He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

We might have imagined that the former verse was sufficient to show the way of life in Christ Jesus ; but this solemn and explicit de

claration is added, in order to explain still fura ther so important a doctrine. He, and he only, I repeat it, who has the Son-that is, by a lively and operative faith—has life; whilst all those who have not the Son of God, have not life; but, on the contrary, remain exposed to eternal death. This is a plain and most conclusive statement. Life or death depends on our having the Son of God.

What then is meant by this emphatic expression? Who can be said to HAVE THE Sox? How can the incomprehensible Word, who was in the beginning with God and was God, be possessed and contained by man that is a worm, and the son of man that is a worm? What finite being can receive infinity? What created power endure the presence of omnipotence? What limited capacity compass and hold the immeasurable glories of the Godhead *? What human beart entertain the eternal, invisible Saviour? Yet, mysterious as it may appear, he, and he alone, who hath the Son, hath life ; not, however, as to the incommunicable attributes of his Deity, but as to the gracious participation of his benefits. In the first sense, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him; in the second he dwells in the lowly heart of every true believer. As to his ineffable glory, he upholds

* Ephes. iii. 19

all things by the word of his power; 'as to his inestimable love, he gives himself to every real penitent. With regard to his Deity, he is the invisible God, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; but, in reference to his grace and mediatorial offices, he is possessed and appropriated and retained by a living faitha

What then is FAITH?. It is an implicit credit given to the divine testimony in the Holy Scrip tures. Testimony is the appropriate object of faith, as light is of the eye. Invisible and distant blessings are thus brought near, and real, ized, and embodied. Now, as the whole doctrine of Jesus Christ, and the entire knowledge we have of eternal life, are derived from the revelation which God has given of them in his word, it must be by that word only that we can have the Son ; for of that word it may be justly said, This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Faith receives with simplicity this witness of the God that cannot lie. The penitent reads, under its influence, every part of the volume of inspiration, and credits all he reads, however new or mysterious or hurniliating. Since, bowever, man is a fallen and ruined creature, and the leading truth of the Bible is the record concern, ing Christ, faith, when it is genuine, fixes most intensely on this doctrine. It consequently produces, in the first place, a humble application

for mercy, and a simple trust and reliance on the Saviour's merits; and then forms us to an union with him, and a hope in the future blessings he has promised. It thus becomes the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. Especially it worketh by love, purifieth the heart, and overcometh the world; and the fruits of holiness thus produced, distinguish it as a living and divine principle, from a notional, a speculative, an unproductive assent of the understanding only.

By this faith—which, far from being the meritorious cause of the blessings of salvation, is itself the gift of God—the true penitent receives Christ Jesus unto justification. Feeling bis own guilt and condemnation as a sinn er, he - reads the exhortations to repentance. He discovers the way of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. He ascertains that God has given to men eternal life; and that this blessir ig is treasured up in that Saviour who purchased it by his own obedience unto death, and is exalted to bestow it on all who humbly apply to hi m. He receives this testimony; he comes to the pame of Christ; he prays for pardon an,

d justification only through the merits and medias

tion of the Saviour; he renounces his own righteousness, and all reliance, whether in whole or in part, on the works of the law, and reposes all his trust in the righteousness of God' by faith.

[ocr errors]

Thus he looks to Christ, as the Israelite to the brazen serpent, that he may live. He builds on him as the sure foundation. He is intimately united to hins, as the graft is inserted into the stock. He flies to him, as the manslayer fled to the city of refuge. He enters into him, so to speak, as Noah entered into the ark. He receives him as a man receives a free and unspeakably valriable gift. He welcomes him as the patient vrelcomes his physician, or as the captive hails bis, deliverer. He has him as the host has and ent ertains the guest. He possesses him, as the 'me cchant-man the pearl of great price. Yea, he has even a claim to him, as the heir is entitled to the inheritance.

T he faith, which is thus imputed to us for righ teousness, and is the means of our justificati on without works, receives every part of God is testimony concerning Christ. It welcomes hir


therefore, in all his other offices, as well as in

those more immediately connected with our pa rdon and justification. It receives him as the & reat prophet and teacher of the church; and it

submits to his yoke and yields a cheerful obedience to his commandments, as the ruler and king of his church. Thus it unites the penitent to Him, as the members are united to the head. It enables him to live by Him, as a man is sustained by his appointed food. It brings him to do every thing in his name, regarding his will,

« EelmineJätka »