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They afforded a proof that He had now been made a curse for transgressors; and He came to apply the benefit to them, that they might enjoy it; that being justified by faith in Him who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, they might have

peace

with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. 89

We are to seek for the enjoyment of peace with God in the same way. God has sent to us His blessed word, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, the Lord of all,90 inviting them that are afar off, and them that are nigh, all who come within the sound of the words of eternal life and salvation, to embrace it; calling upon sinners of every description to come and receive the blessing. What effect does this proclamation of

peace produce upon us? Do you desire to enjoy peace with God? It is the privilege of the ministers of Christ to declare that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ; and that He hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation, in order that we may make it known, and invite you to partake of its benefits. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, messengers sent by Him to deliver His message ; and therefore, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God.91 Seek to be at peace with Him through Christ. Embrace the offer of mercy. Every obstacle which might prevent the access of the penitent sinner into the presence of the most holy Lord God Almighty has been removed. For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. If you desire to be at peace with God, He is willing to bestow the blessing upon you freely. Put your trust in the atonement of Christ, and it shall be vouchsafed to you. He will not reject any self-condemned sinner, who heartily confesses his sins at His footstool, and humbly implores pardon through His bloodshedding and death. He will say to the contrite souls, Peace be unto you: I freely forgive you all

89 Rom. iv. 25, v. l. 90 Acts x. 36. 91 2 Corinthians v. 19–21.

your

trespasses: Go and sin no more.

How needful was it for the disciples of Christ, that they should be addressed in this manner by their Lord and Master, on His first appearance to them after His resurrection.

What kindness did it manifest on His part to speak these words to them in the first instance! They must have felt that they had great need of His forgiveness for their base conduct towards Him in the time of His distress. For notwithstanding their strong professions of attachment to Him, as soon as they saw Him in the hands of His enemies, they all forsook Him and fled ; they left Him alone, to take care of Himself, being concerned only for their own personal safety. This kind address was calculated to allay all the fears which they might justly have entertained of His displeasure towards them ; all the unpleasant feelings that might have arisen in their minds, when they recollected how they had acted towards Him. Peter had probably told them how gracious the Lord Jesus had been to him at the interview with which he had been favoured. This might have led them to hope that He would not remember against them their offences. But this salutation removed all their apprehensions that He would deal with them according to their deserts. It led them again to approach Him with confidence and affection ; and to rejoice in the favour of their risen Lord and Saviour. And this conduct of our blessed Saviour to His disciples may be an encouragement to us to believe that He will not reject our humble petitions when we call upon Him, earnestly imploring His mercy and grace; but that notwithstanding our unworthiness to receive any blessing from Him, He will grant to us pardon and peace, as He did to them. It was the spontaneous act of His own gracious mind, to say to them, Peace be unto you. In like manner He waiteth to be gracious to every penitent sinner who calls upon Him for pardoning mercy, who desires to be reconciled to God. He will hear their cry, and will grant them His salvation. Having made peace by the blood of His cross, He is ever willing to bestow the blessing on them that seek it. Ask humbly, and it shall be given you. Seek earnestly, and ye

shall find. Knock importunately, and the door of mercy shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth ; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

Such being the gracious promises of our Divine Saviour, such the encouragement given to the sinful children of men to implore the rich blessings of His grace; let the exhortation come home to all our hearts, Be ye reconciled to God. Seek for reconciliation and peace with Him. Be not satisfied with living in a state of alienation from Him, and of enmity towards Him. But as He has provided pardon for your sins that are past, and shown you how you may enjoy peace with Him, and may have access into His most holy presence, together with the enjoyment of His favour, and a good hope of future glory; seek to obtain for yourselves these blessings; that you may be happy in the knowledge and love of Him, and in communion and fellowship with Him here on earth; and may rejoice in hope of being admitted to the beatific vision of the glory of God hereafter. These blessings are set before us to be obtained through our once crucified, but now risen and exalted Redeemer.

But the manner in which our blessed Saviour acted towards His disciples when He had said to them the second time, Peace be unto you, may lead us briefly to notice another point of Christian doctrine. When He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. This gift was bestowed upon them for their consolation ; that they might experience the blessings of the gospel of peace in their own souls, before they received power from on high to promulgate it to others.

The Holy Ghost was first to fulfil to them the purposes for which our Saviour had before promised that He should be given ; He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you. He will guide you into all truth. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shull show it unto you.92 In this respect the gift of the Holy Ghost is vouchsafed to all the children of God, to all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to apply the word of God to their hearts, to display the glory of Christ to their souls, to enable them to put their trust in His great salvation, to comfort their hearts, and establish them in every good word and work. In this view of the subject our Saviour said,93 If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall

92 John xiv. 26, xvi. 13, 14.

93 Luke xi. 13.

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