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tion, “behold! the angel of the Lord apl "peared to him in a dream”-away in whichi God was pleased to make many revelations to holy men in ancient times, and said,
Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take. “unto thee Mary thy wife;" do not entertain any evil thoughts concerning thy espoused wife, for she is not only innocent of what you wrongfully suspect her, but is also chosen of God to be the instrument of a great and miraculous event; “ for that which is is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost;" for the infant with which she is pregnant, is by the wonderful and immediate operation of the Holy Spirit.
“ And she shall bring « forth a son, and thou shalt call his name “ Jesus, for he shall -save his people from “ their sins ;" and she shall be delivered of a son, and his name shall be called Jesus, (that is, the Saviour,) for he shall be that long-expected Messiah, who, by giving himself a sacrifice for all past sins, and by pub lishing for the future the gracious terms of faith and repentance, shall deliver his people from the dominion and punishment of sin, and bring them to everlasting life.
Having thus explained the occasion and meaning of the angel's speech to Joseph, I. will now proceed to these three important points: first, to give you right notions about
the purport and extent of salvation through Christ; secondly, to shew you who may or may not expect to be carried to heaven by Christ's religion, and thirdly, to convince you of the folly and danger of those, who will not fulfil those conditions on which salvation through JESUS CHRIST is to be obtained.
“ He shall save his people from their "sins." No man who has read the Bible himself, or heard it read by others, will doubt for a moment that all mankind are sinners, or will want to have the word sinners explained to him. He well knows rhat sinners are those who have wilfully broken the laws of God, and have, consequently, made GoD their enemy, and be. come exposed to his anger, and liable to his punishments; who are utterly unable to deliver themselves from his wrath, and so far from being capable of making satisfaction for their past offences, that they are continually adding to them, their nature being corrupt, their hearts deceitful, and their thoughts and imaginations evil. These sad truths every christian will have learned from the scriptures, which speak this language : “ All we," saith tsaiah, “like sheep have
gone astray;": "behold,” adds the Psalmist, “ I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin “ hath my mother conceived me."
« There “is none righteous, no not one;" a declaration from which St. Paul concludes," that “not only the Gentiles, but the Jews also, “ are all under sin ; inasmuch as all have “ sinned, and come short of the glory of « God." Such is the character of all man. kind, the real case and condition of every human being by nature; to rescue us from which, Jesus (or the Saviour) came into the world. He took upon him the infirmities of our flesh; sojourned for a time amongst men ; and revealed to us this comfortable truth, that God, for his sake, will pardon our sins, accept our repentance, receive us again into favour, notwithstanding our past offences; assist us by the Holy Spirit to fulfil our duty; and give us everlasting happiness when we die, provided we obey his holy commandments while we live. To convince us the more fully of these blessed truths, and that he is verily and indeed the Saviour who should redeem his people from their sins, JESUS CHRIST, after a life of perfect holiness, endured, for our salvation, the shame and torture of the cross. Nor did his benefits to fallen man end here; for being raised from the grave, and seated at the right hand of God, he there makes continual intercession for those who coine
anto God through him ; and from his glo rious throne showers down upon every heart, prepared to receive it, his saving grace, to strengthen the weakness, to comfort the spirit, to enlighten the understanding, and to multiply the joy, of every sincere believer ; of every one who has faith in his name, and fulfils his commandments. As the salva, tion through Christ is thus perfect, so is it also without partiality. Men, you know, confer their favours according to certain likings or dislikings : withholding them from some, and showering them down upor others. But " God is not a man, or the son ~ of man,", that he should deal thus unjustly; and though there are those, calling themselves his ministers, who would persuade you that he had, from all eternity, elected some of his creatures to everlasting happiness, and condemned others to everlasting punishment, without regard to their having, or not having, had the light of the gospel, or to their being righteous or wicked, yet are “ their words but idle tales," having no foundation in scripture, and being contrary to every notion of the justice, and goodness, and mercy of God. No! my friends, GOD “is no respecter of persons,” that he should prefer one human being to another in the matter of salvation. The scriptures ex
pressly tell us, that “ Christ died for all ;** that he is the end of the law for rigkta
eousness to every one that believeth ;" that, “as, by the offence of one, judgment “ came upon all men to condemnation; even , so, by the righteousness of one, the free
gift came upon all men unto justification 66 of life.” The fountain of salvation flows freely to every part of the earth; all man. kind may, if they
if they please, drink of its streams; and those only will be prevented by God from tasting it, who wilfully shut their eyes against the light of the gospel, and knowingly commit those sins which it forbids.
This brings me to the second point which I wished to consider, namely, who may or may not expect to be carried to heaven by the religion of Christ.
JESUS came, as the text observes, “to
save his people from their sins :" in other words, to offer salvation to all mankind: but the melancholy truth is, that many of those who call themselves his followers, will not be beneficed by his coming, because they are not disposed to receive salvation: according to the conditions on which CHRIST has offered it; and would rather indulge in sin for a few years in this world, than be happy through eternity in the world to come.