« AnteriorContinuar »
but in the earth. So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.*
Brethren, you are touched, and awed under the word of God. What a solemn stillness pervades this dense multitude! What a moment of deep responsibility to many souls! Conscience is at work. God has not left himself without witness in any of you. A secret impression even now rises out of the depth of your moral being, as if it were the whisper of an angel, exacting from you an inward resolution to be more serious, more in earnest about eternity, more concerned about your soul's salvation. My dearly beloved in the Lord, encourage the heavenly visitant; yield to the thrilling emotion which would cast you in prostrate confession of your sins, before the cross of Jesus. He will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed. No; he is ready and willing, infinitely so, in loving-kindness and tender mercy, to invigorate and mature such struggling impressions by the grace and power of the Holy Ghost.
Go home, then, and enter into your chambers, and shut to your doors, and cry earnestly to God, as men who really mean what they say; imploring him in much mercy, not to suffer your present convictions to subside; not to suffer
hearts to be again ensnared by the idolatry of the businesses, amusements, follies, and corruptions of this evil world; but to give you that sanctifying energy of eternal life, which will .casa you to realize his authority and appointment in all the Guties of your station; to perform them as so many acts of obedience to him, inclusive indeed of your own advantage and reputation, yet still not ultimately for yourself, but unto God, and thus to convert the commonest occupations, yea, even the very drudgeries of life, into means of grace; entering into the blessed experience of that apostolical combination of the Christian character--not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lordet * Psalm lviii. 11.
+ Rom. xii. 11.
The Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ in its con
nexion with the present groaning misery, and the coming renovation unto blessedness, of the whole earth.
Rev. xxi. 5. "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things
new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
We have now reached the termination of that season, during which our church services direct our special attention to the second Advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I do not use a figure of exaggerated speech, but a plain truth, plainly expressed, when I say, that no subject is more frequently or copiously spoken of in the holy Scriptures. And no wonder: for it is the crowning subject of all, towards which every intermediate subject tends. It is the final chorus in which all the harmony of prophecy combines. It is the ocean into which all the streams of revelation empty themselves as their great home. Sin and misery till he comes; righteousness and happiness at his coming! Groanings and agony till he comes; songs of triumph at his coming! Faint glimmerings of hope, amidst surrounding and prevailing darkness, and desolation, and despair, till he comes: everlasting light, and life, and joy, and love, at his coming! These are the cadences which continually fall upon our ear from the sacred harp.
We have already contemplated the scriptural connexion of this great subject with the restoration of the Jewish nation, the resurrection of the Christian church, and the everlasting destruction of the unbelieving opposers and neglecters of the Gospel. Our present object is to consider the connexion of the Lord's coming, with the consequent blessedness of the whole earth.
1. It is difficult for us to apprehend how Omnipotence can be engaged in any continued conflict; because, on the side of Omnipotence there necessarily exists the ability to put an end to all opposition in a moment.
When with almighty power we associate infinite goodness, and when we perceive that the conflict maintained is against wickedness, the difficulty to our apprehension is increased; because on the side of infinite goodness there necessarily exists the will to put an end to all wickedness. Infinite power, against which all resistance is utterly hopeless: and infinite goodness, in which there never can be
the slightest mixture of evil—these form the simplest and most comprehensive idea of the character of God; the unobstructed triumph of these, is but another mode of expressing what St. Paul designates by God being all in all. Enchanting prospect, to be realized at the coming and kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ; God all in all! his character known, his name hallowed, his will done on earth as it is in heaven! Oh, is it possible that we, even we, shall ever be inhabitants of that happy land, citizens of that glorious city! Alas, our awakened conscience trembles, and our faithless aching hearts, can scarcely anticipate a consummation so delightful.
We are here surrounded by evil. We feel it within, and we see and lament over it without. Yet we know that God, one God, infinite in power and goodness, rules over all. To sound the full depth of this mystery is too much for us. Created intellect fails in the attempt. This much, however, we know with infallible certainty, that the conflicting enemies who oppose God, must be voluntarily spared, and their strength, in which they contend, voluntarily prolonged by THE MIGHTY ONE: and that the issue of the conflict, when viewed as a whole, and in all its bearings and relations to the whole creation, must be good.
God is sovereign over all. When he created this world, he delegated the dominion of it to the first man. This is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the catile, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon
the earth. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them; and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue il; and have DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.* The image of God here mentioned, includes office as well as character. Adam was not only religious in character, but also a sovereign in office. His character was the same in kind, though infinitely inferior in degree, with God's character of perfect goodness: and his office was the same in kind, though infinitely inferior in degree, with God's office of universal sovereignty. God's character, essentially and infinitely perfect in itself, and in the sight of all intelligent creatures: man's character, imbibing as much of it, as the particular creature was made capable of containing. God's sovereignty pervading all creation throughout
* Gen, i. 26–28.
the expanse of boundless immensity; man's sovereignty pervading this single planet, which was made for man!
This image of God, in both its parts, Adam lost by his transgression. At one fatal blow Satan succeeded in a double mischief. Impurity stained Adam's heart, and the sceptre fell from his hand. In an instant he became both a criminal and a slave; depraved and powerless. The successful tempter became as successful an usurper; and the first Adam, the poor exiled monarch of the earth, sunk at once into pollution and captivity. His dominions shared his misery. The earth, created for a righteous sovereign, refused to yield her increase, in free luxuriance, to an unrighteous tyrant. The great Sovereign, Almighty God, instead of interfering at once to expel the usurper, and restore his fallen creature, his delegated king on earth, mysteriously permitted the continuance of the disaster. Nay, more, he added a curse in righteous anger upon the delinquent. And unto Adam he said, because thou hast hark. ened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of ihy life: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. * Thus the vegetable world fell under the curse; instead of the myrtle and the fir-tree, there came up the thorn and the brier. The animal creation, whose food became thus blighted, partook of the mischief; and instead of the wide-spread harmony which they had manifested under Adam, while he was their holy sovereign, they imbibed against one another, and against fallen man, all the diabolical passions of Satan.
What a fearful change! Before the usurpation, God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good;t but now, God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing and the fowls of the air: for it repenteth me that I have made them. I Yes! Adam begat sons and daughters in his own likeness, depraved and powerless; criminals in the eye of God, and bond slaves in the trammels of the devil. The pollution, and the captivity are coeval: the loss of character, and loss of office: the righteousness being gone, the sovereignty is also gone. We groan, * Gen. ii. 17-19.
+ Gen. i. 31.
# Gen. vi. 5–7.
being burdened. Weakness and wickedness are ours. Every thing in the visible creation around us, re-echoes the sound of our fall; and the roll which contains a faithful history of the world in its present state, is written within and without, with sin, and sorrow, mourning, and lamentation, and woe. It was into this scene of misery that Jesus came THE SECOND
He came not to put an end at once to the conflict by simple power, and thus exhibit God merely in absolute sovereignty. No; He must be shewn righteous in his sovereignty. God will proceed upon the principles of his own holy, everlasting, unchangeable law of moral rectitude. Hence the humiliation of Jesus, and his exposure, in our nature, to the malicious and reiterated attacks of the great enemy; hence his agony even unto death, the wages of sin. He conquered, lawfully delivering the lawful captive. He rose triumphant from
He ascended to the right hand of God, invested with power, righteous power, as a victorious man, to bruise the serpent's head. Yet still, God mysteriously permits the continuance of the conflict. The time is not yet come, appointed in his infinite wisdom, for the full manifestation in all its consequences, of the glorious victory which the second Adam has achieved. He has indeed explained to us the nature of the conquest, and commanded us, under a deep sense of our ruin, to put our whole trust and confidence in the conqueror. As many as, by grace, obey this commandment, trust truly in Jesus crucified and risen again, and join cordially on his side, in the still enduring battle between good and evil; have an earnest of complete and final victory shed abroad in their hearts. They are at once, and for ever, delivered from all condemnation. That part of the work of Jesus is finished, and by them laid hold of, by faith. The same faith works by love unto liberty and power. In proportion as they are delivered from sin, they are delivered from slavery also. As they grow in righteousness, they grow also in royalty. And it is declared concerning them, that in the end, the image of God shall be restored to them, both in office and in character, they shall be kings as well as priests unto their God. At the second coming of the Lord Jesus, they shall attain perfection in the completed likeness, both in body and soul, of their risen Lord. Yea, they shall be one with him, members of his body; and having suffered with him in faith, they shall reign with him in glory.
As the human king shall thus be restored, so shall his kingdom. His kingdom is the earth. The original grant will be found to harmonize with the final possession. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them