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and that he led captivity captive; and that having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Thus, therefore, by his victorious grace, he has delivered us from the bondage of sin, and the tyranny of Satan ; and has brought us into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Let it be, however, observed, that these enemies are not totally overthrown. Though in the conflict with the great Captain of our salvation, they were mortally wounded, yet they have life and strength enough left to give the Christian frequent alarms, and sometimes a shameful defeat. But if we endure hardness, as good soldiers of Christ, we shall be more than conquerors through him that has loved us.
Such were the gracious designs of the blessed Redeemer; and they were so full of benevolence, that
' it might have been presumed that they would have secured a welcome reception from every sinner. But I ask not how he has been treated by the world ; but I inquire, with seriousness and concern, what success has he met with in this congregation? He has come hither this day, to seek and save that which was lost. Whose soul has he found ? O! my fellowworshippers, my fellow-sinners, do not endeavour to hide yourselves from him. Do not wish that he should pass by, without taking any notice of you.' Rather put yourselves in his way. Take pains, like Zaccheus, to get a sight of the Saviour; and if the Lord should be graciously pleased to look also at you, and especially, if he should invite himself to be your guest, you
go home walking, and leaping, and praising God; and saying, “ This day is salvation come to this house."
From this subject, in the first place, we learn the wonderful generosity and kindness of Christ.
If mankind, from a sense of their guilt and misery, had all, for many years, been humbly begging and longing for a pardon, and Jesus had then come down to their relief, we should have had abundant reason to admire his condescension and goodness. How immense then must our obligations appear, when we reflect, that so far from all the world's uniting in seeking à Saviour, there was not one that did understand and seek after God! Herein, therefore, is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Among men, a benefit, though it be gained by importunity, is still accounted a favour. If one person have injured another who is greatly his superior, and afterwards in the most submissive terms, asking his forgiveness, should be not only pardoned, but embraced and treated by him as a friend, such an act of clemeney would be greatly admired. But no comparison can represent the unexampled grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he wasinfinitely exalted above us, he came down from heaven to seek us with such importunity and zeal, as if his own happiness depended upon the salvation of obstinate and rebellious sinners. “Behold what manner of love is this ! Scarcely for a righteous man would one die, yet, peradventure, for a good man, some might even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It might have been expected, that when the Son of Man came on such a benevolent errand, with such unexpected and valuable blessings, for the purpose too of saving us before we were sensible of our dan.
ger, every one's arms and heart must be open to receive him ; and nothing would be heard from all quarters of this happy and highly-favoured globe, but “ Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” But if you did not know it, and were not conscious that you share in the guilt, you would tremble to hear that this compassionate Saviour was despised and rejected of men. He was, and now is, treated as an enemy by those whom he came to deliver from everlasting destruction. All this treatment be foresaw; yet such was his love to lost souls, that he would come down to seek them, though earth and hell conspired to discourage him.
Let us also admire the power, as well as adore the grace, of the Saviour. He came to save that which was lost. It was a desperate case, that seemed to imply an impossibility. Indeed, as to any thing that we could do, or that angels could do for us, it was, and would have been, for ever impossible. But the things that are impossible with men, are possible with God. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.” The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost: and what he came to do, he will assuredly accomplish. The expression certainly implies great difficulty; and what various scenes of humiliation and suffering did our blessed Lord pass through before it could be effected! A life of labour, and a death of pain and disgrace. Look at him in the garden, when the agony of his mind so affected his body, that he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood. Look at him in the judgnient hall; bound, blinded, and buffeted, spit upon,
, scourged, and crowned with thorns. Look at him our
the cross, when his hands and feet were pierced with nails ; when every nerve, as it were, was stretched upon the rack; and, what was worse than all, when darkness was in his soul, and divine consolations were entirely withdrawn. Hear how feelingly he
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” You may wonder why I hold up such a moving
? scene of distress : but I do it to see if you can look at it, without observing and admiring the exceed. ing greatness of that Power that could support him, and enable him to triumph over such vast and amazing opposition. Truly, this man was the Son of God.
How great will be the condemnation of those who now perish, when the Son of Man is willing to save them! “ If I had not come, and spoken to you, ye had not had sin; but now ye have no cloak for your sin;” said Christ to the people among whom he had laboured. So it may be said to you, if you had never heard of salvation or a Saviour, your persisting and your perishing in sin would not have been so wonderful, however deeply it might have been lamented. But the declaration which I have made this day, and a thousand such declarations before, will be remembered against you hereafter. You know that the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. You know who and what he was, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Gedhead bodily. You know that this great and glorious Person condescended, from mere compassion to your misery, to be made flesh, and dwell among us; and, after a life of painful humiliation, submitted, for
your sakes, to be crucified and slain. You know that, since his ascension, he has been sending one messenger after another, beseeching you to accept of salvation.' You know how patiently he has borne with you for so many years ; and if you were ignorant of it before, be it known to you now, that, notwithstanding all your disingenuous and ungrateful rejection of his gracious offers, he is this moment waiting, and willing to receive you. See then that you refuse not him that speaketh : He may never address you so kindly any more. But if
But if you receive all this grace in vain, do you think that a time of reckoning will not come? Yes, it will come; and a dreadful account will you have then to give. Suppose that we were now before the tribunal of God, the Saviour sitting as judge, and all those among us who have neglected his salvation, standing together at his bar. Suppose that the Judge should first of all address himself to me, “Son of Man, I set thee a watchman over this people. I bade thee warn them of their danger, and tell them, that if they would come to me, I would not only pardon, but subdue their ini. quities, and hereafter conduct them to heaven. Hast thou done as I have commanded ?” Suppose that I should be able, with a safe conscience, to reply, “True, Lord, thou didst count me faithful, putting me into the ministry, and didst commission me to preach thy word to this people. A thousand imperfections I know I have to be humbled for, before thee and them ; but I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God; nor have I wilfully kept back any thing that I thought might be profitable to them. As to thy gracious designs towards them, thy wonderful