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times by a fictitious value attached to a few things, such as diamonds; but He who bought us with a price is a stranger to ignorance, weakness, and want. We are told, Christ "shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied;" in the work of his spirit, and the fruit of his passion, he shall be satisfied for his humiliation and his sufferings. There must, then, be some proportion between the travail and the satisfaction; the subject redeemed and the price paid.
I know well that the supreme object of all he did and suffered was the glory of God in the highest; I know that great objects were remotely accomplished thereby, inasmuch as "unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places" was "made known the manifold wisdom of God;" and their holiness and happiness were thereby confirmed and increased. Satan's kingdom was virtually, and shall be actually overthrown; but the immediate object of the coming and death of Christ was that "he by the grace of God might taste death for every man."
I would here remark, what an unspeakable value does the price paid for its redemption, by Him who created it, and who alone perfectly knoweth his own creation, stamp upon the soul! Oman, reverence thyself! "Stand in awe and sin not." The eternal Jehovah set his heart upon man; but man, vain, foolish man, hath set his heart upon food and raiment, silver and gold, friends, influence, honour,; and wisdom; upon the things which belong to time, which concern outward things. Shame and confusion of face belong
What a view do these considerations give us of the love of God! You and I have read many a dissertation, heard many a discourse, and reflected many an
hour upon this subject; but, after all, St. John tells us in one sentence all that can be said upon the subject, "God is love;" and no part of his dealings with men so eminently sets it forth as in that he " so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son." "The redemption of the soul is precious.”
III. The period of its redemption:
The opportunity of salvation ceaseth for ever. Such, we are convinced, is the meaning of the text, and have no doubt that such is the declaration of Scripture. The day of grace has its numbered hours, and the season once passed never returns; slighted and lost, it cannot be recalled, redemption is hopeless. Thus the spirit, having strove in vain during the days of Noah, the flood came, and not one of the impenitent escaped. If it were not so, the man who lived and died a stranger to the sin-pardoning God might nevertheless find grace; the most solemn expressions of Scripture would lose their authority, and we should be at a loss to know what were 66 the terrors of the Lord," by which, however, men are to be persuaded. "He that believeth not shall be condemned; work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh in which no man can work; work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do." Can any man that believes his Bible read these passages and not draw the inference, that life's short day is the period allotted for repentance and faith, for working out our own salvation?
The consideration which most forcibly strikes the mind, in considering this part of the text, is the unspeakable value of time! Much of our time is consumed in infancy, during which the senses are not exercised to discern between good and evil; in sleep, in which
voluntary action is suspended; and in such sickness and infirmities as prevent settled thought. What an infinite value, the term is a strong one, but not too strong, and I repeat it, what an infinite value belongs to that part of our life in which we can discern between good and evil, in which we may repent and turn to God, and live by faith!
Sometimes an illustration assists us in rightly estimating the importance of a remark. Let us suppose two armies, the collected and well-disciplined powers of rival states, to be brought into a wide plain; they meet in dreadful conflict, and there is the noise of the warriors' arms, and the warriors' cry; there is the sound of the trumpet waxing louder and louder; the shout of victory; the shriek of agony; the trampling of horses; and the garments rolled in blood. Soon, very soon, in a space of time, at most brief, as between the rising and the setting sun, (the awful fight of Waterloo lasted no longer,) and the battle is either won or lost; and, perhaps, the happiness or the misery of millions, during an age, and the state of nations, are affected by the results of the conflict. How brief the struggle! how durable the results! The period of the battle bears no proportion to the importance of its results. And, O, my brethren, should we not look at time in its connection with eternity, in its bearing on our everlasting interests! Time how short! Eternity how long! Time will form the character of our eternity!
The chief, the only true value of time is this, that it is the season of grace, the spring time of eternity. It is immeasurably important to as many as are disciples of the crucified; for it is written, "He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully:" and
again, as "one star differeth from another star in glory; so also is the resurrection of the dead;" from which are to be gathered two great truths: 1. That, even among those received to the habitations of the blessed, "who rest from their labours, and whose works follow them," there exists, and there shall exist, a difference of glory and blessedness; some are like stars of the first magnitude, comparatively large and bright; others are like stars of the seventh magnitude, very small, hardly to be seen without a telescope, having a tiny lustre. And, 2. The rewards of heaven are proportioned to the diligence and activity, the holy devotedness and perseverance, with which believers have "run the race set before them :" or, to use the figure of the apostle, the harvest has a proportion to the seed-time, and he that soweth plentifully shall also reap plentifully. The hand of the diligent shall make everlastingly rich. And, if it is true that the happiness goes on to increase, and that continually, it will increase in degrees proportioned to the attainment of each; thus, though the stars of the lowest magnitude increase to the lustre of one now of the first, the first will have advanced to a proportionably brighter glory, shining brighter and brighter throughout eternal day. But such reflections are of little value, unless turned to a practical account. Keeping in mind the remarks just made, what a value belongs to every means of grace, to every opportunity of doing and of getting good. If a man had, once in his life, an opportunity of realizing his fortune, he would, through all the subsequent period, regret his folly, if he neglected to improve the occasion. But wealth is an uncertain good, only to be enjoyed for a few brief, troubled years at the longest; and what is life "but a dying lamp in a sickly vapour;" a breath compared with eternity. So important is every means of grace that no period can
arrive in eternity in which the result of a neglected opportunity of doing or of getting good shall cease to be felt; not one in which the benefit of both shall have produced all the felicity that shall follow. If you retain the good of holy exercise, if you maintain, as co-workers with Him, the beginning of your confidence to the end, the benefit shall be an everlasting one: but if you live to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, your regrets can never cease, for the occasion of them in the misery they shall ever produce shall ceaselessly continue.
Consider this matter aright, and you will agree with me in saying that an hour, if rightly improved, may be of more value to you than the acquisition of the whole creation. The seed-time is short, and, if neglected, no harvest shall follow; but the sluggard must beg in winter, unpitied and unrelieved. This consideration sets in a proper light the sin of trifling and gay amusements, for which the men of this world so earnestly plead. Invite a general, in the field of battle, to turn aside and amuse himself with pictures, prospects, and scenes of gayety; with dancing, card-playing, visiting, and attendance on the theatre; and let us suppose there were nothing positively sinful in any one of all these things; would he not reply, the "nation's happiness, the welfare of the state, the lives of thousands, and the comfort of tens of thousands, interested in their preservation, are at issue! the stake is awful, and it were madness in me to think of any thing but my duty !" And it is for us to reply to the enticement of sinners, let them charm ever so wisely, "We cannot consent, for we are doing a great work, so that we cannot come down; why should the work cease, while we leave it, and come down to you?" I beseech you, my brethren, consider, while the duty of working out our salvation is before us, what have we to do with trifles, with gayeties, with