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Having thus found a Saviour exactly suited to his necessities, he now begins to conceive some hope; he sees a possibility of obtaining salvation ; and is satisfied, that if this Saviour will undertake his cause, he bath no reason to despair; he therefore anxiously inquires, how, or by what means, he may procure his aid, and be admitted to partake of the blessings he hath purchased. Here it is that the great adversary usually makes his most vigorous efforts, and puts forth all his force and artifice, to shipwreck the poor soul on the very shore of salvation. He endeavours to make that consciousness of guilt which first brought the sinner to see his need of a Saviour, now to appear an objection against coming to him for deliverance. He will tell him, that though others may be forgiven, yet surely he cannot; that the greatness of his sins, or his long continuance in them, place him beyond the reach of his saving power, or at least render him an improper object for his merciful interposition. Hereby the poor creature is either driven to despair, or else to a vain and fruitless search after something in himself to recommend him to the Saviour. And the last of these temptations is so adapted to the pride of our nature, which would always have something to boast of, that with many it proves too fatally successful; neither is it soon, nor easily overcome by any. But the soul that is guided by the Spirit of God, is here led to see the extent and freedom of the gospel-offer and call; that Jesus is a Sariour for the chief of sinners; that the wretched, the miserable, the poor, and blind, and naked, are the very persons to whom his gracious invitations and counsels are addressed; that he interposed for our relief, not because we were worthy of his aid, but because we needed his aid; and that a sense of extreme need, accompanied with a humble and thankful accep
tance of the unspeakable gift of God to men, is all that is looked for on the part of the creature.
Upon this the sinner, renouncing his own righteousness as filthy rags, or, as it is elsewhere expressed,
having no confidence in the flesh," comes to bim, judging and condemning himself, without any plea but his extreme necessity, and the infinite and undeserved mercy of God; having no answer to the law, but the merit of Christ's obedience unto death, nor any other shelter from avenging justice. This is what the Apostle, in the verse following my text, calls receiving the atonement; because then the sinner is made a partaker of Christ's sacrifice, his peace-speaking blood is sprinkled upon him, and covers him so entirely, that from head to foot, if I may use that expression, no part of him is left exposed to that fiery indignation which shall finally consume all the adversaries of God.
And now let me ask, Who among you can say that you have experienced such a work of grace upon your hearts ?--For the just encouragement of those who are thus reconciled to God by the death of his Son, I shall, in further illustration of the Apostle's reasoning, endeavour to show the powerful influence of the life of Christ upon every thing that belongs to their complete salvation.
1st. The justification of believers, which was purchased by the death of Christ, is rendered sure and per. manent by his restored life. Upon this the Apostle lays a peculiar emphasis, (Rom. viii. 31.) where, in support of that triumphant challenge, “ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" having said, " It is Christ that died,” he immediately subjoins, “yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." From whence can a sentence of condempation pro
ceed? Is it not from that very throne to which our once crucified Redeemer is raised, that he may confer that remission which he purchased with his blood ? And now that he is entered into his glory, shall the indictment that he nailed to his cross be taken down from thence, and put in suit against those who, in obedience to his Fa. ther's command, have fled to him for refuge ? Impossible! As he bowed his head upon the cross to expiate our guilt, so he lifted it up again when he rose from the grave, that he might effectually apply the merit of his sacrifice, and obviate every charge that could be brought against his people.
2dly. The life of Christ is no less available to insure the sanctification of all who believe on him. For what end did he enter into the heavenly sanctuary, but that from thence he might send forth his conquering Spirit to cleanse and purify the hearts of those whom he had washed with his blood; that as no guilt might be left to provoke the justice of God, so neither should there be any defilement to offend bis holiness. It is impossible to doubt, that a Redeemer in glory will at length present to his Father 66 a glorious church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Surely Christ is not gone to heaven, to leave that blood to run waste which he shed upon earth, or to be negligent in improving the virtue of his sacrifice. That prayer, " Father, sanctify them through thy truth," hath as loud a sound from his illustrious throne, as it had from the footstool, when he was just about to enter upon bis agony and sufferings. He did not utter these words upon the confines of bis kingdom, to forget or disuse them when he should enter upon the possession of it. What he prayed for in his humiliation, he hath power to dispense in his exalted state; and he will do it to all who put their trust in him;
he will gradually adorn them with the beauties of holiness, and keep them by his power through faith unto salvation. Which leads me to observe,
In the third place, That the life of Christ doth effec. tually secure an honourable issue to all the afflictions and temptations of his people. It is the same person that was crucified on earth, who is now crowned with glory in the highest heavens; and though he dropped the infir. mities of that body he bad assumed, and left all the weakness of humanity behind him in the grave; yet he carried bis pitying nature to the throne, and is still touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and disposed to help us in every time of need. “He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax." He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust; and will therefore s debate with as in measure, and stay his rough wind in the day of bis east wind.”
And with regard to temptations, the life of Christ af. fords the most comfortable assurance, that over these we shall be finally victorious. He that suffered being tempted, will certainly be disposed to succour those that are tempted; and there can be no room to doubt, that he is as able as he is willing. If, while in the form of a servant, he defeated all the artifices of the cunning serpent, and repelled the most violent attacks of the roaring lion; if in his lowest state of abasement, even while he hung upon the cross, he spoiled principalities and powers, making a show of them openly; now that all power is committed to him both in heaven and on earth, can he want either wisdom or strength to bruise Satan under the feet of the weakest of his servants ? Impossible! While the head of the body reigns in glory, we may be well assured, that no member can become the prey of any adverse power; so that every believer may adopt the language of Paul, and say as he did, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Once more,
4thly. The life of Christ secures to his people the resurrection of their bodies, and the happiness of the whole man, in the full and everlasting enjoyment of God.
As Adam, by his apostacy, became the source of death to all bis natural descendants; so Christ, by his expiatory sufferings, and the glory that followed, is become the fountain of life to all his spiritual offspring; who accordingly are said to be “ begotten again to the lively hope of an inberitance that is incorruptible, and un. defiled, and that fadeth not away;" and that by means of his resurrection from the dead. Hence the second Adam is called a quickening Spirit, having the same virtue and efficacy to convey all the fulness of life to those who are new born into the family of God, that the first Adam bad to transmit death to his posterity. It was not the soul of Christ only, but his body also, that was exalted and crowned with honour: in like manner shall the bodies of believers be rescued from the grave, and raised to glory, seeing these were redeemed by Christ as well as their souls. Nay, the bodies of the saints are said expressly to be " the temples of the Holy Ghost;" and it cannot be supposed, that these temples shall remain always under the ruins of death. He who honoured them with his residence, will certainly rebuild