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Every repenting sinner is a monument of Christ's victory over the powers of darkness, and of the efficacy of his atonement, intercession, and grace. Every one is an immortal soul saved from eternal misery and brought into the way of eternal life. Every one is an example of God's mercy in converting an instrument of Satan, active in doing mischief, into a servant of CHRIST, employed in willingly promoting the cause of truth and righteousness on earth. Thus, in all instances of sinners being brought to true repentance, and seeking salvation by Christ, an accession is made to the Redeemer's kingdom, and Satan's is proportionably diminished and enfeebled. “Giving " thanks unto the Father-who hath delivered “ us from the power of darkness, and translated " us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom “ we have redemption through his blood, even “ the forgiveness of our sins.""
This then was the great object when the plan of salvation was formed; when the son of God became incarnate; when he bled upon the cross ; when, risen and ascended, he sent his apostles to preach the gospel ; and when he communicates his Spirit to render it effectual : and can he but rejoice, when the great end of all his labours, sufferings, and counsels, is answered ?
9 Col. i, 12-14.
Would a father, who had spared no labour and expence to reclaim a profligate son ; who had retained his paternal affection through a long series of provocations and disappointments; who had persevered for a long course of time, while the case seemed hopeless : would he, I say, not rejoice, when his endeavours were crowned with full success ? Surely he could not see the repenting rebel a suppliant at his feet, confessing his crim with all their aggravations, and most submissively imploring forgiveness and reconciliation, though ready to fear a repulse, without the most lively emotions of satisfaction. It is impossible, but he must inwardly rejoice; unless he, who had the heart of a father while the son was a rebel, could be turned into a monster when his son became a penitent. Prudence indeed might dictate the outward expression of his joy, and that perhaps in a way not quite so pleasing to he suppliant's feelings ; but beyond all doubt, they would be directed to the promoting of his permanent advantage.
We learn then from the expression, “Rejoice with “ me,” that the penitent sinner is sure to find a cordial welcome from him who " came to seek and 1. to save that which was lost.”
All the love of Christ to sinners, which has been before considered; all the means used, and the divine influence of the Holy Spirit communicated, in order to bring them to a sense of their guilt and danger, and to render them willing to
accept of this salvation; are so many demonstrations, that no one, however guilty or enslaved by sin, shall be rejected when thus brought to seek mercy and grace as proposed in the gospel. The prodigal is at length induced to say, “I will go to “ my father, and say unto him, Father, I have “ sinned against heaven and before thee, and am “ no more worthy to be called thy son:” and will thie father now spurn him from him, and leave him at last to perish? No—“ He looketh upon men, “ and if any say, I have sinned, I have perverted “ that which is right, and it profited me not ; he " will deliver his soul from going down into the “ pit, and his life shall see the light.” The good Shepherd has regained his lost sheep; and says to his friends and neighbours, “ rejoice with me, for “ I have found my sheep that was lost.” And if any, like the Pharisees, and the elder brother in the parable, object, and find fault, he will vindicate his own proceedings, and put them to shame and silence.
Certainly this is the view of the subject, which these parables, spoken for that very purpose, are suited to convey. And the general tenour of Scripture accords to it. ' How emphatical the language of God by his Prophet concerning Ephraim! " I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning him« self thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I was “ chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the " yoke. Turn thou me, and I shall be turned,
“ for thou art the Lord my God.—Is Ephraim my “ dear son ? Is he a pleasant child? For since I “ spake against him, I do earnestly remember him “ still. Therefore my bowels are troubled for “ him. I will surely have mercy upon him, saith " the LORD.1"
Indeed, the kindness and condescension of Christ, as recorded in the gospel, during his personal ministry, were entirely coincident with these representations. He never despised or frowned on any one who came to him, however mean or vile; but was always accessible and compassionate: and in this, as in all other respects, he “hath “left us an example, that we should follow his “ steps.”
Simon, the Pharisee, disdained “the woman " that was a sinner,” when, as a weeping penitent, she washed our Lord's “feet with tears, and “ wiped them with the hairs of her head.” But he graciously noticed the evidences of her faith and love: he declared that “her sins, though many, “ were forgiven.” He said to her, “thy faith " liath saved thee, go in peace.”
In like manner, when censured for becoming the guest of Zaccheus the publican; having heard his profession of penitent faith, he declared for his encouragement, “ This day is salvation come to " this house: for as much as he also is a son of " Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to sechi "and to save that which was lost." —And even to the thief upon the cross, who confessed his guilt, and said, “ LORD, remember me, when thou “ comest in thy kingdom;" amidst his own agonizing tortures he replied, “ Verily, I say unto thee, “this day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
'Jer. xxxi, 18-20.
This uniform conduct of our blessed Saviour, towards those who were humbly sensible of their guilt and danger, appeared still more remarkable and instructive, if contrasted with his addresses to the self-sufficient Scribes and Pharisees; in which he uses the strongest language of just severity and authoritative rebuke: “Verily, I say “ unto you, that the publicans and harlots shall “enter into the kingdom of heaven before you." —“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can “ye escape the damnation of hell?” There is in some men a sort of indolent easiness of temper, which induces an indiscriminate kindness to persons of all characters, at least as far as words can go: but the marked difference of address, which our LORD made use of, in speaking to the selfrighteous, and to the humble penitent, forms such a contrast, that we are sure there must be, in his judgment, something essentially different in the state of their hearts, which according to the plan of the gospel requires this marked discrimination.
When Saul of Tarsus, being met with in the way to Damascus, became a humble suppliant, the compassionate Saviour whom he had persecuted,