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because you love me, I hate your name because in it alone I am sensible I have salvation : and now as your compassions fail not, and you are determined to make me a minister of divine mercy, I am determined to hate you more and persecute you tenfold to what I have heretofore ? If there were no danger in making such a glorious display of the goodness of God to this so great an enemy of the gospel, how should it happen that similar manifestations to sinners now should be so very dangerous as is represented by those who are the ministers of wrath and condemnation ?
It may be useful in this place to notice some of the similes used in scripture to represent the ministration of reconciliation. By the prophet Isaiah Christ is called a light to lighten the Gentiles, and Jesus said ; “ I am the light of the world,” and having communicated his light to his disciples, he told them, that they were the light of the world. Now according to the objection which we have noticed, it is dangerous to give light to them who are in darkness, for it may make them worse. Jesus said; “I am the bread of life.' This is the bread which came down from heaven and giveth life to the world; but it is dangerous to give this bread to sinners, it is thought it may make them worse. Jesus represented the sinner by those who are sick, and himself as a physician. Will it do to say, it is dangerous to heal the sick because it may make them worse ? No, these things are not so. Those who have been delivered from the power of darkness by the true light, have been thereby delivered from the power of satan and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Those who have eaten of the bread of God have found it to be spiritual life, and those who have received the healing balsam of the divine Physician have felt the power of sin to die within them, and have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. As it may
be due to the situation of some minds, we may notice a question which is so often stated, viz : if the sinner may immediately receive divine favor, when and where is he to be punished for his sins? This question is made of great concern by those who be
lieve that the gospel is a ministration of condemnation. But there is one thing we cannot but observe in those who urge this question; they never ask when they, themselves, are to be punished for their sins. They appear to have no concern about this weighty question as it regards themselves; their whole concern is about sinners. And this concern is not for fear they will be punished, but for fear they will not be.
Let us return the question to those who bring it, and ask them, when and where are you to receive the punishment for your sins ? You contend, that the wicked must be punished, you are zealous to have the wicked punished ; as Nathan said to David," thou art the man.”
Turn, Pharisees, thine eyes within,
When and where was murderous David, king of Israel, punished for his sins ? When and where was the author of our text,
66 the minister and witness Jesus, punished, for the murders which he had practised on the innocent lambs of Christ?
We answer the question and say, sin and misery are inseparably united in the nature of cause and effect. When and where we are sinful, then and there we are our own tormentors. • The
way of the transgressor is hard-there is no peace to the wicked.”
Look at the nature of this subject. Jesus appeared to Saul, to make him a minister and a witness, tu open the eyes
of the Gentiles. But when were these Gentiles punished for being blind? The Apostle was to turn the Gentiles « from darkness to light.” But when were they punished for being in the dark? He was to deliver them from the power of satan. But when were they punished for having been under satan's power? My brethren, satan's yoke is a hard service, his government is tyranical, and his power is oppressive.
The reason why our heavenly Father has sent the ministration of his grace to reconcile sinners to himself, is, that they may receive inheritance among them
who are sanctified. If satan's yoke were casy and if his burden were light, if sin and happiness were connected, why should the Almighty wish to deprive his creatures of this felicity ? And if sin and all manner of vice afford happiness to man in this world, why will they not be permitted to continue hereafter, and there .continue the source of human happiness? There never was a deception that operated so much to the disadvantage of mankind, as that of believing that happiness is to be obtained in sin. This deception makes slaves of millions, who devote themselves to their blind passions, and "are dead while they live.” From this deception, from this slavery and from this death the ministry of reconciliation is designed to deliver the world. Therefore, the ambassadors of Jesus, cry, as in our text, we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Reconciliation to God, is reconciliation to his revealed attributes and will, and consists in a conformity to the divine commands. A profession of religion may be totally disconnected with the reconciliation contemplated in our text, which is known, as was suggested in our introduction, by new views, new affections, and new desires. If we judge by their fruits, many have professed the religion of the Saviour, who have no different views from what they had before, only they now believe that they are more righteous than their neighbours; and remain as destitute of love to their brethren of the human family as ever. God is love; therefore to be reconciled to God, we must be reconciled to this divine principle. God is known to be love to all his creatures, because he actually does good to all. If we love all God's rational offspring, as our brethren, we are therein reconciled to God. St. Paul says; God “ will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” If this will be in us, and if we can in sincerity pray for this will to be accomplished, we are therein reconciled. We are commanded to love our enemies and to do to others as we would have them to do to us, in doing which, we are reconciled to God. We are commanded to forgive
those who trespass against us, in which we resernble our Heavenly Father who was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. We are commanded to forgive one another, as God, for Christ's sake hath forgiven us. This is conformity to God. We are required to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God; and in so doing we are reconciled to him.
But says our opposer, what if we do not conform to these divine requirements ? it makes no difference, if God loves all men, wills that all should be saved, and does not impute our trespasses to us. Reply; Our reconciliation to God, and our conformity to his will and all his requirements is the salvation which our heavenly Father wills for us; it is the life which Jesus came to give to the world; it is heaven, it is joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. This doctrine is the doctrine of divine love, this love is a fountain of living waters, it is that river whose streams make glad the city of our God.
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And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
As the time drew near that the Lord of glory, the mediator of the new covenant should seal his testament with his blood, there came to his disciples certain Greeks, and said to Philip, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip and Andrew communicate this request, to their master, who in room of either consenting to their request, or of refusing, replied saying, “ The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
These Greeks, being Gentiles, were not the subjects of the ministry of Jesus in the days of his flesh, but as soon as he should be put to death in the flesh and be quickened by the Spirit, then would the gospel be preached to the Gentiles. Therefore when he was told that certain Greeks desired to see him, he spoke of his being glorified in sending his gospel to them. He was the corn of weat that abode alone until it fell into the ground and died; but after it died and was quickened it brought forth much fruit, “even judgment unto the Gentiles.” The Saviour proceeded to speak of his sufferings, saying ; “ Now is my soul troubled ; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Fath. er, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from