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of God may,
faithful disciple of Christ under all the trials and difficulties of his earthly warfare. His Lord, who knew them all; has pronounced him blessed. And he is blessed. Blessed now in the favour and support of Almighty God : and—what is alone important in the sight of infinite wisdom-blessed for eternity.
One thing only remains : but it is all important. Have we believed ? Not having seen, have we believed ? Not having received the promises, but “ having seen them afar off, and been persuaded of them.” Let our hearts reply, and our lives prove this : that the Spirit
“ bear witness with our spirit,” that we sealed by him unto the day of redemption.” 31. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.”
These are written, that ye might believe. “ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is the beginning ; but who
shall describe the end ? That believing, ye might have life through his name :might have that life here, which deserves to be called life ; when the soul which actuates the man is itself actuated by God, directed by his Spirit : and might have that life hereafter, which man must come to, before he can justly conceive or duly prize it; but which those to whom the most has been revealed of its nature, have been the most afraid of forfeiting, most eager to secure by the practice of their lives, or, if needful, by the constancy of their deaths.
And of that everlasting happiness it may form some share, to know those things which here cannot be known: those which the present world could not contain or receive: but which may be the grateful contemplation through eternity, of that “great multitude, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, who have been delivered by them from this present
8 Rev. vii. 9.
evil world, and brought to“ know the only true God," through “Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.” The secrets of redemption, we are assured, are a wonder even to beings who are not individually concerned in “the mystery of godliness.” “These things the angels desire to look into."4 How astonishing will all that relates to that hidden mystery, all the things which Jesus did, appear to those who have been thus brought from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God!"
Let every individual make it sure that such is his own case. Let us not be satisfied, till by self-inquiry, and reflection, and prayer, by comparing our lives and our thoughts with the word of God, we can render it plain to ourselves that we are amongst those who to believe in Jesus Christ, and have life through his name.”
SALVATION BY FAITH IN CHRIST.
MARK xvi. 16.
16. “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved ; but he that
believeth not shall be damned."
THESE were the terms in which the message of God was to be carried through the world. It was to be addressed to mankind as in a lost or ruined state ; it. was to offer them deliverance from that state, for the sake of what Christ had done, on the condition of their becoming his disciples. As many as received the offer, and were baptized in the name of Jesus, should be placed in a new state towards God, being no longer under his wrath, which Jesus had taken away; and should be enabled to lead a new life, a life of righte
4 1 Pet. i. 12. 5 See Eph. iii. 5 and 9.
ousness and holiness. Being justified by the atonement made for sin upon the cross, which they had embraced in faith, in reliance upon its all-sufficiency, they should have peace with God, and walking not after the flesh but after the spirit, they should be saved."
We must consider, however, what is meant, when it is declared, He that believeth shall be saved. It is not in the way of reward or punishment, but from the nature of the case, that all depends upon our believing or not believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who “taketh away the sin of the world.”
The gospel is proposed to us as a remedy which can only be received by being trusted. Jesus Christ is set before us as the physician, who has in Himself, and who alone has, the remedy of sin, and of the effects of sin. So that whosoever believes in Him, resigns and devotes himself to Him, has life, because he has the remedy against death ; whilst one who “has not the Son of God, has not life," remains under condemnation, because he has not believed in the name of Him who offers to reverse his sentence of condemnation, and set him free. It
may illustrate this, if we suppose a land to be ravaged by a pestilence, threatening to overwhelm both
young and old with general destruction. This is no far-fetched example ; for sin is such a pestilence, and affects by its virulence the whole race of mankind.
Suppose, farther, a physician to traverse this infected country, and promise an antidote which should preserve from danger as many as applied to him. Such is the offer of Christ. «He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
In that country there would soon be found three classes of persons. There would be some who negParted all precaution, distrusted the physician alto
Rom. v. 1: viii. 1. 2 1 John v. 12.
3 John v. 24,
gether, and were satisfied to take their chance with others. There would be some, who did not doubt the physician's skill, or the efficacy of his remedy: but finding that it required much care and self-denial, a change in their manner of living, and habits different from those around them, they would silently reject it, and prefer the unseen evil to the immediate trouble of
Whilst a third class would be found so convinced of the impending danger, and so confident of the physician's skill, as to apply for his advice and obey his counsels, relying on his word and promise, at whatever pains, whatever sacrifice of present inclination.
And this third class, believing the physician, and acting on their belief, would be saved : whilst they who disbelieved, and they who acted as if they disbelieved, would be left to perish ; would remain liable to the pestilence which sooner or later would lead to their destruction, because they refused the only remedy which could avert it and preserve them. Still the cause of their death would be the pestilence, and not the refusal of the remedy. No doubt their condition would be the more lamentable, because the remedy had come nigh them, and they rejected it. But neither the offer of the remedy, nor their refusal, would place them in their desperate state : it was their state before, as inhabitants of the country which the pestilence had entered, and where it raged. Like the sons-in-law of Lot, whom he warned to flee with him from Sodom : and" he seemed to them as one that mocked :"4 they refused to listen to him. When the Lord rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom out of heaven, they were swallowed up in the destruction. Yet they did not perish, because they rejected his counsel ; but rejecting his counsel, they perished together with their countrymen.
And therefore our Lord, when He declared, that whoever believed on Him should not be condemned ;” added also, “ He that believeth not, is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God," who alone could avert his condemnation. “ He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him :"5 he has not escaped it through the appointed way of reconciliation.
4 Gen. xix. 14.
Let' us rejoice in the assurance, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. There is a physician, who is come to seek and to save those that without Him were abandoned to a devouring pestilence. There is an ark of safety, which we are invited to enter, and be secure; there is an unshaken rock, on which we can rest our souls. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners : and that He is able to save unto the uttermost all them that come unto God through Him."