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leaves such hearts in their barren lifeless state, and that in calling them to account hereafter, he is as one who seeks to reap where he has not sown ?” The truth is, that men WILL NOT come unto Him that they might have life.” How often would He have gathered his children together, “even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and they would NOT ?”' They WOULD NOT : and have left us a warning “ lest there be in any an evil heart of unbelief,” so as to “ receive the
of God in vain." Rather “ seek the Lord, while He may be found, call upon him while He is near :" and walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS PROMISED TO THOSE WHO KEEP THE
WORDS OF CHRIST.
JOHN xiv. 23.
23..“ Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will
keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
In this clear and decisive manner is expressed the spiritual presence of God with his people. This is not unusual in Scripture. He who has made God his portion is said to dwell with God; as (Ps. xci. 1) 6. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” And again, God is said to make his abode with those who are his people : (Isa. lvii. 15:) “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
9 Matt. xxiii. 37.
1 The Father and Son: personally distinct, though essentially the same: therefore the plural form is used; we will come unto him.
This is indeed a great promise : but not greater than is fulfilled, sensibly and certainly fulfilled. Its fulfilment is evident in many ways. First, by the gradual departure of those other inmates which ought never to have a place in the heart, but which will surely abide there till the Spirit of God dislodge them; evil passions, worldly cares and desires. And then, the presence of God will be made manifest by such an habitual state of the soul as nothing else could produce. The disposition of the heart is changed : perhaps from what it has been formerly; certainly from what it would be, if God were not dwelling there.
This change is evident, especially in two particulars. First, an indifference towards worldly things. The affections are set “on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God :” and therefore worldly pleasures have little power to interest : worldly advantages are light in the balance, when weighed against things eternal : it is perceived, that worldly riches may bring danger, as well as purchase enjoyment: and thus, they that gain are enabled to be as though they possessed not; and they that lose as though they lost not; and they that are honoured, to regard the honour which cometh from God only; and they that are lightly esteemed for Christ's sake, to count it their glory. Thus there is plain evidence that He who is not with all men has come unto them, and is making his abode with them.
And this is seen, further, in the comfort, and tranquillity, and peace of mind, which they enjoy. As the blessings of life do not unduly transport them, so neither do its trials and sorrows overwhelm them. Exactly at the time when it is needed, God makes his presence known, and cheers their hearts, as the sun cheers the earth with a genial ray of warmth and comfort which nothing can either exclude or imitate. So that the Christian can sometimes say that the “bed of languishing” has been dearer to him than the bed of health : the days of privation sweeter than the days of possession; the season of sorrow more worthy to be remembered than the season of rejoicing ; because he has enjoyed the presence of God in a higher measure and a more perceptible manner. In the multitude of sorrows which he had in his heart, that comfort has refreshed his soul. As the hiding of God's face, the want of spiritual light, can turn the brightest earthly scene to gloom and
darkness ; so the manifestation of his Spirit in the soul can enliven the house of mourning, and clothe the distressed heart with the “garment of praise."
Is this blessing desirable, so that nothing else can be compared with it? See then the way, the only way, in which it may be obtained, and cherished, and secured. Jesus said, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
MARK XV. 25, 28. 25. “ And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 28. “ And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And He was
numbered with the transgressors.”
Thus was Jesus accused as a transgressor, condemned as a transgressor, crucified as a transgressor. Because it pleased Him to stand in the transgressor's place. It pleased Him to suffer for sin, who was without spot of sin.' The innocent bore the punishment of the guilty, the just died for the unjust, that He might make reconciliation for their iniquities, and procure their peace with God.
We know why this was required. We know how, from the time when Adam sinned, and brought his own corruption and condemnation upon the whole race of his posterity, man became a debtor to God's justice. He is the king of all the earth.” Shall man rebel against his rightful sovereign, and no punishment ensue ? Can God behold with the same eyes righteousness and unrighteousness? We are assured, that He
cannot look upon evil.” What then remains ? On one side, God offended-His will despised-His authority defied. On the other side, sinful, helpless, wretched
What remains, but “tribulation and anguish ?” What, but “the terrors of the Lord ?” “ the blackness of darkness for ever;" “outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth ?”
Such must have been the end, if the Son had not consented to stand in the stead of our guilty race, and said, “ Lo I come to do thy will, O God. lam content to do it.” And then could God say, “ Deliver them from going down into the pit, for I have found a ransom.'
He was a sufficient ransom, who, being without sin, could atone for man's guilt: He was our ransom, who, taking our nature upon Him, could die our death, suffer our penalty. “ His human nature did put a price into his hands to lay down for the redemption of our souls; and his divine nature did put a value upon that price and made it sufficient and responsible for all the purposes of God.”
Thus He, who was without transgression, came to be numbered with the transgressors. And God permitted, nay, decreed it, that He might show himself at the same time just in punishing sin, and merciful in pardoning the penitent. This was the design from the beginning, that justice and mercy might agree together ; that God might display to all the world the heinousness of sin, and yet might remit its penalty. * * * Because of our sinful nature, Christ died. “ He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities,” that He might“ bring us to God," as his penitent, and reconciled, and obedient children. “He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
He “is the propitiation for our sins," to the end that we may “present ourselves, our souls and bodies, a holy and willing sacrifice unto God," and "glorify Him in our body and our spirit, which are
And to "continue in sin," whilst we profess the faith of Him who came to save us from our sins, would be to “ crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.”+
i Manton. Serm, on John i. 29.
3 Rom. xii. 1. 1 Cor. vi. 20.
2 Tit. ii. 14. 4 Heb. vi. 6.