« ÎnapoiContinuați »
out by the Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul there introduces sin as a powerful being, and personifies him in language of the most expressive kind. He exhibits man as a captive to this prevailing conqueror, a slave, sold under sin, obeying him in divers lusts and pleasures, and without power to shake off his yoke or relax his chains. He, then, describes Christ as subduing this enemy of man, defeating his schemes, and destroying his power and empire. And having ascribed the victory to the Prince of Life, he makes that event the foundation of every hope and every blessing. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?"
But though our blessed Lord procured for us the reconciliation we wanted with God the Father, and proved his having accomplished this by his resurrection from the dead, yet it is by faith only, that we can avail ourselves of the high privileges which are thus extended to us, and by a holy life, evidencing the reality and fulness of that faith, that we can come to be partakers of his resurrection. “ If we be dead with Christ,” says the Apostle, “we believe that we shall also live with him. Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
To die, then, with Christ is to mortify all our evil and corrupt affections; to put off the body of sin, called by St. Paul, the old man; to abandon the hidden courses of guile and dishonesty, the dark paths of debauchery and revelry, the haunts of sin and uncleanness; and to "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." To put on the new man is elsewhere spoken of as being “renewed in the spirit of your mind;" and the whole intent of Christ's death and resurrection, and all the expressions of Scripture which figure out a similitude between him and us in these particulars, imply that we should walk in newness of life. For if Christ died to take away sin, and his crucifixion was the public expiation which he made for it, to continue in sin is clearly to defeat the ends of that costly sacrifice, and in the strong language of the Apostle, to crucify the Son of God afresh.
There cannot, therefore, be a more preposterous act of daring folly, than to affront the majesty of God by a profligate violation of his high commands, nor can a greater contempt be set on Christ's atonement, than to render its efficacy of no avail. When the deliberate sinner shall come into the presence of his offended Judge, and standing before that dread tribunal at the sight of which “all kindreds of the
earth shall wail,” it is impossible to conceive a more frightful spectacle than the visage of the criminal waiting to receive his doom, or to hear accents more appalling than those which will strike on the trembling ear,“ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels.” -But if we set a just value on the price of our Saviour's blood, and being baptized by the Spirit of holiness, become virtually partakers in his death, and sharers in his resurrection; if we lead our lives in conformity to the example which he set before us, and being dead indeed unto sin are living unto righteousness; if, conscious of our own unworthiness, we come before God as suppliants for mercy, and crave his pity in consideration of what his dear Son has done and suffered for us; if we actually live “as seeing him who is invisible,” and submit ourselves, at all times, to the guidance of his Spirit; we shall appear in the presence of our great Redeemer as abashed criminals indeed, but not as wilful and obstinate offenders, and though we have nothing of our own to
to offer in our behalf, and nothing to say, but “God be merciful,” we shall be welcomed as penitents ransomed by his blood; and the language addressed to us will be couched in those approving words, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
SCRIBES, AND THEY SHALL CONDEMN HIM TO DEATH, AND SHALL DELIVER HIM TO
GENTILES TO MOCK, AND TO SCOURGE, AND TO CRUCIFY HIM.”
THESE words contain a prediction of so very singular a nature, that they deserve the greatest attention from all those who feel any interest in the truth of Christianity. There is not, I think, any other such prophecy as this extant. There is no instance upon record of a person foretelling the time, the manner, the circumstances of his death, with a minute and most remarkable exactness, especially when that death was to be of an unusual kind, and attended with occurrences of a very extraordinary nature; and describing it in such terms, as to render the event a thing necessarily foreseen in all its parts and particulars, and therefore no way whatever depending upon or attributable to chance. I say there is no instance like this in all the world; nothing of the same kind to be placed on a level with it for clearness, for particularity, for correspondence between the prophecy and the catastrophe, between the words of Christ, and what was accomplished in his person.
This memorable prophecy was spoken to the twelve disciples as they were on their journey going up to Jerusalem to attend the feast of the Passover. It seems from St. Mark that “they were amazed and afraid;" amazed that their Master should venture to appear again in the city, where the Chief Priests and Pharisees had given orders for his apprehension; and afraid of the consequences of his visit there. Our Saviour, therefore, to show the perfect consistency of all his actions, and his entire knowledge of all that should befall him, took them apart in the way, and declared it unto them. He had, on two previous occasions, partially disclosed it to them, but he is now more circumstantial and unreserved. He had also, it is probable, a farther motive for this communication. It was exceedingly important to fix the prediction deeply in their memories, for the truth of it would clearly show them the divine nature of his character, and become hereafter, as it did, a source of joy and confidence in him. Having made the awful communication, he set his face steadfastly to go up to Jerusalem. There was to be the scene of the fulfilment of this prophecy. There Messiah was to
be cut off, and the atonement offered.
In order to give effect to our Saviour's words, it was necessary that he should put himself in the