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When essential truth is concerned, it is impossible to speak too plainly, or too strongly, or too frequently. It is the grand design of Satan, with all his varied forms of temptation and delusion, adapted to the varying temper of men's minds, and the fashionable tone of the various ages of the world, and grades of society, to lull mankind into a slumber of indifference about eternity, until it is too late for them to be in earnest about salvation. And it is the grand business of the Ministers and Messengers of Christ, to rouse the slumberers, and tell them of salvation, now while it is called to-day. If we may not speak thus, let us speak no more at all. If, while the fire rages, and thousands are falling into it, we may not sound an alarm, and cry,-Awake, awake! flee from the wrath to come :- then are we watchmen no longer ; our occupation, in all that rendered it effective, is at an end. If we must confine our ministrations to soft lullabys, which do not disturb the slumberers; or which, when they are in some degree disturbed by conscience, allay the incipient alarm, and soothe them again to repose; then are we transformed from being Ambassadors for Christ, into being no better than cradle-rockers for Beelzebub.
Great and gracious God! rouse, and guide, and strengthen us, thy Ministering Servants, that we may raise, and prolong, and re-echo, a fervent cry through the length and breadth of the land-proclaiming the reality and eternity of hell — testifying repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christand displaying, in the light of thy sure promise, glory, honour, and immortality of holiness and joy, to every one that believeth.
St. Jude's, April, 1839.
THE PROPER DEITY OF OUR LORD THE ONLY GROUND
OF CONSISTENCY IN THE WORK OF REDEMPTION.
BY THE REV. HUGH M'NEILE, A.M.
* FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE: FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME
SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD; BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS
GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS:
WHOM GOD HATH SET FORTH TO BE A PROPITIATION THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, TO DECLARE HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THE
REMISSION OF SINS THAT ARE PAST, THROUGH THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD; TO DECLARE, I SAY, AT THIS TIME HIS RIGHTEOUS. NESS: THAT HE MIGHT BE JUST, AND THE JUSTIFIER OF HIM WHICH BELIEVETH IN JESUS."-Rom. iii. 22—26.
It is not my intention to delay you with any prefatory observations on the general subject of this controversy, but to proceed at once to that particular portion of it, the discussion of which is entrusted to my charge. It is thus stated :
“The PROPER DEITY OF OUR LORD THE ONLY GROUND
OF CONSISTENCY IN THE WORK OF REDEMPTION.”
Man is ruined, and needs redemption : only God can redeem. In redeeming, he cannot be inconsistent with himself. If the Deity of the Lord Jesus be rejected, inconsistency is inevitably involved. If the Deity of the
Lord Jesus be received, inconsistency is avoided. The Deity of the Lord Jesus is distinctly revealed, as distinctly as the Unity of the Godhead.
These are lofty themes. Gracious Lord, grant us, in this world, knowledge of thy truth—increasing knowledge of thy sanctifying truth!
1. God is love. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. The first and great commandment of the law is love. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love is the fulfilling of the law. The end of the commandment is love. The end of all true religion is love,the love of God and the love of man.
1. It is commonly admitted that these two comprise our highest duties; but it does not seem to be commonly understood, that they also constitute our best happiness. Yet, this is strictly true, and will and must continue true to all eternity. To love God supremely, and to love one another sincerely and cordially, are the essential elements of the happiness of all intelligent creatures.
It is thus the holy angels are happy. Their exalted and pure affections are fixed with supreme devotion upon their great Creator and continual Preserver. There, at the fountain, each imbibes spiritual joy. The stream is happiness. And can the kindred streams be kept from union? No! emanating from the same divine spring, they flow together towards the one boundless ocean of the divine glory. The whole angelic host, with one feeling of happy love, and one voice of happy praise, enjoy and proclaim the perfections of their Maker and their God. If their happiness be capable of increase, it can only be by an increase of their love towards God, and towards each other;
or, by witnessing additional multitudes of intelligent creatures becoming partakers of similar happiness.
It is thus the disembodied spirits of all true Christian believers are happy. Thus the children of the glorious resurrection shall be happy, ώς άγγελοι του θεού εν ουρανώ, as the angels of God in heaven. And thus true Christians, now on earth, enjoy their measure of happiness. It must ever be in direct proportion to their love. Beloved, saith the Apostle John in his affectionate exhortation, let us love one another, for love is of God: and every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God.
O that my heart were filled with holy, humble love to my God, and overflowing with sincere, self-denying, active, persevering love to my fellow-men! This, my brethren, is a Scripturally-enlightened aspiration after genuine happiness. This is the true “Christian idea of salvation.”* Perfected salvation in man, is perfected conformity to God.
2. But here the question arises, how is this salvation, this conformity, this happiness, this love to be attained? It is not natural to man thus to love. The affections of his heart do not rise in unbidden instinct to this supreme love of his God: neither do they expand to this comprehensive and disinterested love of his fellows. If they did, if such were the natural, the spontaneous action of his moral being; he would require no redemption, no deliverance from any evil or mischief. He would be whole at heart, and they who are whole need not a Physician, but they who are sick.
* That is, so far as the soul of man is concerned. In its more comprehensive sense, salvation includes the body also. So the Apostle writes :"Ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption-to wit--the redemption of our body."--Rom. viii. 23.
3. It is indeed natural to man to admit as a theory, that he ought to love God, and goodness. In accordance with this theory, he admires in sentiment, what he does not follow in practice. The celebrated classical confession of this has passed into a proverb. “Video meliora probo que, deteriora sequor," which has been Englished thus:
“ To know the best, and yet the worst pursue."
This theory is the spring of all that poetical self-deception which leads men to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. This theory is the source of those fictitious characters of imaginary excellence, which occupy the pages of the novelist, and beguile the fancy, excite the morbid sensibilities, and waste the precious time of the unwary reader. This theory is the secret basis of those anticipations of unbounded perfectibility in human society under an improved management, which animate and seem to ennoble the ambitious longings of the romantic philanthropist. This theory has sketched many an air-drawn castle, peopled many an enchanting island, and made many an amiable dreamer about Utopia appear, in his own eyes, a deliverer of his species.
4. It is painful to be compelled to bring the stern and stubborn testimony of fact and experience to bear against this fanciful elysium, and by the steady light of reality to dissipate the fantastic gilding of these lovely clouds. Poor fallen man is willing to be beguiled by a pleasant theory, and resents as unfeeling rudeness, the truth which pronounces his vision to be a dream, and the faithfulness which, preferring his permanent welfare, to his present ease, cries with a loud voice—“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
Together with this pleasing theory, that he ought to love God, there exists in man, by nature, a bitter conscious