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in God; that if he endure the trial, and allow patience to have her perfect work, he will come forth out of all his tribulations not only a better but a happier man, more blessed in the end than he was in the beginning; and so, even when he looks back upon the darkest passage of his history, will have cause, with unfeigned thankfulness to own, “ that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE AND CREDIBILITY OF THE GOSPEL SCHEME OF SALVATION.
ALEXANDER CRAIK, D.D.,
MINISTER OF LIBERTON.
1 Timothy i. 15. “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
The importance and credibility of the Gospel scheme of salvation, may be proved from the two following facts, viz., the justice and holiness of God, and the sinfulness of man. The purity and rectitude of the divine nature requiring absolute, unlimited obedience from every rational creature, to his righteous will, and the sinfulness of man totally incapacitating him for the performance of this reasonable service, it follows that all mankind must either expect the just recompence of their transgression, to be excluded from the divine favour, and rendered obnoxious to his wrath and curse, or owe their salvation to some mediator between God and man, able and willing to do away the penal consequences of iniquity, without destroying the offender.
Hence, it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ; on these two leading principles, the remedy proposed in the Gospel grounds its claims to our most cordial reception and regard, and before men reject it, they would do well to consider the dreadful consequences which they bring upon themselves, by persisting in unbelief.
It shall, therefore, be the business of the following discourse, by directing your attention, for a little, to these great and fundamental truths, the justice and holiness of God, and the sinfulness of man, to shew from thence the reasonableness and necessity of the Gospel method of salvation, or, in the words of the Apostle, that it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
This enquiry will, with the blessing of God, it is hoped, suggest fit matter for your contemplation, in your present circumstances, when you have the near prospect of sitting down at the Lord's Table, which was intended to commemorate your wonderful recovery, by the meritorious death of Christ, from the sad consequences of the fall. Before you can worthily partake of that sacred solemnity, you must feel your need of a Saviour. You must be duly sensible of your lost and undone condition by nature, of the inveterate malignity of your disease, before you can justly appreciate the value of the remedy which the divine mercy has provided, before you can flee for refuge to the hope set before you in the Gospel.
1st, Then, we shall consider, for a little, the justice and holiness of God.
Both reason and Scripture concur in representing God, as a being of the most inflexible justice and spotless purity. Under whichsoever of these just and awful views we contemplate the Almighty, we cannot conceive him to behold evil, but with the most perfect hatred; or to exist, without being a consuming fire to the workers of iniquity.
You know it is the very nature of justice to render unto every one their just desert; to them who, by a patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but: obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. And we could as soon conceive of the righteous. Governor of heaven and earth failing to protect the innocent, and reward the well-deserving, as remiss in punishing the bad.
Even in human governments, unreasonable indul-gence to the lawless and disobedient would be injustice
and cruelty to the peaceable and well-disposed ; and without examples of wholesome severity, licentiousness and wild disorder would fill the world with crimes and miseries.
Nothing can be clearer, than that, in every well-regulated society, the disturbers of the public peace must be sacrificed to the good of the whole; and this, far from being considered harsh or oppressive, forms the. very essence and office of justice.
If such be the necessity of punishing the lawless, even on the part of human legislators, who are men of like passions with those over whom they exercise dominion, how much more will it hold with regard to that great Legislator, by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, or the workers thereof, without detestation and abhorrence; whose law is reason, whose will is perfect rectitude, on the strict observance of which depends the well-being of ten thousand worlds.
The Almighty must be considered, if we wish to think of him aright, as the righteous Governor of all rational creatures, who hath appointed laws for the regulation of their conduct, in obedience to which con-, sist the dignity and happiness of each individual, no less than of the whole vast family in heaven and earth, and by the transgression of which, they violate the law of their nature, destroy their own peace, and introduce disorder and misery into the works of God. Holiness, the most comprehensive term by which we can express that universal obedience to the divine will, wherein are placed the perfection and happiness of