Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

treacherously," and yet have not received any visible mark of the displeasure of God. But this is not a rule without an exception. In all ages, and in every land, the Lord has been known by his judgments. The existence of his justice has been demonstrated by the punishment which he has caused to fall on the head of the wicked. Enough of providential visitation has been afforded, to convince thoughtful and observant persons, that “Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.” What cast our erring parents out of Paradise ? Divine justice. What entailed innumerable woes and labours, and cares, and diseases, and death, on all the human race ? Justice. What overwhelmed, in one common ruin, the multitudinous and debased inhabitants of the old world? The justice of God. What burned up Sodom and Gomorrah ? Awful justice. The same divine attribute was exercised in the destruction of the Amorites, the calamities and dispersion of the Jews, the overthrow of ancient and powerful empires. On a large scale, as well as in individual instances, the justice of God has caused signal calamities to fall on those who have openly, wantonly, and very prominently insulted his throne, committed outrages on men, or violated the law of righteousness. These displays of divine displeasure are not to be considered as the only, or the complete, punishment of the ungodly; they were mere assertions of the existence of eternal justice, that others might fear, and learn wisdom. When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.'

The honour of divine justice is especially secured in the economy of redemption. The claims of justice, and the exercise of mercy, appear to be naturally at variance with each other, so that when the one is observed the other is suspended. But in the Gospel of redeeming love the amplest expression is given to the claims of justice, while a full and free pardon is secured to every penitent believer. The blessed Redeemer, an appointed, appropriate, and willing victim, “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” “Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” “His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.' · Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." The dignity of his nature, the sinlessness of his incarnate life, together with the appointment of the Father, that he should die for our sins, and rise again for our justification, present the Lord Jesus to our view as a Saviour in whose ability to deliver we may exercise the fullest reliance; and hence we are assured, that “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In this heavenly system we discover the wisdom of God, who devised a method of recovery for fallen and condemned transgessors so consonant to his own glorious character. It demonstrates his infinite love. It is equal to all the exigencies of our ruined state. But it also displays the awfulness of his justice. There were terrors of justice in the thunders of Mount Sinai ; there are terrors of justice in threatenings of the divine word; but these appear to be inferior in the solemn awe they excite in the mind, to those which are properly associated with the humiliation and sufferings of the divine Redeemer. The Son of God becomes a babe in Bethlehem, and angels wonder at the deed; he is a man of sorrows; he lives a life of labour and reproach; he agonizes in Gethsemane ; he is deserted of his heavenly father, he expires on the accursed tree : perfect goodness willingly suffers extreme punishment; infinite dignity cheerfully descends to endure the

" the

deepest ignominy; and why ? that justice may be honoured,* and mercy be proclaimed to the guilty and undone. God hath therefore set him 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 his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” The attributes of Jehovah, therefore, appear in perfect harmony, in the salvation of sinners. A sure foundation is laid for the hope and confidence of the humble believer. The penitent is directed to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world; while the unbelieving and impenitent, those who reject the appointed sacrifice, and the mercy offered through him, are more fully warned by this economy that certain and terrible will be the judgments of God on the wicked.

The divine word directs our attention to an appointed day that is yet to come, which is designated by the most significant and impressive language. It is called, " the day of the Lord,” “the great day of his wrath," day of Christ,” “the day of redemption," " the last day," "the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.” The transactions of this day will be characterized by a clear and full manifestation of divine justice. It is, therefore, denominated “the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God." The justice of the divine character, and the equity of his final decisions, will then be apparent to an assembled universe. "The heavens shall declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory." The mysteries of his past dispensations, the apparent discrepancies of his past conduct, will be explained; every sin will be punished, every virtue rewarded, and every one will receive “according to his works." Those who denied his being, who disregarded his laws, who despised or abused his grace, as well as those who received bis mercy, and devoted themselves to his glory, will then stand in his presence, and he “will render to every man according to his deeds : to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, sought for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life ; but to them who are contentious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil; for there is no respect of persons with God." His judgment will be equitable. It will be impartial. It will be final. However the righteous may rejoice in the favours shown to them, they will be sensible that the decision is just, because of their relation to a

• It is no where stated in express terms that Christ died to satisfy dirine justice ; yet as the death of Christ is called our ransom or redemption price, and believers enjoy deliverance from the curse of the law through this medium, there cannot be any impropropriety in the use of such a phrase. It conveys a true sense. The inspired writers do not always use the same precise terms in describing the atoping sacrifice of the Redeemer. They speak of his death as “ for us," " for our sins;" as a ransom, a sacrifice. It is the great medium through which God declares his justice, and displays his love in the restor. ation of guilty man. This variety of phraseology in the inspired writers themselves, combined with the fact that the honour of divine government and the glory of bis justice are secured by the mysterious appointment of Christ as our sacrifice and substitute, war. rants the use of such an expression as the one referred to. There is no need to be hy. percritical in this matter; justice is satisfied by atonement. Its claims on the punishment of the penitent believer are thus obviated. The ransom is paid, and his soul is set free. This may serve as an answer to a query in the May number. Atonement itself is ever a kind of satisfaction offered to justice. Any other idea is absurd.

crucified Redeemer; and however the wicked may be alarmed, confounded, and overwhelmed, at the awful sentence pronounced upon them, they will retire from the presence of their judge, filled with an entire conviction of his righteousness. Heaven, earth, and hell; angels and devils, the saved and the lost, will agree in the awful and complete conviction they will feel at that day, of the equity and justice of the Great Supreme. “The heavens will declare his righteousness, for God is judge himself.”

Every representation that it is possible for us to give of the justice of God, must necessarily fall far short of the glory of this attribute ; but from the preceding remarks, we cannot fail to reflect how much there is in his righteousness to excite in our minds sentiments of reverence and adoration. Every attribute of his infinite character calls for our admiration and love. His benevolence excites our love, his justice our respect. The former draws us to his throne, the latter confirms our confidence in his name. His justice as much animates us to be ever obedient to his will, as bis love. We feel that it would be to us an infinite calamily were God to cease to be benevolent; it would be one of equal moment was his justice to fail. Suppose, for the sake of illustration, that he was not a righteous God, what evils must all his creatures fear! What calamities would they not suffer! What spectacles of vengeance and woe would not an almighty, but unrighteous being call into existence! All hope would vanish, all safety cease, all good perish. There would be no refuge for the innocent, no restraint for the iniquitous. Satan, with all the evils he has inflicted on the human family, would be a harmless creature, in comparison with omnipotence without the guidance of justice. But blessed be his name, he is a just God, and his justice will be as much an object of eternal adoration as his love. The song of heaven will be, “ Alleluia! salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, be unto the Lord, for true and righteous are bis judgments, great and marvellous are thy ways, thou King of saints.”

If God be just, how awfully certain is the punishment of the ungodly. Where is their security before a righteous judge? What will avail their excuses, their attempted concealment of their guilt, their hardness of heart, or their ill-founded hopes ?. They are in the hands of an all-seeing God, who is almighty, immutable, and righteous. None of their sins will go unpunished. And if infinite majesty has been insulted, infinite excellence despised, infinite authority contemned, and infinite grace refused, how intolerable will be their punishment, who receive from a righteous judge the due reward of their deeds.

How should the knowledge of this awful attribute endear to us the Gospel of redeeming love. Here is our refuge, our safety, our joy. God has himself appointed this medium of salvation. He has thus wisely and graciously opened a way for our pardon, justification, and life. It honours bis justice, it frees us who believe, from condemnation, it gives us a good hope through grace, it leads us to rejoice in God as onr father and our friend, and assures us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” Thus we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ.”

“What if we trace the globe around,

And search from Britian to Japan,
There shall be no religion found

So just to God, so safe to man.”

pon them.

SKETCHES OF CHARACTER.

No. III.-The CUMBERER. What glorious results would be obtained if every member of the visible Church felt a deep personal responsibility, and lived and acted for the honour of Christ. We very much doubt if such a Church is to be found in any part of the world. Yet ought it not to be universally so ? Ought not christian zeal and activity to distinguish every true disciple of Jesus ? We know all persons bave not the same precise talents, or facilities of doing good; but whatever influence the christian has, whether much or little, whether one or ten talents, Christ and his cause has an irrefragable claim

It is the lack of such a spirit that causes religious interests to decline, and often to expire. We know many cases where half-a-dozen persons have to sustain the movements of Churcles composed of many scores of members. The removal of these, by death or otherwise, would in all probability inflict an irreparable injury upon those Churches. The “Cumberer” is one of a genus of professors very numerous, I fear, in all our Churches. The history of one of these will go far to distinguish the whole; and much should we rejoice if these observations should be sanctified to the arousing of one such from their lethargy and usefulness.

C. W. had been a hearer of the Gospel for a considerable time, when at length he expressed a desire to be baptized, and admitted to the fellowship of the Church. The brethren who conversed with him were satisfied with his experience, and nothing existing against his moral reputation, he was accordingly received. It is now more than four years since he assumed the christian profession, but what good has resulted to the world, or the Church, from it, would require more than human penetration to discover. I am not aware that he has employed any active mischievous influence; he does not belong to the class of religious wasps, who are the bane and torment of all who have to do with them, but to ihe drones, who derive all their subsistence and enjoyment from others, and contribute no part of the labour necessary to secure it. His attendance on public services is just sufficient to keep up the impression that he is in his own estimation one of the congre. gation; and he does not neglect the fellowship, so as to render his course a fit subject for New Testament discipline. He bas on several occasions been seen in the company of those who are really useful, and it has been hoped that bis inoculation for good would surely iake place, but a spirit of entire apathy seems so fully to possess him, that all such expectations have only been formed to be disappointed. In the Church of which he is a member many are very actively employed. There is a good Sabbath-school, but he has no heart to feel, nor spirit to labour, for the spiritual culture of the ris. ing generation. There is a Tract Society, but he cares not for families who perish for lack of knowledge. There is a Benevolent Association for the relief and visitation of the sick, but he is never seen within the house of adversity or mourning. There are various meetings for prayer and edification, but he is as careless of his own improvement as he is indifferent to the welfare of others.

What should be done with this class of drones? these persons who are numbered in the list of God's people, and are yet ciphers, and ciphers only. Such persons cannot be happy, in the religious sense of that term, for holy activity is essential to real enjoyment. They do not serve the cause of Jesus, and a thousand Churches of such members would not be any real

*

advantage in assisting to convert the world. They do not adorn the Gospel of Christ, for that Gospel demands benevolent and unceasing exertions, and has claims on all the lofty powers and talents the most exalted intelligences possess. Such persons cannot, however, occupy a perfectly neutral place in the cause of Christ. The man who is not a blessing is a curse : the man who does not gather scatters abroad : the man who is not useful is injurious, and the very presence of such persons produces a sleepy atmosphere, unfavourable to all the great designs of mercy and the cross of Christ. Christians, we ask, What should be done with the “Cumberers ?” It is Dot usual to exclude from Church fellowship, except for offences of a positive description; besides, in many cases they are so well supported by numbers that they would probably out-vote those who were really active and useful. Well: two things all christian pastors may do. First, They may bring before their hearers very frequently the claims of Jesus on all the energies and powers of those who profess to love him: they may admonish, exhort, and if possible, excite those who are at ease in Zion. Secondly, They may make this the subject of special prayer; and it strikes me forcibly, that if every Church in our country would have a day of fasting and supplication for the re-conversion of the “ Cumberers," it might be followed with happy results.

One word to the “Cumberer.” Fruitfulness is indispensable to God's favour, and eternal life. Every tree that beareth not fruit will be hewn down and cast into the fire. The slothful servant was justly condemned by bis Lord, and his sentence is left on record that every one may be admonished to be diligent, that he may be found of Christ in peace. 3, St. John's Wood Grove.

J. BURNS.

ON UNCHRISTIAN MARRIAGES.

To mature and aged christians, it affords peculiar pleasure and delight to behold, from time to time, youthful converts coming out from the world, and giving themselves first to the Lord, and then to his people, by his will. They cherish the fond hope that, when they shall be gathered to their fathers, these will rise up to fill their places in the Church, in an exemplary and useful manner. Still, however, knowing the manifold snares which lie in the way of these young and inexperienced lambs of the fold, the more experienced followers of Christ are constrained to rejoice with trembling concerning them, lest they be turned out of the way.

Among the numerous snares and allurements which have proved fatal to young professors, perhaps few bave been more so than the forming connexions for life with persons destitute of religion. Perhaps there are few of long standing in the Church of Christ, who have not had to mourn over some who appeared to run well for a time, but in consequence of forming matrimonial connexions with irreligious partners, bave gradually declined, till at length they have lost the power, and not unfrequently the very form of godliness. Should these few lines be instrumental in preserving but one individual from splitting upon that rock on which so many bave unhappily made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, the writer's time will not have been spent in vain.

In our own connexion, formerly, professors were excluded from Church fellowship for “marrying out of ihe faith.” Whether such exclusions were justifiable or not, they plainly evinced that our pious forefathers con

« EdellinenJatka »