페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved them, even when they were dead in trespasses and sins, did he quicken thence by grace in Christ.” But was all this intended mercy as so much mercy to the church of Ephesus only? No, by no means. For the apostle immediately adds, this was the express purpose of it, that " in the ages to come, God might shew forth the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards sinners through Christ Jesus. That now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephes. ii. 3, 4, 5, &c.)

What will you farther say in objection to all those charming and unanswerable recommendations of this glorious gospel of the ever blessed God? If neither great șins, nor great sinners; if neither sinners among the lost sheep of the house of Israel, nor sinners among the Gentile church, scattered over the whole earth, are excluded from this mercy; what next resource will the unbelief of your heart, assisted by the great enemy of souls, tempt you to fly to, in order to prevent your accepting this great salvation ?

Methinks I hear you say, that these are certainly great and precious things to those who can receive them; but as for you, they do not come up to your

You say, I have outlived, I fear, the day of grace, and have outstayed the accepted time of salvation. Oh! that." I had known in the day of grace, the things which would have made for my peace, but now they are for ever bidden from my eyes

But here again, my poor brother, you write bitter things against yourself which the Lord hath not written. And the enemy of souls tempts you to bring the very Scriptures of truth, and pervert them against yourself, in order to cast you down. He dared to do this once, even against the Lord Jesus himself, in the days of his flesh, and therefore, no.

case.

wonder that he should to you. But may God the Holy Ghost enable you to repel the great deceiver by the same." sword of the Spirit” which Christ did, which is the word of God !

You say, you fear that you have out-lived the day of grace, and the things which once would have made for your eternal

peace are now for ever hidden from your eyes. To which I answer, that your very fears do, in a great measure, serve to refute themselves. For it is, I believe, a very rare, if not altogether an impossible thing, to find any religious fear in the breast which is given up to a final hardness and impenitence of heart.

But let us farther attend to the subject, and particularly to the true sense and meaning of these words of the Lord Jesus, which you have quoted. When Christ wept over the beloved city of Jerusalem, and declared that the things, which, if before had been attended to, would have made for their peace, were now for ever hidden from their eyes, it is very evident, by what followed, in sending his gospel expressly first to Jerusalem, that he could not mean their eyes were hidden to the things concerning salvation. For had this been the case, to what purpose would he have sent it? And it is far more evident, by the success which attended his sending his gospel, in the conversion of three thousand souls of the Jerusalem sinners on the day of Pentecost, which was but a little while after Christ had wept over Jerusalem, that that salvation was not hidden from their eyes, but, on the contrary, that then, and then only, for the first time, were their eyes opened to receive it. Nothing can be more plain and palpable than this; and therefore, it is as evident that our Lord had some other meaning in those words. And if you apply them as they were clearly intended, and indeed, as the succeding verses explain, not to the things which made for their eternal peace with God, but their temporal prosperity and continuance as a nation, you will immediately enter into the true meaning of our Lord's words. It was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army,

and not the final destruction of Israel as a people. « Hadst thou but known, says Christ, in this thy day, the things which make for thy peace ! But now they are hidden from thine eyes.” And observe what follows:

For the days shall come that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee. And they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down, because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke xix. 43.) Here, you see, is evidently a temporal ruin declared for neglecting temporal visitation, and which as truly came to pass Nationally considered, Jerusalem would have been preserved in its peace, had the

people, upon the rational opportunity afforded them for receiving the Messiah, accepted Christ under that character. And by comparing their own Scriptures with Christ's miracles and ministry, they might have found enough evidences to have convinced their understanding. It was in this sense Sodom would have been saved as a nation, if only ten righteous persons had been found in the city. Yet all the while, Sodom itself, as a nation, would have been sinful Sodom still. It is in the same sense, nations openly professing the gospel are saved now.-But the personal salvation of the Lord's people, or their day of grace being over, and the truths hidden from their eyes, is a perfectly different thing, and by no means intimated or applied, but the contrary plainly proved. And this view of the subject will not only serve to explain this passage concerning Jerusalem, but many similar passages of a like nature; and plainly shew that this notion of out-living the day of grace hath been very improperly taken up, to the distress of many precious souls, whose “ heart hath been made sad, whom God would not have made sad.” (Ezekiel xiii. 22.) For the day of grace, that is, the day of saving grace, the day of God the Holy Ghost, was not given to the beloved city of Jerusalem when Jesus wept over it; for it is as expressly said, “the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus

not yetglorified :" consequently, therefore, the day of grace, so far from being then

finished with Jerusalem, was not even begun. Then only can it be said, in any case, to be “the day of grace," when God the Spirit makes sinners willing in the day of his power." All other days of grace are no more than means of grace,ordinances of grace, such as preaching, reading, worship, and the like ; which are in themselves efficacious, or not, as God the Spirit shall be pleased. And whenever this blessed day of grace comes, that is, when sinners are made “ willing in the day of God's power,” it never can be said to come too late. The labourers in the eleventh hour found that hour to be of equal grace with them who had received it earlier, ” and borne the burden and heat of the day.” The dying thief experienced the like mercy, when, to all human ideas, every hope was over. Despair not, therefore, my brother, nor think your day of grace is past, while you are yet on praying ground, and continue a monument of sparing mercy. Rather, if you feel a rising desire after Jesus, a conscious sense that you need a Saviour, and that that Saviour can save to the uttermost all that come to God by him ; rather assume the hope that these are all so many proofs of the blessed Spirit's now teaching you what you never knew before ; and hence, that you have been all this while purposely spared to be the greater pattern of his sovereign grace and mercy. And surely I would, were I you, reason thus with myself:- If the Lord

spared me when my heart was as hard and insensible
as a stone, and when I neither felt a sense that I
needed mercy, nor asked that mercy of the Lord, he
will not now reject me, when my very soul is melted
into sorrow, and all my cries are, “Lord, save, or I
perish !” Never, surely, would Jesus have excited
şuch desires in my heart, if he had not meant to answer
them !Lord, I will believe; I will hope that my
day of grace cannot be past, while such sweet effects
of
grace are upon me,

“ With the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. He will redeem Israel (it is said) from all his iniquities."

But still I expect another objection to arise and anticipate that question which thousands now in glory once put forth while they were here below :—What, if my day of grace be not past, yet if I have committed the unpardonable sin, still I shall be lost.. True : if you have committed the unpardonable sin, all hope is indeed over. But what reason or autho. rity have you to suppose this? Before you listen to such suggestions of the enemy, first understand in what the unpardonable sin consists; and also what are the marks and characters by which those are known who have committed it. The first persons mentioned in Scripture, under this awful state, were the scribes; who, in spite of all the evidences with which Christ proved his GODHEAD, daringly ventured to charge Jesus with casting out devils by the prince of the devils; and this was blasphemy indeed!

“Because they said, he hath an unclean spirit.” « (Mark iii. 22-30.) But have you ever said this of Jesus, much less have believed such a thing? Is it possible that you can have used a blasphemy of this kind ? Besides, the characters by which those are known who have committed it do not suit

you. Your present state and frame of mind totally contradicts it. They that committed this sin in the days

3

« 이전계속 »