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and bitter cries with which they sometimes re-echo, could we behold the remorse of the conscience-stricken sinner who feels that the door of hope is closed against him, and yet cannot suppress the agonizing cry, " Bless me, even me also, O my God!” we should admit that Esau's case is by no means singular. How indeed can it be? The things of this world, which unconverted men make their good things, must at length pass away; and then, those who have leaned upon them will find, that they have rested upon a broken reed. But their sins will not so pass away: they are recorded with a pen of iron; and the icy grasp of the king of terrors, or the wasting assaults of his precursor, disease, will set them in array before the soul, and render it as the troubled sea that cannot rest. What would they then give to recall a few of those opportunities which they have slighted,
a few of those moments which they have wasted ? But their days are numbered and finished: their opportunities have terminated : they find no place for a change of mind in God, though they seek it, it may be carefully with tears. God knows their hearts; and whilst He discerns there the dread of an approaching judgment, He finds no godly sorrow for sin—no genuine abasement of soul-no believing expectation of God's mercy through Christ. Can we wonder, then, that they are rejected ?
We learn, lastly, from this subject, that it becomes all, whilst it is yet day, and ere the night comes in which no man can work, to seek carefully that blessing which all need.
Esau sought when it was too late ; for Isaac had blessed his rival, and could only say, “ Yea, and he shall be blessed.” As yet, my brethren, your case is more hopeful; for now is the accepted time,—now is the day of salvation. Redeem the opportunity, then, I entreat you. Say not, “ To-morrow, I will attend to my soul, and to the things that concern my peace;" for you know not that to-morrow will be your's. For aught you know, the awful sentence, “ Cut them down, why cumber they the ground,” may have been fulminated against you; and nothing but the Saviour's gracious intercession may prevent its immediate execution. What you do then, do quickly. Cry unto a prayer-hearing God, “ Bless me, even me also, O my God!”—“Bless me with thy regenerating and converting grace,—bless me by turning me from my sins, and by drawing me unto my Saviour,
-bless me with the favor that thou showest unto thy people, and with that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord !” Then shall I be blessed indeedblessed in life-blessed in death-blessed to all eternity,
PROVERBS x. 2.
“ RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERETH FROM DEATH.
The declaration made by Almighty God to our first parent when he entered upon his probation was, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Now, though this declaration, when considered simply in the letter, merely appears to affect Adam individually, yet when taken in connexion with other passages of Scripture, it evidently affects in an equal degree every one of his posterity. In 1 Cor. xv., for example, it is written, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive;" and from this declaration we infer, that when sentence of death was passed on Adam for his transgression of the single injunction of his Maker, the same sentence extended to his posterity, even though then unborn, as involved in some way or other in his disobedience. Observation, indeed, amply satisfies us that this is the case; “for death has reigned from Adam to Moses," and from Moses to the present hour, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. This fact proves that the posterity of Adam were involved in his sin, and in the condemnation with which it was visited. And
since death has thus passed on all men without exception,--a death not only affecting the body, but the soul which is more than the body, no inquiry ought to be more interesting to man, than one which is designed to bring to light a mode of deliverance from it. The wise man has anticipated this inquiry; for he has left this testimony on record, namely, that “righteousness delivereth from death."
May the unction from the Holy One, which gives all knowledge essential to salvation, be vouchsafed to us, whilst we endeavour to ascertain what that righteousness is, which delivereth from death.
Now I observe, first of all, that it is not a righteousness inherent in man. If any human being could be regarded as having an inherent righteousness, it would be the tender babe, who had scarcely breathed the air of a polluted world, ere it ceased to exist. Incapable of discriminating between right and wrong, it could not have done either good or evil : yet death was awarded to it; and consequently there must have been some inherent taint which rendered it obnoxious to the wages of sin. That such an inherent taint attaches to every son and daughter of Adam, is asserted by the Church of England, and may be proved by the sure warrant of Scripture. The 9th Article, for example, declares, that “such is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, that he is very far gone from original righteousness, and of himself inclined to evil.” The same Article also further declares, “ that in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation."
Nothing can be more decisive than the language of this Article: it unequivocally asserts the fault and corruption of the nature of every human being, and declares it to be obnoxious to God's wrath and condemnation, This declaration, therefore, explains the fact already referred to, namely, that infants of a very tender age-infants who have never been guilty of actual sin, are cut off by death; for it teaches us, that if they had not been made sinners by Adam's disobedience, the infection of their nature makes them obnoxious to death. But can this statement be established by the sure warrant of Scripture? It can. When Job asks, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?" and in the same breath replies, “not one,” he constrains us to infer, that one free from the taint of sin cannot spring from sinful Adam and Eve. And when the Apostle Paul says of himself and others, “We were by nature children of wrath, even as others," he evidently wishes us to understand, that he regarded the whole human race in their unconverted state, as lying under the wrath of God; and, therefore, as chargeable with sin, either original, or actual, or both. It is clear, then, that such a thing as inherent righteousness is not recognised in the Bible: it is a fiction of man's devising, —a fiction which is the offspring and progeny of that pride which involved man in ruin, and in too many instances prevents his recovery; and, consequently, it is no righteousness inherent in man, which delivereth from death.
Again, it is not any righteousness wrought out by man that delivereth from death. I grant, that if Adam had kept his first estate, and continued obedient, his righteousness would have delivered him from death; for the law says, “He that doeth these things shall live thereby.” But ever since the fall, the testimony of the Spirit of God respecting mankind has been, that “there is none righteous, no, not one:"—that “all have gone out of the way, and are together become unprofitable." And whether we direct our attention to those, who, not having the law, are a law unto themselves; or to those who, like ourselves, have, not only Moses and the law,