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RELIGIOUS & MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATIONS.
For the Christian Observer. ings manifold and abundant to his
church. The Apostle says, that, as CHRIST LIVING FOR US.
through his life, death, and resur"HERE is a portion of our blessed rection upon earth, the Christian is
Lord's offices in regard to his “reconciled” to God, so by this his people to which the Scriptures attach life in heaven he is “saved :” nay, much interest, but which Christians are “much more,” he adds, “ being retoo little in the habit of considering conciled by his death, shall we be in all its importance-namely, what saved by his life.” It is, if possible, St. Paul emphatically calls Christ a yet stronger cause of consolation : living for us. If asked what are that was the beginning, this is the the sources of our hopes and joys, continuation; that opened the way we perhaps point to the first and of pardon, this applies it; and the second advent of our Redeemer ;- second coming of Christ consummates his coming in his humiliation, to pro- it. In all views, therefore, is the cure our pardon by his obedience present life of our Redeemer in heaunto death ; and his coming in glory ven a most important and interesting at the last day, to receive us to him- subject of the Christian's faith, hope, self. But, intervening between these and joy; important and interesting, two periods, there is a portion of our as connected both with the cross of Lord’s existence which is of great Calvary and the crown of glory— moment in the work of Divine mercy with the welfare of the believer on to our souls, and without which nei- earth, and his expectations in heaven ther the object of his first nor of his —with his pardon, his adoption into second coming would be complete. the household of God, the renewal
The Apostle Paul places this matter of his mind, his peace with his rein a very striking light where he says conciled Father in Christ Jesus, his (Rom. v. 10), “ If when we were growth in grace, his repose in death, sinners we were reconciled to God and his blessedness in eternity. by the death of his Son, much more, It will enable us to see the force being reconciled, we shall be saved of the emphatic words“ much more," by his life." By the life of Christ, as used by St. Paul in the passage in this passage, he clearly means his just quoted—and thus to gain a present existence in heaven : not his better estimate of the advantages life in the days of his flesh upon resulting to us from the life of Christ earth ; nor his eternal duration after in glory—if we examine the two he shall have given up the Media- branches of spiritual benefit which torial kingdom into the hands of the the Apostle places in contrast ; Father; but his session, during the namely, Christ dying for us, as conChristian dispensation, at the right nected with reconciliation; and Christ hand of God, from which flow bless- living for us, as connected with salCHRIST. OBSERV, No. 358.
vation. The Scriptures affordus much death, to present you holy and uninformation, in various places, on blameable and unreprovable in his both of these points ; but, not to sight.” And what St. Paul thus diverge into too large a field, the states relative to the Colossian conpresent remarks shall be confined verts-namely, their natural alienachiefly to those declarations which tion from God, and their reconciliastand in the neighbourhood of the tion“ in the body of Christ's flesh passage before alluded to, and which through death "—is not confined to are amply sufficient to shed a glow- the particular persons there spoken ing splendour upon the subject. of : for the declaration is universal
The Apostle, it will be remem- in its application; all mankind being bered, had been setting forth the by nature in a state of alienation, alienation of the heart of man from and all believers, through grace, in God, in consequence of the Fall ; a state of reconciliation. Hence St. together with his actual transgres- Paul commences his Epistle to the sions; his guilt and misery; the Romans with a description of the scheme of Divine grace and mercy deplorable condition of the Gentile in Christ Jesus ; its application, by world, and with the awful announce faith, for justification; then adoption ment that “the wrath of God re and reconciliation; and, lastly, peace, vealed from heaven against all unaccess to God, preservation, hope, godliness and unrighteousness;”joy, love, and the everlasting blessed- ‘ungodliness," perhaps, being meant ness of heaven. The connexion of to comprise every offence against the this latter class of mercies with the first table of the Law, and “unformer—that is, of privilege with righteousness" every offence against pardon, of salvation with recon- the second. Then, having proved ciliation—the Apostle affirms with the Gentiles to be under sin, he prothe strong assertion of“ much more.” ceeds to prove the Jews to be under
What, then, is the first class of it likewise ; thus shewing, that no mercies comprised under the general external privileges, no national proterm of “ reconciliation ?”
fession of pure religion, not even The term itself implies a previous having the word of God and the adstate of enmity; and this, the Scrip- ministration of the sacraments in a tures declare, had actually existed. land, is to any man individually a The natural mind, they teach us, is proof that he is himself in a state of enmity against God: it loves not his reconciliation with God:“For,” adds purity, his justice, his omniscient the Apostle, “ he is not a Jew who search, his displeasure against sin, is one outwardly, neither is that ciror his threatenings of eternal ven- cumcision which is outward in the geance. The Gospel, which teaches flesh :" just as we may say now, us how this enmity is to be slain, He is not a Christian who is only one which shews in what manner God is outwardly, and by the sacrament of reconciled to man, and implores men baptism ; for though he is a Christian to be reconciled to God, is called the in name and profession, as the Jew * ministry of reconciliation.” It tells
was a Jew in name and profession us that “it pleased the Father that also, this may be without the indiin Christ should all fulness dwell; vidual being truly, spiritually, and that, having made peace by the blood practically, as well as outwardly, of his cross, he should by him recon- visibly, and sacramentally, in cove. cile all things unto himself, whether nant with God. Notwithstanding they be things in earth or things in the exterior signs and seals of reconheaven.” “And you,” it is added, ciliation, the heart might remain un" that were sometime alienated, and reconciled; there might be neither enemies in your mind by wicked pardon nor peace : the individual works, yet now hath he reconciled might be living utterly without God in the body of his flesh, through and without hope ; as St. Paul shews is the case with every man by nature. are such should doubt their interest Are we, he says-we, who call our- in them, or in any portion of them, selves Jews, who boast of being a the Apostle proceeds to the powerful peculiarly religious and favoured argument before noticed. “ Christ nation,-better than others? Are we, died,” says he, “ for the ungodly:" as individuals, less sinful, less under “ God commendeth his love towards wrath, less exposed to danger? No, us, in that while we were yet sinners he replies ; “ We have before proved Christ died for us: much more, then, both Jews and Gentiles that they being now justified by his blood, we are all under sin ; as it is written, shall be saved from wrath through There is none righteous, no, not one; him : for if when we were enemies there is none that understandeth ; we were reconciled to God by the there is none that seeketh after God.” death of his Son, much more, being
Hence, then, the need of reconci- reconciled, we shall be saved by his liation. And how is reconciliation life.” The Apostle's reasoning is to to be obtained ? The Apostle pro- this effect: If God hath begun the ceeds to answer this question where good work, will he not complete it? he says,
“ All have sinned and come If he reconciled us when we were short of the glory of God :" but we enemies, will he cast us off now we are “ justified freely by his grace, are friends
are friends ? If he spared not his through the redemption that is in own Son for us, will he not with him Christ Jesus, whom God hath set freely give us all things ? If when forth to be a propitiation, through we were living at a distance, and faith in his blood, to declare his were justly exposed to his wrath and righteousness for the remission of to eternal condemnation, he brought sins that are past, through the for- us nigh by the blood of Christ, and bearance of God; that he might be justified us freely through faith in just, and the justifier of him that his atonement; now that we are nigh believeth in Jesus. Where is boast. will he cease his favours, banish us ing then ? It is excluded. By what from his presence, and place us in law ? of works? Nay, but by the a worse condition than we were in law of faith.”
before? If he adopted us into his The Apostle having thus arrived family, will he not confer on us the at the point of our justification before privileges of his children? Being God; having shewn its necessity on reconciled, shall we not be at peace? account of sin; having exhibited its Being pardoned and accepted, shall source-namely, the Divine mercy we not rejoice in his favour? Can in Christ Jesus,-and pointed out the we doubt of the love of the Father, mode of its application --- freely, by who devised the eternal counsel of faith, and not by man's deserving, mercy? or of the Son, who became proceeds to mention its blessed fruits. incarnate, and suffered and died on
Being justified by faith we have our behalf? or of the Holy Spirit, who peace with God, through our Lord brought us to the knowledge of his Jesus Christ; by whom also we have salvation, and wrought in us faith access by faith into this grace wherein for our justification and our renewal we stand, and rejoice in hope of the after the image of Christ ? The glory of God: and not only so, but first steps in the progress of this we glory in tribulations also; know- great work required, so to speak, ing that tribulation worketh patience; much cost and toil; and the way and patience, experience; and ex- was beset with numerous impediperience, hope; and hope maketh ments. As regarded the Father, his not ashamed, because the love of God love was to be magnified and his is shed abroad in our hearts by the justice exalted; and this required Holy Ghost which is given unto us." no less a sacrifice than that of his
Such are the exalted privileges of own co-equal and well-beloved Son. all true believers. But, lest any who As regarded Christ, the cross was to - be borne; and through the gate ofsuf- miliation of Gethsemane availed fering, humiliation, and death was he much, shall the glories of heaven to achieve his victory. And when all avail nothing? If those intercessions this was effected, still, as regarded were heard which were offered up man, the enmity was to be slain in with strong crying and tears upon his heart by the power of the Holy earth, shall not those which are Ghost and the constraining influence presented at the right hand of God of the cross of Christ. We cannot, with infinite majesty in heaven? indeed, say, that to God one thing is Indeed, the very appearance of Christ more difficult than another ; yet, if there, in his once crucified but now we might so speak, there were pre- glorified body, is itself a perpetual liminary obstacles to be overcome intercession : it is a constant mewhich required an especial outlay of morial of his suffering, a proof of his power. The whole of this plan of his victory, and a pledge of his remercy was most astonishing ; parti- ward. cularly when it is recollected that we We see, then, that the Apostle had no claim upon God for its exercise; speaks of two classes of blessings that we were estranged from him by procured by Christ for man-namely, wicked works; and that the death of those which directly spring from his his Son was the only medium through cross, and those which flow from his which Divine Wisdom decreed that intercession; those which are anteit should be displayed.
cedent to our reconciliation to God, But now, all these preliminaries and those which are subsequent to being completed; Christ also having it and end in final salvation. Not, ascended on high as the Head and indeed, that we can, strictly speakRepresentative of his people, and ing, consider the work of Christ as ever living to make intercession for otherwise than one great whole: its them; and they, on their parts, be- parts are all connected and complete; ing brought nigh to God through they are portions of an all-wise and the ministry of reconciliation; those unchangeable plan. But still, for circumstances which seemed the the purpose of discriminating the greatest obstacles are done away, effects of this manifold grace in their and faith may, with steady confidence, application, and also to strengthen lay hold of the hope of salvation. our faith and joy, we may properly Had we witnessed the Redeemer divide it into these two eras of -sinking in the arms of death, we mercy, distinguishing what God has might possibly, like the disciples on done for us, and what he does in us; the road to Emmaus, have been what Christ effected before our contempted to doubt whether it was version, and what he continues to ef. indeed He who should deliver Israel; fectin the heavenly world. The Chrisbut now that we behold him risen, tian is not satisfied with contemplating a victor over sin, the grave, and the humiliation of his Saviour; he dehell, and King of kings and Lord lights also to behold his glory. He of lords, doubt is exchanged for full is not content to have come to him
His life completes the for the pardon of his sin and the purchase of his death, and our final acceptance of his person ; but he salvation finishes the blessing of desires to live upon his fulness, and reconciliation. If the first was ac- to rejoice in the light of his countecomplished through a Saviour incar- nance. His first application to him nate for man, an enemy, surely— was in reference to his atonement : nay,
“ much more ”—shall the se- he came as a trembling penitent to cond be accomplished through a his cross; he cast himself before Saviour triumphant, for man now him with overwhelming guilt and reconciled. If the weakness of death self-abasement: now, humbly trustwas powerful, shall the strength of ing to his sacrifice for pardon, eternal life be less so?. If the hu- clothed in the unspotted robe of his
righteousness, and sanctified by his interceding, as much as to Christ Holy Spirit, he contemplates him upon earth atoning: it beholds him as the great High Priest of our as the harbinger of his people, the profession, ascended into the Holy earliest fruit of the harvest, the firstof Holies, bearing his name upon born from the dead, a pledge of the his breastplate, touched with the resurrection of his servants, and their feeling of his infirmities, and effi- admission into those eternal mansions caciously pleading on his behalf. which he has gone before to
prepare. He would not think it enough that Thus, then, faith receives Christ, the way of salvation was opened by both dying for us as the source of Christ dying, if it were not followed reconciliation, and living for us as up and completed by Christ living: the source of salvation. The former for he daily perceives his own weak- involves the elements of true religion; ness, his proneness to cleave to the the latter, its higher stages. Reconworld, and his deadness to God; ciliation is the first step, salvation and he feels that he requires One the last; and all the other links in ever present and ever watchful, to this golden chain of mercy are instrengthen and support him. He dissolubly joined together. If we has spiritual enemies which his own are not reconciled to God by the feeble arm cannot conquer : there death of Christ, we have no scriptural are dangers which his own blindness ground of hope for salvation by his could not foresee ; snares, which his life : if we have not repaired to him ignorance could not avoid; wants, as sinners for the benefits of his for which his own wisdom could not passion, we cannot repair to him as provide. So long as he remains in believers for the benefits of his interthe body he is compassed with sin. cession. We must first be at peace fulness and misery, and needs a High before we can enjoy the blessings of Priest who can be touched with the peace. And on this point ought we feeling of his infirmities. The date seriously to try our spirits. Are we of the crucifixion, the resurrection, brought nigh to God? Is the enmity and the ascension, is too far back to slain in our hearts? Do we truly supply all he needs for the passing love him as our reconciled Father in moment : he recurs, indeed, to these Christ Jesus ; as having pardoned events as the solid ground of his our transgressions and blotted out immortal hopes; but he also rises our iniquities ? Then may we aspire above them to the heaven of heavens, still higher : for then there is access, where his Redeemer now reigns in there is union, there is fellowship; power as the Captain of his salvation, the presence of Christ in heaven is dispensing to him such supplies of no longer to us a barren doctrine, but strength and consolation as he every a source of never-ceasing joy and conmoment needs. He sees Jesus, who solation : all may be dark below, but was made a little lower than the the Sun of Righteousness shines angels, for the suffering of death, brightly above: here we have powercrowned with glory and honour; and ful enemies, there we have an is hence, as the Apostle says, incited Almighty Friend : the love which to hold fast his profession, and to brought him from heaven to earth he come with boldness unto the Throne took back with him from earth to heaof Grace, that he
mercy, ven: he lives; and because he lives we and find grace to help in time of shall live also. “ • Having, therefore, need. As a throne, it is the emblem brethren, boldness to enter into the of Majesty ; as a throne of grace, it holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a is the symbol of Mercy : and hence new and living way, which he hath he knows that he may come with consecrated for us through the veil, humble confidence, seeing the golden that is to say, his flesh; and having sceptre stretched out to welcome him. a High Priest over the house of God; Faith has respect to Christ in heaven let us. draw near with a true heart,