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Universal Praise for Redemption.
A Communion Sermon.
ISAIAH xliv. 23.
Sing, Oye heavens, for the Lord hath done it : Shout, ye lower parts of the * earth : Break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein ; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
THE deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, which is often a subject of Isaiah's predictions, so nearly resembled, in several circumstances, the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ, that the prophet feldom mentions the former, without feeling his mind enlivened with a view of the latter ; and he rarely dismisses the one without giving a rapturous display of the other.' In his predictions of that deliverance he usually mingles fome elevated expressions, which can properly be applied only to the great redemption. Hence the writers of the New Testament so often borrow his language as descriptive of their own times. Vol. V.
That the words of our text respect the gospel dispensation, is probable from the prophet's calling on all creatures in heaven and earth to join in fongs of praise for God's wonderful mercy. The deliverance of the Jews from Babylon by Cyrus was an event, which peculiarly concerned them. The redemption of mankind from sin by Jesus Christ is a work, in which all nations are concerned, and in which angels feel themselves interested. From this they learn the manifold wisdom of God.
The prophet invites the heavens, the earth, the mountains, the forests, and every tree, to break forth into singing, because the Lord hath redeemed Jacob. It is usual with the prophets thus to awaken the attention of rational beings by addrefses to inanimate nature.
We may observe, 1. The benefit here celebrated is Redemption. This fuppofes a state of guilt and bondage. Redemption is often applied to temporal deliver
But here it intends a spiritual deliverance, or falvation from the dominion and demerit of fin by the grace of God through the atone. ment of Christ. So the meaning of it is stated in the preceding verse. “ I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy qns: return unto me, for I have redeemed thee."
Redemption includes the forgiveness of sins în this world, and eternal life in the other. The apostle speaks of a redemption, which consists in the remission of fins ; and of a redemption of the body from the bondage of corruption. These two privileges are connected, Forgiveness, which is a discharge from our obligation to punishment, is accompanied with a title to future happiness. “ Whom God justifies, them he also glorifics."
The law of God condemns those, who continue not in all things written in it. As we have all tranfgressed this law, we are all condemned by it. Forgiveness frees us from condemnation, and brings us into à ftate of favour with God.
6 Be. ing justified by faith, we have peace with God, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Forgiveness, in the nature of it, implies a title to glory. Man was made to exist forever. The death threatened to difobedience intends, not a ceffation of being, but positive punishment. The remiffion of this punishment imports an opposite state ; not exemption from mifery by annihilation, but à title to a happy immortality:
" As fin has reigned unto death, so grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.”
This redemption comes to men through the blood of Chrift. “ We have redemption through his blood.”
The mercy of God is inclined to forgive finners. But the wisdom of God saw fit to bestow forgiveness in a way, which fhould display his righteoufnefs. “ He set forth his son a propitiation for fin, to declare his righteousness for the forgiveness of lins, that he might be juft, and the juftifier of them who believe."
" Christ was manifested to bear our sins; and in him was no fen." This character of Christ fhews the excellency of his facrifice.
" Such an high-priest became us, who is holy, harmless and undefiled, and made higher than the heavens ; and who needed not, as the ancient priests, to offer facrifice first for his own fins, and then for the fins of the people ; for this he did once, when he offered up himfelf.”
Our redemption is afcribed to Chrift's blood to
his death on the cross. But to accomplish our redemption the holiness of his life was neceflary ; for without this, there could be no atoning efficacy in his death.
The redemption purchased by Christ, though offered without distinction, is actually bestowed only on penitent and believing souls. Hence the call in the words preceding the text,
“ Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee." "The Redeemer comes to those, who turn from ungodliness in Jacob." It is by sin, that we have fallen under condemnation. It is by repentance, that we obtain redemption. “ Christ bare our fins, that we, being dead to fin, should live unto righteousnefs. He came to redeem us from iniquity, and to puri. fy unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The apostles proclaimed a free and gracious falvation ; but they stated the terms of it to be “ repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Chrift."
To our compliance with these terms, the operation of the divine Spirit on our hearts is necefsary. Hence believers and penitents are said, to be“ børn of the Spirit"-"renewed by the holy Ghost"_" created in Christ Jesus to good works." But still finners are required to repent and turn to God, to make them a new heart, and to walk in God's statutes, as if all this were their own work.
Wherever God sends the gospel, he sends 'his Spirit to accompany it. Hence it is called a miniftration of the Spirit, and they who oppose it are said to resift the Spirit. They, who attend on the ministration of the word, actually receive the Spirit in his convincing and awakening influence. The Galatians are said to have “ received the Spirit in the hearing of faith."
An attendance on appointed means, and an improvement of divine excitements are required in order to the obtaining of that grace, which will be eftectual to repentance and conversion. “ Ak and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find. God gives his Spirit to them who ask him. To him who hath fhall more be given.” It is not preten. ded, that there is any certain connexion between the endeavours of finners, and renovating grace ; for who can say, He has not often abused and for feited the grace of God already ? But yet it is plain, that God ordinarily bestows his renewing grace on finners, only when they are found in the diligent observance of his appointments. Hence Christians are said to be begotten and born of the word, as well as of the Spirit. As the grace of God usually works in men's hearts by means of the word, so they are most likely to receive this grace, when they are in the diligent use, not when they are in the contemptuous neglect of these means.
Hence we may observe, II. Our redemption is a Divine Work. The Lord hath redeemed Jacob.
It was God, who, in his unfearchable wisdom, laid the plan of our salvation. It originated, not with us, but with him. It was the effect, not of our folicitation, but of his felfmoving goodness. As God is the Being dishonoured by our revolt, so to him only it belongs to determine, whether we may be received to his favour. This important question no created intelligence could answer. God has a right to punish offenders ; whether he will recede from this right, he only can tell. The knowledge, which angels have on this subject, comes to them by divine discovery; not by their own sagacity. They desire to look into this glo.