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the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”
We learn from this subject, in the second place, the necessity of Divine Revelation, and of that great salvation from sin and death which it brings to light. The actual condition of mankind, wherever the light of revelation is not enjoyed, affords incontestible proof of this. This condition, as we have seen, is as hopeless as it is helpless. The aid of mere man, of the wisest, the best, and the most exalted of men, was proved to be vain. The light of reason and of nature, in regard to religion, was hid by the gross and palpable darkness in which all were enveloped. A race of immortals were living without any certain knowledge of their immortality; and beings formed for finding happiness in God, as the chief good, were all wandering from him, and in the consciousness of their guilt and misery, all crying, who will shew us any good ? How necessary was it, then, if mankind were ever delivered from this condition, that God should interpose, return again in kindness and compassion to the world that had forsaken him, and dispel the thick gloom that covered it by the glorious brightness of the manifestation of himself!
He hath done so: he has sent his Son to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel.” He has wrought out, by his obedience and death, a great salvation for us, and as the consequence, invites all men to return to him, assuring them of his readiness to pardon, and that he is in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself, and not
imputing unto men their trespasses.
· The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Wherever the revelation from heaven goes, may we address the favoured inhabitants—" Arise, shine, for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you."
In the third place, we learn from this subject, that if idolaters were inexcusable under the light of nature, much more inexcusable are idolaters under the light of the Gospel.
And yet, as early as the fifth and sixth centuries were efforts made to revive and reestablish the idolatrous system. I need not speak of the attempts of the Emperor Julian, who had been educated in the christian religion, but who afterwards apostatized from it, and who employed his learning, his talents, his artifices, and his power, for suppressing the doctrine of Christ, and re-establishing the ancient idolatry. Nor need I say, that in the beginning of the eighth century the Pope of Rome ordained by law that idolatrous worship should be offered throughout the papal dominions. Hence the bloody and continued persecutions which assailed those who refused to acknowledge a system which is as much opposed to the light of nature, as it is to the light of the Gospel. Hence the difficulties, the cruelties, the imprisonment and death, which the reformers from popery had to encounter all over Europe, and in no country more violently than in our native land. Often in cold, and in multiplied necessities and distresses, did they meet on the sides of the mountains, and under the vault of heaven, to hear the word of God, and to convey
to their posterity the heritage of God's testimonies. Through tears, and at the expense of their blood, that heritage has reached us, and we enjoy the blessedness of the people who know the joyful sound. Let us value our inestimable privileges, and not yield to an idolatrous and antichristian church that has fundamentally departed from the doctrines of the Prophets and the Apostles that has blasphemously assumed to itself the prerogatives of God,- that still places itself in direct and avowed opposition to the light and the circulation of the gospel,--and that inculcates, with all its might and its authority, the worship of images. Let us keep ourselves from idols, and thus shew our gratitude to God, and to the great and good men, on the fruits of whose labours and sufferings we have entered. “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be no more entangled with the yoke of bondage.” Let us give the supreme love of our hearts, our worship, and obedience, to the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whose tender mercy the “ day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the
The duty which is by implication enjoined in the third commandment, is the reverence of God; and the sin prohibited is the opposite of this duty, impiety, and profaneness. The exercise of reverence of the divine character and perfections is essentially connected with the love of God. It is awakened in the mind by the contemplation of the attributes and works of the Almighty. Humility is its kindred affection, and is produced by a just estimate of ourselves, of our condition and attainments. We shall, therefore, proceed to a consideration of the nature of humility, which may be placed among the duties we owe to God, since without it there can be no true reverence of his character.
Humility is a relative term, and implies a comparison of ourselves with objects above us. It proceeds from a just estimate of our own condition and character as dependent, weak, and sinful creatures. Does pride become the highest created being, who depends every moment on Him whose nature and perfections are infinitely removed from him? Far less does it become man, whose foundation is in the dust, whose path, though it should conduct him to wealth, and rank, and honour, speedily terminates in the grave. What is he in relation to God? A sinner, a rebel against the authority of heaven, against whom the sentence is
passed, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return:” so that he may say to corruption, “ Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and
When we consider the character, condition, and attainments of men, we see much ground for lowliness of mind, but none for pride. Are we not entirely dependent upon God and upon one another for the blessings and enjoyments of human life? What elevation of rank, what accumulation of property, can exempt men from a dependence, for much of their daily comfort, on their fellow-creatures? Or, are our attainments in knowledge and virtue such as should inspire us with self-gratulation? How deplorable has been the condition of mankind in all ages, when destitute of the light of revelation! How profound has been their ignorance concerning things the most necessary, and things the most awfully important! They have lived without God, worshipped the host of heaven, have deified their fellow-creatures, and even the most loathsome reptiles: and even where the light of truth shines, how reluctant are human beings to admit it, and to put off the works of darkness, and to walk as children of light! They are most sinful and rebellious in regard to God, they are often deceitful, slanderous, envious, and oppressive in regard to one another, and they are, in regard to themselves, foolish, enslaved, and miserable. The termination of this career of folly and guilt, in so far as this world is concerned, is
Surely, then, the man who takes a just view of his character and condition ;-of his character as a violator