Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

suspense till they could capitulate with him for their own escape from prison. They, therefore, gave him the simplest direction possible: “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Have faith in him; receive him, and rest upon him, and thou shalt be saved.

They gave him the highest possible encouragement to comply with their direction : “ Thou shalt be saved, and thy house." The thing offered is the very thing he is seeking. Believe, and thou shalt be saved. He might be saved, but he must believe. Belief and salvation are inseparable. He was not told, that if he would abide in faith to the end, he should be saved, for this would have left him still trembling, lest he might after all be finally lost. He was told, that real belief rendered his salvation sure. He was farther encouraged by the promise that his family should be saved with him. Not that his faith would save them; they must believe for themselves, or they could not be saved. But this promise implied that his family would obtain some special advantages in order to their salvation. The promise was a covenant that they should be saved. The covenanted mercies are indeed many to the children of pious parents; and were it not for the criminal

neglect of parents to instruct their children in the fear of God, we should soon see a brighter day dawn upon the Church and the world.

SECTION II. The convictions and feelings of the sinner immediately before believing. It is not to be supposed that the feelings and convictions of awakened sinners are the same in every case.

On the contrary, there is a great diversity. The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened. There are diversities of gifts, and diversities of operations. But as the Holy Spirit is the same in all cases, and as sin is sin, whenever and by whomsoever committed, there must be something common to all cases of genuine conviction. A general description, which is applicable to every variety of cases, may now be given. A description of the jailer's case is in point.

First. This convinced sinner is an ungodly man. It is only the ungodly that are to be saved by fleeing to and believing in Christ. “ To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

None but the ungodly can have need of a Saviour; and those who do not see themselves to be such, will

never be persuaded to look to him for salvation.

Second. The convinced jailer saw himself obnoxious to the righteous judgment of God against sinners. He saw that death-the curse and penalty of the law-was justly pronounced against him. When the law proclaims, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" the sinner hears in that sentence his own doom, because he sees in it his own name. It is the doom of sin; and of sin he knows he is guilty. He is selfcondemned.

Third. He utters not one murmur; his mouth is stopped. He knows that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. He knows that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” He has sinned, and it cannot be concealed; he is guilty, and there is no excuse. He is "shut up under sin." He is a criminal, who has such a view of his crimes, that he dares not attempt either to conceal or extenuate them; but subscribes to the truth of every thing charged upon him by the divine law and by his own conscience. He is an enemy to God, brought into such a strait that he can

neither fight nor flee. If he looks to himself, he sees an enemy in hopeless rebellion against heaven. If he looks to his own righteousness, it is as filthy rags. His former defences are now as a deceitful bow; and all the things upon which he once leaned are now as a broken reed. In short, in himself, he is poor, miserable, blind, helpless, and undone.

SECTION III. Character and work of Christ. A full account of the character and offices of Christ cannot here be given. It will be sufficient to glance at a few things which suit our present purpose.

I. The Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we are commanded to believe, is “Immanuel," that is, 6 God with us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And in the fulness of time, this Word “was made flesh and dwelt among us ;" even among men upon earth, who “ beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Now this discovery of Christ is extremely encouraging to a convinced sinner. It affords him no relief to tell him to believe in God; for he sees the holiness, justice, truth, and wisdom of God, all arrayed against him. Holiness

cannot countenance sin. The truth of God has become surety for the sinner's destruction ; and justice declares this reasonable. Hence the sinner's terror. He dare not flee to God. Like Adam, he would rather attempt to hide himself from the divine presence. Tell the sinner to believe in such a Being, and he would probably reply, Can I believe in him, whose attributes all conspire, and justly, too, to seal my destruction ? He has already told me what I am to expect at his hand. “ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” “God is a consuming fire," and I am as stubble before him. On the other hand, tell such a sinner to go to a man, a mere man, for help, and he instantly feels that the help of man is vain. “ What," he would

say,

are not all men involved in the same calamity with me? Shall I flee to a man like myself, to sustain for me the weight of deserved wrath, and to shield me from the dreadful blow of divine justice ?" It is preposterous. Thus neither God nor man alone is suited to give the desired relief to a guilty, awakened sinner. But the union of God and man in Christ Jesus our Lord is exactly suited to give the sinner the desired relief. An awakened sinner will see three things in the person of Jesus Christ.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »