14. ON THE GIFT OF A
Before the earth was formed, or man created upon it, the Almighty foreknew
that his moral creatures would apostatize from him. The angels had already
sinned, and were cast into the place prepared for them. They were doomed, in
righteous judgment, to be the eternal monuments of divine indignation.
A just, yet infinitely gracious sovereign, did not determine to leave man
under the same hopeless condemnation. The revelation is truly wonderful.
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, "God over all, blessed for evermore,"
was foreordained in the councils of heaven to be a sacrifice—a
propitiation—an atonement for the sins of apostate man. As "all things were
made by him," so all things were made "for him." Earth was to be the theater
on which should be displayed the mercy and justice of Jehovah.
The glorious plan was gradually unfolded through succeeding ages. The
bleeding lamb was instituted as the appointed emblem of the Savior of the
world. When offered up in faith, in humble reliance on the divine mercy, and
with a contrite heart, the believing suppliant, thus approaching the
mercy-seat through the bleeding victim, found pardon and peace.
In this way, the ancient believers obtained rest unto their souls. They
trusted in God, and were not confounded.
The prophets depicted in glowing colors the glories of Emanuel, while they
blended the deepened shades of his amazing humiliation with the resplendent
luster of his divine nature. When the "fullness of time" was come, how grand
to the eye of saints and angels was the entrance of the Messiah into our
The angel Gabriel was commissioned to convey the glad tidings to Zacharias,
that he should be the father of him whom Isaiah and Malachi had predicted as
"the voice," "the messenger," who should prepare the way of the Lord. He was
then sent with joyful news to the humble virgin at Nazareth; announcing to
her that she should be the highly favored mother of the Messiah, of whose
kingdom there should be no end. The tender fears of Joseph were next
dispelled by a dream, in which he was assured that he who should be born of
Mary, his espoused wife, was no less than the Son of God, who should save
his people from their sins.
The emperor Augustus was made the instrument, though unconsciously, of
bringing the virgin mother to Bethlehem; thus fulfilling the prophetic
declaration of Micah, and establishing the truth of the descent of Jesus in
the line of David, by a public enrollment.
When born in the city of David, the infant Savior was announced by the angel
of the Lord to the humble shepherds of Judea, who were keeping watch over
their flocks by night; while the angelic host sang, in exulting strains,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men." In
the temple, during the ceremony of Mary's purification, and the dedication
of her Son to the Lord, Simeon took the blessed child in his arms, and
declared him to be "a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his
people Israel;" while Anna, the prophetess, spoke of him to all those who
looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
When returned to Bethlehem, the divinely directed Magi of the east came to
pay their homage to the infant King, presenting to him gifts—gold,
frankincense, and myrrh.
Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled, while saints and angels were
rejoicing, at the birth of the long-expected deliverer.
When John entered upon his prophetic office, he bore witness to the dignity
of the Messiah; and pointed to Jesus, as the Lamb of God, who takes away the
sin of the world.
The Father himself testified of his Son; for Jesus, when he was baptized,
went up straightway out of the water: and lo! the heavens were opened unto
him, and the Spirit of God, descending like a dove, lighted upon him; and
lo! a voice from heaven said, "this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
The blessed Jesus, when he made himself public to the world, astonished the
thronging crowds by his stupendous, yet beneficent miracles; by his heavenly
wisdom; by his holy example; by his unwearied labors to do good.
The worldly, the proud, and the self-righteous, could not endure the light
of his doctrine, and the keenness of his reproof. Hence they conspired
against him, however discordant were their peculiar views and practices.
Herod and the high priest—Pilate and the Scribes—Sadducees and
Pharisees—heathens, and the professed worshipers of Jehovah,—all allowed
their national antipathies and religious differences to merge into one
common cause against the Lord and against his anointed. Herod, from
jealousy; the chief priests and Scribes, from envy; Pilate, from slavish
fear; and the common people, from popular feeling excited by their rulers,
conspired the death of Jesus, whose meekness and innocence, contrasted with
the rage of his bloody enemies, shone like the arch of heaven on the angry
He died praying for his murderers. He died a sacrifice for their sins. He
died, a sacrifice for the sins of a lost world. Amazing love! Oh my soul,
look to this precious, bleeding Savior; trust in him for your whole
salvation; rejoice in his grace, and adore that wisdom that could overrule
so much wickedness, to produce so much good!
How awful the period! The sun was darkened; the rocks split apart; the veil
of the temple was torn in two; the graves were opened; and many bodies of
the saints who had died, arose, and appeared in the holy city after his
On the third day, the conquering Savior rose triumphant from the dead;
appeared to his weeping followers; ascended into heaven in their sight; and
soon after his session at the right hand of power, poured out upon his
infant church that great promise of the Father—the Holy Spirit.
How wonderful was the effect of this heavenly gift! The apostles, once
illiterate, now spoke with new tongues; their former fears were lost in an
undaunted courage; timidity gave place to zeal. In the emphatic language of
the sacred historian, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke
the word of God with boldness." They preached Christ in the face of danger
and of death. Thousands, through their labors, were turned from Satan unto
God. Churches were planted in all the known countries of the world; and at
length they sealed their truth with their blood, counting it all joy to
suffer for the sake of their beloved Lord.
Great is the mystery of godliness—God manifest in the flesh.
That the Almighty should become the Savior of his rebellious creatures, by
taking upon him their nature: that he, who rules over all worlds, should
stoop, not to be a mighty monarch, but a humble carpenter: that he, who
cared for and provided the foxes and the birds with holes and nests, should
voluntarily leave himself destitute of a place where to lay his head: that
he, who is the great proprietor of all things, should condescend to be
supported by pious females, who ministered to him of their substance: that
the Fountain of felicity should become a man of sorrows and acquainted with
grief: that the Lord of glory should be despised and rejected of men: that
the Judge of the living and the dead should stand, like a criminal, at an
earthly tribunal, charged with crimes which he never committed, and
condemned for transgressions of which he was declared innocent: that the
Majesty of heaven should be spit upon, scourged, and crucified: that the
Lord of life should pour out his soul unto death: this, this is the wonder
of wonders—the unsearchable riches of Christ, "Not to be thought of; but
with tides of joy;
Not to be mentioned, but with shouts of praise." Well may Christ be styled
by the enraptured prophet, "Wonderful!"
Men ate naturally fond of great things, and yet they feel an aversion to the
greatest thing in the world—the Redemption of the Soul. This would be
inexplicable, had we not the volume of inspiration to unfold to us the
This aversion to so glorious a work arises from– the state of the human
heart, and the nature of redemption. The heart is in love with sin; yes, is
itself desperately wicked. Sin is its food; its element; its very
Salvation by Christ is a deliverance from sin; a renovation of the heart to
holiness; a surrender of the soul to God. Hence arises the enmity. Darkness
is opposed to light; and Satan reigning in the sinner, is opposed to Christ
the Savior claiming his usurped possession.
This enmity is universal, and proves the universality of the fall. Wherever
redemption by Christ is faithfully preached, and honestly exhibited in the
life, there it is powerfully resisted both by the worldly laity and
mercenary priests. As the bitterest enemies of our blessed Lord were those
who wore the priestly vestments, so multitudes of the faithful have, in all
ages, been devoured by wolves in sheep's clothing. Lord! clothe your
ministers with righteousness, that your people may sing with joyfulness.
None can receive the Gospel in the love and power of it, but those who are
enabled by sovereign grace so to do. All others lie under the just
condemnation of willfully rejecting it; and shall be punished for such
rejection. Men may cavil at such a statement as this, and call it
inconsistent; but God will, before long, vindicate his own cause. If it be
true, that "by grace we are saved," it is equally true, that "this is the
condemnation, that light as come into the world; and that men love darkness
rather than light, because their deeds are evil."
This great redemption is by price. And Oh! what a price! the precious blood
of Jesus, the Lamb of God. This blood cleanses from all sin; satisfies
offended Justice; clears away the obstacles in the sinner's path to glory,
and procures pardon and peace, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. "He made
peace for us, by the blood of his cross." "We have redemption through his
blood, even the forgiveness of sins"
This redemption is by power. God, the Holy Spirit, descends into the
sinner's heart, applies the healing balm to the previously smitten
conscience, and, by his almighty influence, produces the new birth, the new
creation. He leads the trembling sinner to the bleeding sacrifice; points to
the cross; gives saving faith; causes joy to spring up in the heart; and
thus enables the soul, delivered from the penalty and pollution of sin, "to
sing in the ways of the Lord," and to glorify the rock of his salvation.
None can love this work of grace but the subjects of grace. This sadly
wounds the pride of man; but so it is. We must forever stand indebted to
unmerited love for this great salvation. All boasting is here excluded. He
that glories, must glory in the Lord. The language of the redeemed is: "in
the Lord, I have righteousness and strength."
Oh! that I may now put the crown upon the head of Jesus. May all my
affections center in him. To him may I devote every power, and be altogether
consecrated to his praise.
Oh! my soul, forever bless your beloved Lord, for thus becoming your
Redeemer. He is always near his people to support and comfort them. He
dwells in their hearts by faith. He abides in them by his Spirit, to
enlighten their minds, to purify their hearts, to regulate their wills, to
direct their walk, to lead them in the paths of righteousness, for his
Thus they are safe and happy under the Shepherd's care.
Their union with their divine Lord is sweet and constant. They "lean upon
their beloved," and are supported through the wilderness. They are made
strong by his strength; wise by his wisdom; righteous in his righteousness;
holy by his grace. They daily receive out of his fullness, who of God is
made unto them, "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."
Jesus is the head over all things to his church. All power is given unto him
in heaven and in earth. As he rules over all, so he overrules all for the
good of his people. Hence the apostle could confidently declare, "all things
shall work together for good, to those who love God, to them who are the
called according to his purpose." All this is cheering to the humble
followers of the Lamb. Are they in trouble? Jesus appoints it for their
good. Are they joyful? The joy of the Lord is their strength. Well may the
believer triumphantly exclaim: "Who shall separate us from the love of
Christ?" "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Jesus is the universal Lord: to him every knee shall bow, of things in
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. Jesus will be the
Almighty Judge; all nations shall be assembled before his throne; he will
render unto every man acceding to his works.
When, through faith, the sinner is admitted into the family of God, and
changes both his state and nature, through the blood and spirit of Jesus,
then his desire is to maintain the peace which he has happily obtained
through believing. This he learns to do from the prophet Isaiah: "you will
keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in
you." A wandering, backsliding, double heart, can never enjoy peace. To
possess the blessing of peace, the mind must be stayed upon God. This is the
same as "abiding in Christ:" being "steadfast in the faith," "rooted and
grounded in love."
It implies stability, constancy, perseverance. The mind must be stayed upon
the covenant of grace as an unchangeable, everlasting covenant; ordered in
all things and sure. In this covenant, every thing is treasured up which can
furnish the believer with grace here, and glory hereafter. Staying his mind,
therefore, upon this covenant of life and peace, he finds rest unto his
The mind must bow with humble reverence to the authority of God. Pride and
rebellion destroy peace. Humility and submission promote it. The believer
must wait the Lord's time for deliverance: "Oh! tarry you the Lord's
leisure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart," is the affectionate
advice of David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel. This childlike reliance on
the divine goodness tranquilizes the mind in seasons of darkness,
perplexity, trial, and temptation. That soul is the most happy, which can
the most cheerfully acquiesce in the appointments of infinite wisdom.
Murmuring and repining grieve the Holy Spirit. Resignation and contentment
produce serenity and sweetness of mind.
While cultivating these important duties, which are brought into daily
exercise by the very nature of Christian experience, the mind is kept in
peace, holiness is promoted, and God, the author of all good, is equally
glorified. Who, then, dare say, that the doctrine of grace, abounding to the
chief of sinners, through a crucified Redeemer; is a doctrine which tends to
licentiousness? As a sick stomach may corrupt the most wholesome food, so a
wicked heart can turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, and, under a
most dreadful delusion of Satan, sin that grace may abound. But let not this
evil be charged upon the holy Gospel of Jesus, any more than the disordered
frame upon the wholesome food. The natural and spiritual consequences in
both cases are similar. The one, arising from a bad stomach—the other, from
a bad heart.
"Blessed Jesus! bestow upon me, your unworthy servant, that realizing faith,
that tranquilizing hope, that operative love, which will enable me to know
and serve you more and more, until my soul shall be made fit for that happy
world, where all sin and sorrow shall flee away, and where perpetual peace
and purity shall gladden the redeemed forever and ever!"
What soul can reach the lofty height,
From where the Savior came to die?
What soul can trace the Lord of might
In his profound humility?
Angels, who stand before the throne,
Here feel the weakness of their powers;
In wonder, they, adoring, own
The Lord of life, both theirs and ours.
Oh for a heart of faith and love,
To taste the Savior's richest grace,
To emulate the choirs above,
Who ever see his blissful face.
Blest Spirit! beautify my soul
With humble joy and holy fear;
Your power can make the wounded whole
And bring each Gospel blessing near.
Descend and dwell within my heart;
The Savior's image let me bear;
Then bid me hence with joy depart,
And angels' bliss forever share.