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wretchedness and woe, to help and save us—to show us that God loved us, and thereby to make us love Him. Often, perhaps, have some of you read the history of Jesus of of Nazareth, and it is ever fresh and beautiful as you return to it. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not." He wandered a homeless outcast throughout the Holy Land, ever speaking words of wisdom, and doing good-ever pointing men, through all their sin and sorrow, to the loving Father. On every action of his life, on every part of his history, on every aspect of his character, we can see, brightly inscribed, "Emmanuel, God with us." And although they hated Him without a cause, although they condemned and crucified Him, yet on the very cross his sufferings and prayers were for his cruel and guilty murderers. He died, the just for the unjust; but death could not hold Him, for He was the Prince of life, and He burst the gates of the grave, leading captive captivity. As He taught truth and worked miracles, as He wept in tenderness and pity, and as He went about to bless with authority and love, we see in Him the perfection of human sympathy and the infinitude of Divine love, the tears of a man and the majesty of God, a revelation of what the Divine Father is, and a pattern of what we, his children, should seek to be. The revelation of our hope, of our nature and our destiny, of our sinfulness, and our salvation, is bound up in the person of Jesus Christ, and in his victory over sin, and death, and hell. It is thus the personal element in the Gospel that most fully shows its trancendent glory,—the fact that its principles, provisions, and promises are connected with an ever-living One, the guardian of humanity and the friend of sinners. To rest on his love, my brethren, to trust his righteousness, to look up into his radiant countenance, is to see the glory of the Gospel. Further,
2. The Gospel is glorious as a remedy. It is a remedy, perfect and sufficient for human care and crime, for sin, and wretchedness, and death. We have seen that something is wrong with humanity; for there is every where the consciousness of evil and guilt. The Gospel of God meets that which is wrong and sets it right. It is a perfect remedy, never failing wherever it is fairly tried. Jesus came as the physician of souls, to heal the morally diseased ; came to seek and to save the lost. It is an allsufficient remedy, for it meets successfully all stages of the disease of sin; it is adapted to all classes and all characters, and by Divine grace it works a complete renewal in the hearts of all who cordially receive it. In its universality, its adaptation, and its efficacy, we see its glory. It meets man’s guilt with a justifying righteousness; it meets man's hostility with the display of infinite love; it meets man's selfishness with the power of self-sacrificing mercy; it meets man's pollution by the presence of spotless purity. “This man receiveth sinners.” Oh! brethren, these words are graciously true now as when they were first spoken of Christ in scorn. The Gospel as a remedy never faileth, and, as man, has nothing to give for it, it is without money and without price. Whosoever will may receive its good news, and be gladdened by it. It met the case of Paul, an educated man, but a cruel persecutor; it met the case of the trembling gaoler at Philippi, who was about to destroy himself; it met the case of the thief dying upon the cross, after a life of robbery and wrong; it met the case of Mary Magdalene, out of whom our Lord cast seven devils; and it can meet any and every case. I would to God, my friends, you all tried it, and proved its efficacy for yourselves. Some of you doubtless have tried it, and found that, as a remedy, it is indeed the glorious Gospel, and the power of God. There is that man who was a hard, unfeeling miser, grinding the faces of the poor, and living only for himself and this world. The Gospel arrested him, softened his stubborn nature, and now, for the sake of Jesus who redeemed him, he abounds in labours of love. There is that man on whom the sun of prosperity shone, so that he succeeded in business and amassed a fortune ; but at one fell swoop his fortune passed away, affliction and death visited his home, and now he tells you that the loss of his worldly wealth was the greatest blessing of his life, for it led him to seek and find the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. There is that hard-working man, who, a few years ago, was a wretched drunkard, with a remorseful heart and a miserable home; in an hour of sobriety he came under the “ joyful sound” of the Gospel, the truth fixed itself upon his conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through Divine grace he became a new man, restored to industry and to comfort. There is that young female who wandered in the paths of vice, an outcast from her family and her home. The city missionary, perhaps, met her in the discharge of his sacred duty, and spoke to her of a loving Father, and a suffering Saviour. She trembled, she wept, she doubted; at length, by the Spirit's power she believed, and now, through the Gospel of God, she is restored to virtue and to society. Many such cases have we known. That Gospel is, indeed, a glorious remedy for all, good news to the thoughtless, the outcast, the prodigal, the penitent. It contains within itself the test of its truth, its adaptation, and its power. Accept it, then, I beseech you, and try it for yourselves; no one ever tried it in vain. And that you may be encouraged to do so, consider, --'
III. THE DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL AS HERE INFERRED.—“It is the glorious Gospel of the BLESSED God.” The word that is rendered blessed might perhaps be more familiarly rendered happy, for that is its meaning. The good news about Jesus, as the Saviour and the Friend of sinners, is from the blessed, the happy God. God is infinitely happy; nothing can disturb his serenity, or interfere with his enjoyment, or hinder his pleasure. But happiness is eminently diffusive. A cheerful, happy man will soon make his presence felt in any company; if we may so say, he cannot help it; his influence will be from the outgoing of his own nature. Thus the Gospel is to us the expression of God's blessedness, and his provision for the happiness of his sinful creatures. We learn, then, that its design in reference to men is to make them happy--truly, eternally happy. Oh! that they would believe this and turn to the Gospel of God, as to the fountain and the means of solid, durable enjoyment. Happiness is the pursuit of human life; in a thousand ways men seek after it, and only follow a phantom which will elude their grasp, and lead them to despair. Wealth has its charms and pleasure has its charms; power has its splendid allurements, and science has its manifold attractions; but true happiness is not in them. The laugh of revelry may be loud at this festive season of the year, and the shouts of godless mirth may be boisterous, but true happiness is not there. You have seen a little boy blowing soap bubbles in the air; as one of them leaves the bowl of the tobacco pipe and floats in the gentle air it seems very beautiful. It dazzles and dances in the sunbeam, with its variegated colours, a thing of joy. You see reflected in it the trees, and flowers, and buildings around you. The child is delighted with it; he puts out his hand to grasp it, as if it were a substantial toy, and when he looks there is,-nothing! as delusive is the happiness which multitudes vainly seek. Happiness, true, abiding happiness, can only be found in the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.”
Would you then be happy, my friends—happy in your souls, and in your homes, in your daily toil and duty-happy even when you have to pass through the scenes of sorrow, and when the shades of death fall upon you? Accept the good news of the Gospel. No intelligence can affect you, 'except as it is believed. The best earthly tidings will neither sadden nor elevate you, if you do not credit them. So every man must receive God's message, and believe the Gospel for himself, if he would feel its preciousness, and realize its power. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Yes, it is worthy of all acceptation ; then accept it that you may be happy. It will make you free, holy, and hopeful, removing the burden of the past, the gloom of the present, and the fear of the future. A man cannot be truly happy who is in any sense a slave, who is unholy, and who is without hope for the coming future. The Gospel will lead you to happiness, by giving you the liberty of God's children, by making you pure in heart, and by pointing you to glory, honour, and immortality. Thus only can you be happy. This is the season for good wishes. Hand grasps hand; eye meets eye with glistening joy; heart beats with heart in sympathetic affection; and many a time during the last two days have you heard and spoken the words, “A happy new year!” A happy new year! how much is involved in that! Most earnestly, in all good senses, do I wish this for you; but its chief happiness to you must depend upon yourselves—upon your religious faith and decision. Listen to the message of love-hear the invitation of mercy-believe the glorious Gospel of God, and whatever the year may bring of toil or trouble, it will be a happy year to you-the happiest that you have lived. “ Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound.” Then, if you are spared to live to the close of the year, or if you die before its months have passed away, in either case “ the end will be better than the beginning.” You need a friend, one who will be with you always by night and by day, on Sunday and on Saturday, in joy and in sorrow--one on whom you can ever depend one who will never forsake you-one to whom you can at all times go. The Gospel tells you of such a Friend--the Son of God and the Saviour of men, whose sympathy, and presence, and power may be always with you, and on your side. Come to Him and trust Him, and He will make you happy indeed, - happy for eter!
PREACHED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 7TH, 1858,
BY THE REV. FREDERICK STEPHENS,
IN ST. JAMES'S CHAPEL, NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE.
"Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching, what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, it testified before-hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." -1 Peter, i. 10-12.
There are few passages of Scripture which contain a more comprehensive view of the great themes of Christianity than this. The Apostle's eye seems to range over the whole system. He observes its most essential elements ; he marks its grandest features; he apprehends its loftiest ideas; he is familiar with its facts, its associations, its aims ; and combining all these, he presents them to us in this one magnificent and inspiring utterance. In the verse immediately preceding our text he has spoken of the “salvation of the soul which is the end and issue of faith in Christ; and this “salvation " being the leading topic of the Gospel and its express purpose and design, the Apostle proceeds to indicate some of the multitudinous relations and connexions in which it stands, and to suggest certain facts and considerations which illustrate its sublime importance. He speaks of it as a manifestion of " "grace which is brought unto" mankind--the free outgoing and expression of the Divine compassion and love, thus harmonising with those words of Paul, “the grace of God which bringeth salvation unto all men hath appeared.” And these two words“ grace,” and “salvation,” go together throughout the New Testament. Thoy accurately represent the Gospel az a whole ; one represents its origin and general character ; the other its design and issue ; " grace" the fountain,“ salvation " the stream which flows from it. Connected with these topics, and standing out prominently before the Apostle's mind are two others, namely, “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” The former represents the very foundation of Christianity-the facts upon which it is built; the latter represents the grand succession of events and issues which have flowed out, and which must continue to flow out from the former through all time and through all eternity. "The sufferings of Christ ” include the entire course of his humiliation, from his as, sumption of our humanity in one of its lowliest forms, through all his temptation and trial, his persecution and sorrow, until the closing hour of his agony, when, amidst the darkened heavens, and the reeling earth, and the opening graves, he cried out " It is finished,” and gave up the ghost.
“ The glory that should follow” includes the whole course of his subsequent triumph and exaltation, his Mediatorial splendour and sway. It includes his resurrection from the dead by the working of the mighty power of the Father ; his ascension into heaven amidst the jubilant shout of angels; his session at the right hand of God in a glorified human form, the object of wonder and adoration to the heavenly hosts ; his Headship over all things to the Church ; his Lord. ship over our race ; his appointment as the Judge of all the earth. glory that should follow” includes the spiritual results which should be attained amongst men through the mission and death of Christ-the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal fulness, and his perpetual presence and agency in the Church and in the world; the diffusion of the Gospel throughout
the nations, until light, and liberty, and peace, and salvation should visit every land—the redemption of humanity from the spiritual tyrannies which oppress it, the establishment of harmony and holiness everywhere, the restoration of men to Divine communion, and their immortal blessedness in the presence of God and of the Lamb. “The glory that should follow" includes the honour which redounds to God from the successful completion of Christ's undertaking, from the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness, from the obedience and worship of sanctified men on earth, from the lofty thanksgivings of the redeemed in heaven, and the ceaseless adoration which is rendered by the celestial hierarchies who delight to contemplate the sublime mysteries of redemption. That "the glory which should follow" includes all this is easily gathered from successive sayings of our Lord—“Ought rot Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory.' “ Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone ; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Now is the son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him."
These are the great, central themes of Christianity, and they are the grandest topics of human thought. Before them all others are transient in interest, and small in importance. The transactions of history, the sublimities of science, or the fascinating mysteries of philosophy are not to be compared with these. And one object of the Apostle Peter, in the passage under consideration as well as in the whole chapter, seems to have been to exhibit and illustrate the surpassing greatness of these Christian themes. And, adopting the course of thought which the Apostle indicates, this shall be the object of this morning's discourse. Our text suggests to us that the leading topics of Christianity have been the subject of prophetic intimation and enquiry; of Apostolic announcement ; of Divine attestation; and of Angelic study. To these several illustrations of their importance I shall direct your attention. The great Christian themes were the subject
I. Of Prophetic Intimation and Inquiry. The arrangements which were made by the wisdom and mercy of God, for the recovery and salvation of the human race were co-eval with the fall. All the circumstances and issues of that sad event were present to the mind of God prior to the creation of man, and in anticipation of it, the great plan of Redemption was devised ; so that when the dread catastrophe took place, in his infinite compassion and love, he at once brought the plan into operation, turned aside the bitterness of death from the first transgressors, awakened hope in their desponding hearts, and made his wondrous grace the foundation on which his moral government should rest, and the basis of his various dispensations and acts towards men in all succeeding ages. The wisdom of God did not, however, see fit to exhibit the redeeming plan fully, immediately after the fall. For a long course of ages it was but partially divulged. It remained in the unfathomed and unfathomable depths of the Divine Omniscience. Men lived under its operation, and received its benefits, but still its nature and working were not disclosed to them. It was a Divine secret, which humanity could not discover. Then the language of the Apostle Paul was strikingly descriptive of it-it was the mystery which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God;" "in other ages it was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit.”
The plan of God, in reference to the disclosure of his purposes of grace to man. kind, was in perfect harmony with the general order of his proceedings. God moves to the accomplishment of his designs gradually. He acts on system. No violent disruptions are seen suddenly breaking forth as if to meet an un. contemplated emergency. In every department of the Divine operations may be observed law, order, the regular succession of events. A long series of preparations often precedes the Divine act. And whether in the production of a blade of grass, a creation of the world, or the redemption of a race, progress is the law of the Divine proceedings. The revelation of the saving plan of God partook of this progressive character. Age after age God raised up a succession of holy men, to whom he communicated, by slow degrees, the pur