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until the judgment of the Great Day." A man who transgresses, since no coercion comes upon the freedom of his will, must necessarily be regarded as wilfut; he is under the curses of a violated law, nay, condemned altogether, for “the wruth of God abideth upon him.” God will “pour out indignation, and wrath, and tribulation, and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil; upon the Jew first, and also upon the Gentiles," for there is no respect of persons with God. I am speaking to unconverted sinners to-night; to some of refined and delicate sensibility, shocked at the ribaldry of the vulgar, and at the licentiousness of the profane. I tell you there is no respect of persons with God. If you flee not to a high and mighty Redeemer, if you repose not in present reliance upon Christ, for you there remaineth nothing but a death whose bitterest ingredient is that it can never die, but that it has eternity about it, eternity beyond it, and eternity within it, and the curse of God upon it, fretting it and following it for ever.
Thank God, there is a promise of a perfect and delightful deliverance from this thraldom under which man has been groaning. Christ has come down on purpose to deliver and to ransom him, and he goeth forth conquering and to conquer. In the counsels of the eternal Godhead, in foresight of the temptation of Satan and of the thraldom and depravity of man, Christ was induced to work out a counteracting scheme, by which, in the beautiful language of ancient prophecy, the prey of the mighty should be taken away and the lawful captive delivered. The first intimation of this scheme was given just when the first shadow of sin swept over the world. “ The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” From that time there was a continued series of operations, in the good providence of God perpetuated for thousands of years, all tending to the fulfilment of this original promise, and the achievement of this original plan. At last, in the fulness of time—the time by prophet seers foretold, and by believing saints expected-in the fulness of time, the Son of God was incarnated in the nature that had sinned, and then it was that the battle in earnest began.
II. Look, then, at the Divine Saviour, "stronger than the strong, man arined,” invested with far higher qualifications, and wielding far mighter power. And how is this? He is the babe in Bethlehem, the rejected wanderer, the arraigned rebel, the scourged and spit upon, the Nazarene, the crucified. But these are only voluntary submissions, and in the deepest humiliation there slumbers Omnipotence within. * All power is given unto Me both in heaven and in earth," and this power is all enlisted upon the side of salvation and of mercy. It is not the power of the lightning, that blasts while it brightens; it is not the power of the whirlwind, whose track is only known by the carnage and desolation that it leaves behind it; it is the power of the water rill, that drops and drops, and in its dropping melts the most stern and difficult of nature's forces; it is the power of the light-it flows in energetic silence, you cannot hear it as it flows, and yet it permeates and illumines all. He is strong, but he is strong to deliver; he is mighty, but, in his own powerful language, he is "mighty to save.” It often happens-it used to do more fre. quently than it does now in the history of the strifes of nations, and of the harsh scenes of war, that the interest of spectators was drawn aside from hostile ranks to two courageous champions, who separated themselves from opposing armies for single combat with each other, and the fate of armies appeared to the spectators as nothing compared with who should be the victor in this individual strife. Oh! conceive if it were possible a single combat between the rival princes of light and darkness, the grand, the transcendent, the immeasurable issue of which shall be the ruin or redemption of the human soul! I cannot limn it; I cannot bring it fairly before you ; the subject is too mighty : and yet a thought or two may not inaptly illustrate the battle that now
See, then, the lists are spread ; the champions are there. Eager angels crowd around, for they have an interest in the strife, and they are anxious to tunc their harps to the anthems of regeneration again. Exulting demons are
there, flushed with high hopes they dare not name, that vaunt of a ruined uni. verse and of a peopled hell. This is no gentle passage at arms ; this is no gorgeous tournament, or mimic fight, or holiday review; the destinies of a world of souls are trembling in the balance now-depend for weal or woe upon the issue of this mortal strife.
The first grapple seems to have been in the temptation in the wilderness ; for at the commencement of our Saviour's public ministry the enemy endeavoured to teinpt the second Adam after the same fashion as he had tempted the first; and when wearied with labour, and exhausted with endurance and suffering from the pangs of hunger and of thirst, he brought before him a similar order of temptation to that which had been successful in the garden of Eden. Ah! but there was a mightier Adam in human flesh this time with whom he had to deal. Grasping the sword of the Spirit, with its trenchant blade, he cut asunder the flimsy sophistries of the tempter's weaving, and the discomfited demon went baffled away; and angels came and ministered unto Jesus-fanned with their ambrosial wings his burning brow, and poured their offices of kindness upon his fatigued and sorrowing soul.
Defeated, but not conquered, the enemy returned to the charge; and the next grapple was in the performance of miracles. It is customary in ordinary warfare, you know, whenever a fortress is taken, for the conqueror to garrison it with some of his own soldiers, and leave some trusty captain in charge. The enemy appears to have acted upon this plan, and in token of his usurped authority over the human race, he caused certain of his servants to enter into the bodies of men. When Christ came into the world they brought unto him those that were grievously vexed with devils. He sat down before some of these Sebastopols of the evil one, and as speaking by that bigh exorcism, he at once dislodged the intruders; and, as some in moody silence, and others with piteous cries, they rushed out from the places they had agonized, we can trace in their complaining the confession of their defeatm"What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God. Art thou come to torment us before the time?"
The next was the death grapple. And was the champion smitten? Did he bend beneath that felon's stroke ? Was there victory at last for the powers of hell? Imagine, if you can, how there would be joy in the breast of the Evil One when the Saviour expired ; how he would exult at that victory which had more than recompensed the struggle of four thousand years. Hours roll on ; he makes no sign; day and night succeed each other ; there is no break upon the slumber--their victory appears complete and final. Shall no one undeceive them? No; let them enjoy their triumph as they may. It were cruel to disturb a dream like that, which will have so terrible an awaking. But we, brethren, with the light of 1800 years streaming down upon that gory field, understand the matter better. He died, of course, for only thus could death be abolished; he was counted with transgressors, of course, for thus only could sin be forgiven; he was made a curse for us, of course, because thus only could he turn the curse into a blessing. Oh! to faith's enlightened sight there is a surpassing glory upon that cross. He was never so kingly as when girt about with that crown of thorns; there was never so much royalty upon that regal brow as when he said, “ It is finished,” and he died.
There only remains one more grapple, and that was in the rising from the dead and ascension into heaven. It is considered the principal glory of a conqueror, you know, not merely that he repels the aggressive attacks of his enenıy, but when he carries the war into that enemy's camp and makes him own himself vanquished in the metropolis of his own empire. This Christ did by concealing himself for a while within the chambers of the grave. We cannot tell you much about the battle, for it was a night attack, it took place in darkness; but we can tell the issue, because on the morning of the third day the sepulchre was empty, and the Redeemer had gone forth into Galilee. This was only like the garnering up of the fruits of the conflict. The cross had settled it. It was finished when he said it was-upon the cross; but this was a sudden surprise in the camp, when the guards were drawn off, and the soldiers carousing in the flush of fancied victory. By death he had abolished death-him that had the power of death. By his resurrection he spoiled principalities and powers; and then he went up that he might "make a show of them openly." You can almost follow him as he goes, and as the challenge is given as he rises and nears the gates of the celestial city-"Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozra ? This—that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength." And then comes the answer, "I that speak in righteousness and mighty to save." "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”
"And through the portals wide outspread
The vast procession pours." And on he marches through the shining ranks of the ransomed, until he gets to the throne and points to the captives of his bow and spear and claims his recompense. And “there is silence in heaven;" and there is given unto him “a name that is above every name ; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." It is finished. Now he rests from his labours, and now he sheaths his sword, and now he wears his crown.
III. Just a word or two upon the victory that he gained. It was complete, it was benevolent, it was unchanging.
The attack which the Saviour made upon the enemy was such as to tear away the very sources and energies of his power. Mark how each fresh oset, whether from earth or hell, has only enhanced his glory and brightened the conqueror's crown. He vanquished in his own person by dying, and in the person of his followers he has continued to manifest that indestructible energy which was always manifest just when it seemed to be overthrown. Why at the commencement of Christianity would not any one have thought that a breath would annihilate it and exterminate the name of its founder for ever? And there they were-Cæsar on the throne, Herod on the bench, Pilate in the judgment hall, Caiaphas in the temple, priests and soldiers, Jews and Romans, all united together to crush the Galilean, and the Galilean overcame. And so it has been in all ages until now. Persecution has lifted up her head against the truth ; war-wolves have lapped up the blood of God's saints, and for a time silenced the witness of confessors, and the testimony of the faithful has gone upwards amid the crackling of faggots, and the ascending flame has been the chariot of fire in which rising Elijahs have mounted to heaven. merely is the completeness of this triumph manifested in the aggregate, but in the individual. Not only is every man brought into a salvable state, but every part of every man is redeemed. The poor body is not forgotten: it is taught to cast off the grave clothes and anticipate an everlasting residence in heaven, The
mind crouches no longer : it emancipates itself from its vassallage and stands erect in the liberty wherewith Christ made it free. And the whole man who was a while ago an alien, degraded and desolate, a fitting companion of the beasts in his lair
, a worthy follower in the serpent's trail, is now “clothed and in his right mind,” careering along in the enterprises of godliness, a fellow citizen with saints and of the household of God.
And then the triumphs of the Saviour are benevolent too.
Tell me not of human glory, it is a prostituted word. Tell me not of Agincourt, and Cressy, and Waterloo, and of the high places of Moloch worship, where men have been alike both priests and victims. One verse of the poet aptly describes them all :
"Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in beauty's circle proudly gay.
The morning marshalling in arms; the day
Battle's maguificently stern array,
Rider and horse, friend and foe, in one rude burial blent." But what is it to be seen in the time of the Lord's victory? Plains covered with traces of recent carnage, and of recent havoc. What is there to be heard in the time of the Lord's victory ? Orphans wailing the dead; widows bemoaning those that have departed ? No, but a voice breathing down a comfortable word to men--" They shall neither hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” The procession of this conqueror consists of saved souls, and eternity shall consecrate the scene.
And then the triumphs of the Saviour are not only complete and benevolent, but unchanging. The things that are now, are very transitory. The sand of the desert is not more unstable ; the chaff of the summer threshing floor is not more helpless on the wind; but the Saviour's triumphs brighten with the lapse of time; their lustre time can tarnish not, nor death itself destroy. Oh! think of the multitude that have been already saved! think of the multitude who went up in the early ages of the Church with its enrichments of blessings; think of those who had been taken off to heaven before they ever had time to sin after the similitude of Adam's transgressions, souls ransomed by the blood of atonement taken from birth under the wing of the quivering cherub right away into the realms of blessedness and rest; think of those from the time of the Saviour's incarnation until now who have passed through death triumphant home; think of the multitudes now upon the earth that are working out their salvation with fear and trembling; think of the still greater multitudes that shall yet press into the Church in the times of its millennial glory, when the gates of it shall not be shut day nor night, because there shall be no chance of shutting them, the people crowd in so fast. Oh! what a jubilee in heaven ! Oh! what a gathering of emancipated spirits! Limit the extent of the atonement! Who dares do it? Talk about Christ dying for a few scattered families of the sons of men merely! Why, it is to charge my Saviour with cowardice, and bring a slur upon his conduct in the field. If there be one solitary soul the wide universe through for whom Christ did not die, over that soul death has triumphed—and the conquest of my Saviour is imperfect and incomplete. Oh! be seems to stand in his triumphal chariot, in the very centre of the universe, with exulting heaven before and with tormented hell behind; and there is not an unconquered rebel there, but the glad hallelujahs of the one, and the solemn acquiescences of the other, peal out the universe's anthem, “He is Lord of all.”
And now which side are you ? Pardon the abruptness of the question, but answer it to your consciences and to your God notwithstanding. Which side are you? There is no neutrality in this war, or if there be one here that intends to preserve a dastardly neutrality, he will get the hottest of the battle, and be exposed to the cross-fire of both sides. Which side are you? Do you belong to the Lord, or to the Lord's enemies ? Ask yourselves that question in the sight of God. I never knew, until I looked upon it in this aspect, the force and power of a certain question which the Saviour presented in the days of his flesh. I have admired the capacities of the human soul, that it has a memory that can recall the past, imagination that can penetrate the future ; that it has a will that no man can tame, that it has immortality as its heritage. But I see all heaven in earnest there, and all hell in earnest yonder, and the prize of the conflict is one poor human soul; and then I see, as I never saw before, what an intensity of empbasis there is in the awful inquiry, "What shall it profit aman if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?” Brethren, how shall it be with you ? “ Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God;" and the doom of the enemies of God is brought before us in the Bible; “Bring hither those mine enemies that would not I should reign over them, and slay them before me.” On which side are you? There is one passage that I should just like to bring before you which has always appeared to me to be one of the most fearful in the whole compass of the book of God; “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man"— mark it, it does not say when he is driven out, it does not say when he is dispossessed by superior powers, but the awful idea, almost too awful to be entertained, is that there are some people in this world of ours of whom Satan is so sure, that he can leave them for a while, perfectly certain that they will sweep and garnish his house in his absence, and prepare it for seven other spirits more inveterate and cruel :"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return unto my house." Oh! mockery of that quiet empire! "To my house.” The tenancy has not changed; he knows full well there is too much love of the master's service in the heart of the man for that. “I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there ; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Oh! horrible ! horrible! Not merely to have Satan as a guest, but to sweep and garnish the house that he may come in, and that he may bring with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself. And are you doing that? Is there one in the presence of God to-night to whom this awful passage will apply? Oh! I thank God that I can preach to you a present salvation in the name of Jesus. Be delivered from that bondage of yours, for Christ has come down on purpose that he may deliver, and that be may rescue, and he goeth forth conquering and to conquer. “Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” There is salvation for you from the power of death, and from the thraldom and ascendancy of besetting sin, and from the grasp of the destroyer. There is salvation for you in Christ Jesus the Lord. Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost of human guilt, to the uttermost of human life, to the uttermost of human time. May God help you, for Christ's sake.