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written in the book of the law to do them.” Were there only a single act of transgression, for that one act the sinner must endure the penalty. But who is not conscious of having committed sins innumerable ; sins which have defiled every day and every hour of his waking existence. What say the scriptures? “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Rom. iii. 23. “Every mouth” is to “be stopped, and all the world” to “become guilty before God,” Rom. iii. 19. The consequence is death, everlasting death. “The wages of sin is death.” “ How then,” the sinner may ask, can this guilt of mine be cancelled ? What shall I do? Will repentance save me, or determined obedience, or costly gifts, or penance, or the diligent performance of the ritual services of religion ?" Not any one of them; not all combined, even if it were in the power of man to render them. Bankrupt and helpless, the sinner must be lost for ever, unless the hand of infinite power and love be stretched forth to save him. But God has interposed. The Son of God became incarnate that he might endure the curse for
That was the great purpose for which he “ became flesh.” “ Forasmuch then,” says the apostle Paul in the second chapter of his epistle to the Hebrews, “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” So, also, writing to the Colossians, he says, " And
that were sometime alienated and enemies in
your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death.” It was “through the eternal Spirit that he offered himself without spot to God," and therefore his blood“ purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” Heb. ix. 14. A merely human sacrifice would have been unavailing; but the blood of Christ, who, whilst human, is also divine, “ cleanseth from all sin.” Such is God's method of mercy
! Because that sacrifice has been offered, the guiltiest sinner that ever polluted God's earth can be pardoned, and as soon as he believes in Christ, his guilt is all cleansed away. Yet the pardon of sin would, of itself, be a very imperfect salvation. The heart is depraved ; and if it is ever to enjoy true peace, and be restored to the favour of God, and made meet for heaven, it must be completely changed. 6 Ye must be born again.” Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John iii. 3. Now it was the design of Christ's death not only to secure for us pardon, but also the gift of the Spirit. He became a curse for us, “ that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” And now he is exalted, that, pleading the merits of his sacrifice, and sending forth his spirit, he may "give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins," Acts v. 31.
And beyond all present manifestations of divine goodness and love, the soul that commits itself into the hands of Christ, is to be blessed for evermore in heaven! This is indeed salvation! It was to accomplish such a salvation that the Saviour became incarnate at Bethlehem, and then died the accursed death of the cross !
V. THE BIRTH OF JESUS WAS INTENDED TO PROMOTE MOST LARGELY THE GLORY OF GOD. It was part of the angelic song, "Glory to God in the highest," meaning, “Let the angels and all who are in heaven behold in this event the brightest manifestation of the divine perfections, and therefore the occasion of the loftiest praise.” God seeks in redemption not only the salvation of man, but pre-eminently his own glory; and it is the delight of all holy minds to recognise that excellence, and to “give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. By none of his works is he so greatly glorified as by redemption. The scheme itself, at once indicating the riches of grace, and affording most ample encouragement to the sinner seeking salvation ;- displaya ing unparalleled love, and proclaiming the truth, the rectitude, and the spotless purity of the mind in which it originated, is pre-eminently calculated in itself to promote the glory of God. But when all its purposes are accomplished; when the evils by which our race have been afflicted are all overcome ; when peace is restored to this long divided and distracted earth ; and when, beyond what is present and earthly, there is gathered before the throne in heaven a multitude which no man can number, every one rescued for ever from pollution and death, and reflecting the perfect image of God,-how yet more abundantly then will God be glorified ! Then, indeed, will there be glory to God in the highest! There will then be fulfilled that splendid vision which the rapt apostle saw in Patmos: “And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and
power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
Ought we not to adore the condescending grace of him “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men : and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross !" Phil. ii. 6-8. Let the “breadth, and length, and depth, and height, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," be the theme of daily meditation; and let the remembrance of that love constrain us to live to him who died for us and rose again !
Here, indeed, are “ tidings of great joy.” God's promises have been fulfilled ; the Saviour has come, and men can be saved! Reader, you would perhaps deem those good tidings which announced that
had become the heir of vast estates, and boundless wealth. Men have been so elated by the news of such good fortune, that reason has been dethroned, and even life itself destroyed. Christ became incarnate and died, that he might confer on you the true riches-riches which will endure for ever! Were some terrible disease racking you with excruciating anguish, and rapidly hurrying you to the grave, how joyful would be the intimation that there stood by your bed-side a physician who could restore you to perfect health ! There has come from heaven a great and good Physician, and the aim of his benevolent mission is to heal the maladies of the soul, and he is ready to heal you! Were you in some felon's cell, awaiting the infliction of the sentence of death, which had been pronounced upon you, how you would leap in your chains if you were told that you were pardoned, and that you might go forth to light and liberty! Christ has come to “preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison-doors to them that are bound.” He has come to deliver
from the sentence of everlasting condemnation and death! If have not received these tidings, receive them now. freely welcome to all the blessings of Christ's salvation, and you are welcome now ! The promise stands recorded for you. “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." And to you there is addressed the urgent appeal, “ Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.”
These tidings are “for all people.” They are tidings of mercy for the world! Like the shepherds, we should spread abroad the welcome news, till there remains not a creature on the face of all the earth who has not been cheered by the light of the Star of Bethlehem; for the light of that Star is the only light which can bring back a wandering world to God.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND IF. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH. London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close
Does any one exclaim on opening the envelope of this little tract, “ What can be the reason why those persons whom I have never seen, and may never meet in this world, have been at the trouble and expense of enclosing me, month after month, such little gifts ?" Let me hasten to reply, by an authentic narrative.
A christian merchant, of a neighbouring kingdom (whom I well knew), travelling to the north, entered a stage coach. He quickly perceived amongst the passengers a gentleman of most agreeable manners sitting opposite to him. As the carriage rolled on, he felt deeply interested with his new companion, and pleased with his general intelligence. He strove to draw him by gentle means into religious conversation—but in vain. Every attempt was adroitly parried ; and in a few moments, do what he could, the conversation ever and anon turned into another channel. The stranger appeared to have no relish for such things. The world, its politics, its business, its trifles, seemed to be to him all in all. The merchant silently raised his heart to God on behalf of the interesting unknown, whose apparent deplorable spiritual condition had thus awakened his earnest solicitude. Nor was the prayer offered in vain. In a little while after, it came out incidentally that the name of his fellowtraveller was Dr. A-, of the city of -; that he was travelling to A- to attend the races on the following week; and that the stage coach would remain that night at the intermediate town of P, and start again early next morning, with some of the same passengers, including Dr. A- and his family. No sooner, therefore, did the conveyance halt at its destination for that day, than the merchant hastened to the tract depository of that town, and addressing the Christian who kept it, asked “ If he knew of any tract that might be adapted to benefit such an one as his late companion ?” At once the tract entitled, “SERIOUS THOUGHTS ON ÈTERNITY," was handed to him. This he enclosed in an envelope, and addressed, “ Dr. A-, at the hotel.” Returning to the inn, he charged the waiter to give the letter to Dr. A. ere he entered the stage coach in the morning. At the appointed hour next day, the coach horn blew ;-the waiter had nearly forgotten his