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like passions with yourselves-to men of no very commanding natural powers of eloquence or logic, or worldly wisdom; and yet God held those who heard their message responsible for accepting and obeying it?
Judge, therefore, yourselves in this matter. See to your faith-for it is the root of all. See to your faith. I do not mean as to its accuracy -as to whether you can rightly define faith. itself, or distinguish carefully between faith and works, and their respective places in the place of salvation.
But see to your faith as to its living reality and power. As to whether it really evidences to you things unseen and eternal. See as to whether it gives you anything that can be called a hold on Christ Jesus your Lord.
THE CALL TO RECONCILIATION.
2 CORINTH. v. 20.
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
WE have in these words the terms used by the Apostle in describing his commission, and the intention of God in giving it to him; "We are ambassadors for Christ," he says, "as though God did beseech you by us." These terms are exceedingly remarkable, for they seem to reverse the right order of things. For the offender usually beseeches the person offended to be reconciled, not the person offended the offender. It is usual for the rebel to supplicate mercy from the monarch against whom he has rebelled. It is usual for the criminal to supplicate mercy from the judge who has tried him, and is on the point of pronouncing sentence. It is usual for the child, under the father's frown, to beg pardon of his offended parent; but here we have God—the offended Monarch, the Judge Whose law has been outraged, the Father Whose
love nas been rejected—we have God making, as it were, the first overtures to man: ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
Now why should God thus condescend to ask His offending creatures to be reconciled to Him? Because He knows, as they do not, the consequences of being unreconciled to Him -of being alienated from Him. The parent knows that the course which the disobedient, wayward child is taking must end in misery. He knows that the evil dispositions which his child is cherishing must destroy him, must weaken his character, must unfit him for an after life of virtue and usefulness; and so at times the parent will not merely threaten-he will remonstrate; he will argue, as if he and his child were on an equality; he will even beseech, as if he received benefit from the child's repentance or change of heart towards him. Now so it is with God. God is the tenderest of parents, but God is the wisest, the most far-seeing of parents also. And God is the Judge Who is pledged by His own word and character to render to all what is right. God knows-He cannot but know-that if men keep aloof from Him, they cut themselves off from the One Fountain of all goodness and truth. He knows-He cannot but know-that no matter how He loves the sinner now, He will have at
some future time to render to him according to his works; and so, with all this before Him, God sends His ambassador to the culprit, who by continuing unreconciled to Him is throwing away his own mercy: He sends His ambassador, I say, with the message, "I beseech you, be ye reconciled to me."
It must be of no small importance to us, my friends, to be reconciled to the Maker of heaven and earth, to the Father of spirits, to the Judge of quick and dead. We may be quite sure that there is nothing so blessed for us as His love and approval-nothing so fearful for us as His everlasting displeasure. But are we not reconciled to Him? Here we are in His house, honouring Him, worshipping Him; confessing our sins, asking pardon; confessing our weakness, asking strength; confessing our blindness, asking light; confessing our dependence, asking His protection and support. If this be not reconciliation, what is? It is, and it is not.
God, we read in the text, was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. The death of Christ has by God's own appointment' reconciled the world, and we have partaken of this reconciliation. Before the Death of Christ there was some mysterious reason why the very Gospel of God's love should not be preached to the world. As soon as Christ had finished His sin-atoning work on the cross, then the word went forth from His own lips: "Go ye to all
the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
By the preaching of the Gospel the Church was gathered out of the world, and set up as the perpetual outward visible sign to a lost world of the pardoning and restoring love of God. Everything about the Church proclaims the reconciliation on God's part. Preaching is the word of reconciliation. Absolution is still more the application of the word of reconciliation. Baptism is for the remission of sins. The Lord's Supper is the partaking of the cup of the new covenant in Christ's Blood for the remission of sins. So that the whole Church, and everything connected with it, its sacraments, ministry, and message, are the pledge that God has in a sense reconciled the world to Himself. If He had not I should not be here preaching to you.
Well, the Church gathers into its bosom not merely men here and there, but nations. And so it is what Christ prophesied that it would be, not a select body, consisting of perfectly holy people, but a great mixed body, having in it good and bad, wheat and tares, wise and foolish virgins, profitable and unprofitable servants.
So it was in St. Paul's time. The text upon which I am now preaching is a part of a letter he wrote to the Church of God in the city of Corinth. It is full of the most opposite things said to the same body of people. From some things which he writes to them you