Page images

would think that they were angels; from others you would think that they were yet heathen. In the first chapter he thanks God on their behalf that they are “enriched by God's grace in all utterance, and in all knowledge; so that they come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But very soon after this he finds it needful to write, “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” “Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal ?"

In the next chapter (iv. 2) he threatens them that he may have to come to them with the rod—the rod of stern and severe reproof. Then, shortly after, to these very persons he writes (vi. 11), “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God;" and yet in the fifteenth chapter he finds it needful to say to them, “ Awake to righteousness, and sin not, for and yet an Apostle, full of all wisdom and spiritual insight, has to write to them, “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.”

lave not the knowledge of God;" and to crown all, at the end of this second Epistle he writes, “I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would—lest, when I come again, I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” Here, then, are persons brought into a state of reconciliation, surrounded with the signs and symbols of God's reconciling love,


Now, if in the first century the Apostle had to proclaim such a message to a church enriched by God's grace with “all utterance and all knowledge,” “ washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” how much more now is it needful that I should say to a congregation like this, “ We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God ?”

In every congregation of Christians there are some who are “reconciled to God.” There is nothing between them and God. The moment that anything arises in their most secret hearts which they think cannot stand the heart-searching glance of Him Who weighs the spirits, they put it forth. They are on the watch lest anything in them should offend God. They ask God in all sincerity, every day of their lives, that they may love Him, serve Him, and please Him more and more.

And in every congregation there are some who are not reconciled to God, because they are living in sin. The whole state of their minds towards God shows this. They do not like to think of God, because when they think of Him they cannot but think of their sins, and

that He is a Judge who has undertaken to punish sin unrepented of, and unforsaken. Consequently, God is not only not in all their thoughts, but in none of their thoughts, if they can help it. They put out of their minds— deliberately put out of their minds——thoughts of God; because thoughts of God always lead to thoughts of the future, thoughts of judgment, and of eternity. Now if we could but see things as God and good angels see them, how wretched would all this seem! Here is an inhabitant of God's beautiful world not caring to think about his Maker. Here is a man with an immortality of happiness in that Maker's immediate presence vouchsafed to him, and yet he cares not to dwell upon it—the very thought of it is distasteful to him.

Such an one, of course, is unreconciled to God. He shows his enmity in the only way

in which he well can-he turns himself away from his Maker. When his Maker speaks to him, invites him, even entreats him not to fling away his eternity, he turns his head away. The circumstances in which he is placed allow of no open rebellion against God. God is so much out of our reach that we cannot show our hostility by injuring Him, as we can show our hostility to our brother by injuring him ; but still the enmity is no less there.

If there are any such here (and it is more than probable there are), who have reason to know that there is much between them and God—who think of God with that distrust and concealed dislike with which a man looks upon another whom he feels that he has injured-and we, as far as we can, injure God by outraging His law by sin — if there are such here, we have but one word for you: “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.” Ask God with all your heart, or with all the heart you can, to put away your sin from before His own sight, and to put away your sin out of your heart. Do not delay to seek this reconciliation: the longer you defer it the harder it will be to attain to: the longer you put it off the more danger you are in of being cut off in your sins: the longer you put it off the more hold sin will have upon you. Be not afraid to come to God through Christ. If God beseeches you, as He does by His ambassadors, to be reconciled to Him, you need be under no apprehension that when you turn to Him He will turn away His face from you. You have, it is true, many a time turned away your face from Him; but depend upon this, in this He is not like you. Men turn away their faces from those who have injured them, but the Son of God prayed for those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

And now we have to consider another matter

of importance connected with this subject; and that is, the difference between reconciliation and the feeling or realization of it. A man may think that he is reconciled to God while he is not; and a man may be in great doubts and fears, and yet be all the time reconciled.

A man may think that he is reconciled when he is not. There is, I am afraid, much of this, where there is much of what is called “Gospel preaching." A man hears it said that “God hath made Christ to be sin for us, that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him." He hears this expounded as if it meant that the righteousness of God is like an outside robe, which may

be so thrown round about a man as to hide the filthiness of his skin. Never was there so monstrous a perversion of the word of God. We are made the righteousness of God in Christ when we are so joined to Christ that the very righteousness of Christ (which is the righteousness of God, because Christ is God) is communicated from Christ to our inmost souls. What is the righteousness of God ? It is, of course, God's goodness, love, truth, justice, benevolence, pity, holiness, purity, and compassionate tenderness. All this, and much more, is the righteousness of God. And if we are made this, we are made in Christ, and by virtue of union with Him, all that God is. There is, that is, nothing in which God is righteous in which we are not made righteous. Does

« PreviousContinue »