« PreviousContinue »
them one from another. The God who has withdrawn Himself so long that many are saying aloud that He cannot manifest Himself, will then manifest Himself.
The things seen which have so long acted as an impenetrable veil to hide the vast spiritual universe will then be suddenly rent asunder, and the unseen world--the world of spirits with all its tremendous realities will then burst upon our astonished
gaze. This will be, above all other days, the “ day of God.” On other “ days of God” scoffers have been able to doubt whether it was God or nature, God or chance, God or man, that was making His power felt. For instance, when God visited Sodom men might say it was the fires of nature; or when God devastated Jerusalem by the sword, first of Babylon, then of Rome, men might doubt whether it was God or Nebuchadnezzar, God or Titus; but on that day there will be no doubt, for we, in our flesh, shall see God.
All the Prophets have spoken of this day. A Prophet spake of this last day during the lifetime of the first man; for Enoch spake of the Lord coming, in the time of Adam. David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, all the Prophets to the last, have delivered God's message about this His day. The Judge Himself, when on earth, earnestly warned His chosen ones that He would come to judge and reward ; and He gave these warnings even before He was taken up. Before He had gone away He spake most earnestly of His return, and that they should be looking for that return; “watching and praying always that they might be accounted worthy to escape those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Here, then, is another Advent Sunday. Another year
of the Church is gone and over. Another year in which Christ has delayed His coming, and so the scoffers can ask more boldly, “ Where is the promise of it ?" Another year in which all things have continued as they were from the beginning; and so men may say more confidently still, “ All things will for ever continue as they have always been.” Another year in which sinners have treasured up wrath against the day of wrath, and added to the account standing against them in the books that will certainly one day be opened. But to us, who believe, the world's doom is one year nearer, the Church's desolate widowhood one year less; if the shadows are fast gathering it is a sign that we are nearing that last night, whose darkest hour will be startled with the midnight cry, “ The Bridegroom cometh.” Then, they that are ready—they, that is, who are at peace with God—they who obey the Gospel—they who look for the coming of the Lord—they who hold fast their profession—they who are cleansing themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit—they who abide in Him and He in them—they who watch and keep their baptismal robe—they who so eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, that their sinful bodies are made clean by His Body, and their souls washed through His most precious Blood-or if there be any other mark of readiness which the Saviour requires of us, and offers His grace to work it in us—they that are thus ready will go in with Him to the wedding, and the door will be shut.
ST. MATTHEW i. 23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel.”
It is part of the nature of our minds that, when two or more things are set before us, we should compare them together, and decide, as far as we can, which is the greatest in itself, or which is the most important to ourselves. We cannot avoid doing this with the truths or doctrines of our holy religion. We cannot help comparing them together, and silently asking which is the most essential; which, as sinners claiming God's mercy, can we least afford to lose sight of ? which, as saints desiring earnestly to serve and please God perfectly, are we most concerned to hold fast?
Now the one truth which, as sinners, we most value, is the Death of Christ for our sins. “I am a sinner," you say in yourself,
and my one only comfort under a sense of it is that Christ died for me. I have no comfort from the remembrance of any good that I have done, because it is so miserable—so unsatisfactory. I have no comfort from any good disposition which I may have, or suppose I have, because it is merely natural to me—I have, in no sense, any credit for it; whereas I have during my whole past life made myself worse than I was even by nature. I have gone out of my way to commit sin and injure my soul. I have no comfort in thinking of my sincerity, because I find that in numberless cases my supposed sincerity has been a mere delusion. I have never sincerely, with all my soul, attempted to know and do the will of God: so that, looking into myself, and looking back on my past life, everything is unsatisfactory, deficient, hollow, unreal, unworthy of one dedicated to such a God, and redeemed at such a price.
“I can turn for comfort to nothing-to nothing but the cross of my Saviour, Jesus Christ; because on that cross He made reconciliation for the sins of the whole human family, and so for my sins as one of that family.”
This, my brethren, that I have just been describing, is the experience of every sinner before whom God has set his sins. So that the doctrine of the cross of Christ, the doctrine, or truth, that Christ on the cross made a full propitiation for all sin—that in some mysterious but real way God then laid on Him the iniquity of us all—that God then and there made Him Who “knew no sin to be sin for us”-this is the one only solid ground of comfort for the sinner.