Page images
PDF
EPUB

the methods by which this great end is to be effected. Could the plan of the gospel extend no farther than to our reconciliation with our Maker and our fellow men ; could this be accomplished without affecting or interfering with the state of the little dominion in our own bosoms, the peace it would have to offer, would be exceedingly defective. It would have to exist amidst the restlessness and agitation of warring elements. He therefore, who is the sole subject of the gospel message, gives us peace with ourselves by rescuing us from the slavery of depraved passions, appetites, and inclinations. He gives us peace by quieting the disorders and stilling the tumults of the soul. Compared with the peace which thus ensues, the peace of the world is mere delirium, and not tranquility. The peace which is the result of the extinguishment of the low aims and unholy desires of the natural man, being descended from heaven, retains the impress of that blessed world. It brings with it, the pure, satisfying, and durable characters of its celestial origin. Such is the nature of the overture which the gospel makes to our fallen race. It offers to reconcile us to our Maker and to our fellow sojourners below, and to give us peace with ourselves. In all its distinctive characteristics it is emphatically a proclamation of peace to the guilty and lost.

II. God is the sole author of this merciful overture. I CREATE THE FRUIT OF THE LIPS-PEACE, PEACE TO HIM THAT IS FAR OFF, AND TO HIM THAT IS NEAR, SAITH THE LORD. This fruit of the lips--this gracious proposal, had its origin in the spontaneous benignity of the divine mind. The high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, in the unfathomable depths of that eternity purposed this wonderful developement of those perfections of his nature, which otherwise might have been deemed incompatible with each other, thus operating in glorious harmony, and resulting in the augmentation and wider diffusion of happiness. A plan constructed on so broad a scale, and involving results so remote and infinite in their bearings, comes stamped with features of grandeur, and wisdom, and goodness which speak its author Jehovah. The gradual unfolding of this plan for so many centuries, speaks the agency of the same Infinite One. Indeed, the claim which the Most High may be considered as making to this agency in the text, is questioned by none who credit the testimony of his word. The bible, which is so directly the gift of his own inspiration, as to be called with perfect truth and propriety, his word, is, as I have already observed, a series of disclosures illustrating the nature, and proffering the peculiar blessings of the gospel. So that the gracious overture of the gospel, which we have been considering, is as directly and exclusively of God, as any object which owes its existence to his creative energy. The great scheme of which the proffer of peace to sinful creatures through the sacrifice and mediation of Immanuel, is the filling up or accomplishment, came forth from the exhaustless fountain of his own unsearchable wisdom and benevolence. From the same source proceeds all that is encouraging in the promises, all that is alluring in the invitations, all that is moving in the expostulations, all that is awful in the warnings, and all that is alarming in the threatenings with which the word of God abounds.

There is still another sense in which the proposition I have founded on the first clause of the text, is true. A sense somewhat more accordant with the peculiar phraseology used, and which I cannot but think, was more specially intended by the Holy Spirit. God is the sole author of the gospel message as it comes from the lips of his faithful ministers. If it be his as spread out on the pages of the bible, it cannot of course become any the less so, by whomsoever it be uttered. Neither the meanness, nor the impurity of the earthen vessel, changes the character or lessens the value of the treasure. But the faithful minister is a chosen vessel. He is appointed to a spiritual service. He is God's messenger. He is as much now as formerly, God's mouth to his people. There is now, I doubt not, a most interesting sense in which it is true (though the truth nay be abused) that God CREATES THE Fruit of the preacher's LIPS. If he be faithful, he will secure, not in a miraculous manner, but in the use of appointed means, such a measure of superintendence, that he will be led to dwell on such topics in the range of divine truth, as the peculiar circumstances, character, and wants of his hearers require. There will be, not merely that commonplace appropriateness in the character of his instructions, which though it may strike and amuse, rarely impresses or edifies the hearers, but something like personal adaptedness to the secret workings of the heart of individuals; so that the case of a great number, if not of each one of his auditors, will be seasonably reached in every ministration of the gospel. Nor will the superintendence he may seek and expect, extend only to the choice and arrangement of his subjects. Divine truth, if it come not "mended from his tongue, will be poured forth with such a spiritual fervor-so imbued with an unction from the Holy One, that while it breaks not the bruised reed, and quenches not the smoaking flax, it breaks in pieces the rocky heart of obstinate transgressors, and extinguishes the vain hopes of presumptuous hypocrites.

III. The gospel overture of peace to our fallen race, effectually imparts that peace to those only, to whom the message comes, accompanied with the healing power of divine grace. I WILL HEAL HIM SAITH THE LORD. The gospel is, indeed, a specific. It is the only adequate remedy for the moral disorders of men. It is exclusively provided for this purpose, and in all its great characteristics, it is singularly adapted to this end. Other palliatives may be used. But this is the only medium through which a cure reaches the seat of the malady. Until this is applied, although there may be a fancied relief--although a sort of peace may ensue, it will prove to be spurious and short-lived. But it can be proposed, and yet not be applied. Its saving application depends on an accompanying special influence from Jehovah. It was not the prophecy of the prophet, which imparted vitality to the dry bones in the valley of vision. It was not the address of the apostle, which pricked the hearts and effected the conversion of three thousand on the day of Pentecost. Oh! no. The ministration of the word, unattended with the ministration of the Spirit, is a dead letter. It is the sword without the power that wields it. It pierces no heart. It arouses no conscience from its slumbers. It alarms na fears. It stills not the troubled element of the human breast. It offers, but it does not communicate peace. It proposes and urges the application of the only remedy for a fatal disease, and there its agency terminates. The overture can do no more. And to how many has this been the extent of the gospel's saving efficacy? How many hear, but know not the joyful sound ! How many have been lulled into more profound and wakeless slumbers, by the sweet tones of proffered peace in the gospel. How many strangely substitute in their minds the offer for the acceptance, and thus never know peace! With the declarations of the God of truth, and so many affecting facts before us on this point, how powerfully are we urged devoutly to recognize the electing sovereignty of the Eternal, and thankfully to refer the reign of spiritual peace in the souls of men to the special arrangement of his gracious dispensations. It is not of him that planteth or of him that watereth, but of God who showeth mercy. After all that the naked power of truth, or the efforts of the ministers of truth, effect, a healing energy must be added.

" The still small voice is wanted. He must speak,
Whose word leaps forth at once to its effect-

Who calls for things that are not, and they come.” Among the reflections which crowd upon the mind in view of these topics, I cannot forbear just to observe in

[ocr errors]

how solemn and affecting a light are seen the duty and responsibleness of the christian preacher. In his holy office he needs uncommon measures of grace. If he needs and has a right to expect more special superintendence than other believers, he must seek, and watch, and wait for it. And when he contemplates the nature of the agency he is appointed to execute—when he remembers that he is the medium through which the God of heaven designs to communicate boundless good to his fellow sinners—when he thinks that the words of his lips may be (if he is faithful) in a sense, the creation of the Infinite One-in view of these considerations, he may well be pitied, if he does not ask that his lips and very soul may be continually warmed and purified as with a living coal from the altar of his God.

2. In view of what has been said, it is natural to reflect on the privilege and blessedness of such as hear the gospel and feel its healing power. The repetition of the word peace in the text, imports the greatness of the peace. It is unspeakable.

It is unspeakable. It is full of glory. It is abiding. It is indistructible. It is independent of outward circumstances. It reigns alike in the hovel of the poor, and in the palace of the rich. It triumphs over the decay of nature.

It survives all temporal changes. It will outlive time itself, and go along with the soul through the endless range of its immortality. Christians, how blessed are your ears, that hear the proclamation of peace from him who gives not as the world gives! How blessed are your minds that feel the peace of God! God has spoken to your souls, and your peace will be as a river whose waters never fail.

3. We learn from what has been said, the duty of the impenitent. The gospel comes to them a proclamation of peace.

It addresses them as in a state of rebellion against God, of conflict with their fellow men, and of war with their own conscience. It is clearly their duty immediately to avail themselves of this only way of

« PreviousContinue »