Imágenes de páginas

I cleanse you.

THE WILDERNESS, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS REMAIN IN THE FRUITFUL FIELD. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Is. xxxii. 15–17.) The Spirit also is promised, in express connexion with this change of heart. “ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements and do them.".

'_Ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land." (Ez. xxxvi. 25–27; xxxvii

. 13, 14.) In the same connexion, how earnestly does David pray ; “ Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not the Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation ; and uphold me with thy free SPIRIT.” (Ps. li. 11, 12.) This observation is very important, as leading us to right views of other texts, in which the out-pouring of the Spirit in the latter days is so particularly promised. “ It shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my SPIRIT

all flesh ;

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions : And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my SPIRIT." (Joel ii. 28, 29.) “ I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground : I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring : And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. (Is. xliv. 3, 4.) That is, we may suppose, the effect of this out-pouring of the Spirit on the seed of Israel shall be, that “they shall be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” (Is. Ixi. 3.) Thus we are taught to consider the promise of the Spirit, as the great and especial promise of this new and better Covenant : which also is in exact accordance with one other passage which I will quote, wherein the promise of the Spirit, and

of the Redeemer (the second Goel), are mentioned toge ther, with an express statement of the nature of this Covenant. 66 When the enemy

shall come in like a flood, THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from Wenceforth and for ever." (Is. lix. 19-21.)

The excellence of the former Covenant, and the wonderful display of divine goodness and condescension in proposing it to Israel, have been already pointed out. Whence also has been inferred, that the nation was utterly inexcusable in transgressing it. How much more, then, are we called upon to adore the riches of divine


and grace in this new and better Covenant, which, in its provision of blessings, is so far superior! and of which the surpassing excellence is specially manifest in this,—That it provides for future obedience, as well as for the pardon of past transgression. We have seen that, according to the terms of this Covenant, God not only promises to accept and bless his people if they be obedient,-but engages by promise to make them obedient, by putting his Spirit within them. So that He provides, not only for the fulfilment of His own part of the Covenant, but for the fulfilment of their part also. Thus it becomes indeed, everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, AND SURE ;" for humble and thankful obedience is ensured, by the same power and grace, which engages to accept and bless that obedience when rendered - God himself promising to cleanse and renew the hearts of all who embrace his promises. So that their blessedness is no longer left dependent upon the weak, depraved, and everchanging will of fallen man; but depends entirely upon the unchanging faithfulness of God, who has promised first that they shall be holyand then that they shall be blessed. A familiar illustration of this matter may not be unprofitable.—If a prince, in his sovereign mercy, should be pleased to for

[ocr errors]


give all the offences of a hardened criminal; no one could say but that he had full power and authority so to do, and that he deserved the praise of clemency. But if, when turned loose upon society again, all the evil propensities of this pardoned transgressor should remain in full force, he would soon become the pest of all who came within the sphere in which he moved ; and not only so, but, being perhaps emboldened by his pardon, he would repeat his crimes, and quickly reduce himself to the same state of misery, and bring himself under a heavier condemnation than before. His mere pardon therefore would avail him little. But if this prince, when he pardoned, should also, by good instructions, and by the influence of some constraining motive, induce him to forsake his former course of life, and effect a thorough change in his disposition and principles,—then, it is evident, that the design of mercy would be completely attained. The criminal is not only delivered from punishment, but he is become a new man,-prepared to be an useful member of society, and an ornament to his station for the time to come. Now just such a condemned criminal is man: and the first Covenant, which he has transgressed and despised, leaves him under the sentence of a most righteous condemnation. All its holy, wise, and gracious provisions, he has made vain by his own perverseness ; yea, he has taken occasion from them, to plunge himself deeper and deeper into guilt and misery. In this lamentable condition, the promises of the New Covenant find him ;—and they offer, not only the pardon of all his sins, leaving him still under the power and dominion of a corrupt nature,—but also a divine influence, to change that nature, and to make him an humble, thankful, holy child of the Most High for evermore; that thus (out of a renewed and purified heart) he may love and serve the glorious and merciful God, who has pardoned all his sins, and cleansed him from all his pollutions. Such a Covenant of mercy is suited to the extreme case and helpless necessities of lost fallen man,--exhibits divine grace and love triumphant over the utmost conceivable complication of mad rebellion and desperate wickedness in the creature: and all this, in perfect consistency with the holiness and righteousness of God, and with the glory and stability of his moral government. So that, looking to the full provisions of this Covenant, the sinner has only to enquire, What do I need ? and what are my necessities ? And behold I whatever they may be, Divine Fulness is here opened to supply them!

Neither is it only free and full in its offers and provisions, but also everlasting in its duration. It is a Covenant which cannot fail nor be broken. The word of the Lord, to every one who inclines his ear to the message of mercy, is “ Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everLASTING covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” (Is. lv. 3.) It is made with men, not immediately, but in and through His righteous and chosen Servant, to whom the Lord has promised, “I will make Hiin

ту first-born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgements; If they break my statutes and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from Him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.” (Ps. Ixxxix. 27–37.) This evidently could not be said of the preceding Covenant. Supposing a man to walk, for a long time, really and truly according to its terms; it contained no promise, or provision, to prevent him from becoming, at last, an outcast for ever: all was left dependent upon his own mutable will, and under a very awful declaration, “ When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity,--shall he live ? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned : in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” (Ez. xviii. 24.) But of them who are partakers of the blessings of this new Covenant, it is expressly declared, “I will put my

fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jer. xxxii. 40.)


Practical remarks.—The weakness and wickedness of man appa

rent from the history of Israel.—The folly of seeking acceptance with God by the first Covenant, for it is now annulled, and nothing of it remains but its curses.—The hope and glory of Israel to be sought in the New Covenant.-An exhortation to confession of sins-Faith in the promises of God-and earnest prayer.

Thus, then, I have endeavoured to compare this New Covenant with the Old, and to shew wherein its superior excellence consists. The statements and the comparison which have been made, naturally suggest some practical remarks.

1. The history of Israel, under the Old Covenant, affords the most clear and convincing proof of the weakness and wickedness of man. We are apt to entertain a high conceit of our wisdom, strength, and virtue; as if we could, with little assistance, or with none, walk in the ways

of holiness and righteousness to the end. But here we are taught by plain facts, that man, even at his best estate, is altogether vanity.

Let him be exalted and distinguished as he may by privileges and mercies, he is still corrupt and vile. Even under the most favourable circumstances, he never will, and never can, keep his part of the first Covenant; much less, by a patient continuance therein, inherit the blessings promised. It is evident that, so long, and so far, as their blessedness was left dependent on themselves, the people of Israel chose always the ways of disobedience, sin, and death :--they uniformly rejected the blessing and embraced the curse. Of this the confessions of the most holy men,-of all the true and faithful servants of the Lord-afford the final proof: for we find that, without exception, they renounced their own righteousness; and their language before God was that of self-condemning, self-renouncing sinners. Abraham, in his own eyes, is

« AnteriorContinuar »