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ON THE REDEMPTION OF MAN.
On this very important subject the Lord Jesus Christ declared, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world ; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John, iii. 16–21.)
Hence it appears, that God in his infinite love and mercy gave his only begotten Son for the redemption of the world. He tasted “ death for every man ;” (Heb.
ii. 9;) and his redemption is partaken of by every one who believeth in his name. Now the name of the Son of God, in this and in many other places of the New Testament, appears to signify, or have reference to, his divine attributes, viz. his power, his life, &c.; and it is expressly declared by the Apostle John, that “the life" of “ the eternal Word,” or Son of God, “ was the light of men,” and that this “true light lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John, i. 4, 9.)
By this light, shining at seasons in the hearts of all the children of men, they are reproved and convicted of sin ; “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. iii. 23.) They who do not reject the light, are enabled to see the miserable state they are in, whilst unregenerate, and under the power and dominion of the adversary of their souls. Deeply humbled by this view of their sad and undone condition, they are brought to repentance. Their hearts being contrited by the divine power, the cry is raised, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke, xviii. 13.) “A Saviour, or I die ; a Redeemer, or I utterly perish.” Being thus prepared, they receive an increased manifestation of the light of the Word, or the Spirit of Christ; and faith, which is its fruit, and which in some degree had been previously exercised, being now more fully produced and embraced, leads them to the baptism of the Spirit. Being washed in the blood of their Redeemer from their sins that are past, they are enabled, like the believers formerly, “ to joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ,” by whom they receive the atonement* or reconciliation with God. (Rom. v. 11.)
“ This is the only place in the New Testament, where we find the word atonement.' And the Greek word here rendered atonement, in all other places where it occurs in the New
Having witnessed the first operation of the baptism of the Spirit, of which the water baptism of John was a significant type, and continuing in simplicity and humility of mind to follow Christ their Saviour, the further operation of his baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire is commenced. The experience they have had of the joy and peace
which result from believing in, and obeying the light, engages them still to adhere to its manifestations: they submit, not only their words and actions, but also the thoughts and desires of their hearts to its righteous scrutiny and decision ; so that every vain thought and desire, every idle word, and every evil deed, are brought unto judgment. They see, in the light of Christ, that there is much more to be done in their hearts by the “refiner's fire,” than previously they had any conception of; yet, in all their conflicts, by watching unto prayer, and by patiently waiting on the Lord, an increase of strength is received. They are comforted through the precious influences of divine love, and animated still to persevere “in the obedience of faith.” (Rom. xvi. 26.) Steadily following the light of Christ in the path of selfdenial and of the cross, not conforming themselves to the vain customs, fashions, and maxims of this world, nor fixing their affections on its riches or pleasures, but breaking off from and avoiding every thing which the light discovers to be evil, they gradually experience the advancement of the new birth in their souls: “Old things pass away, and all things become new.” (2 Cor. v. 17.) The floor of the heart, figuratively speaking, is cleansed,
Testament, is translated reconciliation or reconciling ; and why it should not here, it is difficult to say. It might probably have prevented some error and saved much contention.”—J. G. Bevan's Life of Paul, page 223.
and the chaff burnt up“ with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. iii. 12.) Thus following Christ in the regeneration, he giveth them “power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name.” (John, i. 12.)
The preceding description of the commencement and progress of conversion, is not designed to convey an exact delineation of the steps by which every one is conducted, in whom this important work has been accomplished. The degree of depravity, by which the human character is marked previous to conversion, is much greater in some cases than in others. The repugnance, also, of the natural disposition to submit to the control of the light of Christ, and thus to come under his yoke, varies greatly in different persons, rendering a corresponding variation necessary, in the duration, and in the intensity of “the refiner's fire.” And when individuals of a serious disposition have embraced doctrines, which place an undue stress on outward forms and ceremonies, the prejudices which in these cases are to be surmounted are not easily overcome. It may be expected, therefore, under this great diversity of character, that there are also “diversities of operations; but it is the same God which worketh all, in all.” (1 Cor. xii. 6.)
The view now taken of faith in the name of the Son of God, is introduced by him in the latter part of that memorable portion of Scripture with which this chapter commences. When our Holy Redeemer had declared, that “ he who believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” (John, iii. 18,) he proceeded still more particularly to point out the cause of condemnation; for he immediately added, “ And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds
were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Hence it is evident, that although professed Christians may be very assiduous in acquiring the literal knowledge of the doctrines contained in the Holy Scriptures, and may profess an unlimited confidence in the benefits resulting from the sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ; yet if they persist in disregarding and rejecting the admonitions of the light, which at seasons shines in their hearts in order to cleanse them from the pollutions of sin, they do not, according to his doctrine, truly believe in his name, and consequently are in a state of condemnation. For such persons to conclude, while they remain in this state of unbelief and disobedience, that because they profess a belief in the personal appearance, sufferings, and death of Christ, and confide in his merits, therefore they are cleansed from their sins in his blood, and are justified in his sight,-this would be indeed a proof of their being under a lamentable and dangerous delusion.
In the texts above quoted from the Sacred Records, the Saviour of the world briefly, yet in clear and emphatic language, preached the doctrine of the light; showing that this divine gift is embraced and adhered to by those who “do,” or walk in the path of “ truth,” and that it is hated by all who do evil : who, instead of coming unto it, in the faith which is its fruit, reject it in order to escape from its convictions. Now, these two classes comprehend all mankind; and therefore it is clear, that this divine gift is dispensed unto all. Evil men could not hate or reject the light, if it did not in some degree illuminate their minds, reproving them on account of