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GAIN FROM THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. LUKE XXIV. 26.-Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
THIS question occurs in our Saviour's interesting conversation with the two disciples going to Emmaus. It was on the third day after His crucifixtion, that He, in a mysterious manner, drew near and conversed with them, as they walked and were expressing their astonishment at the events, which had just "come to pass." We think it strange, that the intimate companions of the Lord Jesus should have been so ignorant of the real design of His mission to our world. We think it strange, that they should have been so overwhelmed with surprise and consternation, when He was condemned, crucified, and buried; and that they should have been so astonished at His resurrection; when these events had been distinctly foretold by the prophets, and by the Saviour himself. We think it strange, that the Jews, as a nation, should have continued in obstinate unbelief of His divine Messiahship-especially after His resurrection, which established the faith of His disciples, and which ought to have convinced the world. We wonder at their stupidity.
Is there not, however, something of the same kind of ignorance and unbelief among ourselves; though we have always had in our hands, the writings of the prophets, and the plain corresponding history of their fulfillment? Yes, even the good man, the humble believer of the New Testament, sometimes thinks it almost unaccountable, and incredible, that "the Lord of life and glory, the Creator of all things," should move from His throne; should come down to our guilty world; should assume our nature; should, in that nature, submit to a life of poverty and toil; consent to be arraigned at a human tribunal; to be condemned by lying testimony; and finally to endure an ignominious death! The heart of the Christian, at some moments, perhaps revolts with horror at the narration; and is almost unwilling to believe it. Whilst there are others, who actually laugh at the Scriptural account,or at least attempt to explain away its meaning,-as utterly unworthy of the majesty of God, and unnecessary for the safety of man, and therefore not to be believed. But to all these the Omniscient Saviour replies, “ O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?"
Our present object will be to answer this question, not merely by a reference to the ancient prophecies, but by showing, that there was infinite propriety and wisdom in the humiliation and sufferings of Christ. In order to show this, we must inquire, what has been gained by His sufferings? The question before us then is,
WHAT HAS BEEN GAINED TO THE UNIVERSE BY THE SUFFERINGS OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST?
In answering this question we shall think it proper to repeat much of what "holy men, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," have told us on the subject. And,
I. IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, AN INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE OF OUR RACE WILL BE RAISED FROM A STATE OF SINFUL DEGRADATION AND MISERY, AND EXALTED TO THE SOCIETY OF ANGELS AND OF GOD.
Says the beloved John, rapt in prophetic vision, "I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kin
dreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." And what are the employments of this great multitude? and who are their associates? The same John tells us, they were employed in praising God." They cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb." And concerning their associates, he tells us, "all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders, and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God." And what is the history of these beings, collected out of all nations?-from what situation did they come?-how were they qualified to associate with angels in the wor ship of heaven? The answer of the Spirit is, "These are they, which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in his temple; and He, that sitteth upon the throne, shall dwell among them."
It appears, then, that this countless multitude were once in a world of trouble and pollution; but have been washed in a Redeemer's blood; and therefore are qualified to serve God in His temple above; and to associate with cherubim and seraphim. It appears also from another passage of scripture, that " without shedding of blood there is no remission." All this elevation, then, of the innumerable multitude who ascend from earth to heaven, is in consequence of the "shedding of blood"—in consequence of the sufferings of Christ.
And brethren, dwell for one moment on the change of character and situation here wrought through Christ. Once those redeemed millions. were sinners of every description-slaves of every unhallowed lust !some of them "thieves, drunkards, swearers, liars, fornicators, adulterers, murderers;”—all of them "haters of God !"—But now they are "washed-purified-justified-in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Once their understandings were all darkened their affections groveling;-willing slaves of Satan-they sought the company of wicked men and devils! Now their minds are enlightened from the Sun of Righteousness;-refined by the purity of the heavens-they mingle with bright angels! from God-far from Christ. blood of Christ"-"see God
Once they were far Now they are "brought nigh by the face to face"-" see as they are seen
know as they are known: Now they shine forth "in the likeness of Christ "-put on the robes of His righteousness -"walk with Him in white ". -" converse with Him, as a man with his friend."
All this change of character and situation, let me repeat, is in consequence of "the sufferings of Christ." These beings have been redeemed from prisons of darkness and pollution, and elevated to "mansions of glory,"-"not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot." Ought not Christ, then, to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? But, in addition to such elevation and improvement of character,
II. IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, ALL WHO FI NALLY BELIEVE AND TRUST IN HIM, AS THE SON OF GOD, WILL BE confirmed IN A STATE OF PERFECT HOLINESS AND INCREASING HAP
PINESS FOR EVER.
The nature of the first Covenant, which God proposed to man, was, "Do this and thou shalt live."-Yield perfect obedience to the Law of God, and ye shall be happy in the favor of God-But "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things written in the book of the Law to do them." So that under that Covenant, man must have depended for safety and happiness on his continued obedience to the Law of God, without any assurance that God would uphold him by his power. Now even that was a good Covenant, and perfectly reasonable, and such as man is utterly without. excuse for having broken; because the Law was reasonable" The Law was holy, just and good." But still, (thanks to boundless mercy and forbearance,) instead of blasting the rebels at once to hell, Christ, by His voluntary sufferings, has become "the Mediator of a better Covenant, which was established upon better promises." The substance of this New Covenant, (formed by the "Three that bear record in heaven," was, That if Christ would descend from heaven to earth, and, in human nature, make atonement for sinners, by laying down His own life, the Holy Spirit should be given to sanctify all that should believe, and to uphold them for ever in a state of purity and glory. So that the endless security of all true Christians, on earth and in heaven, now depends, not on any confidence in their own strength, or greater attainments in holiness, than those of Adam, but on the promise and power of Almighty God, granted through the blood of the everlasting Covenant.
Christ never would have left his throne for a cross, without a word of promise" from the Eternal Father, that He should "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." He never would have redeemed
sinners, with His own blood, without a sure warrant from the court of Heaven, that of all that the Father had given Him, he should lose none; but that they should be kept by the power of God, through faith unto eternal salvation. With " more than twelve legions of angels" at His command, He never would have surrendered Himself to be condemned by mortals, and to be "crucified by wicked hands," had He not known distinctly the everlasting benefits to be accomplished by His death. He never would have died upon uncertainties. He never would have purchased pardon and restoration for countless millions of rebels against His own government, if, after they were restored, they must still be left liable every moment to fall off again from His kingdom; and become his enemies. No;-long before He entered on this errand of reconciliation, it was stipulated in heaven, that all who should be reclaimed by His mediation, should maintain for ever their allegiance to His throne. It was "for the joy thus set before Him, that He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne."
In exact accordance with these sentiments, the Saviour, when He appeared on our world, said of Himself, "I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for And the bread, that I will give, is my flesh; which I will give for the life of the world. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life. I give unto them eternal life; neither shall any pluck them out of my hands."
In a similar strain of assurance the apostle Paul says, "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The apostle reasons strongly and triumphantly, when he says, "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout
-with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we, who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord."
But what mortal or immortal power can speak the privilege of believers, in being thus confirmed for ever in a state of perfect holiness. and union to the Saviour? Oh! could the thought once enter their minds, that possibly, after millions and millions of ages, they might again become THE ENEMIES OF GOD!"-it would send a thrill