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they could not long retain their prey, were seen to open, ready to resign it. Such are the outlines of the history itself, when that glorious sufferer was lifted up
the cross. But what could be the design of all this? Is there not something greatly mysterious in it, that such a person should suffer, and suffer in such a manner? The Gospel affords a key to the whole. It tells us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;" it tells us that one man must die for the people, " the just for the unjust ;" that, if man be pardoned, a satisfaction must be made ; and who could make it, but the Son of God himself? For this purpose he voluntarily engaged. “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me." « The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The sacrifice is made. "It is finished," said the expiring Saviour: and it is accepted, for, lo, he rises from the dead, and ascends into heaven. God is well pleased; so pleased, that he commands this Gospel of his dear Son to be made known to the whole world ; he commissions his servants to go and proclaim it to every creature under heaven; he furnishes them with miraculous powers, to enable them to do it. They proclaim "peace by Jesus Christ,” wherever they go, and invite the greatest sinners to come to God through him; assuring them that “whoso, ever cometh to the Father by him, shall not be cast out,” but be accepted, pardoned, and saved. Thus it was that "he was lifted up,” and by this elevation he draws men unto him-which is
The second thing we were to contemplate. I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men
To the carnal eye there was nothing at all attractive. in the original spectacle.
Men saw nothing at Calvary, but ignominy, and suffer=; ing, and disgrace; and notwithstanding the miracles with which the first gospel ministers pro
claimed the word, how was it received ? To the Jews it was a stumbling-block ; to the Greeks it was foolishness. Men, in general, saw no beauty nor glory in a crucified Saviour; they were rather disgusted, and rejected the counsel of God against themselves. Nevertheless, the cross of Christ is that grand engine which God himself hath planted, and by which he will effectually draw millions of souls to himself, even all whom he hath ordained to everlasting life; and “ I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”-Not, indeed, all individuals ; for all are not drawn : but, all sorts of men; and in all ages ; and in all countries, whithersoever his gospel is carried." I will draw all men unto me."
This expression, reminds us of our distance and alienation from the great and blessed God.
We are far from God; but we are not at all inclined to return to him ; there is an aversion of heart; “ the carnal mind,” sad to say, "is enmity against God;" and the language of it is, even to the blessed God himself, " Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." And from this dangerous distance, we never can be restored, but by the special grace of God. So our Lord speaks in the sixth chapter of this gospel, in the forty-fourth verse, “ No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him ; and I will raise him up at the last day.” And, in another place, he says, “ Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life." The fact is, they cannot, because they will not; the fault is in the will; and this is extremely criminal ; it is a desperate criminality of heart that keeps men at a distance from God, and keeps them from him, when there is such an attractive spectacle as this exhibited to their view.
Further, the expression “ drawing,” denotes the sweet, persuasive, and powerful manner, in which souls are brought to Christ. It is expressed in similar phraseology by the prophet Hosea ; “I drew them with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love." To an enlightened mind, and to a renewed heart, nothing can appear so rational, so desirable, so beneficial, so delightful, as a compliance with the commands of the gospel. In the common occurrences of human life, men are attracted by interest or by pleasure; they are very ready to embrace measures that promise them safety and profit; and should it not be so in religion too. The first attractive in religion is SAFETY. In imminent danger, men catch eagerly at the first means of deliverance. If a house be on fire, how gladly will the inhabitant adopt the readiest means of escape,
If a person be in danger of drowning, he will eagerly catch fast hold of any thing that is at hand, and never quit his
grasp, but with safety, or with death. If the body be dangerously diseased, how welcome is skilful advice, and potent medicines ; for“ all that a man hath he will give for his life :" and, should men give less for their souls ? No, not when they are brought in earnest to cry " What shall I do to be saved ?" and when that cry is heard in heaven, ready is the answer that is given, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Christ, the great Deliverer is at hand, able and ready to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him.
This was strikingly illustrated by our blessed Lord when he conferred with Nicodemus, and said in the third of John and fourteenth verse) “ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever, believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Israelites, stung with fiery serpents, were in imminent danger of death. They were told, that safety, and health, and life might be obtained, by one look at the appointed object. They looked and lived. In like manner, the convinced sinner gladly turns to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is invited so to do, and he
is always welcome when he applies ; nor shall any one look to the Saviour in vain.
Again, not only safety, but Pleasure is a powerful attractive. The love of pleasure is universal. Every person born into the world possesses it; but, alas! it is the love of sinful pleasures that proves the ruin of all mankind; but, in the Gospel, there are offered to us pleasures that are pure, that are cheap, that are lasting ; “ Wisdom's ways are pleasantness; all her paths are peace;" even “ the peace that passeth all understanding.”—“ the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory ;-the hope that maketh not ashamed.” These are freely offered to us in the Gospel; the delights of communion with God, the pleasure of reading his word, attending his house and ordinances, and enjoying communion with his people. These, and many, many more pleasures, are offered to us ; and these are strongly attractive to all those who are taught of God.
There is also something that is sweetly attractive in the condescension and benevolence of our supe. riors. When persons far above us in rank, shew disinterested concern for our welfare, and are willing to take pains, and deny themselves, to confer a favour upon us, it powerfully attracts the soul, and excites grateful feelings in every generous mind. And thus also it is in religion. Behold an instance of it in the woman, of whom you read in the seventh chapter of St. Luke, who followed our Lord to the house of the Pharisee ; and there, we find, she plentifully watered the feet of our blessed Lord with the tears of penitence and gratitude ; she also anointed them with rich and odoriferous ointment, attracting the notice of all who were in the house, and exciting the resentment of the proud, self-righteous Pharisee : but our blessed Lord vindicates and commends her conduct, and says, “I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.”-This it is, that accounts for the active services and energies of the ministers of God,
in all ages, who most gladly spend and are spent in the service, and for the glory of their divine Lord. When St. Paul speaks of his own labours and sufferings, with those also of his companions, he says, “ We are troubled on every side; we are perplexed; we are persecuted ; we are delivered to death for Jesus' sake:" Yet all this was calmly endured and joyfully suffered! And why was all this! How could it be accounted for! He tells us, 16 the love of Christ constraineth us; for we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead ; and it was for this end, that we should not hereafter live to ourselves, but to him who died for us and rose again.”
And here, likewise, is the centre of Christian communion. This accounts for that harmony and concord, which, in the greatest and best respects, is found among all the followers of Christ, however varied their denominations may be, because it is one and the same great object that has attracted them all, and brought them altogether. “When Shiloh comes," said the people, “ to him shall the gathering of the people be. He is the root of Jesse, and to him shall the Gentiles be assembled ;” yea, according to the promise, “ He shall gather together in one, all things in heaven and in earth.”
Here, then, is a brief summary of the religion of Jesus Christ, Christ lifted up, upon the cross, as our atoning sacrifice ; and the blessed effects of this, upon the hearts of all believers—“ If I be lifted
from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.”
Now let us enquire, What do we know of this attraction ? Let me entreat every one of you to ask the question. I have heard of this attraction ; what do I know of it ? Am I one of those so drawn? All men are drawn by something apparently goodby pleasure or by interest, or by wisdom, but chiefly by the world ; this is the great magnet: there are few comparatively that are drawn to Christ, but