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men of this world. St. Peter speaks of being redeemed from "our vain conversation, received by tradition from our fathers." It matters not what we were brought up to, nor what our forefathers lived in if it was wrong, we must forsake it. : We must confess Christ before men, or he will deny us before angels; and we shall not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, if we know it to be the power of God to our own salvation; but rather glory in the cross of Christ, by which we are crucified to the world, and the world to us. Then are we the true disciples of Christ, when we are "not of the world, even as he was not of the world."
4. We are all, as sinners, captives and prisoners to the broken Law and offended Justice of God. The law justly demands of us perfect and perpetual obedience. If we fail in one point, we are guilty of all, and fall under its fearful curse. The law demands our obedience or our blood. If we disobey but once, our lives are forfeited. We are condemned already; and, if death find us in that state, it shuts us up for ever in hell.
But, glory be to the Lamb of God, that he came into the world to save sinners; and as there could be no remission of sins but by the shedding of blood, he freely gave himself up for us, and died for our sins, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Thus he gave himself "a ransom" for us; and "redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 13. Hereby, all who believe in him are "delivered from the wrath to come." "There is therefore now no condemnation to them." They have "passed from death unto life;" and "who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." In consequence of this, they are entitled to peace of conscience, even the peace of God which passeth all understanding.
Finally, We are all, by reason of sin, doomed to Death, and shall shortly be prisoners of the Grave. This is the house appointed for all living; to this dark abode we must soon remove, and there remain till the great day, when there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.
But the glorious Redeemer has said of his people, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: Oh, death, I will be thy plague! Oh, grave, I will be thy destruction !" Yes, Jesus is made unto us redemption; namely, "the redemption of the body;" and "the creature itself," that is, the body, "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God," Rom. viii. 21. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh, death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law: but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
And now, my friends, what think you of Redemption? Does it appear to you a little or a great matter? How are your hearts affected with it? Do you know that you are, or once was, in this miserable bondage? You can never desire deliverance, nor love the Deliverer, till you know this. When Israel was in Egypt, "they sighed by reason of their bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of their bondage." Again, when Israel was in Babylon, "they sat down by the rivers and wept: yea, they wept, when they remembered Zion." Depend upon it, if you never saw this to be your condition, it is your condition now. If you never saw any excellence and precious
ness in Christ, you are yet "in the gall of bitterness, yet in the bond of iniquity." Be advised, when you go home, to retire to some secret place, and, on your bended knees, implore the blessed Redeemer to set you free. Say, with the Psalmist, "Draw nigh to my soul, and redeem it." Look through the bars of your prison to heaven. Cry to the Lord in your trouble, and he will save you out of your distresses. Hear him saying, Hear him saying, "Wilt thou be made free?" He stands ready to knock off thy fetters, and set thee at liberty. If it were necessary for you to pay the price of redemption, you might well despair; but the price is paid; nothing on your part is wanting but a heart and a hand to receive it. Come then, for all things are ready. "Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption." Psal. cxxx. 7. Here is the sum of the Gospel. Here are glad tidings of great joy to souls burthened with sin. Are you afflicted with a sense of your sin and misery? Well, there is hope in Israel concerning this. Hope in the Lord;" not in yourselves, not in your own works, but in Jehovah; and your encouragement to do so is-" With him is mercy,"-grace, goodness, bounty. He is, of his own nature, disposed to forgive; and there is this further encouragement-" with him there is plenteous redemption." Christ has shed his precious blood as the ransom price. The redemption is plenteous. The boundless stores of grace and mercy are fully equal to all your wants. Hope then in the Lord, and let your expectation be fixed alone in him; "for he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities."
And you who, through grace, have believed, to the saving of your souls, come, and consider the sad state you once were in; from which nothing could deliver you but the astonishing ransom of the Saviour's
blood. Oh, see the malignity of sin, in the Redeemer's bloody sweat in the garden, and in his dreadful pains on the cross! Oh, see what sin has done! See, and detest the murder of thy gracious Lord. Hate it with a perfect hatred, and resolve to wage eternal war against it.
Come and meditate on the love of Christ, "who loved you, and gave himself for you," and who has, by his Spirit, brought home the redemption to your heart. There was nothing good in you to engage him to do this. No: for "while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us." Oh, be thankful for your wonderful deliverance! "Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hands of the enemy." Had a generous fellow-creature delivered you from Turkish slavery, or from a Spanish Inquisition, how would you express your thanks? "Oh, Sir," would you say, "I am under infinite obligations to you; I have not such another friend in all the world; I shall never forget your kindness while I live!" But no earthly friend can redeem your soul from sin and hell. "Oh, would to God (said a holy man) I could cause paper and ink to speak the worth and excellency, the high and loud praises of our brother Ransomer! Oh, the Ransomer needs not my report; but if he would vouchsafe to take and use it, I should be happy if I had an errand to this world, but for some few years, to spread proclamations of the glory of the Ransomer, whose clothes were wet and dyed in blood; if even, after that, my soul and body should return to their original nothing!"
Thus, my friends, let us think of Christ; and thus thinking of him, let us show our love by keeping his commandments, ever remembering that "we are not our own, for we are bought with a price; therefore let
us glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are God's." Remember you are yet in the body; a body of sin and death: and though, through grace, you delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man, yet is there another law in your members warring against the law of your mind." Watch against it then, lest at any time it should "bring you into captivity to the law of sin." Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free; and rejoice in hope of the complete, everlasting, and glorious liberty of the children of God in a better world.
JESUS, with all thy saints above
Bless'd be the Lamb, my dearest Lord,
The Lamb that freed my captive soul
And sent the lion down to howl
Where hell and horror reigns.
All glory to the dying Lamb,
While angels live to know his name,