THE GOSPEL— ITS CHARACTER, REQUIREME TS A D BLESSI GS. BY THE REV.

ELSO HEAD,

" In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation ; in whom, also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."— Eph. i, 13, 14. What a precious treasure is the Bible ! What a privilege to enjoy the free, unrestricted use of the oracles of our salvation I The Bible stands alone amidst the multiform literature of our world, as the Book of God. It is a revelation of God's persona] existence and perfections. It contains an account of God's works. It furnishes a disclosure of God's plans. It is a repository of God's thoughts. It makes known to us the brightest expression, and sublimest proof, of God's love to our fallen world. Its treasures of instruction and consolation are inexhaustible. The more we study the Bible with humility and prayer, for divine teaching, the more we perceive in it to admire and to enjoy, to guide and to comfort us in our perilous pilgrimage to " the Saints' everlasting rest." The more we imbibe the spirit of the Bible, the more will the scope of faith's vision enlarge, the range of hope's expectations widen, and the image of God's eternal love be reflected from the depths of our moral and spiritual nature. o part of the Bible should be neglected. History, prophecy, poetry — its dnctrinos, its ethical principles and precepts — have all a meaning, and all contain a good, and it is ours to enfjuire into the one, and appropriate the other. From this blessed book, it is our special duty, as " the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God," to minister to the edification of God's Israel, and warning and invitation, to the unconverted and un.saved. Paul's letter to the Ephesians furnishes the material for discourse, meditation and profit to-day. In this Epistle Paul seems to have poured out the very fulness of his inspired mind, and loving heart. Its

344' THE GOSPEL. contents exhibit the most elevated conceptions, and eloquent expressions, of those things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Here we have sublimest doctrines, most spiritual truths, the

purest precepts, loftiest privileges, kindest admonitions, and most inspiring encouragements. 0, that we had eyes to perceive the beauties, ears to catch the celestial tones, and hearts to appreciate the riches of this Divine composition ! The passage which we have selected for our present use, is replete •with instruction and comfort. In it we have the character^ the requirements, and the blessings of the Gospel. I. The character of the Gospel : " It is the word of truth, and the gospel of your salvation." 1. The Gospel is characterized by the Apostle as the " Word of truth." It is " the word " which " God spake in time past to the fathers by the prophets," and which he " hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." The Gospel is not made up of the gleanings of human wisdom, and human investigations, and human opinions ; it is a kind and faithful oracle, which has been communicated from the eternal throne of wisdom and love. It is " the word'* — the special utterance of God. It is a revelation from the God and Father of all, to his lapsed creatures, bearing the impress of his paternal regards and solicitude, for the recovery of our revolted and •wretched portion of his family. Its tones are clear, loving, authoritative, pathetic, and full. Truth is its subject-matter. But what iind of truth'? It is truth diverse from all those truths which the human intellect hath ascertained, and in which it glories ; and yet it contradicts no truth, but is in harmony with all truth. It is " the truth as it is in Jesus ;" the " truth which is according to godliness ;" it is the truth, whose foundation is Christ, tore-ordained before the foundation of the world ; whose superstructure is Christ dying for our sins according to the Scriptures, and whose topstone is Christ head over all things, and head over all things to his church. The " word of truth" is the whole sum of Christianity, as revealed in the person, teaching, works and sufferings, resurrection and triumphs, of the Son of God. The truth which solves all the mysteries of our teings, dispels all doubt, as the infallible guide to the divinest Tyisdom. It is the standard by which all moral and religious truth must be finally tested. By it, all the moral and religious sentiments

THE GOSPEL. 345 of mankind must stand or fall ; it eclipses all by its glory, transcends all by its majesty ; sways all by its authority, and determines all by its decision. This is the truth after which the world has all along sighed and striven, since man's first transgression disrobed him of his

innocency and purity, and perverted his whole nature into the darkness, guilt and misery of falsehood. Thus bereft of the sun of his moral and intellectual nature, man, apart from the word of God, has ever groped in ignorance and falsity, seeking in vain for the truth of which sin despoiled him. Even the most illumined and enlarged intellects, which rear their noble forms high above the less favored masses of humanity, have been doomed to confess, after all their painful enquiries, that the truth has still eluded their search. " You may see," says a Christian philosopher, " Socrates in the twilight lamenting his obscure and benighted condition, and telling you that his lamp will show him noth ng but his own darkness. You may see Plato sitting down by the water of Lethe, and weeping because he could not remember his former notions. You may hear Aristotle bewailing himself thus — that his ' potential reason ' will so seldom come into act, that his blank sheet has so few and such imperfect impressions upon it, that his intellectuals are at so low an ebb, as that the motions of Euripus will pose them. You may hear Zeno say that his < porch ' is dark ; and Epictetus confessing and complaining that he had not the right 'handle,' the true apprehension of things." And as it has fared with the old philosophers, so has it fared with the new. They are alike blear-eyed, when untouched by the healing beams of " the Sun of Righteousness." But what the sage, the scribe, and the disputer of this world have sought for in vain, breaks upon the human mind, with all the splendor of a sunburst, from the firmament of gospel truth. The Gospel then is •' the word of truth," because it contains, and makes known, truth, absolute truth, without any mixture of error or falsehood. It is that special truth which humanity needs, and after which it groans being burdened ; and to which, when made known and appropriated, the deep, throbbing, oppressed heart of humanity responds in jubilant tones of praise and joy. Three beautiful words reveal this truth. These words arc, " GoD is l-OVE." Hail, simple, yet sublime truth I Truth so simple, that the child can understand it ; and yet so profound, so oomprt'hen.sive, so sublime, that neither philosopher, divine, nor archangel, can comprehend or exhaust its living import. " God

346 THE. GOSPEL. is love." Of this glorious truth, the cross is at once its brightest expression and sublimest proof, salvation its unspeakable gift, and heaven the scene, and eternity the scope of its consummated beatitudes. Do you ask for the credentials of " the word of truth V Go ask of history, as it expands into living reality, what the prophets' pen had so long antedated, on the pages of Holy Scripture. Go ask of the miracles of " the Great Teacher " of the truth, and the lame

leaping, the blind seeing, the sick flushed with new health, the dead living, the waves turning to adamant as a pavement for his sacred feet — his own triumphant exit from the grave, and ascension into heaven — these are credentials of the word of truth. Go ask of the moral triumphs, which the word of truth hath achieved along the centuries of the past, over the barbarism, idolatry, superstition, falsehood, sin, and wretchedness of man, and learn from their response, the credentials of the truth. ay, go no further than your own moral consciousness, for you must feel' there, that the Gospel is the word of truth — divine, eternal truth, that flashes light through the densest darkness of your nature, condemning your sins, and pointing you to your only remedy : this it does by its own self-evidencing power. Thus attested, and> instinct with the resources of Omnipotence, the truth "must stand when rolling years shall cease to move." And as it rises higher and higher in the firmament of this world's history, all that is darkened with error and falsehood, in governments, both civil and ecclesiastical, in institutions, in literature, creeds and forms, must fade away ; and as it culminates in its meridian splendor, the nations shall shout the long-expected jubilee, and hail the universal establishment of the kingdom of truth. Then shall " the glory of the Lord be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." 2. The Gospel is not only " the word of truth," but also " the gospel of your salvation." The Gospel is as benevolent as it is true. It comes not only to shed the efi"ulgenco of certitude on all those great subjects which lie at the basis of man's highest interests, but also to release mankind from the burdens of sin and woe which had for ages crushed their energies, darkened their hopes, and saddened their hearts. It is a Gospel which proclaims " Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good will towards men." It freely oifers, as it abundantly provides, salvation to tlie lost, and heaven to the exiled posterity of Adam. It tells of the Father, that he " sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world

THE GOSPEL. 347 through him might be saved." It tells of the Son, that he came to seek and to save that which was lost ; and declares, that " this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." And it tells you, also, of the Holy Spirit, that he should come into the world, to convince it of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come ; and that it is his special province to enlighten, regenerate, comfort and sanctify you, that you may be made " meet for an inheritance among the saints in light." Truly then does the Apostle describe the Gospel as " the Gospel of your salvation." It reveals the whole Trinity in unity engaged in

the work of saving you. And, surely, the work which engages the entire Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit, must be a work of matchless grandeur and blessedness. And such undoubtedly is the work which achieves a sinner's salvation. What difficulties are surmounted in this work ! The eternal rectitude of the government of God was opposed to it. But this was brought into harmony with it. The incarnation of the Son of God, by his life, which was " holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners," and by his humiliation " unto death, even the death of the cross," magnified the law, and made it honorable, and fully satisfied the claims of Divine rectitude and justice. And in saving the sinner, " mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other." The perverted, blind, depraved, and hostile nature of man himself is against it. But this resistance, stubborn and mighty as it is, is met and overcome by those elements of superior power which are embodied in the Gospel of the grace of God. Satan, and his manifold agencies, are opposed to it. But " greater is ho that is for us, than all that can be against us." How do these difficulties and oppositions serve to heighten our conceptions of the glory of that gospel, which wields principles and powers by which they may all be overcome, and God glorified in the sraner'a salvation. But look at the salvation itself. What does it do for the sinner ¦? It comes to you beaming with light and robed in celestial loveliness. It solves all the anxious solicitudes of your souls, when awakened to a keen perception of the wrongs which you have done to God. It cancels your guilt. It pardons your iniquities. It breaks the bond of your old sinful servitude, and loads you forth into the liberty of the Sons of God. It calms all your mental disquietudes, and breathes over you the balmy atmospljerc of peace. It purifies, strengthens, and restores you to the imago of God. It

348 THE GOSPEL. makes the whole sphere and scope of your being bright and joyous with the hope of the glory that shall be revealed. Such, and more than words can express, is the salvation which the Gospel proclaims as the work that engages the tireless energies of the ever-blessed Trinity. Well might the Apostle exult in such a Gospel, saying : " 1 am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that belleveth ; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." This Gospel is indeed good news ; for wherever it comes, it is the bearer of the tidings of salvation — the most truthful and cheering tidings that ever fell on mortal ears. These are the tidings which hush the wailings of despair ; raise the downcast eye of conscious guilt, and send the pulsations of new life and joy into the crushed and woe-stricken heart of humanity. What

then is our Gospel? Is it a mere system of high doctrines and mysteries, inviting the investigations of the learned 1 Is it a mere repository of dogmas, for the use of creed-mongers ; or is it merely a spacious firmament of brilliant truths, sparkling and beautiful, to be gazed at with delight and admiration 1 o, no, my brethren. The Gospel is the glorious proclamation from heaven, that sinners may be saved through the finished work of the Mediator, Christ Jesus our Lord. This is its grand characteristic. This is its sublime mission. And in this, it is peerless and alone. Its tones of mercy and deliverance to man, sound from no other quarter of the universe. The good news of salvation radiates from no orb of the sky ; it is announced from no region of scientific discovery ; philosophy in all its depths and in all its heights never struck its key-note ; " the depth saith it is not in me ; and the sea saith it is not in me ;" but it is voiced out from the Gospel, in tones full and sweet, like the singing of angels ; and free, like the atmosphere that enwraps the globe. Hear it, ye nations I Hear it, all ye people who are ready to perish. " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." II. The requirements of the Gospel. " After that ye heard the word of trutA — in whom also after that ye believed." 1. The Gospel requires that it be heard. And is not this a most reasonable requirement ? If there be any sound — any proclamation which rightfully demands the listening ear of mortal man — it is the

THE GOSPEL. 849 sound of the Gospel. Is the utterance of truth on any grave question, involving the property, reputation, li^jerty and lives of men, or the stability of nations, worthy of being heard with profound attention 1 How much more so, " the word of truth." By its announcements, questions infinitely more momentous than ever trembled in the balance of senatorial debate, or judicial decision, are solved and determined beyond any further appeal. Those great questions concerning God, the soul, life and death— eternal life and eternal death — tremble in the balance which is swayed by the oracles of Gospel truth. What then can so much merit your serious and attentive hearing ? Does the proclamation of health to the sick, freedom to the captive, joy to the sorrowing, or life to the dead, receive the tribute of an eager audience, from those subjects of pain and wretchedness ? Then how should you regard " the Gospel of your salvation ?'" You are diseased, it offers you health ; you are in

bondage, it offers you liberty ; you are the subjects of manifold sorrows, which earth cannot cure, it offers you " a balm for every wound, a cordial for every fear;" you are dead to all the higher and nobler ends of your being, it offers you life. Surely then if there is one duty pressing upon you — one privilege which you ought with eager hand to grasp — -it is the duty, the privilege, of hearing the Gospel. And yet how lamentably true is it, that scarcely any sound is less heeded than this heavenly proclamation, by the thoughtless and guilty multitudes, who are hurrying through their brief and uncertain existence upon earth. Your ears arc open to every passing tale that is told, eager to drink in the news of the day, whether of personal, social, political, or commercial matters. Lectures on the fine arts, literature, science, and even on subjects of ridicule and mirth, are listened to with marked interest and attention, and made the themes, afterwards, of earnest conversation. What multitudes, also, loud their ears, night after night, to the feigned exhibitions of the stage. And yet all these things together, with any interest you may have in them, are limited by the Been and the temporal ; while some of them are opposed alike to the interests of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. But where is the eager, attentive, appreciative ear, when the word of truth is declared, and when the Gospel pours forth the melody of its glad tidings, offering rest to the weary, pardon to the guilty, holiness to the impure, and heaven to the exiled sons and daughters of men ?

350 THE GOSPEL. When the Gospel is preached) purely, simply, God speaks to you uords of truth and grace by which you may be saved. How reasonable, how solemn, how urgent, then, the duty of hearing it ! " earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord." Hear it attentively, and you will receive instruction in the way of life. Hear it, honestly desiring to know what is the truth, and it will flash the light of conviction into your dark understandings and consciences. Hear it with an humble, reverent prayer, that it may bring to you a message of mercy, and it will reveal Christ to your inmost soul, as " the way? the truth, and the life." May you so hear it now ! ot long since two of the mightiest nations on the globe paused, and bent their ears to catch the first notes of mutual congratulation, as they were borne on the tongue of lightning, through the waters of the broad Atlantic. And will you not hush your souls into stillness, bid all your passions be quiet, while your Almighty Father, King of kings, and Lord of lords, stoops from the throne of his glory, and in all the melting majesty of love, proclaims to you " the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation ?" 0, who will not say. Be still ! let

every earthly sound be hushed : it is my Father's voice ! lo ! my elder brother speaks ! " Lord, what wilt thou have to do V* "Send some message from thy word, That may peace and joy afford." 2. The second requirement of the Gospel furnishes an answer to the all-absorbing question, which the right hearing of the truth ever suggests and awakens. " Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." " In whom after that ye believed." " Faith Cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." But what is it to believe ? On this subject many words darken counsel. It is not so much the philosophy of the act, as the act itself, which concerns you. Yet its philosophy, like all the philosophy of heaven, is simplicity itself. Do you still ask what it is to believe ? We replv, it is the " flight of a penitent sinner unto the mercy of God in Christ." Make an honest efi"ort to perform the ad^ and the Holy Ghost will explain its import. Remember it is faith in Christ which the Gospel requires. You have " the word of truth," and you should hear it, ponder on it, "believe it, and receive its convicting power in your consciences ; but you should not trust in it, as a mere revelation of truth. You have the gospel of your salvation, and

THE GOSPEL. ^ 851 you should hall it with joy, study it, embrace it, as the only disclosure of God's method of saving sinners. But if you stop here, you stop short of salvation. The Gospel receives all its significance and importance — its very character and substance as a Gospel — from the person, the work, and the sacrifice of Jesus, to whom it points as the only ground of a sinner's hope, and the sole object of a sinner's faith. He it is, «' whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, for the remission of s'nrs that are past, through the forbearance of God 5 to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness : that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in .Jesus." This, then, is the grand requirement of the Gospel — Believe. Wonderful word ! What power resides in it, what a crisis in human existence does it produce ; what countless blessings does it secure! It fixes the soul on* the everlasting Iovg of God in Christ, as the foundation of its pardon, adoption, and regeneration. It gives to the soul a living, felt, joyous interest in the aim and end of the redeeming work of the Son of God, which is eternal life, derived from God and perfected in him. It is the fruitful source of a holy and beautiful life, in conformity to the lovely life of Jesus. Believe in Christ, and you are one with him.

And in this blessed union the whole Godhead smiles on you, and invests your being and destiny with divine dignity and splendor. Such being the simplicity, power, and efiicacy of faith in Christ, marvelous indeed is the unbelief of man ! I know that the pride of philosophy, and the pride of self-righteousness, have ever stumbled at this word — believe. But that pride must bow, or the soul it swells must die. Reason, philosophy, science, and largest learning, must bring all their boasted treasures, and lay them at the foot of the cross, and count them but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord — that Christ may be won. Morality, with its noblest traits and most generous deeds, must disrobe itself and appear in its naked deformity, that it may seek, like Paul, " to be found in iliin, not having mine own righteousness, which is of tho law, but that which is through the faith o£ Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." But why do I prolong your attention to this evangelical word, believe / It is that you may even now realize its sublime import in your hearts. Come, then, all guilty, polluted, wretched and undone, as you are, and " Behold the Lamb * f God that takoth away the siua of tho world."

S52 ^ THE GOSPEL. " Believe in Him, who died for thee ; And sure as He has died, Thy debt is paid, thy soul is free. And thou art justified." Here you may lay off the sackcloth and ashes, and in a garment pure and white, standing hard by the cross, with your eye of faith resting on the slain Lamb of Grod, tune your harp and sing : " All praise to the Lamb! accepted I am. Through faith in the Saviour's adorable name ; In Him I confide, His blood is applied ; For me He hath suffered, for me He hath died. " ot a douut doth arise, to darlten the skies. Or hide for a moment, my Lord from mine eyes : In Him I am blest, I lean on His breast. And, lo ! in His wounds I continue to rest." III. The blessings of the Gospel. " After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession."

1. The first gospel blessing, as indicated in the text, is that of our being " sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise." Here is a blessed agent, and a blessed act. The agent is " the Holy Spirit of promise." He it is, by whom the work of salvation is wrought in, and made manifest to the soul. Hence our spiritual renovation is said to be effected " by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." He is the third person of the triune Godhead, and as such, preceeding from the Father and the Son, it is his high prerogative, in the economy of our redemption, to re-edify the fallen temple of the human soul, to re-adorn it with the beauties of holiness, and to fill it with the Divine presence and glory. He is called the " Spirit of promise," because he is the prominent subject of many of the promises announced by the prophets of the old economy. He was also promised by Christ to his discii^les. For before Christ was glorified the Spirit was to the Church a promised gift. For this promise the church waited, and with this promised gift the waiting church was baptized, and mightily endowed for the fulfillment of her mission in the world. For the largest fulfillment of this promise, the church still waits ; and 0, that she would, in faith and earnest, united, pleading prayer, then would another Pentecost come, and a nation be born in a day !

THE GOSPEL. 353 But what is the act, which is here ascribed to the Holy Spirit, and which constitutes for the child of God so rich a blessing ? It is the act of sealing them. The use of seals, to which the Apostle refers, was to impress a mark on an object, so as to designate it as the property of him whose seal it bore. Thus the Holy Spirit seals those who have believed, by impressing xipon them the image of God, thereby designating them as the peculiar people and property of God, enlisting in their behalf the special interest and regards of God. The Spirit's seal hath on it this motto, " The Lord knowcth them that are his." The seal of the Spirit is not only an objective designation, but also a subjective assurance that we are God's people ; the objects of his peculiar interest and favor. It is a part of the Spirit's work to make our reconciliation and adoption sure to us. "Wherever he dwells as a sealing Spirit, there he is as the Spirit of adoption, crying in our hearts, Abba J Father ! What a rich blessing is this ' to be designated, marked, sealed as the peculiar people and property of God, and to be inwardly assured that we are his, and are entitled to all the present and prospective

immunities of his heavenly household. And all this, not by the fallible deductions of our own reason ; the declarations of an erring priesthood, nor the appliances of ecclesiastical forms and ceremonies, but by the infallible Spirit of God himself. The Holy Spirit first produces in us the new creation after the image of God, then sheds a clear, steady light on his own work, by which we are assured that we are the children of God, and heirs of God, and joint heirs with his Son Jesus Christ. This is the blessed religious experience which the Bible inculcates, which true faith realizes, which God acknowledges, before which the clouds of earthly affliction grow briirht, death loses its sting, and the grave its victory. My brethren, this I call a great, a glorious Gospel blessing. What think you ? Is it not so ? I know that you arc accustomed to place a very liigh estimate on the assured favor of those whom you regard as important to your temporal well-being. You know if you are in want they will help you ; if you are in danger they will screen you; if you are perplexed they will guide you. They may be wealthy, strong, and wise ; and you know tliey love you. What a cheerful light does the assurance of their love and favor throw around your earthly life. But what is the favor of man compared with the favor of God. A thousand 23

354 THE GOSPEL. circumstances may intervene, and cause the aid of those on whom you rely, to fail you just at the period of your greatest need. But can God fail? Can circumstances affect him? Is he not " a friend that sticketh c'ioser than any brother ?" Can his wealth be exhausted, or his strength be weakened, or his wisdom be nonplused ? Then, if you are sealed as his property, and assured of his proprietorship in you as one of his peculiar people, you may rejoice and be glad, for thou hast a friend adequate to every possible emergency. And he says to thee — " I will never leave thee nor forsake thee 5 so that thou mayest boldly say, the Lord is my helper." 2. The other great blessing which follows faith in Christ, is the " earnest of our inheritance." An earnest is a part of the purchase money already paid down, to confirm the contract, and as a pledge that the whole amount shall be forthcoming in due time. This word the Apostle uses in a figurative sense, to represent the work already wrought in the heart of the believer, in relation to its future completion at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The import of this "earnest" is, that grace is incipient glory, and glory shall complete what grace has begun. This representation of the work of the

Spirit in the hearts of believers, has a special value, as it serves to give a kind of definiteness to our ideas of the heavenly inheritance. Much of the gorgeous picturing of heaven which we sometimes read and hear, fails in vividness of impression and urgency of moiive to our souls, because it is composed of features and hues to which there is nothing correspondent in the present realizations of our experience. But when we speak of a heaven on whose loveliness you have already gazed, of whose fruits 3'ou have already had a foretaste, and into whose fellowship you have already entered, then the shadowy gives place to the real, the indefinite to the distinct, the foreign to the familiar ; then the land that is aftir ofi" is brought nigh, and the visions, the love, the purity, the high services, holy fellowships, and the sublime enjoyments of heaven, are antedated by the " earnest of our inheritance," which is heaven in miniature, and which all who have believed, and are partakers of the Holy Grhost, possess and enjoy, even in this vale of tears. You have now the disquietudes of your hearts calmed by " the peace of God which passeth all understanding ;." and what is this but a foretaste of that deep, sweet, unbroken calm, which is forever settled upon the paradise of God ? Already are you changed into the image of Jesus — " from glory to

THE GOSPEL. 355 glory as by the Spirit of the Lord 5' and is not this the beginning of that perfection which consists in your complete transformation into the image of God, and which is one of the brightest radiances of the celestial glory 1 John tells us of the blessedness that shall crown us, that " we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Have you not in this, the land of your pilgrimage, some of those ravishing delights and elevated joys, which are forever in the presence, and at the right hand of God ? " Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." In these works and fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel blesses the believer with an earnest of his future heaven. These are the grapes of Eschol, which tell me how goodly a land my Canaan is. These are streaks of immortality breaking through the intervening veil, and kindling for me the beginnings of heaven upon earth. And if all this be but an " earnest," which is, as Chrysostom explains it, " a part of the whole," then what must that " whole " be ? It will be these precious buds bursting into full blown flowers ; these lovely streaks of the morning dawn melting into the splendor of meridian day. It will be my present knowledge, freed from its dimsightedness and uncertainty ; my present holiness made stainless like the holiness of God ; my present enjoyments expanding into all the perfection of bliss, of

which my glorified nature shall be capable. And all this to be realized in that " new heavens and new earth," where sin shall never be, with its defilements and its curse ; where there are no seeds of corruption to work decay, and whose bloom and beauty shall be immortal in their tints and hues of loveliness and splendor. And this earnest is ours " until the redemption of the purchased possession." By the purchased possession, here, you are not to understand heaven, or your eternal blessedness, but the collective people of God, whom he hath purchased by the precious blood of Jesus as His own peculiar treasure. And by the redemption of this purchased possession, is meant the final restoration, when the graves shall give up their dead, and the whole family of God shall be presented faultless and complete before His throne. Of that glorious period of " the manifestation of the sons of God " Paul speaks in another place, and says of those who have the fruits of Spirit, " even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoDtion, to wit, the redemption of our body." When the trumpet

356 THE GOSPEL. that heralds the second advent of our Lord shall sound its blast upon the ear of the universe, then shall the slumbering dust of his saints hear his voice, and come forth, in new and beautiful forms, fashioned like unto his glorious body, spiritual, incorruptible immortal ; robed in flashing sunbeams, £t abodes and organs for " the spirits of just men made perfect," Then shall be the redemption of the purchased possession ; then shall the " earnest " be absorbed in the full " inheritance." Then for the foretaste, you shall have the rich and royal banquet. For then, the shout shall be heard, as the sound of many waters : " Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give glory to Him, For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." " Yes, the prize shall soon be given ; We his open face shall see : Lore ihe earnest of our heaven, Love our full reward shall be : Love shall crown us Kings through all eternity." My brethren and fellow heirs of immortality, what is this Gospel

to you ? Has it given truth to your understandings, and salvation to your souls'? Have you heard it with due interest, reflection and prayer ? Have you believed in the Christ to whom it points you, as your only and all-sufl&cient Saviour ? Have you the seal of God impressed upon your inmost souls "? Have you, in the peace, the purity, and the gladness of your hearts, the earnest of your future heaven ? Can you answer these questions affirmatively ? if so, then I hail you, ye blessed people of the Lord ! Learn to prize this Gospel more highly every day of your lives. You will never reach that point of progression in this life, at which you will be beyond the need of this grand old Gospel. Make it, then, more and more your Gospel every day of your existence. Study it ; pray over it j adorn it ; commend it. Breathe in its atmosphere. Drink of its living waters. Feast upon its heavenly manna. Thus shall ye grow up into a moral manhood, like unto Christ your living head. Thus pass a few interchanging days and nights, and then — " The joyful news will come, Child, your Father calls, come home." But if you are unable to claim the blessings of the Gospel as a

THE GOSPEL. 357 present possession, what shall I say to you ? What can I say, that has not been said a thousand times before ? And yet, blessed be God, I have an abiding faitli in the simple, old story of the cross. " I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." And as " faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," why may not that faith so come to you this day ? Think of your sins, how deep their dye ; how ponderous their weight of guilt ; how revolting in the sight of your immaculate God ; how deep the damnation they deserve. Think of the love that bled and died, in the person of the holy and loving Jesus, that your sins might not cleave as a withering curse to your souls forever. And can you thus ponder, and not turn and live ? Behold the cross ! Hear as from the quivering, dying lips of your crucified Lord and Saviour, these gladly solemn words : " Look unto me all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved." One look I One glance of the eye of living faith, and thou art justified, and hast peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. May God grant you this grace for his name's sake. Amen.

1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books

2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

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