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Memoirs of John Urquhart
Appendix A


When we look around us on the broad field of nature, and contemplate the numberless beauties of the universe, we are struck with the great power and glory of God, as the Creator and Preserver of all things.

When we turn over the page of history, and reflect on the ages that are past, and more especially when we trace the various wanderings of the favoured descendants of Abraham, we are still more impressed with his goodness and wisdom as the God of providence.

When we turn to the inspired volume, and behold the just and Perfect nature of the law, which he has there announced to us, we are led to adore his perfect justice and holiness as the great Lawgiver.

From these sources we may deduce many of the attributes of God, and form some conception of his moral character; but there is a darkness which envelopes it, which not one ray of mercy irradiates; there is a cold gloom which hangs around it, and which is not enlivened by one spark of love.

It is only through the atonement that we can behold him as the God of mercy; it is here that he is emphatically styled the God of love. It is only as he appears in the person of the Saviour that we dare approach unto him; it is only here that he condescends to be called "Immanuel, God with us."

Here the darkness and uncertainty through which we viewed him, are dispelled, and life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Here mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace embrace each other.

The nature and design of the wondrous scheme of redemption are beautifully and simply described to us by Jesus Christ himself, who tells us, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Here man is represented as perishing; for God gave his Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish; by which is evidently implied, that man, previously to his believing in the Son of God, is in a perishing condition.

We would first then consider the perishing state of mankind which called for the intercession of the love of God; and which is the state of every sinner before he believes in the Saviour.

Here we would remark, that God did not create man in this perishing condition; he brought it upon himself. In the beginning, God created man in his own image, that is, with a moral character in conformity with his own, with a heart pure and holy, and abhorring iniquity. In this state of holiness, and at that time when man was morally able to keep the commandments of an infinitely pure and just God, his Creator, as a pledge of his attachment to himself, desired him not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the garden in which he had placed him; and at the same time warned him, in the most solemn manner, of the consequences of his disobedience. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."

In defiance of this awful warning, the first of mankind put forth his hand and broke the commandment of that God who had bestowed upon him every blessing. In consequence of this transgression, a state of things took place, in which every descendant of Adam has been utterly unable to keep that law which God was pleased to reveal to them. This law is of necessity in accordance with God’s own character, — perfect, — promising life to every one that abideth in all things that are written in it, to do them; and at the same time declaring, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Such a law is the only one which could be given by a perfect God. Man had undergone a change: he was now become unable to keep any of the commandments of the Lord; but because man had fallen, the law of God was not to be suited to his depraved capacities. Such an adaptation would have argued change in the Lawgiver, —in Him who knows no variableness nor shadow of turning. This law every individual of the human race has broken times and ways without number. We all, like lost sheep, have gone astray. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

This, then, was the state of our fallen race; we had all broken God’s law, and were exposed to its just condemnation. A holy God could not wink at sin, nor a just God forgive iniquity:—it behoved that satisfaction should be made, or that the whole human race should be given up to endless destruction.

Such satisfaction man could not make; he could not even perform his duty, much less atone for the sins he had committed.

None of the blessed spirits before the throne could give for us the satisfaction required; they were all bound, as well as we, to render perfect obedience for themselves at every moment of their existence, and could, therefore, perform no supererogatory duty to atone for the sins of others. Since then man had sinned, since he could render no satisfaction for himself, and since no created being, however exalted, could render it for him, there was but one alternative: it was necessary that the required satisfaction should be made by the Judge himself, or that man should be consigned to endless punishment.

This is the condition alluded to in the passage we have quoted. It was when man was in this state, when he had made God his enemy by his multiplied transgressions, that that very God against whom he had offended, "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Yes! at that very time when all that was dear to man seemed lost for ever,—when there seemed to be no way of escape, — when there was no eye to pity nor hand to help, even then God said, "I have found a ransom." His eye pitied, and his right arm wrought salvation. No sooner had man fallen from his innocence, than God declared to him that "the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent." This was the first of that lengthened series of prophecies regarding a future deliverer, which terminated in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through faith in his name, as foretold in those prophecies, that the people of God were saved, who lived before his coming; it is through faith in his name, as manifested in the gospel, that more sure word of prophecy with which we are favoured, that believers are saved now; and through faith in his name also shall the elect be saved unto the latest generations. "For there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."

The design of the mission of Jesus Christ, we conceive, consists chiefly in two things: — the one is usually denominated our justification, the other, our sanctification. The first of these consists in our freedom from wrath, as the punishment due to our sins; being that part of the atonement which reconciles our forgiveness with God’s justice, that through which he can be just and the justifier of the sinner who believeth in Jesus.

The second, or our sanctification, is that which fits us for enjoying eternal life in the presence of God; being that part of the scheme of redemption which reconciles our reception into favour with God’s holiness; that through which he can be of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and yet hold communion with the most polluted sinner who believeth in Jesus.

We have already shown that no less a being than God could atone for sin; but we must now remark that as man had sinned, so the law required that man should suffer. It was for this reason chiefly, we conceive, that our Saviour took not on him the nature of angels, but took upon him the seed of Abraham, being thus fitted in the estimation of the law to atone for the sins of man. Having therefore in due time appeared in the flesh, and sojourned a considerable time on earth for an example to his followers; the time drew nigh when the sentence of the law should be fulfilled in him who knew no sin; when he, who was God over all, blessed for ever, and who thought it no robbery to be equal with the Father, should be made a curse for us.

The sentence of the law was death; it behoved therefore, that the substitute should bear that sentence, — and he did bear it in its fullest extent. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and thus magnified the law, and made it honourable. While hanging on the accursed cross, the Son of God exclaimed, "It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." Then was justice satisfied,--it had wreaked its vengeance on the person of our Surety; and thus as many as believe in him, are saved from the wrath to come.

While he thus obtained our justification on Calvary, our great Redeemer also made provision for our sanctification. While he was yet with his disciples on the earth, he promised to send to them "another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth." To sanctify the heart of the believer, and to assimilate his character to that of God, is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is not, like justification, attained at once; it is a progressive process. When a sinner believes in Jesus, his justification is completed, he is entirely freed from the punishment due to sin; but he is then only partially freed from the influence of sin itself. The work of the Spirit is only begun in his heart. That work, however, will still go on; day by day he will increase in love for holiness, and hatred of sin, though it will never be completed on this side of the grave.

Such, we conceive, is the design of the gospel, and such the means employed to accomplish this design. We shall now attempt to show the fitness of the means for the end.

We have already seen that the law was not adapted to the fallen state of man, nor indeed could be, so long as God was just; but "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

To man in his fallen and depraved state, the gospel is most admirably adapted. In calling upon a sinner, it does not address itself to his generous feelings; it does not appeal to his gratitude, and say, "Can you any longer remain in disobedience to that God who has done so much for you?" "Can you any longer love sin, when you see its awful consequences in the death of the Redeemer?" The force of such language could only be felt by a renewed mind; such language were addressed to an unregenerate sinner in vain.

In his mind there is no generous feeling; it is wholly selfish. In his mind there is no impression of the love of God; there can, therefore, be no corresponding emotion of gratitude. How then, does the gospel address him? Is there yet any principle left in his depraved mind, which may be impressed by its declarations? Yes, there is such a principle, it is this very selfishness by which we have characterized him, it is a love of self, a desire of self-preservation, a desire, when he sees his danger, to escape from the wrath to come. "What shall I do to be saved?" is the language of every sinner in this condition. It was for such characters that the gospel was intended, and it is to such that it holds forth its most gracious invitations. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and and thou shalt be saved." "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

If, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the sinner be led to this refuge, he immediately experiences a heavenly joy, a peace which the world knoweth not. To this joy succeeds love. His heart is now in some degree sanctified, and hence, he is in some degree capable of receiving impressions of holy love; the emotion of gratitude is excited in his bosom, and he loves in return. He feels that the debt of love which he owes is far greater than he can ever pay: and his language now is, "What can I do too much for him that died for me?’ It is no longer a selfish principle which influences his conduct; he is now resolved to live not to himself but to Him who died for him, and who rose again. It is not now we apprehend merely through the fear of future punishment, or even through the hope of future reward, that he avoids sin, and follows after holiness. He has now acquired a new nature, which cannot take pleasure in iniquity. He is not indeed, freed from sin, for then he were perfectly happy; but it is now the object of his abhorrence, and he is looking anxiously forward to the time, when it shall no more break in upon his enjoyment.

Thus we have attempted to give a cursory sketch of the nature and design of the mission of our Saviour; we have endeavoured to show how he reconciled the foregiveness of sinners, and their reception into favour, with the justice and purity of the divine character; and also the fitness of the means employed for this purpose, and the wondrous change produced by them, upon the character of man. And now let the reader solemnly ask his own heart, "Am I a partaker of the mercy here exhibited?" "Have I been led to commit my soul to the keeping of Jesus?"

On the result of these questions depends our eternal happiness. And in this important inquiry let us not deceive ourselves; "A tree is known by its fruits." If our character does not correspond with the precepts of the gospel, whatever we may think, we have not believed it. And if we thus find that our belief has been merely nominal, let us seek God before it be too late; let us come to him in the way which he has appointed while it is called to-day; let us recollect that "now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation." Let us remember that every moment we put off, our hearts are acquiring an additional degree of hardness; and let us take warning from the declaration, that "He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

But, if we do experience something of that joy and love which the gospel describes, and have thus reason to think that we have believed in the Son of God; let us not be content with what we have already obtained; let us forget the things that are past, and press onward to the things which are before, for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. Let us recollect that there is no standing still; that if we are not growing in holiness and spiritual strength, we must be falling back. Let us beware of thinking that the contest is over, as though we were already perfect; let us remember that sanctification is a progressive work; that it is not to be attained in a single day, or a single year, or in a series of many years, nor ever wholly attained, so long as we remain in this world of sin.

As a means of attaining greater degrees of grace, let us look to the Saviour and reflect on his finished work; the more we think on his sufferings, the more will we hate sin, which was the cause of them! The more we reflect on his love to us, the more will we love in return; for "we love him, because he first loved us." With our love, our holiness will increase, and we shall be the more assimilated to his glorious character; and consequently, we shall the more largely partake of that happiness which is enjoyed by him in full perfection. The subject of the love of God as exhibited in the atonement, is infinite, and will be the theme of our praises through eternity. But though never able fully to comprehend, yet may we ever be learning more of the height, and depth, and breadth, and length of that love which passeth knowledge.

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