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eternal law. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith. The atonement of Christ alone removes the difficulties which oppose the salvation of sinners. It alone renders salvation possible by making it consistent with the perfections of His nature that God should pardon the guilty and admit them to His favor. The vicarious obedience of the Savior, deriving an infinite value from the infinite dignity of His person, satisfies the demands of justice, truth and law. He obeys, He suffers, He dies, as the substitute of sinners; and they, who by faith receive His perfect righteousness and rest upon it alone, are in Him absolved from guilt and invested with a title to eternal life. Nor does the saving office of Jesus stop here. It was necessary that, upon the completion of His mediatorial work on earth and His appearance in the heavens, He should have somewhat to offer. He must not present Himself in the holiest of all without blood. Accordingly, having as the merciful and faithful high priest of His people freely sacrificed Himself for them, He presents Himself in the heavenly sanctuary with His own most precious blood. Entering into the presence of His Father in the holy of holies, and pressing His sacerdotal pleas, enforced by the affecting memorials of His great sacrifice, He obtains the promised Spirit of grace, and from His mediatorial throne He sends forth to apply the benefits of His death to His people, and to gather them to Himself, their federal head, representative and Savior, from every kindred, tribe and tongue of earth.
Relying by faith upon the atoning death of Jesus, whether as a future or as a past reality, sinners have
been saved in every age. We have reason to believe that our first parents experienced rest from their tremendous guilt and relief from their gigantic affliction by reposing on the bosom of the first great promise; and, parallel with the development of the grand dispensations of the Covenant of Redemption, a growing multitude of believers have marched, each clime and country, like the tributary streams which swell the mighty river, contributing its numbers to augment the thickening host. They go from strength to strength until each one appears in Zion before God. An innumerable congregation of disembodied spirits, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and redeemed from bondage to Satan, sin and death, are already gathered to glory and throng the heavenly Jerusalem. The wise and the unwise, the Jew and the Gentile, Barbarians, Scythians, bond and free, are collected into the kingdom of God, speak the one dialect of heaven, and mingle their worship before the throne. And myriads more shall be brought in. They shall come from the east and the west, the north and the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Thousands yet unborn, down to the verge of time and the consummation of the world, shall press upward to the heavenly gates. Every day and every hour witnesses a fresh accession of ransomed spirits to the bloodwashed and triumphant church. While these words are uttered, it is probable that many a wearied soul, long buffeted by temptation and tormented by satanic malice, is bursting away from its earthly tenement, and from the dying chamber and the bed of death, and is soaring as on eagles' wings to its eternal home. Denser and broader grow the shining masses of the celestial
host, as from every nation, people and tongue of earth fresh numbers are gathering, not at the summons of the martial trump, nor to the strife of gory fields, but at the call of the glorified Savior and to the peaceful rest of heaven. “I beheld,” said the Seer of Patmos, “and lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: and cried, with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. ... And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Brethren, this is philanthropy, noble, sublime, godlike. To discharge one genuine office of charity, however humble, to the needy, the suffering, the dying, is worth more than the splendid triumphs of wickedness though heralded by trumpets and applauded by thousands. But to purge unnumbered millions of deathless spirits from guilt, to rescue them from eternal burnings, to lift them to the holiness, the glory and the bliss of heaven, and to accomplish this by the sacrifice of Himself, and His own passage through the fiery furnace of divine wrath,—this is an achievement which shall forever crown the Savior with honors, call forth the rapturous praises of angels, and attract the ineffable affection, gratitude and homage of a redeemed and glorified church.
The corn of wheat has fallen into the ground and died; and the fruits of the glorious harvest springing from it are the supreme exaltation of the sufferer, the highest glory of the divine perfections, the reconciliation of heaven and earth, and the eternal salvation of a countless seed.
THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF THE
1 Timothy, i: 11. “The glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
It has been frequently observed that man is essentially a religious being. At no time, and in no place, has he existed without some notion of a Diety, and some form of worship by which he has approached Him and sought to propitiate His favor. An attentive examination of the different schemes of religion which prevail in the world will disclose to us the fact, that they are all, to a greater or less extent, based upon the fundamental principle of the first religion communicated to man—that of personal obedience to the divine law, as the ground of acceptance with God. For although it should be admitted that the worship of even Pagan nations, conducted, in part, through sacrifices, evinces some acquaintance with a religious element foreign to the genius of natural religion; and although it should be confessed that this element belongs properly to the Gospel, and may have been adopted by the heathen as one of its traditionary fragments passing down from the patriarchal era, it must
NOTE.—The title page of the pamphlet that contains this sermon is as follows: “Services on the occasion of the Ordination of the Rev. F. P. Mullally, and the Installation of Rev. J. H. Thornwell, D. D., and Rev. F. P. Mullally, as Co-Pastors of the First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, S. C. Sermon by Rev. John L. Girardeau. Charges, by Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D. May 4th, 1860. Published by the Congregation. Columbia, S. C. Steam-Press of Robert M. Stokes.