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the undoubted proper name of God, and that to which the Greek translators, long before our Saviour's birth, had most appropriated the name of Lord, not only by way of explication, but distinction and particular expression; as when we read, “ thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high in all the earth.”. And as the original Jehovah was spoken of Christ by the holy prophets ; so the title of Lord, as the usual interpretation of that name, was attributed unto him by the apostles. In that signal prediction of the first age of the gospel, God promised by Joel, that " whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord (Jehovah) shall be delivered.” And St. Paul hath assured us, that Christ is that Lord, by proving from thence, that “ whoosever believeth on him shall not be ashamed; and inferring from that, “ if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, we shall be saved.” Joel ii. 32; Rom. x. 9. For if it be a certain truth, that whosoever confesseth the Lord Jesus shall be saved ; and the certainty of this truth
that foundation, that “whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed ;” and the certainty of that in relation to Christ depend upon that other promise,
whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved;" then must the Lord in the 13th verse of the 10th chapter to the Romans, be the same with the Lord Jesus in the 9th verse, or else St. Paul's argument must be invalid and fallacious, as containing that in the conclusion which was not comprehended in the premises. But the Lord in the 9th verse is no other than Jehovah, as appeareth by the prophet Joel, from whom the scripture is taken. Therefore our Saviour in the new testament is called Lord, as that name or title is the interpretation of Jehovah. In this dignified character the penitent thief worshipped the Son of God. It is really miraculous that this poor malefactor had more distinct views of the Deity of Christ than even the disciples themselves. He saw by faith the bright and effulgent rays of divinity shine through the dark clouds of his unexampled sufferings and ignominious death, and felt a confident persuasion that the man who was crucified between him and his fellow companion in crime, had done nothing amiss, and that he was no other than Jehovah. The Spirit of faith inspired him with boldness to offer up his humble prayer to the agonizing Jesus, and to breathe his departing and immortal soul into the hands of his dying Lord, who was strong in weakness ; glorious when
under reproach; was the ever-living God when his body was dead; and as able and willing to save the vilest of sinners who cry unto him for mercy, when he was hanging on the accursed tree, as he is now when reigning in heaven, and sitting upon the throne of his glory.
What a surprising instance of the rich, free, and sovereign grace of God! Surely nothing is too hard for the Lord ! “For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” He freely acknowledges the justice of the sentence which doomed him and his fellow-sinner to an ignominious death, and rebukes him for continuing to rail against the suffering Messiah, saying, “ Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds : but this man hath done nothing amiss." And lest any should suppose that he died an unbelieving socinian, because he called Christ a man, he emphatically styles him “ Lord,” which is a general title of the King Messiah, and plainly showed that he believed him to be the rightful owner of a kingdom, possessing a sovereign power to bestow it upon whom he pleased. Listen attentively to his impressive and affecting prayer, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!"
This remarkable petition was speedily and graciously answered; for such were the matchless love and boundless compassion of the Son of God, that he appears to forget his own unutterable tortures and inconceivable sorrows, to succour, relieve, and eternally save the expiring culprit :-“Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” When the Saviour had communicated to him the grace of true repentance, how singularly did he honour him by proclaiming him as the Lord of glory, at a time when he was betrayed by one of his disciples, denied by another, and forsaken by all. The dying thief boldly professes the excellency of his name above every name, before an assembled world of wicked men, phari. saical hypocrites, and malignant fiends! How vigorous and strong his faith! When the Holy and Just One was loaded with reproach, scorn, and infamy, he confidently committed his immortal soul to his protection and care, whom he saw mighty to save even through weakness and death. By the cross Christ triumphed over principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly; and “through death he destroyed him that had the power of death.” Nor was his confidence disappointed ; for his fervent desires were granted, and his most sanguine ex. pectations fully realized. For the word of the Lord is true, which saith, “ before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Christ was a Lord in his death as well as in his life, or he would not have been able to pluck this brand from eternal burnings, when he himself was enduring the most bitter pains of his vicarious and meritorious death. It was by these agonizing sufferings that he despoiled the last enemy of his sting, and conquered him in dying; and in this mysterious and memorable conflict upon Mount Calvary, triumphantly declared himself to be the Prince of life, and the Lord of glory! These gospel verities were revealed by the Spirit of Christ to the expiring criminal, and constituted 'the basis of his faith, and the only source of his consolation, until the solemn moment of his departure from a world of sin, temptation and sorrow, to the entrance of his happy spirit into the kingdom and joy of his Lord.
Hence it is obvious, that when he committed his soul into the hands of the Saviour in the awful article of death, it was an act of the highest worship; and had not the King of the Jews been properly and truly God, he would have been guilty of the grossest idolatry; instead of receiving a blessing, he would have procured unto
For it is written, “ Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” I hesitate not to affirm, that this vessel of mercy brought more glory to Christ in the last moments of his life, than many professors do in the course of fifty years! The grace of our Lord to him was exceeding abundant with faith and love,
“ for where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” 1 Tim. i. 14; Rom. v. 20.
How astonishingly clear and scriptural were his views of the glorious person of Christ as God-man! Any one might have imagined that he had heard the Saviour say, I am David's Lord and David's son: and had listened to the united testimonies of St. Peter and St. Paul, “ But ye denied the Holy One, and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of Life :—which none of the princes of this world knew ; for, had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Acts iii. 14; 1 Cor. ii. 8. He was indeed a miracle of grace. In his salvation, the King of Zion
himself a curse.
gave a most signal display of victorious grace ;-of his unchangeable love, when the love of others to him waxed cold ;-of infinite compassion, when no pity was shown to him ;-of succour and sympathy, when his rebellious creatures laughed at his misery, exulting in his ignominious death—only vexing themselves with satanic malice, because they were not able to make his sufferings more distressing and more reproachful. Had he possessed less than infinite forbearance, he would have consumed his enemies, and avenged himself of his adversaries. But he patiently endured the cross, and despised the shame. O may endless honour and glory be ascribed to thee, thou merciful, meek, and lovely Saviour : for “this is not after the manner of man, O Lord!”
Again, when we further contemplate the correctness of the confession of his faith in calling Christ, Lord, it is self-evident to every reflecting mind, favourable to truth, that he had a conspicuous view of the unsearchable riches of Christ, even through his deep poverty. At that mournful period, when the Prince of Life had not power to make a will of his vesture—nor could he distribute his plain garments among his needy disciples; yet he distinctly acknowledged him the possessor and disposer of a kingdom which is not of this world, but glorious and divine, abiding for ever; for “of his kingdom there shall be no end." Surely we are compelled to exclaim, none can teach like the great Prophet of the church! His wisdom is the wisdom of God, which maketh men wise unto salvation. For the success of his saving work, he is neither dependent on auspicious circumstances, nor confined to the ordinary use of means. If he chooses to work, who shall let or hinder it? And “ when his arm is stretched out, who shall turn it back?” Mean and insignificant instruments, when be employs them, do not retard, but further the purposes of his love ; and those that are suitable and fitting are unavailable, unless he deigns to use and to bless them. Even the great and argumentative St. Paul may plant, and the eloquent Apollos water, but God must give the increase. That the Lord Christ gave such unequivocal proof of his Godhead in the conversion of this hardened rebel, and receiving his penitent soul into paradise, is a fact which none of the enemies of his Deity will ever with truth be able to deny, or in the least invalidate. That he looked to Christ on the cross as the God-man, there is
not the smallest doubt; though the Saviour was enduring the poignant and excruciating agonies of crucifixion, and the dreadful curse of the violated law of God in his righteous soul, for the sins of his people. In this exalted character, as the Surety of his church, he believed him mighty and willing to save the vilest of sinners who came to him, and firmly trusted all his immortal interests in his hands, knowing that they were eternally safe in his keeping. “I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish ; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hands.” St. John x. 28. They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.” Psalm cxxv. 1.
It is also worthy of your serious consideration, that the dying thief did not say, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Father's kingdom ;” but, “ Lord, remember me when thou comest into THY KINGDOM !” I desire you, my respected and attentive hearers, to bear in mind, that the Messiah had a twofold right to this kingdom. First. An original right with his father, as God the Creator. The Holy Spirit declareth, that “the Logos, (or Word) was with God, and the Word was God: that all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” Again,
Again, “ By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Secondly. A donative right, which he acquired by completely accomplishing the stupendous work of salvation ; and as a recompence for this vast undertaking, the Father assigned to him a kingdom; and our blessed Lord, as the surety and representative of the elect, has inviolably secured to them a kingdom. He hath obtained eternal redemption for us. Hence he says, “ I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.
From the preceding incontrovertible fact of the dying thief presenting his fervent prayer to Christ in his last moments, we learn, that he most unquestionably believed him to possess the real and essential attributes of deity; and, consequently, he was an object of the most profound adoration. This is such a fundamental and important article of gospel faith, that all persons of every nation, kindred, tongue and people, taught of Jehovah, firmly believe, and cordially embrace, as absolutely necessary to the possession of salvation. Therefore, those persons or