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history of the people of God, he comes to the im mediate object of his message, the Saviour Jesus Christ. He shews them that God had promised such a Saviour, a fact of which they could scarcely be ignorant, for it was universally the avowed expectation of the people of Israel. This Saviour is repeatedly declared to them in their Scriptures as one who was to save them from their sins, both to justify and acquit them from the guilt of sin, and to sanctify and deliver them from the power of sin.
He points them to Jesus as this Saviour. He states the fact of his being preceded by John as a messenger and forerunner; of his condemnation and his guiltless death; of God having raised him from the dead; and he refers to the Scriptures in proof of the prophetic statements made in them on these several points; enlarging especially on the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the previous declaration of that fact by the inspired prophets of the Jewish church. "We declare unto you," he says in verse 32, glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again." This is the main point of the apostle's statement-the resurrection of Jesus, after crucifixion, death, and burial, according to prophecy; and on that fact, as the fulfilment of prophecy, he grounds the claim which he advances for Jesus Christ to be considered the promised Saviour.
This was a point open to examination by his auditors. They might ascertain what the prophets had said; and they might easily certify themselves of the well-known and well-authenticated fact of the resurrection of the crucified Jesus. But the apostle regarding these two points as established beyond all question, and regarding this predicted deviation from the order of nature as fulfilled in Jesus Christ, announces this Jesus as the fulfilment of the promises, as the Saviour whom the eternal Jehovah was to send into the world, the salvation which he had graciously purposed and executed for guilty and lost mankind. And he thus places this provided salvation before them :"Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is announced unto you the forgiveness of sins; that is, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, his " loosing the bands of death," is the annunciation to you of the forgiveness of sins; and men are authorised to look on the resurrection of the Saviour from the dead according to prophecy, as the sign of the accomplishment of that salvation for mankind from sin and death which God had promised. As St Paul says elsewhere, "Christ was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification” or acquittal; so he said on this occasion, the deliverance of this man from the bands of death, is the proof of his having accomplished that salvation which in the purpose of God he came to accomplish.
The prophetic testimony in the earlier Scriptures was, that he was to bear the iniquities of men; that he was to be "wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities;" that "he was to bear our iniquities." Now had he failed to bear them, so as to make an atonement for them; had he not succeeded in accomplishing a reconciliation for them, he would like any other man have lain under the power of death, and would have seen corruption. But as he was raised from the dead, according to the predicted purpose of God, and saw no corruption, that resurrection, that emancipation from the iron grasp of death, was the proof of his success in the work which he had undertaken. It was a proof that he had effectually put away the sin which he bore, that in Jesus Christ sin was forgiven, and that against man, in his representative and Saviour-the sinless and suffering Jesus-death had no power. It had no power, because according to the terms of the eternal covenant of grace, the law had been satisfied in the suffering Surety, and the sin of the guilty race had been forgiven.
On this ground, therefore, the apostle announces the fact of the forgiveness of sins through Christ, shewing that it was borne witness to by his resurrection; and declares that whosoever believes this statement, is justified, that is, acquitted, accounted as innocent, and received and treated as innocent, of all those transgressions which the law alone, the
unsatisfied law, without that atonement, must inevitably bring against him. He offers this fact to the acceptance of the congregation that he addresses. He bids them beware of rejecting it. He bids them beware of not believing God's testimony by the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the forgiveness of sins. And when, notwithstanding this warning, the greater part of the Jews rejected the testimony, and refused to believe, but contradicted and blasphemed; then when the whole Gentile population of the city had gathered together to hear this word of God," Paul and Barnabas said to the unbelieving Jews, to whom it had been offered, and by whom it had been refused, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life; lo, we turn to the Gentiles: for so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light to the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." Then we are told, that "when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." And such was the effect of the belief of the testimony, that even in the midst of the persecution which instantly arose, the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.
Now here, in the doings of these inspired men, set apart in the most solemn manner by the Holy
Ghost to this express act of ministration, here is the pattern for the minister of the gospel at all times. We may gather distinctly from this event, what should be the Christian minister's message, and what should be the effect of it where it is fully and properly received. Let us consider then what is the doctrine deduced from these facts.
I. The first doctrine that may be deduced from these facts is, That in the gospel of Jesus Christ, God is announced to men as a reconciled God; as having accomplished a promised salvation for a lost world; as having fulfilled a promised atonement, promised both to Jews and Gentiles, that is, to all men; as having forgiven the sins of men. He is not set forth as an offended God, the angry judge of a revolted world, waiting for his creatures to humble themselves and conciliate him, that they may be forgiven; but he is declared as having in his Son Jesus Christ, as a sovereign, already accomplished their forgiveness, and declared it; and as calling on men to believe the testimony which he himself bears to what he has done, that they may be partakers of the blessing. God says by the gospel to mankind, as he said previously by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, " I, even I, am he, that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
First, He has given to men a justifying Saviour, who has borne their iniquities, and made atone