2 Corinthians 3:9-11
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more does the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.…
The gospel is pre-eminently glorious, because it continues without change, and affords blessings in perpetuity to all who are willing to receive them. This perpetuity and unchangeableness are not the mere results of arbitrary power; but belong to it as a system suited in its nature to bless man at all times, and in all stages of his existence. It possesses the character of Him whose name is love and who never changes. Systems of religion, it is said, have risen up and had their day. Why may not this be the case with Christianity? The answer is easy. Because Christianity differs, in many material points, from every other form of religion.
1. It addresses itself directly to reason and conscience.
2. It puts no inordinate value on outward observances.
3. It not only disclaims fanaticism and superstition, but affords the only real security against those desolating evils.
4. It lays no restraints the design of which is not clearly benevolent.
5. The great founder of this religion has made all the duties which grow out of man's various relations a part of His system. As long as there are husbands and wives, parents and children, neighbours, etc., so long Christianity will be adapted to the circumstances of man. But it also institutes new relations. It makes, indeed, the human race all one family, offers to all one Saviour, and encourages all to say, "Our Father which art in heaven." Thus, then, there is no other religion like Christianity. So the passing away of dissimilar systems affords no presumption that this, which differs from them all, will also pass away. Because the places of sand and seaweed on the shore are changed by every rising tide, it does not therefore follow that the solid rocks will be removed.
I. CHRISTIANITY IS ADAPTED TO ALL CLIMATES, PERIODS, CONDITIONS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, AND PRODUCES, WHEREVER IT PREVAILS, THE SAME EFFECTS. It has in every age secured converts among —
1. All races.
2. Every variety of human character.
3. All classes and ranks.
II. THE GOSPEL IS ADAPTED TO ALL PARTS OF MAN'S INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL NATURE.
1. It applies the strongest stimulus to the human mind, and gives the widest range to human thoughts.
2. Mark its treatment of man's affections and passions.
(1) Take love. Its ordinary effects, when supremely fixed on worldly objects, are too well known. It is the religion of the Bible only, which turns it at once on objects worthy to be loved by rational and immortal beings.
(2) Take hope, the mainspring of the soul. How important it is that man should have his hopes wisely directed. But in this case all human wisdom has utterly failed. Men have hoped for things unattainable, or for things which, when attained, have disappointed their expectations. But the gospel fastens the hopes of man on infinity and eternity, and gives for their warrant the sure promise of Jehovah, and the redeeming love of the Saviour.
(3) Take the desire of pleasure. Here is one of the most fearful dangers to which human nature is exposed. The religion of Christ gives to the Christian pleasure without pollution. It allows everything which is not injurious, and adds joys which flow from the everlasting fountain of joy in heaven.
III. THE BENEFICENT AND WISE ADAPTATION OF THIS RELIGION TO THE NATURE OF MAN IS APPARENT FROM ITS OPERATION ON HIS CONSCIENCE.
1. Conscience, from want of proper discipline and exercise, may be inert and feeble. Hence it is of unspeakable importance that we should have access to truth, which has power to awaken the slumberer within us. The Bible has that power, and it has been exerted times without number. It strikes on the heart of the sinner, even "when dead in trespasses and sins," and sends a thrill of powerful feeling through his whole soul.
2. By the communication of knowledge respecting our Creator, our relation and obligations to Him, and to one another, our conscience is most wisely directed.
3. No religion knows what to do with the guilty and troubled conscience, but the religion of the gospel.
IV. THE GOSPEL IS WONDERFULLY ADAPTED TO THE NATURE OF MAN, BECAUSE THE UNLIMITED REACH OF ITS TRUTHS IS SUITED TO THE PROGRESS OF OUR INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL FACULTIES. Such is the nature of man, that when he has attained an object, and ascertained its extent, and found just what it can do for him, he is at once disgusted. But the truths of Christianity are ever enlarging before the mind of the believer. The same is true in regard to the Christian's progress in holiness. Notice in conclusion some special blessings conferred by the gospel.
1. It confers upon individuals an elevation of character otherwise unattainable.
2. It gives to domestic life its choicest blessings.
(1) By making marriage a Divine institution.
(2) By determining the relative situation of husband and wife, parent and children.
3. It bestows its peculiar blessings on social life. Purifying all its fountains, and producing that gentleness and meekness, those "kind designs to serve and please," which give the highest charms and the most enchanting graces to social intercourse.
4. It confers inestimable benefits on man in the relations of civil life. Complete civil and political liberty never can be enjoyed by any people without the influences of pure Christianity. In the most celebrated republics of the heathen world there was nothing like the degree of true, rational, well-balanced, and well-secured freedom, which is now the birthright of the people of this country.
4. It affords the only security for the preservation of the dearest right of a freeman — his religious liberty.
(J. H. Rice.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.