« IndietroContinua »
©* and gave him to be the head over all " things to the church, which is his body, “ the fulness of him that filleth all in all." When Christ afcended up on high, leading captivity captive; he then received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them. And now' all power is committed to him, both in heaven and on earth : He: not only appears in the presence of God as our great High Priest, to plead the merit of his facrifice, and to blefs his people ; but he fits at the Father's right hand, enthroned in glory, as “ the “ King whom God hath set upon his holy 6 hill of Zion;" from whence he fends forth his angels as “ ministering spirits,” to minister unto the heirs of promife during their continuance in this house of their pilgrim. age, till they arrive at his Father's house in heaven, where they shall be advanced to fit with him upon his throne, and poffefs fulness of joy, and pleasures for ever. more.
And now, my dear brethren, in the review of these five particulars, to which the I 2
Apostle directs our attention in proof and commendation of the grace which he celebrates, what improvement doth it become us to make of the subject?
Doth not the grace of our Lord Jefus Chrift call for our humble and thankful admiration? The original and eflential riches of the Redeemer,-the poverty to which he voluntarily submitted,-the character of those for whose fake he became poor,-the riches he imparts unto them, - and the means by which he doth it;—are all so wonderful when separately considered, and kindle fuch a blaze of glory when combined and brought together, that angels themselves are dazzled with its fplendor; and, through all eternity, will contemplate, with increasing wonder and delight, what neither they, nor we, shall ever be able fully to comprehend.
You must further be fenfible, that this. grace of our Lord Jesus Christ doth likewise invite, and should even constrain, our imitation. It was for this purpose that the Apostle introduced it into the subject with which my text is immediately connected. He is recommending love to the brethren,
and in particular that instance of charity
John iii. 16. “ Hereby perceive we the love, ☆ of God, because he laid down his life for
« us." To which it is immediately added, as a practical inference, “ We ought.”—The expression is emphatical, and imports, that it is not left to our choice, but is strictly due as a debt; “ We ought to lay down our lives. « for the brethren.” Such is the love that the gospel recommends. From whence, it appears, that the purest and most sublime morality flows from faith in Christ as its native fource, and will rise in exact proportion to the knowledge of his grace. . "
But do we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? This question demands a serious and deliberate answer.
It is too evident, that many who bear the title of Christians are grossly ignorant even of the doctrines of grace, and need to be taught “ the first principles of the oracles “ of God.” But besides these, we have just cause to fear, that not a few are to be found among us, who, though they have acquired a theory of Christian doctrine, and can talk of the great truths of the gospel with propriety and fluency; yet they cannot be faid to know that grace whereof they are able to discourse to others.
The knowledge which the Apoftle speaks of, is different from that which may be acquired by study, or inere human in struction. It is of a kind altogether "peculiar to the real faint: It is produced by the Spirit accompanying the word, taking of the things of Christ, and not only showing them unto him, but writing them upon the “ fleshly tables of his heart," and thereby transforming him into the divine image. Let me then ask you, or rather let me intreat you to ask your own hearts, as in the presence of God, Whether or not you ever were convinced of your need of this grace, your abfolute need of it to save you from the wrath to come? Did you ever see yourselves, by the light of God's word, to be wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; under a righteous sentence of condemnation, and unable; as of yourselves, to do any thing that could be effectual for your own recovery?
----Under this conviction of your lost and helpless estate by nature, were your eyes opened to see the neceflity and suitableness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the per-.