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then our love of them induce us to use every means of providing for their comfort in this world; and shall it not influence us to proportionable carnest · ness in seeking their salvation ? ( cruel and infa- tuated parents, who take excessive care about the bodies of your children, and leave their precious souls to perish everlastingly for want of diligent instruction; or perhaps even help to murder them, by indulging their sinful dispositions, and setting them a bad example !-Nay, let us further learn to consider, that our relatives, neighbours, and enemies, have immortal souls. Because they are so valuable, “ He that winneth souls is wise:" let us then think nothing too much to expend or attempt, in promoting that grand object, for which the Son of God shed his precious blood.
But, viewed in this glass, how vain does the world and all things in it appear! “God forbid " that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord “ Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to “ me, and I unto the world.” What are empires, or the loss of them? What renown, or infamy? What affluence or poverty? What the most exquisite pleasure or torturing pain, when put in competition with eternal happiness, or misery? or when viewed in connexion with the cross of Christ? Had he not so loved us, all possible prosperity could not have prevented our everlasting misery: if we believe in him, all possible adversity cannot prevent our everlasting happiness. Let
us not then envy the wealthy and successful, but pity and pray for them : let us not covet worldly things, repine for want of them, or lament the loss of them: let us not join in the vain mirth of condemned sinners, or be satisfied with any thing short of the joy of God's salvation.
By contemplating the cross of Christ, we may learn the perfect justice and holiness of God, the excellency of his law, and the desert of sinners. In the condemnation of fallen angels and wicked men, and in many other awful ways, the Lord hath proclaimed his abhorrence of iniquity, and his determination to magnify his holy law: yet his mercy not being visible in those events, it might have been thought, either that he was incapable of shewing mercy, or that in exercising mercy he would abate from the demands of justice, and connive at transgression. But the subject before us, well understood, confutes all such vain imaginations. When mercy triumphed most illustriously, justice was most gloriously displayed, the law most honoured, and sin most exposed to universal detestation. “Rather,' says the Saviour, 'will I bear the curse of the divine law, and the punishment of sin, in my own person, and make an expiation of infinite value by my sufferings and death upon the cross; than either leave sinners to perish without help, or allow the law to be dishonoured, and justice to be relaxed for their benefit. “Do we
" then make void the law through faith? God for“bid, yea, we establish the law.”
Here again we may learn repentance, and abhorrence of our iniquities. “They shall look on me “whom they have pierced, and mourn.” The more lovely and glorious the divine perfections appear, the more excellent the holy law, and the more hateful and destructive transgression are found to be; the deeper should be our sorrow and remorse, while we recollect and review all our numerous and heinous offences, and all their aggravations: and the more ought we to dread and hate those evil propensities, from which all our crimes proceed, and which continually aim, as it were, to “cru“ cify the Lord afresh, and put him to open "shame.” When we view the miseries of the world, and the ravages of death, we may well enquire, “Who slew all these?” And the consideration may help to abase us for sin, and excite us to oppose and crucify our lusts, which are the murderers of the whole human race, and menace our destruction. Yet the cross of Christ, when duly contemplated, suggests far more powerful motives for contrition and self-abhorrence, and will far more effectually influence us to seek the destruction of those hated enemies, that crucified the Lord of glory.
But the same object will likewise teach us, that neither our repentance or amendment, nor any
thing else we can do, will at all serve to expiate our guilt or justify us in the sight of God. “If "righteousness come by the law, then Christ died " in vain.” Men set up a variety of reasonings against the express and numerous testimonies of God to this leading truth; and thus vainly “go “about to establish their own righteousness.” But a serious view of the Lamb of God, as taking away the sin of the world, may convince us that every hope they form of escaping condemnation or obtaining life, except by faith in a crucified Saviour, will most surely prove fallacious and ruinous : for if any thing else would as effectually have answered the purposes of God, he would doubtless have spared his own Son, and saved sinners in some other way.
On the other hand, we here behold the riches of the divine compassion and tender mercy towards the sinful children of men. “Herein is love, not " that we loved God, but that he loved us, and "sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." If then God so loved us when enemies, what may not those expect from him, who renounce every other plea, and “flee for refuge to lay hold on this " hope set before them?” In every penitent who supplicates mercy for the sake of Christ and his atoning blood, the Redeemer “sees of the travail of “ his soul, and is satisfied:” for this very purpose he suffered and died on the cross, “ that he might be
come the Author of eterpal salvation to all them
e were recon
“that obey him.” On this ground we say, “ Let .“ the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord :" and “if, when we were enemies, we were recon“ ciled to God by the death of his Son, much more « being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” “ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered “ him up for us all; how shall he not with him “ freely give us all things?”
But while we mingle our tears of godly sorrow with joyful thanksgivings, and glory in Christ Jesus amidst all our tribulations: let us also, my brethren, look to the cross, and learn our obligations to the most self-denying and devoted obedience. Can we, with this object full in view, deem any expence too great, any sacrifice too costly, any cross too heavy, any labour too severe, which his glory, the authority of bis command, or the benefit of his purchased flock, call us to undergo? Surely the constraining love of Christ will render every loss or suffering tolerable, yea, pleasant, to the thankful believer; while he beholds the Lamb of God, expiring on the cross, to take away that sin, which would otherwise have eternally ruined his soul; and to purchase for him everlasting and unutterable felicity!
Here too we must look, that we may learn patience, meekness, spirituality, and every part of that holiness to which we are called. Hence we must draw our motives and encouragements; and here we must view that perfect example, which we