« IndietroContinua »
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 eternal salvation to all them “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 his command, or the benefit of his purchascq 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 are required to copy. Forgiveness of injuries, love of enemies, perseverance in well-doing amidst insult, contempt, and ingratitude, and compassion to perishing sinners, are best learned by looking to the cross; by witnessing the triumph of divine love in the sufferings of Emmanuel, and hearing him mingle his dying groans, with prayers for his cruel and insulting murders. Meditation on this subject may also convince us, that we must expect tribulation in the world, and the enmity or contempt of unbelievers, if we belong to Christ and bear his image. His wisdom, holiness, and love were perfect: yet no one of our race ever experienced such hatred and insult from all rauks, orders, and descriptions of men, as the spotless Lamb of God Malefactors commonly meet with some pity amidst their tortures, however merited: but Jews and gentiles, rulers, scribes, priests, soldiers, and the multitude, could unite in cruel mockery of the holy Jesus, when expiring on a cross Away then with all those flattering sentiments of human nature, which represent it as loving and delighting in genuine excellency: the cross of Christ, and the sufferings of his most faithful servants in every age, form a demonstrative confutation of the proud delusion And if our hearts have been changed by divine grace; so that we love and imitate the lowly and humble Saviour: let us count our cost, expect scorn and hatred from men, tribulation in the world, and peace and consolation from the Lord alone. Let us also look beyond the cross, and contemplate the glory which followed : “ that we may not be wearied and faint * in our minds.” We too have a joy set before us: let us then endure our lighter cross, and despise the shame; assured that if we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him in glory.
But my fellow sinners, where will you appear at his second coming to judge the world, if you now neglect his great salvation ? If you join his enemies; and, by cleaving to your sins, prefer Barabbas to Jesus, sell him as Judas did for a few pieces of silver, or determine you “will not have “ him to reign over you ?” Still he invites you to come to him, that you may have life eternal : Oh! that you would seek to him as a Saviour, who will shortly come to be your Judge.
In fine, contemplating the cross of Christ, teaches us most effectually every lesson contained in the sacred scriptures. Let us then, my brethren, further prosecute our meditations at the Lord's table: and while we remember the love and sufferings of our Redeemer, let us renew our repentance, and acceptance of his salvation, and give up ourselves to his service; that, “ as bought with a price, we may “ glorify him with our bodies and spirits which are « his."
1 CORINTHIANS, xv. 20.
Now is Christ risen from the dead.
W e learn from this chapter, that some of the Corinthians had denied the doctrine of a resurrection ; probably explaining away the apostolical language on that subject as figurative; and as only meaning conversion, or that change which took place in the world by the introduction of Christianity. In confuting this dangerous error, the apostle called their attention to the resurrection of Christ, as an undeniable fact: and he shewed, that the denial of a resurrection was equivalent to saying that Christ was not risen; and thus tended to subvert the foundation of Christianity, and to destroy the hopes and comforts of believers. “ If "there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not " Christ risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is "our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain;
* Easter Sunday, 1796. 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18.