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"he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suf"fered he threatened not.'
The circumstances attending his crucifixion also form a proper subject of meditation. The sun was miraculously darkened, as a token of the divine displeasure, and an emblem of the gloom which overspread the Sun of righteousness. Yet, in this deep humiliation of the Lord of glory, he rescued one perishing sinner from the jaws of destruction, and took him with him to paradise. When he expired, "the veil of the temple was rent;" the rocks were torn by an earthquake, the graves were opened, and the preparation made for the resurrection of those saints, who were appointed to grace the triumph of the rising and ascending Saviour. For the event of his sufferings in his personal exaltation; and the complete salvation, in body and soul, of all ` the unnumbered myriads, which ever did or ever shall believe in him, is the last particular, to which our present meditations should be directed.-But it is time for us to proceed,
IV. To consider the peculiar instructions, to be derived from these contemplations.
The worth of our immortal souls is most emphatically taught us by the cross of Christ. "What "is a man profited if he gain the whole world and
1 Pet. ii. 21-23,
"lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in "exchange for his soul?" Could any one literally gain the whole universe, as the price of iniquity, and keep it with every imaginable advantage during the term of human life; it could neither pre-serve his body from the grave, nor his soul from eternal misery! "It costs more to redeem the "soul: that must be let alone for ever." View the Saviour agonizing in Gethsemane, and expiring on the cross! Did he endure these unknown sufferings to preserve men from temporal poverty, pain, or death? By no means: but to deliver them from the wrath to come; where "their worm "dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Who can doubt then, that an immortal soul is man's principal treasure? It is possessed by the meanest, and it infinitely exceeds in value all the distinc tions of the mightiest. He who made the soul knows its worth; and he deemed it so valuable, that he ransomed our souls from ruin, at the price of his own blood. Shall we not then deem the salvation of them our grand concern, and regard all interfering objects as unworthy our notice in the comparison? If we should never succeed in any one thing all our lives, except in this chief concern; our felicity will be congratulated by angels to eternity: if we should prosper in all other respects, and fail here; our folly and misery will be lamented and execrated for ever.
Our children also have immortal souls. Does
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 carnestness in seeking their salvation? O cruel and infatuated 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