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the blood of souls! Wherewith will he frame his plea in self defence, against his flock thus accusing and upbraidingi? • We were thy flock and thou wert our shepherd. With you were the treasures of knowledge and truth. And why didst thou withhold from us the messages thou wast sent to deliver. We are undone forever through thy unfaitfulness. You never described in our hearing the character of our Judge; nor the truth of his word. The doctrines you taught us to despise, we find to be the truth of God. You allowed us to sport with his sovereignty and decrees, and in this, thou didst awfully deceive us. You reproved us politely for disgraceful crimes, but never described to us the sin of our nature. When we were sometimes alarmed at our state and prospects, you hushed our fears by crying, peace, peace, whereas God had said, there is no peace to the wicked.' How overwhelmed with guilt and horror will such preachers be with their deceived hearers, on the great day of account. Ye who lead in the assemblies of the saints, and are embasadors of Christ to an ungodly world, can ye be indifferent to the high responsibility, with which you . are cloathed?
Your ministry is as eventful as eternity. Keeping nigh the standard of truth; may every word you utter be such as shall give you boldness and rejoicing in the day of Christ's appearing. Be not dismayed nor discouraged. Truth will outlive all opposition raised to its prejudice. Not as at the bar of Pontius Pilate, but before the whole assembled universe, Jesus will honor the truth, to which every conscience will ascent to the glory of God.
Finally. Let not a soul be indifferent to the truth. If you are saved it will be through a cheerful acquiescence with Jesus in the doctrines of his word. It is your life to be with Christ in the truth. You are rich for eternity if on this foundation, but if on any other, you are gone-gone, and lost forever. Amen.
LOVE TO CHRIST.
AS E R M O N.
PASTOR OP A CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN THE FIRST
SOCIETY IN WASHINGTON-CONNECTICUT.
JOHN xxi. 17.
Simoni, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? MANY there are, even in christian lands, who discard christianity ; many rest in a cold assent to its doctrines, while they believe and know nothing of the heaven-born principle of vital religion in the soul. Like the poor brutes around them, they eat and drink and sleep, breathe and walk; while the interests of another life are thought, exclusively, to con cern' the weak, the sickly, the aged and the dying. The hearts of other's are so entirely occupied with business or aniusements, that they remain strangers to their bible, to their Saviour, to themselves; strangers indeed to every thing which it is the great purpose of life to learn. Multitudes, in these awful circumstances, live with as much apparent tranquility as though they were perfectly assured, that christianity is à fiction and eternity a dream.
My brethren, are we immortal creatures ? Shall these souls of ours survive the changes of time, and exist in glory or despair, when the petty interests of this mutable and perishing world shall have passed into oblivion ? What subject can better deserve our attention than a careful inquiry into our own moral state and prospects for an endless hereafter ? What
question can more solemnly address our interests of feelings, than that of the Divine Saviour, in its appropriate application to each heart, ' Lovest thou me ?" İn comparison with an inquiry, involving consequences of such infinite moment, all others are less than nothing. Who can leave this point undecided, and rest easy? Who can decide it against himself, and feel safe ? Earthly thrones and empires are trifles of a moment, when laid in the balance against the joys or sufferings of eternity.
At the last interview Christ had with his disciples, before his ascension, the question which I have chosen for a text, was addressed to Simon Peter. Thrice had he denied his Master at the high-priest's palace ; and now thrice was He put upon the trial of his sincerity by this pointed interrogatory. Though Peter, as a christian minister, was required to give evidence of his love peculiar to his office, by feeding Christ's sheep and lambs, the subject is not necessarily limited to any class of christians, or men. pose then, the divine Jesus to stand in the midst of us, and address us individually with this solemn, searching question, Lovest thou me? Who of us could, understandingly, make the appeal to his omniscience, Lord thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. To settle this point, to the satisfaction of an enlightened conscience, requires. that we carefully examine the nature and fruits of love to Christ.
Let it be remarked then in general, that love to Christ, is something above the instinct of natural gra. titude,
Thosewords of the appostle John' We love him be. cause he first loved us,' have been understood by some to import, that there can be no true love to Christ, which does not proceed from an apprehension of his special favor to us. Such án: opinion, whether de. signedly or not, does really substitute refined selfish
Let us sup:
ness for holy affection. The love of Christ in the purchase of the cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the effectual calling and sanctification of men is the productive cause of all the genuine love that exists in any human heart. In this sense, if we love him, it is because he first loved us. And gratitude, for favor so astonishing, is essential to the christian temper. But to love Christ from no other principle than the hope of being personally benefited by him, is clearly not to love him at all with any supreme affection, From the same temper, wicked Gallileans followed him, while he fed them; and wicked Gadarenes desired him to depart, when no selfish advantage was expected from his presence. To exercise this sort of love, is no more than publicans may do; and no more than Satan, if he could be released from suffer: ing, might do, and be Satan still.
Let it be remarked again, that love to Christ is something superior to the exercise of mere pity.
Among the multitude that attended the Saviour from Pilate's judgment-hall, to the place of crucifixion, he observed some who were tenderly moved at his circumstances, With a perfect knowledge of their characters and prospects, he
the prophetic admonition · Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your chil. dren.' Whatever else these words imply, they seem evidently to indicate that the tears of some, on that occasion, flowed from no higher fountain than the instinct of compassion. From the same fountain they might have flowed as freely, on witnessing any other scene of deep suffering, especially of suffering innocence. A similar effect may be produced on persons of sympathetic minds by reading the history of the crucifixion. They may weep for Christ, while they know not what it is to love him. They may be sorry for a suffering Saviour, without any proper sorrow for sin, the occasion of his sufferings. They
may feel every exercise of natural humanity, and yet be strangers to every exercise of gospel humility.
The great inquiry remains to be answered, what is true love to Christ? I reply,
1. It is a proper and just regard to his whole char. acter.
It is not a partial, transient emotion, but a perma. nent, moral temper. It is that animating, operative, vital principle of the new heart, which unites it to Christ, and enthrones him in the soul.' It is that disinterested affection which loves its object be. cause it is altogether lovely.' He who possesses this temper, acknowledges Christ, not simply as the son of Mary, or the Prophet of Nazareth ; but as an eternal and divine person : as possessing, equally with the Father and Spirit, all the attributes of the undivided Godhead. To regard the author and fin. isher of our faith,' as a mere creature, the equal of man, or at most, the bare superior of angels, is to de. ny the Lord that bought us.
It is to sink the amaz. ing scene on the hill of Calvary, to an event of common history. It is to blot out every syllable of good news from the gospel ; to annihilate the faith and joy of the christian's heart, and to debar him from the possession or the hope of heaven. True love contem-, plates the Deity and atonement of Christ as inseparable. Here is room for its eternal exercise. The union of the divine nature with humanity, in the per-, son of the Redeemer, gives to his sacrifice on the cross all its efficacy to vindicate the honor of the Godhead, and to ransom perishing men. Unitedly to celebrate this, in loud and everlasting anthems, will be the work and blessedness of those happy spirits that share in the benefits of gospel grace.
II. If we truly love Christ we shall possess a proper regard to the divine law.
Without seeing the perfection of this law, it is im. possible to comprehend the design of his incarnation