« VorigeDoorgaan »
a lustre peculiarly eminent and conspicuous; and at once reflect honor on the suffering Saviour, and the father who sent him, and tend to establish the faith, encourage the imitation, and awaken the joy and tri. ymph of his followers.
And while this great sufferer is thus enobled by his own resplendent graces, all nature around him attests his dignity, and solemnizes his death. See the Sun crest in black, the earth trembling, the rocks rend, ing, the graves pouring forth their dead; his judge, his executioner, one of his fellow sufferers, and even the scofing multitude, uniting in various ways to do him honor !
Again, the extensive benefits, which low from the cross of Christ, form another source of triumph to the real christian. The cross is the instrument of complete victory over all the enemies of God and of man. It disarms and confounds the devil with his own wea. pons. It crucifies the world by disparaging its vain pomp, and delusive pleasures ; by bafing its most formidable errors, and by converting its heaviest affictions into instruments of final victory and glory. It exhibits a most forcible pattern and persuasive for mortifying the flesh. It condemns and destroys sin. It scatters the terrors of death, and will finally swallow it up in victory. And while it thus pours confusion on all the powers of darkness, it diffuses new
, light, life, purity and joy, through all the regions of earth and of heaven. It confirms all the myriads of holy angels in their celestial bliss, while it opens to their expanding minds new and perpetual sources of improvement and delight, and replaces the vacant seats of their lost associates, with large colonies of kindred; purified spirits, from this distant, polluted region.
But what tongue of man or angel can do, justice te the benefits, which redeemed sinners of our race derive from the mysterious death of their Head! It is the
price and seal of their pardon; it is the moral ground of their acceptance with heaven. It introduces pe. nitent believers to the friendship, the family, the soul reviving fellowship of the infinite Being. It procures and conveys the sanctifying, comforting spirit, with the divine ord and ordinances. By these, joined with the continual co-operation of his providence, the exalted Saviour is continually carrying into effect the glorious and saving purposes of his death, is extending the triumph of his gospel from age to age, till at length this sacred leaven shall leaven the whole lump of mankind, and all the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ.
And indeed the doctrine of the cross, is, in its own nature, a most powerful, persuasive mean of reforming a degenerate world : for in it shine the noblest truths; the strongest motives sting, and sacred vio lence assaults the soul.' The love of Christ in redemption, constrains every person who cordially believes it, to live not to himself, but to hiin who died for him and rose again.
After what has been said, it may seem almost need. less to add, that a crucified, atoning Savior is the central object of the whole system of divine revelation and providence.' All the successive discoveries and operations of Deity, respecting the church, from the original lapse to the advent of the Messiah ; and all the great dispensations of providence throughout the world; were so many parts of one great mediatorial plan, all pointing to, paving the way for, and receiving their consummation in, the cross of Christ. This one object pervades, enlivens, cements, both the Old Testament and the New,It gives light, and force, and completion to the various predictions and promises, services and sacrifices, emblems and figures, of the one, while it imparts strength and union to the several doctrines,
precepts, and motives of the other, and spreads over the whole scheme a distinguishing and transcendent lustre.
We see then the main grounds of the triumph expressed in the text; or the reasons, why the illuminated, purified christian supremely glories in his master's cross. He sees inscribed upon it, as with a sunbeam, the full orbed lustre of the divine perfections, the superior dignity and virtue of the Mediator, the improved order and perfection of the moral system, the confusion of hell, the deliverance of earth, and the triumph of heaven. At the same time he sees, he feels, that his own pardon, holiness and peace, all his comfort in time and hope for eternity, How from the same source; while the worth and sweetness of these privileges, and the love and merit, to which he owes them, are transcendently heightened and endeared by a recollection of his former guilt and misery, and a painful consciousness of his present imperfection and unworthiness, which greatly swell upon his view as he contemplates his suffering, atoning Saviour. Must not all these views combined call up the fervent and elevated, yet modest and humble triumph of the christian believer ? Must not every feeling of regular self-love, and even of selfabasement, as well as of benevolence, gratitude, and piety, concur to swell the the tide of his joy !
What heart of stone but glows at thoughts like these ! • Such contemplations mount us, and should mount • The mind still higher : nor erer glance on man • Unraptured, uninflamed.' But the cross of Christ will appear in its fullest glory, when the minor object of this vast plan of divine benevolence shall be completely attained; when the top stone of the mighty fabrick shall be laid ; when all the enemies of God and his church shall be finally subdued, the ruins of the fall entirely re
paired, the glory and happiness of redeemed men and elect angels advanced to the highest pitch under one all-glorious head ; and as the result of all, the glory of God and his Christ displayed and promoted in an inconceivable degree! What created mind can compute the sum total of happiness and glory, resulting from the consummation of this great work of eternal wisdom and love ; a work, which as it originated in the councils of eternity, shall extend its improving ánd felicitațing effects through a duration of endless, and evergrowing bliss !
On a review of our subject, it is natural to reflect, how greatly does the good christian differ from all other characters. The votaries of this world exult in their hoarded treasures, their sensual delights, their ensígns of power and honor: the devotees of nature, glory in exploring and revealing her secrets : the haughty infidel triumphs in the strength of hu. man reason, or the beauty of moral virtue, while perhaps he practically treats both with contempt. The merely nominal believer, while he professedly inlists under the banner of the cross, yet by cold ingratitude, or presumptuous confidence, by a heart scretly dovoted to other objects, or an infidel disobedient life; tramples the Saviour under his feet. But the genuine follower of the Lamb, by the piercing eye of faith, sees at once the truth and excellency of the gospel of Christ, and the comparative empti. ness of all rival objects. He sees this doctrine surrounded with such glorious characters of divinity, both internal and external, that he glories in believing, professing, and obeying it himself, in teaching and recommending it to others, and, if called to it, in suffering reproach, pain, and even death for its sake.
Let me then respectfully put the question to my audience, do your hearts and lives echo this language ? Do you glory in a crucified Saviour ? Do you rejoice
in Him, not because you have an enthusiastic considence, that he died for you in particular, or a pleasing hope that his redeeming love and merit will protect you from the sword of justice, and ensure your final bliss, without any previous conformity on your part to his example and laws ; but because you are heartily reconciled to and pleased with tire true design of his mediation and death; which was to honor the character and law of God, condemn and destroy sin, and restore and promote the interests of holiness? Do you habitually feel and act out the same sentiments of heart toward God; toward sin, and toward the cause of universal goodness, which Christ displayed in his obedience unto death? In shorts is your triumph in the cross, a solemn, reverential,'soul abasing, and purifying affection ? While it elevates the mind and enraptures the heart, does it kindle your love, gratitude, devotion, penitence, and every grace and virtue, to the highest pitch ?
If so let me invite you to approach with cheerful confidence to that 'sacred ordinance, which some of you have in prospect, the next Lord's 'day'; an ordinance, which concenters in one striking point of view, all the high discoveries, all the surprising, interesting objects, which the cross and the gospel of Christ set before us! With what mingled emotions, then, of penitential sorrow and grateful joy should communicants dray near to the altar of God in that sac. rament! With what holy triumph should they there join the millions of glorified spirits in heaven, as well as the church universal on earth, in singing the new song of the Lamb that was slain !
In fine, let impenitent sinners look on that awful anel melting spectacle, the bleeding cross, and be struck with grief and sorrow at those sins, by which they practically approve and join with the persecutors and murderers of their Lord!! Let 'professing christians remember, that, as followers of a suffer