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SERM. The next article in the belief, to which w we are called on to give our assent, is,
“ the forgiveness of sins.” Before Jesus Christ came into the world, men had certainly some hope of their offences being pardoned, which arose probably from the general goodness of God, from his delay of punishment, and from the tendency in human nature to expect what we greatly wish ; but this hope by no means amounted to that full assurance of pardon, which was necessary to make the considerate in any degree easy under the sense of their sins, and to inspire them with ardour in the work of their reformation. Jesus Christ at length came, preaching repentance and remission of sins; which I understand to mean, that if at any time of a man's life he is sincerely sorry that he has offended God, most heartily prays to be forgiven, and resolves steadily to be guilty no more, but to be religious and virtuous in future;
and if he adheres to his resolutions, not- SERM,
I. withstanding all his former transgressions, w he will meet not only with mercy but with favour. This is a grand privilege ; but let no one be tempted to abuse it; let no one sin in expectation, and, as he thinks, with intention, of amendment; of all difficult things to break through, bad habits are the most difficult. On account of his presumption, likewise, God may hereafter refuse him assistance, and then all his own endeavours will avail nothing ; besides, no one can be certain that he shall live another day, and if he dies in his sins, he knows the consequence; let us not, therefore, trust to futurity, but do what we know to be so necessary, immediately. Great is the salvation which is offered us; how shall we escape, if we neglect it!
Now follows our profession that we believe in “ the resurrection of the body.”— Of the truth of this the scriptures ex
SERM. expressly inform us; at the last day our
bodies will be raised from the grave, át the sound of the trump of the archangel, they will be united again with our souls, and we shall live. If you ask me, how it is possible that the flesh, part of which has been eaten by worms, part blown about in dust by the four winds, that of some men consumed by fire, and of others buried in the ocean ; if you ask me how it is possible that all these scattered fragments and particles can be collected and joined together, I ask you, in return, whether it be not as easy for God to do this, as it was for him to form man from the dust at his first creation ? To revive a dead man appears to require no greater exertion of power than originally to have made him. You may form some idea of the possibility of our being revived again, by what you experience every year :-" That which “ thou sowest is not quickened, except it
“ die ;"
“ die ;” the grain you place in the earth SERM. first rots, and is afterwards enlivened, and arises, clothed with a beautiful verdure. And if God so clothe the grass of the field, how much more shall he clothe your mortal bodies with a glorious immortality ! It seems probable that men will be first revived in the same bodies in which they died, but that an instant change will take place :-" This corruptible will put on in“ corruption, and this mortal will put on “ immortality.”—Christ gave a specimen of the nature of the change our bodies are to undergo, to Peter, James, and John, when he was transfigured on the mount; he appeared all glorious, his face shone like the sun, and his raiment became white as snow. Such a change will take place with respect to the righteous at the resurrection; for St. Paul tells us, that “ Christ “ will change our vile body, that it may “ be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
SERM. You will observe, that when this glorious
change in the bodies of men at the resurrection is spoken of, it can only be meant of the bodies of the virtuous, although it be mentioned in general terms-St. Paul buing desirous of taking for granted, that all those to whom he writes would be in that number. The bodies of the wicked will certainly be raised at the same time, but whether they will undergo any change, is uncertain ; but it seems probable, that as many of the crimes of the wicked have arisen from their bodies, that they shall, together with their souls, share in the eternity of punishment which has been denounced.
The last article in the creed is our profession of belief in “ the life everlasting.” --Life is often put in scripture for happiness, and it is possible may mean so here. I believe, that if I am pious and virtuous in this world, I shall be for ever happy in