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according to the mercy of God, who through Jesus Christ hath shed forth his spirit abundantly. By this change we become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. They who have seen such an example of love in the Saviour of the world, and have felt the power of his love on their own hearts, will put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and longsuffering. They will rejoice in the happiness, and sympathize in the miseries of their fellow creatures. They will look with concern on stubborn sinners, who appear to be hastening their own destruction, in contempt of all the grace of the gospel. They will wish the universal spread of true religion, and rejoice in the hope of its future power and prevalence among the nations of the earth. They will pray for all men, knowing, that this is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.
If the benevolence of the gospel inspires our hearts, we shall not only desire and pray that others may share with us in its blessings, but endeavour,, within our sphere, to promote its influence. We shall openly profess it before men, and, by a conversation agreeable to it, shall recommend it to all around us. We shall encourage an attendance on its institutions, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but considering one another, to provoke unto love and good works. We shall regard, with particular attention, the young who are placed under our care; shall lead their tender minds to some just apprehensions of the gospel; shall inculcate on them the tempers and duties which it enjoins, and aid their preparation for that glorious state which it reveals; and great will be our joy, when we see them walking in the truth.
Did the kind and friendly spirit of the gospel generally prevail, how greatly would it diminish the miseries, and advance the happiness of the world! It is the nature of true religion to make men happy. Its work is peace, and its effect is quietness and assurance forever.
6. Awful is the danger of those who reject the gospel.
A way of salvation so marvellous, as this, which the gospel reveals, we may be assured is the only way. They who refuse it, must perish; and marvellous will be their destruction. Hear the Apostle's warning to the contemptuous, unbelieving Jews:-"Know ye, that through Jesus Christ is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by him, all who believe, are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Beware therefore lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets ::-" Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish."—Ye shall perish wonderfully-"for I work a work in your days, which ye will in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you." As the way of salvation is wonderful, so will be the destruction of those, who despise it. It will be wonderful, as it will come upon them by surprise-will exceed all human apprehensionwill be inconceivably aggravated by their abuse of God's grace-will be distinguished, by its severity, from the punishment of other sinners.
A like warning follows our text. Our Saviour tells the Jewish rulers, that in them would be fulfilled the prophecy of the Psalmist :-"The stone, which is rejected of the builders, is made the head of the corner." Though they despised him, and would soon put him to death, yet he was to be exalted to glory, and made the Head of God's moral kingdom. "Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken." Whoever, through ignorance,
prejudice, or an implicit confidence in false leaders, shall stumble at the gospel, will be grievously wounded by his fall, and unless he recovers himself, will finally perish. "But on whomsoever this stone shall fall," after its elevation in the building, as vengeance will hereafter fall, with accumulated weight, on those who continue in unbelief, "it shall grind him to powder." Christ, you see, here makes a distinction between different kinds of sinners; between those who stumble at the stone, and those who despise and reject it. And he makes an answerable distinction in the punishment: The former are wounded by their fall; the latter are ground to powder. There are some heedless, inattentive creatures, who walk on in the way in which they chance to be led, and seldom consider whither they are going, or where their course will end. These are like men, who stumble at the stone. There are others, who hate the truth, and will not come to it; who despise the gospel, and labour to infuse their own prejudices into the minds of others. These are the mad builders, who push away the chief corner stone and set it at nought. The former will meet a punishment proportionable to their guilt: On the latter, wrath will come to the uttermost. The stone, which in contempt, they roll aside, will fall back upon them, and crush them into ruins. Awful will be the doom of the careless-more so that of the avowed enemies of truth. Since God has wrought so great a work for the salvation of guilty men, to them who neglect this salvation there can be no escape. But a still sorer punishment awaits those who tread under foot the Son of God. To them, who sin wilfully, after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacri-. fice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Let sinners, invited by the grace, and warned by the terrors of the gospel, flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life. If you reject the Saviour, To whom will you go?-If you refuse the salvation proposed, What other will you find?-As sinners, you are dependent on mercy. The mercy of God is revealed-the terms of it are stated-assistance is offered patience is waiting the Spirit of Grace is striving-the day of your probation is hastening to a close. Know, in this your day, the things which belong to your peace, before they are hidden from your eyes.
Marvellous is the work which Jesus has done for you. Let it not be said of you, as was said of the contemptuous Jews-He marvelled, because of their unbelief.
Shepherds glorifying God for the Birth of a Saviour.
LUKE ii. 20.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
THE birth of Jesus Christ was attended
with circumstances of solemn majesty and grandeur, as well as of singular poverty and meanness. His parents were in a low condition, but of royal descent. The place of his birth was a small village, but worthy of notice in ancient prophecy. The apartment was a stable, but attended by angels. The first who received intelligence of his birth, were shepherds in the field; but the heralds, who announced the event, were a multitude of the heavenly host.
Just before the Saviour's birth, an order from the Roman Emperour, that the whole empire should be numbered and enrolled, obliged all the people to rcpair to their respective cities. Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, being of the lineage of David, VOL. I.