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III. Here, then, in the third place, we may see still farther, the extent of our Lord's compassion. It is here for the impenitent that he grieves, and the more so that they were impenitent. It is for those who had ever derided Him, who were soon about to seize, and to scourge, and to crucify him, it is for them that He mourns; when he looks upon the present hardness of their hearts, and on the future vengeance which he saw would overtake them! In this divine and universal compassion, there is no encouragement, indeed, for men to "go on in their sins, that grace may abound, God forbid !" But is there no argument to awaken the sinner ? One of the circumstances which hardens men most in the continued habits of sin, is the melancholy supposition, that they are objects only of hatred to higher natures ; that there are no softer affections with which Heaven can regard them; and thus they become reckless in their conduct, and adopt sentiments of enmity and defiance against the Power who, they imagine, is silently enjoying the prospect of vengeance.
Such are the overwhelming clouds which the practice of guilt throws over the aspect of the
Divine Benevolence! Let, then, offending and sinful man be told, that, even in the midst of his trespasses and sins, while he is himself hurrying forward to ruin, utterly thoughtless of his doom, or proudly defying it—that in those very moments of impiety and hardened blindness—that blessed Messenger of Mercy who came to seek and to save that which is lost, is beholding him, and weeping over him, and is uttering no words of a dark vengeance rejoicing in its prey ; but those most compassionate expressions, “ if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine
Is there nothing in such words, my brethren, to throw the most hardened offender upon his knees before so gracious and merciful a Judge; to remove at once the earthly and gross film from his eyes; to purge them from the clouds of infidelity, and from the mists of passion and sin; to draw from his throbbing heart those blessed words of confiding penitence,
Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief;" and to prepare his renewed spirit for the voice of pardon which says to him, “neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more !"
It is impossible to contemplate these views, feebly and imperfectly as they have been stated, without being strongly impressed with the peculiar perfection of our Saviour's Religion. It comes upon us, in this view, not as a matter to be discovered by reasoning, but to be at once felt by the Heart. What the heart of man wishes to find in a Messenger from Heaven, is not a teacher merely, but a Friend, and when this Friend is found, we do not any longer reason, my brethren, we believe! The real wants and sorrows of our being press upon us too strongly, and stand too much in need of consolation, to permit us to throw aside that consolation, when we once know that it is to be had, on any false glosses, however specious; and this may be one reason, why so many curious inquiries respecting Revealed Truth are left unanswered to those who are busier to inquire than to profit from the result of their inquiries ; to some minds they could never be answered satisfactorily, and the best way to the Truth is independent of such investigations. The Truth which we anxiously long for is at once apparent to those who can open their souls to the minute application, and to the universal extent of the Divine Mercy and Goodness; its application to every feeling and sentiment of the human heart, so beautifully exemplified in the sympathy of our Saviour; and its universal nature, in being without partiality or respect of persons, but embracing in some form or other, suited to the diversity of circumstances and characters, every Being on which it hath bestowed life, and hath made its sun to arise.--It is our happiness, as Christians, to have had these blessed impressions of the goodness of God engraven upon our souls, from our earliest years; and it now only remains for us to carry them into the conduct of our lives by that “ Faith which worketh through Love."
ON THE PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN CHARAC
ST JOHN, i. 12, 13.
But as many as received Him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,
which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
It is the great contemplation of this season that One has come from the Father to enlighten and to save the world; and it is the benevolent expression of the Apostle that this Divine Messenger looks upon that world
his own.” That he has been very im
* Preached on the fourth Sunday in Advent.