« VorigeDoorgaan »
geance. Could I conduct you to the gates of the infernal prison, I am persuaded you would hear Judas Iscariot, and all other treacherous disciples, crying out, · () that Christ ! had never come in the flesh! The thunders of Sinai I would have been lefs terrible. The frowns of Jesus of
Nazareth are insupportable. O the dreadful, painful, ' and uncommon wrath of a Saviour on the judgment
feat !--The Lord speak consolation to his own people, and pierce the hearts of his enemics, that they may be brought to repentance.
2. You may learn from what has been said, that the great and leading motive to obedienee under the gospel is a deep and grateful fense of redeeming love. This runs through the whole writings of the New Testament. It binds the believer to his duty; it animates him to diligence; it fills him with comfort : 2 Cor. V. 14, 15. “ For “ the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, " that if one died for all, then were all dead : and that he “ died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth “ live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, 6 and rofe again.” Gal. ii. 19, 20. “ For I through the « law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I “ am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live ; yet not “ I, but Christ liveth in me : and the life which I now « live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, " who loved me, and gave himself for me." That this motive will have the most powerful influence on the believer's conduct, is evident both from reason and experience. No principle takes a faster hold of the human heart than gratitude for favors received. If the mercies be cordially accepted, and highly esteemed, which is certainly the cafe here, nothing can withstand its influence. It reconciles the heart to the most difficult duties; nay, it even difposes the believer to court the opportunity of making fome signal facrifice, in testimony of his attachment. Love fincere and fervent overcomes all difficulties; or rather indeed it changes their nature, and makes labor and suffering a source of delight and satisfaction. Let but the Saviour's interest or honor feem to be concerned, and the believer, who feels how much he is indebted to him,
will cheerfully embrace the call, and fet no bounds to his compliance. This shows how much beauty and forcé there is in our Lord's manner of recommending love and compasion to our fellow-creatures, Matth. xxv. 40.“ And “ the king fall answer and say unto them, Verily I say .“ unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of " the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” But to what purpo e do I dwell upon this subject ? for a fense of redeeming love is not only the most powerful mo. tive to every other duty, but is itself the possession and exercise of the first duty of the moral law, as well as the fum and substance of evangelical holiness, viz. the love of God. The fuít sin, by which our nature fell, was a diftrust of, and departure from God; and the malignity of every sin we continue to commit, consists in giving that room in the heart to something else, which is due only to God. A sense of redeeming love, therefore, expels the eneiny, and makes up the breach, as thereby the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.
3. You may see, from what has been said, the necessity of a particular application of the truths of the gospel to ourselves, and the reliance of every believer upon them as the foundation of his own hope. I have sometimes had occasion to observe to you, that it is very doubtful, whether any person can so much as approve in his judgiñent the truths of the gospel, till he perceive his own intereft in them, and their necessity to his peace. Certain it is, the world that lieth in wickedness generally despises them. Ilowever, I Mall admit as a thing poflible, that a bad man may, either by imitation, or the power of outward evi· dence, embrace the gospel as a system of truth. But fure:ly the love of Christ can neither be a source of comfort,
nor a principle of obedience, unless he consider it as ter·minating upon hintelf. Without this, the whole is gene.ral, cold, and uninteresting. But when he considers, not only the certainty of the truth, but the extent of the invitation, and can say, with Thomas, My Lord, and my God, then indeed the ties are laid upon him; then indeed - he begins to feel their constraining power; then he not only contemplates the glory of God in the grace of re:
demption, but cheerfully and unfeignedly confecrates himself to the service of his Redeemer. Thisleads me, in the
Fourth and last place, to invite every sinner in this affembly to accept of Christ as his Saviour, and to rely upon him as he is offered in the gospel. To the secure and insensible, I know it is in vain to speak. But if you see your own danger, what should hinder your belief and reliance on the Saviour ? If you either need or desire deliverance, what with-holds your acceptance of it, when it is not only freely offered to you, but earnestly urged upon you ? Can you doubt the tesiimony of the Amen, the faithful and true witness ? The blessings of his purchase belong not to one people or family, but to every nction under heaven. The commiflion of those who bear his message is unlimited : Mark xvi. 15. “Go ve into all the “ world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” They are offered, not only to the virtuous, the decent, and regular, but to the chief of finners : 1 Tim. i. 15. “ This " is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, That “ Christ Jesus came into the world to fave finners; of 66 whom I am chief.” Whoever heareth these glad tidings, he dilhonoreth Gad, he poureth contempt on his Saviour's love, and he wrorgeth his own soul, if he does not receive consolation from them. Be not hindered by what you see in yourselves, unless you are in love with sin, and afraid of being divorced from it. The gospel is preached to finners. It does not expect to find then, but it is in. tended to make them holy. A deep and inward sense of your own unworthiness, unless it is prevented by the de. ceiver, Mould only make you more highly esteem the grace of the gospel, and more willingly depend on your Redeemer's love. i
I conclude with the invitation which he himself gives to the weary finner, Matt. xi. 28, 29, 30. “Come unto “ me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will “ give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of 'w me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye sha!! " find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and y my burden is ligh:,”
M Y brethren, A serious and attentive mind, on pe
V rusing the sacred volume, can hardly help being often struck both with the sentiments and language of the inspired writers on the subject of redemption. With what a deep veneration of soul, with what warmth of affection, with what transports of adoring thankfulness do they speak of the plan laid by divine wisdom, for the falvation of loft sinners, by the cross of Christ! A person possessed only of understanding and taste, may admire these fallies of holy fervor, for the elevation of thought, and boldneís of expression, which a man's being in good earnest on an interesting subject doth naturally inspire. But happy, happy, and only happy, that foul who from an inward approbation can receive, relish, and apply those glorious things that are spoken of the name, character, and undertaking of the Saviour of finners.
You may observe, that there are two different subjects, in general, on which the writers of the New Testament are apt to break out, and enlarge, when they are considering or commending the mystery of redemption. One