« AnteriorContinuar »
character, and such as you should expect to find in a revelation from him ? Has not this gospel been confirmed by miracles clearIy divine ? Have you not as much reason to believe the testimony given of those miracles, as you have to believe any testimony whatever? If you reject the gospel which is confirmed by the concurrent testimony of human records from its beginning, must you not reject all ancient records, and believe only what you see with your eyes ?-If you can disbelieve a future state of retribution, which is declared by the voice of reason and revelation, you might as well disbelieve it, whatever other evidence was given. Were the invisible world opened to your view, as well might you impute the discovery to the workings of imagination, as suppose the evidence which you now have to be a mere delusion. The things contained in the gospel are infinitely important; and if you are not influenced by them in this manner of communication, you would be no more influenced, though they were communicated in any other supposeable way. Such is their importance, that every man of a prudent head and an honest heart would be governed by them, though he had only probable evidence of their truth. The reason why so many disregard them, is not the want of evidence to believe, but the want of a heart to love them. It is the evil heart of unbelief which hinders the influence of the gospel.
If God should open to you the invisible world, the view might overpower and confound you ; but it would have no more tendency to make you really religious, than the more calm and familiar instructions of the gospel. Religion must be matter of sober and rational choice. A method of discovery which should disturb the exercise of reason, would not be the best adapted to promote real religion.
It is sometimes asked; if God would have men believe another world, and act with reference to it, why does he not convince and persuade them by voices and signs from heaven? Why does he not reward virtue and punish vice immediately and without delay, so that all discouragement from the one, and temptation to the other may be removed? The truth is, God treats men as reasonable and moral agents. He leaves religion to be, what it must be;
matter of choice. He sets before us motives of the highest importance and the most indubitable certainty, and calls our attention to them in the most solemn and affectionate manner. If we will not regard them, nor be influenced by them, neither should we be effectually persuaded, though one should come to us from the dead ; though an angel should speak to us from heaven, or though hell were naked before us, and destruction had no covering.
It concerns us, then, to attend to the communications which are made—to improve the means which are bestowed, and obey the motives which are proposed. That the truths of the gospel may have their influence, let us contemplate their importance, and their pertinence to our condition and character-let us know ourselves, as well as know the truth. Pride and self-sufficiency oppose the gospel. Let us look unto God who can make all grace abound toward us. When he opens the heart, truth enters with power, and the entrance of his word gives light and peace and joy.
To conclude : Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you. Do all things without murmuring, or disputing, that ye may be the children of God without rebuke ; may shine as lights in the world—and may obtain eternal life.
Jesus answered them, saying, the hour is come, that the Son of man
should be glorified.
OUR blessed Lord came into the world on the benevolent design of instructing, reforming and redeeming mankind. In the prosecution of this design he met with great opposition from the nation among whom his kind offices were first employed. He was reproached for the obscurity of his birth and education, and the poverty of his family and relations. He was maligned as a promoter of sedition, a profaner of divine institutions, a confederate with evil spirits, a friend of sinners and a blasphemer of God. This opposition was begun by the priests, rulers and leading men of the nation, who were irritated by his just reproofs, and jealous of a diminution of their power. To serve their covetous and ambitious designs, they, by every artifice, interested the lower class against him, and raised a popular cry to have him destroyed.
Well he knew the trials, which were coming upon him. Clearly he foresaw what would be the consequence of his fidelity in his work. He foretold, that, he should be arrested, condemned and crucified at Jerusalem, and that his trial and death, though intended by his enemies to complete his disgrace, would be the means of displaying his glory. In the foresight of the near approach of his sufferings, he says, in our text, “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.”
We are here taught, that there are certain times when, and events by which, Jesus Christ is eminently glorified. Some of these we will consider and improve.
1. Christ was glorified in his trial and condemnation by an iniquitous court. Here his innocence and virtue were clearly displayed.
This court consisted of his enemies. Having no hope that, in a fair and honest process, they could convict him of any real crime, they suborned witnesses to testify such matters as might be made a ground of his condemnation. But the testimony of the witnesses was so variant and contradictory, that no credit was due, and little seems to have been paid to it. None of them could convince him of sin. Though he was condemned as worthy of death, yet the judgment was not predicated on proof of any crime, but merely on that claim to a divine mission, which he had constantly asserted in his preaching, had fully confirmed by his works, and had boldly supported to that hour.
When they applied to the Roman governor for a sentence against him, they could obtain it only by clamors and threats.. Pilate, after a full examination, declared publickly and repeatedly, . that he could find in him no fault at all. Thus his enemies became witnesses of the innocence of his life and the divinity of his mission.
In the same manner the enemies of the gospel now bear testimony to its truth and importance. With all their malice, they can find no fault in it-nothing unfriendly to the virtue, or the happiness of mankind. On the contrary, they are constrained to confess, that its precepts are rational, and its tendency beneficent. Why then do they oppose it?--For the same cause for which the Jewish rulers opposed Christ. It condemns their corrupt hearts and wicked lives, and opens to them no prospect of happiness without repentance and amendment.
2. Christ was glorified on the cross.
The virtues of his life here shone with new and distinguished brightness. Here he displayed his meekness in sustaining, without resentment, the insults of his enemies--his patience in bearing, without complaint, the pains of crucifixion_his forgiveness of injuries in soliciting the pardon of his infatuated foes-his benevolence to mankind in submitting to death for their redemption-his constancy and fortitude in finishing the work which he bad undertaken-his faith in God in commending himself to his care-his perfect resignation in praying, “ Not my will, but thine be done.”
Though he was crucified through weakness, yet, in this apparent weakness, he manifested a divine power dwelling in him. There was a majesty in his presence which confounded the soldiers who came to seize him. There was a penetration in his eye, which discerned and detected the perfidy of the dissembling wretch, who betrayed him with a kiss. There was a virtue in his touch, which instantly healed the wounded ear of Malchus. There was a tenderness and an energy in his look, which wrought conviction and repentance in Peter, who had denied him with an oath. There was grace at his disposal, which ensured salvation to a suffering malefactor. Though he was nailed to a cross, he was mighty to save.
Heaven gave open testimony in his favor. While he hung in anguish on the tree, the sun withdrew its light, and the sky was overspread with darkness. When he gave up the ghost, the earth trembled, the rocks burst asunder, the graves opened their doors, the vail of the temple was rent from top to bottom.
So convincing and amazing was the scene, that the captain of the guard exclaimed, “ This was a righteous man—this was the Son of God.” And all the people who came to see the crucifixion, “beholding what was done, smote their breasts and returned."
The virtues which he exhibited; the works which he performed; the testimonies which he received from heaven in the time of his last sufferings, were such demonstrations of his divinity, as nothing but malignity of heart could withstand. They wrought