Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

noise, are adorned with the honours of a crown, or possessed of large eftates and great powers; fill the world with the glory of their names and actions ; conquer in the field, or are laboriously employed in the cabinet. Well, in a little time the scene is shifted, and all these vain phantoms disappear. The king of terrors clears the stage of the busy actors, strips them of all their fictitious ornaments, and ends the vain farce of life: and, being brought all upon a level, they go down to the grave in their original na. kedness, are jumbled together undistinguished, and pass away as a tale that is told.

i Farther : " Upon the Greek or Roman theatres, to which the apostle alludes, the actors, if I mistake not, frequently, if not always, came upon the stage in a disguise, with a false face, which was adapted to the different person or character they designed to afsume; so that no man was to be seen with his real .face, but all put on borrowed visages. And in allu

fion to this, the text might be rendered, “ The mafquerade of the world pafseth away," pointing out the fraud and disguises which mankind put on, and the flattering forms in which they generally appear, which will all pass away when the grave fhall pull off the mak; and they go down to the other world naked and open,' and appear at the supreme tribunal in their due characters, and can no more be varnished over with fraudulent colouring.'*

Others apprehend, the apostle here alludes to some grand procession, in which pageants or emblematical figures pass along the crowded streets. The staring crowd wait their appearance with eager eyes, and place themselves in the most convenient pofture of observation; they gape at the passing show; they follow it with a wondering gaze ;-and now it is past; and now it begins to look dim to the fight; and now it disappears. Just such is this transitory world. Thus it begins to attract the eager gaze of

mankind; * Dunlop's Sermons, Vol. I. p. 2150

mankind; thus it marches by in swift proceflion from our eyes to meet the eyes of others; and thus it foon vanishes and disappears. * . And shall we always be stupidly staring upon this empty parade, and forget that world of substantial realities to which we are hastening ? No; let us live and act as the expectants of that world, and as having nothing to do with this world, but only as a school, a state of discipline, to educate and prepare us for another.

O! that I could successfully impress this exhortation upon all your hearts ! 0:! that I could prevail upon you all this day to break off your over-fond ata tachment to earth, and to make ready for immortality! Could I carry this point, it would be a greater advantage than all the dead could receive by any fu. neral panegyrics from me. I speak for the advantage of the living upon such occasions, and not to celebrate the virtues of those who have passed the trial, and received their sentence from the Supreme Judge. And I am well satisfied the mourning relatives of our deceased friend, who best knew and esteemed his worth, would be rather offended than pleased, if I should prostitute the present hour to so mean a purpose. Indeed, many a character less worthy of praise, often makes a shining figure in funeral sermons. Many that have not been such tender hus. bands, such affectionate fathers, such kind masters, such sincere upright friends, so honest and punctual in trade, such zealous lovers of religion and good

men, * Thus Dr. Doddridge understands the text, FAMILY EXPOSITOR, in loc, and thus he beautifully describes ie in his Hymns:

The empty pageant rolls along ;
• The giddy unexperienc'd throng
• Pursue it with enchanted eyes ;
• It passeth in swift march away,
" Still more and more its charms decay,

• Till the last gaudy colours dies. See Hymx 268. Lucian has the best illustration of this pallage, in this view, that I have seen. Dialogue XXXII. Murphy's Edit.comenna

men, have had their putrifying remains perfumed with public praise from a place fo folemn as the pulpit; but you can witness for me, it is not my usual foible to run to this extreme. My business is with you, who are as yet alive, to hear me. To you I call, as with the voice of your deceased friend and neigha bour, -Prepare! prepare for eternity! O! if the fpirits that you once knew, while clothed in flesh, hould take my place, would not this be their united voice, Prepare! prepare for eternity! ye frail shortlived mortals ! ye near neighbours to the world, of fpirits ! ye borderers upon heaven or hell; make ready, loosen your hearts from earth, and all that it contains : weigh anchor, and prepare to launch away into the boundless ocean of eternity, which methinks is now within your ken, and roars within hearing.' And remember, this I say, brethren,' with great confidence, the time is short : it remaineth therefore, for the future,--that they that have wives, be as if they had none ; and they that weep, as if they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as if they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it : for the fashion of this world, all its scheme of affairs, all the vain parade, all the idle farce of life, passeth away. And away let it pass, if we may at last obtain a better country; that is, an heavenly : which may God grant for Jesus' fake! Amen.

SERMON

SE R M O N

XXIV.

THE PREACHING OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED THE MEAN

OF SALVATION.

1 Cor. i. 22-24. For the Jews require a fign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and

the wisdom of God. TF we should consider Christianity only as an imI provement of natural religion, containing a complete system of morality, and prescribing a pure plan of worship, it is a matter of the utmost importance, and worthy of universal acceptance. In the one view, it is necessary to inform the world in matters of sin and duty, and reform their vicious practices; and in the other, to put an end to that foolish and barbarous superstition which had over-run the earth, under the notion of religious worship. And these ends the Christian religion fully answers. Never was there fuch a finished system of morality, or such a spiritual and divine model of worship invented or revealed, as by the despised Galilean, and the twelve fishermen that received their instructions from him.

But this is not the principal excellency of the gofpel ! and did it carry its discoveries no farther, alas ! it would be far from revealing a suitable religion for finners. A religion for finners must reveal a method of salvation for the loft; of pardon for the guilty, and of fanctifying grace for the weak and wicked. And, blessed be God, the gospel answers this end; and it is its peculiar excellency that it does so. It is Vol. II.

its its peculiar excellency that it publishes a crucified Christ as an all-sufficient Saviour to a guilty, perishing world. It is its glorious peculiarity that it reveals a method of salvation every way honourable to God and his government, and every way suitable to our necessities; and that is, by the sufferings of Christ, the Founder of this religion. This is the ground, the fubstance, and marrow of the gospel ; and it is this, above all other things, that its ministers ought to preach and inculcate. It should have the same place in their sermons which it has in that gospel which it is their business to preach; that is, it should be the foundation, the substance, the center, and drift of all.

This was the practice of the most successful preachcr of the gospel that ever bore that commission : I mean St. Paul. And in this he was not fingular ; his fellow-apostles heartily concurred with him, We preach Christ crucified. The sufferings of Christ, which had a dreadful consummation in his crucifixion, their neceflity, design, and consequences, and the way of salvation thereby opened for a guilty world, these are the principal materials of our preaching; to instruct mankind in these is the great object of our ministry, and the unwearied labour of our lives. We might easily choose subjects more pleasing and popular, more fit to display our learning and abilities, and set off the strong reasoner, or the fine orator : but our commiffion, as ministers of a crucified Jesus, binds us to the subject; and the necessity of the world peculiarly requires it. Further, this was not the apostle's occasional practice, or an hasty wavering purpose ; but he was determined upon it. I determined, says he, not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. * 1 Cor. ii. 2. This theme, as it were, engrossed all his thoughts ; he dwelt so much upon it,

as

* Which Dr. Doddridge renders-Christ Jefus, even that crucised one. Christ Jesus, and that under the most ignominious circumstances possible, viz. as crucified, was the principal object of his study, and the substance of his preaching.

« AnteriorContinuar »