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culiar doctrines he gave us a proof in kind. Did he teach that the dead were to arise ? As an infallible confirmation of it, he himself arose from the dead. The good man need not now be in anxiety about his future existence. Come and behold the place where the Lord lay. Come and behold the place from which the Lord arose. You do not mourn as those who have no hope. You commit the bodies of your deceased friends to the grave in the hopes of a blessed resurrection. For we know that our Redeemer liveth, and we know that we shall in like manner revive. The sound of the last trumpet shall pierce even the caverns of the tomb; the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; the celestial fire shall again re-aniinate these ashes, and a glorious body spring forth from the bosom of corruption. What a source of consolation does this open to us in all the afflictions of life ? Can that man despond and sink under the evils of life, who has the prospect of a blessed resurrection, and of a happy immortality ?
It has been thus endeavoured to shew you the advantages that we derive from Christianity, in point of instruction. It was never my intention to exalt reve. lation at the expence of reason, or to establish Christianity upon the ruins of natural religion. The light of nature affords us many discoveries, and the religion of nature suggests many obligations to virtue. The heathens reasoned well concerning the existence of a supreine Cause ;, from the things which are seen, they inferred bis eternal Power and Godhead, and gave many excellent lessons for the conduct of human life. But their discoveries had not the authority of uncontroverted truth, and their precepts wanted the obligation of laws. They were the private opinions of mere men, who had no commission to enact articles of faith, and who had no authority to establish laws for the conduct of human life. Their discoveries did not even carry conviction to their own minds. They doubted concerning poin's the most important and the most essential to the happiness of a rational mind.
If, from tred the ities and
If, from the order and beauty of the natural world, they inferred the existence and the power of God; from the irregularities and evils of the moral world, they were led to doubt concerning his wisdom and goodness. The immortality of the soul was rather the object of their wishes, than of their firm belief. The law of nature, amidst the multiplicity of vicious and criminal customs, was almost totally obliterated. The sense of moral good and evil, amidst the universal degeneracy and depravity of nianners, was in danger of being altogether lost. So general, so gross, was the darkness which long involved the nations, so deep and thick did the cloud sit over the moral world, that the wisest of the ancient philosophers thought it was a necessary step in the Deity, in order to ascertain his perfections, and vindicate his ways to men, that a prophet should descend from heaven, clothed with a Divine coinmission, to make a revelation of the Divine will.
But they laboured under a difficulty still more dreadful than ignorance,--that was a sense of guilt. This leads us to the second head of discourse, -To consi. der the Gospel as a plan of redemption from the guilt of sin.
When the sins of a criminal life rose up before them, horror of conscience overwhelmed them. Unenlightened nature presented nothing to'their eye but an offended Judge, arrayed in all his terrors. The violated law called aloud for reparation. Justice unsheathed her flaming sword. The mercy of the Judge was altogether unknown. All was darkness and dismay, without one beam of hope. It was in this dreadful dilemma, that, in order to appease the wrath of the incensed Deity, they had recourse to sacrifices, and to the shedding of so much blood It was this that drove them to violate the strongest and most sacred laws of nature ; drove them to torture their own flesh before the shrine of the offended God, and, terrible to tell, drove them,-drove the tender parent to take his son, his first-born son, and, with his own trembling
hands, to shed his blood as a ransom for his soul ! The grand inquiry of the heathen world was that with which the Prophet Micah introduces the king of Moab, “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, " and bow myself before the High God”.
As a sense of moral good and evil is implanted in the mind, and as a principle of conscience, condemning sin and approving righteousness, is universally felt, we see and we feel, by sad experience, that all men have sinned, have come short of the glory of God, and that, without an atonement, there could be neither joy nor peace in the heart of man."
Further, it was necessary that, in this atonement, provision should be made for delivering men from the state of degeneracy and imperfection, that they might not again fall into deadly sin, and stand in need of a new atonement. In consequence of that original corruption derived to us from our first parents, our nature' is degenerated,' and our moral abilities impaired so, that no man can yield perfect obedience to the law of God. It would therefore be of little consequence to blot' out our transgressions for the time past, unless we were also to be delivered from the dominion of sin in the time to come. To be always falling into sin, to be always standing in need of new acts of indemnity and forgiveness, is neither consistent with the dignity of the Divine' government, nor with the perfection of a rational and immortal nature. Accordingly the great atonement proposed in the gospel not only provides for our redemption from the 'wratli to come, but also for our restoration to the image of God. From the cross of Christ, virtue flows to the world, and healing to the nations. In consequence of his sufferings and death, our Saviour is now ascended to the right hand of the Majesty'in the heavens, to administer the affairs of his kingdom, and dispense the treasures of the new covenant. He retains our nature, and represents our persons in the presence of God, and makes intercession with the Father in our behalf. He sends down his sanctifying
Spirit to repair the ruins of our nature; to create in us the clean heart ; to renew within us the right spirit; to lead us on from grace to grace, and from strength to strength, till we perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Having thus recovered the original honour of our frame, and being restored to the image of God, he translates us to the mansions of immortality above, where these good tidings of great joy are a subject of praise amidst an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.
We proceed to the third general head of discourse, -To consider the Gospel as a scheme of comfort and relief during the afflictions of life. :
Ever since the introduction of sin into the world, human life hath been a scene of misery. Man that is born of a woman is of few days; and few as they are, they are full of trouble. He is doomed to suffer from the womb.' When he comes into the world, he enters on a state of pain ; and from the cradle to the grave, his life is a pilgrimage of sorrow. Where is the kingdom; where is the city ; where is the family ; where is the individual that is exempted from affliction ? It enters the palaces of the great, as well as the cottages of the low : it inyades the throne of the king, as well as the hut of the peasant ; and scarce are the sanctuaries and the altars of the Lord asylums against its approach. The calamities of life are always great ; but when the mind is under the impression of melancholy, and bleeds from recent sorrow, then are they felt in extreme. The cloud sits deep upon the face of things ; the prospect before us is dark and lurid ; and the mind, if not supported, would sink under its woes. It is the great excellence, my brethren, of the Christian religion, that it abounds with consolations in all the evils of life. To the upright, says the Scripture, light shall arise in the midst of darkness. Those who are weary and heavy laden with their woes, if they come to Christ, he will give them rest.
The first consolation which the Gospel proposes to us, is, that there is a particular Providence whicla watches over human affairs. It is part of the glad tidings revealed to us in the gospel, that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth ; that although his throne be in the heavens, and though the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, yet he condescends to visit the earth, to take up his abode and dwell with men. He who counts the number of the stars, numbers also the hairs of our head; a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the will of our heavenly Father. The most ordinary, as well as the most casual events, are under the direction of that arm which reaches from heaven to earth. Ever watching over the world, there is an eye above, which slumbers not nor sleeps. The archer may draw the bow at a venture ; but the arrow is directed by an higher hand. This will administer relief to the mind in all the affictions of life. Trusting to the Providence of God, the devout mind will rest in hope, and break forth into joy : 6 The Lord “ reigneth, let the earth be glad ; the Lord reigneth, “ let the multitude of the isles rejoice. His kingdom " ruleth over all; and he will make all things co-o“ perate for the good of those who love him." Shall not I therefore trust in him who is ever present to help me in the time of need? Are not these perfections, which are equal to the government of the whole system of nature, more than sufficient to direct my little concerns ? My God is a present help in the time of trouble. He is not far off when grief is near, nor like an absent friend to the distressed. Let the darkness of the tempest surround me ; let the winds blow, and the waves rage, I have an interest in the Ruler of the storm ; I have an interest in him who can say to the winds, “ cease," and to the waves, “ be still."
In the next place, afflictions take their rise, not from the wrath, but from the love of God. Did we believe that the world was governed by a malignant being, who made sport of human misery, and took a malicious pleasure in punishing his creatures : Did we consider ourselves as under the dominion of hatred, as objects of the divine vengeance, and pursued