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find of all the divine dispensations, has been to humble and confound the pride of man. It was pride that at first introduced moral evil into the worldi It was pride that tempted the angels to rebel against their Maker, that brought them down from the mansions of lights to the abodes of darkness and despair. It was pride' that tempted our first parents to disobey the divine commandment. The language of their, apostasy was, " I will ascend into the heavens; I will "rise above the height of the clouds; I will exalt my "throne above the stars of God, I will be like the "Most .High." Pride^ although not made for man in his best estate, hath not forsaken him in his worst* Even the tall did' not efface the strong impression from his mind. As if he had continued the same noble being he came from the hands of his Creator; as if he had been still the happy lord of the inferior world, he retained the consciousness of his original excellence when that excellence was no tnOre; he surrendered himself to delusions which flattered his vain mind; he tried paths to elevation and worldly greatness; he even appropriated to himself the attributes of the divinity, and, possessed with the madness of ambition, arrogated to himself those honours which are due to God only. Hence the world deifjed mortal men, worshipped as its creators those to whom it had lately given birth, and adored as immortal and divine the human creatures whose death it had beheld^
As men fell by pride, it was the appointment of Heaven that he should rise by humility. This doctrine was early delivered to the world. God testified by his prophets, that he knew the proud afar off; that the proud in heart was an abomination to him* but that he would hear the cry of the humble; that though he dwelt in the high and holy place, he would dwell also with that man who was of a humble and Contrite spirit. But more than instructions were requisite to reform the sentiments, and change the spirit, of a world which had been so much intoxicated with
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dreams of earthly greatness, and so long enchanted with spectacles of human glory. Accordingly, it pleased God, in the fulness of time, to send forth his own Son into the world, in fashion as a man, in the form of a servant, to become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and hath appointed all Christians to glory in his cross, nay, to glory in nothing else, "God forbid that I should glory, save "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
These words might give occasion to many useful discourses. All that I intend at present is, to shew you by what means we are to glory in the cross of* Christ.
In the first place, then, We are to glory in the cross of Christ, by frequently meditating upon the circumstances of his death and passion.
The human actions and events in which we glory, become often the objects of contemplation; they present themselves spontaneously to the mind, and become the favourite ideas of the soul. We turn them on all sides, we view them in every light, we delight in them, we dwell upon them, we make them our meditation day and night. Surely, then, it becomes us to revolve often in our mind this great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, and dying on across for the salvation of the world.
The angels in heaven, as we are told in Scripture, desired with earnest eyes to look into the sufferings of Jesus; much more should we make the sufferings of Jesus the object of our meditation, for he took'not on him the nature of angels, but of the seed of Abraham.
Call up to thy mind, then, O Christian! the doleful circumstances of thy Saviour's passion, the sad variety of sorrows which he suffered, the torment of body and agony of mind which he underwent, the cruel, the ignominious, and accursed death which he endured: Make these things present to thy mind, till the blended emotions of contrition and sorrow, uf awe and wonder, of joy and pleasure, of gratitude and love, take possession of thy heart. Can yon not "watch with me one hour r" said our Lord to his disciples when he entered into his agony : " Can you "not watch with me one hour r" saith our Lord to his disciples in every age, when they are about to renew the memorials of his death and passion. Agreeably to his dying charge, accompany thy Redeemer, O Christian ! in the last scene of his sufferings : Look to him with such a lively sense and feeling of his sorrows, till like Paul, thou art crucified with Christ. While all nature is thrown into disorder, while the the rocks are rent, and the dead arise, wilt thou continue unmoved? Wilt .thou continue harder than the rocks, and more insensible than the ashes of the dead? No; while thou thus musest, holy affections will be kindled, and the heavenly fire will burn ; from the altar which was erected on the hill of Calvary, a living ember will touch thy lips, and purify thy heart.'
In the second place, We are to glory in the cross of Christ, by giving his death that rank in our estimation, and that place in our affections, which its importance requires.
When we glory in any thing to an extraordinary degree, we prefer it to all others, we give it the chief place in our heart, and rest our happiness in a great measure upon it. And thus it becomes us to glory in the cross of Christ; thus it becomes us to prefer it to all things, to give it the highest place in our heart, and to rest our eternal happiness on it alone. The manifestation of the Son of God is, in all regards, the most wonderful of the divine works, and to us in particular is the most important event that distinguishes the annals of time. 11 is death upon the cross was the most splendid part of his mediatorial office; the most illustrious instance of his love to men, and the most meritorious act of his obedience to God. By his death, the wrath of God was averted from the world, and the atonement requisite for the sins of men was made. By his death, the glories of the Godhead shone put with new lustre, the majesty of the moral law was not only sustained, but rendered illustrious, and a dignity was reflected on virtue which it had never known before. To his death we are indebted for the pardon of our sins, for adoption into the family of Heaven, and for our hopes of a happy immortality in the future world. His death upon the cross quenched the fire of hell, and set open the gate of heaven for a repenting world to enter in.
In the cross of Christ, therefore, we do not glory aright, if we admire only the circle of virtue which shone out in his suffering state: if we admire only the patience with which he submitted to all the appointments of Providence, the fortitude with which he encountered all the dangers of life, tjie magnanimity which induced him to forgive his enemies, the charity which prompted him to pray for those who had bound him to the. accursed tree, and that noble principle of love to mankind, the spring of all his under-, takings as our Redeemer : This merit we must do more than admire: upon it we must rest as the ground of pur acceptance with God, and the foundation of our title to eternal life. The blessed above ascribe their salvation, not to their own righteousness, but to the merits of their Redeemer; "Unto him that loved i" us," is the strain of their song, "Unto him that f loved us unto the death, and washed us from our "sins in his own blood, be praise, and honour, and f blessing." "These are they," said the angel to the Apostle John, "who have come out of great tri*' bulation; they have washed their robes, and made "them white in the blood of the Lamb, therefore are "they beiore the throne."
Our virtues are insufficient to procure our acceptance with God, or merit a title to happiness in the life to come. Even man, in his state of innocence, could not pretend to have merit with his Creator. By the law of his nature he was bound to render obedience to that God from whom he received his being, and from whom he owed his preservation. The moral law was the law of his being. When he had done his best, he did no more than was his duty. If man, then, in a state of innocence, could not claim the crown of heavenly glory, as the reward of personal merit, shall man in a state of guilt pretend to have merit with a holy God, with whom evil cannot dwell, and who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity? Supposing the day of judgment arrived, where is the man that durst face the tribunal of the Almighty, and demand one of the thrones of heaven upon the footing of personal righteousness? The most arrogant presumption durst not aspire so high. But, blessed be God, that though we are unworthy, yet worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive blessing, and honour, and praise, because he hath redeemed us by his blood, and hath given us a right to sit down with him upon his throne. To fallen man the cross is the tree or life; there grow the fruits which are for the healing of the nations; fruits which, if we take and eat, we shall live for ever.
In the third place, We are to glory in the cross of Christ, by commemorating his death in the holy sacrament.
Those events in which a nation glories the most, those events which restored or secured to them their liberties, from which they begin an era of happy time, are commemorated with a laudable spirit of joy. A day. is set apart, that the memory of such glorious deeds may be transmitted clown to posterity, and that the names of those who distinguished themselves on the occasion, as patriots or as heroes, may receive a just tribute of praise from all succeeding times. Agreeably to this, the Christian church hath in all ages pet apart certain times to keep in remembrance this most important event, the death and passion of our Redeemer. It was the commandment of our Lord himself; it was his commandment, given in that niglit in which he was betrayed , it was his last commandment to his-disciples, " Do this in remembrance "of me.'? And surely the disciple who loves \\\s Lord, will be cautious how he disregards his dying