« AnteriorContinuar »
single person return home with thoughts like some of those, who had seen all that was done at the place of Crucifixion. Like the Centurion's, who confessed, “ Truly this was the Son of God :" or like those of the people, who in silence smote their breasts and returned, heavy at heart and serious, because of all that they had seen and heard : or like those of the women who returned home to make preparation to bear a part in His Burial. The spices and ointments, which they prepared, betoken uncorruptness from sin as our preparation : thus, by mortifying evil and corrupt affections, we may be buried with Him, so that at last we may pass through the grave and gate of death to a joyful resurrection. And as this preparation of theirs was in order, that they might return early to the sepulchre, where He lay, so may we daily approach to be near Hım, by every day meditating awhile on His life and death : so may we daily prepare for this approach the clean linen cloth of a pure heart, the myrrh and aloes of the mortified and selfdenying virtues of a holy life, which, like spices and ointments, send forth a sweet perfume. And the more diligently we make these preparations, the more confidently may we hope that He will be always near to us both in life and death; and that those Blessed Hands stretched forth unto a disobedient and gainsaying people will not be closed against us.
CHRIST OUR PASSOVER.
PREACHED ON BASTER-DAY.
1 Cor. v. 7, 8.
“ Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the Feast, not
with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
The careful readers and hearers of the Prayer-book must have observed, that on this one great day the Holy Church begins praising God with a different hymn from that which she commonly uses. Every other morning in the year, when we rise from our knees after the Lord's Prayer, the appointed Psalm is that which begins, “Oh come, let us sing unto the Lord.” But on the morning of Easter-day, we are directed, as you know, to repeat an anthem out of those parts of St. Paul's Epistles, where he most expressly praises God for the glorious Resurrection of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Now these anthems, when we examine them, will be found to convey the same sort of instruction, in regard of this day's solemn service, as the Psalm, “ O come, let us sing unto the LORD,” supplies us with in regard of the service of ordinary days. The purpose of the Church in fixing on that Psalm, was to warn Christians of the great danger we all lie under of hardening our hearts, becoming worse instead of better, if we come to worship God without really purposing to obey Him. Her purpose in choosing the anthem you heard this
morning, is to warn you in like manner how to keep Easter without bringing a judgment upon yourselves.
For, indeed, whether we think of it or no, these solemn times and yearly memorials of the great things God has done for us, are very trying times to us all ; times in which He, as it were, comes nearer to us than usual; times which never can pass away as though they had never been ; but of which the remembrance will rise up with us at the great day, either to our praise or our condemnation. Nobody, not the most ignorant person in this or in any other congregation, can well help knowing so much as this : That Easter is a very great day, a time in which people are called on to very serious thoughts of the world to come. Knowing this, if they know no more, they will be self-condemned by and by, if they suffer these precious hours to pass unimproved away.
As to the best way of considering our Lord's Resurrection, now on His own glorious day, the Church in this anthem seems to take the following order : she represents to us the great things which happened to Him as at this time, His Sufferings, Death, Burial, and Resurrection; these things the Church represents as the great event to which God has respect in all His dealings with whether past, present, or to come.
For the first of the three anthems which she has selected looks back to the past time, to the feast of the Passover, the Jewish Easter, “CHRIST our Passover, is sacrificed for us."
The second describes the present condition of Christian men, as such ; the condition into which we are brought by the Resurrection of our LORD. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more ;
death hath no more dominion over Him ;” so we are to “reckon ourselves as dead unto sin,” that is, freed from its power and dominion ; “and alive unto God," that is, enabled by His Spirit to serve Him.
The third part of the Divine hymn shows us how the Resurrec. tion of our Saviour is meant to help us in looking forward to the future ; how it is a pledge and token, quite sure to be fulfilled in its time, of our rising again to judgment. “Christ is risen from the dead, and is become the first-fruits of them that slept.”
Now, whichever of these three anthems we take,—whether we look on our Easter Feast as being to us what the Passover was to
the Jews in times past; or as the pledge of God's present grace and help offered to us as baptized Christians; or as the sure earnest of the Resurrection of the dead, and of eternal life or death ;-any way we cannot but hear the voice of God teaching us to lead a new life by the very return of this day.
Let us first look back on the Old Testament, and consider what Christians may learn by comparing their Easter when it returns, with times long since passed away. The great event in the history of former days, to which the Resurrection of our LORD answered, was the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. For the whole Jewish nation, to which God's promises had been handed down from Abraham, was so far a Type or Figure of His Blessed Son, with and through whom all His Promises and Covenants are made. The affliction of the Jews under Pharaoh was like what our Lord endured, when as our surety He remained three days in bondage under the power of death. The redemption of the people of God from Egypt, like our Redemption by our SAVIOUR CHRIST Jesus, depended on two things; first, the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, and then the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea. Our Saviour's death answered to the first of these, and the overthrow of Satan's power by His Resurrection to the second.
As to the first, that Christ is indeed our Passover, the very Paschal Lamb offered for the sins of the world, by the sprinkling of whose precious Blood God is moved to spare sinners, the objects of nothing but wrath and damnation; this we are most expressly taught, not only by St. Paul here in the text, but also by St. John in the history of our Lord's Crucifixion. For he says, that God's Providence ordered things so, that when the two malefactors' legs were broken, the same was not done to our SAVIOUR ; wbereby, he adds, the Scripture was fulfilled, which ordained concerning the Paschal lamb, “a bone of Him shall not be broken.” Indeed, as often as He is called the Lamb of God, the same great truth appears to be taught; we are instructed to depend on Him only, and on the sprinkling of His Blood for deliverance from the wrath and destroying Angels of God. And for the same reason He showed HIMSELF to St. John in the Revelations under the figure of the Lamb that had been slain. Now as God's
acceptance of this Paschal sacrifice was made known by His delivering the Israelites, and bringing the Red Sea upon Pharaoh ; so His acceptance of our Saviour's Sacrifice, offered once for all upon the Cross, was made known by His rising the third day from the dead. This seems to be what St. Paul means, when he says concerning Christ, that "having spoiled Principalities and Powers" (i.e. the evil spirits of darkness),-having deprived them of us, their prey,—“He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by His Cross." His returning as He did victorious from the grave, was the surest proof before men and angels of the devil's power being humbled, and the sting of death overcome. You see, then, that both in His sufferings and His victory, our Divine MASTER fulfilled the image, which God had caused to be drawn, as it were, of Him, so many hundred years before.
But the text was clearly intended to remind us of another most remarkable instance of typical agreement, and one in which we are ourselves most nearly concerned. It was intended to point out to all Christians, not only the power of our Lord's death to redeem them, but also the manner in which they must apply that healing power and virtue each one to himself. It shows how Christ is to be made a Passover, or Paschal Lamb, to each of us sinners in particular. For it is plain from Holy Scripture, that it is not enough, His being offered once for all to bear the sins of the whole world. Still something or other must be done by or for each one in particular, before he can be a partaker in that benefit. What that something is, the mysterious institution of the Passover shows plainly enough, to those who will compare it with what they find in the Gospel. The Paschal lamb was like other peace-offerings. The way to communicate in the benefit of it, was to partake of it in the Paschal feast. Whoever neglected so to do, forfeited the blessing intended him thereby; that soul was to be cut off from God's people, as having broken His Covenant. And before, when the destroying Angel came to slay the first-born of the Egyptians, it was not enough for the lamb to be sacrificed, but it was also necessary that the blood should be sprinkled on the door of each house of the chosen people. A clear sign how necessary it would be, when the Great Sacrifice of all was offered, to have some way for each person to take it to himself and make