« AnteriorContinuar »
2 CORINTHIANS XIII. 14.
“ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all, Amen."
The fulfilment of this benediction would render your present service truly delightful. It would give elevation to your minds, fervour to your worship, and gladness to your hearts. You are accustomed to hear it repeated at the close of public worship; and when I now express this wish at the commencement of your present solemn act of Christian homage, may the love of God be shed abroad in your hearts, the
of Christ be exceedingly abundant to you, and the Spirit of devotion and peace descend upon you.
In this benediction you behold the doctrine of the Trinity established. If this doctrine had been an invention of men, and if it had rested on no other support than the curious speculations of Gentile Philoso. phers, or the vain traditions of the Jews, the Apostle would not have employed language so obviously calcu. lated to form the belief of it in (the minds of Christians. It is impossible to reconcile the notion that our Lord is a mere creature, and that the Spirit is only an attribute or quality of Deity, with this benediction, for the most important personal acts are here ascribed to the Holy Ghost ; and the grace of Christ is solicited for Christians even before the love of God. In the Lord's Supper you profess a devout regard and adhe.
rence to this doctrine, to the support of which you were pledged in your baptism. Let not curiosity approach it with its presumptuous inquiries, nor unhumbled rea. son with its vain explanations; but let prayer draw near to it with ardent requests for the spirit of wisdom; faith, with entire submission to the divine testimony; admiration, with its loftiest wonder; and reverence, with adoring awe. Never let Unitarian blasphemy, or infidel scorn make you ashamed of a doctrine which God hath interwoven with every article of our faith, every rite of our worship, every expectation of our hearts, and every revelation of eternity.
In this benediction you behold the interest which each of the persons in the Godhead takes in your salvation. Each has his peculiar office in the promotion of it; betwixt them there is the most perfect harmony of co-operation; and in the result of the whole, a three-one God shall be all in all. They ought to receive from us equal homage of gratitude and trust; and in the worship of good men on earth, and of the just made perfect in heaven, you are led to this by the most striking examples. And how strange is it that such worship should have been stigmatized as idolatry, by any who profess to bow to the authority of Scripture. But there is as little argument in their reasonings to convince our judgment, as there is of piety in their ade dresses to the Deity to touch our hearts.
The specimens of Unitarian piety given us in the hymns and prayers published by writers of that party, suggest no favourable view of the influence of their system; and by a heart influenced by the spirit of Christ, they will be read with no complacency. That admiration of the Saviour which diffuses over sacred poetry its noblest charms, breathes not in a single line; and the glories of his cross, and the agency of his Spirit,
are overlooked with contemptuous neglect, and sentiments and feelings incompatible with them are directe ly avowed.
Amidst all the defects of the English Liturgy, its evangelical tenets and spirit must be admitted ; and its devout and glowing addresses to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are a proof that its framers were aware of the interest Christians have in this doctrine, and that they were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. There are ceremonies in the worship of that Church which savour of superstition; but it is only just to say of its litany, that it is rich in the doctrines of Christ, and glows with the spirit of the gospel; and in its supplications for mercy from each of the Persons in the Godhead, and its ascriptions of glory to each, the pious and the faithful in all denominations will cheerfully accord.
But you may behold also in this benediction the rich and glorious portion of true Christians. The de. lights of divine love, the supports of the grace of Christ, and the influences of the Holy Ghost are yours. The love of God gives joy in every ordinance, makes every dispensation of Providence acceptable, and elevates and strengthens human friendship. By the grace of Christ duty is made easy, trouble light, temptation is repelled, and death is overcome. By the influences of the Spirit bad passions are not suffered to make the saint wicked, nor gloomy feelings to render him miserable; and by it the holiness that adorns, the peace that tranquillizes, and the communion which blesses the soul, are maintained and perfected.
A good man may be poor; but with these blessings the evils of poverty will be borne with cheerfulness. He may be scorned and abused by the world, but God is his friend. Men may withhold their aid from him in difficulties ; nay, may do what they can to aggravate his afflictions, but the power of Christ shall rest on him. Men may separate him from their company, and cast out his name as evil for the Son of Man's sake ; but the communion of the Holy Ghost is a refuge in which the gloom of solitude is forgotten, and the terrors of persecution cannot be felt.
We trust, Christians, that you now feel the most eager desires after these spiritual blessings; and if you ask them in the name of Jesus, and in reliance on his death and intercession, “ grace shall be to you, and peace
from him who is, and was, and is to come, from the seven spirits which are before the throne, and from the faithful witness, the first begotten from the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.” May you now have fellowship with the Father in his love, with the Son in his grace, and with the Spirit in his fruits and consolations.
After the Service.
* Truly, O Christians, the lines are fallen to you in pleasant places, and you have a goodly heritage.” Yours is a heritage of which no vicissitude can deprive you, which shall yield you daily new stores of consolation, and blessedness, and whose riches are inexhaustible. When you think how unworthy you are of such a heritage, and what a different portion you once madly sought, it will fill you with devout wonder, that God should have “ made an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”
Shew in your temper and conduct the moral influence of this benedice tion. Let the love of God excite you to be zealous for his glory, resigned to his will, fearful of offending him,
and solicitous to please bim. Let the grace of Christ render you active in daty, firm and vigorous in resiste ing temptation, and let it repress all confidence in your. selves; and beware of grieving the Holy Spirit of God, by the vanity of your thoughts, or the carnality of your hearts, or by any fellowship with the works of dark
You will find, I trust, in this interest of the Holy Trinity in your welfare, your motives and obligations to all holy obedience strengthened, and will show, in your persevering resistance to every temptation to indolence and apostacy, its power overžthe conscience, and the moral impulse which it gives to the heart.
Let this benediction excite and direct you to free quent and affectionate prayer for those who are over you in the Lord.
" I beseech you brethren, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” The more your minister shares in the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Spirit, the more will you be improved and comforted by his labours.
I call on you also to solicit these blessings in be half of your fellow worshippers. The wishes of Chris. tian benevolence thus expressed will animate you to all the duties of charity. You will not envy, or defame, or injure the man to whom you wish the love of God; you will not refuse your support to those for whom
grace of Christ; nor will you scorn the society of a brother, because he is poorer and less in. telligent than yourself, for whom you ask the com. munion of the Holy Ghost. Do you wish one another the love of God ? it is a call on you to brotherly kindness in all its forms. Do you wish one another the grace of Christ ? it calls you to help every man his
you solicit the