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In the second place, We are to glory in the cross of Christ, by giving his death that rank in our eftimation, 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 reft 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. His 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 out with new lustre, the majesty of the moral law was not only sustained, but render. ed 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 in. to 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 fhone out in his suffering state; if we admire only
the patience with which he submitted to all the ap. pointments of Providence, the fortitude with which he encountered all the dangers of life, the 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 undertakings as our Redeemer. This merit we must do more than admire ; upon it we must rest as the: ground of our 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 $6 that loved us,” is the strain of their song, “ Unto “ him that loved us unto the death, and washed us $ from our fins in his own blood, be praise and hon
or and blessing” « These are they," said the angel to the Apostle John, “ who have come out “ of great tribulation; they have washed their robes, “ and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, “ therefore are they before 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 to whom he owed his preservation. The moral law was the law of his being. When he had done his beft, 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 perfonal merit, fhall 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 in. iquity ? Supposing the day of judgment arrived, where is the man that durft 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 honor, 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 of 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 facrament.
Those events in which a nation glories the most, those events which restored or secured to them their liberties, from which they begin an æra 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 down 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 succeed. ing times. Agreeably to this, the Christian church hath in all ages set 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 command: ment, given in that night in which be was betray. ed; it was his last commandment to his disciples, « Do this in remembrance of me." And surely the disciple who loves his Lord, will be cautious how he disregards his dying charge. There are, indeed, persons in the world, who bear the Christian name, and who, notwithstanding, never join in this folemn ordinance. Although they were baptised into the faith of Jesus, and have never publicly renounced Christianity, yet, instead of glorying in the cross, they seem to be ashamed of it, and testify plainly tu the world, that they pay no regard to the dying charge of their Lord, and that they would blush to be seen at a communion-table. How such persons can reconcile their conduct to any sense of duty, to any idea of Christianity, is beyond my capacity to discover. Sure I am, if they have any conscience, if they have any reflection, if they have any feeling at all, it will interrupt their peace of mind in life, it will shut up the chief avenues to comfort in their last moments, and prevent that tranquillity and fulness of joy which is then the portion of the Christian, to think that they have lived in the wilful neglect and contempt of an express injunction of their Lord, and may have, in some degree, incurred the guilt of those whom the apostle declares to have trodden under foot the Son of God, and to have counted the blood of the covenant wherewith they might have been fanctified, an unholy thing.
You say you are unfit to approach the table of the Lord. Let me ask you, Are you fit to die? Do you *think it more solemn, more awful, to witness a good confefsion at these tables, than to appear before the judgment-seat of God? Do you think, that they
ought to be received to the society of the blessed &• bove, who never joined themselves to the communion of the saints below ? Do you think that Jesus will admit those to sit down with him on his throne in heaven, who were ashamed to fit down with him at his table on earth ? What is, then, I beseech you, in the holy facrament, to banish any decent and good man from these tables ? We sit down at the table of the Lord, to give thanks unto God for his inestimable love in the redemption of the world ; to express our regard and gratitude to our Redeemer, who loved us unto the death; to unite ourselves to all the faithful and the good, as being members of the same body, and to bind ourselves by folemn vows to the practice of whatever is amiable and excellent and praise-worthy. And if there be any man so void of gratitude and love to God his Creator, and to Jesus Christ his Redeemer, as to be averse to acknowledge the favours he has received ; if there be any man so dead to the feelings of the heart, to benevolence and love, as to have no bowels of love for his brethren of mankind ; if there be any man so lost to the sense of virtue, and to the beauty of holiness, as to see no charms, to feel no attractions, in those things which are lovely, and pure, and honest, and of good report; then, indeed, he is unfit to sit down at the table of the Lord, he has neither portion nor lot in this matter ; he is also unfit to join with Christians in any religious duty ; nay, he is unfit to perform a decent part as a member of civil society.
I address these things to those who abfent themselves from this ordinance, from a wilful difregard. To those who are restrained by their unhappy fears