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has excited over all the great world of happiness, more transport and higher praise than the continuance of ninety-nine just persons, who needed no repentance, in their obedience to God.
How unlike this has been the conduct of men towards the same exalted person? When he was born in Btthiehem, his only mansion was a stable; his only cradle was a manger.
When he was less than two years old, a man sought his life with such eagerness, that to secure his destruction, he murdered every infant of that age in the city in which he was born. When he came forth to his public ministry, although declared by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, and the audible voice of the Almighty, to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of mankind; he was still denied, rejected, and persecuted, from place to place; and, with a poverty singular and excessive, had not where to lay his head. His whole life was spent in a course of the most sublime virtue, and in performing actions equally wonderful and beneficent; yet he was hated, calumniated, and devoted to death, on multiplied occasions, by the arts and efforts of the guilty, ruined beings, whom he came to save. By these guilty beings, his own countrymen and kindred, he was betrayed, falsely accused, and causelessly condemned, nailed to the cross, and consigned to the grave.
With the same spirit have men, in every succeeding age, continually crucified him afresh, accounting the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and done despite to the Spirit of Grace, whom he sent into the world, to carry into execution the benevolent design of his life and death. age, and in every land, he has been disbelieved, denied, rejected, and followed with scorn and derision, with hatred and persecution. His truth has been stained with every slander, and mocked with every insult. While angels, stooping down from heaven, have eagerly desired to look into the things, pertaining to his mediation ; human philosophy has been employed in coldly investigating, and roundly denying, their truth, reasonableness and probability ; in decrying their wisdom, and excellency ; and in preferring, without a blush, heathen idolaters, and infidel sophists, debauchees, and villains, to the perfect Redeemer. While the providence of God has been employed in preserving and building
up the church. formed of his followers, human power and profligacy have dislocated them on the rack. broken them on the wheel, and roasted them at the stake; turned the house of God into a field of blood, and converted his altar into a catacomb. Christianity was ushered into this bloody world on the hill of Calvary; and commenced its progress on the cross. Accursed Jews, ironhearted Pharisees and Sadducees, with a Pilate died in blood at their head, began the crimson career. Pharisees, Sudducees, and Pilates, have in every country, and in every succeeding age, been their numerous progeny.
The world has become one vast Calvary; and crucifixion, torture, and death, have been the common work, the rage, the sport, of the race of Adam. Such has been the conduct of Angels; such the conduct of men ; and such their different views of Christ, and his Redemption.
2dly. We learn from the observations, made on the doctrine, the disposition, with which these tidings ought to be received by mankind : viz. the same, with which they were published by the Angel.
That the Angel, who brought these tidings, understood their true nature and import, will not be questioned; nor will it be doubted, that he disclosed his real views of them to the shepherds. His declaration might, therefore, well suffice to satisfy us, that they are tidings of great joy. But we are not compelled to rest on his decision only, nor to be governed merely by his views, or those of his illustrious companions. The nature of
message, and the circumstances which attended it, will amply determine the truth of the assertion.
The tidings, which this glorious person published, and which his companions repeated in their hymn, are tidings brought to rebels against their Saviour, and their God; apostates, condemned to misery and debasement supreme, irremediable, and eternal. They are tidings of deliverance from this debasement, and this ruin ; of their justification before God at the final trial; a reversal of their sentence; a renovation of their character; and their reinstatement in all their former privileges, blessings, and hopes. They are published to those, who before had no hope of deliverance, and no means of escape; who neither knew, asked, nor wished, for safety; who hated life, and loved death, who were
despised, forsaken, and friendless, through time and through eternity.
They are tidings from heaven; the world of hope, of peace and of joy; their proper home; the house of their father. They are tidings to prodigals and outcasts; who were destined to wander forever; who had no place of rest, where they might lay their heads. They are tidings froin God, the parent, the Saviour, whom they had offended; and to whom it was their infinite interest to be reunited. They are tidings of renewed holiness to beings given over to endless sin ; of peace and reconciliation to beings consigned to eternal alienation; and of immortal life to beings sentenced to die forever. They are tidings, which communicate the happiest and easiest terms, on which these blessings may be had; unfold the means, by which they may be certainly attained; and present the motives, which, with infinite force, allure and urge to the attainment.
They are published to a great world in ruins; and proclaim its restoration to hope and to happiness. They convey the richest blessings in the gift of Jehovah to this ruined world. Of the communication of these blessings, or any other, to such a world, heaven had utterly despaired; and heard the voice, which first announced them with universal wonder, ecstasy, and praise. All her regions rung with gratulation, and resounded blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Not one sinner, merely, was now beheld as repenting and returning, but a world of sinners. The regions of immortality were now to be peopled by creatures of this new and unexpected character; and everlasting joy was seen to be extended by the future arrival of these extraordinary companions. The Saviour, who is announced, is the Saviour of men. Every child of Adam, who hears the glorious news, may point to him, and exclaim, “ This is my Redeemer. For my deliverance is he come. For me he became incarnate, lived, and died. For me he rose again, and ascended to the heavens. To wash away my sins he poured out his blood. To intercede for my soul he stands before the throne. To me he cries, Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. To me he calls, “Buy wine and milk, without money and without price.'"
Who, with these tidings resounding in his ear, would not exult? Who would not join in the angelic hymn, Glory to God in the highand on earth
Gvod will towards men? Who would not feel and exclaim, Though I have been dead, yet I am alive again ; though I have been lost, yet am I found.
3dly. How strange and guilty must be the disposition of him. who will not rejoice in such a Saviour !
How blind must he be to his guilt, his condemnation, and his ruin? How insensible to his odiousness and deformity ? How torpid to the wrath of an offended God, to an approaching judg. ment, to an opening hell?
What ingratitude must defile his heart towards this amiable and excellent person! What stupidity must debase his mind, while he marks the condescension, the labours, the self-denial, the sufferings, of the Son of God, which procured eternal life, for the soul; and is yet deaf to the voice of the heavenly charmer, charming him with divine wisdom and tenderness, and calling to him to repent, and return, and live? How lost is he to life, and holiness, and happiness. How buried in the sleep of death, and guilt, and woe? How wise in his own conceit; and yet how bereft in fact of reason; how poor and wretched a maniac, dreaming that his dungeon is a palace, his tatters robes of state, his straw hat a diadem, and his dunghill a throne ; giving mock orders to his fellow bedlamites, and mistaking it for empire ; clanking his chains, and calling it harmony. The or knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know ; my people doth not consider,
4thly. With what eagerness, according to this doctrine, ought mankind to embrace the offers of salvation! Let me address this remark immediately to my audience.
You, as well as the rest of mankind, are sharers in all the wants, dangers and miseries, which I have mentioned. Your souls are the subjects of sin and guilt, are exposed to the wrath of God, and infinitely need to be forgiven, and saved, by Christ. The same death is hastening to summon you to the future world; the same grave is opening to receive you; the same judgment is waiting for
your appearance; the same world of misery rejoices in your impenitence and approach ; the same dark and comfortless regions sigh for your condemnation; the same evil spirits exult over your ruin, and hail with dreadful prescience your arrival to their agonies.
Your souls can never cease to be. They may live: if they embrace Christ, they will live: if they reject him, they will die for
Bring these things home to your hearts. Spare a solitary moment from the world, and sense and sin; and ponder soberly on your situation, and your prospects.
Without the love, the atonement, and the intercession of Christ, how will you disarm death, and triumph over the grave? Who will guide your lonely and anxious steps through the unknown world; sustain your hearts before the last tribunal ; acquit you of your immeasurable guilt; and redeem you from endless darkness, and despair?
Who will conduct you to heaven? Who will provide for you immortal good ; support you with self-approbation and peace; adorn you with beauty and excellency; inspire you with love; improve and refine you with wisdom; instamp on you the glorious image of God; and bring you to the General Assembly of the firstborn, as their eternal friend and companion ? Who will unlock for you the springs of life ; who will feed you with living bread? Who will clothe you with unfading robes of Righteousness? Who will fix you in mansions of everlasting joy? Who in a word will be your light, your portion, and your friend forever?