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verse ; of that goodness to the criminal, which so well suits and so plainly speaks the gracious Father of mankind? What infinite cause have we to be careful of offending so kind, yet so exact a judge, “ and to tremble at his justice, “ even whilst we are within the arms of his “ mercy?". What encouragement does it afford us to put out all our strength, and strain every nerve in the performance of our duty, when we know, that, though after all “ we are unprofitable servants*,” yet, unprofitable as we are, we shall be accepted for the sake of our Redeemer's sufferings that our want of merit will be amply supplied by his merit; and our numberless failings and imperfections lost in the plenitude of his all-sufficient righteousness! How powerfully, in fine, must it constrain us to every instance of duty and affection, both to our Maker and our Redeemer, when we call to mind those wonderful marks of love displayed towards us by both in the great work of our salvation! Perhaps we cannot see all the reasons that made it necessary for Christ to die, that the world might live; but this at least we are sure of, that if
Christ . . * Luke xvii. 10.
Christ did really die, that the world might live, we are bound to him in the strictest bonds of gratitude and affection*. That the eternal Son of God should put himself in our stead, and interpose his own body as a living shield between our guilt and his Father's wrath, is such a stupendous instance of friendship, as is not to be paralleled in the history of mankind.
-"Lord! what is man, that thou art thus mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him t.!” “ And what is the natural « effect of such kindness as this, but to bind “ us to God and our Saviour by the tie of “ reciprocal affection, and draw us to our duty " by the cords of tenderness, and gratitude ? “ Surely, if we are not utterly lost to all that “ is modest and ingenuous, tender and appre“ hensive in human nature, it will be impose “ sible for us to dote on those sins which were “ the cause of our Saviour's sufferings, the 5 thorns that gored his temples, the nails “ that pierced his hands and feet; it will be “ impossible for us to resist those endearing .« instances of our Saviour's love, which carry "" warmth and fervour enough with them to
- melt * Sherlock, .# Psalm viii. 4.
“ melt the most obdurate nature into thank« fulness and obedience *.”
You see then, my brethren, how many weighty reasons there are for a religious observance of Good-Friday. It is a decent compliance with the ordinances of the church; it is an open declaration, that you believe that most essential article of christian faith, the redemption of mankind by the death of Christ Jesus on the cross; it is a becoming mark of thankfulness and gratitude for so invaluable a mercy; it affords a very proper opportunity of reviewing your past life; of confessing and lamenting the many sins and follies you perceive in it with the utmost sorrow and humi: liation of soul; of entreating pardon through the merits of your Redeemer; and of pleading those merits before God in the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper; which being intended to commemorate the sufferings of Christ, can never be more properly received than on the very day when those sufferings are supposed to have happened. A devout use of the prayers, which you will find in the office for that
..: solemnity, : * Scott's Christian Life, ch. 7. sect. 5. p. 137.
solemnity, cannot fail to impress upon your souls a deep sense of the goodness both of God and of Christ in the great work of your redemption, a sincere contrition for your past offences, and a firm resolution to be more careful of your future conduct.
It is on these grounds, it is from a real persuasion that the cross of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, and that far from being ashamed of it, you ought to glory in it, as the grand source of all your comfort here and all your happiness hereafter; it is, I say, from motives such as these, that I have been induced to address you on this occasion. Hitherto, I am willing to persuade myself, my exhortations have had some weight with you. Let them not lose it, I entreat you, in the present instance. Let me have the satisfaction of observing the good effects of them at the approaching holy season, and of seeing you the first among your neighbours to revive the ancient religious veneration paid to the crucifixion of our blessed Lord. Let your church be crowded on that day, both in the morning and the afternoon. Let your shops
be shut up as on Sundays and on Christmasday. Let your behaviour during the rest of the day be serious and devout*. Above all things, take care to shew your gratitude for your redemption, not only with your lips, but in your lives. In particular, let the mercies you have received from your Maker and your Redeemer incline you to every act of mercy, forgiveness, and forbearance towards your fellow-creatures. This argument is stated by St. John, with his usual elegant brevity and simplicity: “ Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another t."-An inference so plain, so forcible, so affecting, it is impossible for any ingenuous mind to resist. “ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering I. Let all bitterness, and wrath,
* By the blessing of God on this little Tract, the de vout observance of Good-Friday here recommended, was actually produced. On the very next return of that day, the shops were all shut up, the churches were crowded, and the utmost seriousness and decorum took place throughout the cities of London and Westminster and their environs.
ti John iv, 11. $ Col, üü. 12.