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to see the iniquity of all religious deception; and just enough to acknowledge the cruelty of it, in the present instance. If he had not certainly known the truth of his doctrine, he would have recalled and disowned it. He felt, in his own case, what it was to encounter death for conscience-sake: and he knew what deaths others were to encounter on the like grounds of persuasion. But for the joy that was set before him, how could the shame and agony of that cross be endured? And, if there be no recompence of reward, should he expose to such, or to equal sufferings, his honest, unsuspecting, affectionate followers? The instant moment, the imposed duty, the foreseen event e, the upright mind, the feeling heart 5, all conspire to satisfy us, that Jesus was not, could not, be the fraudulent, that is, the insensible, the unrelenting, the merciless inventor or publisher of a politic fable, but a teacher of truth and righteousness sent from God.
Thus much for our Lord's general charac ter; which we shall do well to keep in mind, when we meditate on any part of his instruc
e John xiii. 1.
d Matth. x. 32, 3. and 38, 9. Luke xiv. 26. 1 John ni. 16.
e John xvi. 2. 33.
f Matth. vii. 12.
Luke xix. 41. John xi. 35.
tions to us; but more especially, when, for our singular comfort, we attend to his great doctrine of a BLESSED IMMORTALITY. Our divine Master has in the clearest and fullest terms, announced this doctrine to us; and, what is more, he has anxiously removed the only possible doubt, which we could have of its truth, by disclaiming the politic use, which too many others had presumed to make of it.
II. It follows, that we may rely, with confidence, on this invaluable promise of a future life; the only source of peace and comfort to the mind, without which the disordered scene of this life is inexplicable to the wisest men, and scarce supportable by the happiest; we may, say, rely with safety on this glorious hope of immortality, unless we will suppose that Jesus meant to deceive us even then, when he most deliberately and solemnly pledged himself to us for his veracity: a supposition, which is, in truth, as foolish as it is indecent.
Assured therefore, as we are, that our Saviour both taught this doctrine, and taught it without the least mixture of guile or dissimulation, let us hold fast our expectation of it to
ἡ ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς δόξης. Col. i. 27.
the end; and in all the troubles of this life, whether endured for conscience-sake or not, provided only they be such as consist with a good conscience, let us reckon with certainty on our title to one of those eternal mansions, of which there are so many in the house of our heavenly Father; and that, for the sake and through the merits of our LORD JESUS CHRIST; the author of our salvation, as well as the proclaimer of it: our merciful Redeemer, at once, and infallible Instructor; to whom be all honour, praise, and thanksgiving, now and for ever.
PREACHED MAY 5, 1776.
JOHN XVI. 12, 13.
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, shall come, he will guide you into ALL TRUTH: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and HE WILL
SHEW YOU THINGS TO COME.
THERE is scarce a page in the Gospels, which to an attentive reader may not afford a striking proof of their divine original.
We have an instance in the words before us: in which, Jesus, now about to leave the
world, tells the disciples, that he had many things to say unto them, which were not proper for their ear at this time, but that these, and all other necessary truths should hereafter be imparted to them by a divine spirit, to be sent from heaven to be their guide and instructor: that, from him, they should learn what, for the present, he forbore to communicate to them, of his views and purposes in the religion, they were to teach mankind; nay, and that this divine Spirit of truth would shew them things to come.
Now Jesus, I suppose, whatever else may be thought of him, will be readily acknowledged to have been, at least, a discreet and wise man for without a very high degree of discretion and wisdom, it was plainly impossible for him to do the great things, he did; I mean, to be so successful, as he was, in imposing a new faith and religion on mankind. They, who take Christianity for an imposture, must confess, at least, that it was an imposture, artfully contrived, and ably conducted: otherwise, the effects of it could never have been, what we see they are.
But would any man, acting on the principles of human wisdom, only, have given an