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PREACHED MAY 14, 1775.
LUKE ix. 26.
Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory and in his Father's, and of the holy Angels.
we compare this text with the parallel one of St. Mark, it will seem probable that it more immediately concerned the Jews; who, in consequence of their being ashamed of Christ, and rejecting him, as their Messiah, should themselves be covered with shame, and be rejected by him from being his people, when he came to take vengeance of their crimes
Ch. viii. 38.
in the destruction of Jerusalem. In this view, the words are prophetical of what should, and, in fact, did, befall the unbelieving Jews of that age, in which Christ lived; for before that age was passed, all these things were fulfilled on that adulterous and sinful generation were so remarkably fulfilled, that the unbelieving Jews, only, were involved in that calamity, while the Christians, even to a man, as we are told, providentially made their escape
But, though this be the primary sense of the text, we have reason to believe that something further, and still more terrible, was intended by it. For the destruction of Jerusalem was emblematical of that final destruction, which should await all the enemies of Christ in the day of judgment; as we may probably gather from the exaggerated terms in which the prophecy concerning Christ's coming to judge Jerusalem is delivered, and as we certainly conclude from those passages of scripture, which professedly describe the final day of judgment, when all that believe not shall be condemned, and concerning which our Lord himself says-He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words,
b Mark xvi. 16.
hath one that judgeth him: the WORD which I have spoken, THE SAME shall judge him in the last day c.
Whence, you see, we are authorized to take the words of the text in their full force, and to understand them as a general declaration to ALL, who shall be ashamed of Christ and of his words, that of them shall Christ, also, be ashamed, in the great day of retribution, sublimely expressed by the circumstance of his coming in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy Angels.
To be ashamed of CHRIST, is very intelligible language, and means to disown him for what he claims to be, The Messiah; and to take it for a degradation to us, a reflexion on our own sufficiency and importance, to regard him as our Lord and Saviour. In like manner, to be ashamed of his wORDS, is, to think it beneath us to receive his doctrine, and to observe it: It is to say, or to behave ourselves as if we said, with neglect and scorn, that we will not condescend to be influenced and directed by it.
But how, and in what respects, may we be said to incur the guilt of this charge? In what ways, may we testify to the world that the shame of CHRIST and of his WORDS is predominant in us?
The inquiry, you see, is of the last importance; for this shame of Christ, in whomsoever it prevails, and so far as it prevails, will be repaid in kind, in that day, when he shall come in glory, in that day when it so much concerns us to have boldness before him, in the day of judgment d.
To assist you, then, in making this momentous inquiry, permit me to lay before you, gradually and distinctly, the CHIEF of those cases, which appear to me to express, or imply, the existence of this false shame; and may therefore let us see whether we are, or not, involved in the guilt of it.
I. They (if any such there be) who reject Christianity on the grounds of a fair impartial inquiry, cannot so properly be said to be ashamed of Christ, as to be convinced that he has no claim to their respect and veneration.
d John iv. 17.
For they deny him, they will say, not from a principle of shame, or disrespect, but of what they take to be right reason.
But then, if any oblique views have influenced their disbelief; if conceit, or vanity, or presumption, has any share in forming their conclusions; if a careless or fastidious neglect of the means, by which they might be better informed, has mixed itself with their inquiries; if they have felt the smallest disposition in themselves to struggle with evidence, or to be concluded by any thing but evidence; if any, or all, of these motives can be imputed to them, they will find themselves liable, more or less, to the charge of the text; and it surely concerns them to see that they stand clear of all such imputations: It concerns them the more, because, if the revelation be divine, the revealer knew what evidence was fit to be given of it, and that the evidence given was sufficient to the conviction of a reasonable inquirer. To the severe scrutiny of their own hearts, the disbelievers on principle are, therefore, referred: and, if their heart condemn them in any degree, let them reflect with awe, that God is greater than their heart, and knoweth all things e.
e John iii. 20.