« VorigeDoorgaan »
can possibly purchase them ? And to what do we owe them, but to the mercy of the Eternal Father, and of Him who loved us and gave himself for us Around his Altar, my brethren, we are now preparing to assemble on the solemn days on which these great and affecting truths are more especially commemorated; He calls to us, in the words of the text, to come to it, -it is there, as children of the Gospel, that our weary spirits may best be invigorated by those hopes and consolations which are yet unknown to so many myriads of the human race; and what other resolution can we there form so worthy of the Mercy which we have experienced, as to gird up our loins, and to pursue our remaining course, like men who know whose Will it is that they are called to perform, and whose glory they are summoned to inherit ?
ON THE DEATH OF CHRIST.*
2 CORINTHIANS, v. 14.
For the love of Christ constraineth us ; because
we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.
THERE are two principles by which we may be awakened from a sinful or worldly life, and brought to a sense of religion,—the principles of Fear and of Love. The first of these the Apostle brings into view a few verses before the text. “ We must all appear (says he) before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be
* Preached on Good Friday.
good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” This is a principle of great importance for the interruption of any course of vice or disorderly passion. In such a state of mind we are commonly so much under the dominion of selfish inclination, that we cannot be greatly influenced by any more generous consideration, than that of the fear of punishment; and, if “ the terror of the Lord” strongly seizes upon us, while we are under the consciousness of criminal pursuits, it may have much influence in checking and interrupting them. In the ordinary state of our minds, however, the principle of Love is both more effectual, and leads to nobler results. It is to this that the Apostle directs our attention in the text ; " for the love of Christ (he says) constraineth us.” It is not very evident whether he here means the love which Christ has shown for us, or the love which we ought to bear towards Him; but, in truth, it does not import much, which signification we put upon the words. In a mind which can be affected by any higher consideration than that of fear, love is always reciprocal.
“ We love Him because He first loved us ;” and, indeed, the view
which the text impresses upon us, that we are the objects of his love, even when we are quite unworthy of any such sentiment—when we are ourselves “ dead” to all the purer and holier principles of our being, cannot but awaken in us a still stronger love for Him. This is a subject at all times highly meriting the attention of a Christian audience, but particularly so at the present moment, when we are contemplating that last great instance of the Love of the Saviour of the world, in laying down his life for it, and dying “one for all.”
It is to be apprehended, my brethren, that even with those who are sincerely pious, the mere familiarity of the object of their worship and love is apt, at times, to deaden their affections, and that they may use all the language of devotion without having their hearts duly influenced. therefore, be of importance, shortly to illustrate some of the most striking aspects in which the Divine Person whose Death we have now been commemorating, claims the love of his people, in consequence of that love which He has shown towards them.
I. The simplest view in which He appears to us, is, in the first place, as our Guide and Instructor. This, indeed, is an office which we are sometimes apt vainly to imagine we can perform for ourselves; we are ever, it is to be feared, but too ready to follow the dictates of our own wisdom, which is little else than a blind for our own inclination. Let us, however, but cast our eyes upon the appearances of Human Nature before the coming of Christ, and we shall there clearly discover, if our hearts do not inform us from their own inward testimony, that “ the world, by wisdom, knew not God.” There were, no doubt, in all that wide scene of Man, many bright and noble traces of his original excellence, ever breaking out from the deep stains with which it was polluted ; but there was no regular progress to a higher and a diviner character of perfectionthere was no link clearly discerned, which united the soul of man to the Author of “every good and perfect gift;" and the race of human kind wandered but too evidently over the world, as “ sheep which had no shepherd.” Was not He, then, the friend of our darkened nature, who came in this emergency to enlighten and to raise it—who showed to us “the Father,” and who pointed out to us those rules of