Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

has ransomed from the hopeless dominion of every thing that is hateful and degrading, and placed in the capacity, at least, of attaining all the noblest prizes to which their nature can aspire-prizes which are attained, in some imperfect measure, even in this lower world, by those who are His faithful followers, and to the full glory of which they are emboldened to look forward with undoubting assurance. How elevating is this contemplation, and with what animation and delight should we turn away from the common earthly appearances of our fallen nature; from the principles of separation by which man, in so many sad particulars, is divided from man, and still more from God, -to that heavenly principle of union, in which all, weak and sinful though they be, are united by faith and repentance to the Conqueror of sin and of the grave, and through Him once more to God, and to every Being that can be an object of interest and love ;-a principle, the full efficacy of which, in the final destiny of our wandering race, for wise and obvious reasons it is not now permitted us to know, but in which there are mingled so many ingredients of a Divine Compassion, and of the love of God to man, that we cannot contemplate it without hoping all things."

These, then, are the inspiring contemplations to which the Church at this season introduces us, and which form the subjects of thought to which we ought ever to be most willing to return. It is a mere delusion of the world which gives to them any aspect of dark or of fanciful conception. They are full of light, of glory, and of a sound mind; and it is to them, in truth, that we must ever return from the perplexed riddle of man as he at present appears to us, from the feebleness and inconsistency of his character, and from the bewildered line of his conduct, to find those high hopes to which he is invited to aspire,—those traces of perfection which ought ever to form the ground-work of his spirit, and that steady course of progressive wisdom and virtuė, in which the Christian is expected to walk.

III. It is to such moral consequences of his doctrine, that the Apostle, in the third place, directs us : These he comprehends, in the words, " that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died

for them, and rose again.” When we live to ourselves, my brethren, we live to very low and short-sighted principles of action. We live to the enjoyment of momentary pleasures, to the attainment of a few transitory earthly advantages, to the schemes and the devices of a perplexed and unsatisfactory wisdom. When we live to Him, we live to the sentiments of immortality, to the prospect of pleasures which will be for ever more, to the hope of treasures,

66 where moth and rust cannot corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal ;” and to all those extended views of good and of happiness, which belong to those who are yet destined to be the associates of Angels! It is to the sacrifice of our own little selfish practices and passions, that he summons us from his Cross,-it is to the pursuit of all the purer and more ennobling affections of our Being, that he calls us amid the triumph of his Resurrection! To what then does the love of Christ constrain us, but to our own highest and most elevated good ? and when we are acting under the influence of gratitude to Him, we are, in fact, acting so as to secure our greatest happiness and glory. The love which constrains us to Him, consists much less

in meditation or emotion, than in persevering duty; and that duty chiefly is conversant in avoiding every thing that is base and sinful, and in striving after the attainment of whatever is exalting and holy. Nor, when we live to Him, and not to ourselves, let us fear, that our happiness will only be in reversion, and that we must sacrifice every present enjoyment. There is a delight in His service, and in the sound principles and practices to which it leads,—nor are his rewards confined only to futurity. “When he ascended up on high, he gave gifts unto men.”

He still sympathizes with all the natural movements of the human heart; and he can so order the course of His Providence, as to make all the sacrifices which virtue may now require, be met even here by much higher recompenses.

There is yet a wider view, in which we are called to live to Christ, and not unto ourselves, —that is, when we live to our fellow-creatures ; and when doing good to the least, or the most unregarded of those whom he has deigned to call his brethren, He accepts of it as done unto Himself.

Here is another glorious consequence of the grand position in the text, “ that

he died for all;"_all, therefore, whatever may be their characters or condition, cannot but be the objects of our deep interest and concern, as those for whom the Blood of Christ was shed, no less than for ourselves, and who were in like manner called to be partakers in his Resurrection. How anxious, indeed, ought we ever to be, to manifest our love to mankind, in every way in which we can promote their good, temporal or eternal! To respect every human form, and to be careful, at least in no degree to injure, if we cannot greatly benefit !—to be cautious, even, against hurting any feeling, or heedlessly giving pain! And must not all those social regards, which are partly interwoven with our frame, be recommended still more closely to our hearts, when we think of the sufferings and of the glory of Him who is the great Representative of man, and whose image we behold still present to us in every human creature that lives? Let us, my brethren, listen to our Lord's last admonition to his honest and zealous disciple, and it will show us to what ends of kindness and beneficence the love of Christ must ever at last constrain us.“ Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »