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from the yoke of sin and Satan, to reconcile us to God by the death of his cross, to teach us, not by his word only, but by his Spirit, and, finally, to save us with an everlasting salvation. Are not we then bound to bless and adore his name?
Moreover, we have a far deeper insight into the extent of his benefits. If the disciples had seen their nation raised to universal empire, and enjoying uninterrupted peace and prosperity, they would have been well satisfied, and would have looked for nothing beyond it, especially if they themselves were exalted to the highest offices of dignity and power. But we look for infinitely richer benefits at his hands. We expect the pardon of sin, and peace with God, and victory over our spiritual enemies, and "a kingdom that cannot be moved." Shall we then refuse to praise him? "If we should hold our peace, will not the very stones cry out against us?"]
This being clear, we shall proceed to
II. Enforce our duty from some additional considerations That we may be excited to rend the air with our acclamations and hosannas, let us consider
1. How delightful a duty this is!
[It is justly observed by the Psalmist, that it is not only "a good," but also "a pleasant thing to be thankful." Who can doubt which were the happier, the disciples who shouted forth the praises of their Lord, or the Pharisees, who, with malignant jealousy, strove to silence them? Indeed, a devout and grateful spirit is a foretaste of heaven itself; and, as far as relates to the outward exercise of their affection, the disciples on that occasion strongly resembled the heavenly hosts: they all were penetrated with fervent love to the same divine object, and exerted all their powers to magnify his name. Let us then, each in his place and station, be followers of them; and our happiness shall rise with our employment.]
2. How reasonable it is!
[The Pharisees, if they had been asked the reason of their conduct, would doubtless have offered many specious arguments in vindication of themselves. They might have imputed the conduct of the disciples to enthusiasm, ostentation, hypocrisy. They might have blamed Jesus for suffering them to raise such a tumult, and to endanger thereby the peace of the whole city. They might have ascribed his acquiescence to vain-glory, and a love of popularity, which did but ill accord with his pretensions to wisdom and humility. This would have appeared very satisfactory in their eyes; and they, like our modern Pharisees, would have arrogated to themselves the exclusive name of rational Christians. But we know on whose side reason was in the instance before us: and as long
as infinite greatness, and unbounded goodness deserve our admiration, so long will it be reasonable to adore our Jesus with all our might.]
3. How necessary it is!
[The Pharisees thought that, if Jesus merited any respect at all, his disciples should have regarded him only with silent reverence, instead of attracting so much attention by their clamorous proceedings. But our Lord told them, that silent reverence, however great, was not sufficient; that they were bound to give a public testimony of their affection; and that, if they withheld it, they would be traitors to his cause. Though therefore we be not called to bear our testimony precisely in the same way, yet are we all bound to confess Christ before men, and to let it be seen, Whose we are, and whom we serve."
Shall it be said, That there is no such occasion now for our public acknowledgments as there was then; we answer, That the world needs as much as ever to have their attention drawn to Jesus, and to be stimulated to love and serve him. And, if this were not the case, still it would be our duty to confess him openly, since in heaven, where he is universally known, he is universally and incessantly adored.]
1. Those who, like the Pharisees, have no heart to adore the Lord
[It is not difficult to determine who would have taken part with the disciples, and who with the Pharisees. We need only ask, What is our conduct now? Are we frequently and fervently engaged in the secret exercises of the closet, and are we bold in confessing Christ before an ungodly world? Or are we formal in secret duties, and ready to blame the superior zeal of others? If we be of this latter class, we should surely have joined the Pharisees in their opposition to the disciples. To such then we say, Deceive not yourselves with vain excuses; nor think to justify yourselves by condemning others. Suppose for a moment that the disciples, in their zeal, had exceeded the strict bounds of prudence and propriety: was that any reason why the Pharisees should render him no praise at all? Was less due from them, because others paid too much? And was not their pretended zeal for propriety, a mere cloak
Matt. x. 32, 33.
If this be the subject of a Commemoration Sermon, the particular blessings that are commemorated should be opened in this place, and the audience be exhorted, in their carnal feasting, not to be unmindful of that spiritual joy, which the occasion demands. In this case, the following address might be omitted.
for their own envy or indifference? Away then with such base dispositions as they manifested; and, instead of blaming the zeal of others, endeavour to "glorify Christ with your body and your spirit which are his." Far be it from us to countenance excess: but, in this lukewarm age, we are far more in danger of erring from defect. This, at least, is your danger; and therefore to you we say, "Be zealous and repent."]
2. Those who, like the disciples, feel their hearts warmed with love to Christ
[You must expect to meet with opposition from the world, and especially from proud, envious, malignant Pharisees. But let not the fear of their censures deter you from the path of duty. If Jesus have given up his life for you, it is a small matter for you to give up your names for him: and if you will not bear so light a cross as that of being called by some opprobrious name for him, you have little reason to number yourselves among his true disciples.' It will be proper indeed for you to consider times and places, and sometimes to lay a restraint on your feelings, lest, by an unseasonable disclosure of them, you "cast your pearls before swine, that will only turn and rend you.' " But let not the fear of man be the restraining principle: rather, let the love of Christ be the one motive for moderating, as well as for exhibiting, the proofs of your love. Then shall you in due season have a public testimony of his approbation, when those who now condemn you, shall be themselves condemned.]
1 Cor. vi. 20.
Matt. x, 38.
i Rev. iii. 19.
Heb. xiii. 13,
DXCVI, THE GROUNDS OF PRAISE TO CHRIST.
Rev. i. 5, 6. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
WHILE men continue in a natural and unrenewed state, they feel very little gratitude for the mercies of providence, and are altogether unmindful of the blessings of redemption. But when the grace of God has wrought effectually on their hearts, they begin to view his hand in all the comforts they enjoy, and to bless
him more especially for the wonders of redeeming love. Whenever they are in a frame of mind at all suited to their character, they are ready to burst forth, like the beloved disciple, into expressions of rapture and adoration. In the words before us we are led to consider
I. The grounds of our love to Christ
Doubtless he is worthy of our love for his own sake, seeing that "he is fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely:" but he is also to be loved on account of what he has done for us:
"He has loved us"
[This he has done from all eternity: he has done it, notwithstanding there was nothing lovely in us, neither had we any love for him; yea, notwithstanding there was every thing in us that was hateful, and we were full of enmity against him. Though he never manifested any love to the angels who fell, yet has he loved us: and love has been the one principle that actuated him in all that he has done for us."]
"He has washed us from our sins in his own blood"
[Rivers of tears were insufficient to wash away one sin: nor was there any fountain in the whole creation that could cleanse a guilty soul. He therefore, rather than we should perish, provided one for us; and suffered his own sacred body to be broken up, in order that we might be washed in his precious blood. This is sufficient, as thousands have experienced, to purge from sins of deepest dye; and every believer, however aggravated his past iniquities may have been, may glory, in that he has been made whiter than wool or snow.d
O what love was this! If he had washed us in the blood of slain beasts, or sent an angel to die for us, it were a wonderful act of mercy: but to wash us in his own blood! O the heights and depths of this incomprehensible love!]
"He has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father"
[Astonishing is the exultation which the believer now enjoys: even Lazarus was greater than the highest monarchs upon earth, and exercised a government to which their power could not extend. The Christian's spiritual enemies are under his controul: his lusts are subjected to his dominion; and Satan himself flees from him with trepidation, as from a victorious prince.
a Cant. v. 10, 16.
e Eph. v. 2, 25. Gal. ii. 20.
b Tit. iii. 3. Rom. viii. 7.
d Isai. i. 18.
James iv. 7.
With this dignity, he bears also that of priesthood. Time was, when God himself would avenge the insult, if even a king had dared to invade the office of the priesthood: but now all Christ's ransomed people are admitted to it; they are anointed to it with an holy unction; they have access at all times within the vail; and they offer unto God continually the sacrifices of prayer and praise.]
If, on considering these things, we feel love and gratitude rising in our hearts, let us learn from the apostle II. The manner in which we should express it
We should not rest in the gift, but raise up our minds unto the donor
1. We should contemplate him in our minds
[The abrupt manner in which the apostle introduces this song of praise, and the energetic way in which he directs our eyes to Christ,i sufficiently shew, that his mind was filled with his subject; and that he had a lively sense, not only of the benefits conferred on him, but also of the excellency of that Saviour, from whom they were derived. Now thus it should be with us: "Our hearts should muse, till the fire kindles, and we speak with our tongue." And is there any other subject in the world so interesting, so noble, so profound? Is there any other being to whom we are so indebted, or in the contemplation of whose glory we can rest with such delight? Let us then keep our eyes fixed on HIM, till we exclaim with the prophet, "How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!"]
2. We should adore him with our lips
[Higher strains of adoration cannot be paid to God the Father, than are here offered to Jesus Christ. We therefore may. worship him as the supreme God, even as all the hosts of saints and angels are doing around his throne. He has all those perfections that deserve glory, and all that power that is entitled to dominion. To him therefore let glory and dominion be ascribed. Let us never be afraid of honouring him too much; for we never more truly exalt the Father than when we honour the Son as the Father."]
3. We should glorify him by our lives
[When the apostle ascribed glory and dominion to Christ, he did not mean to except himself from the number of those
52 Chron. xxvi. 16-21.
"To him, to him."
Compare 1 Tim. vi. 15, 16. and 1 Pet. v. 11.
Rev. v. 12, 13.
h1 Pet. ii. 9.
k Zech. ix. 17.
☐ John v. 23.