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already before his throne, and myriads, countless as the sands upon the sea shore, shall yet be added to their num. ber, to be monuments of his love, and heirs of his glory. Shall we then any longer persist in our supineness? Shall we not rather exert ourselves to the utmost to imitate his love?
Consider next, how we are indebted to the benevolence of our fellow-creatures. We forbear to notice the kindness of the apostles, because they were expressly commissioned to preach the gospel to every creature, whether of their own, or of any other nation. We will rather advert to an instance more immediately parallel to our own case. For many.centuries after Christianity was promulged, our ancestors were bowing down to stocks and stones; as we ourselves also should have been, had not some pious Christian come, at the peril of his life, to bring us the glad tidings of salvation. Suppose he had argued, as we are apt to do, . What can I do among that savage race? There are people enough of my own country to occupy all my care; and I may fulfil my duty to God among them, without encountering all the difficulties, and exposing myself to the dangers, which I must expect to meet with in such an undertaking. How awful, in that case, would have been our present condition! O Christians! think of all that you enjoy in Christ Jesus, your present consolations, your future prospects; think of these things, and say, 'I owe all, under God, to him who first set his foot on our inhospitable shores, to shew unto us the way of salvation: his example stimulated others; and thus “ the handful of corn that was scattered on the tops of the mountains, has grown up like the woods of Lebanon, or the piles of grass upon the earth.” Blessed, for ever blessed, be God for his labours of love! Who can tell then what may arise from the labours of one society, or even of a single individual? We may not see very extensive benefits in our day: and probably this was the case with respect to him who first visited Britain. But could he now behold from heaven the fruit of his labours, how would he rejoice! would he think that he had exercised too much self-denial, or patience, or diligence in the cause of God? Would he repent of his exertions? Would he not rather repent that he had not stepped forward sooner,
and been more earnest in this blessed work? Be
then in earnest, my beloved brethren. We have lost too much time already; and millions, though unconscious of their wants, are now crying to us, as it were, “Come over to India-to Africa and help us.” Othat a holy zeal might this day inflame our breasts; and that we might requite the labours of those who have instructed us, by endeavouring to extend the benefits derived through them, to the remotest corners of the earth!
Consider further, how kindly Christ will accept such labours at your hands. He tells us respecting things of a mere temporal nature, that what we have bestowed on others for his sake, he will accept as conferred on himself; “ I was hungry, and ye fed me; naked, and ye clothed me; sick and in prison, and ye visited me.” And will he not much more acknowledge himself indebted to us for the spiritual blessings we confer on others? I was in darkness, and ye enlightened me; I was far from God, and ye brought me near; I was perishing, and ye saved Me. what a thought is this! how animating! how impressive! Are there any amongst us that will not seek such an honour as this? Stir up yourselves then, my brethren; and let us all join with one heart to secure at least this testimony from our blessed Lord, knowing assuredly that " we shall receive our reward,” not according to our success, but “ according to our labour."
Lastly. Consider, how necessary it is to resemble Christ, if ever we would participate his glory. It is not by our profession that we shall be judged in the last day, but by our true character exhibited in our practice. Think not that the formal, the careless, the supine, shall meet with tokens of God's acceptance: it is the man who abounds in “ works and labours of love for Christ's sake," who shall be honoured with the approbation of his Judge. It is not he who bears the name of Christ, but who has within him the mind of Christ, who shall be counted worthy to dwell with him for ever. He himself tells us, that “not he who merely says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of our Father which is in heaven."
If then ye cannot be moved by more ingenuous considerations, reflect on this: and tremble, lest after all your
profession of Christianity, you prove only as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Let those whose consciences condemn them for their past inactivity, cry mightily to God for the pardor of their sins, and the renovation of their souls. And
And may God pour out upon us this day a spirit of faith and love; that we may feel a holy ambition to engage in his service: and may all the endeavours, whe. ther of this or any other society, be abundantly blessed, to the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom, and to the salvation of many souls! Amen, and Amen.
DLII. THE GRACE OF CHRIST.
2 Cor. viii. 9. Te know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty might be rich.
THE excellence of Christianity with respect to the mysteries it reveals, and the precepts it inculcates, is generally acknowledged; but few see it with respect to the motives by which it enforces the performance of our duty. But in this last respect it differs as widely from all other religions as in either of the former; and claims an undoubted superiority over all the dogmas of philosophy, and over Judaism itself. The love of Christ in dying for us is not merely proposed as a tenet to be believed, but is urged as the most powerful, and indeed the only effectual, argumenit for the quickening of us to an universal and unreserved obedience. This was the consideration by which St. Paul enforced his exhortations to liberality when writing to the Corinthian Church: and it will be universally operative, wherever it is understood and felt.
In discoursing on this subject we shall not enter in a general way into our fall and our recovery by Christ, but shall endeavour to illustrate that one point set forth in the text, namely, the grace of Christ in the work of redemption. There are four distinct considerations in the text, every one of them reflecting light upon this point, as so many mirrors uniting their rays in one common focus. These we shall view in their order:
1. The pre-existent state of Christ
[In the text we are told, “ He was rich.” This idea when applied to our fellow-creatures we can easily understand: but who can comprehend it when applied to Christ?
What adequate conception can we form of his glory or felicity? He was from all eternity " in the bosom of his Father," and was “ daily his delight." He had a communion with the Father in all that he knew, in all that he did, in all that he enjoyed. He had a most perfect Oneness with the Father, possessing in himself all the fulness of the Godhead,& and receiving together with him the adoration of all the angels in heaven. Such was the glory which Christ had with the Father before the world was brought into existence. Nor was he capable of receiving any addition either of honour or of happiness from his creatures. He would have been equally great and glorious though no creature had existed either in earth or in heaven to behold him:' or though all who transgressed against him should perish for ever. Yet such was his love, that in the midst of all his blessedness he thought of us, and undertook our cause, and engaged to be. come our substitute and surety.m
How infinitely does this “ grace" transcend our highest conceptions! Indeed we do but “ darken counsel by words without knowledge,” when we attempt to speak on this mysterious subject.) II. The humiliation to which he submitted
[It was a marvellous act of grace that he should conde. scend to form creatures, and to give them a sight of his bless edness and glory. But that he should notice them after they had left their first estate, and despoiled themselves of their original righteousness, this was an act of condescension which we should have deemed impossible, if he had not actually evinced by his conduct that it could be done. But who would believe it possible that he should stoop so low as to take our nature upon him? Yet even that he did; and that too, not in its primitive state, but in its present fallen state, subject to numberless infirmities and to death itself. He made in the likeness of sinful flesh,"n and was in all things like unto us,
sin only excepted. Nor did he assume even our fallen nature in its highest condition: he was born, not in a palace, but a stable; he spent his life, during the first thirty years, in the low occupation of a carpenter; and, for the four last
a John i. 18.
b Proy. viii. 30. c Matt. xi. 27.
1 Job. xxii. 2.
years, he was often destitute of the common necessaries of life, yea, even of a place where to lay his head. He was aware that he should meet with nothing but contempt and persecution from men; and yet he submitted to it for their sakes. But even this, great as it was, by no means reaches to the full extent of his debasement: No: he put himself in the place of sinners, that he might endure the curse due to their iniquitics:' he submitted to bear the assaults of Satan, and the wrath of God. If therefore we would form a just idea of his humiliation, we must visit the garden of Gethsemane, and see him bathed in a bloody sweat, and hear him “ making supplication to his father with strong crying and tears” for the removal of the bitter cup: we must then follow him to Calvary, and hear his bitter complaints under the depths of dereliction, and behold him, in the midst of inexpressible agonies of soul and body, dying the accursed death of the cross: and lastly, we must view him imprisoned in the grave under the sentence of the law, of that law which doomed us all to everlasting death. Here, here was humiliation, such as filled all heaven with wonder; here was poverty, such as never can be comprehended by men or angels.
In this view the apostle elsewhere describes the grace of Christ, contrasting the dignity of his pre-existing state with the state he assumed, and the degradation he endured.* O that we might have worthy conceptions of it, and be enabled in some poor measure to comprehend its unexplored heights, its unfathomable depths! ] III. The objects for whom he interposed
[It was not for angels, the highest order of created beings, that Jesus interested himself, but for man: he passed by them, and deigned to notice us. But was there any thing in us more than in them, to recommend us to his regard? No: we were destitute of any the smallest good; and full of all imaginable evil. There was not a faculty of our souls that was not debased by sin, nor a member of our bodies that was not polluted with iniquity. We were even haters of God himself;c and so full of enmity against him, that we were actually incapable of obeying any of his laws," and as far as our influence or example could prevail, we strove to banish him from the world.
P Matt. viii. 20. 91 Pet. ii, 24. r Isai. liii. 10. s Luke xxii. 44. Heb. y. 7.
· Matt. xxvii. 46, u Gal. jii. 13.
x Phil. ij. 6-8. y Eph. iji 18, 19, ? Heb. ii. 16.
2 Jer, xvii. 9. Gen. vi. 5. b Rom. iii. 10-18. c Rom. i. 30.
d Rom. viii, 7. • Rom. i. 28. ' Eph, ii. 12. am Ps, sivih. No God," that is, I wish there were none,