« PreviousContinue »
hollow and insincere. Such is the picture of manthe whole history of the world proves it ;-and if there be any exceptions, they are only where the grace of God has been displayed, by creating anew in Christ Jesus creatures, by nature as vile and depraved as the rest of mankind. Yet it was when this was the character of men that Christ died for them! By that ingenuity of charity, (so to speak,) he turned his eye from every thing that was corrupt and offensive in our nature, for that he could not love; he remembered only that we were creatures-creatures that could be saved; and therefore he died for us.
THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST.
How multiform are the miseries of human life! Yonder stands one, waiting for a hand to guide him. The eye is extinguished, and while day smiles on the face of nature, night gathers for ever around his head. There is another, whose ear never drank in a stream of melody-the organ is closed against strains, which steal through that avenue into the heart of his neighbours-he never heard the sweet music of speech, nor perceived the tones of his own unformed, untuned, unmodulated voice. Here is a third, who appears before me without the power of utterance-the spring of the tongue was never loosed, and he never spake; the organs of speech are deranged, or were never perfectly formed he hears tones which vibrate on his heart, but he cannot impart, through the same medium, the same pleasurable sensation. These could not escape the compassionate eye of Jesus. He gives sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the
dumb, limbs to the maimed, health to the sick, strength to decrepitude.
But yonder is the chamber of death, and darker is the cloud that broods there-where the tongue was silent, the eye was eloquent-when the palsied limbs refused to move, the ear heard, and discriminated sounds, which melt the passions, and stir the spirit within us; it was sad to tend the couch of sicknessbut still we seemed to have some hold upon the sufferer, and he to have some interest in life. But that is the bed of mortality, and the young, the beautiful, the only hope of her family is stretched there-and there is Jesus also rousing her from death, as from a gentle slumber, and restoring her to the arms of her parents. There is yet another class of suffering worse than death. It glares in the eye, it raves in the voice, struggles in the limbs of that man, whose throne of reason imagination has usurped, and over the whole empire of whose mind madness reigns in all its accumulated horrors: visions, horrible visions of unreal and inconceivable objects, float before his disordered senses, while he hears not, he distinguishes not, he regards not, the voice of parent, or of wife, or of child, or of friend. The spirit sits surrounded by the ruins of nature, terrified amidst shattered and useless, or perverted organs, and covered with the midnight of despair. Oh! let the compassionate eye of the Saviour fix upon the object; and it does he meets him coming from among the tombs; he speaks the word, he calms the tempest. Behold the man sitting at his feet, clothed, and in his right mind. He gave reason and understanding to the distracted, and release from the power of Satan to those who were possessed by him.
THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST.
YET in this our human condition, there are degrees. One rules and glitters in all earthly glory; another sits despised in the dust. One passes the time of his life in much jollity and pleasure; another wears out his days in sorrow and discontentment. Blessed Jesus, since thou wouldest be a man, why wouldest thou not be a King of men? Since thou wouldest come down to our earth, why wouldest thou not enjoy the best entertainment the earth could yield thee? Yea, since thou, who art the eternal Son of God, wouldest be the Son of man, why didst thou not appear in a state like to the King of heaven, attended with the glorious retinue of angels? O yet greater wonder of mercies! the same infinite love that brought thee down to the form of a man, would also bring thee down, being man, to the form of a servant! So didst thou love man, that thou wouldest take part with him of his misery, that he might take part with thee of thy blessedness. Thou wouldest be poor to enrich us; thou wouldest be burthened, for our ease; tempted, for our victory; despised, for our glory.
With what less than ravishment of spirit can I behold thee, who wert from everlasting clothed with glory and majesty, wrapped in rags! thee, who fillest heaven and earth with the majesty of thy glory, cradled in a manger! thee, who art the God of power, fleeing in thy mother's arms, from the rage of a weak man! thee, who art the God of Israel, driven to be nursed out of the bosom of thy church! thee, who madest the heaven of heavens, busily working in the homely trade of a foster-father! thee, who commandest the devils to their chains, transported and tempted by that foul spirit! thee, who art God sufficient, exposed to hunger,
thirst, weariness, danger, contempt, poverty, revilings, scourgings, persecution! thee, who art the just Judge of all the world, accused and condemned! thee, who art the Lord of life, dying upon the tree of shame and curse! thee, who art the eternal Son of God, struggling with thy Father's wrath! thee, who hast said, "I and my Father are one," sweating drops of blood in thine agony, and crying out on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" thee, who hast the keys of hell and of death, lying sealed up in another's grave.
O Saviour, whither hath thy love to mankind carried thee? What sighs, and groans, and tears, and blood, hast thou spent upon us wretched men ! How dear a price hast thou paid for our ransom ! What raptures of spirit can be sufficient for the admiration of thy so infinite mercy? Be thou swallowed up, O my soul, in this depth of divine love, and hate to spend thy thoughts any more upon the base objects of this wretched world, when thou hast such a Saviour to take them up.
THE Son of God-the Saviour of the world, descends, not surrounded with pomp and affluence, as a misjudging world might expect, but humble and iowly, "in the form of a servant." He, who was the Lord of angels, becomes "despised and rejected of men." He, who from eternity inhabited the dwellings of glory, submits to be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Instead of being bred up amidst the grandeurs of a court, and the splendours of a palace, he is "born in a stable, and laid in a manger." Instead of being followed and honoured by the great ones of the earth, he is, even in his infant years, persecuted and cruelly sought after to be slain. And the farther he advances
in life, the more grievous and multiplied do his afflictions become. Descended from the meanest origin, and placed in the humblest station, he learns the occupation of his supposed father, and is obliged to earn his bread with "the sweat of his brow." Though heir of all things, he is exposed to every species of want and distress afflicted without a comforter-persecuted without a protector, and wandering about, according to his own pathetic complaint, because he "had not where to lay his head." And after thus passing through scenes of the deepest sorrow, he is at last put to a cruel and an ignominious death. Betrayed by one of his own disciples, and in the hour of extremity deserted by all, the blessed Saviour of the world is dragged away by a lawless multitude, insulted by a ruffian soldiery, and, like a common malefactor, nailed to the accursed tree.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
IF Christ's death and sufferings were to be excluded, the whole frame of the Gospel salvation would be broken in pieces, and the several parts become disconcerted, and inconsistent with one another. Take away this, and what becomes of election, which is through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus? How could justice be satisfied, if Christ's atoning sacrifice were wanting? And if there be no satisfaction there can be no remission, and consequently no salvation. Of what advantage would the covenant of grace, and the promises of it be, if that blood were never shed which confirms them, and upon the shedding of which they