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Lord's-day? God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, John iii. 16.
A God, who has loved us in this manner, when we were enemies to him, how will he not love us, now we are become his friends, now we dedicate to him ourselves, and all beside, that we possess ? What bounds can be set to his love? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ? Rom. viii. 32. Here I sink under the weight of my subject. O my God! how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee ! Psal. xxxi. 19. My God! what will not the felicity of that creature be, who gives himself wholly to thee, as thou givest thyself to him !
Thus, my dear brethren, religion is nothing but gratitude, sensibility, and love. God grant, we may know it in this manner! May the knowledge of it fill the heart and mouth of each of us during this festival, and from this moment to the hour of death, with the language of my text, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared me. In burnt-offerings for sin, thou hast had no pleasure : Then said I, LO ! I come. I come, as it is written in the volume of the book, to do thy will, O God ! May God condescend to confirm our resolutions by his grace. Amen.
THE EFFICACY OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
9 Corinthians v. 14, 15.
The love of Christ constraineth us ; because we thus judge, that if one
died for all, then were all dead : And that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him, which died for them, and rose again.
have great means of executing them. Sometimes we require the most difficult duties of mora
you. At other times we preach the mortification of the senses to you, and, with St. Paul, we tell you, they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts, Gal. v. 24. Sometimes we attack your attachment to riches, and, after the example of our great Master, we exhort you to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal, Matt. vi. 20. At other times we endeavor to prepare you for some violent operation, some severe exercises, with which it may please God to try you, and we repeat the words of the apostle to the Hebrews, Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: Wherefore lift up the hands, which hang down, and the feeble knees, Heb. xii. 4, 12. At other times we summon
you to suffer a death more painful than your own, we require you to dissolve the tender.ties, that unite your hearts to your relatives, and friends; we adjure you to break the bonds, that constitute all the happiness of your lives, and we utter this language, or, shall I rather say, thunder this terrible gradation in the name of Almighty God, Take now thy Son-thine only son Isaac—whom thou lovest—and offer him for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of, Gen. xxii. 2. To-day we demand all these. We require more than the sacrifice of your senses, more than that of
riches, more than that of your impatience, more than that of an only son ; we demand an universal devotedness of yourselves to the author and finisher of your faith ; and, to repeat the emphatical language of my text, which in its extensive compass involves, and includes all these duties, we require you henceforth not to live unto yourselves : but unto him, who died and rose again for you.
As we have great designs on you, so we have great means of executing them. They are not only a few of the attractives of religion. They are not only such efforts as your ministers sometiines inake, when, uniting all their studies and all their abilities, they approach you with the power of the word : It is not only an august ceremony, or a solemn festival. They are all these put together. God hath assembled them all in the marvellous transactions of this one day.
Here are all the attractives of religion. Here are all the united efforts of your ministers, who unanimously employ on these occasions all the penetration of their minds, all the tenderness of their hearts, all the power of language to awake your piety, and to incline you to render to Jesus Christ love for love, and life for life. It is an august ceremony, in which, under the most simple symbols, that Nature affords, God represents the most sublime objects of religion to you. This is a solemn festival, the most solemn festival, that christians observe, this occasions them to express in songs of the highest joy their gratitude and praise to their deliverer, these are their sentiments, and thus they exult, The right hund of the Lord duth' valiantly! Psal. cxviii. 15. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blesșings in heavenly places in Christ, Eph. i.
Blessed be God, who hath begoflen us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Pet. i. 3.
And on what days, is it natural to suppose, should the preaching of the gospel perform those miracles, which are promised to it, if not on such days as these? When, if not on such days as these, should the sword of the spirit, divide asunder soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Eph. vi. 17. Heb. iv. 12. and cut in twain every bond of self-love and sin ?
To all these means add the supernatural assistance, that God communicates in a double portion in these circumstances to all those, whom a desire of reconciliation with heaven conducts to this assembly. We have prayed for this assistance at the dawning of this blessed day; we prayed for it as we ascended this pulpit, and again before we began this exercise ; with prayer for divine assistance we began this discourse, and now we are going to pray for it again. My dear brethren, unite your prayers with ours, and let us mutually say to God:
O thou rock of agesThou author of those great mysteries, with which the whole christian world resounds to-day! make thy work perfect, Deut. xxxii. 4. Let the end of all these mysteries be the salvation of this people. Yea Lord 1 the incarnation of thy word; the sufferings, to which thou didst expose him; the vials of thy wrath, poured on this victim, innocent indeed in himself, but criminal as he was charged with all our sins; the cross, to which thou didst deliver him ; the power, that thou didst display in raising him from the tomb conqueror over death and hell; all these mysteries were designed for the salvation of those believers, whom the devotion of this day hath assembled in this sacred place. Save them, O Lord ! God of peace ! who didst bring again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make them perfect in every good work to do thy will ; work in them that, which is well-pleasing in thy sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Heb. xiii. 20, 21. The love of Christ constraineth us.
This is our text. Almost every expression in it is equivocal : but its ambiguity does not diminish its beauty. Every path of explication is strewed with flowers, and we meet with only great and interesting objects, even conformable to the mysteries of this day, and to the ceremony, that assembles us in this holy place. If there be a passage in the explication of which we have ever felt an inclination to adopt that maxim, which hath been productive of so many bad comments, that is, that expositors ought to give to every passage of scripture all the different senses, which it will bear, it is this passage, which we have chosen for our text. Judge of it yourselves.
There is an ambiguity in the principal subject, of which our apostle speaks, The love of Christ. This phrase may signify either the love of Christ to us, or our love to him.