« הקודםהמשך »
circumstances, is apt to harbour very different senti. ments. To be persecuted for no fault, to be loaded with foul imputations which we have not deserved, to be deprived of life by the hands of injustice, and to have the last agonised moments rendered still more painful by virulent insult ;—these are wrongs which not only would have irritated ordinary patience, but even seemed to excuse an appeal to the divine tribu. nal, and an imprecation of vengeance on the head of men so unreasonable and wicked.” Yet, even in these circumstances, Jesus “renders blessing for cursing, and prays for them who despitefully use him, and persecute him.” Can any one, then, who calls himself a Christian, depart out of the world with a heart rankling with malice against even his worst enemy? If he does so, he contemns at once the sacrifice and the ex. ample of the Saviour.
We are also furnished, in the death of Jesus, with an example of the manner in which, when dying, we ought to conduct ourselves towards our God. Jesus discovered the most perfect acquiescence in the will of his Father, with respect to the time and circumstances of his death. He betrays no unwillingness to die, though in the prime of life ; and, although the weak. ness of human nature shrunk back from that dreadful intensity of suffering with which he knew dissolution was in his case to be accompanied, yet he expresses the most implicit and entire resignation to the will of God: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” “ The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"-Amid all the horrors of mental darkness and desertion, he maintained unshaken his confident reliance on his Father's justice and goodness. Even when complaining of dereliction, he claims Him as his God: “My God, my God! why hast thou for
saken me?" And, when just on the verge of the une seen state, he committed his departing spirit to the hands of his heavenly Father: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Thus did the Saviour die; and, in the exercise of the same faith and hope, resignation and patience, ought all his followers to de part into the world of spirits. Thus did he “suffer for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps."
But the value of Christ's death, as an example, is by no means confined to the instruction which it gives us, of the manner in which we ought to die. It strike ingly exemplifies some of those leading principles of his conduct, which ought to animate and regulate the behaviour of his followers. We see the principle of an implicit obedience to what God commands, and an implicit submission to what God appoints, most strike ingly illustrated. “He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” Disinterestedness and public spirit are also most impressively taught us, in Jesus "not pleasing himself, but seeking the profit of many, that they might be saved.” The death of Christ proclaims to the attentive Christian, “ Look not every one at his own things, but every one also at the things of others." Nor does it less clearly teach, or less powerfully enforce, the love of the brethren. With the
eye of faith fixed on the cross, who can resist the force of the apostle's reasoning ? “Hereby do we perceive the love of God to us, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our life for the brethren.”
Such, my brethren, are the chief of those circumstances, which stamp with inconceivable dignity and importance, that event, in appearance so insignificant, to commemorate which, by a religious ordinance, is the principal object of our present meeting.
Contemplate then, Christians, with faith, reverenice, gratitude, admiration, and joy, the dying Saviour, in the different characters in which he has now been held up to your mind. Behold in him the victim of your sins; the only, the all-sufficient sacrifice of atonement ! This is the aspect in which the sacred ordinance, in which you are about to engage, exhibits him to your faith. “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood shed for remission of sin unto many." Rely on the efficacy of his sacrifice ; relinquish all dependence on your own righteousness; and when you take into your hands the symbols of his holy suffering humanity, say, It is most true, "he was wounded for my transgressions, he was bruised for my iniquities, the chastisement of my peace was upon him, and by his stripes I am healed.— Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. To him that loved me, and washed me from my sins in his own blood, and hath made me a king and priest unto God, even his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever. Amen."
And while we rest an unfeigned and unsuspecting reliance on the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice, let us rejoice that we have such abundant evidence, that in receiving this, and the other doctrines of Christianity, “ we have not followed cunningly devised fables.” Let us study, with increasing diligence, the evidence of our holy faith, that we may not be “as children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine;" but may be enabled to "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our hope to the end.”
Nor let us be inattentive to the persuasive lessons of Christian duty, so impressively taught us by our Saviour from his cross. Let us resolve, in a dependance on the grace of the Spirit of promise, to imitate his example. Let it be the study of our life, to learn to think as he thought, to feel as he felt, to act as he
acted, to suffer as he suffered, to live as he lived, and to die as he died. “ Contemplating him as in a glass, let us be changed into the same image; carrying about with us his dying, let his life also be manifested in our mortal bodies."
In one word, let us consider the death of Christ as it were the centre of our religion, at once the evidence of its truth, and the exhibition of its excellence, the only solid ground of the sinner's hope, and the most powerful of all incentives to the believer's duty. And, “ God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST.
LUKE XXIII. 33.
There they crucified him.
The economy of human redemption is the most wonderful of all the works of God. Wide as is the
range of the human imagination, it could never have entered into man's heart to conceive such a display of divine wisdom, power, and love ;-and now that, by means of revelation, this economy is brought as fully before our minds as
our limited faculties admit of, what consis derate person does not feel himself at once delighted and confounded-delighted by its wisdom and benignnity--confounded by its strangeness and its grandeur ? On every part of this heaven-constructed fabric is in. scribed in legible characters, “ conspicuous as the brightness of a star,”—“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. As the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Put a man, who is a stranger to the gospel revela.