« הקודםהמשך »
tent of his kindness and our obligation, we may thus obtain a deeper impression of a truth well fitted to excite grateful delight, and to stimulate to diligent obedience that both are incalculable.
Few employments are more appropriate to your present circumstances, than such a survey of the benefits of the Christian salvation as has been now adverted to; for all these blessings, while to you the free gift of God, are the dear-earned purchase of the sacrifice of that holy suffering humanity of the Son of God, of which the instituted emblems stand now before you. The price and the purchase will reflect mutual illustration on each other; and the higher value we learn to set on both, the more pleasant and profitable will be our communion feast.
In order to make your conceptions on this subject at once more vivid, accurate, and impressive, allow your mind to rest for a few moments on your situation, previously to your becoming partakers of the grace of the gospel. Children of wrath, and of disobedience-condemned already--enemies of God, and objects of his displeasure—hopelessly, because wil. fully enslaved, to Satan and to sin-mortal, yet without any thing to sweeten the bitterness of death-immortal, yet destitute of all prospect of an eternity of blessedness: such was your situation and character, for such is the situation and character of all the chil. dren of our fallen progenitor. Above you was an angry Deity, around you the instruments of his vengeance, and beneath was the gulph of perdition, yawning wide to receive you. Turning from this scene of horror with a mixed emo
of terror and gratitude-terror at the danger escaped, gratitude for the blessings obtained-fix your minds on the glories and felicities of the Christian salvation: “In Christ ye have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. Ye are accepted in the beloved. Justified by faith, ye have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also ye have access by faith into that grace wherein ye stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Ye are created anew in Christ Jesus to good works. Ye are become new creatures : old things are passed away, and all things are become new.” God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, loves you, and blesses you with heavenly and spiritual blessings. He invests you with the dignity, and forms you to the disposition of his children: “Ye are made partakers of a divine nature, and the Spirit of grace and of glory rests on you. All things work together for your good. None can separate you from the love of God. None can pluck you out of the Saviour's hand *.” Angels are your guardians, Christ is your brother, and God is your Father: “Beloved, now are ye the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we also shall
appear with him in glory t." -Such is an outline of the benefits of the Christian salvation; but it has the advantage of being drawn by the pencil of inspiration.
It is indeed a salvation which includes “in it the enjoyment of God and all its perfections, of Christ and all his benefits, of the Holy Spirit and all his graces, of the new covenant and all its immunities, of the gospel and all its promises, and, what crowns all, it includes in it the enjoyment of all these for ever and ever I." Oh, how valuable must have been the sacri. fice which purchased this salvation-how boundless the generosity which bestows it! While in this holy institution you contemplate this salvation so dearly purchased, so freely bestowed—when you see the Saviour's body and blood at once given for you, and to you,-bless the Lord with all your souls, and forget not all his benefits.
* Eph. i. 7; Rom. v. 1, 2; Eph. ii. 10; 2 Cor. v. 17: Eph. i. 3; 2 Pet. i. 4; 1 Pet. iv. 14; Rom. viii. 28, 35; John X. 28. + 1 John üi. 2.
COMMUNICANTS ! the holy ordinance in which you have just been engaged, was originally appointed by the Saviour, in the immediate prospect of his death ; and ought to be observed by his followers, in the anticipation of their being made conformable to him in his death, and going down to the place where the Lord lay. For, wide as is the extent of the Christian salvation, it includes not in it exemption from the ordinary lot of mortals: “ It is appointed to men once to die;" and the saint, as well as the sinner, must bow to the divine ordination. Yes: Children of immortality as ye are, ye must submit to the stroke of death : “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth coruption inherit incorruption.”
The recollections which naturally present themselves to your minds, in your present circumstances, are peculiarly calculated to excite a deep sense of your mortality. Where are the Christians with whom, in your earlier years, you were wont, in this place, to compass the altar of God? Where are the servants of Christ, who used, on these solemn occasions, to minister to your spiritual improvement? “Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever ?” The venerable form which used to occupy the place where now I stand, is already resolved into its original
elements, while the ardent spirit which animated it is, we trust, a flaming minister of God, among ten thousand flaming ministers. Your fathers, who used here to worship, are gathered to the congregation of the dead; and not a few of them also to “the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.” Yet a little longer, and the lips which now address you must be sealed in the silence of death; and those hearts which are now, I trust, ani. mated and agitated by devotional feeling, shall be cold and motionless as the turf which covers them.
These anticipations, Christians, ought certainly to inspire seriousness; but in you they need not, they ought not, to produce melancholy. In the believing recollection of the Saviour's death, you have all that is necessary to render the prospect of your own not merely tolerable, but delightful : “ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” But Jesus, by dying, has satisfied the law, which gave sin its power—and destroyed sin, which gave death its ter
In consequence of his death, you shall not wholly die, and you shall not die for ever. Your body must die, but your soul shall not perish: “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” When « absent from the body," ye shall be “present with thfrom all those phr seat, and fro is the occa into the charact comm
of grace, in which you have experienced so much enjoyment; but you go to the God of ordinances, and, instead of drinking at the streams, you ascend to the fountain of blessedness. It is true, you must close your eyes, to open them 10 more, on the glorious sun, and this beautiful system of things; but you go to a world where “there is no need of the light of the sun, for the glory of Jehovah and the Lamb enlightens it."
And even that part of you which must die shall not die for ever : “ If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Yes, every atom of your dust rests in hope again to rise. The dead bodies of the saints remain connected with the person
of the Son of God, and are under the immediate care of Omnipotent kindness. He who reared the wondrous fabrics, watches over their consecrated ruins; and he will in due time collect their scattered atoms, arrange them in their former comely proportions, and form them into “buildings of God, houses not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” And, oh how changed, how improved, will be the corporeal part of the frames of the saints when reunited to its immaterial companion ! " It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption : it is sown in dishonour ; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness ; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” We shew forth the death of our Lord, in the expectation of his second coming ; and we know our expectation will not be disappointed : “ For to them that look for him, he will come the second time without sin unto salvation.” And when he does come from heaven," he will change our vile bodies, and fashion them like unto his glo