« הקודםהמשך »
vancement of the purity and happiness of all the orders of intelligent creatures. Consider that, as thy eternal Maker, thy omnipotent Lawgiver, thy just and holy Judge, he claims thy supreme, thy uniform obedience. Ah, by transgression thou hast impiously refused to render that homage which universal nature offers to its omnipotent Maker and Lord-By transgression thou hast spurned thy dependence on that almighty arm which preserves thee in being, and which, in a moment, could crush thee into the dust, whence it raised thee -By transgression thou hast revolted against the righteous dominion of the Sovereign of the universe, and sought to defeat the beneficent purposes of his sway-By transgression thou hast defied the infinite power of thy Maker, thou hast contemned the righteous mandates of thy supreme Lawgiver, thou hast raised the arm of defiance against the omnipotent Judge of heaven and earth. Oh, by what profound contrition must thou seek to avert the wrath which impends over thy rebellion !
Until we are deeply impressed with the supreme claims of God to our homage and obedience; until we discern and acknowledge his power, his justice, and his holiness; the awful presumption of sin, as a contempt of his authority, will not be displayed in full force. The throne on which God exercises the dominion of the universe, is founded on his inviolable holiness and justice. To resist his authority, to violate his laws, is therefore presumptuously to contemn these exalted attributes, and to rebel against that righteous government, the subversion of which would overwhelm the purity and glory of the universe. The true penitent, therefore, will humbly acknowledge, that his guilt is aggravated by the contempt of the authority of God with which it is marked. Casting his eyes on the sacrifice of the altar, he will behold, in the agonies of the almighty victim, there immolated under affecting symbols, the infinite price which God exacted, as the vindication of his violated authority, and the enormity of that guilt which rendered an infinite sacrifice necessary.
At the altar, therefore, the devout communicant will, in profound abasement, adore the sovereignty of God, and pour forth his penitential sorrow for his presumptuous violations of the laws of the righteous Maker and Judge of the world.
The view of sin, which is calculated to awaken in the penitent the most lively conviction of its baseness and enormity, and to excite a generous sorrow, has not yet been displayed. To all the other powerful aggravations of sin will be added the characteristic of base insensibility and ingratitude, when the penitent regards it as a deliberate and wilful contempt of the infinite mercy and love of God. That by transgression we have incurred divine wrath; that by transgression we have destroyed our purity and
peace; that by transgression we have defied the righteous and beneficent authority of God-are considerations powerfully calculated to display the evil of sin, and to excite profound sorrow for it. But the affecting consideration, that by transgression we have discovered base insensibility to the goodness of God, and ungratefully contemned his infinite lov displays, in its full enormity, our guilt, and constitutes the most ingenuous source of true repentance. Yes, my soul, thou hast withheld the tribute of just and generous homage from that glorious Being who centres in himself all loveliness and perfection. Thou hast withheld the tribute of just and generous gratitude from thy Almighty Father, Preserver, and Benefactor,—who has guided and defended thee when helpless and exposed,—who has cherished thee with an affection which even thy neglect and insensibility could not overcome, who has crowned thee with mercy and loving-kindness,—who has provided for thee an eternal and glorious destiny beyond the grave. Ah, thou hast not only been deficient in the exalted acts of gratitude and duty. By repeated and wilful transgressions of his commands, thou hast discovered indifference to his love, and contempt of his mercy. Thou hast even slighted the most exalted display of his goodness, the gift of his only Son to redeem thee. Oh, my soul, thou hast sinned, not against a hard and cruel master, whose service was burdensome and without reward; not against a merciless sovereign, who ruled thee with the sceptre of wrath; but against thy most compassionate Father, thy most generous Benefactor, thy most tender Friend; against that merciful Redeemer, who shrunk not from the ignominy of the cross to purchase thy redemption. Oh! what emotions of ingenuous sorrow will agitate the bosom of the sincere penitent, when he beholds, in the transcendent love of his Redeemer and God, the representation of his ingratitude and guilt ! Penetrated with disinterested sorrow, he will humble his soul in the deepest contrition; and by, the fervours of his repentance, seek to testify that he is, at last, awakened to the affecting force of those infinite mercies which he so long contemned.
The sacrifice of the altar was designed to convey a lively representation of the sufferings and death of Christ. The altar, therefore, is the throne where the sincere penitent will pour forth the confession of his sins. When, prostrate before its hallowed symbols, he beholds the body of his Saviour broken and bruised, and the precious blood of the Lamb of God shed forth as an atoning sacrifice, the enormity and guilt of his sins, which could so long resist and contemn the infinite love of his Redeemer, will dissolve his soul in ingenuous and fervent penitence.
O ETERNAL and Almighty God! whose authority I have violated, whose power I have defied, whose justice I have contemned, whose mercy I have resisted, by my repeated and aggravated transgressions-sensible of my baseness, my presumption, my ingratitude and guilt, I now humbly cast myself at the throne of thy mercy, and implore thy forgive
O thou Father of mercies, whose compassions fail not, whose love and pity cannot be subdued by the ingratitude and sins of man, vouchsafe to pardon and bless the unworthy sinner who sees no refüge from the just sentence of condemnation, but in the gracious overtures of salvation which thou hast proclaimed through Jesus Christ, the Son of thy love. Praises evermore be ascribed unto thee, that thou hast declared thou art willing to accept, through Jesus thy Son, the imperfect but sincere repentance of the awakened sinner. O do thou inspire in my heart that humble, lively, and ingenuous contrition which is alone thy gift. Spirit of the Father ! fountain of quickening grace! awaken in me a deep sense of the evil and guilt of my sins, that with humble and earnest sorrow I may deplore and confess them. Set before my conscience the terrors of that wrath to which sin renders me obnoxious, the degrading impurity and misery in which it has plunged me. But, oh! let the liveliest emotions of sorrow arise from the view of my guilt and ingratitude, in having contemned the righteous authority, the infinite mercies of my God and Saviour. Almighty God, let me not seek to extenuate the guilt of my transgressions, or to offer to thee an imperfect repentance. But mercifully grant, that, humbly deploring my guilt, and confessing my unworthiness, Í may approach to thy holy altar, and there be restored to thy reconciled countenance, through the prevailing merits and efficacy of the body and blood of him who died for my sins, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.