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On the other hand, we here behold the riches of the divine compassion and tender mercy towards the sinful children of men. "Herein is love, not "that we loved God, but that he loved us, and "sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." If then God so loved us when enemies, what may not those expect from him, who renounce every other plea, and "flee for refuge to lay hold on this "hope set before them ?" In every penitent who supplicates mercy for the sake of Christ and his atoning blood, the Redeemer "sees of the travail "of his soul, and is satisfied." For this very purpose he suffered and died on the cross, "that he might become the author of eternal salvation to "all them that obey him." On this ground we say, "Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the "Lord: and "if, when we were enemies, we were "reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much "more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his "life." "He that spared not his own Son, but "delivered him up for us all, how shall he not "with him freely give us all things?"
But while we mingle our tears of godly sorrow with joyful thanksgivings, and glory in Christ Jesus amidst all our tribulations; let us also, my brethren, look to the cross, and learn our obligations to the most self-denying and devoted obedience. Can we, with this object full in view, deem any expense too great, any sacrifice too costly, any cross too heavy, any labour too severe, which his glory, the authority of his command, or the benefit of his purchased flock, call us to undergo? Surely the constraining love of Christ will render every loss or suffering tolerable, yea pleasant, to the thankful believer; while he beholds
the Lamb of God expiring on the cross, to take away that sin which would otherwise have eternally ruined his soul; and to purchase for him everlasting and unutterable felicity!
Here too we must look, that we may learn patience, meekness, spirituality, and every part of that holiness to which we are called. Hence we must draw our motives and encouragements; and here we must view that perfect example, which we are required to copy. Forgiveness of injuries, love of enemies, perseverance in well-doing amidst insult, contempt, and ingratitude, and compassion to perishing sinners, are best learned by looking to the cross; by witnessing the triumph of divine love in the sufferings of Emmanuel, and hearing him mingle his dying groans with prayers for his cruel and insulting murderers.
Meditation on this subject may also convince us that we must expect tribulation in the world, and the enmity or contempt of believers, if we belong to Christ and bear his image. His wisdom, holiness, and love were perfect: yet no one of our race ever experienced such hatred and insult from all ranks, orders, and descriptions of men, as the spotless Lamb of God! Malefactors commonly meet with some pity amidst their tortures, however merited: but Jews and gentiles, rulers, scribes, priests, soldiers, and the multitude, could unite in cruel mockery of the holy Jesus, when expiring on a cross! Away then with all those flattering sentiments of human nature, which represent it as loving and delighting in genuine excellency: the cross of Christ, and the sufferings of his most faithful servants in every age, form a demonstrative confu
tation of the proud delusion! And, if our hearts have been changed by divine grace, so that we love and imitate the lowly and humble Saviour, let us count our cost, expect scorn and hatred from men, tribulation in the world, and peace and consolation from the Lord alone. Let us also look beyond the cross, and contemplate the glory which followed; "that we may not be wearied and faint " in our minds." We too have a "joy set before "us" let us then endure our lighter cross, and despise the shame; assured that " if we suffer with "Christ, we shall also reign with him" in glory.
But, my fellow sinners, where will you appear at his second coming to judge the world, if you now neglect his great salvation? If you join his enemies; and, by cleaving to your sins, prefer Barabbas to Jesus, sell him as Judas did for a few pieces of silver, or determine you "will not have "him to reign over you?" Still he invites you to come to him, that you may have life eternal. Oh! that you would seek to him as a Saviour, who will shortly come to be your Judge.
In fine, contemplating the cross of Christ, teaches us most effectually every lesson contained in the sacred scriptures. Let us then, my brethren, further prosecute our meditations at the Lord's table: and, while we remember the love and sufferings of our Redeemer, let us renew our repentance, and acceptance of his salvation, and give up ourselves to his service; that, "as bought with a price, we may glorify him with our bodies and spirits "which are his."
1 CORINTHIANS XV. 20.
Now is Christ risen from the dead.
We learn from this chapter, that some of the Corinthians had denied the doctrine of a resurrection: probably explaining away the apostolical language on that subject as figurative, and as only meaning conversion, or that change which took place in the world by the introduction of Christianity.2 In confuting this dangerous error, the apostle called their attention to the resurrection of Christ, as an undeniable fact: and he shewed that the denial of a resurrection was equivalent to saying that Christ was not risen, and thus tended to subvert the foundation of Christianity, and to destroy the hopes and comforts of believers. "If "there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not "Christ risen: and, if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: yea, and we are found false witnesses of God.And, if Christ be not raised, ye are yet in your "sins: then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most misera"ble." All the joys and supports of Christians are inseparably connected with future and eternal felicity; without the hope of which they would
'Preached on Easter Sunday, 1796. * 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18.
have nothing to counterbalance their peculiar trials and conflicts.
If Christ were not risen, believers were yet in their sins, and even the martyrs had finally perished. But were not the primitive Christians converted from idols to serve the living and true God? Did they not " repent, and do works meet for re"pentance?" Were they not exemplary in the practice of all good works? And did they not meet death for the sake of a good conscience towards God? How then could they be "yet in their sins?" -Because none of these things could atone for their transgressions; and, if Christ were not risen, no effectual atonement had been made: they must therefore have still continued under condemnation, and exposed to the curse of the law which they had broken. A most conclusive proof that the death of Christ was a vicarious satisfaction for sin; and that none can be saved, who are not interested in that atonement!
It is deemed uncandid to charge men's doctrine with the consequences resulting from them: yet I apprehend we should all consider ourselves bound to warn people against the consequences of taking a poisonous mixture, even if he who administered it was not at all 'aware of its nature: and the apostle has here set us the example of doing the same, in opposing those erroneous doctrines by which immortal souls are fatally deceived.
He then adds the words of the text, "Now is "Christ risen from the dead," and proceeds to treat very copiously on the doctrine of the resurrection. But I shall confine myself to the subject before us, and attempt,