Images de page
PDF
ePub

capable of ten thousand inconceivable new de- ! II. In the second place, to dissipate the lights. Wherefore do you point to that ghastly dreadful apprehension which a guilty concorpse? Wherefore deplore those eyes closed to science awakens in the prospect of judgment the light, those spirits evaporated, that blood to come. Having considered Jesus Christ as a frozen in the veins, that motionless, lifeless martyr, who sealed with his own blood the docmass of corruption? Why do you say to me, trine which he preached, and his death as an “My friend, my father, my spouse is no more; argument in support of the immortality of the he sees, he hears, he acts no longer.” He sees soul taught in that doctrine; let us contemplate no longer, do you say? He sees no longer, I our divine Saviour as a victim, which God has grant, by means of those visual rays which substituted in our place, and his death as a were formed in the retina of the eye; but he sacrifice offered up to divine justice, for the exsees as do those pure intelligences which never piation of our offences. were clothed with mortal flesh and blood. He One of the principal dangers to be avoided hears no more through the medium of the ac- in controversies, and particularly in that which tion of the ethereal fluid, but he hears as a pure we are going to handle, is to imagine that all spirit. He thinks no longer through the inter- arguments are of equal force. Extreme care vention of the fibres of his brain; but he thinks must be taken to assign to each its true limits, from his own essence, because, being a spirit, and to say, this argument proves thus far, that the faculty of thought is essential to him, and other goes so much farther. We must thus inseparable from his nature.

advance step by step up to truth, and form, of

those arguments united, a demonstration so SERMON LXXX.

much the more satisfactory, in proportion as we have granted to those who dispute it, all

that they could in reason ask. On this princiON THE FEAR OF DEATH.

ple we divide our arguments into two classes.

The first we propose only as presumptions in PART II.

favour of the doctrine of the satisfaction. To

the second we ascribe the solidity and weight HEBP.ews ii. 14, 15

of demonstration. Of the first class are the

following: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of I. We allege human reason as a presumpflesh and blood, he also himself likewise took tive argument in support of the doctrine which part of the same: that through death he might we maintain. We do not mean to affirm, that destroy him that had the power of death, that is, human reason derives from the stores of her the devil: and deliver them who through fear of own illumination the truth of this doctrine. death were all their life-time subject to bondage. So far from that we confidently affirm, that

In discoursing from these words, we observed, this is one of the mysteries which are infinitely that death is rendered formidable to man, by a beyond the reach of human understanding. It threefold consideration, and that three conside- is one of “ the things which eye hath not seen, rations of an opposite nature strip him of all nor ear heard, neither have entered into the his terrors, in the eye of the believer in Christ heart of man,” 1 Cor. ii. 9. But we say that Jesus. Death is formidable, 1. Because of the this mystery presents nothing that shocks huveil which conceals from the eyes of the dying man reason, or that implies a shadow of conperson, that state on which he is about to tradiction. What do we believe? That God enter. 2. From remorse of conscience, which has united the human nature to the divine, in the recollection of past guilt excites. 3. From the person of Jesus Christ, in a manner somothe loss of titles, honours, and all other earthly what resembling that in which he has united possessions.

the body to the oul, in the person of man. In opposition to these, the death of Christ, We say that this composition (pardon the ex1. Removes the veil which conceals futurity, pression,) this composition of Humanity and and constitutes an authentic proof of the im- of Deity suffered in what was human of it; and mortality of the soul. 2. It is a sacrifice pre- that what was divine gave value to the suffersented to divine justice for the remission of sin. ings of the man, somewhat after the manner 3. It gives us complete assurance of a blessed in which we put respect on a human body, not eternity. These are the considerations which as a material substance, but as united to an disarm death of his terrors to the dying believer. intelligent soul. We have finished what was proposed on the

These are the terms in which we propose first particular, and have shown, 1. That the our mystery. And there is nothing in this doctrine of Jesus Christ fully establishes the which involves a contradiction. If we had soul's immortality; and, 2. That the death of said that the Divinity and Humanity were conJesus Christ is an irresistible proof of the truth founded or common; if we had said that of his doctrine.

Deity, who is impassible, suffered; if we had But to no purpose would it be to fortify the said that Jesus Christ as God made satisfaction mind against the apprehension of ceasing to to Jesus Christ as God, reason might have exist, unless we are delivered from the terror justly reclaimed; but we say that Jesus Christ of being for ever miserable. In vain is it to suffered as man; we say that the two natures have demonstrated that our souls are immortal, in his person were distinct; we say that Jesus if we are haunted with the well-grounded ap- Christ, suffering as a man, made satisfaction prehension of their falling into the hands of to God maintaining the rights of Deity. This that God who “is a consuming fire.” In this is the first step we advance in this career. case, what constitutes a man's greatness would Our first argument we carry thus far, and no constitute his misery. Let us endeavour,

farther.

II. Our second argument is taken from the hence those hecatombs; hence those human divine justice. We say that the idea which we victims; hence that blood which streamed on have of the divine justice presents nothing in the altars, and so many other rites of religious consistent with the doctrine we are endeavour- worship, the existence of which no one is dising to establish, but on the contrary leads us posed to call in question. What consequence directly to adopt it. The divine justice would do we deduce from this position? The truth be in opposition to our doctrine, did we affirm of the doctrine of the atonement? No: we do that the innocent Jesus suffered as an innocent not carry our inference so far. We only conperson; but we say that he suffered, as loaded clude, that there is no room to run down the with the guilt of the whole human race. The Christian religion, if it instructs us that God divine justice would be in opposition to our demanded satisfaction to his justice, by an doctrine, did we affirm that Jesus Christ had expiatory sacrifice, before he could give an un“the iniquity of us all laid upon him," whether restrained course to his goodness. This third he would or not; but we say that he took this argument we carry thus far, and no farther. heavy load upon himself voluntarily. The di 4. A fourth reflection hinges on the corresvine justice would be in opposition to our doc- pondence of our belief, respecting this partrine, did we affirm that Jesus Christ took on ticular, with that of every age of the Christian himself the load of human guilt, to encourage church, in uninterrupted succession, from Jesus men in the practice of sin; but we say that he Christ down to our own times. All the ages acted thus in the view of sanctifying them, by of the Christian world have, as we do, spoken procuring their pardon. The divine justice of this sacrifice. But we must not enlarge. would be in opposition to our doctrine did we Whoever wishes for complete information on affirm that Jesus Christ, in assuming the load this particular, will find a very accurate collecof our guilt, sunk under the weight of it, so tion of the testimonies of the fathers, at the that the universe, for the sake of a few guilty end of the treatise on the satisfaction, comwretches, was deprived of the most distinguish- posed by the celebrated Grotius. The doctrine ed being that could possibly exist; but we say of the atonement, therefore, is not a doctrine that Jesus Christ, in dying for us, came off of yesterday, but has been transmitted from victorious over death and the grave. The di- age to age, from Jesus Christ down to our own vine justice, therefore, presents nothing incon- times. This argument we carry thus far and sistent with the doctrine of the satisfaction. no farther.

But we go much farther, and affirm, that the Here then we have a class of arguments idea of divine justice leads directly to the doc- which, after all, we would have you to consitrine. The atonement corresponds to the de- der only as so many presumptions in favour of mands of justice. We shall not here presume the doctrine of the atonement.

But surely to determine the question, whether it is possi- we are warranted to proceed thus far, at least, ble for God, consistently with his perfections, in concluding; a doctrine in which human reato pardon sin without exacting a satisfaction. son finds nothing contradictory: a doctrine Whatever advantage we might have over those which presents nothing repugnant to the diwho deny our thesis, we shall not press it on vine attributes, nay, to which the divine atthe present occasion. But, in any case, they tributes directly lead us; a doctrine perfectly must be disposed to make this concession, that conformable to the suggestions of conscience, if the wisdom of God has devised the means and to the practice of mankind in every age, of obtaining a signal satisfaction to justice, in and of every nation; a doctrine received in unison with the most illustrious display of the Christian church from the beginning till goodness; if he can give to the universe an now; a doctrine which, in all its parts, preunequivocal proof of his abhorrence of sin, in sents nothing but what is entirely worthy of the very act of pardoning the sinner; if there God, when we examine it at the tribunal of be a method to keep offenders in awe, even our own understanding: such a doctrine conwhile mercy is extended to them, it must un- tains nothing to excite our resentment, nodoubtedly be more proper to employ such a thing that we ought not to be disposed to admethod than to omit it. This is the second mit, if we find it clearly laid down in the Scripstep we advance towards our conclusion. Our tures. second argument we carry thus far, and no Now, my brethren, we have only to open farther.

the Bible in order to find express testimonies 3. Our third consideration is taken from the to this purpose; and not only do we meet suggestions of conscience, and from the prac- with an infinite number of passages in which tice of all nations. Look at the most polished, the doctrine is clearly taught, but a multitude and at the most barbarous tribes of the human of classes of such passages. race; at nations the most idolatrous, and at 1. In the first class, we must rank all those those which have discovered the purest ideas passages which declare that Jesus Christ died on the subject of religion. Consult authors of for us. It would be no easy matter to enuthe remotest antiquity, and authors the most merate them; “I delivered unto you first of recent: transport yourself to the ancient Egyp- all,” says St. Paul in his first epistle to the tians, to the Phenicians, to the Gauls, to the Corinthians, w. 3, " that which I also receive Carthaginians, and you will find that, in all ed, how that Christ died for our sins, according ages, and in every part of the globe, men have to the Scriptures.” “ Christ also hath once expressed a belief that the Deity expected sa- suffered for sins,” says St. Peter, in his first crifices should be offered up to him: nay, not epistle general, iii. 18, “the just for the unonly sacrifices, but such as had, as far as it was just, that he might bring us to God.” possible, something like a proportion to his 2. In a second class must be ranked those greatness. Hence those magnificent temples; 1 passages which represent Jesus Christ as suf

was

fering the punishment which we had deserved. | fice of Jesus Christ, which the Jews, to no purThe fifty-third chapter of the prophet Isaiah pose, sought for in those which Moses preturns entirely on this subject; and the apostles scribed. Now what did the Jews look for in hold the sell-same language. They say ex- their sacrifices' Was it not the means of appressly that Christ " was made to be sin for peasing the Deity? If, therefore, the sacrifices us, who knew no sin," 2 Cor. v. 21, that he of the Jews were the expiation of sin, only in

made a curse for us,” Gal. iii. 13, that figure and in a shadow, if the sacrifice of Jesus he “bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” Christ be their body and reality, does it not 1 Pet. ii. 24.

follow that Jesus Christ has really and literally 3. In a third class must be ranked all those expiated our transgressions. To pretend that passages in which our salvation is represented the Levitical sacrifices were not offered up for as being the fruit of Christ's death. The per- the expiation of great offences, but only for sons, whose opinions we are combating, main- certain external indecencies, which rather poltain themselves on a ground which we esta- luted the flesh, than wounded the conscience, blished in a former branch of this discourse, is an attempt to maintain one error by another; namely, that the death of Jesus Christ was a for a man has only to open his eyes, to be condernonstration of the truth of his doctrine. vinced that the Levitical sacrifices were offered They say that this is the reason for which our up for offences the most atrocious; it is needsalvation is considered as the effect of that less to adduce any other evidence than the andeath. But if we are saved by the death of nual sacrifice prescribed, Lev. xvi. 21, 22, in Jesus Christ, merely because it has sealed a the offering of which, Aaron “laid both his doctrine which leads to salvation, how comes hands upon the head of the live goat, and conit then, that our salvation is now bere ascrib- fessed over him all the iniquities of the chiled to the other parts of his ministry, which dren of Israel, and all their transgressions in contributed, no less than his death, to the con- all their sins . . . . and the goat did bear upon firmation of his doctrine? Were not the mira- him all their iniquities." cles of Jesus Christ, for example, proofs equal 5. In a fifth class must be ranked the cirly authentic as his death was, of the truth of cumstances of the passion of Jesus Christ, and his doctrine? Whence comes it, that our salva- of his agony in the garden; that sorrow, those tion is nowhere ascribed to them? This is the fears, those agitations, those cries, those tears, very thing we are maintaining. The resurrec- that bloody sweat, those bitter complaints: tion, the ascension, the miracles were absolute “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken ly necessary to give us assurance, that the me?" Matt. xxvi. 46. The argument derived wrath of God was appeased; but Christ's death from this will appear of still greater weight, alone was capable of producing that effect. if you support it by thus reflecting, that no You will more sensibly feel the force of this person in the universe ought to have met argument, if you attend to the connexion death with so much joy as Jesus Christ, had which our text has with what follows in the he suffered a mere ordinary death. Christ 17th verse, "Wherefore in all things it behov- died with a perfect submission to the will of ed him to be made like unto his brethren; that his father, and with a fervent love to mankind. he might be a merciful and faithful high priest Christ died in the full assurance of the justice

... to make reconciliation for the sins of of his cause, and of the innocency of his life. the people."

Christ died completely persuaded of the imIf we are saved by the death of Jesus Christ, mortality of the soul, and of the certainty of merely because that event sealed the truth of a life to come. Christ died under a complete his doctrine, wherefore should it have been assurance of the exalted felicity which he was necessary for him to assume our flesh? Had to enjoy after death. He had come from God. he descended from heaven in the effulgence of He was returning to God. Nay, there ought to his glory; had he appeared upon Mount Zion, have been something more particular in his trisuch as he was upon Mount Sinai, in flashes umph, than in that of the generality of believof lightning, with the voice of thunder, with a Because he had “made himself of no retinue of angels; would not the truth of the reputation;" God was about “to give him a gospel have been established infinitely better name which is above every name. A cloud than by the death of a man? Wherefore, then, was going to serve him as a triumphal car, was it necessary that Christ should die? It was and the church triumphant was preparing to because the victim of our transgressions must receive him with acclamations of joy, “Lift be put to death. This is St. Paul's reasoning. up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, And for this reason it is that our salvation is ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory nowhere ascribed to the death of the martyrs, shall come in,” Ps. xxiv. 7. though the death of the martyrs was, like that What then, are we to expect that Jesus of Jesus Christ, a proof of the truth of the Christ shall do? Shall we behold him advancgospel.

ing to meet death with joy? Shall he not say 4. In a fourth class, must be ranked all with St. Paul, “My desire is to depart? Shall those passages which represent the death of he not in rapture exclaim, " This day crowns Jesus Christ as the body and the reality, of are to be distributed, and I go to receive my which all the sacrifices prescribed by the law share?" No, Jesus Christ trembles, he turns were but the figure and the shadow. We pale, he fears, he sweats great drops of blood: shall select a single one out of a multitude. whereas the martyrs, with inferior illuminaThe greatest part of the Epistle to the He- tion, with feebler motives, have braved death, brews may be quoted to this effect. It is evi- have bidden defiance to the most horrid tordent that the great object of its author is to ments, have filled their tormentors with astonengage Christians to look for that in the sacri- | ishment. Whence comes this difference? From

ers.

.

the very point which we are endeavouring to , and proportions; nature, with her overflowing establish." The death of Jesus Christ is wide- treasures; society, with its enchanting delights; ly different from that of the martyrs. The the church, with its triumphs; eternity, with martyrs found death already disarmed: Jesus its unfathomable abysses of joy. Of all these Christ died to disarm this king of terrors. The ingredients blended, we compose a faint repremartyrs presented themselves before the throne sentation of the celestial blessedness. of grace; Jesus Christ presented himself at the The soul of man constitutes one ingredient, tribunal of Justice. The martyrs pleaded the and we say, In heaven your soul shall arrive merits of Christ's death: Jesus Christ interced- at its highest pitch of attainable perfection: it ed in behalf of the martyrs.

shall acquire expansive illumination, it shall Let the great adversary, then, do his worst reach sublime heights of virtue, it shall “beto terrify me with the image of the crimes hold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and which I have committed; let him trace them shall be changed into the same image, from before my eyes in the blackest characters glory to glory," 2 Cor. iii. 18. which his malignity can employ; let him col The body furnishes a second ingredient, and lect into one dark point, all that is hideous and we say, In heaven your body shall be exempted hateful in my life; let him attempt to over- from all the defects by which it is at present whelm me with dismay, by rousing the idea of disfigured, from those diseases which now prey that tremendous tribunal, before which all the upon and waste it, from that death which deactions of men are to be scrutinized, so that stroys the fabric. like “ Joshua the high-priest," I find myself Nature supplies a third ingredient, and we standing in the presence of God, “ clothed say, In heaven all the stores of Nature shall with filthy garments,” Zech. iii. i, &c. and be displayed in rich profusion: “ the foundaSatan standing at his right hand to expose my tions of the holy city are of jasper, its gates turpitude; I hear, at the same time, the voice are of pearl, its walls are of pure gold," Rev. of one pleading in my behalf: I hear these re- xxi. 21. viving words: “is not this a brand plucked Society supplies a fourth ingredient, and we out of the fire?. Take away the filthy say, In heaven shall be united, in the tendergarments from him

Let them set a est social bonds, kindred spirits the most exaltfair mitre upon his head and I will ed; souls the most refined; hearts the most clothe him with change of raiment.”

generous and enlarged.

The church supplies a fifth ingredient, and SERMON LXXX.

we say, In heaven shall be exhibited the triumph of the faithful over tyrants confounded,

the saints shall be enthroned, the martyrs shall ON THE FEAR OF DEATH. appear with palms in their hands, and with PART III.

crowns upon their heads.

Eternity supplies a sixth ingredient, and we HEBREW8 ii. 14, 15.

say, In heaven you shall enjoy a felicity infiForasmuch then as the children are partakers of degree; years accumulated upon years, ages

nite in its duration, and immeasurable in its flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took upon ages, shall effect no diminution of its part of the same; that through death he might length: and so of the rest. destroy him that had the power of death, that is,

This day, Christians, in which we are repthe devil; and deliver them who through fear resenting death to you as a universal wreck of death were all their life-time subject to bond- which swallows up all your possessions, your age.

titles, your greatness, your riches, your social We now come in the

connexions, all that you were, and all that you III. Third and last place, to consider death | hoped to be; this day, while we are attempt. rendered formidable, from its being attended ing to convey to you an idea of the celestial with the loss of titles, honours, and every other felicity, capable of strengthening you to beearthly possession, and in opposition io this, hold, without dismay, this universal wreck, in we are to view the death of Jesus Christ as re- which you are going to be involved; this day moving that terror, by giving us complete as we could wish you to conceive the heavenly surance of a blessed eternity. We are going world, and the blessedness which God is there to contemplate death as a universal shipwreck, preparing for you under another idea. We swallowing up all our worldly fortunes and mean to trace another view of it, the lustre of prospects. We are going to contemplate Je- which effaces all the rest.

We build upon sus Christ as a conqueror, and his death as the this foundation of 'St Paul: “He that spared pledge and security of a boundless and ever not his own Son, but delivered him up for us lasting felicity, which shall amply compensate all, how shall he not with him also freely give to us the loss of all those possessions, of which us all things" Rom. viii. 32. The heavenly we are about to be stripped by the unsparing blessedness is the purchase of the death of Jehand of death.

sus Christ. Here collect, my brethren, every When we attempt to stammer out a few thing that is capable of enhancing to your apwords from the pulpit, respecting the felicity prehension the unspeakable greatness and imwhich God has laid up for his people in ano- portance of that death. ther world, we borrow the images of every View the death of Christ relatively to the thing that is capable of touching the heart, and types which prefigured it; relatively to the shaof communicating delight. We call in to our dows by which it was adumbrated; relatively assistance the soul of man, with all its exalted to the ceremonies by which it was representfaculties; the body, with all its beautiful forms ed; relatively to the oracles which predicted it.

View the death of Christ relatively to the sent illusion to the eye? Will you still maintempests and thunderbolts which were levelled tain your ground against those solid blessings at the head of the Redeemer. Behold his which the death of Jesus Christ has purchased soul overwhelmed with sorrow; behold that for us? Ah! " broken cisterns,” will you still blood falling down to the ground; that cup of preserve a preference in our esteem to "the bitterness which was given him to drink; fountain of living waters?” Ah! great High hearken to that insulting language, to those Priest of the new covenant, shall we still find calumnies, to those false accusations, to that it painfully difficult to follow thee, whilst thou unjust sentence of condemnation; behold those art conducting us to heavenly places, by the hands and feet pierced with nails, that sacred bloody traces of thy cross and martyrdom. body speedily reduced to one ghastly wound; Jesus Christ is a “conqueror,” who has acbebold" that licentious rabble clamorously de- quired for us a kingdom of glory and felicity; manding the punishment of the cross, and in his death is an invaluable pledge of a triumcreasing the horror of it by every indignity phant eternity. which malice could invent; look up to heaven Death, then, has nothing, henceforward, itself, and behold the eternal Father abandon- that is formidable to the Christian. In the ing the Son of his love to so many woes; be tomb of Jesus Christ are dissipated all the terhold hell in concert with heaven, and heaven rors which the tomb of nature presents. In with the earth.

the tomb of nature I perceive a gloomy night, View the death of Christ relatively to the which the eye is unable to penetrate; in the dreadful signs by which it was accompanied; tomb of Jesus Christ I behold light and life. relatively to that earth seized with trembling, In the tomb of nature the punishment of sin to that sun shrouded in darkness, to those stares me in the face; in the tomb of Jesus rocks rent asunder, to those opening graves, Christ I find the expiation of it. In the tomb to those departed saints returning to the light of nature I read the fearful doom pronounced of day.

upon Adam, and upon all his miserable posteriView the death of Christ relatively to the ty: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou greatness of God, and to the littleness of man, return," Gen. iii. 19; but in the tomb of Jesus in whose behalf all this bloody scene was Christ my tongue is loosed into this triumphant transacted.

song of praise, “O death, where is thy sting? Collect all these various particulars, and grave, where is thy victory? Thanks still say to yourself, The death of Jesus Christ be to God who giveth us the victory, through is all this. The death of Jesus Christ is the our Lord Jesus Christ," I Cor. xv. 55. 57. body of the figures, the original of the types, * Through death he has destroyed him that the reality of the shadows, the accomplishment had the power of death, that is, the devil; of the prophecies. The death of Jesus Christ that he might deliver them who through fear is that great event which darkened the sun, of death were all their life-time subject to which opened the tombs, which rent asunder bondage.” the rocks, which made the earth to tremble, which turned nature and the elements upside

THE APPLICATION. down. Follow up these reflections, and on But if these be our privileges, is it not matthese let your imagination settle.

ter of reproach to us, my brethren, that The death of Jesus Christ conceived thus, brought up in the knowledge and profession apply it to the subject which we are treating of a religion which furnishes arms so powerful The death of Jesus Christ conceived thus, let for combating the terrors of death, we should it serve to assist you in forming an idea of the still, for the most part, view it only with fear heavenly blessedness. Still build on this and trembling? The fact is too evident to be foundation of St. Paul; say with that apostle, denied. From the slightest study of by far the "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered greatest part of professing Christians, it is him up for us all, how shall he not with him clearly apparent that they consider death as also freely give us all things?" You regret the the greatest of all calamities. And with a world; you who are advancing on your way very slender experience of the state of dying heavenward. And what is heaven? It is the persons, it will be found that there are few, purchase of Christ's death. “He that spared very few indeed, who die without regret, few not his own Son, but delivered him up for us but who have need to exercise all their suball, how shall he not with him also freely give mission, at a season when it might be expected us all things?” If the means be thus great, they should give themselves up to transports what must the end be! If the preparatives be of joy. A vapour in the head disconcerts us; thus magnificent, what must be the issue! If we are alarmed if the artery happens to beat the conflict be thus sharp, what must be the a little faster than usual; the least apprehenvictory! If the price be thus costly, what, Osion of death inspires us with an unaccountawhat, shall be the bliss which this price is in- ble melancholy, and oppressive dejection. tended to purchase.

But those apprehensions and terrors, my After that, my brethren, return to the brethren, surprising as they may appear to us, world.—What is it you regret? Are you re- have nothing which ought really to fill us gretting the loss of palaces, of sceptres, of with surprise. If to apply to a man's self the crowns. It is to regret the humble crook in fruits of the death of Jesus Christ were a simyour hand, the cottage which covers your ple act of the understanding, a simple movehead. Do you regret the loss of society, a ment of the heart, a simple acknowledgment society whose defects and whose delights are of the tongue; if to apply to a man's self the frequently an equal source of misery to you? fruits of the death of Christ were nothing more Ah! phantom of vain desire, will you still pre- I than what a hardened sinner is capable of

VOL. II.-30

« PrécédentContinuer »