« PrécédentContinuer »
They infer not from the awakening consideration of our Lord's incarnation their own guilty and helpless state; a deduction which, it might be supposed, could not be overlooked. And therefore they are not excited to apply to Him for an actual participation of pardoning and sancti. fying mercy They believe in vain,” according to the Apostle's awful hypothesis, 1 Cor. xv. 2, of which if there had been no danger, the same inspired writer would not have be. sought the Corinthians “ not to receive the grace of God in vain.” Our collect plainly
" implies what our homilies strongly assert, that a belief which is the mere creature of reason, and unaccompanied with a renewing influence on the heart, is not that faith to which salva. tion is annexed. *
The incarnation of Christ is itself a most marvellous instance of Divine grace, and the grand link in the chain of causes on which our salvation is suspended. All the various means which Divine wisdom has chosen for the purpose of promulgating its salvation, are also acts of rich grace shewn to our fallen race. But were not additional favour conferred on us, all these means would leave us in the same wretched condition in which they found us.
For though “ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the “ word of God, as the instrumental cause; the efficient cause of genuine faith is the grace of God. It is His power alone which can rouse us to sensibility, subvert the fabrick of selfrighteousness which we have erected, and exhibit to our view the person and work of Christ
* See the Homily of Faith, Part 1.
so as to convince us of His ability and willingness to save us. His grace alone can enable us so to trust in the death and passion of Christ, as to entertain a hope of being “ brought to the
glory of His resurrection."
The “ incarnation" of Christ was preparatory to “ His cross and passion." He was born to die; for it was by His death only that atonement could be made for human guilt, and so a way be opened for our resurrection to glory. When our Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, is exhibited in Scripture as the object of faith, His “ cross and passion” are generally referred to. " I determined,” saith St. Paul to the Corinthians, " to know nothing among you, save Jesus
Christ and Him crucified.” And in his epistle to the Galatians he exclaims, “ God forbid
, " that I should glory, save in the cross of our « Lord Jesus Christ.” Though His incarnation, birth, and the several acts of His meritorious life, are constituent parts of the aggregate which forms the basis of our hope; yet His “cross and “ passion" were the concluding and prominent acts of His gracious work, the crisis of redemption. To this therefore our collect leads our attention, though its more immediate subject is a circumstance that preceded the incarnation. In the cross of Christ all the rays of Divine mercy and of human hope meet as in their focus. This is the point of convergence, to which all the designs and counsels of the Godhead, and all the sensibilities of the believing soul, invariably tend.
The cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is exclusively the meritorious cause of man's salvation :-exclusively, not of the preparatory acts of the Son of God, but of human
merit. To Calvary therefore is our attention directed by our collect. Thither we are to look for the hope of being “ brought unto the glory at of our Lord's resurrection.” For there alone
' is that to be discovered which can remove guilt from the conscience, introduce peace in its stead, and reconcile the heart to God. From thence alone are those motives to be derived; which, while they exhibit sin in its proper light as a hideous monster of deformity, and sicken the soul at the sight of its ghastly foe, its murtherous inmate; at the same time excite the be. lieving sinper to “put off the old man which is “ corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and “ to put on the new man, which after God is “ created in righteousness and true holiness.” From thence only can we derive either a title to the inheritance of the saints in light, or the needful qualifications for its enjoyment. Conviction and conversion, sanctification and conservation, power to resist, temptation, and victory over death, are surely and only to be obtained from the “cross and passion” of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The air of Calvary is vivifying and salubrious. It restores the dead to life, the sick to health.
But what is the final object of our prayer? It is that which is the consummation of all the desires and hopes of the regenerate soul; “ that “ we may be brought to the glory of Christ's re« surrection.” He suffered and died that He might arise from the dead to a glorious life as the head and first fruits of His body the church. And all those who, through faith in Him, die to the law, to sin, and to the world, shall be partakers of that glorious life. Their bodies, like His body, must descend into the grave. But, after His example, and by virtue of His resurrection, they shall rise again, be made like unto His glorious body, and, reanimated by their redeemed souls, enjoy that exceeding and eternal weight of glory which His cross and passion have procured for them. Soon those celestial envoys, one of whom announced to the Virgin mother the incarnation of the Divine Redeemer, of whom a multitude celebrated His nativity, all of whom rejoice “over every sinner " that repenteth,” and who are “ministring
spirits sent forth to minister unto the heirs of “ salvation;" shall receive our departing souls into their friendly arms, and carry them to Abraham's bosom. And ere long, one of them shall sound the shrill trumpet whose notes shall reach the mansions of the dead, and awaken the sleeping tenants of the grave. He will announce that our redemption, in all its fulness, is arrived; and, accompanied by myriads of his shining companions, will conduct the redeemed into the presence of their Lord, that they may hear their joyous sentence, “Come, ye blessed of my “ Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you “ from the beginning of the world." They will throw open the everlasting gates of the celestial city, that “the King of glory, the Lord of “ hosts, the Lord mighty in battle,” victorious over all His enemies, may enter through it, attended by His grateful and raptured train. Then as the ransomed of the Lord shall return and “ come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy " on their heads; They shall receive joy and " gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee
away”. for ever,
O glorious prospect! O blissful hope! May it inspire our souls with new energies! May i;
be the means of exciting us to offer up our prayer for a copious effusion of Divine influence on our hearts, and to urge with vigour the plea which our collect has suggested for its attainment, “ beseeching God to pour His grace “ into our hearts; that as we have kvown the “ incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ by the “ message of an angel: so by His cross and
passion we may be brought unto the glory of “ His resurrection through the same Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen."