Images de page

-justification and sanctification,-deliverance from punishment and restoration to the divine favour, and deliverance from sin and restoration to the divine image. It is by his death, in the first place, that he made expiation for our offences, satisfied the violated law and the offended justice of God, and opened a way for the offer of a free and a full, an irrevocable and eternal pardon. It is by his death, in the next place, that he opened a channel for the renewing and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit; and hence our sanctification as well as our pardon-our deliverance from the power as well as from the punishment of sin, is to be traced to his sacrifice. Hence we are told in the text, that "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."

My friends, are these things so? Are we indebted to the death of Christ for both the fundamental blessings of the new covenant? Is it in consideration of his death that God is "merciful to our unrighteousness, and remembers our iniquities no more" against us? Is it further in consideration of the death of Christ that God bestows the sanctifying Spirit " to write his laws in our hearts, and his statutes in our inward parts ?" And is the death of Christ the grand instrument, the chief incentive employed by the Spirit to detach us from the love of sin, and to excite us to the admiration and the pursuit of holiness? If so; then the death of Christ is worthy of our daily remembrance. It is highly proper that, as often as we have opportunity, we commemorate it with peculiar solemnity and peculiar affection in the ordinance of the supper; but it would be

most criminal to confine our remembrance of it to such a season. The death of Christ would have been most worthy of our remembrance, even if no institute had been appointed for the express purpose of "showing it forth;" and unless our views of it are such as impel us to think of it frequently at other times, it is impossible that we can properly commemorate it at a sacramental solemnity.

Let me then entreat all of you, and more particularly those who have been recently seated at the Lord's table, to remember his death daily, and to remember it with proper views and sentiments, even with the views and sentiments with which it ought to be commemorated in the sacrament,-with humility and penitence, with faith, and love, and new obedience. Recollect that the death of Christ ought to be remembered by you not only with a feeling of gratitude for the pardon which it has procured for you, but with a view to your ulterior improvement, as a grand motive to holy obedience, as an event, without the habitual contemplation of which, your sanctification cannot be carried forward.

Allow me, then, my brethren, to accommodate an expression elsewhere employed by the apostle Paul, and to say to you, "Always bear about with you, in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in your mortal flesh." Remember the death of the Redeemer every day, and, if possible, every hour of the day. Think of it when you are in the house and by the way, in the crowded city and the sequestered field; when you lie down, and when you rise up. The habitual remembrance of it will be productive of consequences the most salutary and important. It will impel you to patience in affliction; to fortitude and courage amid

temptations and danger; to diligence and perseverance in duty; and it will operate within you both as a principle of holiness, and as a source of comfort and hope. In a word, the dying love of Christ, when rightly remembered, will constrain you-constrain you to what? "To live not to yourselves, but to him who died for you."

2. This subject should teach you to cultivate a sanctified affection for the church.

An intimate friendship generally presupposes a considerable similarity of principles, and tastes, and affections; and it invariably tends to produce and strengthen such a similarity. We imbibe insensibly the opinions and sentiments of those with whom we frequently associate, or to whom we are warmly attached; and we enter almost instinctively into their attachments and antipathies. If, then, my friends, you sincerely love the Lord Jesus, it may be presumed that you will evince a certain congeniality of spirit with him; that "the mind which was in him, will be also in you;" that you will hate what he hates, and love what he loves. Without some measure of that congeniality, you cannot be his disciples at all; and the more you act in accordance with your character and profession, as his disciples, the more will you love those persons and objects which interest his affections. Now, he loved his church with a love "passing knowledge;" and it becomes you, therefore, to cherish a sanctified affection for that holy society. I say a sanctified affection, meaning by the expression a love which extends to all the Saviour's disciples, and which is founded on her connexion with him, and her resemblance to him, in contradistinction to that narrow and illiberal regard which extends only to a part of his followers, and which is founded not so much on her resemblance to

him, as in her agreement with yourselves, in certain minute peculiarities.

It is, indeed, allowable and proper that you love most those christians best known to you, and that congregation with which you are most closely connected; but your love, if restricted to them exclusively, will degenerate into a sectarian and selfish sentiment; and, therefore, it must be extended to all, in every place, and of every persuasion, who revere the Redeemer's authority, and reflect his image. You must cultivate that spirit which will prompt you to say, "Grace be to all them that love the Lord Jesus Christ."

This sanctified, this enlightened and ardent affection to the church of Christ, must be demonstrated by corresponding fruits and actions. And this leads me to remark, that the subject teaches,

3. To be zealous to promote the purity and prosperity of the church. Christ loved the church, and gave himself for her, that he might purify and cleanse her; and it becomes you, in your respective spheres, to aim sincerely at the same important object. Do you ask what you can do to promote the purity of the church? I answer, first, that you may promote it by advancing in personal purity and holiness. The purity of a religious society is proportioned to the purity of the members which compose it. The character of the church must be soiled by the spots of her children; her lustre is increased by their brightness; and consequently, brethren, the purer you are yourselves, the purer will be the society to which you belong. Consider, farther, that if you yourselves are eminent for purity and holiness, your example will have a powerful influence in promoting the purity of others, and in advancing the sanctification of the church; "your light will shine before men; and others, seeing your good

works, will glorify your Father who is in heaven." Your conversation will be honest; and others, by your good works, which they behold, will glorify God in the day of visitation.

I remark, farther, that you may promote the purity of the church, and the improvement of others, not only by the potent, though indirect and silent influence of your example, but by direct efforts in the form of instruction and advice, of reproof and encouragement. "Warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men, Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together."

The text teaches us to advert more particularly to the purity and the sanctification of the church; but it may not be improper to add, that you ought to aim also at the advancement of her general welfare and prosperity. Strive to extend her boundaries, by extending the gospel even to all the inhabited world, and strive to augment her numbers, by prevailing on the ignorant, the thoughtless, and the irreligious, to consider the overtures of salvation, and to join themselves to the Saviour, and to his people, by a perpetual covenant. Let me add, that there is one most effective expedient for promoting the purity and the prosperity of the church; and that one, competent to you all, rich and poor, young and old. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren's and companions sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good."

« PrécédentContinuer »