Images de page
PDF
ePub

spire them with humility. He is but a novice in the school of Christianity, who is puffed up by any priv. ileges which he has attained. Greater degrees of grace, and higher attainments in virtue, banish all felf-conceit and fpiritual pride. This holds in other matters as well as in religion. The pretender always outdoes the real character. The actor always exceeds nature, and goes beyond the life. In friendfhip, those who have least of the reality, have generally most of the appearance and pretence. Men of the greatest talents and abilities appear in converfation but like other men; whilft fools and coxcombs affume thofe airs of fuperiority, and that tone of folemn pedantry, which amazes the ignorant. This holds even in infidelity itself. Those wretches, who fet their mouths against the heavens, and profefs open impiety, are generally hypocrites in wickedness, who believe and tremble when alone, and are in the horrors whenever they are left in the dark.

Beware therefore of a form of religion without the power thereof. The voice of true piety is not heard in the streets. She founds no trumpet before her, affects no appearances, and lays claim to no diftinctions. Those perfons are always to be fufpected who covet the public eye; who make a fhow of their fanctity, and who endeavour to dazzle the world with the pomp and the parade of godlinefs. Let men difcover your piety and virtue; do not you difcover them yourfelves. There is all the difference in the world betwixt being exemplary and being of tentatious. When the angels defcended of old, they were in form and appearance like men; but when the devil appeared, he transformed himself into an angel of light.

CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT

OF THE

LORD'S SUPPER.

[The English edition contains the prayers, hymns, and other ceremonies practiced in the prefbyterian churches of Scotland; but as these are of a local nature, and as their insertion would fwell the volume beyond the proposed fize, it was thought expedient to omit all but the sermons.]

MORNING OR ACTION-SERMON.

LUKE Xxii. 44.

And being in an agony.

THE agony of our Lord in the gar

den, and his complaints upon the cross, are the most extraordinary parts of his life. A dread of those fufferings which he was to undergo, appears to have made a strong impreffion upon his mind. Forebodings of them frequently disturbed his repofe, and overwhelmed his fpirits. Many days before his pasfion, he cried out, "Now am I troubled, and what "fhall I fay? Father fave me from this hour." It was probably with a view to console his mind in such a dejected state, that he was transfigured; that he re-affumed the glory which he had with the Father

before the foundation of the world, and was favoured
with the presence of Mofes and Elias from the man-
fions of immortality; for, as we are informed by the
Evangelift, they talked of that decease which he was
to accomplish at Jerufalem. Magnanimity in all its
exertions was a confpicuous part of his character.
He who walked upon the water, who flept in tran-
quillity amid the storm, and who encountered the foe
of mankind in the defert, cannot be accused of a de-
fect in courage. When a band of foldiers, with
Judas at their head, came to apprehend him, and in-
quired for Jefus of Nazareth, he faid unto them,
"I am he," and by the dignity of his demeanour,
ftruck them with awe. When he was accufed by the
chief priests and elders before the judgment-feat of
Pilate, with that majeftic filence which is fometimes
the best expreffion of fortitude, he answered not a
word. Nay, when he underwent the feverest of his
bodily fufferings upon the crofs, he endured them.
with a tranquillity, a firmnefs, and magnanimity,
which display a mind truly great and undaunted.
How, therefore, on some other occasions, his spirit
was overwhelmed, is a fubject worthy of our inquiry
at all times. More particularly
More particularly on this day, when
we have affembled together to renew the memorial
of his death upon the cross, and to recall the remem-
brance of all his fufferings.

In further difcourfing upon this fubject, I shall, in the first place, set before you the account which is given of his fufferings; and, fecondly, endeavour to affign the causes of them.

In the first place, I am to fet before you the account which is given of his fufferings.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

That night in which he was betrayed, the Saviour of the world went into the garden of Gethsemane and afcended the mountain of Olives, as he was wont to do. This had been his accustomed retreat from the world; here was the hallowed ground to which he retired for prayer and contemplation; here he had often spent the night in intercourfe with Heaven. He was accompanied by Peter, James, and John, the very fame disciples who had been the witneffes of his glorious transfiguration, when Mofes and Elias had appeared to him, and a voice had come from the overshadowing cloud, "This is my beloved Son, in "whom I am well pleafed." What a different scene now prefented itself! the rays of glory fhone no more; the Divine prefence was withdrawn ; the voice from heaven ceased; that time was now come, which is fo emphatically called the hour and power of darkness.

He had lately partaken of the paffover with his difciples; that paffover which, with fo much earnestness, he had defired to eat; he had inftituted the holy facrament of the fupper; he had delivered thofe divine difcourfes recorded in the Gospel of John; he had warned them against deferting him in the hour of temptation; he had felected three of them to attend him in his forrows: nevertheless, even these three, thus favoured, thus honored, thus warned, forgat all that had been faid and done, and unconcerned funk into fleep. He was left alone to endure the bitterness of that hour.

The severity of his fufferings in the garden, the anguish and the horror which then overwhelmed him, appear from the ftrong colours in which they are

Mм m

drawn by the facred writers. They speak of his forrow: "My foul is exceeding forrowful, even unto "death." They speak of his agony, that is, the most inexpreffible torment of mind: "And being in an "agony." They fpeak of his fears: "He was heard "in that he feared." They fpeak of his cries and his tears: "He offered up prayers and fupplications "with ftrong crying and tears." They fpeak of the prodigious effects his agony had upon his body: "His "fweat was as it were great drops of blood." They speak of the defire he had to withdraw from his fufferings for a time: "Father, if it be poffible, let this cup pass from me.”

They who are acquainted with the style of the Holy Evangelifts, know how remarkable they are for fimplicity of narrative. They make use of no oratorial arts to intereft the paffions of their readers, they affect no threatenings or embellishments of eloquence, but place the plain action before our view, devoid of all ornament whatever. Hiftorians contemporary to the events which they record, and who beheld the actions which they defcribe, ufually give free vent to their paffions in relating the occurrences of their history, and enter with the zeal of parties upon the various fubjects which engage their attention. The facred writers, on the other hand, lay afide every thing that looks like paffion or party zeal; they relate events not like men who were interested in the facts which they defcribe; not like men who had acted a part in the history they write; not even with the ordinary emotion of fpectators, but with all the fimplicity, and concifenefs, and brevity, of an evidence in a court of juftice. The torments which

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »