Page images

deserves, and I am persuaded would 'amply repay, the deepest and most attentive consideration; but I shall only further notice two striking passages which may tend to illustrate it. Consider the sublimity of that blessed invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Who but Christ, ever called on men to imitate his lowliness? There is a simple unaffected greatness in this command, to which I am persuaded no parallel can be found in history or fiction. Christ was so humble, that he could exalt his humility into a standard, without rendering it ques. tionable. Just after the Last Supper, when Jesus had immediately and fully present to his mind the sufferings he was about to endure, the foresight of which soon afterwards dreadfully affected him, he girded himself with a towel, and washed in succession the feet of all his disciples. This apparently trifling act, trifling at least in comparison of what he had done and was about to do, Christ performed in a moment which seemed to call on him to awaken all his energies for the approaching conflict; when a deep reserve and severe self-collection, would, in any other man, have appeared more suitable to the occasion. Great men have sometimes assumed an air of carelessness on the near approach of peril, when it was necessary to their safety: many have evinced composure in their sufferings, while sustained by the admiration of the multitudes who witnessed them; some have even risen so high as to approach with a dignified fortitude to tortures for the endurance of which no compensation could be found in applause: but never was it before heard, that a man, affected with the deepest sense of the sufferings about to overtake him-sufferings known only to himself-should not only possess sufficient recollection to 'perform every office of benevolence to those around him, but even stoop to the humblest act of condescension, in an hour which seemed to demand assistance from the loftiest and sternest principles of his nature.

Christians should observe and frequently consider, the perfect consistency visible in every part of their Redeemer's life and conversation. It is the want of this moral symmetry, which robs religion of its glory, and those who em brace it of their privileges and peace. Nor only this. Of all self-deceptions, that is far the most alarming which respects our everlasting interests; and the truth is, whatever flattery we may permit or practise, that no man is safe, who either overlooks in himself, when he might know, or knowingly perseveres in any temper or practice whatsoever contrary to the precepts or example of Jesus Christ. All, therefore, must watch; those particularly who are high in knowledge or reputation; for, as are their advantages, so are their temptations. It is in religion as in the field; the post of glory is the post of danger; and danger, if it fail to awaken us to superior diligence and watchfulness, will overwhelm us while we slumber. How thankful then, should we be for advice; how eager to accept it, even from our enemies; how habitually diffident of ourselves! There is a peculiarity too in Christianity, which makes a thorough consistency absolutely indispensable. The doctrines it inculcates, and the temper and duties it enjoins, are of such a nature, that a partial acceptance of either certainly cannot be considered as so much clear gain, and may be very little better than an entire rejection of both. In some particulars this is plain, as in

the abuse of the doctrines of grace; but it is true also, though less obvious, in the circle of the moral duties. Thus zeal, neither enlightened by knowledge, nor chastised by humility, is only energetio bigotry, Devotion, without purity, is profaneness; and, allied to any presumptuous sin, it is enthusiasm and hypocrisy. Even humility itself, lovely as it is, if separated from the sustaining and moving principles of Christianity, particularly from trust in God and devotedness to his service, would so abase and neutralize the character, that it may be doubted whether alone it would be worth retaining, What self-denial is in its solitary effect, the history of the monastic orders awfully instructs us. We have seen the same principle, which, cherished by the genial warmth of love, starts forth to life and beauty, supporting, strengthening, and adorning every sister grace; unnaturally prolific of whatever is base and cruel, of

“All monstrous, all prodigious things,
“ Abominable, unutterable."

This paper has become long, but the subject is very ample; and surely the motives to an intimate acquaintance with the character of Christ, are, above all expression, powerful and affecting. He is our Lord God, the Captain of our salvation. By him we have redemption in him we have strength-with him we hope to reign for ever in glory. Yet a few years, and they who are found worthy.. shall be translated into the kingdom of the Lamb, who shall “lead them to fountains of living waters, and wipe away all tears from their eyes.” And shall we not labour. then, while on earth, to be conformed to his image, that we may be made meet for the promised inheritance; to be

holy and heavenly, that we may even now walk in his light, and taste his mercy, and feel his truth? This is the path in which he would lead us, the path of peace and joy. If we follow him here, he will own us hereafter; if he be our example upon earth, he will be in heaven our everlasting and exceeding great reward,




so The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."

Jesus Christ, after he had exhibited in his life a pattern of perfect holiness, closed the scene by offering himself up on the cross as an atonement for sin.

This is the great and capital truth opened to us in the Gospel history. The circumstances of our Saviour's life are only a prelude to it; his resurrection attested it; and the whole body of doctrines and precepts delivered by the apostles flows directly from it. Now it is obvious that the sufferings and death of Christ might have wrought the same effects in the divine dispensations, though, a knowledge of that event had never been communicated to man. God might have been just, and the justifier of sinners, without exhibiting to his creatures the method by which the perfection and moral harmony of his character are secured.

Yet though the mercy of our heavenly Father is in its nature quite distinct from, and wholly independent of, the acquaintance we may happen to have with the method ordained for providing it, we find that the writers of the New Testament uniformly represent the promulgation

« PreviousContinue »