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is any great sin in this. Let us then transfer our thoughts to the fallen angels, and contemplate them as acting in this manner. They have sinned, as we have: and are as incapable of restoring themselves to the Divine favour, as we are: Let us then suppose God to say, 'I will send my only-begotten Son into those regions of misery, to bear their punishment, and to expiate their guilt: and I will send my Holy Spirit into their hearts, to change their natures, to renew them after my image, and to fit them for my presence. Suppose, when God, of his own sovereign grace and mercy had done this, those wicked fiends should arrogate the glory to themselves, and say, God has saved us, because he foresaw what holy dispositions we should exercise, and how richly we should merit his favour;' What should we think of them? Should we not say, that their guilt was augmented ten-fold ; and that the punishment they might expect would be proportionably severe? Where then is the difference between them and us? What have we, more than they, to merit the Divine favour? Or what can we have more than they, except it be given us from above? Know then, that, if God would burn with indignation against them for such pride and ingratitude, so will he against us, if we refuse to give him the glory due to his name. If Herod was made a monument of wrath for accepting from others a tribute due only to his God, much more shall we, if we, reversing what he has spoken, shall presume to say, “Herein is love, not that God loved us, but that we loved him, and earned by our love an interest in his favour.") We conclude with some suitable ADVICE: 1. Contemplate frequently this love of God to you
[The angels are not interested in the wonders of redemption as we are, and yet are ever desiring to look into them." Shall we then be regardless of them? Shall we not search into them; and meditate upon them; and speak of them; and glory in them; and make them “all our salvation, and all our desire ?” Shall we not especially consecrate to the contemplation of them this season which has been set apart by our Church for that express purpose ? O make not this a time for carnal feasting, but for holy meditation, and for delight in God!] 2. Get your hearts filled with love to him
[If our love be not the cause, it nevertheless should be the consequence, of his love to us. Of this, none can entertain a doubt. Who that is in the smallest degree impressed with the Saviour's love to us, does not see the reasonableness of that awful denunciation, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-athat?" Yes, on whomsoever that curse may fall, we must all acknowlege the justice of it; and in the day of judgment, when it shall be yet more awfully denounced on the enemies of Christ, there will not be a saint or angel in the universe who will not add his Amen to it. O let us now muse on his love to us, till the fire of Divine love kindle in our hearts, and we speak with our tongues the high praises of our God!] 3. Seek to abound in love to each other
[This is the improvement which the Apostle suggests in the words following our textu.” In the love of Christ to us is both the reason and the model, for our love to each other. Was his love to us unmerited? we also should freely exercise love even to the evil and unthankful. Did his love lead him to forego the glory and felicity of heaven, and to submit to the accursed death of the cross for us? such should be our love to our fellow-creatures: there should be no measure of labour or self-denial which we should not willingly exercise for the good of others; yea, even to the laying down of our life for them Here then we see the proper duty of this season: search out the poor, the sick, and the afflicted, that you may administer to them the consolations they stand in need of : and especially exert yourselves to see what you can do for the souls of men
This is the work that will most assimilate you to Christ, and will best prove the sincerity of your love to him.] t 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
ver. 11. x 1 John iii. 16.
CHRIST THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD,
1 John iv. 14. We have seen and do testify that the Father
sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. WERE it announced to us, in a time of war, that the enemies of our country were vanquished, that those who had menaced us with utter destruction were all taken captive, and that we might henceforth enjoy an honourable and lasting peace; our first inquiry would be, What ground is there for crediting the report? If we were assured, that several persons, who had been present at the battle and had seen the captive enemies, were sent by the conqueror on purpose to make known to us the glad tidings, we should be filled with transports of joy, and congratulate one another on the glorious event. Such tidings, and thus authenticated, we have to declare unto you; not indeed in reference to an earthly enemy, but in reference to our great adversary, the devil; whom Christ, our Almighty Deliverer, has subdued. The Apostles were sent by their victorious Lord to proclaim the news: and they have come to us, affirming that they were eye-witnesses of the truths which they have been commissioned to declare. They acknowledge, indeed, that “ Satan bruised his heel; but they affirm, that he bruised Satan's head.” Satan so far prevailed as to have him crucified: but by his very death our blessed Lord overcame him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; yes,“ on the cross itself he triumphed openly over that wicked adversary, and spoiled all the principalities and powers of hell;" and in his ascension “ he led captivity itself captive.”
But that we may ascertain more correctly the nature and truth of their testimony, we shall shew, I. What evidence we have of the fact reported in the
textIt would divert us too far from our subject to enter into the question of the credibility of the Apostles ; suffice it to say, that, as they had no possible inducement to deceive us, so they have never, on any occasion, betrayed the smallest wish to deceive us. Their veracity is unimpeached, and may fully be relied on.
But, it may be asked, Were they themselves wellinformed on the points whereof they affirm? We answer, They saw the things which they attest : they did not receive them from the report of others, but were assured of them by ocular demonstration. They saw all which they affirm concerning Christ : they saw, 1. His personal glory
[Others, even his bitterest enemies, beheld him as a man like unto themselves; but some of his Apostles had ocular proofs of his Godhead : they saw him transfigured on Mount Tabor, his face shining brighter than the meridian sun, and his garments all illumined by the radiant effulgence of his Deity; and they heard the Father's voice from heaven attesting him to be his only, his beloved Sona. This vision was vouchsafed to them for their more perfect satisfaction: and they record the circumstance in proof, that what they reported concerning him they knew to be true..] 2. His matchless perfections
[Not they only, but his very enemies, were astonished at his wisdom, and constrained to confess, that “never man spake like him." His power and goodness were alike manifest in the authority which he exercised over diseases, devils, and the very elements. Hence, on different occasions, his Disciples expressed their full conviction that he was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world: “ We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ the Son of the living God.”] 3. His shameful death
[His crucifixion was seen by all: but there were some circumstances connected with his death, which tended very strongly to corroborate the opinion which his Disciples had formed of him. The effusion of blood and water from his wounded side in two distinct streams, particularly impressed them with the idea, that he died to cleanse men, not only from the guilt, but also from the power and pollution, of sina And the prodigies preceding and following his dissolution were such, that the Centurion who attended the crucifixion exclaimed, Truly this was a righteous man, this was the Son of Gode.] 4. His triumphant resurrection
[At the precise moment of his resurrection, none were present except the soldiers who were placed to guard his tomb: but within a few hours he was seen by several of his Disciples : and for the space of forty days he appeared to them on a great variety of occasions?. By these manifestations of himself, the incredulity of the Apostles was overcome: and much stress was laid upon them by the Apostles in confirmation of their word h.]
5. His glorious ascension
a Matt. xvii. 2. Mark ix. 2, 7. b Jobn i. 14. 2 Pet. i. 16-18. c Matt. xvi. 16. John vi. 69. d John xix. 34–37. with 1 John v. 6 e Matt. xxvii. 51. Mark xv. 39. Luke xxiii. 47. f Acts i. 3.
& John xx, 24-28. 1 Cor. xv. 3–8. Acts x. 40, 41.
[Many were permitted to behold this glorious event: and this, together with the descent of the Holy Spirit whom Christ had promised to send down, convinced the Disciples, beyond a possibility of doubt, that Jesus was the Christ. From this time, (the time of the Spirit's descent,) the Apostles began to preach Christ as the Saviour of the world : and they constantly founded their testimony upon the fact of their having been eye-witnesses of everything that they declared'. Indeed, such stress did they lay on this circumstance, that, in choosing a successor to Judas in the apostleship, they took care to have one who was on a par with themselves in this particular*: and, in speaking of Christ, they dwell on this circumstance with most triumphant satisfaction? It was for the purpose of qualifying Saul to bear the same convincing testimony, that the Lord Jesus appeared personally to him in the way to Damascusm: and, when his ministry was undervalued on account of his supposed inferiority in these respects, he triumphantly appealed to his opposers, “ Am I not an Apostle ? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord" ?"
If then such a number of faithful witnesses, all concurring in the same testimony, and all qualified to give their testimony from a personal inspection of the things attested, can establish any truth whatever, we must confess that the fact asserted in the text is established beyond the possibility of doubt, and that “God the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world."]
The fact being proved, we proceed to shew, II. For what end we bear our testimony respecting
itTo set forth Christ as the Saviour of the world was the one labour of all the Apostles. The same also is our blessed employment; and we make that our constant theme, or, at least, the sum and substance of our discourses;
1. That you may have just views of the Father's love
[We behold the goodness of our God in every thing around us: but not all the creation can exhibit it in so bright a view as the cross of Christ : there, even in the face of a crucified Jesus, shines all the glory of our God. Love, in particular, is there portrayed in its most endearing colours. The gift of God's only dear Son to die for man, was the
i Acts ii. 32, 33, 36. in Acts xxvi. 16.
k Acts i. 21, 22,
11 John i. 1-3.