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what the Bible tells us and no more. Education, however skilfully conducted, the intellect, however furnished, can give us no help. We are to beware, then, of insulting the wisdom of God by adding to, or taking from, or concealing the complete scheme of mercy which he has revealed ; and which alone he will bless to the awakening and saving of souls when his authority is acknowledged and avowed, and human wisdom keeps herself in her important, but subordinate province.
Let this, then, be the one practical conclusion of our subject, that the revelation of mercy must be welcomed and propagated, not only in the truth of its facts, and the dependance on each other of its mysteries and doctrines, and precepts of life, but in the spirit and temper which it is designed to cherish, and to which it is addressed. The gospel is for “the humble ;" for those that mourn;" for the meek and the “lowly in heart.” Except a man receive the kingdom of God as a little child he shall not enter therein." Self-conceit, self-righteousness, self-dependance, selfglorying oppose the whole “ mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh;" whether under the garb of philosophical or pharisaical tradition. Humility, self-abasement, docility, a spirit of prayer for divine instruction, self-distrust, contrition of heart receive the complete plan of divine mercy with silent gratitude, admiration, obedience. The lower we sink, the higher we rise. The more empty and void we feel in ourselves, the more room, so to speak, will there be for “ the fulness of Christ.” The greater fear we have of tampering with God's scheme, the richer consolations will it pour into our hearts. Even archangels veil their faces before the throne of of the Supreme. The assembly of the glorified in heaven, continually cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.” And man is then in the safest position, the position best becoming him, the position where the gospel designs to place him, when he receives with the greatest simplicity the complete scheme of the mystery of Christ, and applies every part of it, in the diligent use of the correspondent means, and with the largest measure of holy fear, to the ends for which it was revealed.
1 THESSALONIANS [v. 13, 14.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
If men knew the real happiness which Christianity communicates, they would esteem it more highly than they do. Were there nothing else in it to demonstrate its tendency to promote the highest interest of man, this would suffice, that it relieves him under one thought which he cannot endure, cannot fathom, cannot shun-which he endeavors to throw off from him, but in vain—which haunts him everywhere and darkens his brightest prospects—and which is the more importunate in proportion to his powers of abstraction and reflection, and his attention to the voice of conscience--THE THOUGHT OF DEATH. What associations doth the very word awaken, both of terror and surprise! What an antipathy do we feel to dissolution! What a gloom hangs over the unknown world! What changes, what separations, what abruptions doth it threaten! And then its
approaches are by such insensible or unnoticed steps ; and there is such uncertainty, utter uncertainty, as to the time of its last assault! The consequences also of it-eternal judgment; the all-seeing eye; the scrutiny of the whole past life ; the detection and exposure of all our most secret motives and actions before an assembled world ; a never-ending state of happiness or misery! It is this THOUGHT which makes man a child of sorrow, and from which Christianity, and Christianity only can relieve him. She has abo. lished death” and “brought life and immortality to light.” She points to the resurrection of Christ and his triumph over the grave, as the means of securing
She vanquishes the king of terrors, and delivers them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
This, then, is our high theme on the present occasion, The thought of death relieved by the resurrection of Christ. And in considering it, let us view the child of sorrow, first, receiving by faith the truth of the fact of her Lord's resurrection ; next, contemplating the prospects opened by it; and, lastly, reposing in the consolation derived from both.
I. The child of sorrow receives by faith the truth of the fact of her Lord's resurrection : “ If we believe that Jesus died and rose again.”
1. These are the primary facts of the gospel, that “ Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures ; and that he was buried; and that he rose again the third day according to the Scripture.” This is the foundation of faith.
The wonderful and mysterious death of Christ on the ignominious cross, as a sacrifice for sin, that God "might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus,” is the first centre truth of revelation.
His resurrection, also, is the great miraculous fact, around which all the other miracles and facts and doctrines of Christianity take their stand. The faith of the Thessalonian converts, to whom the words of the text were addressed, was fixed on this foundation. They believed that Jesus “died for their sins and rose again for their justification.” “They had turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come.” They were taught to argue with the apostle, “ Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
2. These mighty facts they received, not with a dead, historical, idle assent, which produced no fruits of holiness, and testified no divine change in their own hearts, but with a living, holy, efficacious faith, proceeding from a penitent heart, and implanted there by the Holy Ghost.
They thus obtained pardon of sin, relief from a disturbed conscience, and peace and reconciliation with God. “Much affliction,” indeed, attended their reception of the gospel, on the part of their persecuting Heathen and Jewish neighbors ; and it was probably on occasion of the deaths of many amongst them by martyrdom, that St. Paul addressed to them the consoling exhortation of the text; but “joy in the Holy Ghost” counterbalanced the sorroᎳ ; ;
and “ from them sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place their faith to Godward was spread abroad.”
So sincere and spiritual was their faith in these facts, that they were thereby united and incorporated into the mystical body of Christ. The expression of the text, "sleeping in Jesus,” implies that they were spiritually united to him as the head of his body, the Church ; inserted in him; made