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"unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, "draw him,"* is so far from being inconsistent with his preceding promise, "Him that cometh "unto me I will in no wise cast out," that the accomplisment of the promise is it necessary conse quence.
Nor let any unhumbled, impenitent transgressor arrogate to himself the privileges of the flock. Let him remember, that renovation and sanctification of nature form an essential branch of the evidences of their safety; and that, where this is wanting, the rest will not apply. Let this too combine with gratitude and love, to excite the members of the flock to fidelity and obedience, "giving diligence "to make your calling and election sure; for if ye "do these things, ye shall never fail."
And now, to the care and conduct of the great Shepherd, we commend you. May he lead you in the path of righteousness, for his own name's sake; and so cause an entrance to be ministered to you abundantly, into his everlasting kingdom. AMEN! ↑ Ibid. 37. † 2 Peter i. 10.
*John vi. 44.
CHRIST, THOUGH UNSEEN, AN OBJECT OF LOVE
1 PETER 1. 8.-Whom having not seen, ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
THE occasion, on which we are now assembled, is of no trivial nature. We are met to commemorate the sufferings and the kindness of God our Saviour; to provoke mutually to the love of him; and to be helpers of one another's rejoicing in him. And such are the objects which we propose in this discourse.
But how, may some say, can we love a person whom we have never seen? And how, may others ask, should we rejoice, and not rather be filled with sorrow, since our Lord, our Help, our Guide, is gone away?
The Lord Jesus, as to his bodily presence, is indeed" ascended up, far above all heavens." That voice is now unheard on earth, which breathed into the minds of those who knew it, heavenly composure; and by the eye of sense, that countenance is no longer beheld, in which shone divine compassion, love without end, and grace without measure. Yet though you have not seen, it is nothing impossible or unreasonable that you should love
him; and if you believe in him, though now you see him not, you may and must rejoice, with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.This will appear from the illustration of the two following positions: I. A being, though unseen, may be the object of our affections.
II. Christ Jesus is a proper object of love, and a just cause of joy.
I. A being, though unseen, may be the object of our affection.
As in this embodied state we are so much conversant with material objects, and as through them, we derive so many, if not the whole of our ideas, we are apt hastily to conclude that mere matter, by certain modifications, is capable of exciting corresponding feelings in our minds. Admiration, pleasure, and desire, are awakened in our souls, while we listen to melodious sounds, while we contemplate a well regulated machine, a stately fabric, or a beautiful human form. By long absence from them, our emotions, however strong at first, gradually decline; and, perhaps, in the end, totally vanish. A superficial observer may therefore be forgiven, though he should assert that it is contrary to our nature to cherish love, desire, hatred, or any other affection, towards an object which we have never seen. But a professing believer in revelation is inexcusable, if he maintain that love to the Saviour, because never actually beheld, is not allowed by reason, but is merely the work of a heated and creative fancy. For,
1. Let us consult the real sentiments of our nature, as felt and expressed by all mankind,
What are the epithets usually employed to des
cribe the qualities of those objects, which, when seen, excite certain emotions in our minds? They are such as shew that these emotions are not produced by the mere material object; that they might have been raised by the knowledge of it from description; and may remain, long after it has been removed from our view. Of a machine which we admire, we say that it is ingenious, useful, simple, and well adapted to the end proposed. To a countenance which we love, we apply the terms dignified, gentle, sensible, or other epithets expressive of intelligence and mental disposition.-And so, of the objects which we disapprove and dislike.
Now the inference from this plainly is, that ac cording to the common feelings and judgment of mankind, our affections are excited, not by mere material forms, but by mental qualities. It is not on the machine itself that our admiration rests, but on the knowledge and talents of the constructor. Of an amiable countenance it is not the mere matter that awakens affection or esteem, but the moral properties of which it is expressive. The outward form we consider as but the sign or expression of certain attributes of mind; and in itself it is the cause, or object, of no affection whatever. We regard it but as the mean by which embodied spirits acquire the knowledge of the qualities of others, and have communication with them.-If the qualities of mind, then, and not the signs of them, interest our affections; what imports it what the signs be, if they be understood? What imports it whether we read in a fellow creature's countenance, observe in his living actions, or gather from personal conversation with him, his moral and intellectual eha
racter; or receive our knowledge of it, from a well. attested account by others? The only difference is, that the knowledge derived from word or writing is apt to be less full, less minute and exact, than that which results from actual inspection. In an account by word or writing, many things must be omitted, and many exhibited in a very general manner and thus the knowledge, which it conveys, must be less perfect; and the impressions, which it makes, less affecting. Yet so far as it does convey knowledge, it cannot, if we believe it, fail to affect us; to excite sentiments corresponding the nature of the character which it delineates to the nature and importance of the subjects which it records.
Though, therefore, we have not seen Christ in the flesh, heard his divine instructions, traced in his every word, his every deed, his every look and feature, the celestial virtues which informed his mind; though we have not literally "beheld his
glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the "Father, full of grace and truth;", we may yet know him, believe in, and love him; and hence rejoice with joy unspeakable. Our means of knowledge are great. The chief events, actions, and sufferings of his life, with every thing important in what he taught for our practice or our comfort, are recorded, not by one only, but by several of those who were themselves witnesses of the facts. which they recite., Hence the same things are exhibited to us in a variety of views; and omissions in one narrative are supplied by another. So that this fact stands proved beyond denial, and is great beyond example, that, of all the characters of past