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verse could not solve. This is the book of which St. John speaks in his revelation, the book sealed with seven seals; I wept much, saith St. John, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book ; but worthy is the Lamb to take the book, and to open the seals, chap. v. 4, 9.
From the depth of divine mercy proceeds a plan for the solution of all these difficulties. The Son of God clothes himself with mortal flesh. He saith, from his infancy, In sacrifices for sin thou hast no pleasure ! Heb. x. 6. No, neither burnt-offerings nor thousands of rams ; neither altars overflowing with blood, nor ten thousands of rivers of oil; neither the first-born for the transgression, nor all the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul, Micah vi. 6, 7. no, none of these is an offering worthy of being presented to thy justice: Lo, I come to do thy will, O God, Heb. x. 7. Lo, I come to do that will, which requires the punishment of sin and the salvation of the sinner. Lo, I come to be led, as a lamb to the slaughter, and to be dumb as a sheep before her shearers. Lo, I am coming to suffer the very men, for whose salvation I come, to treat me as a malefactor; yea, moreover, I am coming to suffer the hidings of that adorable face, which hath always hitherto afforded me a fulness of joy, Psal. xvi. 11. I am coming to suffer a suspension of that love, which is all my delight, and to cry under excessive sorrows, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ! Matt. xxvii. 46. We must necessarily sink under the weight of this subject, my brethren, and we must be content to see only parts of the ways of love. We must determine only to take a slight survey of the breadth and length, and depth, and height of the love of God, Eph. iii. 18. we must own that it passeth knowledge, and that these are things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, 2 Cor. ii. 9. We must confess that if we were not able to give this general answer to the objections, that are made against the mysteries of religion, that is, that the attributes of God are infinite, and that it doth not belong to such finite minds as ours to limit the infinite God, we should be overwhelmed with the difficulties, to which the marvels of redemption are exposed. Let us rejoice in the prospect of that happy period in which our faculties will be expanded, and in which we shall make a more rapid progress in the study of the love of God. In the present period of infirmities let us be content with the solution in our text; My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
2. But, in what manner have these miserable sinners (and this will explain the second mystery of love, which reason could never have discovered) in what manner have these miserable sinners, whom the justice of God condemns to eternal torments, received the declaration of their pardon With what eyes have they considered the miracle of an incarnate God? How have they regarded that altar, on which such a noble victim was sacrificed for their salvation ? Have their eyes been fountains of tears to lament the crimes, which brought down such a deluge of punishments upon the head of the Redeemer of mankind ? Have they received the Redeemer with such tenderness and gratitude as the wonders of his love required ? No: The unbelieving synagogue, the Jews, or, to pass the Jews, Christians, we, my brethren, who profess to believe the mystery of the cross; we, who every day say, We believe in Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary, who was crucified, dead, and buried, we can hear of these great mysteries with indifference; we can persist in the very sins, that brought our Redeemer to the cross : we can refuse to give up a few inches of earth, a small sum of money, the playing of an idle game, or the gratifying of an absurd passion, to him who sacrificed for us his person and his life; we can do despite unto the Spirit of grace, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, Heb. x. 29. God is witness of all these things; God holds the thunders in his mighty hands; wars and plagues, and famines and earthquakes, wait only for the first signal of his will to avenge those numerous indignities; yet God, who beholds those indignities, bears with them. This man, saith the love of God, is preci. pitated by the heat and vigor of youth, perhaps he may reflect when he arrives at the tranquillity of mature age; he shall be spared then till he arrives at maturity; or, perhaps he may recollect himself in the coolness of old age, he shall be spared then till the grave coolness of old age comes. That man hath been a rebel in his health, perhaps he may submit when he is sick, he shall be spared till sickness comes; and he shall be sought, exhorted, conjured; I will say to him, O that thout hadst hearkened unto me! Psal. lxxxi. 13. Be thou instructed, least my soul depart from thee! Jer. vi. 8. O thou who killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thee even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not ! Mat. xxiii. 37. And it is the great God, who speaks in this manner to his ungrateful creature, who is insensible to such tender language!
3. The third mystery of love, which the wisest philosophers could never have discovered, is the union that God forms with man in religion. What tender relation canst thou imagine, which God hath not determined to form with thee in religion ? Art thou sensible to the vigilance of a shepherd ? The Lord is thy shepherd, thou shalt not want, Psal. xxiii. 1. Art thou sensible to the confidence of a friend? I call thee not a servant, but a friend ! John xv. 15. Art thou sensible to the tenderness of a parent? Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon thee, that thou shouldest be called a son of God! 1 John iïi. 1. I should alledge many other images of the love of God to believers, if I could flatter myself, that the imaginations of my hearers would be as pure as those of the sacred authors who have described them.
Art thou disgusted with human connections ? Are thine ideas of friendship so refined that they render thee superior to human unions, and make thee wish for a friendship formed on a nobler plan? God hath determined that thou shalt be united to him as Jesus Christ and he are united, John xvii. 20, 2). an union at present inconceivable, but which we shall happily experience in the enlarged sphere of an immortal life. Let us acknowledge then that all the penetration of the wisest philosophers could never have discovered the extent of the love of God in the dispensation of the gospel. My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Secondly, We address the next to the gloomy mind of a melancholy person, who having failed in the courage necessary to resist temptations, fails
20), 21. an obrist and he hou shalt be
again in that which is necessary to bear the thought of having fallen into them. But, before we oppose or describe this weakness, let us grant, there is something in it which deserves respect. The greatest part of those, who treat it as an extravagance, seem to me far more extravagant than those who fall into it. · Yes, the utmost excess of grief, that can be occasioned by the remembrance of sin, seems to me incomparably less blameable than the excessive tranquillity of some other people's minds. Who (think ye?) is most extravagant, he who is too much affected with the enormity of his sins, or he who is not affected enough? Is it he who, notwithstanding his sorrows and regrets, dare not venture to believe himself an object of divine compassion ; or he who, having no contrition, nor shedding any tears of repentance, presumes on that compassion ? Is it he whom the bare probability of being punished for his sins, of being eternally confined in chains of darkness, of being an eternal prey to the worm that never dieth, 2 Pet. ii. 4. and of becoming fuel for that fire which shall never be quenched, Mark ix. 44, 45. depriveth of his rest, of a relish for the sweets of society, and of all inclination to enjoy the most insinuating pleasures; or, is it he who, in spite of so many reasons to fear his dangerous state, eats, drinks, diverts himself, runs from company to company, from circle to circle, and employs the moments, that are given him to avoid his miseries, in inventing the most effectual means of forgetting them? I repeat it again, a melancholy occasion by the remembrance of sin, hath something respectable in it, and the greatest part of those, who treat it altogether as an absurdity, are more absurd than those who fall into it.
I intend, however, in this part of my discourse, to oppose this melancholy gloom. And thanks be