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INTRODUCTORY LECTURE I.
HUMAN FRAILTY AND MORTALITY
THE SPECIAL OBJECTS OF GOD'S PROMISED MERCY.
SUITABLE PROVISIONS OF THE GOSPEL,
MORE ESPECIALLY AS THEY ARE NOTICED in the opening
STATEMENTS OF THE EVANGELIST ST. JOHN,
St. JOHN I. 12-14.
As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
HE, who "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things, hath made from one progenitor, and of one blood, all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth; and will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Yet, although all men have sprung from the same original, partake of one common nature, and are indifferently the objects of their Creator's regard, they are variously distinguished from each other. The diversities of form and countenance, station and condition, ability and pursuits, are as numerous as the individuals of
whom the race is composed. These, however, are distinctions of time only, and of this world; "at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment," they will have ceased for ever. But distinctions co-exist with these, which in some respects are already manifested; which will hereafter be more fully developed, and more completely fixed; which time cannot efface, and death cannot destroy; which will determine our destiny at the last decisive day, and continue with us through eternity. These important distinctions are such as respect our inner man; our moral and religious character; the state of our affections, and soul, and spirit, with reference to God, and his favour, and the things unseen.
To those "who believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God," belong privileges and expectations, than which none more ennobling and animating can be enjoyed by man. They derive them from the mercy, and receive them through the power of God; and the bliss and dignity which are hereby communicated to them in this world, are but a foretaste and pledge of more perfect blessedness in another. The same beloved Apostle who, in the words of our text, mentions these privileges, and also the wondrous method in which they were procured and revealed, in another part of his writings exclaims; "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed
upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God." "Beloved," he adds, "now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." It is, however, already revealed, that " redemption through the blood of Christ has procured for us the forgiveness of sins." We know that we were thus "redeemed, that we might receive the adoption of sons ;" and the adoption will one day be perfected, by "the redemption of our body" from the power of the grave. And therefore "the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God; when it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into that glorious liberty" of which the children of God will partake, by being "the children of the resurrection." b
"The hope thus set before us" is one to which we may "flee for refuge" amidst all the fears, and adversities, and uncertainties of Jife. And if we are convinced that " grace and truth" have indeed "come by Jesus Christ;" and that he, as "the only begotten Son of God, the Word incarnate, hath declared to us the Father;" then "though now we see him not, yet believing, we may rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
1 John iii. 1, 2.
Eph. i. 7. Gal. iv. 5. Rom. viii. 15-23. Luke xx. 35, 36.