Sivut kuvina

We purpose, in these Lectures, to call your attention to the striking and satisfactory manner in which the certainty, design, and importance of the Gospel were originally exhibited to mankind. We shall shew you, in our next Lecture, that the Evangelists, St. Luke and St. John, themselves have directed us to such a view of the subject. St. John has also prefaced his narrative with a comprehensive statement respecting the divine and eternal glory of the Word, who "was made flesh, and dwelt among us full of grace and truth;" and the retrospective, present, and prospective, benefits of this incarnation of the Son of God. If, therefore, we devote this introductory discourse to a summary review of those important truths, into the certainty of which we are to inquire, we shall, by such a procedure, still follow the guidance of the Evangelists, and conduct our inquiries upon the plan which they suggest

to us.

The Gospel announces to us an appropriate and adequate provision for our necessities, as sinful and, therefore, as dying, creatures. "For since man was a partaker of flesh and blood, the deliverer of men likewise took part of the same; that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bond

age. And rightly to have meditated upon that guilt and frailty of man, which infuses bitterness into the cup of life, and sharpens the sting of death, will best teach us that humility and gratitude, with which we ought to contemplate "the exceeding riches of God's grace, in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."b

That we are frail and dying creatures is proved by universal and unvarying experience. We are carried down the stream of time; and, like every other bubble that floats upon its surface, we also, in our turn, must disappear. Not only the fleeting portion of time during which we ourselves exist, but even the generation to which we belong, quickly passes away. The tolling bell, and the opened grave, ever and anon remind us of the unwelcome truth. Man, our brother, neighbour, and friend, "goeth to his long home;" "the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God who gave it." And, when we remember the judgment that comes after death, conscience reminds us of our transgressions, and suggests distressing, but not groundless, fears. For, by all that we can discover of the "eternal power and Godhead" of our Creator, by all that we have been taught, or can comprehend, respecting his character, we know that he is "glorious in holi

[ocr errors]

a Heb. ii. 14, 15.

↳ Ephes. ij. 7.

ness," " and the "hater of iniquity;" "abundant in goodness and truth," and yet of inflexible justice; that he searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins,"


and will " 'bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." If we dwell exclusively on the contrast exhibited to us between his perfections and our imperfections, between his glory and our degradation, we could scarcely do otherwise than despair. But in order that humility may be combined with hope, we must consider these truths in connexion, as in Scripture we are taught to do. There all that is weak and frail in man is put in immediate connexion with all that is mighty and glorious in his God. Man's sinfulness and God's mercy are noticed together, both in the general declarations of his readiness to forgive, and also in the more explicit statements respecting the wondrous and consolatory provisions, which, by the incarnation and humiliation of the Son of God, are made for our redemption and salvation. Hence we may indeed learn the salutary lesson of humility and self-abhorrence; but hence also may we be raised from the debasing depths of despair, and taught to lift up the down cast eye, to "behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." We are taught "worthily to lament our sins, and to acknowledge our wretchedness," in order that the remedy provided for both may be

worthily esteemed, and earnestly sought; that so we may obtain of "the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Yes, Christians, as Yes, Christians, as "we have none in heaven but God," so "if on earth we desire none in comparison of him;" then although our "heart and flesh" may and must "fail, God will be the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever." Let the Psalmist, in another place, give us the assurance and the reason of such a hope: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him; and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them." We are taught to take the same extensive and consolatory view by St. Peter: "We are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for For all flesh is grass, and all the glory of


a Collect for Ash-Wednesday.

Psalm ciii. 13-18.

Psalm lxxiii. 25, 26.


man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you." Here the Apostle cites and explains the words, which Isaiah ascribes to the voice crying in the wilderness; when, rapt into Gospel times, he already seemed to hear it uttering the proclamation, 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord; that the glory of the Lord may be revealed, and all flesh may see it together." Here then we are approaching to a full discovery of the wondrous means, by which "God's people are comforted, their warfare is accomplished, and their iniquity pardoned." Turn we then once more for information respecting this interesting matter to the declarations of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. What says St. Paul? "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not

[ocr errors]

a 1 Pet. i. 23-25.

Isai, xl. 1-8. Throughout the remainder of the chapter the prophet gives a magnificent description of the divine attributes, and applies them for the consolation of man.

« EdellinenJatka »