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majesty he holds, before the glory of which the bright seraphim veil their faces with their wings, and all the high principalities of heaven render lowly adoration ;-does it not furnish to mortals a reason why the spirit should be committed to Him?
Remember the all-sufficiency of his atonement. Why did this mighty Being become incarnate, and assume the flesh and blood of the seed of Abraham, but that he might offer a sacrifice for sin, and so provide for the free and perfect forgiveness of all who would trust in his mercy? Yea, when the murderers with wicked hands nailed him to the accursed tree, they only fulfilled the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and unwittingly acted as priests slaying the victim whose blood of atonement was designed for the redemption of the world. In the scene of crucifixion, the presence of the Deity gave infinite worth to the sufferings of the man; and thus “ the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin ;” and thus, in “ the fountain” then“ opened for sin and uncleanness,” there is a virtue which can extend to the very extremity of human guilt and wretchedness, and give to the most worthless and hell-deserving, a title to the enjoyments of heaven. Is not this a reason why the spirit should be committed to Him?
Remember the constancy of his intercession. After having offered the atonement of Calvary,
our Mediator rose to the right hand of the Father-that exalted station where Stephen beheld him when he “saw the heavens opened”— that he might “ make intercession for the transgressors.
The freedom of believers from condemnation, is ascribed by the apostle Paul to the appearance of Christ in this office before the throne ;-" 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.” Again, “ he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."'* Let the propitiation of Christ be viewed in connexion with his intercessory work ; let that work be remembered as perpetual-continued through all generations of time, and prevalent—necessarily accepted by the Father, and securing the salvation of all for whom it is offered ; and say, is not this a reason why the spirit should be committed to Him?
Remember his readiness to receive all who would intrust their interests to his care. his memorable language, “ him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out;"+ and the words he spoke in the days of his humiliation, are still uttered from the seat of his glory. No sinner approaching him by faith, will ever be denied; no soul offering itself to him, will ever be rejected or lost. “ Whosoever will, let him
* Rom. viii. 34. Heb. vii. 25. + John vi, 37.
come.” Allow the encouragement to operate in its full charm upon your hearts. Think not that you are too mean, or that you are too guilty: come to him-he will receive you in youth, and during the morning of opportunity: come to him-he will receive you in age, and amidst the deepening gloom of the eleventh hour: come to him-he will receive you in life and in death, for time and for eternity! Every perfection of his being is pledged;—0, is not here abundant reason why the spirit should be committed to Him?
- These considerations are all deducible from the circumstances connected with the text, and give infinite value to the contents of the Christian faith. Earnestly do we desire that you may feel their power. These were what inspired the dying saint who first sealed his religion with his blood, with the triumph in which he gave up the ghost; and these, if estimated aright by you, will enable you to “ rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” In the hour of your departure, indeed, no visions of light will open before you, to unveil the splendour of eternity ere you enter it; but the word of promise cannot be belied; then, your Saviour will be with
and your souls being in the care of Him who died on the cross, and lives in heaven, all must be well,--for none can “ pluck you out of his hand.” Peace will shed her balmy sweetness amidst the agonies of the mortal struggle; and when that struggle is past, while the flesh will “rest in hope,” the redeemed spirit will soar to its prepared inheritance in heaven, and join the praises of the Lamb that was slain, where change, and sin, and sorrow, and death will be no more. “ Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord !”
On the review of all the circumstances connected with the death of Stephen, as we have endeavoured to illustrate them, you are asked, whether the whole example is not animating and admirable indeed, and whether it does not urgently plead for imitation ?--Persons who profess that they have already trusted the merits of the Redeemer, have hence, we again observe, an imperious call addressed to them, closely to follow the firmness and courage, in the cause of Christ, which this believer finely exemplified. Let these be your attributes in all your intercourse with society, and all your relations to mankind. In the times in which we live, the church needs them much. They are wanted to prevent the honour of religion from being compromised with the insinuating temptations of the world ; they are wanted to repel the effronteries of infidelity that pour forth in the ebullitions of ribaldry or rage; they are wanted to carry forward the designs of evangelic mercy, and to promote the wider empire and ultimate triumph of the Son of God. Will you not strive to answer the demand? Go and study the character of the Christian heroes who
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lived in ages past; peruse the records of their high achievements, and gaze on the monuments of their sublime renown: and if you too would be useful, eminent, and noble, be it your aspiration that their spirit may be transfused into your bosoms, and that their immortal virtues may be recognized in your lives. ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.” Dishonour not by practical cowardice, the fair fame of the worthies whose “goodly fellowship" you claim ; nor hazard by guilty compliances, the ultimate rejection of the Master you say you
If you be not decided and courageous for Him, you are branded with a false-heartedness he will spurn with indignation from his presence ; for his own lips have announced“Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."
Let all within this sanctuary finally reflect, that if in life and in death they continue in a state of separation from the Lord Jesus, having no part in his mediatorial work, they cannot be partakers of ultimate acceptance and happiness. If the soul be not committed to him, the soul must be lost. 0, who can endure to think without horror, of an immortal spirit having no friend in its final change, entering without a guardian the regions of retribution, appearing alone and speechless
* Luke ix. 26.