« PoprzedniaDalej »
strong language of the apostle, " constraineth him” to labour for his master. Look over all the exercises of the Christian, and you will find them as closely connected with the Saviour's love, as the ▾ nerve is with the member which it moves. Does the Christian exercise love to God? He is enabled to do it from a believing view of a bleeding Saviour. Faith contemplates this gift of a Father's love, and the soul is ravished into love, and inflamed with a desire of serving and enjoying him who spared not the Son of his bosom for us. Does the Christian exercise hatred for sin? It is from the sufferings of Christ that he discerns its infinite guilt and odiousness; it is from viewing it as the murderer of his Lord that he is led to execrate and avoid it. Shall I remain in sin?"—this is his language-shall I remain in sin and crucify my Lord afresh? Shall I join with Judas to betray him, with Pilate to condemn him, with the brutal populace of Judea to outrage and insult him? Shall I retain a single darling lust, when there is not one in the whole circle of iniquities which did not combine with the others to crucify my Redeemer; not one which did not weigh him down in the garden, and stab him on the cross?" Does the Christian exercise patience and resignation in affliction? He is enabled to do so only by looking unto Jesus. He is "not wearied, neither faints in his mind, because he considers him who," urged by love," endured such contradictions of sinners against himself." He would often sink, were it not for the remembrance that he has a merciful and affectionate high-priest, who has gone before him in the path of sufferings, and who, having been tried like as we are, knows how to pity and relieve us when we are tried. In our weakness and distresses,
the consideration of this love is a firm prop to the soul; whilst the storm rages dreadful around us, it is an ark in which we may rest in safety. Does the Christian form an act of self-resignation to God? He is incited to do it by the remembrance of the love of an expiring Jesus. I am not my own, I am bought with a price, even with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Though I am thine, Lord, by creation and preservation, yet I am peculiarly thine by the endearing title founded on redeeming love; I therefore resign all claims to myself, and give myself up unreservedly to thee.' Does the Christian hope for the heavenly inheritance? This hope is built only on the love of Christ, who, having paid a ransom for our sins, has entered into glory as our forerunner, to prepare there mansions for us; and who, when the wearisome period of our pilgrimage shall have past, will send his messenger to carry us from this world to the Father. If you will in like manner review the other Christian graces, you will find that they have the remembrance of the Saviour's love as their root and their principle. Hence it results then, as a necessary consequence, that if Christianity be any thing except a mere name, if it require any pious acts or holy exercises, the frequent remembrance of the love of Christ is essential to it.
But, my brethren, it is not every species of remembrance that is thus useful. Those who scorned, derided, crucified, and rejected him, will throughout eternity retain the memory of the love of Christ, which they despised. This recollection will ever attend them; will fill them with anguish unutterable, will constitute the very hell of hell. The remembrance which the spouse in the text resolves to ex
ercise, is not such a mere historical, far less such a distressing memory; but it is a remembrance accompanied by gratitude in the heart, productive of the praises of the lips, and manifested by the obedience of the life. Let us resume these ideas-they constitute the
Last division of our discourse.
Our remembrance must be accompanied with gratitude in the heart. To have some loose, faint recollections of the love of Christ floating in the mind; or even to discourse most profoundly upon it, while the affections remain unmoved, is not to perform an acceptable service, but to outrage and insult the Saviour. It is base and odious to suffer the amazing kindness of Jesus to escape our minds; but to meditate on his grace, on the benefits procured by it, on the price they cost him, and yet to remain unthankful, is conduct worthy only of a fiend. Oh! what warm emotions should fire our souls, when we remember but a small part of the effects produced by the love of Christ. Man was guilty, exposed to all the vengeance of an Almighty God: he was destitute of all means to preserve himself from eternal death, subject not only to the terrors of conscience, that bosom-hell, but to the strokes of infinite and inflexible justice. The creatures were his enemies, the Creator was his judge, his own heart a witness against him; there was no other limit to his misery but eternity: there remained to him no hope of succour or deliverance. Jesus flies to his aid; he not only delivers him from all his miseries, he procures for him an eternal felicity: and he obtains this deliverance by miseries far more excruciating than mortals can conceive. O my soul! canst thou remember all this without feeling and gratitude? Does 61
not this astonishing mercy require from thee ecstasies of affection? Why then art thou so cold and insensible? Does God Does God require too much of thee, when he demands a thankful remembrance? This duty is not painful; this duty is the source of the highest joy dost thou fly from pleasure, my soul? The reception of the benefits of thy God affords satisfaction, but the indulgence of gratitude for them produces a much higher felicity. Then let thy transports and thy rapture testify that thou feelest the value of a Saviour's love. Go, carry thy gratitude to the throne of God. But, eternal Source of love and of grace, what shall I say? I feel thy benefits, but I cannot express them. O let my heart ever burn with gratitude for them! O let it never be affected by other enjoyments!
1. If this remembrance be thus accompanied by gratitude in the heart, it will manifest itself by the praises of the lips; it will shine in our discourse. A man who is truly affected with the love of Jesus, cannot content himself to think in secret of this love, and neglect to declare to others the sentiments with which his soul is inflamed: "From the abundance of his heart, his mouth will speak." Gratitude, which loosed the tongue of Zechariah, at the birth of John the Baptist, will loose his tongue also, and cause him to publish the mercies and perfections of his Lord. He loves to declare in the temple and in the world, in worship and in conversation, the blessings he has received from his compassionate Redeemer he is desirous to employ, in the praise of the Saviour, the best part of the breath which he has received from his goodness. Like David, he says, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy sal
vation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation." The believer, far from being ashamed to confess his obligations, invites the heavens and the earth, the different classes of men, all creatures, even those that are inanimate, to join in the concert which he wishes to form to the glory of the God whom he adores, and the Saviour whom he loves. After all his efforts, he is afflicted only because he expresses so feebly all the gratitude and affection which he feels for his Redeemer. Ah, my brethren! what cause of selfreproach have we on this point; where are the persons amongst us, whose words and discourses prove that the love of the Saviour has made a proper impression upon their hearts? How many millions of times have we indulged in vain, useless, sinful conversations, rather than speak of our Saviour? Think you that that slanderous, that profane, that indecent, that frivolous language, which is often observed in your interviews, affords a proof that you have been properly affected by the love of Christ?
2. Finally to these emotions of the heart, to these words of the mouth, must be added the actions of the life, if we would manifest a true remembrance of the love of the Saviour. In the language of the scripture, to forget God and to sin against him, are used as synonymous expressions. Unaccompanied by active obedience, all glows of the affections, all professions of the lips, will be a hollow and hypocritical sacrifice, which God will reject with abhorrence. Let us then be careful that whilst with the angels our hearts swell with gratitude, and our tongues cry," Holy is the Lord of hosts:" let us be careful also, like them to fly to execute the orders of God. No, my dear brethren, it is a foolish contra