Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

his nature, which dispose him to pity the miserable, and have the kindest aspect towards the children of men. The song that the priests were singing when the cloud entered into the Temple, had none of that rhetorical pomp which a cold heart may borrow from a warm imagination ; it consisted of a few plain but gracious words, “ The Lord is good, and his mercy endureth for ever." And whilst they sung this plain and artless song, God made a sudden display of his glory, and caused them to feel the happy effects of that goodness which they praised. And shall not their success encourage us to follow their example? They adored and celebrated the divine goodness when the Ark was brought into the Temple, which was only a typical representation of the Messiah who was to come: And shall we need any solicitation to adopt their song, who know that the mercy promised to the fathers, the consolation of Israel, is already come ? especially whilst we attend upon that sacred ordinance, which is both a solemn commemoration of his past sufferings, and a pledge of his return to complete our salvation. Here, indeed, we have the brightest display of the goodness and everlasting mercy of God. loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have eternal life ; for God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

« God so

Our great Redeemer is the liveliest image of infinite goodness, the messenger of the most unsearchable astonishing love, the purchaser of the most inestimable benefits that ever were revealed to the sons of men. “ Greater love than this hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friend; but God commendeth his love towards us, in that whilst we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Can we doubt of the divine goodness after this costly expression of it ? “ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?” Behold, likewise, this adorable perfection shining through the whole of that gracious covenant, whereof this holy sacrament is the external seal. There you may see such sure, such great and wonderful mercies, freely given out to a world of sinners, as may remove all your suspicions of the divine goodness and mercy, and afford you constant matter of praise and thanksgiving. There you may see how unwilling God is that sinners should perish.

There you may see an act of pardon and oblivion granted, upon the easy and reasonable condition of a believing, penitent, and thankful acceptance. The sins that men have been committing for many years together, their wilful, heinous, aggravated sins, you may there see pardoned by ascendant unwearied mercy; the enemies of God reconciled to him ; condemned rebels saved from hell, nay,

brought into his family, and made his sons. 0 what comfortable discoveries are these! The Old Testament saints saw them darkly through a veil, whereas we behold them with open face. God appears in his Son and covenant, to be not only good, but love itself. Let us then adore him in this amiable character ; let us give him the glory of all his perfections; but especially let us praise him with thankful hearts, “because he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever.”_A

:

III. Circumstance in the text, which claims our attention, is the seriousness and fervour of this devout assembly. It is said, that they lifted up their voice, and praised the Lord. Here they exerted their whole strength and activity, as if they had been ambitious to spend themselves in this heavenly employment. Would we then this day obtain a token of the divine acceptance, let us learn from their example to seek it by a fervent and lively devotion. Great is the Lord, says David, and therefore greatly to be praised. Ac. cordingly, when he enters upon this important duty, in Psalm ciii, he begins with a solemn address to his own soul, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.” The devotion of the soul is the soul of devotion ; it is the praise and homage of the heart which God requires. If that is withheld, we have nothing else to offer him that is worthy his regard.

We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and what is the measure of our love, ought likewise to be the measure of our praise ; for it is as impossible to exceed in the one as in the other. As we cannot love him too much, so neither can we praise him too highly. His greatness and his goodness infinitely surpass all that our minds can conceive, or our tongues express. But there is yet a

IV. Circumstance in the text, which deserves our particular notice upon this occasion, namely, the harmony and unanimity of these ancient worshippers. They were all as one, and made one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord.” The importance of this circumstance will appear in a stronger light, if we compare the passage now before us with that extraordinary manifestation on the day of Pentecost, which is related in the 2d chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. There we are told, that when the “apostles were all with one accord in one place, suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Every one will be sensible that there is a very striking resemblance between these two illustrious events; and I cannot help thinking, that the oneness and harmony of the worshippers, on both these occasions, is mention,

ed with peculiar emphasis, as a distinguishing characteristic of those religious assemblies which God delights to honour with his presence.

We are told, in the cxxxiiid Psalm, that where brethren dwell together in unity, there God commandeth the blessing ; and our blessed Lord lays such stress upon unity of affection among his disciples, that he makes it an essential qualification of an acceptable worshipper; nay, he tells us, that where this is wanting, the person is disqualified for performing any service that is pleasing to God. Matth. v. 23, 24. “ If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” If this doctrine of brotherly love has not an obvious foundation in the text, yet I can hardly think I need make any apology for mentioning it, seeing it has a broad foundation in other passages of Scripture, and is strictly connected with the great ordinance before us.-The sacrament of the supper is not only a solemn commemoration of our Saviour's death, and of his wonderful love to sinners of mankind, but was likewise intended to be a badge of love and union among his disciples. Of old, they who feasted upon the same sacrifice laid aside all enmity, and professed to be knit together in love and friendship. In like manner, all who partake of the great gospel sacrifice in the

« PoprzedniaDalej »