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possible for frail mortals, a compound of dust and-ashes, that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth, Job iv. 19. how is it possible for beings so mean, so degraded, to become one with God, as, Jesus Christ is one with him?
Away, Christians, away with every shade of incredulity. Nothing is too great for this prayer to procure. There is nothing that God can deny to this dying Intercessor. Let the mind be filled to its utinost capacity, with all that is vast and affecting in the sacrifice which Jesus Christ was about to present to his Father. Consider that God is lme; 1 John iv. 16. And what could the God who is love refuse to the Redeemer of the world, at the inoment when he was going to devote himself, with such ardor of affection, for the salvation of inankind ? Behold him, the Redeemer of a lost world, behold him ready to affix the seal to the great work which God had committed to him: behold him prepared to be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep, dumb before her shearers, Isa. liii. 7. behold him prepared to undergo that punishment, the bare idea of which makes nature shudder: behold him prepared to enter into the deep mire where there is no standing, of which the prophets speak, Psa. Ixix. 2. and all this out of that love, and all this from that principle of charity which glowed in his compassionate breast.
At that moment of love, at that moment which embraces an eternity-pardon me the expression, my friends, and condemn me not, if in a subject which has nothing human, I am constrained to employ modes of speech which are not in common use among men--at that moment which embraces a whole eternity, when charity was carried as far as it could go, this Redeemer presents himself before the God of love, and asks of him, that in virtue of this sacrifice of love, which he was going to offer up, all the faithful, this people, you, my dearly beloved brethren, you might be crowned with the felicity and with the glory, with which he himself was to be crowned; but to which, love would have rendered him insensible, had he not promised himself to communicate them, one day, to men, the objects of his tenderest affection.
O mysteries of redemption, how far you transcend all expression, all thought! Ye angels of light, who live in the bosom of glory, turn aside your eyes from beholding wonders which dázzle the heaven of heavens: bend lowly overthe mystical-ark, and search it to the bottom.".' And you,
for whom all these wonders are wrought, children of fallenAdam, bow down in gratitude and adoration, and measure, if you can, the dimensions, the length, the breadth, the height, the depth, of that abyss which passeth knowledge, Eph. iii. 18, 19.
My brethren, there is an air of credulity and superstition in what passes between a dying person, and a minister who is endeavouring to fortify him against the fears of death. The minister has the appearance of an impostor, and the dying person of a visionary, We promise to a man extended on a sick bed, to a man who is in a few days to be shut up
in a tomb, and to becoine a prey to worins, we promise him an eternal abode, and rivers of pleasures : we assure him that he is the favourite of heaven, at the very moment
xhen he is going to become the abhorrence of the earth, at the very moment when corruption and rottenness are hasten. ing to put to flight froin his person his most affectionate friends. These pretensions are, however, incontestable. They are founded on the charitable prayers which the Redeemer of men addressed to the God of love, at the time when he himself was perfected in love: “ I have glorified " thee on the earth : I have finished the work which thou
gavest me to do, and I ain going to seal with my blood, " that awful ministry which thou hast committed unto me. “Grant to my obedience, grant to the prayers and to the “ blood of thy expiring Son, that which is most capable of
supporting him amidst those fearful objects withi which “ he is surrounded; it is the salvation of that world of be*** lievers, who are to embrace my doctrine: Father, I will « that where I am, those whom thou hast given me, may be " there also with one, that they may behold my glory and “ I pray not for thein only, but also for those who shall be" lieve in thee through their word.”
These prayers, my brethren, are still presented. Jesus Christ is still doing in heaven, what, in the days of his flesh, he did upon earth : he is even at the right hand of God, where he still maketh intercession for us, Rom. viii. 34. He is still able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, secing he ever liveth to make intercession for them, Heb. vii. 25. But do we avail ourselves of these prayers? But are we seconding this intercession? Alas! I was preparing to set open to you all the treasures of consolation which we see issuing from a dying Saviour's prayers. But I find, in that prayer, one word which stops mc short ;
one word which terrifies me; one word which suggests an inquiry that awakens a thousand solicitudes : Are we in the class of those for whom Jesus Christ prayed to the Father or are we of those for whom, he tells us, he prayed not Does it contain the sentence of our absolution; or that of our eternal condemnation? You have heard this word: but have you seriously weighed its import? Have you listened to it with that composure, and with that application which it demands? The word is this: I pray not for the world: ? pray for those whom thou hast given me, ver. 9. My disciples, for whom I pray to thee, are not of the world, even as I am not of the world, ver. 14.
We frame for ourselves a morality that suits our own fancy. We look upon a worldly spirit as a matter of trivial importance, which it is scarcely worth while to think of cor, recting. A preacher who should take upon him to condemn this disposition of mind, would pass for a mere declaimer, who abused the liberty given him, of talking alone from the pulpit. A worldly life, wasted in dissipation, in pleasure, at play, at public spectacles, has nothing terrifying in our eyes. But be pleased to learn from Jesus Christ, whether or not a worldly spirit be a trivial matter. But learn of Jesus Christ what are the fatal effects of a worldly mind. It is an exclusion from the glorious catalogue of those for whom Jesus Christ intercedes. It destroys the right of pretending to those blessings which the Saviour requests in behalf of his church : I pray not for the world; I pray for them whom thone hast given me. My disciples, for whom I pray to thee, are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Would you wish to know whether jesus Christ is an intercessor for you? Would you wish to know whether you are of the number of them who shall, one day, be where Jesus Christ is ? See whether you can distinguish yourself by this character, they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. And what is it not to hc of the world?
Not to be of the world, - is not to live in deserts and in som litudes : it is not for a man to bury himself before he is dead, and to pass his life as it were in a tomb. Jesus Christ and his apostles lived in society; but they sanctified society by useful instruction and by a holy example ; but they were the light of the world, and if they mingled in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, they were blarneless and harnless, and without rebuke ; and shone among them. VOL. VI. K
Not to be of the world, is not to abandon the reins of government to ruffians. Jesus Christ and his apostles permitted Christians to occupy the most distinguished stations in society; but it was their wish and endeavour, that while they filled such stations, they should guard against the illusion of their own lustre ; that they should not imagine themselves exalted to terrestrial greatness, merely to display their own vain selfimportance, but that they should ever keep in view the necessities of those whose happiness is entrusted to their
Not to be of the world, is not to break off all relation with the world, to be always absorbed in meditation, in contemplation, in extasies. No, religion is adapted to the various relations of human life ; to fathers, to children, to masters, to servants,
But not to be of the world, is never to lose sight, even in the distraction of worldly concerns, of the end which God proposed to himself, when he placed us in the world: it is constantly to recollect that we have a soul to be saved; an account to render; a hell to shun; a heaven to gain ; it is habitually to direct, toward these great objects, the edge of our spirit, the vivacity of our passions, the ardour of our dcsires : it is to be able to say, at the close of life, with Jesus Christ, as far as the infinite distance between the sanctity of this divine Saviour and ours can permit: Father, I hare glo. rified thee on the earth. I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. I have fought the good fight: I have kept the faith, 2 Tim. iv. 7. Wo be to the man who, at that fatal period, shall be reduced to the necessity of holding an opposite language, and of saying: “ Scarcely have I, as yet, put
my hand to the work which thou gavest me to do. “ Scarcely have I cmployed an instant of my time in medi
tating on eternity.” Wo be to the man who shall then have cause to say: and ah! how many such are there, under the name of Christians ! “ I have employed part of my * life in cultivating my estate, in swelling my revenue, in “ pulling down my barns and building greater, Luke xii. 18. “ I have devoted another to the delights of a present life, to " refinement in pleasure. A third has been employed in “ gratifying the most criminal appetites, in vomiting out so
blasphemy against my benefactor, in waging war with * religion, morals and common decency, in scandalizing the church of God by my impurities and excess.”
Let us not be ingenious in practising illusion upon ourselves. Let us not amuse ourselves with unprofitable specu. lations respecting the meaning of these words, I pray not for the world. What bold and rash researches have the schools pursued on the subject of this saying of Christ ? What chimerical consequences have not been deduced from it? But fiom these I must still revert to this grand principle : Are you of the world, or are you not of the world? Say not in thine heart, IVho shall shall ascend into heaven? or, Who shall descend into the deep ? the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, Rom. x. 6–8. The friendship of the world is enmity with God, James iv. 4. If you are of the world, you are not of the number of those for whom Jesus Christ pleads. If you are not of the world, vou are within the decree of his election : he has interceded for you, and you are warranted to expect all the fruits of his intercession.
These reflections will probably excite, in some, many a painful apprehension, amounting to a conviction that you are in the dreadful class of those for whom Christ intercedes not. But if it be high time to renounce this world, by acts of penitence, of mortification, of a sincere return unto God, let us proportion these acts to the degree of criminality which renders them necessary. The love of the world has inspired a taste for voluptuousness : let us deny ourselves, by a course of abstinence, during the passion weeks, even from what is necessary to nature *.
The love of the world has transported us into excesses of worldly joy : let us clothe ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, during the passion weeks, or rather let us present unto God the sucrifice of a broken and contrite heart, Psa. li. 19. Let us make extraordinary efforts to disarm his wrath, ever enkindled against the abominations of the Christian world. Let us say to him a thousand and a thousand times, as we turn our eyes toward the cross of Jesus Christ: 0 Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces : Dan. ix. 7. Let us entreat him by those bowels of love which prompted him to restore a fallen world, that he would disunite us from the creature, and unite us to himself.
If we act in this manner, we have every thing to expect from a God whose great leading character is. love.. He will take pity on this wretched people. He will have compasK 2
* Does not this passage savour somewhat too strongly of Popery?