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events, which you are to commemorate in the sacrament of our Lord's Supper. I shall attempt to set them before you as proper subjects, at this time, of your devout meditation. To display them in their genuine majesty, is beyond the ability of man.
I. This was the hour in which Christ was glorified by his sufferings. The whole of his life had discovered much real greatness, under a mean appearance. Through the cloud of his humiliation, his native lustre often broke forth ; but never did it shine so bright, as in this last, this trying hour. It was indeed the hour of distress, and of blood. He knew it to be such ; and when he uttered the words of the Text, he had before his eyes, the executioner and the cross, the scourge, the nails, and the spear. But by prospects of this nature his soul was not to be overcome. It is distress which ennobles every great character ; and distress was to glorify the Son of God. He was now to teach all mankind, by his example, how to suffer and to die. He was to stand forth before his enemies, as the faithful witness of the truth ; justifying by his behaviour the character which he assumed, and sealing with his blood the doctrine which he taught.
What magnanimity in all his words and actions on this great occasion! The court of Herod, the judgement-hall of Pilate, the hill of Calvary, were so many theatres prepared for his displaying all the virtues of a constant and patient mind. When led forth to suffer, the first voice which we hear from him, is a generous lamentation over the fate of his unfortunate, though guilty, country; and, to the last moment of his life, we behold him in possession of the same gentle and benevolent spirit. No upbraiding, no complaining expression escaped from his lips, during the long and painful approaches of a cruel death. He betrayed no symptom of a weak or a vulgar, of a discomposed or impatient mind. With the utmost attention of filial tenderness, he committed his aged mother to the care of his beloved disciple. With all the dignity of a sovereign, he conferred pardon on a penitent fellow-sufferer. With a greatness of mind beyond example, he spent his last moments in apologies and prayers for those who were shedding his blood.
By wonders in heaven, and wonders on earth, was this hour distinguished. All națure seemed to feel it; and the dead and the
• John, xix, 26, 27.
living bore witness to its importance. The vail of the temple was rent in twain. The earth shook. There was darkness over all the land. The graves were opened, and many who slept arose, and went into the Holy City. Nor were these the only prodigies of this awful hour. The most hardened hearts were subdued and changed. The judge who, in order to gratify the multitude, passed sentence against him, publicly attested his innocence. The Roman centurion, who presided at the execution, glorified God, and acknowledged the sufferer to be more than man. After he saw the things which had passed, he said, Certainly this was a righteous person ; truly this was the Son of God. The Jewish malefactor who was crucified with him, addressed him as a King, and implored his fa
Even the crowd of insensible spectators, who had come forth as to a common spectacle, and who began with clamours and insults, returned home smiting their breasts.Look back on the heroes, the philosophers, the legislators of old. View them in their last moments. Recall every circumstance which distinguished their departure from the world. Where can you find such an assemblage of high virtues, and of great events, as concurred at the death of Christ ? Where so
close: Insupportable the burden of afflictions, under which we were oppressed by a load not only of present, but of an anticipated sorrow. Friends would begin their union, with lamenting the day which was to dissolve it; and, with weeping eyes, the parent would every moment behold the child whom he knew that he was to lose. In short, as soon as that mysterious veil, which now covers futurity, was lifted
up, all the gaiety of life would disappear; its flattering hopes, its pleasing illusions, would vanish; and nothing but its vanity and sadness remain. The foresight of the hour of death would continually interrupt the course of human affairs; and the overwhelming prospect of the future, instead of exciting men to proper activity, would render them immoveable with consternation and dismay.--How much more friendly to man is that mixture of knowledge and ignorance which is allotted to him in this state! Ignorant of the events which are to befall us, and of the precise term which is to conclude our life, by this ignorance our enjoyment of present objects is favoured; and
; knowing that death is certain, and that human affairs are full of change, by this knowledge our attachment to those objects is moderated, Precisely in the same manner, as by the mixture of evidence and obscurity which remaing on the prospect of a future state, a proper balance is preserved betwixt our love of this life and our desire of a better.
The longer that our thoughts dwell on this subject, the more we must be convinced, that in nothing the Divine wisdom is more admirable, than in proportioning knowledge to the necessities of man. Instead of lamenting our condition, that we are permitted only to see as through a glass, darkly, we have reason to bless our Creator, no less for what be bath concealed, than for what he hath allowed us to know. He is wonderful in counsel, as he is excellent in working. He is wise in heart, and his thoughts are deep. How unsearchable are the riches of the wisdom of the knowledge of God!
From the whole view which he have taken of the subject, this important instruction arises, that the great design of all the knowledge, and in particular of the religious knowledge which God hath afforded us, is, to fit us for discharging the duties of life. No useless discoveries are made to us in religion : No discoveries even of useful truths, beyond the precise degree of information, which is subservient to right conduct. To this great end all our information points. In this centre all the lines of knowledge meet. Life and immortali