« PreviousContinue »
lipt up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in, Psa. xxiv. 7.
What, then, are we to expect that Jesus Christ shall do? Shall we behold him advancing to meet death with joy? Shall he not say with St. Paul : My desire is to depart? Shall he not in rapture exclaim: This day crowns are to be distributed, and I go to receive my share? No, Jesus Christ trembles, he turns pale, he fears, he sweats great drops of blood; whereas the martyrs, with inferior illumination, with feebler motives, have braved death, have bidden defiance to the most horrid torments, have filled their tormenters with astonishment? Whence comes this difference? From the very point which we are endeavoring to establish. The death of Jesus Christ is widely different from that of the martyrs. The martyrs found death already disarmed. Jesus Christ died to disarm the king of terrors The martyrs presented themselves before the throne of grace. Jesus Christ presented himself at the tribunal of justice. The martyrs pleaded the merits of Christ's death. Jesus Christ interceded in behalf of the martyrs.
Let the great adversary, then, do his worst to terrify me with the image of the crimes which I have committed; let him trace them before my eyes in the blackest characters which his malignity can employ; let him collect into one dark point, all that is hideous and hateful in my life; let him attempt to overwhelm me with dismay, by rousing the idea of that tremendous tribunal, before which all the actions of men are to be scrutinized, so that like Joshua the high priest, I find myself standing in the presence of God, cloathed with filthy garments, Zech. iii. 1. &c. and Satan standing at his right hand, to expose my turpitude: I hear at the same time the voice of one pleading in my behalf: 2 Y
I hear these reviving words: Is not this a brand
.. Take away the filthy .. Let them set a fair
and I will clothe him
ON THE FEAR OF DEATH.
HEB. ii. 14, 15.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, be also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage.
III. Third and last place, to consider death rendered formidable, from its being attended with the loss of titles, honors, and every other earthly possession and, in opposition to this, we are to view the death of Jesus Christ as removing that terror, by giving us complete assurance of a blessed eternity. We are going to contemplate death as a universal shipwreck, swallowing up our worldly fortunes and prospects. We are going to contemplate Jesus Christ as a conqueror, and his death as the pledge and security of a boundless and ever
lasting felicity, which shall amply compensate to us the loss of all those possessions, of which we are about to be stripped by the unsparing hand of death.
When we attempt to stammer out a few words from the pulpit, respecting the felicity which God has laid up for his people in another world, we borrow the images of every thing that is capable of touching the heart, and of communicating delight. We call in to our assistance the soul of man, with all its exalted faculties; the body, with all its beautiful forms and proportions; nature, with her overflowing treasures; society, with its enchanting delights; the church, with its triumphs; eternity, with its unfathomable abysses of joy. Of all these ingredients blended, we compose a faint representation of the celestial blessedness.
The soul of man constitutes one ingredient; and we say In heaven your soul shall arrive at its highest pitch of attainable perfection: it shall acquire expansive illumination; it shall reach sublime heights of virtue; it shall behold as in a glass he glory of the Lord, and shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, 2 Cor. iii. 18.
The body furnishes a second ingredient; and we say In heaven your body shall be exempted from all the defects by which it is at present disfigured; from those diseases which now prey upon and waste it; from that death which destroys the fabric.
Nature supplies a third ingredient; and we say: In heaven all the stores of nature shall be displayed in rich profusion: the foundations of the holy are of jasper, its gates are of pearl, its walls are of pure gold, Rev. xxi. 21.
Society supplies a fourth ingredient; and we say: In heaven shall be united in tenderest social
bonds, kindred spirits the most exalted; souls the most refined; hearts the most generous and enlarged.
The church supplies a fifth ingredient; and we say In heaven shall be exhibited the triumph of the faithful over tyrants confounded; the saints shall be enthroned; the martyrs shall appear with palms in their hands, and with crowns upon their heads.
Eternity supplies a sixth ingredient; and we say In heaven you shall enjoy a felicity infinite in its duration, and immeasurable in its degree; years accumulated upon years, ages upon ages, shall effect no dimunition of its length; and so of the rest.
This day, Christians, in which we are representing death to you as an universal wreck, which swallows up all your possessions, your titles, your greatness, your riches, your social connections, all that you were, and all that you hoped to be; this day, while we are attempting to convey to you an idea of the celestial felicity, capable of strengthening you to behold, without dismay, the universal wreck, in which you are going to be involved; this day we could wish you to conceive the heavenly world, and the blessedness which God is there preparing for you under another idea. under another idea. We mean to trace another view of it, the lustre of which effaces all the rest. We build upon this foundation of St. Paul: 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? Rom. viii. 32. The heavenly blessedness is the purchase of the death of Jesus Christ. Here collect, my brethren, every thing that is capable of enhancing to your apprehension the unspeakable greatness and importance of that death.