« PreviousContinue »
The dark scenes of Calvary were soon to be exchanged for the bright glories of the heavenly state; the days of his humiliation were about to be ended, and he was on the point of re-assuming his celestial nature. In the first moment of his sufferings, he undertakes the office of an Intercessor, and now he exhibits the power of a Sovereign. He dispenses pardon, and promises salvation. He is ascending to that world where all will be intrusted to his care, and subjected to his controul; and he stamps the moment of his admission by a special act of clemency and pity.
3. We learn, that, to be with Christ, will constitute a great part of the felicity of the heavenly world.
The perfections of Deity are too vast to be contemplated by the human mind without a great mixture of awe; but our Saviour, though declared to be "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person," yet condescends to be our medium of access unto the Father; and, through him, we can view those perfections brought down to our feeble apprehensions, and exhibited under a milder form. "In my Father's house," said he to his disciples, "are many mansions; 1 go to prepare a place for you." I go to
"where I am,
St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, and entering minutely into the awful and impressive subject of the last day, closes with this interesting assurance, "And so shall we ever be with the Lord." Let us take the comfort which this thought imparts. Let us remember, that our Lord, having once sojourned on earth, and felt the infirmities of our nature, knows the temptations to which we are subject; and the consciousness, which I have no doubt will continue through all eternity, that we are saved by him, as well as exalted through him, will give energy and animation to our praises.
receive you to myself, that, there shall also my servants be."
4. We are taught, by this narrative, what should be the chief object of our solicitude.
How various and diversified are the desires of man! Ambition, power, and wealth! Each has its votaries; and each is the object of unwearied solicitude. The wishes of many are such as they would be ashamed of, were even a fellow-creature to know; and yet, if they reflect a moment, they must be conscious that the most secret desire of their hearts is intimately known unto God. No wish can be concealed from him; all must be open to his eye, and subject to his notice. And shall we
weary Heaven with prayers for temporal good? Let us rather exalt our desires, and say, with humble and pious confidence, Lord, thou knowest what is best for me, and I would not be anxiously solicitous about present good. I have but one single petition to prefer, but that I would urge with importunity and with ardor, Lord, save my soul!'
5. These two subjects, taken in connexion, afford strong ground of consolation to every sincere penitent. Who can indulge despair, when they behold the Saviour of the world praying for his murderers? And who can doubt of pardon being granted upon sincere repentance, when they contemplate the astonishing instance of grace and mercy we have now been considering?
May we endeavour to draw from this interesting narrative, all the comfort it is calculated to produce, while we beware of trusting to it as a plea for delay! Let us remember, that, "Now is the accepted time time, now is the day of salvation ;" and let us never slight the offered grace, lest it should be for ever withdrawn from our acceptance! Amen.
RESTORATION OF THE JEWS.
I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. EZEKIEL
THE life of man is limited to so short a span, that were our knowledge merely confined to personal information, very scanty would be our attainments; but happily for us, we are possessed of more extended sources of information, and there are two among these, which may be considered as pre-eminent; they are history and prophecy.
History carries us back to past times, and shows us ages far remote from our own; we are brought acquainted with Enoch and with Noah; we review the conduct of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; we trace the promises which warmed their hearts, and animated their lives; we follow the children of Israel in their toilsome journey in the wilderness, to their settlement in the promised land; we read the account of their prophets and of their kings; we behold their various rites and ceremonies; we see their humble tabernacle, and their proud temple, and we perceive the finger of God guiding and directing their footsteps; we trace their wonderful history through all the successive periods of its progress and decay; and we are struck with the singularity and the order which pervade it.
But when we open the prophetic page, we survey a still wider sphere of wonder. We are then carried downwards to ages yet to come, and are suffered to behold a part of the divine counsels respecting man. Prophecy is the telescope which points to futurity, which connects the present with the future, as history connects it with the past.
The prophecies of the Old Testament are divisible into three classes, those which relate