Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

against the brightest evidence. And thus our modern infidels would no doubt evade the force of the most mi. raculous attestation by some wretched hypothesis or other; they would look upon miracles either as magical productions, or illusions of their senses; or rather, as natural and necessary events, which they would indeed have some reason to conclude, if they were frequently performed before their eyes. Some have pretended to doubt of the existence and perfections of God, notwithstanding the evidences thereof upon this magnificent structure of the universe ; and must God be always creating new worlds before these obstinate creatures for their conviction? Such persons have as much reason to demand it in this case, as our deists have to insist for new miracles in the other. I might add, that such glaring evidence, as, like the light of the sun, would force itself irresistibly upon the minds of the most reluctant, would not leave room for us to show our regard to God in believing, for we should then believe from extrinsic necessity, and not from choice. It is therefore most correspondent to our present state of probation, that there should be something in the evidence of a divine revelation to try us; something that might fully convince the teachable and yet not remove all umbrages for cavilling from the obstinate.

Thus I have answered as many objections as the bounds of a sermon would admit; and I think they are the principal ones which lie against my subject in the view I have considered it. And as I have not designedly selected the weakest, in order to an easy triumph, you may

look

upon the answers that have been given as a ground of rational presumption, that all other objections may be answered with equal ease. Indeed, if they could not, it would not invalidate the positive arguments in favor of Christianity; for when we have sufficient positive evidence for a thing, we do not reject it because it is attended with some difficulties which we cannot solve.

My time will allow me to make but two or three short reflections upon the whole.

1. If the religion of Jesus be attested with such full evidence, and be sufficient to conduct men to everlasting felicity, then how helpless are they that have enjoyed it all their life without profit: who either reject it as false, or have not felt its power to reform their hearts and lives? It is the last remedy provided for a guilty world; and if this fails, their disease is incurable, and they are not to expect better means..

2. If the religion of Jesus be true, then wo unto the wicked of all sorts : wo to infidels, both practical and speculative, for all curses of it are in full force against them, and I need not tell you how dreadful they are.

3. If the religion of Jesus be true, then I congratulate such of you, whose hearts and lives are habitually conformed to it, and who have ventured your everlasting all upon it. You build upon a sure foundation, and your hope shall never make you ashamed.

Finally, Let us all strive to become rational and practical believers of this heaven-born religion. Let our understandings be more rationally and thoroughly convinced of its truth; and our hearts and lives be more and more conformed to its purity; and ere long we shall receive those glorious rewards it insures to all its sincere disciples ; which may

God

grant to us all for Jesus' sake ; AMEN!

SERMON II.

THE METHOD OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.

John iii. 16.–For God so loved the world, that he gave

his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I have been solicitously thinking in what way my life, redeemed from the grave, may be of most service to my dear people. And I would collect all the feeble remains of my strength into one vigorous effort this day, to promote this benevolent end. If I knew what subject has the most direct tendency to save your souls, that is the subject to which my heart would cling with peculiar en

dearment, and which I would make the matter of the present discourse.

And when I consider I am speaking to an assembly of sinners, guilty, depraved, helpless creatures, and that, if ever you be saved, .it will be only through Jesus Christ, in that way which the gospel reveals; when I consider that your everlasting life and happiness turn upon this hinge, namely, the recept.on you give to this Savior, and this way of salvation; I say, when I consider these things, I can think of no subject I can more properly choose than to recommend the Lord Jesus to your acceptance, and to explain and inculcate the method of salvation through his mediation ; or, in other words, to preach the pure gospel to you ; for the gospel, in the most proper sense, is nothing else but a revelation of a way of salvation for sinners of Adam's race.

My text furnishes me with proper materials for my purpose. Let heaven and earth hear it with wonder, joy, and raptures of praise ! God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever, or that every one that believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This is a part of the most important evening conversation that ever was held ; I mean, that between Christ and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews. Our Lord first instructs him in the doctrine of regeneration, that grand constituent of a Christian, and pre-requisite to our admission in the kingdom of heaven ; and then he proceeds to inform himn of the gospel-method of salvation, which contains these two grand articles, the death of Christ, as the great foundation of blessedness; and faith in him, as the great qualification upon the part of the sinner. He presents this important doctrine to us in various forms, with a very significant repetition. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so shall the Son of Man be lifted up; that is, hung on high on a cross, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Then follows my text, which expresses the same doctrine with great force : God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, gave

him up to death, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He goes on to mention a wonder.

This earth is a rebellious province of Jehovah's

dominions, and therefore if his Son should ever visit it, one would think it would be as an angry judge, or as the executioner of his Father's vengeance. But, 0 astonishing ! God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. Hence the terms of life and death are thus fixed. He that believeth in him is not condemned: but he that believe eth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Sure the hearenly rivers of pleasure flow in these verses. Never, methinks, was there so much gospel expressed in so few words. Here, take the gospel in miniature, and bind it to your hearts for ever. These verses alone, methinks, are a sufficient remedy for a dying world.

The truths I would infer from the text for present improvement are these : that without Christ you are all in a perishing condition ; that through Jesus Christ a way is opened for your salvation ; that the grand pre-requisite to your being saved in this way, is faith in Jesus Christ ; that every one, without exception, whatever his former character has been, that is enabled to comply with this pre-requisite, shall certainly be saved ; and that the constitution of this method of salvation, or the mission of Christ into our world, as the Savior of sinners, is a most striking and astonishing instance and display of the love of God.

I. My text implies, that without Christ you are all in a perishing condition. This holds true of you in particular, because it holds true of the world universally; for the world was undoubtedly in a perishing condition without Christ, and none but he could relieve it, otherwise God would never have given his only begotten Son to save it. God is not ostentatious or prodigal of his gifts, especially of so inestimable a gift as his Son, whom he loves infinitely more than the whole creation. So great, so dear a person would not have been sent upon a mission which could have been discharged by any other being. Thousands of rams must bleed in sacrifice, or ten thousands of rivers of oil must flow; our first-born must die for our transgressions, and the fruit of our body for the sin of our souls; or Gabriel or some of the upper ranks of angels, must leave their thrones, and hang upon a cross, if such methods of salvation had been sufficient. All this would have been nothing in comparison of the only begotten Son of God leaving his native heaven, and all its glories, assuming our degraded nature, spending thirty-three long and tedious years in poverty, disgrace, and persecution, dying as a malefactor and a slave in the midst of ignominy and torture, and lying a mangled breathless corpse in the grave.

We may be sure there was the highest degree of necessity for it, otherwise God would not have given up his dear Son to such a horrid scene of sufferings.

This, then, was the true state of the world, and consequently yours without Christ ; it was hopeless and desperate in every view. In that situation there would not have been so much goodness in the world as to try the efficacy of sacrifices, prayers, tears, reformation, and repentance, or they would have been tried in vain. It would have been inconsistent with the honor of the divine perfections and government, to admit sacrifices, prayers, tears, repentance, and reformation, as a sufficient atonement.

What a melancholy view of the world have we now before us! We know the state of mankind only under the gracious government of a Mediator; and we but seldom realize what our miserable condition would have been, had this gracious administration never been set up. But exclude a Savior in your thoughts for a moment, and then take a view of the world—helpless ! hopeless !-under the righteous displeasure of God; and despairing of relief the very suburbs of hell! the range of malignant devils! the region of guilt, misery, and despair !—the mouth of the infernal pit !—the gate of hell !—This would have been the condition of our world had it not been for that Jesus who redeemed it; and yet in this very world he is neglected and despised. But you will ask me,

How it comes that the world was in such an undone, helpless, hopless condition without Christ; or what are the reasons of all this?"

The true account of this will appear from these two considerations, that all mankind are sinners; and that no other method but the mediation of Christ could render the salvation of sinners consistent with the honor of the divine perfections and government, with the public good, and even with the nature of things.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »