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I know not, my brethren, what were the feelings of these holy women, and this beloved disciple, at this trying period; what rays of comfort were afforded to them, to lighten their mental darkness; nor what assistance granted them in this conflict. But I know, that the cross of Christ is a stumbling-block to the Jew, and to the Greek, foolishness. I know that the Jewish nation had, in all ages, fixed their attention on the glory of the Messiah, and forgot his previous humiliation; and I know that even the disciples of Christ, trembled at the name of the cross. St. Peter bearing his divine Master speak of his approaching death, said "Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee," Matt. xvi. 22; and when Christ spoke to them of a future resurrection, they questioned one with another, what the rising from the dead should mean, Mark ix. 10. Christ rebuked them, saying, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken," Luke xxiv. 25. The women came to the disciples to tell them, that they had been eye-witnesses of his resur
the remainder of his nearly exhausted strength. | in the beauties of holiness; from the womb of O let her approach this expiring Prince, and the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth?" pour a healing balm into its wounds. But no; Ps. cii. 1-3. she is forced to yield to the violence of those who surround her; the thick darkness obliges her to depart, all the care and tenderness that she could show to our Lord, all her tears are useless. Holy woman, if "all generations shall call thee blessed," Luke i. 48, "because thou wast the mother of thy glorious King and Redeemer," shall not endless ages commiserate thy grief. when destined to behold him suffering so shameful and agonizing a death. But I mentioned also that reason and faith led the holy Virgin into a conflict of a different nature. How could a human understanding, even with the aid of reason and religion, pierce the thick veil that covered the divinity of our Saviour, at the time of his crucifixion. If the mystery of the cross surpasses and startles our finite imaginations now, when it is announced to us by a preacher, who gives us the infallible word of God as security whereon to rest our belief, what must have been its effect on the minds of those who beheld Christ suffering by the hand of murderers, chosen of God for this purpose. Every circumstance of his passion, had indeed been exactly foretold by the pro-rection; but their information seemed more phets of old and the close accordance, the like the day-dreams of a confused imagination, great harmony, that was visible between the than the result of cool deliberation, or unpreprophecies, and their accomplishment, ought judiced judgment. Thomas, especially, notto have carried conviction to the minds of all withstanding the testimony of these same wowho attentively consider the subject. The men, and that of the rest of the apostles, represumption certainly was strong, that he who plied to those who said they had seen the so well fulfilled the humiliatory and painful Lord, "Except I shall see in his hands the part of the prophecies concerning him, would print of the nails, and put my finger into the likewise verify those parts that referred to his print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his exaltation and glorious triumph. But the side, I will not believe," John xx. 25. Thus, spectators of the death of Jesus, saw only his although we are disposed to think very highly degradation; his glory was yet to come; death of the virtue and constancy of these holy withad now seized his victim, and his resurrection nesses of the crucifixion of our Lord, we dare was to them uncertain; the predictions of his not propose them as models for your imitation; humiliation were fulfilled, but they had not although we have a strong conviction, that seen the accomplishment of those concerning they did not fall under the attacks of the enehis exaltation. This Jesus whom we now be- mies of salvation, yet we dare not affirm, that hold ready to expire, the thread of whose life they entirely triumphed over them; and in is almost spun out, and who will only come discoursing upon their conflicts, we dare not down from the cross to be laid in the tomb, and enter fully on the subject of their victory. to go into the lower regions of the earth, can But not so, when we look to our blessed and this, I ask, be the promised Messiah, who will adorable Redeemer; if we place Christ before "ascend on high, and lead captivity captive, your eyes, we give you a perfect model: you and receive gifts for men?" Ps. Ixviii. 18. Can shall see him struggling, and you shall also this same Jesus, that we see wearing a crown see him more than conqueror; we shall speak of thorns upon his head, with a reed in his less of his struggle, than of his conquest: hand, addressed by the insulting titles, "Jesus" And Jesus seeing his mother, and the disciof Nazareth, king of the Jews," John xix. 19, be the Messiah of whom God says, "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession?" Ps. ii. 6. 8. Is he whom I see insulted, despised, and lightly es teemed, is he the Messiah, called by the prophets, "Wonderful, Counsellor, Prince of peace, the everlasting Father!" Isa. ix. 6. This Jesus, who now is nailed to an ignominious cross, is he the Messiah, the Lord to whom God said, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thy enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,
ple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto
We are to remark in this place, First, the presence of mind, that showed itself through all the sufferings of Christ; no man was ever placed in circumstances so likely to destroy this feeling, as was our blessed Lord at this time. My brethren, when we have lived as men generally do, without thought or reflection, except of the things and affairs of this transitory world; and paid no attention to that future day of judgment, which is so fast approaching, and when our eternal destiny will be determined; when we behold the coming
of death, and have made no preparation for it, never fixed our thoughts on religious subjects, nor acted agreeably to the dictates of conscience; have not restored our ill-gotten wealth; if we have slandered our neighbour; have made no reparation; have never learned what is the end of our existence, nor what is death; can we view the approach of the king of terrors, under these circumstances, without emotion? will not our minds be filled with confused ideas, and overpowered with the multiplicity of concerns; and having so many objects pressing on them, be prevented from attending to any.
But if we have, on the contrary, been, during the whole course of our life, considering our latter end, and following the example of our blessed Saviour; have always been diligent to do the work of the Lord, and have never lost sight of that awful period, to which we approach rapidly but insensibly; if such has been our conduct through life, we may meet death with calmness. When the Christian on his death-bed, beholds around him a weeping family, near relations and intimate friends full of grief, he still is calm, he retains his self-possession through a scene so affecting. Death to him is not a strange object, he views it without alarm, and employs the moments that yet remain, in administering consolation to his friends, instructing or comforting his family, or in the exercise of religion. And this tranquillity of soul is perhaps one of the best characteristics of a happy death, and yields greater satisfaction than more triumphant expressions, for which there is less solid foundation. I have seen men in whose minds the approach of death excites emotions that partake more of the turbulence of frenzy, than of zeal; they heap Scripture upon Scripture, and prayer upon prayer, and from not having thought soon enough of their last moments, they can now think only of them, and can neither see, nor hear, nor think, of any thing else. How different were the last moments of Christ; in the midst of all his agony, he still distinguished from the crowd of spectators his mother; he saw her, and pitied her, and recommended her to the care of his beloved disciple. Woman, behold thy Son, Son, behold thy mother.
We see, secondly, the tenderness and compassion of our Lord. There is a certain disposition in some, that partakes more of ferocity, than piety; that possesses none of the amiable properties of true religion. On pretence of being Christians, they cease to be men: as they must one day quit the world, they will form no connexions in it. Being occupied with the concerns of the soul, they forget the care of this life, and the concerns of it.
The piety of Christ was not incompatible with the innocent cares and concerns of life, he contributed largely to the pleasure of those with whom he associated, he behaved towards them with kindness, mildness, and condescension. He changed water into wine, at the marriage in Cana; he multiplied the loaves and fishes in the desert, to afford subsistence to those who followed him; he partook of the
feasts to which he was invited, and sanctified them with his heavenly conversation.
This compassionate kindness shone most conspicuous in the period referred to by the evangelist in the words of our text, the weighty cares of his soul, which he was on the point of yielding into the arms of his Father, did not make him neglect his temporal concerns, he thought of his mother's grief, he procured her a comforter of her poverty, and gave her a maintenance.
But, my brethren, the example of Christ is worthy not only of praise, but of imitation. The same religion, which directs our thoughts to a future state, and to the hour of death, teaches us rightly to perform our duties in the present life. A Christian before he dies, will regulate his affairs, make his will, exhort his family, direct the education of his children, recommend to them proper tutors and guardians, and declare what are his dying requests. But unhappy are they, who on their death-bed are wholly taken up with such cares; religion, while she directs us to give them a portion of our attention, forbids their having it all. Look to the example of Christ, who seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved, said to his mother, Behold thy Son, and to the disciple, Behold thy mother.
But how was Mary provided for, now she was under the protection of St. John; what was the prospect that she had before her: he was poor; it is true, that he was disposed faithfully to fulfil the trust reposed in him by his adorable master; and that poverty and misfortune, so fatal to common friendships, only served to animate his. But what assistance or protection could she hope for from an apostle devoted to his ministry, and treading in the footsteps of his crucified master. It was, my brethren, but a poor hope, a feeble consolation, for his mother to cling to; but here again we see the triumph of Christ, which he gained over those fears, which so often disturb the bed of death. We see in the last moments of our Lord, none of those suspicions, none of those bitter cares, that so often empoison the peace of the dying; that criminal distrust of God, which offends him at a time, when by prayer and praise we ought to conciliate his favour. Christ displayed on this, as on other points, a perfect confidence in the great Disposer of all events. But Christ triumphed again in another way, in which we should endeavour to imitate him. Do you say what will become of my children, or my family? Do you think that you were the only person to whose care God could confide them, or that if he calls you away, he will have no resource left for their subsistence? Do you think that the manifold wisdom of God, can raise them up no other protector? Do you think that if the paternal character excites in you such tender emotions, that he who is the Father of all, does not feel them also? Do you imagine that he who pardons all your sins, cleanses you from your guilt, snatches you from destruction, invites you to glory, will disdain to supply food and clothing, to those who survive you? No, he will not: had they for their sole resource, a man in such a sphere of life as was St. John,
they would never be reduced to want. “When my father and my mother forsake me," said the psalmist," the Lord taketh me up," Ps. xxvii. 10. Let us also say, if I leave my father and mother in their old age, or my children in their infancy, the Lord will protect them. They will find a shelter under the wings of the Lord, and he will be their defence.
rance of victory, and final triumph. After the first emotions of nature have subsided, when he had glanced at the objects around him, he rose superior to the things of this world, he knew that death puts a period to all sublunary connexions; that the titles of parent, friend, and son, are only vain names, when we come to the last hour. He no longer recognised his relations according to the flesh, he was going to form a new relationship in heaven, to merge all earthly ties in the countless families of glorified saints, of whom he is the head. He appeared to know no longer that Mary who had borne him, giving her no more the title of mother, but said, Woman, behold thy son.
O, why cannot I communicate a portion of this intrepid firmness of soul to those who compose this congregation; O that we may every one on the bed of death feel some of its influence, and be enabled to exclaim, Come ye spectators of my agonies, draw near ye to whom nature has bound me by the closest ties, by the cords of love and friendship. Approach my friends, my children, that I may bid you a final farewell: come receive the last pledges of my affection, let me, for the last time, fold you in my paternal embrace, and cover you with my tears of affection; but do not suppose, that I would now draw tighter the cords which are so soon to be broken; think not that I would unite myself to you still closer at the time when God warns me that I must leave you for ever. I know you no longer; I know not father, mother, or children, but those who exist in the realms of glory, with whom I am about to form eternal relationship, which will absorb all my temporal connexions.
Again, let us admire the firmness and selfpossession of our Lord: while beholding those objects that were most likely to shake it, Christ was possessed of a tender heart. We have already noticed this, and will now consider the principal circumstances in his life, that will justify this assertion. To this end, view him going from town to town, from province to province, doing good; see him discoursing familiarily with his disciples when he showed them a heart full of loving-kindness. Behold him shedding tears over Jerusalem, and pronouncing these affecting words, an everlasting memorial of his compassion, "If thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes," Luke xix. 42. Behold him again, a short time before his death, occupied with care for his beloved disciples, who were to remain on the earth, and addressing to his Heavenly Father that affecting prayer for them recorded in John xvii. with the feelings of a soul full of the tenderest emotions. Jesus was exemplary in the several relations of a friend, of a master, and of a son. While he beheld around his cross only those whose malice delighted to witness his agony and aggravate his sufferings, he turned his thoughts from earth, to that eternal world into which he was about to enter. But what was the effect pro- Thus the opposite extremities of virtue duced on his mind, by the sight of Mary, of seemed to meet in the death of our Saviour as whom it is expressly said in Scripture, that he in a common centre, the perfections of the Godloved her. What did he feel when he beheld head, holiness, compassion, constancy, pierced the disciple whom he had distinguished by his through the thick veil which shrouded his peculiar friendship; and that other Mary in grandeur, his glory, his power, and his mawhose favour he had wrought such great mira-jesty. O, ye witnesses of his death, if his hucles, "Ah, remove these beloved objects far from me, take away every tie that binds my departing soul to earth, your presence inflicts a sharper pain than the nails which pierce my hands; the sight of you is more insupportable than that of my murderers." Is this the language of our Lord: No: far otherwise; Christ remains firm, his courage is unabated. He was armed with almighty power, and he entered this dreadful conflict with the full assu
miliation caused you to doubt his Godhead, his greatness of soul must have fully proved it. Behold the tombs open, the dead arise, all nature convulsed, bears witness to the dying Saviour; the graces that shone forth in his death are proofs of his noble origin, and his divine nature; such was the death of Jesus Christ; may such be our end. "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." Amen. Numb. xxiii. 10.
ABEL, in what sense he yet speaketh, ii 280 | Antinomian, his notion of the divine mercy
encourage us to pray for wicked
on pretended miracles
the Arians also refuted in their whim-
Assurance, St. Paul persuaded of it
eight cautions concerning it ib.
assurance is demonstrated by the
it is illustrated under the notice
its extent liberally explained 292
of Christ as subordinate to the
portrait of an avaricious man
the bar of authority, at the bar of
Cæsar, his maxims and conquests
Characters described, the Jews