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our sakes" that by his stripes we are healed”—and by his .death we are raised from destruction to everlasting life--what can I say that can add any thing to the sensations you must then feel ? No power of language can make the scene more touching than it appears in the plain and simple narrations of the Evangelists. The heart that is unmoved by it, can be scarcely human; but the emotions of tenderness and compunction, which almost every one feels in reading this account, will be of no avail unless applied to the true end-unless it inspires you with a sin. cere and warm affection towards your blessed Lord--with a firm resolution to obey his commands; to be his faithful discipleand ever renounce and abhor those sins, which brought mankind under divine condemnation, and from which we have been res deemed at so dear a rate.
58. Remember that the title of Christian, or follower of Christ, implies a more than ordinary degree of holiness and goodness. As our motives to virtue are stronger than those which are afforded to the rest of mankind, our guilt will be proportionably greater if we depart from it.
59. Our Saviour appears to have had three great purposes in descending from his glory, and dwelling amongst men. The first, to teach them true virtue, both by his example and precepts : The second, to give them the most forcible motives to the .practice of it, by “bringing life and immortality to light;" by shewing them the certainty of a resurrection and judgment, and the absolute necessity of obedience to God's laws. The third, to sacrifice himself for us, to obtain by his death the remission of our sins upon our repentance and reformation, and the power
of bestowing on his sincere followers, the inestimable gift of immor, tal happiness.
4 Comparative View of the Blessed and Cursed at the Last
Duy, and the Inference to be drawn from it. 60. HAT a tremendous scene of the last day does the gos
pel place before our eyes !-of that day, when you and every one of us shall awake from the grave, and behold the Son of God, on his glorious tribunal, attended by millions of celestial beings, of whose superior excellence we can now form no adequate idea. When, in presence of all mankind, of those holy angels, and of the great Judge himself, you must give an account of your past life, and hear your final doom, from which there can be no appeal, and which must determine your fate to all eter, nity : then think if for a moment you can bear the thoughtwhat will be the desolation, shame, and anguish of those wretched souls, who shall hear these dreadful words." Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and
his angels.”-Oh!- cannot support even the idea of your becoming one of those undone, lost creatures ! I trust in God's mercy's that you will make a better use of that knowledge of his will, which he has vouchsafed you, and of those amiable dispositions he has given you.
61. Let us therefore, turn from this horrid, this insupportable view-and rather endeavour to imagine, as far as is possible, what will be the sensations of your soul, if you shall hear our heavenly Judge address you in these transporting words—“Come thou blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Think, what it must be, to become an object of the esteem and applause--not only of all mankind assembled together-but of all the host of heaven, of our blessed Lord himself-pay, of his and our Almighty Father: to find your frail flesh, changed in a moment into a glorious celestial body, endowed with perfect beauty, health, and agility; to tind your soul cleansed from all its faults and infirmities; exalted to the purest and noblest affections ; overflowing with divine love and rapturous gratitude !-to have your understanding enlightened and refined; your heart enlarged and purified; and every power, and disposition of mind and body, adopted to the highest relish of virtue and happiness! Thus accomplished, to be admitted into the society of amiable and happy beings, all united in the most perfect peace and friendship, all breathing nothing but. love to God, and to each other ;- with them to dwell in scenes more delightful than the richest imagination can paint-free from every pain and care, and from all possibility of change or satiety ;-but, above all, to enjoy the more immediate presence of God himself—to be able to comprehend and admire his adorable perfections in a high degree, though still far short of their infinity to be conscious of his love and favour, and to rejoice in the light of his countenance !
62. But here all imagination fails : we can form na idea of that bliss which may be communicated to us by such a near approach to the source of all beauty and all good ;=we must content ourselves with believing, that it is what mortal eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.”. The crown of all our joys will be, to know that we are secure of possessing them for ever-what a transporting idea!
reflect on all these things, and not feel the most earnest longings, after immortality? Do not all other views and desires seem mean and trifling, when compared with this PAnd does not your inmost heart resolve, that this shall be the chief and constant object of its wishes and pursuits, through the whole course of your life?
64. If you are not insensible to that desire of happiness which
seems woven into our nature, you cannot surely be unmoved by the prospect of such a trascendant degree of it; and that continued to all eternity--perhaps, continually increasing. You cannot but dread the forfeiture of such an inheritance as the most insupportable evil !-Remember then-remember the conditions on which alone it can be obtained. God will not give to vice, to carelessness or sloth, the prize he has proposed to virtue. You have every help that can animate your endeavours : You have written laws to direct you—the example of Christ and his disciples to encourage you the most awakening motives to engage you—and you have, besides, the comfortable promise of constant assistance from the Holy Spirit, if you diligently and sincerely pray for it. O! let not all this mercy be lost upon you—but give your attention to this your only important concern, and
accept, with profound gratitude, the inestimable advantages that are thus affectionately offered you.
65. Though the four Gospels are each of them a narration of the life, sayings, and death of Christ; yet as they are not exactly alike, but some circumstances and sayings omitted in one, are recorded in another, you must make yourself perfectly master of them all.
66. The acts of the Holy Apostles, endowed with the Holy Ghost, and authorised by their Divine Master, come next in order to be read. Nothing can be more interesting and edifying., than the history of their actions of the piety, zeal, and courage, with which they preached the glad tidings of salvation, and of the various exertions of the wonderful powers conferred on them by the Holy Spirit for the confirmation of their mission.
Character of St. Paul. 67. THE character of St. Paul, and his miraculous conversion, demand your particular attention; most of the Apostles were men of low birth and educatim ; but St. Paul was a Roman citizen : that is, he possessed the privileges annexed to the freedom of the city of Rome, which was considered as a high distinction in those countries which had been conquered by the Romans. He was educated amongst the most learned sect of the Jews, and by one of their principal doctors. He was a man of extraordinary, eloquence, as appears not only in his writings, but in several speeches. in bis own defence pronounced before the governors and courts of justice, when he was called to account for the doctrines he taught.
68. He seems to have been of an uncommonly warm temper, and zealous in whatever religion he professed : this zeal, befort his conversion, shewed itself in the most unjustifiable actions, Dy furiously persecuting the innocent Christians : but, though
his actions were bad, we may be sure his intentions were good; otherwise we should not have seen a miracle employed to convince him of his mistake, and to bring him into the right way.
69. This example may assure us of the mercy of God towards mistaken consciences, and ought to inspire us with the most enlarged charity and good will towards those whose erroneous principles mislead their conduct : Instead of resentment and hatred against their persons, we ought only to feel an active wish of assisting them to find the truth, since we know pot whether, if convinced, they might not prove, like St Paul, chosen vessels to promote the honour.of God, and of true religion.
70. It is not now my intention to enter with you into any of the arguments, for the truths of Christianity, otherwise it would be impossible wholly to pass over that which arises from this remarkable conversion, and which has been so admirably illustrated by a noble writer, whose tract on this subject is in every bodly's hands.
Of the Epistles. 71. NEXT follow the Epistles, which make a very important part of the New Testament; and you cannot be too much cmployed in reading them. They contain the most excellent precepts and admonitions; and are of particular use in explaining more at large several doctrines of Christianity, which we could not so fully comprehend without them.
72. There are indeed, in the Epistles of St. Paul, many passages hard to be understood : such in particular are the first eleven chapters to the Romans; the greater part of his Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians ; and several chapters of that to the Hebrews. Instead of perplexing yourself with these more obscure passages, of scripture, I would wish you to employ your attention chiefly on those that are plain; and to judge of the doce trines taught in the other parts by comparing them with what you find in these. It is through the neglect of this rule, that many have been led to draw the most absurd doctrines, from the Holy. Scriptures.
73. Let ine particularly recommend to your careful perusal, the xii, xiii, xiv, and xv chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. In the xiv chapter St. Paul has in view the difference between the Jewish and Gentile (or Heathen) converts at that time : the former were disposed to look with horror on the latter, for their impiety in not paying the same regard to the distinctions of days and.meats that they did; and the latter, on the contrary, were inclined to look with contempt on the former, for their weakness and superstition.
TR Excellent is the advice which the Apostle gives to both
parties: he exhorts the Jewish converts not to judge and the Gentiles not to despise; remembering that the kingdom of Heaven is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
75. Endeavour to conform yourself to this advice; to acquire a temper of universal candour and benevolence; and learn neither to despise nor condemn any persons on account of their particular modes of faith and worship: remembering always, that goodness is confined to no party, that there are wise and worthy men among all the sects of Christians, and that to his own master every one must stand or fall.
76. I will enter no farther into the several points discussed by St. Paul in his various epistles; most of them are too intricate for your understanding at present, and many of them beyond my abilities to state clearly. I will only again recommend to you, to read those passages frequently, which, with so much fervour and energy, excite you to the practice of the most exalted piety and benevolence. If the effusions of a heart, warmed with the tenderest affection for the whole human race; if pre. cept, warning, encouragement, example, urged by an eloquence which such affection only could inspire, are capable of influencing your mind; you cannot fail to find, in such parts of his Epistles as are adapted to your understanding, the strongest persuasives to every virtue that can adorn and improve your nature.
The Epistle of St. James. 777. The Epistle of St. James is entirely practical, and exceedingly fine; you cannot study it too much. It seems particularly designed to guard Christians against misunderstanding some things in St. Paul's writings, which have been fatally perverted to the encouragement of a dependence on faith alone, without good works. But, the more rational commentators will tell you, that by the works of the law, which the Apostles asserts to be incapable of justifying us, he means not the works of moral righteousness, but the ceremonial works of the Mosaic law; on which the Jeros laid the greatest stress as necessary to salvation. But, St. James tells us, " that if any man among us seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man's religion is vain;"--and that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” Faith in Christ, if it produce not these effects, he declareth is dead, or of no power.
Epistles of St. Peter, and the first of St John. 78. THE Epistles of St. Peter are also full of the best instruc« tions and admonitions, concerning the relative duties of life