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who dies in despair! What must sin be which drove thee to this? How shall he be lost who hath thee for a sacrifice, and a fellow-sufferer? How the blood begins to 'stagnate in thy wounds! What a ghastly paleness overspreads thy countenance ! How those eyes that have often swam in tears of tenderness for the miseries of mankind, now roll in the shadows of death, of voluntary death, suffered for our sakes and by our hands!
Hah! What cry is that ! What darkness! What shaking of the earth! What yawning of graves ! What 'rending of rocks! The dead, the very rocks, hear thy dying cry, 0 Sayiour of souls! The sun hides his face from thy death, who gave him being. Hell feels the stroke of that death, which destroys him that had the power of death, and rousing her infernal fires, throws the upper earth into convulsions!
What language of angels can do justice to the wonders of this scene? If we have but hearts we want not their tongues. If our infinite benefactor, who searches the heart, reads himself beloved, and sin hated, in that seat of our affections, then it is true that we know Christ, and him crucified.
But if we read or hear of his death, with as little concern as we do that of Cæsar, or with less than we feel for that of a favourite character in a romance, what ought we to think both of our understandings and hearts ?
And now, that the extreme heinousness of sin is more fully laid open by the sufferings of Christ, than it can possi. bly be by any, or all other means; by even the torments of hell; what judgment shall we pass on ourselves, and our condition, if we continue in sin, if we love it, if we even prefer it to Christ himself? Nay, if by our repeated acts of wickedness we ungratefully crucify him afresh, and put him to open shame again? If by ten thousand acts of the kind we repeatedly crucify him, and at the same time mock him by our professions ? This is going farther than ever the unbelieving Jaws did. They did not pretend to be in earnest, as we do, when they called him their King. They crucified him in the character of declared enemies; we in that of friends and worshippers. They fulfilled the prophecies, and even concurred with Christ's own intention, in the cruelties they exercised on his natural body; we transgress the com
mandments of God, and disappoint the gracious intention of Christ, by those we inflict on his spiritual body, for which he sacrificed the natural, as less dear to him, and as less sensible of pain.
Is all this now to pass as pure ingratitude? Is there no mixture of folly here? May souls, so extremely vile and unworthy, hug themselves in their baseness, and always take insensibility for safety? No, no, sin must end in misery; and the sin of a Christian, wilfully 'treading under foot the blood' of Christ, in the keenest misery. Ingratitude therefore of this dye is not so much folly, as infatuation, or hell is no longer hell. The sufferings of God incarnate despised, and wickedness continually Aung in his face, by men who profess themselves his disciples, his servants, his worshippers, must meet with its full reward, if in that pit of fire and darkness there are torments sufficient to requite such wickedness.
What must sin be, when nothing but the blood of God's only son could wash it away? When God spared not his only-begotten, his well-beloved son, in whom he was well pleased, but poured on him, in the character of our representative, the vengeance due to our offences? If God spared not the imputation of sin in his son, how shall he spare sin itself in us, who cannot sin, without forcing a new nail or spear into the body of Christ? If sin could do so much in a green tree, what must it do in a dry.' If by our perseverance in wickedness we turn the sacrifice made for us into our greatest guilt, who shall atone for this guilt? What other sacrifice do we look for? Who will offer higher for our salvation, than Christ? Who shall come after God?
It is impossible to be saved from the punishment of sin, without being first saved from sin itself. As Christ was born for the true Christian, so the true Christian ‘is born' a-new to Christ ' by water and the spirit.' But this second birth never takes place, till the old man dies to sin for Christ, as Christ did for him.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves with the like mind, for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin; that he no more should live the rest of his life in the flesh, in the lusts of men, but to the will of God. Our life cannot be hid with Christ in God,' till we have mortified our members which are upon the earth,' till we are dead to this world, and our fleshly nature, till .our affections' are removed from things on earth, and set on things above.' We must 'mortify the deeds of the flesh,' if we would live the life of the righteous. • They that are Christ's have crucified the affections and lusts.' It is true, that by the righteousness of one,' that is Christ, the free gift hath come upon all men unto justification of life. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. What shall we say then? Shall we sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know we not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? We are therefore buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in tiewness of life; for if we have been planted together into the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin, for he that is dead is freed from sin, Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Let us not therefore suffer sin to reign any longer in our mortal body, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof. When we were the servants of sin, we were free from righteousness; but now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.'
Instead of encouraging ourselves in wickedness because Christ hath atoned for it by his death; we see here, that the strongest arguments and motives for repentance, for a thórough reformation of manners, for a new and holy life, are taken from that very death, from that very atonement. Baptism is but an empty ceremony, a cheat put on ourselves, and an insult offered to Christ, in his own solemn institution, if it is not considered, as the very death and crucifixion of all that is vile and sinful in us; if there is not truly in it 'a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness.' To what purpose would it be to call men out of this world, to bring them into God's family, to make them his children, and to place them round his table; if no change is to be made in them, if they are still to be conformed to this world,' if they may still be slaves to their fleshly corruptions, if they may continue, as before, the children of God's enemy? the children of God must fear and love, must obey, must resemble their Father, or they can be his only in name and pretence. There is nothing surer than that our baptism is a charter of inestimable privileges; but it is as sure, that those privileges are held only by the suit and service of a truly Christian life, contracted for and vowed at the time when we were washed, and new clothed, for the train of our heavenly King.
This doctrine will startle many; as it will, to assure them, that Christ died not for them, as on this day, unless they will die for him. He kept this solemnity, for the first time, in torture of body, in anguish of soul, in a baptism of blood, in the horrors of death; and can we keep it in lukewarmness, in indifference, in ease and security, in a life like the rest of this world? If we can, we are none of his; we feel not with him, neither the sharpness of his pains, nor the weight of our own sins; we are not, cannot be, members of
No, were we all one body of Christ, as in one body there can be but one mind, we should all be animated, all governed by the mind which is in Christ Jesus, that divine, that holy, that almighty mind, which suggests the thoughts, forms the resolutions, and regulates the actions of every man in whom it presides. There is no wider nor more distinguishable difference, than that between the mind of Christ, and the mind of the unregenerate. The dishonest have not his mind, which is truth and light itself. The incontinent have not his mind, for he is purity in perfection. The proud have not the mind of Christ, who washed the feet of his own disciples. The revengeful have not the mind of Christ, who loved, prayed for, and healed his enemies. The despiser of God's word, the breaker of his sabbath, the neglecter of his table, have not the mind of Christ, are by no means united to his body, inasmuch as it is by these that the mind and spirit of Christ conveys itself through all the true and living members of that body. The idolizer of his own reason hath not the mind of Christ, who had infinite wisdom and humility together; whereas in this man there is nothing but ignorance
and conceit, or he could never have formed an high opinion of his own understanding.
All these are more or less disposed to infidelity, and particularly to take offence at the cross of Christ. The dishonest worldling cannot think of forsaking all, and following Christ with a cross on his shoulders. The incontinent is with difficulty brought to believe, that God requires the denial and mortification of passions, made by himself a part of our nature. The proud, who will not suffer the smallest inconvenience from his inferiors, cannot believe; that God could stoop to such indignities from men.
The ill-natured, who will even take pains to hurt and afflict others, cannot conceive, that any being could suffer so much to make others happy. The revengeful, who is so delighted with retorting injuries, hath no 'notion, that Christ meant to save his murderers. The conceited disputer of this world cannot see the necessity of an atonement for one so righteous, nor of instruction for one so wise, as he is ; and what he cannot see, he will not believe.
And are all these to be struck off the list of Christians? Most surely, if they continue the same, or the Holy Spirit knows not what a Christian is. This, you will say, thins the Christian, and crowds the heathen world prodigiously. Do not mistake the matter, as to the addition, you seem to imagine will be hereby made to the number of heathens. If you are one who think to take the benefit of this dismiss, you will be grievously disappointed. You have seen the light, and must account for it. You fly from it, because it makes manifest and reproves your evil deeds ; or you brave it with an open perseverance in works of darkness; and do you hope to herd among the heathens, who are to receive the smallest number of stripes?
The wicked heathen shews himself unworthy of the reason bestowed on him, forgetful of the high rank he is placed in by his Maker, and ungrateful for all he enjoys, or rather abuses. In all these respects you are as culpable as he; and besides,'having been once enlightened, and having tasted the good word of God, you fell away both’ ' in principle and practice, crucifying to yourself the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame.' The heathen sinned without the light; you against it. He knew not the truth; you held it in unrighteousness. He abused this