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• PLAN OF A SERMON.
27 humbled, we shall be concerned to walk with God, and to glority him; he will be our great all in all.
Divine Redeemer! manifest thyself unto the reader, as thou dost not unto the world ; let him sce thy beauty, let him feel thy power, let him enjoy thy love!
PLAN OF A SERMON.
To the Editor. Having lately heard several respectable readers of your useful Publication
express their wish that you would occasionally introduce a short Plan of a Sermon in a readable form, and at the same time rendered sufficiently obvious, in its distinguishing parts, to the Theological Student, I send you the inclosed as a specimen; and should it meet your views, you may expect other communications of the same kind from yours, &c.
P." LUKE XXIII. 28. Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for your
selves, and for your children. Our Lord Jesus humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the ignominious and painful death of the
cross ! Then was he so degraded, oppressed, and afflicted, that · he became an object of pity to those who followed him for the
gratification of curiosity; and of sympathy to those who followed him from affection to his character. But amidst all the insults and blasphemies of his enemies, he ma ntained the most perfect calmness of spirit. He did not complain; he did not murmur; he betrayed no disposition to reialiate. He was more affected by the aggravated guilt, and the approaching calamities of others, than by any sufferings he felt or anticipated himself, “ Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”
Let us first consider the IMPORT of this injunction. Jesus is not displeased with the tears of the people who followed him on this occasion, as the tributes of compassion for his sufferings, or of love to his person: no, he was of a tender spirit himself, and often wept, either as a friend or a preacher; therefore he must love such a spirit in his disciples; and if he rea'ly condemned the tears of these people, it must have been on account of something inconsistent in their principles, or in the expression of their sorrow. They wept over bis sufferings as the objects of a mere natural sympathy. Their sorrow bad no reference to any of the peculiar circumstances of his death, as the Saviour of lost men! They were not the tears of penitence for the siņs which brought him into such a state of degradation and suffering ; —they were not the tears of pity for the deluded souls who pursued him with such unrelenting barbarity: they were not the tears of patriotism for the calamities and ruin which the cruci. fixion of Jesus would inevitably bring upon their country ;they were not the tears of friendship, properly tempered with subinission and confidence; - they were not the tears of gratitude, in the contemplation of his great love; nor were they the tears of joy, in the anticipation of the blessings to be obtained by his death. When we exhibit a suffering dying Saviour, many weep; but the same effects might be produced by any tragic scene in which they have no interest, and the origin of which, they even know to be fictitious. We shall never a look upon him whom we have pierced, and mourn, and be in bitterness for him," till the Spirit of grace and of supplications shall be poured down from on high.
Secondly, Consider the REASONS of this injunction, in their essential application to Jesus himself. “Weep not for me.” The love of Jesus, under the influence of which he uttered these words, is sovereign in its origin. It is disinterested in its operations. It is infinite in its degree. The blessings of it are innumerable. In some future period of time, the displays of it shall be universal: and, as it bears an eternal date, it may be safely trusted for its eternal duration. The onnipotence of his love triumphed over all the rage of his enemies, and all his exquisite sufferings. He became insensible of his own woes, in his concern for others. When Jesus said to the daughters of Jerusalem,“ Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children,” he expressed all the tenderness of his sympathy and pity. They wept for him; but he knew there was greater cause of weeping for them *. On this ever-memorable occasion, he asserted and maintained the dignity of his spotless innocence this Because he did not suffer for his own sins, he endured the cross, despised the shame, and commanded the women who followed him, to dry up their tears, and cease their lamentations for him. Then also, we behold and adınire his wonderful and perfect meckness. Instead of attempting to escape from his barbarous foes, or of struggling against their diabolical power; instead of threatening, upbraidins, or uttering one complaining word, he is silent and passive; feeling nothing but compassion for his murderers, in the view of their impending ruin But, with neekness, under the cruelties of men, he united full submission to the will of God S. It is well with the suffering disciple, when, in imitation of his Lord, he can say to his syinpathizing friends, “ Weep not for me; this is the will of iny heavenly Father; and if he be glorified, I must rejoice."— The subunission of Jesus to the divine will, was perfected in his firın reliunce upon covenant-promises. llis work was all betore him; he knew his own sufficiency for
*Nat. xxxiii. 37. Luke xix. 41,41.
Heb. vii, 20. Mat. xxvii. is.
1 Luke xxiii. 34.
USB AND ABUSE OF THE TERM LEGÁLIST.
19 it; and the certain accomplishment of the promises, made to him by the Father, was the joy set before him ll. As he was led to Calvary, fainting under the weight of his cross, and covered with disgrace, he animated himself, by anticipating the glory included in such promises. When Jesus said to the daughters of Jerusalem,“ Weep not for me,” he displayed the illustrious magnanimity of his character :-his composure in the hour of trial, and his boldness in the dreadful conflict he was called to sustain. He was superior to shame, to fear, to surrounding danger*. Finally, The text will strikingly illustrate the fortitude of Jesus: the patience with which he endured the pains he was then suffering, from the scourges and blows he had recently received, froin the crown of thorns, and the weight of his cross.
Such was the temper and conduct of Jesus in the immediate view of his crucifixion. Let us, therefore, study his character, trust his faithfulness, imbibe his spirit, and follow his example, in every path of duty and of suffering, as the most indubitable testimonies of gratitude for his infinite condescension and love.
|| Psalm xxviii. Isaiah xlii. 1–4.
Mark x. 32, 34. John xviii. 4-8. xix. 10, 11.
ON THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE TERM
The doctrine of justification by free grace, is, of all others, the most consistent with Scripture, - the most replete with comfort to man, — and the most conducive to the glory of God. Our reformers were convinced of this ; and, therefore, instead of insisting upon salvation by works, they thought the best way of doing good to mankind, was to shew the miserable and lost state in which they were by nature ; and direct them to Jesus, as the foundation of their hope, and the only medium of their acceptance with God. We know the consequence; the truth ran, and was glorified ; multitudes were convinced; and, renouncing their own righteousness, were brought to depend entirely on the merits of Christ for salvation. All this was good; but not long after, a set of men arose, who, fired with indignation at the sentiments of those who expected to be saved by the works of the law, went into the opposite extreme; and, because the law was abolished as a covenant of works, thought, therefore, it was not to be considered as a rule of life. After these men, arose others, who, though not to be ranked with the former, yet, by the expressions they used, and the sentiments they advanced, gave room to
suppose that their doctrines rather tended to relax our obligations to holiness of life than to strengthen them. Now, although these men have been answered and confuted again and again, I am sorry to observe, there is still something of the saine spirit in the present day. It is no uncommon thing for those who insist upon the conscientious discharge of the various duties enjoined on them in the word of God, to be called Legalists. By a Legalist, I understand one who acts according to a law or rule; and, in this sense, every man ought to be a legalist, since he is in duty bound to obey God's sacred word; which is the rule given him for the regulation, of bis conduct.
Taking the word, however, in the sense generally affixed to it, as denoting one who expects salvation by his own works, it is certainly a most notorious abuse of the word to. apply it to those who, believing in the imputed righteousness of Christ, still contend for good works as evidence of love and obedience. Yet this is too often the case ; for since I have been acquainted with the religious world, I have heard some of the wisest and most evangelical ministers reproached as legalists; and all this, because they have exhorted their hearers, not indeed to save themselves, but to make use of the means which the gospel affords. I have been grieved when I have heard charges of this kind brought against those, who no more believed that man has power to convert himself, than he has to create a world. Besides, if all exhortations, precepts, and means, are to be laid aside, and not to be insisted on, - then a great part of the Bible must be useless; and a minister must not read a chapter in his congregation, nor a master in his family, lest he should meet with exhortations to duty, and thus be termed a Legalist.
But, what is still more affecting is, that a certain fear of being thus branded as a legalist, seems actually to have taken possession of many evangelical ministers; and hence it is that we can scarcely go into their places of worship, but we find them addressing the people as if they were all converted ; attempting to console their ininds, as if they were all convinced of sin; and exhibiting to them all the promises of the gospel, as if they were all greatly distressed about their state. Where are the just reproofs, the pointed exhortations, the close reasonings, the tender expostulations, and the warm addresses to the conscience, for which our forefathers were distinguished ? When I read the works of an Owen, a Howe, a Charnock, a Bates, a Manton, a Flavel, a Henry, and many others, I blush for many of the modern race of preachers; and do not wonder in hearing the complain of so few conversions in the present day! Alas, how can they expect any, when even the term application is proscribed among many of thienn? and, to say
21 any thing to sinners at the end of the seriaon, is not considered as preaching the gospel, but as a species of legality.
I am persuaded this is an artifice of the great enemy of souls, to hinder the usefulness of ministers, and to promote dissention in churches. Let those who have adopted this practice, ask themselves how tbey can reconcile it to their consciences, to leave out the preceptive part of God's word, merely because they are afraid of being called Legalists. How can they he said to fulfil their commission, to declare the whole counsel of God, and to acquit themselves of the fear of man? The doctrines of the gospel, indeed, are to be earnestly contended for, and the grand foundation to be built upon; but, as the Bible abounds both with doctrines and precepts, the one are not to be excluded for the sake of the other. Let those who do not love to hear of duties, seriously enquire whether they are following the footsteps of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and saints? whether they do not stand in need of being stired up lo spiritual diligence * ; or whether the apostle's exhortation on their system be not legal, when he says, “ Be ye stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord 7."
À MEDITATION ON I PETER I. 12.
Which things the Angels desire to look into. Ir is a truth, allowed by all Christians, that the dispensation under which we live, affords us far greater advantages for spirituality and heavenly enjoyment, than any other which preceded it. To us, life and immortality are bronght to light. The spirit that properly belongs to it, is not a spirit of bondage, but of adoption; crying, abba, father. The happiness attainable under it, approaches near to that of the heavenly world; so near does its land border, as it were, upon it, that believers, in the present state, are said to be" Come to mount Sion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalen, to the innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of the just made perfect,” &c. Yet it is no less true, that the greater part of professing Christians live as though they stood upon no such, ground, and possessed no such opportunities. We possess an Old Testament spirit amidst New Testament advantages. A promise is left us of entering into rest; but we seem, at least, to come short of it. How is this! Is it not owing, in a great