Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

creature as man was intended to do, and ought to do : That life which raises man above the level of mere animals, and clearly marks him to be of a fuperior order of beings: That life which fits him ador for the real duties, and the real enjoyments of manym in every situation in which he is placed : That life, ica which equally in the exercise of religion, and in a all the transactions of society, makes him conduct himself as an intelligent and accountable creature, placed for a short and uncertain time in this world, ij and destined for an immortal existence in a hap. v pier state : That life, in fine, which gradually advances towards the perfection of his nature, and which qualifies him for relishing the most refined, permanent, and progressive bliss, in the enjoyment of himself; of all the creatures of God wluich come within the sphere of his knowledge ; and above all, of God himself as his chief good. The carnal mind which is death, is enmity against God; but blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

This life Christ begins, carries on, and at last perfects by the gracious influence of his holy spirit, by which he renews us after the image of him that created us, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. By the doctrines of the gospel, he

enlightens

pugh enlightens and enlarges our understanding : By leve its precepts he regulates our hearts and lives: By of a its ordinances, he improves our souls in social him and devout affections : And, by his own example, inan he gradually brings us to the full ftature of per. life, fect men in him. This life thus begun, and cardin ried on is eternal. Christ hath obtained eternal duf redemption for us. “ He giveth unto his sheep ure. “ eternal life, they shall never perish, neither orld “ shall any pluck them out of his hand.” John X. zap. 28.-He who is spiritually alive, shall be fo

for ever. His present sentiments and dispositions, are only the foretastes of those of the blessed in heaven, the same in kind, though inferior in degree.--Eternal life is only the continuance and perfection of the spiritual life. This life which he came to bestow, is more abundant, than that life which man in innocence enjoyed. In a state of innocence, man was liable to fall from his innocence, and actually did fo; but to them who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation ; who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. And when, at the general resurrection their bodies shall rise fpiritual, glorious, and immortal, their fouls, clothed with such refined bodies, will most probably, in an eternal progress, rise to much higher attainments in knowledge, goodness, and

happiness,

B

happiness, than those of which man in innocence was ever capable. Such is the constitution of man, that his sentiments, dispositions, affections, and enjoyments, rise in proportion to the excellence and grandeur of the subjects on which he employs his mind. But not to mention other objects, the supreme object of contemplation and enjoyment, must appear to those who are alive in Christ Jesus, in a much more glorious and amiable point of view, than it did to man in innocence, or most probably ever could have appeared to man, if he had never needed a Saviour, even the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Hence it is, that this, which more than any other subject enlarges, improves, and delights all the faculties of man; this, which never could be a subject of contemplation to man in innocence, is the due theme of contemplation, enjoyment, and praise, to all who are alive in Christ Jesus. In Heaven they eternally fing: 6 To him that loved us, and washed us it from our sins in his own blood, and made us “ kings and priests unto God, even his fa“ ther, to him be glory and dominion for ever 6 and ever, amen.” Hence it is, that their degree of knowledge, of goodness, and of joy, will be greater than that which was attainable by man in innocence, and greater than that which is attain..

able

able by any other means, than those with which Christ hath blessed us in his gospel,

How happy should the world be, if all men would so discern the worth of this blissing, as to be excited to pursue it as the one thing needful. But alas ! the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. How happy should men be, if they cordially embraced the christian difpenfation? yet alas ! how many are there who continue in sin, though grace doth abound ; who turn the grace of God into wantonness; who so much neglect or despise the gospel of Jesus, that instead of the favour of life unto life, it is to them the favour of death unto death? Who then are those that shall receive life from Christ? The question to which our text directs our attention, is not concerning the intent of Christ's purchase, or offer of that life. Without entering upon the discussion of that question at present, we may rest satisfied that none shall ever perish for want of either power or willingness in Christ to save bim ; for Jesus is able to save unto the uttermost, all who come unto God through him, and he invites all who labour and are heavy laden, to come

B 2

unto

[ocr errors]

unto him, and find rest for their souls. But the question is, concerning the character of those who fhall in fact receive this life from Christ,

To set before you their character, is the second thing proposed, and what I now intend.

They are those whom, in the verses immediately preceding our text, Christ calls sheep. Forthe puririty of their hearts, the innocency of their lives, and the simplicity of their manners, are the friends of Christ frequently called sheep in the writings of the New Testament; and at the great day of final judg. ment, shall be placed on the right hand of the judge, But in particular, Christ tells us in the context, that his sheep, to whom he came to give life, know him, hear his voice, and follow him. Itt, They know him.—They know him, and firmly be lieve in him, as “ The Christ and the Son of ♡ God." They know him as that divine person, who thought it no robbery to be equal with God. They know him as the promised Messiah, the only Saviour of the world, the only Mediator between God and man, who is able to save unto theuttermost, all who come unto God through him. The evidences arising from the exact fulfilment of a long chain of prophecies ; from most aftonish, ing and public miracles; from the excellency and

perfection

« ZurückWeiter »