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Occupations like these are in their own nature cheerful and enlivening, infinitely more so than that most gloomy of all amusements, which is too often substituted in their room. They are suited to the character of the day. They partake in some measure of its sanctity. They are (as all the amusements of such a day ought to be) refined, intellectual, spiritual. They fill up with propriety and consistency, the intervals of divine worship, and in concurrence with that, will help to draw off our attention a little from the ob-. jects that perpetually surround us, to wean us gradually and gently from a scene which, we must some time or other quit, to raise our thoughts to higher and nobler contemplations," to fix our affections on things above," and thus qualify us for entering into that HEAVENLY SABBATII, that EVERLASTING REST, of which the Christian Sabbath, is in some degree an emblem, and for which it was meant to prepare and sanctify our souls.

SERMON X.

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1 COR. i. 22, 23, 24.

THE JEWS REQUIRE A SIGN, AND THE GREEKS SEEK AFTER WISDOM: BUT WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED; UNTO THE JEWS A STUMBLING-BLOCK, AND UNTO THE GREEKS FOOLISHNESS; BUT UNTO THEM WHICH ARE CALLED, BOTH JEWS AND GREEKS, CHRIST THE POWER OF GOD, AND THE WISDOM OF GOD.

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NE of the principal causes of the disgust which many persons have taken at the Gospel of Christ, is the very common, but very unfair practice of judging of it by ·preconceived expectations. They are not content to take what God thinks fit to give; to consider what it is that the Christian Revelation

Revelation really pretends to, what the ends are which it has in view, and how those pretensions are supported and those ends answered: but they sit down and fancy to themselves what kind of religion the Almighty ought to propose, and they should choose to receive; and then, not finding Christianity correspond to these imaginations, they are disappointed and offended, and reject the offer of salvation made to them, because it is not made precisely in their own way. Many instances of this unreasonable and perverse conduct might be produced from the writings both of ancient and modern infidels. But we need go no farther than the text for a very remarkable one; which will at once confirm the truth of the general position here advanced, and suggest some useful and seasonable reflections.

Both Jews and Greeks were, it seems, exceedingly offended at the cross of Christ, at the doctrine of a crucified Saviour, or deliverer of mankind. But what were the grounds of this great offence? The apostle plainly tells us, the reason was, " because "the Jews required a sign, and the Greeks sought

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sought after wisdom." That is, because they had each of them previously settled their notions of the manner in which God ought to interpose for the reformation and preservation of mankind; and therefore, whatever contradicted these ideas which

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they had taken up, would appear to them in the highest degree improbable and absurd.

The Jews, it is well known, by taking in too literal a sense some high-wrought figurative descriptions of the Messiah's spiritual kingdom and glory (especially a very remarkable one in the prophet Daniel*) and by laying more stress on these misinter preted passages, and the groundless traditions of the Pharisees, than on the plainer and more intelligible parts of the prophetical writings, had worked themselves into a firm persuasion, that the promised Saviour was to be a great and powerful temporal prince. They imagined, therefore, that his first appearance on earth would be suitable to such a character, splendid and magnificent; that he would by a series of victories, or some decisive blow, not only rescue them from the Roman yoke, but even extend the

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bounds and restore the lustre of the ancient

Jewish kingdom.

When, therefore, as the text expresses it, "they required a sign," they did not mean any great miracle in general, nor even (as is commonly supposed) any kind of sign, without distinction, given from heaven; but they meant probably, that precise individual sign above mentioned, the sign of the Messiah coming with visible glory in the clouds of heaven, with his holy angels round him, and all the other ensigns of celestial grandeur*. This illustrious appearance of their promised deliverer, they considered as so essential to his character, so indispensable a mark of his heavenly original, that they distinguished it by the name of the sign of the Son of Man, the sign of his coming. And, what is very remarkable, they frequently demanded this sign, even immediately after our Saviour had worked the most astonishing miracles. The reason of this was, because they thought that

* See Gerard on the Genius and Evidence of Christianity, pp. 177-205.

+ Matt. xxiv. 3. 30.

Ib. xvi. 1.; xii. 38. John i. 18, 19, 20.

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