« السابقةمتابعة »
the manner of the influence; for, as our Saviour speaks, the wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but know not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth (the effect that we see of it, is sufficient proof of its existence); so is it with the working of the Spirit. If we produce its fruits (on the principle of faith in Christ's merits having obtained the gift for us), the Spirit then witnesseth with our spirit, that we are the children of God; for from hence we draw the certain and comforting conclusion, that as man's first degree of uprightness was the free gift of God alone, so it is impossible we can ever recover a true state of holiness but by the gift of God, through Jesus Christ, by God working in us, to purify us, as he did in the person of our Lord. By our blessed Saviour's joining in his own person, perfection with humanity, we receive the greatest encouragement to strive after proportionate holiness, according to the degree of our power; and that power, as it comes from God, we may be sure to receive in due measure for our salvation and future glory, if we do not quench the Spirit that produces it. Christ was in all points tempted like as we are, to leave us an example, that we should follow his steps; for he hath obtained of the same Spirit for us, by his sufferings. Gratitude and humility should then unite to magnify that holy name that hath
wrought such great things for us. duly reflect on the deep mystery of Christ's incarnation; on the prodigious mercy of our redemption, and DELIVERANCE from sin and death; on the blessed hope of a glorious RESURRECTION, and endless HAPPINESS in heaven; who can forbear exclaiming, O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For of him, and to him, and through him, are all things. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen,
THE CREED. FOURTH ARTICLE.
On the Belief that "Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, and that he descended into hell."
JOHN, XIX. 16.
Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.
HEBREWS, II, 10.
For, it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the chief Captain of their salvation perfect, through SUF
THIS is that part of our Creed or Belief, my brethren, that should make us hang our heads with shame and sorrow; that should for a while possess us with the humblest mourning; that should stir up inward grief in the souls of the very best of Christians, and cause us to wonder at this great thing that the Lord our God hath done for us! Very necessary, indeed,
is it that we should fully believe this article; since, by the stripes of this loving Saviour, we are healed. Nearly doth it concern the trembling sinner to examine the proof of Christ's sufferings. Valuable is the satisfaction derived to the faithful, from every circumstance of this relation; every action, every word, carries its weight of interest. Every indignity our blessed Master received, every base injustice, every barbarous suffering, all contribute to increase the dear price of our redemption. The detestable nature of sin, and the just curse it had called down on the rebellious, rendered all that is contained in this fourth article, absolutely necessary to be performed, that sin might be destroyed, and death and Satan conquered.
In my Lecture upon the former article I took some pains to show you, that the end of Christ's being born of the Virgin Mary was, that, having a human body in every respect like ours, liable to weakness, pain, and suffering, he might be capable of DYING for us. It was às positively necessary to accomplish the will and wise counsel of the Most High, who sent his only Son into the world to save us, that the body he derived from the substance of his mother, should be equally fitted for the sacrifice he was to make on the cross, as by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, it was so prepared as to be free. from sin
As, in this article, our assent to the sufferings of our Saviour is placed before our belief in his being crucified; it is right we should first inquire what these sufferings were. Doubtless, they were many and great; and we need only refer to the history of his life, as related by the Evangelists, in the Holy Gospel, to furnish us with the particulars. But before we produce them, we need only consider the present constitution of man's nature, to be assured, that, under the circumstances of Christ's natural birth, and his progress to man's estate, he experienced every evil to which human nature is unavoidably exposed. Even this reflection supplies abundant subject for holy meditation, for profoundest gratitude, and humblest wonder. That the eternal Son of God should condescend to take upon him such a body, and be subject even to its weakness and common miseries, for our good, would alone demand the utmost acknowledgment and duty our whole lives could show. But, when we contemplate his further sufferings, we can express our astonishment in no shape so proper, as by silent veneration. No terms can be employed beyond what the Apostle mentions on the subject that so great is the mystery, that the very angels are astonished at it, and desire to look into it.
The serious improvement I could wish to