Page images
[ocr errors]

souls of men! How did it raise the human race in the eyes of principalities and powers, and the whole intelligent universe! We cannot conceive how Christ could have exhibited the souls of men in so important a light, in any other way, as by giving himself a ransom to redeem them.

6. The death of Christ unfolds the depths of divine wisdom in devising, adopting, and executing the glorious work of redemption. Who could have thought, that the glory of God, the happiness of man, and the great interests of the universe, could have been promoted by such an awful event as the crucifixion of Christ. But God from eternity saw, that just such a scene, with all the sin, and pain, and sorrow, which were then displayed, would spread light, and joy, and holiness through heaven and earth, and augment the blessedness of all holy beings to all eternity. Great is the mystery of godliness! God manifest in the flesh! “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” He gave his Son to die; he gave power to his enemies to put him to death ; and he gave opportunity to thousands of visible and invisible spectators to see the awful deed perpetrated, to the intent, that unto principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known his manifold wisdom in his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. In this great, extensive, and glorious plan of redemption, angels and men may contemplate the manifold wisdom of God, forever; for it will be forever unfolding more and more, until all the great and happy effects of it shall cease to flow, and are fully comprehended, by those who have delighted and always will delight in looking into it.

7. The crucifixion of Christ naturally leads the mind to reflect on the dismal state of those who shall be lost. If such things were done to the green tree, what shall be done to the dry? If the God of mercy could subject his dear, innocent Son to such appalling sufferings, who can conceive the dreadful miseries, which he will inflict on his guilty and incorrigible enemies! It was one principal design that God had in view in crucifying his Son, to show to the whole universe how he felt towards sin, and how much he was disposed to punish it. The death of Christ makes it as certain that he will finally punish the impenitent, as that he will finally pardon and save the репitent. How then can those escape future and eternal misery, who neglect so great salvation as Christ has provided for them by his death, and offered to them in the gospel ?

8. The crucifixion of Christ leads all true believers to confide in all the great and precious promises, which God has

[ocr errors][merged small]


made to them that love him. “We know," says the apostle, “that all things work together for good to them that love God. What shall we then say to these things ? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things ?” After the gift of Christ to believers, they have no room to doubt of his giving them any other gift which he has promised, or which will be most for his glory, and for their good, in time and eternity.



1. Since the affecting scene of Christ's crucifixion is calculated to suggest a train of serious and solemn reflections, the sacrament is a very trying ordinance. It is better adapted to try the hearts of communicants, than any other religious ordi

Reading the Bible, hearing the gospel, and calling upon God, are religious duties, which are suited to try the heart; but the mind may more easily attend to any or all of these duties without deep meditation and sensibility, than to sit at the table of Christ, which necessarily brings his crucifixion into view, and the glorious and awful consequences which might follow. These great, solemn, and interesting objects will find their way to the heart, and sensibly excite either right or wrong affections there. On this account the sacrament is trying before attendance. Professors cannot anticipate the sol. emin occasion without hope or fear, joy or dread of meeting Christ and his friends at his table. It is for this reason, every one is required to examine himself before he partakes of the Lord's supper, and determine whether he is worthy to eat of that bread, and to drink of that cup, which is a standing memorial of the body and blood of Christ. And if every communicant would seriously and critically examine the workings of his heart in the anticipation of coming to communion, he might form a very just opinion, whether he is, or is not prepared for that solemn duty. But if any neglect the previous examination of their hearts, yet when they come to commemorate the crucifixion of Christ, they will then be tried, whether they desire to be so, or not. They will sensibly experience love, joy, gratitude, and hope; or else stupidity, ingratitude, enmity and opposition to Christ, to his friends, and to his cause. They must feel, and feel right or wrong, and draw a conclusion whether they are, or are not heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And when they leave the communion table, they will

[ocr errors]

go away as the spectators of the crucifixion did, with sorrowful, or joyful reflections, which will continue to try their hearts. Though non-professors may imagine, that the sacrament is an unmeaning and trivial ceremony, yet all professors, whether sincere, or insincere, know by experience, that it is a very serious, searching, and interesting ordinance. It displays the justice and mercy of God in the face of Christ, and the sole foundation of pardon and salvation, upon which believers build their future and eternal hopes. It strips all the impenitent and unbelieving of all their self-righteousness, and throws them upon the unpromised mercy of God.

of God. It is extremely interesting to saints, to have their hopes of eternal life confirmed ; and it is no less interesting to sinners, to have their hopes of eternal life destroyed. All communicants know that their future and eternal hopes are tried, are confirmed, or are destroyed, by commemorating the death of Christ, which renders the ordinance above all others, trying, interesting, and solemn,

2. Since the contemplation of Christ's crucifixion has a direct and powerful tendency to suggest a train of serious and interesting reflections, it is peculiarly suited to promote the growth of grace in the hearts of all sincere Christians. It is only in the view of some spiritual and divine objects, that they ever exercise holy and divine affections. It is only in the view of the character, perfections, designs, and operations of God, that they exercise holy and devout affections towards him. It is only in the view of the character, conduct, and sufferings of Christ, that they exercise holy and right affections towards him. It is only in the view of the character, perfections, and official work of the Holy Ghost, that they exercise holy and proper affections towards him. And this is true of every holy and benevolent affection, that it is always exercised towards some object in the view of the mind. It was in the view of God, that Job exercised the deepest humiliation and self-abasement. have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." It was in the view of God as sitting on a throne high and lifted up, surrounded by a train of the heavenly hosts, that Isaiah was constrained to view and acknowledge his own vileness and insignificance. It was while the disciples of Christ were freely conversing about his crucifixion and resurrection, and while he, beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself, that their hearts burned within them with love, gratitude, and joy. All the great and glorious objects which Job, Isaiah, and the disciples saw and heard, are brought into view

[ocr errors]



ness of

at the commemoration of Christ's crucifixion; and suited to awaken in the hearts of the communicants the same solemn, holy, and delightful affections. How often have true believers exercised peculiar love to God, to Christ, to his friends, and to his cause, while sitting round his table? How often have they in the same situation, exercised a lively faith in the great and precious promises of the gospel? How often have they exercised deep humiliation and self-abasement for wounding Christ in the house of his friends, and seriously resolved to obey every intimation of his will in time to come ? How often have they carried their views and hearts to heaven, and joyfully anticipated the enjoyments and employments of the spirits of just men made perfect? The sacrament is every way adapted to exhibit such truths and objects as have a happy tendency to draw forth every holy, devout affection of the pious heart; and consequently to promote the edification, comfort, and fruitful

every real Christian. This has been realized by those who have constantly attended the Lord's supper. They have found themselves encouraged, strengthened, and assisted in pursuing their Christian course. And those who have been denied this privilege, have deeply lamented the want of this means of the growth of grace. All the sincere friends of Christ see the wisdom and the grace of Christ, in requiring them to celebrate the memorials of his death, and esteem it a great privilege, that they may attend an ordinance so peculiarly adapted to revive their languishing graces, and to animate and strengthen them in every duty, and to support them in every trial.

3. As the celebration of the memorials of Christ's crucifixion has a happy tendency to promote the growth of grace in the hearts of true believers, so it has a no less unhappy tendency to harden the hearts of insincere professors. All great truths, great objects, and great events, have a tendency to produce a softening, or hardening effect upon the heart. The crucifixion of Christ had a softening effect on some, and a hardening effect on others. The heart of his mother, and the hearts of his brethren, and of his friends, and of his sincere disciples, were melted into benevolence, sympathy, and compassion, while beholding his sufferings and death. But we know that this solemn scene had a hardening effect on the hearts of his enemies. “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also, the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him : for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also which were crucified with him cast the same in his teeth." Since the crucifixion of Christ had such different and opposite effects on the hearts of the actual spectators of it, it seems natural to conclude, that it must have different and opposite effects

the hearts of those who commemorate it. As it tends to soften the hearts of sincere believers, so it equally tends to harden the hearts of insincere professors. They are not pleased with the character of Christ, nor with his doctrines, nor with the great benevolent design which he is pursuing, and which is directly opposed to all their selfish desires, designs, and pursuits. They are not with him, but against him. They do not love him, but hate him. And the contemplation of any hated object always tends to increase hatred towards it. Insincere professors come to the table of Christ with reluctance, they sit at the table of Christ with reluctance, and go away more confirmed and hardened in their enmity and opposition to him, than they came. There is nothing which has a greater tendency to harden their hearts, to alienate them from the friends of Christ, to unite them to the men of the world, and to lead them to the neglect of every religious duty. It is very strange, therefore, that any suppose, that the sacrament is a converting ordinance to sinners. It is, of all religious ordinances, the most unconverting and hardening. Do not some insincere professors give too much evidence, that this has been the unhappy effect of their joining the church, and commemorating the memorials of Christ's death? But if some insincere professors have not exhibited this effect to the view of the world, have they not felt it in their own minds? Have they not found that, instead of growing in grace, they have grown in stupidity, by coming to the communion table? That, instead of becoming more punctual, they have become less punctual in attending public worship? That, instead of keeping their hearts with more diligence, they have been less diligent in keeping them? That, instead of being more united to the church, they have become less united to it? That, instead of being more engaged to promote the cause of Christ, they have become less engaged to promote it? And that, instead of finding their profession a benefit, they have found it a burden? Are they not conscious that these unhappy, hardening effects have actually resulted from their partaking of the Lord's supper unworthily? Hence,


« PreviousContinue »