Page images
PDF
EPUB

neglect a plain and important duty, which they are bound by the strong and endearing obligation of gratitude to perform? Let them ask their own hearts to answer this question. Did they not have better evidence of a saving change soon after they hoped they experienced it, than they have generally had since ? Has not their evidence diminished, rather than increased ; and the irresolution to make a public profession become weaker and weaker ? And are they not still seeking after better and better excuses for their past neglect? I am speaking of none but real friends of Christ, and who have real evidence of it, but refuse to be enlightened, and comforted, and persuaded to do their duty. There are undoubtedly such persons in the world, and it is believed there are such persons in this place, and even in this assembly. Their neglect is injurious to themselves, injurious to this diminishing church, and injurious to Christ, who has merited their gratitude and obedience, by distinguishing marks of his pity, compassion, and special grace. There may be others, who had hopes of a saving change, but have lost them, because they were not well founded. But if they have lost their ground of hope, they have lost their ground of fear. Their state is extremely dangerous, and far more dangerous for having had and having lost their religious impressions. How must such persons feel on a sacramental Sabbath! They once hoped, and perhaps intended to come to the table of Christ, but now have but very little ground to expect that they ever shall come to the communion of saints in this world, or in the world to come. Can they bear the thought of an eternal separation from those whom they cannot but inwardly venerate and esteem ? a pious father, or a pious mother, or a pious brother, or a pious sister, or a pious friend.

This subject now applies to another class of hearers : I mean such as have never made a profession of religion, and who have no present desire nor intention of making a profession. Though Christ has died for them, and though he has invited them to come to him for life, and though he has waited to be gracious to them; yet they have despised and rejected his invitations, and gone their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and determined to postpone the care of their souls to an uncertain futurity. Can they justify themselves in thus neg. lecting their duty and their salvation? They must die as well as others, and they may die as soon as others.

When they leave the world, they must lose the world; and when they have lost the world, what source of happiness can they expect to find in eternity? They are not united with Christians here, and how can they be united with them hereafter? They are not united with one another here, for they are hateful and hating one another here; and how can they be united together hereafter? They do not love Christ here, and how can they love him hereafter? They do not love God here, and how can they love him hereafter ? They are enemies to all beings but to themselves, and therefore all beings must be enemies to them. And when they find themselves entirely friendless, they will find themselves completely poor, and wretched, and miserable. This, you will say, is a dreadful description of our situation. But is it an imaginary description? Is it not a scriptural description ? And can you paint to yourselves a better description of your future and eternal state, if you continue to neglect the great salvation offered to you in the gospel ? There is but one alternative before you-to choose life, or to choose death; to enjoy life, or to suffer death. Christ has drawn a line of separation between you and his friends, by admitting them to his table; and you have drawn a line of distinction between them and yourselves, by neglecting and refusing to unite with them in celebrating his death. Christ invites you, and they invite you to unite with them; and when

you

do this, and not before, will Christ receive you graciously, and love you freely

14

SERMON

XIII.

THE CONSTANT ATTENDANCE OF CHRIST UPON

DIVINE ORDINANCES.

"TAEN sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood

in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?" John, xi. 56.

WHEN Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, " then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and Pharisees a council, and said, What do we ? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.Then from that day forth, they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand : and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him.” As those men in the temple, who sought for Jesus, came on purpose to take him, that he might be put to death; so they and the council who sent them, had high expectations that he would be at the passover; and, though they did not find him at first, they had very little or no doubt that he would come to that sacred ordinance. This is plainly implied in the question they put to one another, 6 What

over.

a

think ye, that he will not come to the feast?They undoubtedly answered each other, He will come. They founded their expectation of his coming, upon their knowing that he had always been punctual, and never failed of attending the pass

This is the common mode of reasoning or conjecturing in such cases. If three men agree to meet together at a certain time and at a certain place; and two of them meet at the time and place, but the other is not present, they naturally ask, what think you ? will he not come? Yes, he will come; for I have long known his punctuality in fulfilling his promises and appointments. Christ had for years punctually attended the passover, and never failed; which was well known to the council, and to those who came to the temple to find and take him. Though Christ went to the city of Ephraim, and continued there with his disciples, which was at a distance from Jerusalem, yet he had such a great regard for public worship and divine institutions, that he would travel any distance, and surmount any difficulties, that any Jew would, in obedience to his Father's command, to attend an ordinance of divine appointment. Though it is not said in the text that he did attend the passover referred to, yet we may justly conclude that he did attend it; for there is reason to believe that it was the passover immediately preceding his crucifixion; and we know that he did attend that passover. The text, in this connection, naturally suggests this general observation,

That Christ was a constant attendant on public worship and divine ordinances. I shall show,

I. That Christ was a constant attendant on public worship and divine ordinances; and,

II. Why he was so.

I. I am to show that Christ was a constant attendant on public worship and divine ordinances.

His pious parents brought him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They constantly attended all religious duties, whether private or public. They solemnly and publicly devoted him to God at eight days old in the temple. “And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom:

, and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem.” It appears from this sketch of the life of Christ, that he was brought up to attend public worship and divine ordinances; from which it is natural to conclude, that he was a constant attendant upon these religious duties. Though he often preached in the open fields on common days, yet he always went into the synagogues to preach on the Sabbath, because he meant punctually to observe and maintain the public worship of God on the day he had appointed, and to teach the people to do the same. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do: but do not after their works : for they say, and do not.”

" Christ always attended the public worship on the Sabbath; and either preached, or heard the Jewish priest expound the law. We are told, when he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, that, “as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of Esaias the prophet.” And when he had opened it, and read a chapter, he closed it, and gave it again to the minister ; that is, to the Jewish priest, who usually officiated there. Thus it appears

that it was the custom of Christ, or his constant practice, to attend public worship on the Sabbath. Nor was he less punctual in attending other divine ordi

He attended the passover when he was twelve years old; and from that time to his entrance into the ministry, there can be no doubt of his constantly attending that sacred ordinance, though the evangelists say nothing about that, and but a very little about anything else in his life, until he appeared as a preacher. After that, we read of his repeatedly and constantly going to Jerusalem to keep the passover. And it was his constancy and punctuality in this practice that made his enemies so confidently expect that he would come to the feast, before he came.

I now proceed to show,

II. Why Christ so constantly and punctually attended public worship and divine ordinances.

Christ was a man, a descendant of Abraham, and by birth a Jew, and bound to obey all the laws given by Moses. the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” He was bound to observe all the ceremonial and moral laws given to the people of God under the Mosaic dispensation. Accordingly, he paid tribute to Cæsar, and observed the Sabbaths, feasts and fasts required by the law, and punctually fulfilled all righteousness. The question now is, why did he so constantly and punctiliously

nances.

66 When

2)

.

« PreviousContinue »