« ForrigeFortsæt »
the devil tempts to many other sins, he set a pattern before he laid the snare; when he tempts to lying or murder, he is a liar and a murderer himself from the beginning. But when he tempts to despise redemption, he tempts to a sin of which himself is innocent. Whatever example the devils give in other cases, the despiser of redemption sets a pattern which these forlorn angels are incapable of following; yea though redemption had been offered to them and despised by them, they could not have despised so great condescension. For though we know not their first sin, yet as to their nature, we have ground from Scripture to say, that it would not have been quite so great condescension to have assumed their nature as to have assumed ours. They are angels though fallen ones, and we should consider, that though they opposed the work of redemption, it was not their redemption but ours. They shewed their wickedness in opposing the work of redemption, but never in rejecting an offer of redemption.
These and the like considerations should excite sorrow, not only in them who never embraced this chief mercy, and in effect renounce all benefit by it, but even in sincere believers who have embraced it, but have not been careful enough about due gratitude for it. And that is an accusation from which none can free themselves; not to speak of our manifold neglects of praise and thanksgiving for it, in immediate addresses to God, our very acts of praise and thanksgiving themselves are among the chief things that shew our ingratitude for it, that is, on the account of the manner of performing them. And if there were no other argument for the corruption of our nature, the cold and indifferent way that we praise God for Christ is a demonstration of it.
Repentance for this ingratitude and unbelief, is one of the best exercises of faith and love, and one of the best helps to prayer and other spiritual exercises mentioned before, so suitable for this occasion. But it is not at this occasion only they are suitable, but be
fore and after it, and at all times. ing supposes them to be our habitual practice, and is designed for promoting it, yet there should be a transcendency, if I may speak so, in the performance of them at this occasion beyond all others. Communicating is beyond prayer, praise, meditation, because it joins these together, and adds more to them. It is beyond mere spiritual exercises of worship, because of the singular way that it employs not only the soul but the body. It is liker heaven than sacred communion with God, because it is an enjoyment of it in the visible communion of saints. It is beyond private duties, because it is a public ordinance, and beyond other public ordinances, because it has the use of them joined to it as subservient to it, and adds something to it. It is not merely a commemoration of God's chief gift, but a solemn receiving of it, and what it especially communicates is the very consummation of that blessed work, the Redeemer's death. It is an honourable distinction put upon it by the circumstances of its ap-. pointment, being immediately by the Redeemer himself, and at that remarkable time when he was entering upon these last sufferings which it chiefly comIt is therefore the most solemn and the chief performance of the chief exercises we are capable of.
But that should not make it seem a burden but a delight. It is more the Lord's work than it is ours. His generous work at his own table is to give, ours is
to take and receive.
Could we make ourselves in a manner spectators, but not mere spectators, of our own work, it would be easy to see we cannot form an idea of any work upon earth so great, or so honourable. The chief sight indeed that ever the world saw was the King of kings dying on a cross for guilty subjects. That was a spectacle beyond all comparison. But next to that, can there be a greater than to see a croud of such subjects, once condemned criminals, now invited and assembled at their reconciled Sovereign's table, at a feast
of reconciliation to receive a sealed remission of all their guilt, an infeftment into an everlasting inheritance, yea to receive the foretastes and first fruits of it, having as it were the pearl of price among their hands, jointly doing honour to God's greatest mercy and chief gift, and jointly employed about the noblest spiritual exercises we can conceive human nature, or any creature on earth or in heaven, capable of?
The greatness and excellency of the work shews the awfulness of it, the importance of right performance, and the danger of the contrary. To conclude, therefore; considering our work as a receiving of Christ, we should seriously reflect, that when we receive him, we can never receive any gift equal or like him to all eternity. And when we come to receive him at his table, we make the most solemn appearance before him that ever we can make on earth till he come again.
To his name be glory, honour, and immortal praise, for ever and ever.
THE LAW MAGNIFIED BY THE REDEEMER
ISAIAH xlii. 21.
The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake, he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.
THEN we consider ourselves as God's creatures, and consequently as his subjects, it is plain there is nothing more becoming us than to have high and honourable thoughts of his law. In the mean time there is scarce any thing more difficult for sinful corrupt creatures. It is the nature of transgressors and criminals to bear a grudge and prejudice against the law, because the law is against them. And one of the best means for curing these prejudices, by the grace of God, is certainly to consider the unspeakable honour done to the law in the work of redemption: so that we should love Christ for loving us, and his law, because Christ loved it, and honoured it so much; not that that is the only motive, but it ought surely to be a very great motive to us.
There are several things in this chapter that may satisfy us, that the words before us are to be understood of the work of redemption. All the preceding
• Preached in the North West Church of Glasgow, January 7. 1722.
part of the chapter is concerning God's sending his Son to the world, and the things that were to happen at that time. It begins, It begins, "Behold my servant whom "I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delights;" and then gives an account of the design and conse. quences of his coming. In the verses, immediately preceding the text, it tells us of a sort of enemies that Christ would have, and of the confusion they would bring on themselves; the Heathen that would continue obstinate in their idolatry, and the Jews. that would continue obstinate in their unbelief. What the prophet tells of the Jewish teachers, who are here called God's servants and messengers, (which name their office entitled them to, though their abuse of it made them unworthy of it), is but in other words, what the psalmist tells us, at the end of the 118th psalm, that those Jewish builders would reject that stone which God designed should be the chief stone of the corner.
Now when we consider this as spoken about the time of Christ's coming to the world, it is easy to reflect that at the time it was chiefly by the work of redemption that God did magnify the law, and make it honourable. Otherwise, as to God's special covenant with the Jews, it cannot be said, that God shewed himself well pleased with them. At that time the ceremonial law was abolished. It was the moral law was magnified by the satisfaction Christ gave it. The Jewish builders rejected Christ, they dishonoured the law. The words before us shew he put the greatest honour upon it. Besides, as the Scripture is its own best interpreter, this agrees perfectly well with what commendations are given of the work of redemption in other parts of Scripture. Thus, at the end of Rom. iii. the apostle, proposing this objection, "Do 66 we then make void the law ?" to wit, by the doctrine of redemption, or of the gospel; replies, "God for"bid; nay, we rather establish it :" for the 25th verse of that chapter tells, that it is thereby that God declares or magnifies his righteousness.