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Look at the humble and suffering Christian, stretched upon the bed of sickness, and about to be separated, by an unexpected and mysterious dispensation, from the objects of his tenderest affection. Disease of body and anguish of heart ate united to overwhelm him. He sees before him nothing in this world but agony and death. Around bim are assembled those in whose happiness his own was involved; whose welfare has been the subject of his daily prayer and nightly meditation ; whom he hoped to have trained up to everlasting glory by his instructions and example. He must shortly be torn from them in the midst of his years, and leave them in a rude and ensnaring world, exposed to sufferings and temptations from which his parental watchfulness can no longer protect them. Yet, in all his affliction, his faith is still unshaken; his countenance is still animated with a smile of holy confidence; and his heart still glows with gratitude and love to his Almighty Benefactor. Such, in every age, according to the measure of their grace, have been the faithful servants of a crucified Saviour. Such more eminently was one* whose untimely loss many of us have lately deplored; the memory of whose wisdom and piety this writer delights to cherish ; and to whose honoured name he consecrates, with a mournful satisfaction, this humble tribute of veneration and affection.
The motives to Christian thankfulness are as nu
The Rev. John Venn, late Rector of Clapham.
merous as the mercies we enjoy, the dangers from which we have been rescued, and the blessed hopes which are presented to us. But, as in an extensive prospect, we select some commanding features in connection with which the lesser objects may be surveyed more advantageously, let us confine our attention at present to three topics, in each of which the great bounty and goodness of God are more remarkably visible.
And first and chiefest, as the most high and ineffable manifestation of the Divine love, the foundation and the seal of all our blessings, let us consider for a moment that stupendous dispensation, the gift of the only begotten Son of God; who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. In the contemplation of this astonishing transaction, the mind will sometimes stagger as under a weight too vast for its weakness; and in a mingled transport of joy, and fear, and wonder, we are ready to exclaim, “ Are these things so ?” But shall we doubt the possibility of an event, only because it proves the love of God to transcend the height of our conceptions ? Shall we imagine, that He who is incomprehensible in his wisdom, can be less infinite and immeasurable in the most excellent of all his attributes ? Let us rather yield to the full tide of feeling, in the grateful reception of this inestimable blessing. To a sinner, deeply humbled under the sense of his offences, the knowledge of a Redeemer is unspeakably precious ; it is as the sounds of the seraphic choirs that first break upon the diseinbodied spirit. And the deeper our views become (as, if we advance in holiness, they will continnally become deeper), of the evil of sin and the magnitude of our past and daily offences, the more sensibly shall we feel the extent of that goodness which has provided an atonement so infinite in value. Humiliation and self-abasement will be almost identified with faith and love to an Almighty Saviour ; so true is it in the Gospel dispensation, that while we seem to sink we are indeed ascending, and become poor in spirit only that we may be rich in faith. Above all things, let us not receive with coldness this “ unspeakable gift.” To be a little thankful for the greatest of all blessings, and faintly affected with that exhibition of the Divine beneficence which has filled the highest created intelligences with adoration and wonder, seems, if possible, to be a greater affront to our Heavenly Benefactor than the entire rejection of his bounty. The Christian will endeavour unceasingly, by prayer, by contemplation, by the penitent recollection of past offences, by a watchful observance of daily failings, by the sense of present help, by the hope of future glory, by all the resources of nature and all the means of grace, to rally his spirits and renew his strength, that he may appreciate with an ever-growing sensibility this great manifestation of the loving-kindness of his Maker, the highest evidence of his goodness, and the pledge of his promised mercies. If the pressure of his own distresses, or sympathy for the sufferings of others, should for
a moment disturbed his inore settled convictions, he will fly for consolation to that amazing truth, that He, whose power and wisdom and happiness are ineffable, “spared not his own Son, but delivered hiin up for us all.” The pomps, the riches, the honours of this life are for those who desire them. Ours be the language of the Apostle; “ God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto ine and I unto the world." For “ we know that we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, froin our vain conversation ; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” And“ worthy is the Lainb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." “ Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
If there be any thing which can awaken our gratitude in a measure at all comparable with the riches of the mercy of God in the great mystery of redemption, surely it is the long-suffering and condescension which he has exhibited in all his dealings towards us. Who are we that we should be re- . garded by the Most Highest?
Transgressors from the womb,
We are born in weakness; we are reared with difficulty ; we are supported with sustenance day by Vol. II.
day like the meanest animal in creation; and every night we must subunit to the suspension of our faculties for many hours, that we may enjoy them with
any tolerable comfort during those which remain. And yet, in truth, our condition as animals is that of which we have the least reason to be ashamed. It is the perversion and depravation of those powers which were bestowed on us for the noblest purposes, which is the proper subject of abasement. How have our hearts been alienated from God, and carried away by the most foolish vanities! How have our understandings been exercised to advance every earthly project, while the highest knowledge and only true wisdom were little regarded! I do not speak of flagrant enormities, they carry with them their own condemnation. But is there one among us, even the best, who will venture to hope, that, in the course of a long life, he ever passed a single hour which could be perfectly acceptable to his Maker? Yet anidst all our sins and all our infirmities, who is it that has fed, and clothed, and sustained, and cherished us Who protected our infancy, and guided our youth; and blessed our maturer years? Who raised us from the bed of sickness, and shielded us from a thousand dangers ? We are apt to indulge high fancies of our importance, but let any one impartially consider this simple question: Why was I thus preserved ? I had offended against my Maker from my earliest years; and he knew that I should dishonour him by multiplied transgressions, and even in my best