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He gave himself, not merely to become a man, and dwell on earth-not merely to be our pattern, teacher and guide ; but to die in our stead, and to suffer a kind of death peculiarly painful and ignominious. He gave himself for us, 'not in hope of a recompense from us, but in his selfmoving goodness-in his disinterest. ed benevolence toward us.
“ The offering of Christ was a sweetsmelling savör. It was pleasing and acceptable to God, and, through his appointment became efficacious to obtain pardon and grace for men. The sacrifices offered to God, according to his institution, under the Patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, are called " a sweet savor to him ;" and he is said to “ smell a sweet savor in them.” The Apostle uses the same phrases to express God's acceptance of Christ's sacrifice, and its virtue to take away human guilt. God's law is magnified, his character is honored, and his justice is satisfied with the work which Jesus, as our Redeemer, has accomplished. And penitent sinners, now humbly applying to the mercy of God and relying on the atonement of the Saviour, will be admitted to favor as freely and completely as if they had never offended. As Christ, who knew no sin, has been made a sinoffering for us, so we are by faith made the righteousness of God in him. According to the terms of the new covenant, believers receive through Jesus Christ abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness—they are abund. antly pardoned their sins are extinguished as a cloud, and remembered no more. They receive life, and re
eive it more abundantly, than it was promised by the covenant of innocence. The righteousness of Christ has procured for them immortality far more glorious than Adam, in virtue of his own most perfect obedience, could have claimed.
This example of Christ's love to us is an argument of great force, why we should love one another. "Be ye followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us." As ye are children of one com. mon parent, who has expressed for you a most affectionate regard, see that you imitate his goodness in your regards for one another. If you are God's children, then you all stand in the relation of brethren, Express your gratitude to God for his parental good. ness to you, by walking in love toward all his house. hold. Dare not to indulge in your hearts hatred and enmity to those who are the objects of his love. Dare not to entertain malevolent dispositions toward any of the human race. Where will you find the man so unworthy of your love, as you are of the love of God ? Since you experience that divine compassion, to which you can pretend no claim, think none of your fellow sinners too low, or too criminal to share in yours.
As God is an invisible being, whose benefits we ex. perience, but behold not the benefactor ; therefore, by a natural transition, the Apostle calls our attention to Jesus Christ, in whom the divine goodness and love are made conspicuous to sense, as well as credible to faith, Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, has man. ifested himself in human flesh, and rendered the divine character familiar to human apprehension. That there. fore we may imitate the love of the invisible God, lét us look on his visible image in the person of the won. derful Saviour and behold and admire his goodness, dis. played in the example of his divine Son dwelling a. mong men. “Be ye followers of God as Christ hath loved us." He
gave himself, not only to become a man compass. ed with our infirmities, but also to become a victim bleeding for our iniquities. Let us put on Christassume his character, especially his benevolence, meek. ness and love. Vain.are our pretensions to the character of Christians, if we have not the mind which was in Jesus, and if we walk not as he walked.
Let us cooperate with the design of his death, in our zealous endeavors to advance the glory of his
church, and the virtue and happiness of our fellow
Let us condescend, in matters of indifference and doubtful disputation, to our honest and wellmeaning brethren; and if there are any whom we esteem weak, let us more cheerfully bear their burdens.
Let us forgive those who injure us, when they give us tokens of their repentance; and let us entertain un. feigned benevolence to all men, even to the most unrelenting and implicable enemies.
In our .common behavior and daily conversation, let us not be assuming, but humble- not supercilious and disdainful, but meek and courteous.
Let us contribute to the happiness of those around us, by reclaiming the vicious, warning the careless, instructing the ignorant, encouraging the virtuous, relieving the necessitous and comforting the sorrowful. This is an imitation of Christ's love, and an evidence of our relation to him.
It is observable, that, in the gospel, no argument is so frequently urged, as the example of Christ, to persuade us to mutual love, because none is so well adapted to influence the mind of a Christian. And it is also worthy of remark, that God's approbation of Christian charity is expressed in the same terms, as his acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ ; for charity to our fel. low Christians flowing from a sense of Christ's dying love, is a virtue of distinguished excellence. As the death of Christ is called "a sacrifice for a sweetsmelling savor," so Christian charity is called “ an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”_When we do good and communicate, we of. fer“ a sacrifice with which God is well pleased.
Let it be our care to follow Christ in his goodness and love, and to learn of him humility, condescension, mercy and forgiveness. Thus it will appear, that we are his disciples.
Religion is a plain and obvious thing. It is an imi. tation of the moral character of God, brought down to human view, and familiarized to human apprehension in the life of Jesus Christ.
Whenever you feel a doubt concerning the nature of religion, take your Bible, and see what is the char. acter of God--what is the temper, which appeared in Christ-what is the life, which he lived in the flesh ; and soon your doubt will be resolved. Those opinions and usages, which have no influence to promote, or prevent our conformity to the life of Christ, cannot be in any respect very useful, or very dangerous.
We see, farther, that the sacrifice of Christ is of great use, not only as an atonement for guilt, but also as an exanıple of love. Accordingly the gospel improves it, as well to inspire us with friendly and be. nevolent dispositions toward one another, as to encourage our faith and hope in God's mercy. We are too apt to consider Christ's death in that single view, as opening a way for the exercise of God's mercy to us : But the gospel, besides this, represents it as intended to open our hearts to the exercises and feelings of mercy to one another. It improves it as an argument to persuade us, not only to repent of our own sins, and apply to God's forgiving love ; but also to forgive one another, as God for Christ's sake forgiveth us. And until we feel on our hearts this effect of the Redeemer's death, we are not interested in the heavenly blessings procured by its merit. “ If, therefore, there be any consolation in Christ, any comfort of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any bowels and mercies ; be ye likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife and vain glory; but, in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others ; and let that mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Against Impurity, Avarice and Foolish Festing.
EPHESIANS, V, 3, 4, 5, 6.
But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetouaness, let it not de
once named among you, as becometh: suints ; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient ; out rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words for because of these things cometh the wra!! of God on the children of disobedience.
OUR Apostle is still describing the Christian life, inculcating the virtues which belong to it, and dissuading from the vices which oppose it.
The preceding verses, in this and part of the former chapter, state the Christian temper, as it respects our fellow men. The words now read inculcate Christian sobriety ; and warn those who are called saints against imitating heathens and sinners in uncleanness, covetousness and foolish jesting.
I shall, first, distinctly consider the several sins which the Apostle here mentions. And, then, I shall open and apply the argument subjoined.
First : We will consider the several vices here mentioned. "Fornication and all uncleanness, and covetVol. III.