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doubtless, lead us to improve this, and every such like Occasion of committing the Bodies of our Friends to the Dust, towards securing the one thing needful.
The irregularities of youth, are the chief cause of an infirm and painful old Age and at that period, they will speak to lis; " whether we will hear, or whether we will forbear."
Having at that stage of life, nothing in this world, to support us against the consciousness of former Guilt, our only comfort will be in our fying to Christ; in the stedfast Faith,—“ That he purchased for us, a Redemption, not merely from temporal, but everlasting Evils; that, through Him, our God was not now*, such a God as under the Law, scarcely to be propitiated with Thousands of Rams; or ten thou. sand Rivers of Oil; but a reconciled God, drawn in the most amiable and adorable Light! That we are not left under the Sentence of our first Parents, to cry out, “ O wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from this Body of Death?” But, that we can ook up to our blessed Redeemer, who hath opened to us anew and living Way-away in which we may be first justified in the Sight of God, then pardoned of our Sins; then sanctified, assisted, and invigorated, in the Discharge of our Duty.
This plan is matter of wonder and Joy, even to the holy Angels; as thereby the efficacy and Dignity of Grace are maintained, and yet the Will of Man left free; that, by it, also, our own Righteousness is
* Some thoughts in this Sermon necessarily occurred in the former, from the Text--" The Hoary Head is a Crown of Glory," &c.
abased, and the Righteousness of God exalted ; that by it, Repentance and Acceptance must precede Pardon, or any Works that can be accounted to us as Righteousness; and that Grace must accompany these Works too, in order to procure us Favour and Allowance for their numerous imperfections.
• There is no other way of being saved but this. We have no new Instructors or Teachers to look for from Heaven; no new Lights or Assistance to wait for; nor are we to dream of any other Covenant, any other Mediator, or any other Saviour to come into the world. Jesus Christ, on the Cross, pronounced the Work of Redemption finished; and that to Him was put in Subjection the World that now is, as well as that which is to come; that He it was who had got the Victory over Death and the Grave; that to Him were committed the Keys of Hell and. of Paradise; that He was become the sole Head of all Spiritual Things; and that there could be no Church on Earth, but under His absolute Subjection, and no entrance into the Church of God above, but through His adorable Name!
But our hopes in Christ must be carried farther than this World. For, says St. Paul, “ if in this Life, we (whose Consciences are thus wounded with a sense of Sin) have no Hopes in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
In these words, the Apostle seems chiefly to have had in View, the Case of some Corinthians; who, though they embraced the Doctrines of Christ, and acknowledged their divine Authority, and glorious Tendency to reform the Lives, and better the state VOL. I.
of mankind in this world; yet carried the matter no farther, and seem to have been corrupted by the strange Doctrine of the Sadducees, who maintained the Self-sufficiency of Virtue, and denied or doubted a future Resurrection of the Dead, or any state of Rewards or Punishments hereafter.
But the Apostle plainly tells them—that if their hopes in Christ, were limited only to this world; if they could be drawn aside by the gloomy and uncomfortable Doctrines of the Sadducees; if they did not bear their views forward to Eternity; if they did not believe that the same Christ, whom they acknowledged to have come once in the flesh, would also come again to judge the world in Righteousness; they were of all men most miserable. They might as well renounce their profession of Christianity at once; for to them, Christ had come in vain, and shed his Blood in vain. Nay, he implies farther, that if their views were limited in this manner, Christ's coming had put them in a worse condition than all other men. For, to profess the belief of his holy Name, in a bad world, is attended with many temporal Inconveniencies, to which Christ never would have subjected his Followers, if there were no state of Retribution and Reward afterwards. This powerful argument, reduced the Corinthians to this dilemma; either to acknowlege Christ to have been an Impostor, contrary to their own avowed Belief and Profession; or else to renounce this most gloomy and destructive doctrine of the Sadducees.
Though the words were spoken as immediately applicable to Christians, in the first ages of the
Church, who in their state were certainly of all men most miserable, if they renounced the comfortable hopes of Christ's second Coming, and their rising with him from the Grave to the Life immortal; yet they are also applicable to Christians, in all ages, and at all times: who, in many respects, would be in a worse Condition than other men, by acting up to their Profession, unsupported by the Hopes of future advantages.
This argument may be stated without denying that Virtue and Religion would be an eligible Course, even if there was no Happiness, nor Hopes of it, hereafter.
In this World a social Life is necessary, and the Christian is obliged to be connected with other men. The adhering, therefore, to the Gravity and Strictness of his Profession, exposes him to many temporal inconveniencies among the Vain and Wicked, which he cannot avoid.
The Christian is also called to mortify the Flesh'; to consult the interest of others, sometimes prefera. bly to his own; to forgive injuries, to bear them patiently; and even repay them with kind offices. But if Futurity is out of the Question, the Wicked would take advantage of these kind actions, and return Evil for Good; so that Christians might be ready to cry out why should we subject ourselves to these rigid precepts, which tend to our immediate hurt? Let us rather comply with the Current of the World. Let us make the most of this present life; and as the Apostle says, in allusion to this very argument“ Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die.”
The Christian, in the last place, is called to deny himself, to cut off a right Hand, to pluck out a right Eye, and to take up the Cross and follow Christ as their great Leader-But whither shall we follow him? Christ the great Captain of our Salvation, after hav. ing been perfected through Suffering, ascended up on High to the Glory of his Father; and on this Scheme there is no place on High for the Christian! Nothing to compensate his Sufferings, but the dreary state of Annihilation!
Hath Christ mocked his Followers ? Hath he commanded them to renounce this World, and to set their affections wholly on Things Above; if there are no Things Above, in which they are to have any Interest or Share?
But the belief of a Portion in Christ, gives us strong footing against the fear of another world. • Were we even to shew a Child a suit of new Clothing, which he was to put on; how cheerfully would he put off his old Rags? Or were we to tell him that to-morrow, he would rise up from a state of Childhood, into a perfect Man, how happily would he go to Bed, anxious about nothing but the speedy Dawn of the coming Morn?”
Or could we, to use the words of one, * who was once a shining Light of our Church, “ unfold the golden Doors of Heaven, and open to you the pros. pect which the blessed Martyr St. Stephen enjoyed; could I shew the ever-living Jesus seated at the right Hand of Glory, and open your Ears to hear the eter
* Sherlock, Bishop of London.