« FöregåendeFortsätt »
selves; delivered from all the injurious effects of iniquity in others; who sojourn no longer in the tents of strife, or the territories of disorder, but are received into that pure, harmonious, holy society, where every one acts up to his amiable and exalted character; where God himself is pleased graciously and immediately to preside: you find, not without pleasing astonishment, your hopes improved into actual enjoyment, and your faith superseded by the beatific vision; you feel all your former shyness of behaviour happily lost in the overflowings of unbounded love, and all your little differences of opinion entirely bore down by tides of invariable truth. Bless, therefore, with all your enlarged powers, bless his infinitely larger goodness, who, when he had overcome the sharpness of death, opened the gates of paradise, opened the kingdom of heaven, to all generations, and to every denomination of the faithful.
Ye men of holy conversation, and humble tempers, think of him who loved you, and washed you from your sins in his own blood; think of him on your silent couch; talk of him in every social interview; glory in his excellences; make your boast of his obedience; and add, still continue to add, the incense of a dutiful life to all the oblations of a grateful tongue. Weakest of believers, who go mourning under a sense of guilt, and conflicting with the ceaseless assaults of temptation, put off your sackcloth, and be girded with gladness; because Jesus is as merciful to hear, as he is mighty to help; because he is touched with the tenderest sympathizing concern for all your distresses, and he lives, ever lives, to be your advocate, with the Father. Why then should uneasy doubts sadden your countenances? why should desponding fears oppress your soul? Turn, turn those disconsolate sighs into cheerful hymns; since you have his powerful intercession, and his inestimable merits, to be your anchor in all tribulations, to be your passport into eternal blessedness.
Most of all, ye ministers of the sanctuary, heralds commissioned from above, lift every one his voice like a trumpet, and loudly proclaim the Redeemer. Get ye up, ye ambassadors of peace, get ye up into the high mountains, and spread far and wide the honours of the Lamb "that was slain, but is alive for evermore." Teach every sacred roof to resound with his fame, and every human heart to glow with his love. Declare, as far as the force of words will go, declare the inexhaustible fulness of that great atonement, whose merits are commensurate with the glories of the Divinity. Tell the sinful wretch, what pity yearns in Immanuel's bowels; what blood he has spilt, what agonies he has endured, what wonders he has wrought, for the salvation of his enemies. Invite the indigent to become rich; entreat the guilty to accept of pardon; because with the crucified Jesus is plenteous redemption, and all-sufficiency to save. While you, placed in conspicuous stations, pour the joyful sound, may I, as I steal through the vale of humble life, catch the pleasing accents! For me, the author of all blessings became a curse; for me, his bones were dislocated, and his flesh was torn: he hung, with streaming veins, and agonizing soul, on the cross
* If in this place and others I have spoken magnificently of the blood of Christ, and its insuperable efficacy to expiate guilt, I think it is no more than is expressed in a very celebrated hymn, written by one of the greatest wits, who had also been one of the greatest libertines, and afterwards commenced one of the most remarkable penitents in France. A hymn, which even Mr Bayle confesses to be a very fine one; which another great critic calls an admirable one; and which a genius, superior to them both, recommends as a noble one. See Spect. vol. vii. No. 513.
The author having acknowledged his crimes to be beyond measure beinous, and almost beyond forgiveness provoking-so provoking, as to render tears from such eyes offensive, and prayers from such lips abominable, composes himself to submit, without the least repining sentiment, to submit even with praise and adoration to the most dreadful doom. Accordingly, he stands in resigned expectation of being instantly struck by the bolts of vengeance; but, with a turn of thought equally surprising and sprightly, with a faith properly found. ed, and happily firm, he adds,
Yet where! O where! can even thy thunders fall?
Christ's blood o'erspreads, and shields me from them all.
for me! O! may I, in my little sphere, and amidst the scanty circle of my acquaintance, at least whisper these glad transporting tidings! whisper them from my own heart, that they may surely reach, and sweetly penetrate theirs.
But when men and angels raise the grand hymn; when all worlds, and all beings, add their collective acclamations; this full, fervent, and universal chorus, will be so inferior to the riches of the Redeemer's grace, so disproportionate to the magnificence of his glory, that it will seem but to debase the unutterable subject it attempts to exalt: the loud hallelujah will die away, in the solemn mental eloquence of prostrate, rapturous, silent adoration.
O goodness infinite! goodness immense!
And love that passeth knowledge! Words are vain,
"Come then, expressive Silence—muse his praise."