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DELIVERED IN BOSTON ON THE FOURTH SABBATH IN JULY, 1818.
HEBREWS, XII. 2.
“ Looking into Jesus, the arthor and finisher of our faith; who, for the ja thi joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame,
The and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
WO By casting an eye on the context, it is at once zapr discovered, that the design of the Apostle was to a induce his christian brethren to steadfastness and let perseverance in the christian profession. That min he might the better succeed in this most laudable xes attempt, he sets before them certain characters as it examples. He adverted to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, u Joseph, Moses, &c. and finally, he comes to Jesus, tai as the chief of all, as to a perfect directory:
Much might be said on the great propriety of the Apostle's method here observed, Nothing is for more serviceable in pointing out the duties involv. ed in any profession, nor is there any thing more powerful to incite to the performance of such se duties, than example. The examples set forth in the the context, seem admirably calculated to give us just conceptions of the real object of the christian dispensation, the duties incumbent on its votaries, si and the reward held out to induce the professor to si faithfulness.
The design of this Sermon, as a distinct object, is to settle a question respecting the great influen.
tial object held as a reward for christian labours and christian sufferings.
It is a most reasonable thing, that a reasonable reward should be expected for services of all kinds, and it is equally as absurd to expect faithfulness in ourselves or in others, without the expectation of an adequate reward, as it is to promise ourselves a compensation for services infinitely greater than sich services can merit.
Should the labourer, whom you might employ,
absurdly calculate, that at the close of day he 1,8 should be put in possession of your whole estate,
as a righteous compensation for his day's work, hé would, no doubt, be offended, should one inform him that no such reward would be allowed for his
services. And it is evident, that his absurd calcuni lation, in this case, is the cause of his disappoint
ment. If he had been reasonable in his expectations, he would have been satisfied with a compensation proportioned to his services. So, when christian professors promise themselves immortal
ity and eternal life, as a recompense for their 74 labours in the cause of religion, they prepare dist themselves to be disappointed. They infinitely
overrate their work. Nor will they at once be satisfied by being told, that though their good works can never merit the expected reward, yet shall they receive a reasonable compensation for all their services, and for all their sufferings;
and moreover, that what they had expected as a aron compensation for their work, they have as a gift
of God; not because they merit it, but because it was the will of our Heavenly father to give unto us eternal life in his son. The reason why this
information is not satisfactory is, because if works il cannot merit immortality and eternal life, and if
God has been graciously pleased to give mankind this invaluable inheritance in Christ Jesus, then those who have no good works to recommend them, are equal heirs with themselves.
This is too humiliating. What, shall our wicka
rth ive !
ed, unbelieving, unconverted, unregenerated neighbours be clothed in the beautiful robes of immortality, and shine as brilliantly in the righteousness of God in the eternal world as we? We who have borne the burden and heat of the day, we who have been regenerated and born of the spirit, who have believed in Jesus and laboured in his cause, are we to be placed on a level with these spiritually blind, halt, and léprous ? Could we be persuaded into this belief, we would at once forsake the religion of Christ, his divine commands we would treat with utter neglect, our sinful propensities should all be gratified, and sensual indulgence should be our constant employ. The sabbath, the sanctuary, the holy services of devotion would be all beneath our notice, there would be left no inducement to deny ourselves and to bear the cross of Christ. In one word, if
away the awful penalty of eternal punishment for unbelief and sin, we would not believe in Jesus, nor would we obey his laws. The substance of all this, my brethren, is constantly held up and earnestly contended for by the professed enemies of the faith we profess, and the holy vocation to which we have been called. The foregoing insinuations are practised on minds naturally feeble and habitually timid; the fond, the pious matron is told, that if the dreadful penalty of endless pun. ishment be not enforced on the minds of her sons and daughters, she has no right to expect them to be either religious or virtuous. It is contended that this penalty is an indispensable requisition, in the cause of religion and morality, and that to deny it is to open the door of impiety, and every sinful practice.
Let us ask the question, whether the author and finisher of our faith undertook the work of man's redemption, whether he faithfully laboured and suffered in this cause under the penalty of eternal condemnation. Did he behold in his adorable father a lowering vengeance which threatened his
ear е ана
ed nee eternal banishment from his father and his God, of ime if he refused the mighty undertaking ?. It can tepat hardly be necessary to explain how this question wholes relates to our subject. The hearer already dis
covers, that if such a penalty was not necessary in virit, the commencement of this ministration, it cannot is cam
be in the prosecution of it; if it was unnecessary e spirit to induce the captain of our salvation, why is it neberi cessary to engage the disciple ?
Surely it was not to purchase his father's love, ands r that the son of God condescended to become poor, propia that we through his poverty might be made rich, Julger for this he fully possessed before. The testimony math, of the father is, " This is my beloved son in whom Frouk I am well pleased.” Not to purchase eternal
glory, life, and immortality, did Jesus undertake the work of man's salvation ; for of all this was he
an heir before the foundation of the world. Never for 1 did the blessed redeemer inform his disciples that Jeg the dreadful penalty of everlasting destruction
lay before him; and that to avoid the indescriband eay able catastrophe he must do the whole work of mies e him who sent him. And as he gave no intimamion # tion of any such penalty for himself, so he never made
use of it as a mean to induce any one to beleta come his disciple, or to continue faithful to his
cause. Es pul. But why was this penalty unnecessary to en
gage the captain of our salvation, to undertake, hem and to prosecute effectually our redemption
Answer : the love which he had for our sinful con world, was sufficient to induce him to give himhat self a ransom for all men. If it be an undeniable ever maxim with the philosopher, that in accounting for
any of the phenomena of nature, no more cause Grau should ever be sought than what is adequate to mane the effect, may we not with equal propriety con
tend, that if we have found a sufficient cause for ceras any of the divine phenomena of the dispensation d his after other causes in the regions of imagination;
grace, we expose ourselves to err by seeking
The scriptures account for the cause of man's re-
cause, no other can be found. No other can possibly exist. For if this cause was sufficient, and did produce the effect, it was not produced by a different cause. As a motive which moved Jesus to die for man, the divine testimony explicitly declares, that “he loved us and gave himself for us." The love of Christ to sinners, is assigned as the cause, which moved him to give himself for us.
If this was the cause, and if this cause did produce in him a willingness, then we have no occasion to seek for any other; nor can there be
that is, no other distinct from this.
What was the “joy that was set before him," for which he “ endured the cross, despising the shame?” It was the accomplishment of the glorious object for which he laboured. «He loved the Church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word ; that he might present it to himself to a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The joy that was set before him, was a world redeemed, sanctified, cleansed, and glorified in the Lord our righteousness. This object perfectly answered to the love which he had for the world; it was all his love for us desired. And when in pursuit of this soul rejoicing it object, and in possession of full assurance respecting obtaining the end of his labours and suf- kan ferings, he despised all the shame, all the contempt
ich anc abuse which he received from his enemies.