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mercy for the
summed up in him, and infinitely augmented, and brought to bear on the hearts of his people; that by living as under the focus of all excellence, they might be transformed into the same image. Having turned all his infinite nature into grace, having dissolved into a fountain of healing
of the world, he would now employ the hearts of his people as consecrated channels for the diffusion of its streams; he would have their natures, like his own, changed into tenderness and love. It is true, his example can never be equalled, for it embodies infinite goodness; but with so much the greater force does it oblige us, in our humble measure, to attempt the imitation. Having adopted our humanity, when it was only related to him, like other natures, by creation, he is surely entitled to expect that we should love our own flesh, that we should seek the welfare of the nature which is essentially our own, by diffusing the greatest possible happiness among those connatural with us. Having died for the good of man, the least he is authorized to expect is, that we should live for the same benevolent object. What do we behold in his history, but a whole life of humility, one continued act of condescension, a vast and unbroken descent from the heights of heaven to the form of a servant, the life of an outcast, the death of a malefactor? The least use then we can make of his example—we who have it not in our power, as sinners, to practise great condescension, since we are all on a level in the dust already—is to assist each other to arise, aiding the infirmities of the weak, and breathing a spirit of sympathetic tenderness for all. As far as religion is practical and relative to others, he has made benevolence its life and essence; not merely a part of the christian character, but the character itself.
And how eminently is the tender compassion of Christ calculated to encourage all to repair to him. When the more prominent parts of his history are made to pass before our eyes, if we are not destitute of all sensibility, how softening and hallowing the effect they produce on the mind! How impossible is it for the most timid spirit to picture the serenity of that brow which no evil passions ever disturbed, to mark the benevolence which beamed from his eye, and to listen to the tones of that voice which soothed and cheered the most fearful and sorrowful, without feeling itself drawn gradually nearer and closer to his side. Wherever his grace is scripturally displayed, it secures the attention of the most thoughtless, it melts the hardest and subdues the proudest heart, and inspires the most fearful with hope. The apostle declares, that had the princes of this world known him, they would not have crucified him; had they known the principle of love which brought him from heaven, they would have been disarmed of their enmity against him, and instead of condemning him, they would have paid him homage as the prince of the kings of the earth. Had those who were most eager to hasten his crucifixion, and most delighted with his death, caught but a glimpse of the love which dictated every action of his life, their cruel malignity must have yielded and given place to unfeigned penitence and love.
The character of Christ is the character of his dispensation; it is the dispensation of the still small voice; and the secret of its power is love. His ministers, therefore, are to win souls, to persuade men, to beseech them, to mingle their instructions with tears; and the more deeply they are imbued with the mind of Christ, the more tender will be their address, the more affectionate their message. They have only to consult their own experience to learn that the public exhibition of Christ, as the Savior of sinners, constitutes the most welcome and profitable topic on which they can enlarge; that, whatever their subject may be, like John the Baptist pointing abruptly to his passing Lord, that cannot be a faulty digression which directs their hearers to behold the Lamb of God.
The fact that Jesus Christ was peculiarly his own subject, teaches us that he ought also to be ours; and that aspect of his character which he most delighted to exhibit, must be the feature to which we should give especial prominence; and what was that but tender compassion for the souls of men ? Approach, then, and look upon him: the nature in which you behold him clothed is truly your own: he has assumed it that he may dissipate all your fears ; that he might taste death for you; that he may absorb and carry away
claim kindred with you; that he may discharge for you all the kind and benificent offices of brotherhood; that he might make it impossible for you to doubt his love. Approach, and behold his hands and his feet; those are the wounds which he received when he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, when the chastisement of our peace was upon him, that by his stripes we might be heal. ed. Urge nothing in excuse for not coming to him; lose not the time necessary to utter it; for whatever your guilt or weakness, your wants or unworthiness may be, his grace overrules and provides for the whole. He knows the value of a religious principle too well, as well as the dangers to which it is exposed, to despise it on account of its weakness; he does not wait for a time, to see whether the spark of piety will increase or vanish; but he watches it, and solicits and feeds it, until it rises into a pure and steady flame of devotion towards God. He does not disregard the piety of the poor and destitute, because they are unable to advocate his cause, or to contribute to its support more than two mites, or to adorn it with earthly splendor; the arms of his love embrace alike the obscure and the more
useful; and if you are only conscious of a desire to love him, a concern to please him, you share a place in his heart in common with the angels around his throne. When the backslider relapses into the state from which he had been rescued, and seems even to prosecute his sinful course with renewed avidity, he does not, as man commonly does, regard him as lost. He goes after him into the wilderness; sends afflictions in pursuit of him; and waits to see the effect which trial and reflection produce. And if, like the prodigal, the sinner should come to himself and say, 'I will arise and return,' and actually begins to retrace his steps, the Savior delays not in order to see how far he will return—he sees him yet a great way off, and runs to meet him-he is delighted at the first indications of penitence, anticipates his intention, assists him in returning, and rejoices over him as one who was dead and is alive again. We ourselves can trace the mightiest occurrences back to sources the most insignificant; and, with intuitive ease, the Savior beholds, in the first emotion of the penitent, the first symptom of an endless life, the first step in a career of glory, honor, and immortality. He does not therefore despise the day of small things. And how many thousands of the blessed, who are now surrounding his throne above, are constrained, on looking back to the weakness of their early religious impressions, and the hesitation with which at first they advanced in the path of life, to bless him that he did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. O that you knew the'unutterable interest which he takes in every serious emotion of your soul, you would love him more, and resort to him oftener, and repose in him all the confidence which he asks.
Finally; let those of my readers who have been hitherto regardless of the ineffable compassion of the Son of God, remember the melting tones of remonstrance with which, when looking round upon such as you, he said, in all the grief of defeated mercy, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.' You can go to others, and enquire the way to happiness; you can believe what they say; you do follow their advice; but to him who has laid out himself for your welfare, who alone could make the vast provision necessary for your immortal happiness, and who has made it at the expense of an infinite sacrifice, to him you will not come. He has to complain of you, that while you have been always ready to yield to the solicitations of the world, to follow the first beck of temptation, to accept of any invitation in the shape of worldly pleasure, yet his call you will not obey. He has to complain of you, that you put him off with mere professions, and make him to serve with the mere semblance of friendship; that though you have for years frequented his house, and heard his invitations, and been pressed to accept them, you still remain on terms as cold and distant with him as ever; that you never come to his footstool as suppliants, nor to his table as friends, nor walk in his ways as devoted disciples. But he will not yet let you go : though he feels your obstinate refusal to come to him ; feels it as an insult to his grace; feels it as a deep disappointment, a grievous frustration of an object on which his heart was set, yet once more he comes to you; and, O, mark and admire the gentleness of the terms in which he expostulates—it is the melting rebuke of mercy chiding you into its embrace*Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life. There is a sense, perhaps, in which, owing to your prolonged and stony indifference to his claims, you may be said to have closed