Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

my simple answer is, "that where a | covenant, without also viewing him testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."

as executing a testament. What he gained as a covenantor, he disposed of as a testator; and whilst we say of him, as making an agreement with GOD, "Where a covenant is, there must be the death of the covenantor," we say of him, as bestowing gifts on men, "where a testament is, there must be the death of the testator."

Now we would refer for a moment to that connection which we show to subsist between a covenant and testament. We fear that to some of you our foregoing reasoning may seem vague and inconclusive; and we would, therefore, by one simple exhibition, demonstrate the fitness of calling Christ a testator. The Father and the Son had, from all eternity, entered into a covenant; the Father engaging, on the performance of certain conditions, that blessings should be placed at the disposal of the Son for the seed of the apostate. The covenant between the persons of the Trinity engaged for the pardon and acceptance of all, who, in every age, should believe on the Son. Hence you must all perceive, that what was the covenant between the Father and Son, was also a document in favour of man; but, certainly, the covenant could only become valid by death; that in the fulness of time the Son should die, being its grand and funda- | mental article. And if as a covenant it could only become valid by death, then as a document in favour of man it could only become valid by death; but that document in favour of a party, which only becomes valid by death, is, most strictly, a will or testament. So, that by one and the same act, Christ Jesus performed his covenant with the Father, and made his testament in favour of man; that, in short, which was a covenant considered relatively to GOD, was a testament considered relatively to man. It obtained blessings from GOD; it consigned blessings to man, and both equally through death. You cannot, therefore, view Christ as executing a

We do not assert-and we wish this borne in mind by those of you who may afterwards re-examine this difficult subject—that a document must be necessarily a will if it only becomes valid by death. We can imagine many documents which can only become valid by death, but which are, nevertheless, not last wills or testaments; but it is the striking and wellknown peculiarity of a will, that he who makes it must die to give it effect; and if, therefore, an inspired writer would convey to us the idea, that the Gospel of Christ has conferred blessings which could only become ours by the death of Christ, could he employ a more lively figure, one which more popularly and forcibly sets forth such an idea, than that of Christ the testator, and the Gospel his testament?

Tell me that the promises of the Bible are Christ's will, and you tell me, in the strongest and most intelligible manner, that I could not have inherited the mercies of which they treat unless Christ had died. Tell me, conversely, that Christ's death made over to me the blessings of redemption, and I recognize, in the statement, the unquestionable truth that "a testament is of no force at all while the testator liveth." Thus, in place of being strained and unnatural, the representation of our text is one which may commend itself to every capacity by its simplicity and its force. We stand, in Christ, exactly in the position we should have occu

pied, had he literally made a will bequeathing to us the purchase of his sacrifice. What better mode then, could there be of making us understand this position, than by speaking of Christ in the character of a testator, and of ourselves under that of legatees. In this point of view, if in no other, the text must appear to all of you satisfactorily explained; and we may now dismiss, as sufficiently cleared up and illustrated, that apostolical representation of Christ which exhibits him as a testator whose death is essential to the validity of his testa

ment.

|

the people his heirs. Shall a Roman multitude heave like the troubled ocean while they look on their slaughtered leader, or behold his torn robe, or hearken to his testament; and shall a Christian assembly be wrapt in indifference whilst things a hundred fold more touching are told them of the Captain of their salvation? We speak to you of a murdered prince; who shall sketch his character-who shall describe the power, the wisdom, the purity, the gentleness which combined to form this "chief among ten thousand?" We show you his garment parted among his crucifiers; we point you to the print of the nails, and the gash of the spear; and then we read you the will of this illustrious and deeply wronged prince. We tell you, that he has made you his heirs, that he has bequeathed you possessions richer than any on which the sun has ever shone, and ensured to you legacies whose splendours would overtask an angel's tongue to describe.

With a singular variety of figure, and by an imagery which seems to lay the universe under contribution, are the blessings of redemption set forth to us in the volume of inspiration. It is well that we overlook not any one of the multiform representations, seeing that, though the general truths shadowed out are in all cases the same, minute points will be best illustrated some by this, and others by that; and if hitherto you may not have been wont to regard Christ as a testator, we think that it will much minister both to comfort and instruction, that you should add this character to those which have engaged your contemplation.

Does it serve to embalm more richly the memory of a friend to know that he was not only mindful of us in life, but thought of us in death; and that, at the very instant of separation from the flesh, he concerned himself with providing for our happiness. When an orator of antiquity, called to pronounce an oration over a murdered prince, desired to raise into vehemenence the feelings of his audience he descanted on the great qualities of the man whose corpse lay bleeding before him, and he showed his mantle pierced by the daggers of conspirators, and he read his will constituting

Will ye not be wrought uponand, oh, if not ye are made of stern stuff-by all these exhibitions of the injury sustained, and the benefits conferred by your benefactor? We cry for vengeance on his murderers, and we gird ourselves might and main to the taking of that vengeance. Yes!-we summon you to vengeance, we would move you to vengeance on the murderers of Christ, by showing you his wounds and by reading you his will. Vengeance on the murderers!—yes, to this we call you, and to this we entreat you! But where must you look for these murderers? Must you seek them in the Jews, who with infuriated rage shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him! Must you find them in the soldiers, who with ruthless violence nailed him to the cross, and pierced him with the spear! Oh, not on the Jews, though they

invoked his blood on their heads, and ↑ procured for them; and there would go forth through the assembly a throb of a deep and passionate feeling, and each one would be ready to rise, and stand by the altar of his GOD, and swear hostility to the world and the flesh!

not on the soldiers, though they were literally his executioners, do we seek for vengeance when we would stir you up against the murderers of Christ. Yourselves!-vengeance on yourselves!—to this we summon you by the anguish and testament of the Redeemer!

Sin slew the Son of GOD; and each sin, of each one among us, was a blow with the hammer of divine vengeance. Vengeance, then, on your-ought to be nothing but its natural

Here is a legacy of glory! If ye will not sullenly and obstinately refuse the bequest, meditate on Christ's love, and pray, at the same time, that the meditation may produce what

selves! Ye put to death the being who loved you with a love which human thought cannot compass; who undertaketh for you and fighteth with principalities and powers; and who at the very instant, when with unrelenting fierceness, you fastened him to the accursed tree bequeathed to you a nobler than a seraph's portion a richer than the first bright paradise. Vengeance, then, on your selves. Will ye still cherish the sins which were the procuring cause of the death of the testator-still indulge the lusts whose workings demanded the fearful expiation? Oh, if with all their boasted sensibilities and sympathies-sensibilities, which a romance could excite, and sympathies which a tragedy could engage-men were not harder than the nether mill-stone, it would be enough to tell them of what Jesus suffered for them, of what Jesus

and necessary consequence-the love of Christ in yourselves. Think on the will which he hath made in favour of the very meanest and unworthiest. Oh, it is not here, as it oftentimes may be with human testaments, the testator dies and then litigation arises, and the defenceless orphan may be cheated of his rights, and the unprotected widow kept out of her possessions,-the testator of this will ever lives to be the executor! He bequeaths salvation; while he is able to save to the uttermost, even because he lives to make intercession. Ye may be confident, therefore, the poorest of you and the weakest. He, who wrote down in his will, as heirs of blessedness, the names of all who believe on his name, watches as executor over the rights of the legatees, and none shall rob them of one fraction of their inheritanceAmen.

|

A Sermon,

DELIVERED BY THE REV. JOHN HARDING,

AT ST. ANN'S CHURCH, BLACKFRIAR'S, MAY 19, 1833.

John, iv. 46, 47.-" So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death."

THE events which have been the sub.ject of our last three lectures, occurred, as you will recollect, while Jesus was on his way from Judea to Galilee. We now find him arrived in Galilee; and we shall have now to consider, a very striking and instructive account of the gracious miracle he wrought on the body of a sick child, lying at a distance from Galilee. May it please GOD to make the narrative profitable to us.

The first point in it, which I would notice is, the promptitude with which the father of the child applied to Christ as soon as he heard where he was. It appears from our text, that our Lord had but just arrived at Cana when the nobleman, of whom the text informs us, came, and entreated his help on behalf of his sick, and, as he thought, dying child. My brethren, I would that we all were as anxious for the welfare of our own, and each other's souls, as this man was for the recovery and health of his son's body. When disease and sickness come upon these mortal frames, how careful are we to find out, and apply, the best means for their removal. And when those whom we love are laid upon beds of sickness and pain, and, for aught we know, of death, how does it distress us oftentimes far more than if the sufferings were our own? And yet as regards them, as

| well as it regards ourselves, oh, how do we forget that fatal malady which is preying on our souls--how little concern do we give ourselves to obtain relief from it? How can we look at those around, so many dear to us, knowing that they are under the power of this same spiritual disorder, and yet make but few, and feeble efforts for their deliverance? My brethren, sin is that disease with which we, every one of us, is by nature infected; and a disease it is, which, unless healed and removed, will destroy the body and soul for ever. You, and your children, are all alike inheritors of its malignant influence; and you, and they, must seek a cure or die. Oh think, what have you done to obtain a cure? Have you asked when it could be received? Have you learned whom the physician is, that alone can effect it; and have you then applied to him to accomplish that cure for you? Let me direct you to Jesus, the great, and good physician of the soul. He, and he alone it is, who can set you free from the danger you are in, and save you from that eternal death which sin must otherwise bring upon you.

You observe this nobleman's child was at the point of death, and that was the reason of the anxious haste which the father made, when he heard

where Jesus was, to speak unto him; | sequence of sin-if with sincerity and not a moment was to be lost. For penitence we do earnestly seek deaught he knew, a very few hours, and liverance from its power, we need his son would be dead. My brethren, not travel any distance to find the your souls may be in like danger; Saviour-he is already present with they may be, as it were, at the point us. Let us but in real earnestness of death. You know not what a very of supplication call on him, and we few days, or even hours may bring shall find the declaration true: "the forth. Soon, very soon, you may be Lord is nigh unto them who are of a gone into another world; and if this broken heart, and saveth such as be disease of sin is not healed now, you of a contrite spirit." perish for ever. I would, then, that you all imitated the example of this nobleman of Capernaum, and came at once to Jesus. Lose not another day. If you have never yet applied to him, do it now. To-morrow may be too late-your souls may ere to-morrow's dawn be sunk into eternal death.

|

The second point on which I would make a remark is, the advantage we have in knowing that when we desire to seek the Physician of our souls he is ever at hand. The nobleman before us had to travel all the way from Capernaum to Cana, ere he could find Jesus; and, doubtless, while on his road, he had often painfully reflected, that, perhaps, while he was seeking Christ his child might die. How natural is it to suppose, that as he went, he frequently gave utterance to his fears, lest ere he reached Cana all would be over with his child. My brethren, let us be thank-child in order to heal him, and sup

The third point to be observed in the narrative before us is, the manner in which this nobleman evinced, on the one hand, his belief of Christ's power; and yet, on the other, the imperfect idea he had of the extent of that power. Had he not been persuaded that Christ was able to heal his son, he would not have made any application to him. He, doubtless, felt, that Jesus was able to recover his child; but at the same time you observe, he fancied that Christ could not do this without going to visit the child. "He besought Jesus to come down and heal his son;" plainly showing, that in order to heal him, he conceived, Jesus must go and visit him. Now for this our blessed Lord gently rebuked him; "Jesus said unto him, except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe." It was as much as to say, "You ask me to go to your

|

ful that, as it regards the healing of
our souls, he who alone has power
to save is always near. There is the
spiritual presence of Jesus manifested
wherever, and whensoever, we call
upon him.
Pray when you will,
and where you will, Jesus is listen-
ing to your cry, and will not suffer it
to be in vain. To all of us, wherever
we may be, however remote from one
another; and different as our wants,
our feelings, and our supplications
are--to all of us Jesus is ever near.
So that, if indeed we feel our misery,
our guilt, and our danger in con-

pose that unless I do go, I cannot be
of any service to him-you believe
not that my power is of such extent,
as to reach a case so far distant from
me." Now the man's error was this,
that, while he requested Christ to
bestow a certain favour upon him, he
supposed that Christ could do it only
in one way; and would not believe
that he had another way in which it
was possible to be done. And too
often, my brethren, I fear, we are
prone to fall into the same mistake,
we are almost ready to prescribe to
Almighty God what he shall do, and

« ZurückWeiter »