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so abundant a degree, that their faith was every where celebrated, and They came behind in no gift*.
If yet we can imagine any crime more notorious than some of those, which are charged on the Corinthian converts in their natural state, it must surely be that, which the sun could not behold without horror, nor the earth sustain without trembling; the murder of our Lord Jesus Christ, that innocent, that holy, that divine person, with all the circumstances of the most inhuman cruelty. They had known his exemplary conversation, they had heard his heavenly discourses, they had seen his divine miracles; yet in spite of all these, the outrageous Jews seize him as a pest of human society, drag him before a heathen tribunal, extort a sentence of condemnation against him, and at length, after a thousand indignities and barbarities, nail him to the cross by the hands of the Romans. Yet would he shew, that even these rebels were not beyond the reach of his power and grace: For no sooner was the dispensation of the spirit opened, but Three thousand of them were converted in one day; they gladly received the word, and were baptized in token of itt; and notwithstanding all the efforts which the subtilty, or fury of the enemies could use to draw them away from it, They continued stedfast in the doctrine and fellowship of the apostles, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers I: And they are now in heaven, rejoicing in the presence of that Jesus whom they murdered, and ascribing their eternal salvation to that blood which themselves shed.
And now, methinks, I am at a loss to imagine, what unbelief can find to object against such instances and examples as these, especially when backed with so many encouraging promises. Can you say worse of yourselves, than that you are the chief of sinners? But Paul will tell you, that he was so; and that For this cause, he obtained mercy, that in him, as chief, Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering for a pattern to those that shall hereafter believe $. And all the other examples are no doubt recorded for the very same purpose, that you Through comfort of the scriptures might have hope l. Therefore, when your hearts are overwhelmed within you, look unto the rock which is higher than youq. Look unto Jesus, and you will be lightened; and your faces will not be ashamed**. When Satan is plying you with his fiery darts, wield them off by The shield of faithft, and, as it were, hurl them back into the face of the tempter. Let all his endeavours to deter you from it, engage you to adhere so much the more stedfastly to your resolution, of throwing yourselves at the feet of Christ: And let no one fear, that he should be the first sinner that ever perished there; for it cannot be, unless almighty power be weakened, and infinite compassions be exhausted.
1 Cor. i. 1. || Roin, xv. 4.
+ Acts i. 41.
Psal, Ixi. 2.
Acts ü. 42.
$ 1 Tim. i. 16. tt Eph. vi. 16.
6. Let those who have been enabled " to come unto God by
Christ, be thankful and courageous, in the views of the promised salvation.”
My brethren, let me urge you to abound in the blessed work of praise, for which none on earth have so much reason as you. It is matter of thankfulness, but to hear of this salvation; how much more then, to have it brought home to our house, to our heart, so as to be able through grace to say, “ This salvation is mine!" Oh remember, it was the same grace which first sent it, that has rendered it effectual. Reflect, I intreat you, Sirs, on your own hearts: Had you not once your prejudice against the gospel, as well as others? How unwilling were you to understand the method of salvation it taught? And when your did understand it, how much more unwilling were you to submit to it? Yet now, those very parts of the scheme, which were once your peculiar aversion, are become your peculiar joy.
Adore the work of divine grace, and take encouragement from it. Remember the connection, which there is, between Coming to God by Christ, and being saved by him even to the uttermost. Your deliverance from the curse of the law, from the tyranny of Satan, and from the power of sin, is but the beginning of this salvation : But it will at length be accomplished ; and you should triumph in the expectation of it. “ Various enemies surround me," may the christian
" and they sometimes seem even ready to swallow me up: The world besets me with innumerable snares; Satan is daily seeking by his crafty wiles to get advantage over me; the flesh is ever ready to betray me; and death is threatening to destroy me with its sting: But yet In all these things I am more than a conqueror, through him that hath loved me*. Vain world, I shall quickly leave thee! Wily infernal serpent, The God of peace shall shortly bruise thee under my feett! Corrupt deceitful flesh, I shall be happily delivered from thee! And death, thou king of terrors, I am assured, thou shalt be Swallowed up in victory I! Though thou mayest kill me, yet thou canst not hurt me; for I know, that my Redeemer liveth*; and because he liveth, I shall live also t." These are sentiments and views, worthy our character, as christians, worthy of those who are the saved of the Lord. Let us Take for our helmet this hope of salvation I, and it will guard our head in every danger of life and death; till at length we exchange that helmet for the celestial Crown, which the Lord shall give us in that days, when in the completest sense he shall save all his people to the uttermost, and they shall all appear with him in the brightest glories of this great and perfect salvation.
* Rom. viii. 37.
+ Rom. xvi. 20.
#1 Cor. xv. 54.
POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST.
The Tenderness of Christ to the Lambs of his Flock.
Isa. xl. 11.--He shall feed his Flock like a Shepherd; he shall gather the
Lambs with his Arms, and carry them in his Bosom, and shull gently
lead those that are with Young. It is well known, that there are three most illustrious offices, under which our Redeemer is often spoken of in scripture; those of the Prophet, the Priest, and the King of his Church. And there are several other characters, either coincident with those, or subservient to them, which are frequently mentioned and are worthy of our regard ; amongst which that of a Shepherd is peculiarly remarkable, as often occurring in the word of God, and affording abundant matter, both for the instruction, and the consolation of his people.
I shall not now enumerate all the passages, in which our Lord is described under this character, both in the Old Testament, and the New. It may be sufficient here to remind you, that he was plainly foretold by Ezekiel, as that one Shepherd, whom God would set over his people to feed them, even his servant David, i. e. the Messiah, David's Son ; he, says the prophet, Shall feed them, and he shall be their Shepherd*. And Christ accordingly speaks of himself, as The good Shepherdt; and is spoken of by one and another of the apostles, as The great Shepherd of the Sheept, and The chief Shepherdą. So that on the whole, if the words of the text had a more immediate reference to the Father, they might with great propriety be ap. plied to Christ, by whom the Father exercises his pastoral care of his people.
The chapter is opened with very reviving words; Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God : And to assure them that these consolations addressed to them were indeed glad tidings of great joy, and worthy to be introduced in a very pompous manner, mention is made of a very remarkable herald sent before, whose Voice was to cry in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desart a highway for our God*; i. e. let every obstruction immediately be removed : A scripture so expressly applied to John the buptist, as the forerunner of Christt, that it may be sufficient to fix the sense of the context, with those who have any regard to the authority of the New Testament, in explaining the Old.
* Ezek. xxxiv, 23.
+ John X. 11.
Heb. xiii. 20.
$ 1 Pet. 1.4.
To confirm the faith of Israel in this important message, a solemn proclamation is made, ver. 6. The voice (that is, the voice of God, speaking to me in this vision,) said unto me, Cry; that is, raise thy voice as loud as possible : And I said, what shall I cry? The following words are evidently the answer, which God returns to this question of the prophet; q. d. “ Proclaim this awful and seasonable truth, All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field, which is yet more frail and short-lived than the grass itself: The grass withereth, and the power fadeth ; but the word of our God shall stand for ever. q. d. Were it only the promise of a man, you might indeed doubt of its accomplishment; were it only the word of the mightiest princes on earth, it might give you but a trembling and precarious hope : Man is a dying creature, and all the most cheerful hopes, which are built on him, may quickly perish; But the word of our God, even that word, as it is explained by the apostle Peter, which by the gospel is preached unto you, shall stand for everf, as the firm basis of your hope and confidence, and shall be certainly accomplished in the final redemption and salvation of his people.”
The heavenly voice still continues to speak to the prophet, who was honoured with this happy message, and charges him to deliver it with the greatest cheerfulness and zeal. “O thou that bringest good tidings to Zion,” (for so I think the words should be rendered as they are by some, and particularly in the margin of your bibles,) get thee up into the high mountain, some place of eminence, from whence thou mayest be universally heard : Oh thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up; and be not afraid, lest the event should not answer the promise, but Say unto the cities of Judah, behold your Gods. For The Lord God will come with a strong hand ; i. e. the kingdom of the Messiah shall be erected with a glorious display of the divine power ; and his arm shall rule for him, as in former instances of most formidable opposition, His own right-hand, and his holy arm
* Ver. 3. John i. 23.
of Compare ver. 3. with Mat. iü. 3. Mark i, 3. Luke iï, 4. * 1 Pet. i.-25.