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of this work, it cannot possibly be accomplished within the space of a few weeks.
of a few weeks. We have especially had to lament that our Saviour's last address to his disciples should be omitted. I mean the discourse which he addressed to them, a little while before he retired into the garden of Gethsemane, and which St. John has preserved to us in the xiv. xv. and xvi. chapters of his gospel. This part of the history of the passion is, unquestionably, one of the most tender and most interesting. We propose to make it pass in review before you this day, as far as the bounds prescribed to us will permit.
Were it proper to make the place where I stand a vehicle for communications of this kind, I am ready, ingeniously to acknowledge, that a particular circumstance determined my choice on this occasion. A few days only have elapsed since I was called to be witness of the dying agonies of a valuable minister, * whom Providence has just removed from the superintendance of a neighboring church. God was pleased to visit him for some months past, if we may be presumed to speak so, with a temptation more than is common to man, 1 Cor. x. 13. but he granted him a fortitude more than human to support it. I was filled with astonishment at the violence of his sufferings; and still more at the patience with which he endured them : I could not help expressing a wish to know. what particulai article of religion had contributed the most to produce in him that prodigy of resolution: Have you ever paid a closer attention, my dear brother, said he to me, to the last address of Jesus Christ to his disciples? My God, exclaimed he, what charity! what tenderness! but above
* Mr. Begnon, pastor of the church at Leyden.
all, what an inexhaustible source of consolation in the extremity of distress! His words filled me with astonishment: my thoughts were immediately turned toward you, my dearly beloved brethren; and I said within myself, I must furnish my hearers with this powerful defence against suffering and death. I enter this day on the execution of my design. Condescend to concur with me in it. Come and meditate on the last expressions which fell from the lips of a dying Saviour: let us penetrate into the very centre of that heart which the sacred flame of charity animated.
I must proceed on the supposition that your minds are impressed with the subject of the three chapters of which I am going to attempt an analysis. The great object which our Lord proposes to himself, in his address, is to fortify his disciples against the temptations to which they were about to be exposed. And, in order to reduce our reflections to distinct classes, Jesus Christ means to fortify his disciples:
I. Against the offence of his cross.
II. Against the persecution which his doctrine was going to excite.
III. Against forgetfulness of his precepts.
I. First, Jesus Christ means to fortify his disciples against the offence of the cross. A man maust be a mere novice in the history of the gospel, if he knows not how extremely confused their ideas were with respect to the mystery of redemption. Those who ascribe to them superior illumination,
are mistaken both in the principle and in the consequences which they deduce from it. Their principle is, that the Jewish church was perfectly well acquainted with the whole mystery of the cross; an opinion supported by no historical monument whatever.
But granting we were to admit this principle, we must of necessity resist the consequence deduced from it, with respect to the Apostles. It is very possible to have a clouded understanding amidst a luminous dispensation, and to grovel in ignorance, be the age ever so enlightened. Had we a mind to demonstrate to what a degree the age in which we live surpasses those which preceded it, whether in physical discovery, or in metaphysical and theological speculation, would we go to collect our proofs among our common mechanics, or from among the fishermen who inhabit our sea .. ports ?
Let us call to remembrance the indiscreet zeal of Peter, when Jesus Christ declared to him, how he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things—and be killed, Matt. xvi. 21. be it far from thee, Lord : this shall not be unto thee, ver. 22. Recollect the reply which Jesus made to that disciple: get thee behind me, Satan ; thou art an offence to me, ver. 23. Recollect farther, the question wbich the Apostles put to their Master some time before his ascension: Lord, wilt thou at this lime restore again the kingdom to Israel ? Acts i. 6. Above all, recollect the conversation which passed between certain of them immediately after his resurrection: we trusted that it had been he tvhich should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done, Luke xxiv. 21. You trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel!
Well! and wherefore trust no longer ? Whence, then, arises this diffidence? Wherein has his p!Omise failed? What oracle of the prophets has he neglected to fulfil ? O fools, and slow of heart, to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory, ver. 25. 26.
Taking it for granted, then, that the Apostles had but confused ideas of the mystery of the cross, what offence must they not have taken, when they were called to be the witnesses of that fearful spectacle! From our being accustomed to hear the punishment of crucifixion spoken of in terms of high dignity, we lose sight of what was ignominious and humiliating in it. Represent to yourself a man whom you had made the centre, the fixed point of all your hopes. Represent to yourself a man, a God man, to whom you had been accustomed to yield all the homage of adoration : represent to yourself this divine personage, whom you believed to have descended froin heaven to remedy the woes of mankind; to remove your private distresses; to re-establish your credit, and to restore to your country all its splendor and all its importance : represent to yourself this divine personage bound by the hands of an insolent rabble; dragged along from one tribunal to another; condemned as a félon, and nailed to a tree. Can this be that Messiah, into whose hand God was to put a rod of iron, to break the nations, and to dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel ? Psa. ii. 9. Can this be that Messiah, who should have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth? Psa. lxxii. 8. Can this be the Messiah, who was to make us sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel? Luke xxii. 30, As this was the grand
offence with the Apostles, their Master supplies. them with more than one buckler to repel it.
1. The first buckler for repelling the offence of the cross—the miserable condition of a lost world. I tell you the truth ; it is expedient for you that I
go away ; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, chap. xvi. 7. Had not Jesus Christ been offered in sacrifice, there had been no Comforter, and no consolation for the wretched posterity of Adam. The anger of a righteous God was kindled against them. They had nothing to look for from heaven but thunderbolts, and an horrible tempest to crush their guilty heads. On the cross it was that Jesus Christ restored a blessed correspondence between heaven and earth: for it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell: and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven, Col. i. 19, 20.
2. The second buckler against the offence of the cross—the downfall of the enemy of mankind; I mean the Devil and his angels : the prince of this world is judged, ch. xiv. 80, xvi. 11. The crucifixion of the Redeemer of the world, it is true, seemed to complete the triumph of Satan, but it was, in reality, precisely the point of his decline and fall. He bruised the heel of the promised seed, but Jesus Christ bruised his head, Gen. iii. 15. On the cross it was that Jesus executed the design of his coming into the world, namely, to destroy the works of the Devil, i Jo. iii. 8. On the cross it was that Jesus Christ poured out the precious blood which was going to become the true seed of the church. On the cross it was that he dashed down to the ground the trophies of idolatry, and there he spoiled principalilies and powers, and