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their conviction that miracles were thus wrought, hazarded and yielded every enjoyment of life, and very often life itself. We have now, if I do not mistake, come to the clear and certain conclusion, that Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God. But, if Christ was raised from the dead, it follows, by irresistible consequence, that he was approved of God; and, of course, that he was the Son of God, and the promised Messiah, sent from heaven to communicate the divine will to mankind concerning their duty and salvation. The religion which he taught is in all its parts divine truth, the will of our Maker, and the sum and substance of all our interest and duty. Of course, it cannot be rejected without infinite hazard; it cannot be embraced without complete assurance of infinite gain, the favour of God in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.
A MIA B L E N ESS OF CHR IST
PUBLISHING THE GO SPE L T O M A NK IN D.
how be AUTIFUL 0N The MOUNTAINS ARE the Feet of him that BRING eth Good tidi NGs ; that publish eth peAce ; that BRING eth Good ti DiNGs of Good ; that publisheth salv Ation ; that sAlth UNto zio N, thy God Reigneth. ISAIAH LII. 7.
IN a long series of Discourses I have investigated minutely the character and mediation of Christ; and have considered his divine and human nature; his offices as a Prophet, Priest, and King; his miracles; and his resurrection. I shall now close this great and interesting subject of theology by attempting to exhibit, summarily, the excellency and amiableness of Christ, as manifested in his interference on the behalf of mankind. In the text, the prophet Isaiah presents to us the advent of a messenger of good tidings to mankind. This messenger is represented as announcing to the world “good, or happiness at large; as ‘publishing peace’—' salvation'—and the glorious news, that the God, who reigns universally, is the God of Zion. His appearance is exhibited by the prophet as filling his own mind with astonishment and extasy. Nothing could more forcibly convey to us the prophet's rapturous sense of the importance of these tidings, or his exalted views of the mes
senger who brought them, than the manner in which he dwells on these subjects, in the repeated and fervid exclamations of the text. When the soul becomes the seat of strong emotions, and especially when it is agitated by strong alternations of wonder and joy, it usually finds language, in every form of phraseology, too feeble to give full vent to its feelings, or to convey them to others with such force, as to satisfy the demands either of the imagination or the passions. When we ourselves feel, we wish others to feel ; and when our emotions become peculiarly ardent, we are prone to fear that the corresponding emotions of others will be less vivid than we desire. The mind in this case seizes the most forcible language within its reach, and, conscious that even this language halts behind its own fervours, naturally seeks to increase the impressions, by reiterating them in new and more animated phraseology. From this source were derived the exclamations of the text, peculiarly suited to the mind of Isaiah, whose imagination was not only more sublime, but on all occasions more ready to glow, than that of any other writer. St. Paul applies this text to the ministers of the Gospel generally, and perhaps more especially to the first ministers. This application teaches us decisively, that the Gospel, the meaning of which word you know is merely “good tidings,’ is the subject of the annunciation in the text; and that ministers of the Gospel at large are, in a loose and general sense, included in the purport of these exclamations. The prophet, however, speaks of one messenger only; and this messenger is the person who publishes the Gospel to mankind. The Lord Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the messenger here intended, by whose voice the Gospel was originally communicated to the world. The prophet, who beyond any other writer embodies all his thoughts, and holds them out to the view of the eye, exhibits this divine herald as advancing over the mountains surrounding the city of Jerusalem, and as proclaiming joyful news to its inhabitants. The reader is transported to the spot; sees this illustrious person approach, hears him proclaim the tidings which he comes to announce, and unites with the prophet and his exulting countrymen in their joyful exclamations. The only characteristical circumstance on which the prophet rests in the text, is the beauty which adorned the person of this glorious messenger. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings '' To the consideration of this subject I propose to devote the following Discourse. In the discussion of it I shall consider, I. The persons, to whom these tidings were published : II. The tidings themselves ; and III. The messenger who published them.
I. The persons to whom these tidings were published, were the children of apostate Adam.
It will be useful to the design which I have proposed, to consider both their character and their circumstances.
Their character, like that of their progenitor, was formed of apostasy. Every man who searches his own bosom, or examines the conduct of his own life, is presented with irresistible evidence that he is a sinner. Let him form whatever rule of life he is pleased to prescribe, by which his duty to himself, to his fellow men, and to God, ought even in his own view to be regulated, and he will find himself, in innumerable instances, a transgressor of that rule. The heathen philosophers anciently, and the infidels of modern times, have formed such rules. Weigh them in their own balances, and they will invariably be ‘found wanting." Lax, licentious, and even monstrous as the laws are which they have proposed for the regulation of their own moral conduct, they still have not obeyed them, and will, if tried by them, be certainly con
demned. How much more defective do they appear, when
examined by the dictates of a sober and enlightened conscience How far more defective, when tried by the perfect law of God! Searched by this law, it will be uniformly found, and every man faithfully employed in the search will be obliged to confess, that ‘in our flesh dwelleth no good thing.’
Among the most affecting specimens of this evil character, a conscientious investigator will be deeply afflicted with those which constitute his own personal debasement. If he open his eye on what he has been, and on what he has done, he will find the most abundant reason to exclaim, with Job, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’ He will find that he has, in the true and evangelical sense, neither loved God, nor man; that he has neither accepted of his Saviour, nor repented
of his sins; that he has neither laboured to be a blessing, nor even endeavoured not to be a nuisance, to the divine kingdom. Instead of worshipping God “ in spirit and in truth,” according to the first dictates of his conscience and of Revelation, he will find that he has in truth prostrated himself to gold, to office, to fame, and to pleasure. Instead of the exact justice, unwavering truth, and expansive benevolence of the Gospel, he will see, written in the volume of his life with a pen of iron, a succession of melancholy scenes and acts of unkindness, insincerity, and injustice; all contrived and finished by a mind shrunk with selfishness, swollen with pride, heated with anger, debased with avarice, and steeled with insensibility. Page after page he will see stained with the licentious wanderings of an impure imagination, and deformed by the malignant purposes of an envious, angry, and revengeful spirit. In vain will his eye, pained with these narratives of shame and sin, wander from one leaf to another with an anxious, inquisitive search, to find the delightful records of filial confidence, submission, and gratitude to the Creator, or the sweet and cheering remembrances of evangelical charity towards those around him, or a portrait of himself, which shall be a fair counterpart to that of the good Samaritan. In vain will he watch and explore the humiliating story, to glean from it refreshing recollections of sélf-purification, the refinement of his mind, the amendment of his heart, or the cleansing of his life. Over himself he will find the most distressing reasons to mourn, as over a graceless and ruined child; ruined, on the one hand, by the gratification of pernicious appetites and passions, and on the other, by a senseless, thoughtless indulgence, doting with a mixture of idiocy and madness. - The public exhibitions of the human character are still more striking displays of human guilt. Almost the only government of mankind has been tyranny. Almost all the conduct of nations may be summed up in the rage of plunder, the fury of war, and the phrenzy of civil discord. Men seem to have thought their blessings too numerous and too great, and the duration of their life too long. Accordingly they have robbed each other of the former, shortened the latter, and struggled hard to reduce both to nothing. At what time has human blood ceased to flow 2 In what country have rage and revenge ceased to desolate 2 When and where have the cries WOL. II. 2 K