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all those clouds, in which God has been pleased to envelope the religion of Jesus Christ : the vocation of the Christian is to pierce through the obscurity of the past, and the obscurity of the future; it is to make study to supply the want of experience, and hope the want of vision. The felicity of the Christian depends on the manner in which he corresponds to this high vocation: T'homas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. This was the point to be demonstrated.
It highly concerns us, my brethren, to fulfil this twofold engagement, and thus to attain, at length, supreme felicity, in the way which it has pleased God to trace for us. Let us,
1. Pierce through the obscurity of the past. Let us learn to make study supply the want of experience. Let us diligently apply ourselves to acquire the knowledge of our religion, by seeking after assurance of the truth of those facts, on which it is established. Of these the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the chief: for if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, ye are yet in your sins, 1 Cor. xv. 14, 17. But thanks be to God, this fact, of such capital importance, is supported by proofs which it is impossible for any reasonable man to resist.
But it requires a considerable degree of attention, of serious recollection, to study these with advantage. To this study there must, of necessity, be sacrificed some worldly employment, some party of pleasure : a man must sometimes retire into his clos
et, and get the better of that languor which deep thought, and close reading naturally produce. But, O how nobly is he rewarded for all his labour, by the copious harvest which it yields! What delight in discovering that God has proportioned the weight of the proofs by which his religion is supported, to the importance of each of its parts! What consolation to see that this truth, Jesus Christ is risen, this truth which gives us the assurance that God has accepted the sacrifice of his Son, that the work of our salvation is accomplished, that arcess to the throne of grace is opened to us, that the disorders introduced by sin are repaired! What consolation to see that a truth of such high importance is so completely ascertained, and that so many presumptions, so many proofs, so many demonstrations concur in establishing it!
What satisfaction is it, thus to transport ourselves, in thought, into the apostolic ages, there to contemplate the wonders of redemption! For this is the effect which study produces, of those exquisitely conclusive and irresistible proofs which demonstrate the truth of this great event: it transports us into the apostolic ages; it enables us to behold with the mind's eye what we cannot behold with the eyes of the body. After having thus torn up incredulity by the roots, with what an ecstacy of holy delight may the Christian approach the table of the Lord, with full conviction of soul, and say to him with Thomas: “ My Lord and my God. The heartaffecting persuasion I have of what thy love has done for me, elevates, penetrates, overwhelms me. It will render easy to me the most painful proofs which it nray please thee to prescribe to my gratitude. My Lord and my God, my Lord and my God, I regret all the time I have devoted to the world and its pleasures: henceforward I will think of thee, and thee only: I will live to thee, and thee only. Accept the dedication which I now make. Bear with the weakness in which it is made: approve the sincerity with which I this day come to break off the remaining attachments which fetter me down to the world, and to bind closer those of my communion with thee, the only worthy object love and desire."
How blessed shall we be, my beloved brethren, in thus penetrating through the obscurity of the past ! Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.
2. But let us likewise penetrate through the darkness of futurity. Let hope supply to us the want of possession. How shall it, henceforth, be possible for us to entertain suspicion against the faithfulness of God's promises ? Behold on that table what God is capable of doing in our behalf. Behold by what miracles of love-O miracles of the love of God, we want language to express thee, as we want ideas to conceive thee! but behold on that table, behold by what miracles of love he has prevailed to make us the rich present of his own Son, to expose him, for our sakes, to all that series of suffering which has been the subject of our meditation during the weeks which commemorate the passion.
Is it possible for us to believe that a God so gracious and so compassionate could have created us to render us for ever miserable? Is it possible to believe that a God so great and so munificent should limit his bounty toward us, to the good things granted us here below, to that air which we breathe, to the light which illuminates this world, to the aliments which sustain these bodies ? Nay is it possible for us to believe that he should permit us to remain long in this world, exposed to so many public and private calamities: to war, to famine, to mortality, to the pestilence, to sickness, to death ? Away with suspicions so injurious to the goodness of our God. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ? Rom viii. 32. Let us indulge ourselves in feasting on the deliciousness of this hope : let us not destroy the relish of it, by wallowing in the pleasures of sense: let us habituate ourselves to pursue happiness, in a conviction of the felicity prepared for us in another world.
This hope, it is true, replenished as it is with such unspeakable sweetness, is not without a mixture of bitterness. It is a hard thing to be enabled to form such transporting ideas of a felicity placed still so far beyond our reach. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, Prov. xiü. 12. But we shall not be suffered to languish long. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry, Heb. x. 37. Yet a few short moments more, and our great deliverer, Death, will come to our relief. Let us not stand aghast at his approach. It is not becoming in Christians, who cannot attain the perfection of happiness
till after death, to be still afraid of dying. Let us, on the contrary, anticipate the hour of death, by the exercise of a holy ardour and zeal. Let us look for it with a submissive impatience: Having adesire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better (Phil. i. 23.) than any thing we can possibly better (Phil. i. ley of tears.
He who testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly: let us cry out in return,
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus, Rev. xxii. 20. Come, Redeenrer of my soul: I adore thee amidst.the clouds in which thou concealest thyself; but vouchsafe to scatter them. After I have enjoyed the felicity of believing, without having seen, let me likewise have the felicity of seeing and believing. Let me see with my eyes him whom my soul loveth: let me contemplate that sacred side, from whence issue so many streams of life for the wretched posterity of Adam: let me admire that sacred body which is the redemption of a lost world: let me embrace that Je$us, who gave himself for me; and let me behold hiin, never, never to lose sight of him more."
God, of his infinite mercy, grant us all this grace. To him be glory forever. Amen,