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REFLECTIONS. 1. Let the Christian then dwell with devout admiration on the cross of Christ. Begin on earth what you hope to continue for eternity. Meditate on the glories of his character-on the wonders of his love, and all the benign influences which his death will exert, not only on the destinies of our world, but on the great interests of the whole universe. Imitate the angels who desire to look into these things, and catch the spirit of the innumerable hosts around the throne of God, who cry, “ Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing; for thou hast redeemed us by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests for ever."
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2. Make the cross of Christ, also, a source of consolation. fountain of blessings to a guilty and self-ruined race. It is the surest antidote against the ills of life; the sweetest solace of our earthly sorrows; the only balm for a wounded spirit; the last cordial for the fears of guilt and the phrensies of despair. Here rest until the storms of life shall have passed over, and left before you the bright and cloudless sunshine of a blessed eternity. Cling, like the saints of better days, to the precious and consoling truth of Christ crucified for our redemption, and bearing our sins in his own body on the cross. Let it be to you, as it was to them, a source of peace and unfailing joys. It comforted them amid the loss of all things; it made them welcome toil, reproach, and danger; it cheered them amid all the horrors of the dungeon, and enabled them to smile and sing even amid the flames of the stake and the tortures of the cross. Then imitate the martyr, and bind the Savior's dying love to your heart. It will assuage your remorse; it will sooth all the sorrows of your earthly pilgrimage ; it will give you many a sweet foretaste of those joys which eye hath not seen; it will cheer you even in that hour when flesh and heart fail you; and when you reach those mansions which a risen Redeemer hath gone to prepare, you will delight to join with saints and angels in admiring the wonders of that grace which made the cross of Christ the gateway to heaven for a fallen race, and his death the source of so much happiness to the whole universe.
3. Use this precious truth, also, as a means of promoting your spiritual improvement. Dwell upon the death of Christ until your heart is melted into penitence, gratitude, and love. Think of what he has done for you, until you are willing to do,'and sacrifice, and suffer any thing for him. Meditate on the glory he had with the Father before the world was, and think how low he stooped to reach and redeem a fallen world. Think on the lowly manger of his birth ; think on his life of toil, reproach, and sorrow; think on his prayers, his tears, and bloody sweat in the garden ; think on all the untold, inconceivable agonies of his cross; think on the sepulchre through which he passed to prepare for you mansions of celestial and everlasting bliss; think on all these until your heart melts in godly sorrow for your sins, and your bosom glows with the warmest emotions of gratitude, love, and praise.
4. Let me also assure the awakened sinner, that his burden of guilt can be removed only by applying to that blood which will purge his conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Are you oppressed with such a sense of sin and ill-desert, as leads you to inquire with deep solicitude what you must do to be saved? When you consider how long you have lived without God, or prayer, or hope ; how long you have enjoyed the bounties of his providence, and all the privileges of his grace, without making any returns of gratitude and love; how often you have broken his law, slighted his gospel, and done despite unto his Spirit; does your conscience in view of all this smite you? How then can you' silence its reproaches? You may pray-you must pray; but will your prayers hush its clamors? You , may, and must weep in godly sorrow; but can even such tears wash the stains of guilt from your soul? You may renounce your sins, and live a new life ; but can even an entire change of character erase from God's book of remembrance a single one of the numberless offences you have committed against him? How then can you escape the endless miseries of remorse? Apply to that blood which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. Come to the cross of Christ; for here, and only here, find a balm of sovereign power to heal your wounded spirit, and give your conscience perfect and everlasting peace. The Savior himself invites you: “ Come unto me all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The Spirit and the bride say, come ; let him that heareth say, come; let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
5. But a cordial acceptance of these invitations is indispensable to the sinner's salvation. Here is a sovereign remedy ; but can it, without being applied, heal the diseases of sin? The banquet of the Gospel is spread before you; but if you refuse to taste, must you not famish for ever? physician cure the patient that will not follow his prescriptions? Can food untasted refresh the body, or light unseen charm the eye, or music unheard regale the ear?
Consider then the absolute necessity of purifying your conscience by an
actual application of atoning blood. If the blood of Christ does not here purge your conscience from dead works, can you reasonably expect to serve and enjoy God for ever in heaven? Can you, with a heart unsanctified, and a conscience unappeased, be happy any where under the reign of Jehovah? Have you then forgotten the great, immutable law of his empire--" The soul that sinneth, it shall die ?" Can you, under such a law, ever be happy in your sins? Happy while cherishing the deathless worm of remorse in your bosom! Happy while drinking at the fountain of all the miseries in the universe! Alas! can a man take fire in his bosom, and not be burned ? Can the dead share the pleasures of life? Can the deaf enjoy the melodies of music ; or the blind gaze on the sublime and beautiful scenery of nature ? While blind to the glories of a Savior, a stranger to the transforming power of his Gospel, and dead in trespasses and sins; can such a man, without a radical change of character, avert for ever the stings of remorse, or relish the holy enjoyments of religion?
True, you may even in your sins enjoy a kind of happiness in a world of probation through which God is pouring the full tide of his temporal and spiritual favors. You may here gaze with delight on the beauties of nature and art; you may taste all the sweets of society, friendship, and domestic life. If remorse corrodes, you may mitigate its pangs by a thousand objects. You may frequent places of gay and fashionable resort; you may plunge into the vortex of sensual pleasures ; you may engross your mind with the cares of life, and the perplexities of business; you may regale your taste with the flowers of literature, or feast your intellect on the banquet of science, or cheer your heart with all the sweet reciprocities of friendship and domestic affection. Oh! there is in these a siren charm to lull asleep the bitter recollections and dark forebodings of guilt! But scenes far more congenial to remorse and despair are fast approaching. And in that lone land where no rills of mercy flow; where no ray of hope glimmers on the blackness of darkness for ever; where no ties of kindred, no sweets of friendship, no endearments of home are known; where no song of mirth is heard, no object of beauty strikes the eye, no pleasures of sense allure the taste; where nothing is found to sooth remorse, or alleviate despair ; but every thing conspires to turn the mind upon its own guilty recollections, and fill the whole soul with a sense of its past and still increasing guilt ;can the sinner be happy there? Does he then dream of being happy in his sins ? Alas! he may one day wake from this delusive dream to all the dread realities of endless, hopeless, unmitigated remorse. God grant that he may awake before he reaches that world where he will find no atoning Savior, no sanctifying Spirit, no balm of Gilead for the wounds of sin. His conscience may here sleep awhile; but it cannot sleep for ever. In the hour of death, if not before, it may awake like that of the phrensied Altamont; and in eternity it must and will awake in tenfold rage, to kindle those fires which shall never be quenched.
“ Look round, and see those numbers infinite,
That stand before the throne, and in their hands
“O love divine ! harp, lift thy voice on high !
Shout, angels ! shout aloud, yo sons of men!
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