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the relation which these events bear to our worldly prosperity or happiness, they may pass through our minds like the shadow that glides over the scene of the morning.
On what other principles can we account for the fact, that events so sublime, awful, and momentous as the crucifixion, the sepulture, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ-events in which we have the greatest possible interest, involving as they do, our eternal destiny, fail to occupy, as they ought, our most serious attention? We are familiar with them; we have heard of them from our childhood; and unconnected as they are with those objects of time and sense which engross us, they do not stimulate us to that serious consideration of them which is necessary to impress them upon our minds.
But, my brethren, to withhold from truths of infinite importance that reflection and attention which may be necessary to enable us to discern and to feel their value, is dishonourable to us as rational creatures, whose intellectual and moral powers ought always to be exercised upon events and truths with an earnestness proportionable to their worth and dignity. What truths of greater moment than the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Son of God! And what truths impose upon us higher obligations of gratitude, obedience, and love!
Redeemed by these great events from a spiri
tual thraldom, infinitely more grievous than the bondage to which the Jews were subjected by the haughty tyrant of Babylon, we have infinitely more reason to exclaim than they had at their deliverance from their temporal captivity-" The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
That this may be the language dictated by the lively impulse of gratitude, let us now devote a short time of serious reflection to the " great things" which God hath done for us, in the events of the present season of devout commemoration
Jesus our Lord crucified.
Jesus our Lord under the dominion of the grave.
I. Jesus our Lord crucified.
Worldly pride may tauntingly ask; and a sceptical philosophy repeat the questionWhat is there great in the death of one who was crucified as a malefactor, and who lived the scorn of men, and the outcast of the people? Are we to seek for the evidences of his greatness in his own obscurity and poverty, and in the obscurity and poverty of his associates; in the reproach, the ignominy, the buffetings and scourgings which were inflicted on one who terminated his career in a death the most ignominious that could be inflicted? But was there nothing great in the signs and wonders and mighty works by
which Jesus of Nazareth rose from the obscurity and meanness that surrounded him, and from the cloud of suffering that enveloped him, and delivering truths the most sublime and important, and precepts the most pure and exalted, proclaimed himself a teacher sent from God.
Yes, Jesus Christ was great through the whole course of a humble and suffering life. Stupendously great in its closing scene. The circumstances, the manner, the design of his death, distinguished it with all the marks of greatness.
Never was a death paid by any of the human race, at which there was darkness over the whole land; at which the earth quaked; and the rocks were rent; at which the graves were opened, and the dead arose and appeared unto many!
Never did an innocent victim of malice and persecution, submit to the ignominious and cruel inflictions of his enemies, with that meekness and patience which distinguished him, who, when he could have called to his rescue legions or angels, or by a word struck to the earth his vengeful enemies, testified his forbearance in the meek language of submission-"thus it must be;" and even in the bitter agonies of a death which his enemies had inflicted, was more solicitous for them, than alive to his own sufferings; and poured forth for them the prayer "Father, lay not this sin to their charge; forgive them, for they know not what they do." What majesty,
what tenderness, and what piety in that closing scene of his life-"It is finished-Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit " "He bowed
his head, and gave up the ghost." Even from the hardy soldier who guarded him, burst forth the exclamations of sympathy and of admiration“Truly, this was a righteous man"—"Truly, this is the Son of God "."
But if Jesus was great in the circumstances and manner of his death, with much propriety may we affirm that he was great in reference to the objects which that death accomplished., It was an illustrious exhibition of patience, of calmness, of forbearance, of meekness, and of dignity, such as had never been displayed by the boasted sages or the renowned heroes whose only trust was the principles of human wisdom, and whose only strength the force of human resolution. It was a proof of the sincerity which had dictated his numerous acts of benevolence, and prompted his beneficent and holy instructions and precepts. And in no inconsiderable degree it tended to strengthen the evidence which the purity and excellence of his doctrine, as well as the signs and wonders and mighty works he had wrought afforded, of the dignity of his mission. But these were ends that his death might have accomplished, had he possessed only the nature which
• Matt. xxvii. 54.
thus exposed him to suffering. There was an object achieved by his death infinitely exalted and interesting, and which was accomplished in consequence of the union, with that frail nature, which suffered and expired, of the power and nature of the Godhead. Jesus Christ though expiring in ignominy on the cross, mysterious as it may seem, was the Eternal Son of the Father, "God manifest in the flesh"." And his death therefore effected that which sinful human nature so urgently demanded, but which the death of no human victim could accomplish-it made "a full and sufficient oblation, atonement and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world."
The death of Christ has thus rendered more illustrious that holiness, which, purer than the Heavens, could not look on man but with abhorrence until his sins were washed away in the blood of atonement. It has afforded to the innumerable orders of created intelligences, to angels, and to man, a tremendous display of the inflexible severity of that justice which demanded the punishment of transgression, and turned not its sword from a victim of divine dignity. It exhibits to a guilty world, the awful terrors of that divine indignation which sin had roused, and which was appeased only in the dying agonies and intercessions of the Lord of life. And it has
1 Tim. iii. 17.