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النشر الإلكتروني

Though the consideration of other surrounding witnesses is suited to animate us in our race; yet the noblest incentive, and most powerful means, is looking unto Jesus. There is a cloud of witnesses; but his testimony is infinitely superior. John xviii. 37. Rev. i. 5. He is the faithful witness : others are patterns; but he alone is to be followed throughout. He is a perfect pattern, both as- to obedience and sufferings. Others may be instrumental in encouraging us to run : he alone can actually and effectually impart aid, strength, vigour, activity, and constancy. Others may be considered as spectators of our race; but he is the supreme Judge, who must award the prize. Looking unto Jesus, denotes constant attention to him ; cordial approbation of him; comparative disesteem of every thing which stands in competition with him ; confident reliance on him ; careful imitation of him. Two things deserve notice: 1. That it is to be a continued act, in all situations. 2. It includes looking off from other objects, whether discouraging or seducing; from guilt, opposition, persecution, worldly trouble, allurements, self-sufficiency, defective examples, &c.

SECONDLY: The duty of continually looking unto Jesus is more particularly enforced by his character and conduct.

He is here characterized Jesus, a suffering Saviour. Let his sufferings reconcile us to ours. It is sufficient for the servant to be as his Lord here, and with his Lord at last. He is the author and finisher of faith. Faith is founded on him ; given on his account; (Phil. i. 29.) inwrought, maintained, and perfected by him. Luke xvii. 5. Hence learn humility, dependance, and confidence. The whole of his conduct was most endearing and instructive. Pain and shame were eminently united in the death of the cross; but he patiently endured the cross, despising the shame. What patience and magnanimity were united in him! The source of his support was the joy set before him. The glory of God, and the salvation of his elect, and the exaltation of his humanity. This was set before him, in God's decree, in the covenant of redemption, in the scriptural predictions. How then should we rejoice to promote the

divine glory! how love him who so loved us, and rejoiced in our salvation ! how should we realize the happiness of the heavenly world! He is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. He is therefore as able to make us conquerors, as he himself was to conquer. He is head over all to the church, able to keep us from falling, to help under all trials, to subdue all our enemies, and to raise us to a heavenly throne.

IMPROVEMENT.-Let us learn from hence, the Christian's duty. Progressive holiness.

The only means of fulfilling it, is looking unto Jesus. Oh, realize it—that it is a duty to run, and a sin to halt, or to loiter, or draw back. It is a sin not to grow in grace; not to become more humble, watchful, prayerful, holy, heavenly. If you truly realized this, it would move you to exertion. On the other hand, beware of a different error. While some say, it is God who must make us active, and therefore activity is not our duty ; others say, activity is our duty, therefore we do not need Christ and his Spirit to work in us to will and to do: since God bids us to run, therefore he need not draw. Both draw false conclusions from true premises. Christ is Alpha and Omega; all in all in our religion. If we would run, we must look to him for motive, pattern, and power. If we would lay aside every weight, we must also look to Jesus. Are your cares weighty, your crosses weighty, your discouragements weighty ? Look to Jesus, and they will become light. Does sin easily beset you ? Look to Jesus, and see how evil it is ; contemplate his loveliness, and love his murderer if you can! Is sin too strong for you? Look to Jesus. Can that arm help? Can that wounded heart pity? Have you any encouragement to apply to that crucified Saviour ? Yes, surely.

Be, then, exhorted, brethren. Look back to him, in his state of humiliation. Look up to him, in his state of exaltation. Look forward to his second coming. He is your Saviour, your shepherd, your counsellor, your captain, your portion, your all. Look and love; look and hope ; look and rejoice.

Alas, for them that hide their faces from Jesus, and run

towards destruction, as if determined to take, not heaven, but hell by violence !

Some, indeed, who refuse to look unto Jesus, may persuade themselves that there is no hell : they wish to ramble at large now, instead of running in a prescribed course ; and they hope to leap into the gulph of oblivion at last. They are willing to give up immortality, if they may obtain the prize of annihilation. Others hope to find heaven without him; but how vain is their expectation! Ah! if ye will not look to Calvary, look to Sinai ; listen to the voice from Ebal. Surely, after you have heard those words of terror, those mighty thunderings, you will be glad to hear his still voice“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If not, “ Behold he cometh in clouds; and every eye shall see him; and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him."

CXL.

THE SPIRITS OF THE JUST.

[Funeral Sermon for the Rev. T. Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford, 1821.)

Heb. xii. 23. To the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

The Apostle, in the context, is representing the peculiar privileges of believers under the gospel dispensation, as far superior to those enjoyed under the Mosaic economy. Under the former dispensation, the awful majesty, spotless purity, righteous jealousy, and avenging justice of God, were especially exhibited, with only an obscure shadow of pardoning mercy. But the gospel of Jesus, without derogating from the honor of the divine government, or admitting the least inconsistency in the character of Jehovah, delights us with the fullest display of the exceeding riches of his grace. The source of salvation, the medium of acceptance, and the nature of future happiness provided for the people of

God, are far more clearly discovered. It is here especially represented as the privilege of all true believers, to have, through their connexion with the exalted Mediator, the most intimate communion with each other: So with the church militant, and the church triumphant : they are one body; and the bliss of the latter is already made known to the former, and in some degree shared by them. Hence I would endeavor to illustrate this one clause, out of a most sublime paragraph.

First: Let us consider the previous character of those of our race, who are now become the inhabitants of heaven.

They are here stiled just ; which is evidently supposed to have been their character before their admission into that state of perfection. Though they were imperfect here ; for there is not a just man upon earth, who doeth good and sinneth not.

In many things we all offend ;” nor is there any who could stand before God on the ground of his own righteousness. But the persons referred to, are such as those of whom the Apostle gave an account in the preceding chapter, who all died in faith ; and others of a like character, who had been saved by faith in Christ'; for “ the just shall live by faith.” Yet are they stiled just, not merely with reference to the imputed righteousness which is their only title to eternal life, even the obedience of that just One, by which many are constituted righteous; but also with reference to their inward temper and disposition, as well as that outward conduct which flows from it.

Though these things are very distinct, yet it may easily be shown that there is a close connexion between them : for no one can lay claim to the advantages resulting from Christ's mediation, who does not cordially approve of the plan of redemption, and unite with him in the ends of his obedience unto death. But he who enters into the views of the Redeemer, and unites in the designs of his mediation, must love universal righteousness. And every friend to righteousness must approve his plan of salvation. The just were brought to this disposition while here below, by the influence of renewing grace': for they were once of a disposition quite contrary to righteousness, till God gave them a new turn of

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mind, and taught them to love justice and righteousness. Perhaps, a prudent concern for worldly interest might before induce them to be punctual in business, and regular in the discharge of social duties; but they regarded not the rights of deity, nor were they influenced by the command of God, in what they performed respecting man. But when renewed, they were truly disposed to render to every one his due; to God the things which were God's, to man the things which were man's. They would then acknowledge, without reserve, the justice of God's requirements and denunciations, freely confessing their own guilt and unworthiness; not disposed to cavil at his law because they had broken it, nor disposed to think it unjust because they had forfeited the reward, and deserved the awful penalty : for surely God's law is as good as if it had never been violated at all, or as if all who ever transgressed it had been of a different species from ourselves. The same disposition is discovered in their attachment to the gospel. As an honest man will own his debts, if he cannot pay them; and as, if he had through former negligence or misconduct become insolvent, it would afford him peculiar satisfaction if a friend pay his debts for him, so that his creditor might not lose his right, then that would not remove the sense of his fault in contracting them : so the Christian will freely acknowledge his faults with all their aggravations, especially to the heart-searching God : and will be concerned, that his great Creator and Sovereign may not lose his due, though he cannot make amends himself; and hence he will rejoice in the suretyship of Christ, that the advocate with the Father is Jesus Christ the righteous. He will also be just to the Redeemer, to confess himself his rightful property, bound to be devoted to his service. Just to his. Lord, in giving just ideas of his religion. Just to the Holy Spirit, to acknowledge the change he finds in his disposition to be owing to his omnipotent grace alone. Just towards men: desirous to render to every one his due, and to do to others as he would they should do to him. Let us consider,

SECONDLY, The present state of those just men who died in the Lord. Their spirits are made perfect.

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