« AnteriorContinuar »
" wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy “ thoughts which are to us.ward: they cannot be “ reckoned up in order unto thee; if I should “ declare and speak of them they are more than “ can be numbered." Redemption is a subject “ which can never be exhausted by the intellec" tual powers of men and angels; but will, to “ both, afford matter of incessant meditation “ and endless praise. Yet how little do we « meditate on its wonders! how seldom and how “ coldly do we praise God for them !" * St. Paul also speaks of " the height and depth and “ length and breadth of the love of Christ as « passing knowledge.” † (Eph. iii. 18, 19.) Now if the tongue of the seraphic Psalmist, speaking in the person of Christ and under the influence of the Holy Ghost, was unable to describe this gift; if the enlarged mind of one who
* Dr. Horne on the 40th Psalm, ver. 5. of This passage of St. Paul is equally to be admired for the sublimity of its sense, and the beauty and variety of its charming figures, and excellencies of language. « By a bold and beautiful metaphor, the dimensions of material substances are raised above their native signification, and ennobled by being applied to the mysteries of religion. The goodness of God in His dear Son Jesus has its breadth -it extends to all mankind; its length-it reaches to all ages; its height and depth-He raises mankind from the lowest abyss of misery and despair, to the highest eminence of happiness and glory. Where it is remarkable, that, though the dimensions of bodies are but three, the sacred Author adds a fourth-height, whereby he more emphatically expresses the greatness, the majesty, the absolute and entire perfection, and the immense charity of that sonderful work of our redemption; or, in the better words of the inspired writer, the unsearchable riches of the love of Christ; the knowledge of which passes all other knowledge, both in its own immense greatness, and the grand concern mankind has in it; and can never be so perfectly known by created understandings, as that they shall either fully comprehend, or duly value such an adorable mystery and infinite bleser sing."--Blackwall's Sacred Classics, vol. i. p. 267. .
had been caught up into the third heaven could not fully conceive of it, it may justly be styled “ inestimable.” The beloved disciple seems also at an utter loss for expression sufficiently forcible for his purpose, when he says, “ God so “ loved the world as to give His only begotten “ Son.” He could find no comparison; he could only relate the fact. Saints made perfect, and angels who surround the throne, are unable to shiew forth half His praise who gave “ His “ only Son to be a sacrifice for sin.” Eternal ages will not fully disclose, nor eternal praise fully acknowledge, the benefit of redemption.
How proper is our petition for “ grace" “ that we may always most thankfully receive “ this inestimable gift!" It resembles that of the Apostles, “ Lord, we believe; help thou “ our unbelief." To receive it in a manner suitable to its worth, is impossible; but surely it should be our desire and endeavour constantly to embrace it with all the energies of our minds wrought up to the highest pitch of grateful adoration.
A thankful reception of the “ inestimable “ benefit” implies a conviction of our need of it. If a present of a million sterling were offered to one who had, or supposed himself to have, a full sufficiency of money before, he would say, “ Of what use can this additional sum be to me? " I want it not, bestow it where it is more needed, “ and of consequence will be more acceptable.” Such is the language of the self-righteous heart respecting the “ inestimable gift.” I am rich, “ and increased with goods, and have need of “ nothing,” is the groundless persuasion it maintains; while, in fact, it is “ wretched and misew rable, poor and blind and naked.” But there
are others besides Pharisaic persons who make light of Christ. He is despised also and rejected by all who are in an unawakened state of soul. To one who is wholly unacquainted with the value of money, and the advantages derivable from the possession of it in civilized society (as, for instance, to a South-Sea- Islander,) the largest offer of a pecuniary kind would be unthankfully received. And in like manner the inestimable gift is treated by the generality of mankind. They hear of the love of God without emotion, and of the gift of Christ without any desire after an interest in Him. A conviction of the worth of the soul, of its guilt, danger, and impotence, and also of the suitability of the winestimable “ gift” to the wants and miseries of the lost soul, is an essential pre-requisite to a thankful reception of the sacrifice of Christ.
Moreover, faith in the “ inestimable benefit, 'a witli a view to personal comfort and salvation, is implied in a thankful reception of it. Without this in a greater or less degree, no thankfulness will be excited by the tender of a Saviour. A man looking at a treasure, unconscious of any propriety in it, would feel no gratitude for the sight. But the persuasion - This is mine," would open the secret springs of joy in his bosom. While unbelief prevails, no thankfulness can be felt. It is so faith” which “ worketh by love."
Some persons perhaps will say, We hope that we have received this “ inestimable benefit" with thankfulness to the gracious Giver. Let them know that the petition of our collect is not therefore superfluous, nor unsuitable to their lips. Even these persons, admitting that their hope is founded, have need to pray for grace. For it is certain that they have not received the
being receive the it may aletely it is n
* inestimable gift" so thankfully, nor embraced it so cordially, as it deserves. Nay, there are seasons when the believer is ready to quit his grasp, and seems to feel no gratitude for the gospel-proposal. If any thing like this ever occurs in our experience, surely it is “ needful si to prar" that we may always most “ thank. « fullr receire the inestimable benefit," without being for a moment insensible of its value, or ind fierent to its possession.
We proceed to implore “ grace that we may e dails endearour ourselves to follow the blessed « steps of His most holy life.” This refers to the emendary end of the gift of Christ, as stated in the introductory part of our collect. He was giren not only “ to be a sacrifice for sin,” but also "to be an ensample of Godly life.” And all who " thankfully receive the inestimable * beneat” as “ a sacrifice for sin," are anxious * themselres to follow the blessed steps of His ** mast holy life.” The end of Divine mercy is net answered with respect to us, unless our faith in Christ be productive of a constant imitation of Him.
“The steps of Christ's most holy life” are 6 blessed" steps indeed; since wherever He trod, He lert a blessing behind Him. “ He went * abont doing good.” To Him the words of enr great Poet may be applied with still stricter propriety than to her of whom he wrote them:
Cime was in all Iis steps, heav'n in His eye,
Vor wherever we see the print of our Lord's XX. there it is our privilege and duty to place
own. His “ ensample of Godly, life" is
admirably suited for our direction. It is an epitome of morality and Godliness. In prospe. rity and adversity--in temptation and desertion
-in our intercourse with God, and in our intercourse with men-in every age, rank, and station-His blessed example affords a perfect model of what we should study both to be and to do. Did we, possessing a competent knowledge of the evangelic story, and earnestly looking up to God the Holy Ghost for direction, ask ourselves, “ How would our great Exemplar act « in our circumstances?" we should never be at a loss for a clew whereby to guide our steps aright. But we often dread the inquiry, and therefore neglect to make it. : We pray for grace “ that we may endeavour " to follow the blessed steps of our Lord's most “ holy life.” An exact imitation is unattainable. But an endeavour to follow Him is essential to the character of a disciple. It is the criterion of grace received, for it can proceed only from Divine grace, and is always the consequence of its influence.
Our prayer supposes in those that use it, both earnest desire and strenuous exertion, things which are inseparable. If we are sincere in this request, we keep the pattern which Christ hath set us before our eyes, as a scholar does the copy which his master has written; and while we labour to transcribe it in our own conduct, conscious of inability we implore a larger measure of grace that our imitation may continually become more and more exact.
To imitate Christ is a Christian's “ daily" work. " He that saith, he abideth in Him, “ought himself also to walk even as He walked.” Every day, and hour, and moment, affords