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veniences deter you from pursuing your journey ? Will you not break through all obstructions, resist all temptations, and press forward with alacrity and vigour towards your beloved home? And why then will you not seek your heavenly country with the same ardour and perseverance that you
would your earthly one ? You are all “strangers and pilgrims upon earth.” This world is not your home, though you are too apt to think
You belong to another city, you are subjects of a better kingdom, where infinitely greater joys await you than have been just described, or can, by the utmost stretch of imagination, be conceived. Every day you live, every moment you breathe, brings you nearer to this country ; and the grave
itself, dismal as it appears, is nothing more than the gate that leads you into it.
Conscious then of the dignity and importance of our high and heavenly calling, which renders’us candidates for the kingdom of God, and heirs of immortality, let us persevere steadily and uniformly, in our progress towards those celestial mansions, which are prepared for all the faithful servants of Christ; where we shall be released from all the endless anxieties, the vain hopes, and causeless fears that now agitate and disquiet us ; and shall, through the merits of our Redeemer, be rewarded, not merely with uninterrupted tranquillity and repose, (the utmost felicity of the pagan elysium ;) not merely with a visionary posthumous reputation, which commences not till we are incapable of enjoying it; but with a crown of glory that fadeth not away, a real immortality in the kingdom of our Father and our God.
The last Lecture ended with the history of our Lord's resurrection. The evangelist then proceeds to give a concise account of what passed after that great event had taken place.
“ Then,” says he, “ the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain, where Jesus had appointed them.”
By the eleven disciples, he means the apostles, who, though originally twelve, were now reduced to eleven, by the defection and death of Judas. These Jesus had commanded to meet him in Galilee. “Go, tell my brethren,” says he to the women, “that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. There, therefore, the apostles went about eight days after the resurrection, and many others with them; for this probably was the time and the place when he showed himself to about five hundred brethren at once. “ And when they saw him they worshipped him ; but some doubted." Here we have the authority of the apostles themselves for the worship of Christ. The women, when they first saw Jesus, paid him the same adoration ; " they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”+ But some, it is added, doubted. And where can be the wonder, if among five hundred persons there should be two or three, who, like the disciples mentioned by St. Luke,I believed not for joy, and wondered; that is (as is
natural) were afraid to believe what they so ardently wished to be true; or who, like St. Thomas, would not believe, unless they touched the body of Jesus, and thrust their hands into his sides. But their doubts, like his, were probably soon removed. This circumstance therefore only serves to show the scrupulous fidelity of the sacred historians, who, like honest men, fairly tell you every thing that passed on this and on similar occasions, whether it appears to make for them or against them.
“ And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
In his divine nature he had this power from all eternity ;
* Matth. xxviii. 16.
t Matth. xxviii. 9.
# Ch. xxiv. 41.
but it was now to be exercised in his human nature also, which, from a state of humiliation, from the form of a servant, was soon to be exalted to the highest dignity, and placed at the right hand of God. Accordingly St. Paul informs us, that, “God raised our Lord from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come; and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."'*
And again, in his Epistle to the Philippians, he says, that “God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”+ In the same magnificent language he is spoken of in the book of Revelations : “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And again, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.”
Such is the dignity of the Lord and Master whom we serve ; and such is that authority with which, in the two concluding verses of this chapter, he gives his last command to his apostles : “Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
The ceremony, then, by which our Lord's disciples were to be admitted into his religion, was baptism. This was sometimes used by the Jews on the admission of proselytes, and by the heathens on initiation into their mysteries. But the baptism of Christians was to be accompanied with a peculiar form of words, which distinguished it from every other. They were to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This form of words has accordingly been used in the Christian church, from the earliest times down to the present ; and is, as you all know, the mode of baptism adopted and constantly practised by the Church of England. And it is remarkable, not only on this account, but as being also one principal ground of a very distinguished doctrine of the Gospel, and of the Church of England, the doctrine of the Trinity. For the plain and natural interpretation of the words is, that by being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we are dedicated and consecrated equally to the service of each of those three divine persons; we are made the servants and disciples of each, and are consequently bound to honour, worship, and obey each of them equally. This evidently implies an equality in their nature, and “ that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in each.” In confirmation of this, we find in various parts of Scripture, that all the attributes of divinity are ascribed to each. And yet, as the unity of the Supreme Being is every where taught in the same Scriptures, and is a fundamental article of our religion, we are naturally led to conclude with our church in its first article, “ That there is but one living and true God, of infinite power and wisdom, the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible ; and that, in the unity of this Godhead, there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
* Ephes. i. 20—23.
+ Philip. ii. 9-11,
# Rev. v. 12, 13.
That this is a very mysterious doctrine we do not deny ; but it is not more so than many other doctrines of the Christian revelation which we all admit, and which we cannot reject without subverting the foundation, and destroying the very substance and essence of our religion. The miraculous birth and incarnation of our blessed Lord, his union of the human nature with the divine, his redemption of mankind, and his expiation of their sins by his death upon the cross; these are doctrines plainly taught in scripture, and yet as incomprehensible to our finite understandings as the doctrine of three persons and one God. But what we contend for in all these instances is, that these mysteries, although confessedly above our reason, are not contrary to it. This is a plain and a wellknown distinction, and in the present case an incontrovertible
No one for instance can say, that the supposition of three persons and one God is contrary to reason.
We cannot indeed, comprehend such a distinction in the divine nature; but unless we knew perfectly what that nature is, it is impossible for us to say that such a distinction may not subsist in it consistent with its unity. The truth is, on a subject where we have no clear ideas at all, our reasoning faculties must fail us, and we must be content to submit (as well we
e may) to the clear and explicit declarations of holy writ. It is indeed natural for the human mind to wish that every thing in religion should be intelligible and plain, and that there should be no
difficuties to perplex and stagger our faith. But natural as this wish may be, is it a reasonable one ? Do we find, that in the most important concerns of the present life, in those where our most essential interests, our property, our welfare, our health, our reputation, our very life, are at stake, that no difficulties, no perplexities, no intricacies occur; that every thing is plain and level before us, and that we are never at a loss how to act, what opinion to form, or what course to take? There are few, I fancy, here present, whose experience has not taught them, to their cost, the very reverse of all this. If then, even in the ordinary affairs of life, there is so much difficulty, doubt, and obscurity, how can we wonder to find it in religion also, in those enquiries that relate to an invisible world and an invisible Being, “to the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity ?"*
And let it never be forgotten that mysteries are not (as is often insinuated, and often taken for granted) peculiar to the Christian religion. They belong to all religions, even to that which is generally supposed to be of all others the least encumbered with difficulties, pure deism; or, as it is sometimes called, the religion of nature, of reason, or of philosophy.
Who, for instance, can grasp with the utmost stretch of his understanding, the idea of an eternal Being ; of a Being whose existence never had any beginning, and never will have an end? Where is the man, whose thoughts are not lost and confounded in contemplating the immensity of a God, who is intimately present to every part of the universe ; who sees, with equal clearness, a kingdom perish and a sparrow fall, and to whom every thought of our hearts is perfectly well known ?*
* “So far is it from being true (as some one has said) that where mystery begins religion ends; that religion, even natural religion, begins with a mystery, with the greatest of all mysteries, the self-existence and eternity of God. Let any one tell us how an eternity can be past, unless it was once present, and how that can be once present which never had a beginning.” Seed's Sermons, v. 2. S. 7. 459.
† “ J'appercois Dieu partout dans ses œuvres. Je le sens en moi, je le vois tout autour de moi; mais sitot que je veux le contempler en lui meme, sitot que je veux chercher ou il est, ce qu'il est, quelle est sa substance, il m'echappe, & mon esprit trouble n'appercoit plus rien. Rousseau, v. 8. p. 32. Enfin plus je m'efforce de contempler son essence infinie, moins je la concois; mais elle est, cela me suffit; moins je la concois plus je l'adore.”
I have cited these fine passages from the eloquent Rousseau, in his own language (for no translation can do justice to them) because no arguments are so convincing as those which are drawn from the concessions of sceptics themselves, which fall from them incidentally and undesignedly, and because the sentiments here quoted stand in direct