« 前へ次へ »
so apt to be inflamed. Let us banish ourselves from them; which we can do, if we please. If we choose, we can abstain from the society of the wicked, and from many other temptations, by which we may be seduced.
Human life is a state of warfare ; but it is a state of warfare to them only, who are rendered irresolute by the long practice of vice: It is a state of peace to them, who are experienced in the way of salvation. Should it however be as difficult, as it is sometimes represented, to attain to innocency, are not the rewards, with which God has promised to crown it, sufficient to counterbalance the difficulty ? Should a life of virtue be a life of pain, at the worst, it can last only a few years; and it will be succeeded by immortal happiness. Let this motive animate us to persevere. Let it render us resolute and courageous: Our race is short ; but the prize is. eternal. In fine, my beloved brethren, let us be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.
2d. s. in Lent.
WHEN JESUS THEREFORE SAW HIS MOTHER, AND THE DIS-
The virtues, which Jesus displayed during his life, shone with the greatest lustre in its closing scenes. Such an assemblage of divine graces then appeared in his character, that the grateful Christian contemplates it with love, delight, and admiration. Happily the evangelical writers are sufficiently minute in the concluding chapters of his history, which constitute the most affecting parts of the Gospels. We here see a personage, of sublime dignity and heroic fortitude, voluntarily submitting to pain and death, that he may promote the most important of all purposes, the glory of God, and the felicity of mankind.
Among the virtues, which he manifested on this occasion, none was more conspicuous than his tenderness. By tenderness I mean the soft affection, which filled his susceptible heart, his kind attention to his friends, and his anxiety for their happiness. This will be my theme
at present; and I purpose, in the first place, to consider it; and, secondly, to show what inferences we should draw, and what practical uses we should make of the subject.
1. In treating of the tenderness of our Saviour, it may
be sufficient to mention some of the instances of it, which are recorded in his history, without dwelling on them particularly; for there is always danger, if we expatiate on them, of weakening their effect by too diffuse a style, or by cold exclamation. The Evangelists have related them with so much simplicity and pathos, that we cannot, by adopting an expanded manner, render them more forcible. Passing by the instances, which appear in the former parts of the Gospels, I will remind you of those, which took place at the close of this life.
1. The first instance, which I shall mention, is the tenderness of our Lord to the family of Lazarus. There must have been something very amiable in the character of this young man and his two sisters; for it is said by St John, that Jesus loved them. When therefore Lazarus died, though our Saviour was determined to restore him to life by his miraculous power, yet he was much affected with the sorrow of his sisters, and he wept at their tears. The Jews, who were present, were so struck with his tenderness to the deceased, that they could not forbear saying, Behold how he loved bim. The sensibility, which, amidst the display of his majesty, our Lord discovered on this occasion, renders his character extremely interesting. He thought it not beneath his dignity to mingle his tears with the tears of the afflict
ed sisters, and to exert his kind attention, and to make use of scothing words to comfort their hearts. He becomes the object of affection and delight; but we do not perceive that he debased himself by cherishing and expressing the feelings of tenderness.
2. The second instance of the tenderness of our Saviour, of which I would remind you, is that which he manifested to his disciples in his last conversation with them. I refer particularly to the account of it, contained in the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of St John's Gospel. It would be too long to repeat at this time; nor is it necessary, as you have the New Testament in your hands, and can read it in the Evangelist's own affectionate language. The whole is one display of tenderness. Your hearts will burn within you, whilst you peruse it, particularly such passages as the following: “Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also in me. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you ; continue ye in my love. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man "lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Ye have sorrow
but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh
3. After these compassionate addresses, our Saviour retired to the garden of Gethsemane, where he suffered inexpressible agony of body and mind; but amidst the horrors, by which he was surrounded, his tender
ness did not forsake him ; for he kindly excused the disa ciples, who accompanied him, and who fell asleep through sorrow : The spirit, said he, indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
4. The look, which he gave to Peter, when, in the presence of his Lord, he denied that he knew him, may be interpreted in the same manner. It reproved him for his inconstancy; but it reproved him with tender
It condemned the cowardice of his friend; but it conveyed pity for his frailty. The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter, and that affectionate look immediately filled the heart of the disciple with sorrow and repentance.
5. The address, which he made to the women, who accompanied him to Calvary with tears and lamentations, and who probably were his relations or friends, breathes the same spirit. And there followed him, says St Luke, a great company of people, and of women, who also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for
6. But the most remarkable instance of the : tenderness of our Saviour is contained in the text. In order to conceive of the sublimity of this tenderness, it is necessary to advert to the situation of Jesus. He was fixed to a cross, on which he was suspended, not by cords, but his whole weight was supported by the wounds, which the nails had made in his hands and feet. The nerves of those sensible parts were cruelly lacerated; and he knew that he should hang in this manner, till by