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And who is there amongst ourselves, my brethren, that can help feeling and acknowledging that small indeed would be his hope of happiness in the world to come, if the Blessed Son of God had not undertaken to reconcile us to His Father and our Father? Who is there that can deny the sinfulness of his nature, even if God's grace has kept him free from crimes? Who is there that must not feel that he stands in need of some righteousness far greater than his own, before he can be worthy to enter into that world where all is pure and holy, and where nothing sinful can appear?
Let us, then, with stedfast faith and the liveliest thankfulness, look to the cross of Jesus Christ, praising God for His goodness, and declaring the wonders that He doeth for the children of men! Let us think of our Blessed Saviour's sufferings, weeping not for Him, but for ourselves, with shame and sorrow that our wickedness and unworthiness should have been so great that nothing less than His agonies and the shedding of His blood could serve to blot them out. Above all, let us think of these things with the
holiest resolutions and purposes to amend our sinful lives, and no longer to be guilty of those very sins which He died to do away.
The Lamb of God has suffered death for us: the just for the unjust : the innocent for the guilty. God, from the very beginning, warned the world by His prophets and His messengers, and at last refused not to send His only Son into the world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And now, as the apostle asks, how shall we ever escape if we neglect the great salvation which is offered us in Christ Jesus our Lord ? It is through Christ alone that the kingdom of heaven is opened to us : it is by the blood which was shed upon this day that we hope for everlasting happiness in the life to come: and how shall we continue to feel that hope within us for a moment, how can we look with confidence to Christ, if we live only to offend Him ? how can we for a moment think that He who bore the shame and sorrow of the cross on purpose that sin might be destroyed, will ever have compassion upon us if we give
way to it, and indulge it? He is the Friend, the Saviour of sinners : not of the wilful and the hardened, but of the repentant and the humble: and they who are not of this description, as surely as they now live in sin and wickedness, so surely will they hereafter suffer for it in everlasting fire.
Think of this, ye young and thoughtless, who fancy that you have nothing better to do than laugh amidst the follies of the world, and give way to the sinful lusts and desires of the flesh : think of this, high and low: think of it, poor and rich : the soul that sinneth, it shall die, miserably, everlastingly. If this should be the end of any one amongst ourselves, none but ourselves can we blame. God has said and done every thing that mercy without bounds could, to persuade us; upon this day His beloved Son was put to death for us, and, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked forsake his ways and live : turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die?
MATTHEW xxviii. 5, 6, 7.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear
not ye: for 1 know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, said our blessed Saviour to the Jews: and they laughed at Him for it, for they thought that He meant the temple of God at Jerusalem, which they knew it had taken forty and six years to build : but Jesus spake of the temple of His body: and these words, which were but little thought of at the time, when He was risen from the dead His disciples remembered that He had spoken them, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. This is from the second chapter of St. John.
In the sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew it is written, that Jesus foretold to His disciples all that should happen to Him: How He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the Jews, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
In the twentieth chapter of St. Matthew again, Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again.
In the eighth chapter of St. Mark we find the same, He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be cast out by the elders, and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three