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The twelve cakes of show bread represented may be filled with all the fullness of God?” the signs of the Zodiac, and the twelve months Eph. iii. 18, 19. of the year. But they said, that the most holy Ah! let us beware, my beloved brethren, that place had been set apart for God: that the Pro- we deceive not ourselves as to this; after so pitiatory was his throne, that the cherubim were many distinguished tokens of the grace of his chariot.*
God, we are going to become the most wretchOn this principle, the veil, which separated ed, or the happiest, of all creatures. Our conthe holy place from the Holy of Holies, was dition admits not of mediocrity. The two an image of the obstacles which interposed be interesting extremes present themselves to tween the creature and the heavenly habita- view—the extreme of justice, and the extreme tion, in which God resides. This veil is rent of mercy. We are going to prove all that is asunder at the death of Jesus Christ; these ob- mild and gentle in the peace of God, or all stacles are removed; access into the abode of that is tremendous in his indignation: and that the blessed is open to us: and this is the spirit blood which we have seen poured out, must be of the ceremonial observance prescribed in the upon our heads either to attract, or to repel, Levitical worship: “Into the second went the the thunder. high priest alone, once every year, not without “His blood be upon us, and on our chilblood," says St. Paul in his epistle to the He- dren,” Matt. xxvii. 25. This was the imprecabrews; “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that tion of those barbarous Jews, who with importhe way into the holiest of all was not yet made tunity demanded the death of Jesus Christ, and manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet glutted themselves with his sufferings. But it standing: but Christ being come, a high priest was, in a far different sense, the interior voice of good things to come, by a greater and more of those believing souls, who entered into the perfect tabernacle, by his own blood, entered design of God, who, by faith, sprinkled theminto the holy place, having obtained eternal re- selves with this blood, which was to form the demption for us,” Heb. ix. 7, &c.
bond of union between heaven and earth. Death, then, has nothing, henceforward, for- “His blood be on us, and on our children.” midable to the Christian. In the tomb of Je- This is the voice which now resounds from ear sus Christ are dissipated all the terrors which to ear, and which must be accomplished on the tomb of nature presents. In the tomb of this assembly, in one sense or another. Yes, nature, O sinner, thou beholdest thy frailty, this blood shall be upon you, in vengeance and thy subjection to the bondage of corruption: malediction, as it was upon ungrateful Jerusain the tomb of Jesus Christ thou beholdest thy lem, in your families to trouble their peace, in strength and thy deliverance. In the tomb of your plans to defeat them, in your establishnature the punishment of sin stares thee in the ments to sap them to the foundation, in your face: in the tomb of Jesus Christ thou findest consciences to harrow them up,
in the expiation of it. From the tomb of nature bed to darken it with horror and despair, and thou hearest the dreadful sentence pronounced through all the periods of eternity, demanding against all the posterity of Adam: Dust the expiation of the crime, of having trampled thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," under foot the blood of the Son of God, and Gen. iii. 19: but from the tomb of Jesus Christ of having crucified afresh the Lord of glory. issue those accents of consolation: “I am the Or it will be upon you, yes, this blood will be resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in upon you, to strengthen you under all your inme, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” firmities, to preserve you in the hour of tempJohn xi. 25. In the tomb of nature thou tation, to console you under the pressure of readest this universal, this irrevocable doom | calamity, to speak peace to the troubled conwritten: “It is appointed unto men once to science, to support you in dying agony, to rendie,” Heb. ix. 27; but in the tomb of Jesus der your death blessed, and eternity triumChrist, thy tongue is loosed into this triumphant phant. song of praise: “O death, where is thy sting? I dwell for a moment on these last ideas, and O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to under an illusion of charity, I apply them to God who giveth us the victory, through our all those who compose my audience. Happy Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. xv. 55. 57. they, to whom they are applicable of a truth!
All that now remains is to conclude with a To have been attentive to the history of the few reflections by way of recapitulation. My sufferings and death of the Saviour of the brethren, for some weeks past, there have been world, which, for some time past, has been the traced before your eyes the successive particu- great subject of our address, to have traced it lars of the passion and death of the Saviour of through all its successive circumstances, to the world. You have seen him betrayed, ap- have felt the necessity, and to have penetrated prehended, arraigned, condemned, and expiring into the design of the whole; to have applied under the most shameful, and the most cruel to ourselves the lessons which it inculcates, the of all punishments.
consolations which it supplies, the hope which Do you comprehend all that is sublime in it inspires, to deduce, from those grand objects, these truths? Do you feel, in all its extent, consequences affecting the conduct of life, the value of these benefits Have you, attending to promote sanctity of manners, supeleast, made the attempt to take the dimen- riority to the world, love to God so rich in sions of the love of God, and “to comprehend mercy, desire of possessing that in perfection, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, of which displays so astonishing, convey ideas and depth, and height: and to know the love so sublimeof Christ, which passeth knowledge, that you After that, to come next Lord's day to the
Consult Joseph. Antiq. lib. iii. cap. 5, and Phil. de table of Jesus Christ, with the understanding Vita Mosis, lib. iii. p. 667, &c.
convinced, the heart overflowing, the soul
penetrated: to discern, in the bread and the
OR, such a disposition, and to wait for death under THE BLESSEDNESS OF BELIEVING, such impressions—these are the loftiest objects WITHOUT HAVING SEEN: which man can propose to his meditation. This is the highest point of perfection which
JOHN XX. 29. we are capable of attaining, in the course of this mortal pilgrimage. This is the purest de- Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast light that we can taste in this valley of tears.
seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that I trust, my dearly beloved brethren, that have not seen, and yet have believed. these sublime objects shall not have been pre- STRANGE is the condition in which Provisented to you in vain. I trust that so many dence has placed the Christian. He is ever exhortations will not fall to the ground totally walking in the midst of darkness and obscurity. without success. I trust that these first emo- He is placed between two periods of gloomitions, which it is impossible to withhold from ness; between the cloudy night of the past, and an expiring Saviour, will not be “as the early the still darker night of futurity. Does he cloud, and as the morning dew,” Hos. vi. 4; wish to ascertain the truths which are the obwhich appear for a moment, and are dissipated ject of his faith? They are founded on facts; in a moment. I trust they will henceforward and in order to be assured of those facts, he engage your heart, your mind, your whole life, must force his way backward, through more and that they will accompany you to the bed than eighteen hundred centuries: he must dig of death. I trust, that when this awful period truth and falsehood out of the rubbish of tracomes, instead of that mortal reluctance, in- dition; out of the captious systems of the enestead of those insupportable forebodings which mies of Christianity; nay, sometimes out of unrepented guilt inspires, the image of Jesus the pious frauds, on which an indiscreet zeal Christ crucified, present to your eyes; what do has attempted to establish it. I say, of Jesus Christ crucified? of Jesus Christ If he wishes to ascertain the reality of that raised from the dead, glorious, sitting at the blessedness which is the object of his hope, he right hand of his Father; of Jesus Christ, pre- must plunge himself, in quest of it, into periods senting continually before his eyes the value which do not as yet subsist. He must " walk of that blood which he shed for the salvation by faith and not by sight,” 2 Cor. v. 7, he of the human race; of Jesus Christ extending must depart, as Abraham did, and leave ' his his arms to receive your departing spirit, that kindred and his father's house, without knowhe may bind it up "in the bundle of life:” I ing, precisely, whither he goes,” Heb. xi. 8. trust that this image will dispel all the terrors It necessary that his persuasion, if I may so of death, and thus prepare you to pass from express myself
, should form a new creation of the dispensation of grace, to the dispensation things, which have no real existence as to bim; of glory
or, to use the expression of St. Paul, his In the dispensation of grace, you have be- "faith” must be "the substance of things held the Son of God invested with "the form hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen," of a servant;" in the dispensation of glory, you Heb. xi. í. Now, it is to such obscurity, it is shall behold him arrayed in all splendour and to such darkness, that a man is called to sacrimagnificence. In the dispensation of grace, fice all that the human mind is taught to conyou have beheld the King of kings attended sider as the greatest reality and certainty, I by an humble train of disciples of but mean mean the decisions of reason, and the felicities appearance: in the dispensation of glory, you of a present world. What a situation! What shall behold him accompanied by the heavenly a strange situation! hosts, legions of angels and archangels, of the But be it as it may, we, this day, place ourcherubim and of the seraphim. In the dispen- selves, my brethren, between these two dark sation of grace, you have beheld Jesus Christ clouds; between the night of the past, and the expiring ignominiously upon the cross: in the night of futurity. In what are the duties of dispensation of glory, you shall behold him in this day to terminate? What is the language the clouds of heaven, judging the quick and suitable to the day which is now passing? I bethe dead. In the dispensation of grace, you lieve: I hope. I believe that the Word was made have heard the lips of your Saviour thus speak- flesh, that he suffered, that he died, that he rose ing peace to your soul: "Son, be of good cheer, again: this is the night of the past. I hope thy sins are forgiven thee:” in the dispensation that, in virtue of this incarnation, of these sufof glory, you shall hear this decision from his ferings, of this resurrection, “an entrance shall mouth; Come, ye blessed of my Father, in- be ministered unto me abundantly, into the herit the kingdom prepared for you from the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour foundation of the world,” Matt. xxv. 34. May Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. i. 11, and that I shall God of his infinite mercy grant it! To him be partake in the felicity of the ever blessed God: honour and glory now and for ever. Amen. this is the night of futurity. I believe, and to
that belief I immolate all the ideas of my in- | truth of this proposition; "blessed are they that tellect, all the systems of my reason. I hope, have not seen, and yet have believed." and to those hopes I immolate all the attrac- I. Let us, in the first place, endeavour to tives of sensual appetite, all the charms of the explain the nature of obscure faith: or, as we visible creation: and were “all the kingdoms have announced the subject of this first branch of the world and the glory of them," Matt. iv. of our discourse, let us attempt to unfold the 8, to be put in my offer, on the condition that ambiguity of the expression, "Thomas, because I should renounce my hopes, I would consider thou hast seen, thou hast believed: blessed are the former “but dung,” Phil. iii. 8, and cleave they that have not seen, and yet have believed." to the latter as the only real and solid good. By obscure faith we here mean, that which is
Who is there among you, my brethren, who founded, not on what a man has seen with his feels himself capable of this effort of mind! I own eyes, not on what he has discovered to acknowledge him to be a true disciple of be true by the powers of his own reason, but Jesus Christ. He may rest assured that he on testimony worthy of credit. shall be received as a worthy partaker at that Let this definition be carefully remarked: mysterious table, which sovereign wisdom is and let this be constantly kept in sight, that once more, this day, furnishing before our eyes. though the faith of which we are speaking, But he may likewise rest assured, that his feli- has not a certainty resting on the evidence of city, veiled, invisible as it is, shall remain more the senses, or on the conclusions of right reafirm and unshaken, than all those things which son, it has a certainty perfect in its kind, that are the idols of the children of this world. To which rests on a testimony worthy of credit. meditation on this intoresting subject I devote Take care, therefore, not to confound an obthe present discourse, to which you cannot ap- scure faith with a fluctuating, unsettled, illply an attention too profound.
founded faith. They are two things perfectly The occasion of the words of our text it distinct, and it is impossible to distinguish them would be unnecessary to indicate. Which of too carefully. The obscurity of which we are my hearers can be such a novice in the gospel going to treat, is by no means incompatible history as to be ignorant of it. Thomas was with evidence. not present with the other apostles, when Jesus In order to comprehend it fully, it is neces Christ appeared unto them, after he had left sary to distinguish two species of evidence: the tomb. His absence produced incredulity: evidence of the object, and evidence of testiHe refuses to yield to the united testimony of mony. We call evidence of the object, that the whole apostolic college. He solemnly pro- which rests, as I have said, either on the depotests that there is but one way to convince him sition of the senses, or on the discernment of of the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus sound reason. I believe that you are now as. Christ, namely, to produce him alive. "No," sembled within the walls of this church: I besays he, “except I shall see in his hands the lieve it, because I see it is so. The evidence print of the nails, and put my finger into the which I have on this subject, is that species of print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his evidence which I have denominated evidence side, I will not believe,” John xx. 25. Jesus of the object, and which is founded on the de Christ is pleased to adapt his condescension to position of the senses. In like manner, I bethe weakness of this disciple, and to gratify a lieve that so long as you remain within these pretension so arrogant and rash: he appears to walls, you are not in your own habitations. Thomas, and says to him: “ Reach hither thy The evidence which I have to support this befinger, and behold my hands; and reach hither | lief, is still that which I have denominated evithy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be dence of the object, namely, that which is founded not faithless, but believing,” ver. 27. Thomas on the light of my own reason, whereby I am is drawn different ways; by the shame of hav- assured, in a manner which leaves me not the ing disbelieved, and the joy which he felt in liberty of so much as doubting, that so long being convinced by the testimony of his own as you remain within this temple, you cannot senses, and exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" possibly be in any other place. upon this Jesus Christ addresses him in the But if there be evidence of object, there is words of the text: “ Thomas, because thou hast likewise evidence of testimony. I believe there seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they is a vast region on the globe, called the king that have not seen, and yet have believed.” dom of Persia. I have evidence to support this
You perceive from the occasion on which belief: not the evidence of object, but the evidence the words were spoken, that they point, in the of testimony. I believe that there is such a first instance, to the resurrection of Jesus kingdom, though I have not seen it with my Christ. We shall take care, accordingly, not own eyes: but there is such a cloud of witnesses, to lose sight of this object. Nevertheless, as of undoubted credit, who assure me of it, that the proposition of our blessed Lord is general, the evidence of testimony supplies the evidence we shall take it in all its generality: and shall of object. In like manner, I believe that a discourse to you of that obscure faith which vessel of such or such a construction, and of reverts to periods long since passed, and looks so many tons burden, requires such a depth forward into periods hidden in a remote futu- of water. I believe this, not because my rearity. The nature of obscure faith; the excelson has by its own powers made the discovery, lency of obscure faith: this is the simple divi- for I never made mechanism of this kind my sion of my present discourse. Or, to convey a study; but the unanimous deposition of all who still clearer idea of my design, under the first understand the art of ship-building, gives me head, I shall endeavour to unfold the ambigu- full assurance of the fact, fills the place of my ity of that expression; "to believe without own intimate perception, and the evidence of having seen:" in the second, I shall evince the testimony supplies the evidence of object.
Having thus explained our meaning, when ture on mankind: 2. The number of those
where the fact could be completely sifted, they
casion: 1. The apostles, who gave the history
things destitute of evidence: he speaks only of II. The testimony of the apostles furnishes things which have not the evidence of object, us with proofs of the resurrection. This tes but which have that of testimony, timony possesses no less than eight distinct Let us pursue this thought a little farther. characters, which raise it beyond the reach of The idea which we have suggested of obscure all suspicion: 1. The nature of the witnesses, faith, distinguishes it from three kinds of conwho had neither the credit, nor the riches, nor viction, which are but too frequently conthe eloquence necessary to practise an impos-founded with it: the faith extorted by tyranny;
the faith generated in the brain of the enthusiThe reader is referred to the sermon on The Reast; and the faith of the superstitious. surrection of Jesus Christ, of Mr. Robinson's Selection. 1. The faith of which we speak, must be
carefully distinguished from the faith which is recommended by an air of probability. One extorted by tyranny. We do not here under of the marks which distinguish false zeal from stand that which violence would attempt to true, is, that this last, I mean true zeal, sacriproduce by the terror of punishment. Never fices its own glory to that of religion, and is did racks, gibbets, and stakes, produce in the infinitely better pleased to acknowledge its soul, any thing like conviction in favour of a own error, than to spread the slightest cloud religion which pretended to establish itself by over that pure and genial light in which reliarguments so odious and detestable. But there gion is arrayed. A man, on the contrary, is a tyranny of a different kind, which has who is actuated by a zeal, sacrifices with produced believers not a few. By dint of at- out hesitation, the glory of religion to his own: testing fictions, men have forced them into and maintains, at the expense of truth itself, credit: by dint of insolent pretensions to infal- the errors which he has advanced. libility, the simple have sometimes been pre- This has been found to be the case with cervailed upon to admit it: and the simple gene- tain eminent names, on the subject of our prerally constitute the bulk of mankind.
sent discussion. The vehemence of the conWe denominate that the faith extorted by troversies which have been carried on, retyranny, which is yielded to the insolent deci- specting the operation of the Holy Spirit on sions of a doctor, who gives himself out as in the souls of believers, has frequently carried fallible, without proving it; or to fabulous some of the disputants farther than they themlegends, unsupported by any respectable testi- selves intended. In the heat of argumentation mony. How, under the pretext that I am they have asserted, that the action of the Holy bound to believe facts, which I may never Spirit, which operates in the faithful, is carried have seen with my own eyes, am I laid under so far as to give them a degree of faith, suan obligation to swallow every thing that a perior to the reasons which they have for belegendary is pleased to tell me? How, under lieving. When pressed by their adversaries, the pretext that I am bound to believe truths they ought to have acknowledged this to be which are above the reach of my reason, am I one of the propositions which one is tempted laid under an obligation to believe every thing to advance in the warmth of dispute, and proposed to me by a man, who may be practis- which candour, without hesitation, is disposed ing upon my credulity? And upon my refusing to retract, after the heat is subsides. But this to believe on such a foundation, shall I be tax- were a sacrifice too great for self-love to make: ed with being incredulous like Thomas, and it is deemed better that religion should suffer with saying as he did, “Except I shall see in from the intemperate zeal of the sophist, than his hands the print of the nails, and put my that the sophist should correct his hasty posi
inger into the print of the nails, and thrust my tion, the illumination of religion. hand into his side, I will not believe!"
Thus, in order to support one absurdity, a If you would have me believe the facts still greater absurdity has been advanced. It which you propose, produce me the proofs has been maintained, not only that the followwhich support them, if not as complete as ing proposition is true, namely, The impulse those which assure me of the resurrection of of the Holy Spirit gives us a faith superior to Jesus Christ, at least, such as are somewhat of the reasons which we have for believing; but a similar nature; and if you wish I should this is absolutely necessary; for, it has been consider you as infallible, like the apostles, alleged, that the Christian religion being destiproduce me proofs of your infallibility, equiva- tute of proofs which enforce assent, all those lent to those which the apostles produced of who should refuse to believe what is destitute theirs. But if on examining such pretended of this kind of proof, must, in so doing, refuse facts, I discover that they are fictions merely; to believe the Christian religion. if on examining the foundation upon which God forbid that we should attempt to deyour infallibility rests, I find that the men who fend with weapons so empoisoned, the truths gave themselves out for infallible, while they of religion! It was not thus that they were delay claim to the infallibility of the apostles, are fended by Jesus Christ and his apostles. They undermining the doctrine of the apostles, I called on men to believe, but they at the same shall not reckon myself obliged to pay the time, adduced proof of what they wished to be slightest deference to their decisions. The received as the object of faith. The Spirit of faith which these decisions attempt to produce, God undoubtedly, operates on the soul of every will be faith extorted by tyranny, and which one who implores his assistance, but it is by will have no relation whatever to that faith making them feel the force of the proofs, not which Jesus Christ expects from his disciples, by convincing them of what it is impossible to and which is, in truth, obscure, but neverthe- prove. And who could be condemned for not less, well founded; which is destitute indeed, of having believed, were Christianity destitute the evidence of object, but which is ever ac- of sufficient proof? would not the infidel be companied with the evidence of testimony. warranted in alleging: “I am not to blame, if
2. In the second place, the faith, of which I withhold my assent to such a proposition: I we are treating, must be distinguished from do not feel that impulse which engages one to that of the enthusiast; I mean that of certain believe what cannot be proved?” But the noChristians, who found the reasons which in- tion which we have given of faith, confounds duce them to believe, entirely on such and every one who refuses to believe. We say, such impulses, which they pretend to be the with Jesus Christ of the unbelievers of his time: operation of the Spirit of God: impulses des- “ This is the condemnation, that light is come titute of illumination, and which determine into the world, and men loved darkness rather the person thus agitated, to yield his assent to than light, because their deeds were evil,” John a proposition unsupported by proof, or, at most, l iii. 19.