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James Saurin (1677-1730) on the Death of Christ

August 11, 2009

Saurin:

Christ died for all, therefore all died (2 Cor. 5:14-15):

1)

SERMON VII.

The Efficacy of the Death of Christ.

2 Corinthians v. 14, 15.

The love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died For all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him, which died for them, and rose again.

My Brethren,

We have great designs today on you, and we have great means of executing them. Sometimes we require the most difficult duties of morality of you. At other times we preach the mortification of the senses to you, and with St. Paul, we tell you, “they that are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts,” Gal. v. 24. Sometimes we attack your attachment to riches, and after the example of our great Master, we exhort you to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal,” Matt. vi. 20. At other times we endeavor to prepare you for some violent operation, some severe exercises, with which it may please God to try you, and we repeat the words of the apostle to the Hebrews, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,” Heb. xii. 4, 12. At other times we summon you to suffer a death more painful than your own; we require you to dissolve the tender ties that unite your hearts lo your relatives and friends; we adjure you to break the bonds that constitute all the happiness of your lives, and we utter this language, or shall I rattier say, thunder this terrible gradation in the name of Almighty God, “Take now thy son–thine only son–Isaac–whom thou lovest–and offer him for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains, which I will tell thee of,” Gen. xxii. 2. Today we demand all these. We require more than the sacrifice of your senses, more than that of your riches, more than that of your impatience, more than that of an only son; we demand an universal devotedness of yourselves to the author and finisher of your faith; and to repeat the emphatical language of my text, which in its extensive compass involves, and includes all these duties, we require you “henceforth not to live unto yourselves: but unto him, who died and rose again for you.”

As we have great designs on you, so we have great means of executing them. They are not only a few of the attractives of religion. They are not only such efforts as your ministers sometimes make, when uniting all their studies and all their abilities, they approach you with the powder of the word : It is not only an august ceremony, or a solemn festival. They are all these put together. God hath assembled them all in the marvelous transactions of this one day.

Here are all the attractives of religion. Here are all the united efforts of your ministers, who unanimously employ on these occasions all the penetration of their minds, all the tenderness of their hearts, all the power of language to awake your piety, and to incline you to render to Jesus Christ love for love, and life for life. It is an august ceremony, in which, under the most simple symbols, that nature affords, God represents the most sublime objects of religion to you. This is a solemn festival, the most solemn festival, that Christians observe, this occasions them to express in songs of the highest joy their gratitude and praise to their deliverer, these are their sentiments, and thus they exult, “The right hand of the Lord doth valiantly!” Psal. cxviii. 15. “Blessed he the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” Eph. i. 3. “Blessed be God, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Pet. i. 3.

And on what days, is it natural to suppose, should the preaching of the gospel perform those miracles, which are promised to it, if not on such days as these? When if not on such days as these, should “the sword of the spirit, divide asunder soul and spirit joints, and marrow,” Eph. vi. 17. Heb. iv. 12. and cut in twain every bond of self-love and sin?

To all these means add the supernatural assistance that God communicates in a double portion in these circumstances to all those, whom a desire of reconciliation with heaven conducts to this assembly. We have prayed for this assistance at the dawning of this blessed day; we prayed for it as we ascended this pulpit, and again before we began this exercise; with prayer for divine assistance we began this discourse, and now we are going to pray for it again. My dear brethren, unite your prayers with ours, and let us mutually say to God: O thou rock of ages! Thou author of those great mysteries, with which the whole Christian world resounds to-day! make thy work perfect, Deut. xxxii. 4. Let the end of all these mysteries, be the salvation of this people. Yea Lord! the incarnation of thy Word; the sufferings, to which thou did expose him; the vials of thy wrath, poured on this victim, innocent indeed in himself, but criminal as he was charged with all our sins; the cross to which thou did deliver him ; the power that thou did display in raising him from the tomb conqueror over death and hell; all these mysteries were designed for the salvation of those believers, whom the devotion of this day hath assembled in this sacred place. Save them, O Lord! “God of peace! who did bring again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make them perfect in every good work to do thy will ; work in them that which is well-pleasing in thy sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Heb. xiii. 20. 21.

The love of Christ constrains us. This is our text. Almost every expression in it is equivocal but its ambiguity does not diminish its beauty. Every path of explication is strewed with flowers, and we meet with only great and interesting objects, even conformable to the mysteries of this day, and to the ceremony, that assembles us in this holy place. If there be a passage in the explication of which we have ever felt an inclination to adopt that maxim, which hath been productive of so many bad comments, that is, that expositors ought to give to every passage of scripture all the different senses, which it will bear, it is this passage, which we have chosen for our text. Judge of it yourselves.

There is an ambiguity in the principal subject, of which our apostle speaks, The love of Christ. This phrase may signify either the love of Christ to us, or our love to him.

There is an ambiguity in the persons who are animated with this love. The love of Christ constrains us; St. Paul means either the ministers of the gospel, of whom he speaks in the preceding and following verses ; or all believers, to the instruction of whom he consecrated all his writings.

There is also an ambiguity in the effects, which the apostle attributes to this love. He says, The love of Christ constrains us, the love of Christ unites, or presses us. The love of Christ constrains us, may either signify, our love to Jesus Christ unites us to one another, because it collects and unites all our desires in one point, that is, in Jesus Christ the center. In this sense St. Paul says. Love is the bond of perfectness. Col. iii. 14. that is to say, the most perfect friendships, that can be formed, are those which have love for their principle. Thus if my text were rendered love unites us together, it would express a sentiment very conformable to the scope of St. Paul in this epistle. He proposes in this epistle in general, and in this chapter in particular, to discourage those scandalous divisions which tore out the vitals of the church at Corinth, where party was against party, one part of the congregation, against another part of the congregation, and one pastor was against another pastor.

The love of Christ constrains us may also signify, the love of Christ transports us, and carries us, as it were, out of ourselves. In this case, the apostle must be supposed to allude to those inspirations, which the pagan priests pretended to receive from their gods, with which they said, they were filled, and to those, with which the prophets of the true God were really animated. The original word is used in this sense in Acts, where it is said, Paul was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews, that Jesus was Christ, chap, xviii. 5. This explication approaches still nearer to the scope of St Paul, and to the circumstances of the apostles. They had ecstasies. St. Peter in the city of Joppa was in an ecstasy. St. Paul also was caught up to the third heaven chap. x. 10. not knowing whether he was in the body, or out of the body, 2 Cor. xii. 2, 3. These ecstasies, these transports, these close communions with God, with which the inspired men were honored, made them sometimes pass for idiots. This is the sense which some give to these words. We are fools for Christ’s sake, 1 Cor. iv, 10. This meaning of our text well comports with the words which immediately precede, “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause;” that is to say, If we be sometimes at such an immense distance from all sensible objects, if our minds be sometimes so absent from all the things, that occupy and agitate the minds of other men, that we seem to be entirely beside ourselves, it is because we are all concentred in God; it is because our capacity, all absorbed in this great object, cannot attend to any thing that is not divine, or which doth not proceed immediately from God.

The love of Christ constrains us. This expression may mean, …. (my brethren, it is not my usual method to fill my sermons with an enumeration of the different senses that interpreters have given of passages of scripture: but all these explications, which I repeat, and with which perhaps I may overcharge my discourse today, appear to me so just and beautiful, that I cannot reconcile myself to the passing of them over in silence. When I adopt one, t seem to myself to regret the loss of another.) This, I say, may also signify, that the love of Jesus Christ to us surrounds us on every side; or that our love to him pervades, and possesses all the powers of our souls.

The first sense of the original term is found in this saying of Jesus Christ concerning Jerusalem, “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,” Luke xix. 43. The latter is a still more beautiful sense of the term, and perfectly agrees with the preceding words, already quoted, ” If we be beside ourselves, it is to God.” A prevalent passion deprives us at times of the liberty of reasoning justly, and of conversing accurately. Some take these famous words of St. Paul in this sense, “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren,” Rom. ix. 3. and these of Moses, Forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book, Exod. xxxii. 32. Not that a believer in Christ can ever coolly consent to be separated from Christ, or blotted out of the catalogue of those blessed souls, for whom God reserves eternal happiness ; but these expressions flow from transports of love in holy men. They were beside themselves, transported beyond their judgment. It is the state of a soul occupied with one great interest, animated with only one great passion.

Finally, These words also are equivocal, If one died for all, that is to say, if Jesus Christ hath satisfied divine justice by his death for all men, then, all they, who have recourse to it, are accounted to have satisfied it in his person. Or rather, If one died for all, if no man can arrive at salvation but by the grace, which the death of Christ obtained for him, then are all dead, then all ought to take his death for a model by dying themselves to sin. Agreeably to this idea, St. Paul says, “We are buried with him by baptism into death,” Rom. vi. 4. that is, the ceremony of wholly immersing us in water, when we were baptized, signified, that we died to sin, and that of raising us again from our immersion signified, that we would no more return to those disorderly practices, in which we lived before our conversion to Christianity. “Knowing this,” adds our apostle, “in that Christ died, he died unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God,” ver. 10. Thus in my text, “If one died for all, then were all dead,” that is, agreeable to the following words, ” He died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves: but unto him, which died for them, and rose again.”

Such is the diversity of interpretations, of which the words of my text are susceptible. Nothing can be further from my design, nothing would less comport with the holiness of this day, than to put each of these in an even balance, and to examine with scrupulosity which merited the preference. I would wish to unite them all, as far as it is practicable, and as far as the time allotted for this exercise will allow. They, who have written on eloquence, should have remarked one figure of speech, which, I think, has not been observed, I mean, a sublime ambiguity. I understand by this, the artifice of a man, who, not being able to express his rich ideas by simple terms of determinate meaning, makes use of others, which excite a multitude of ideas; like those war-machines that strike several ways at once. ‘I could shew you many examples of these traits of eloquence in both sacred and profane writers: but such discussions would be improper here.

In general we are fully persuaded, that the design of St. Paul in my text is to express the power of those impressions, which the love of Jesus Christ to mankind makes on the hearts of real Christians.

This is an idea that reigns in all the writings of this apostle; and it especially prevails in this epistle, from which our text is taken. “We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord,” 2 Cor. iii, 13. “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body,” chap. iv. 10. “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal; but things which are not seen are eternal,” ver. Î6–18. “He that hath wrought us for the self same thing, is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit,” chap. v. 5. “We are willing rather io be absent from the body, and present with the Lord,” ver. 8. Again in the text, “The love of Christ constrains us, because we thus judge, that if one died for ail then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” This is the language of a soul, on which the love of Christ makes lively and deep impressions.

Let us follow this idea, and, in order to unite, as far as an union is practicable, all the different explications I have mentioned, let us consider these impressions.

I. In regard to the vehement desires and sentiments they excite in our hearts. This love constrains it possesses, it transports us.

II. In regard to the several recipients of it. The love of Christ constrains us, us believers, and particularly us ministers of the Gospel, who are heralds of the love of God.

III. In regard to the consolations which are experienced through the influence of love in the miseries of life, and in the agonies of death, of which the apostle speaks in the preceding verses.

IV. In regard to the universality of that devotedness, with which these sentiments inspire us to this Jesus, who hath loved us in a manner so tender, “he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

After we have considered these ideas separately, I will endeavor to unite them all together, and apply them to the mystery of this day. God grant, when you come to the table of Jesus Christ, when you receive from our hands the bread and the wine, the symbols of his love, when in his name we say to you, This is my body, this is my blood; you may answer, from the bottom of a soul penetrated with this love, “The love of Christ constrains us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

I. Let us consider the impressions of the love of Christ on us in regard to the vehemence of those desires, and the vivacity of those sentiments, which are excited by it in the soul of a real Christian. I am well aware that lively sentiments, and vehement desires, seem entirely chimerical to some people. There are many persons, who imagine that the degree, to which they have carried piety, is the highest that can be attained; that there is no going beyond it; and that all higher pretensions are unsubstantial, and enthusiastical. Agreeably to this notion, they think it right to strike out of the list of real virtues as many as their preachers recommend of this kind, although they seem celebrated in scripture, and beautifully exemplified in the lives of the holy men of old. I am speaking now of zeal and fervor. This pretense, all extravagant as it is, seems to be founded on reason, and has I know not what of the serious and grave in its extravagance. It is impossible, say they, that abstract truths should make the same impressions, on men composed of flesh and blood, as sensible objects do. Now all is abstract in religion. An invisible Redeemer, invisible assistance, an invisible judge, invisible punishments, invisible rewards. Were the people, whom I oppose, to attribute their coldness and indifference to their own frailty; were they endeavoring to correct it; were they succeeding in attempts to free themselves from it; we “would not reply to their pretense: but, when they are systematically cold and indolent; when, not content with a passive obedience to these deplorable dispositions, they refuse to grant the ministers of the Gospel the liberty of attacking them; when they pretend that we should meditate on the doctrines of redemption and on a geometrical calculation with equal coolness ;that these words, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to save it,” should be pronounced with the same indifference as these, “The whole is greater than a part;” this is the height of injustice. We are not obliged, we think, to reason with people of this kind, and while they remain destitute of that faculty, without which they cannot enter into those demonstrations, which we could produce on this article, it would be in vain to pretend to convince them.

After all, we glory in being treated by persons of this kind in the same manner, in which they would have treated saints of the highest order, those eminent pietists, who felt the fine emotions, which they style enthusiasm and fanaticism. What impressions of religion, had Moses, David, Elias, and many other saints, a list of whom we have not time to produce? Were the sentiments of those men cold, who uttered their emotions in such language as this? “O Lord! I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” Exod. xxxiii. 18. “O Lord! forgive their sin, or blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book,” chap, xxxii. 32. “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts,” 1 Kings xix. 10. “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up,” Psal. lxix. 9. “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. When shall I come, and appear before God? Before thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God!” Psal, lxxxiv. 1–3.

“As the heart pants after the water-brooks, so pants my soul after thee, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living; God!” chap. xlii. 1, 2, “Love is strong as death. Jealousy is cruel as the grave. The coals thereof are coals of fire. Many wafers cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it,” Cant. viii. 6, 7.

If religion hath produced such lively sentiments, such vehement desires in the hearts of those believers, who saw in a very imperfect manner the objects, that are most capable of producing them, I mean the cross, and all I its mysteries, what emotions ought not to be excited in us, who behold them in a light so clear?

Ah, sinner! thou miserable victim of death and hell, recollect the means that grace hath employed to deliver thee! raised from the bottom of a black abyss, contemplate the love that brought thee up, behold, stretch thy soul, and measure the dimensions of it. Represent to thyself the Son of God enjoying in the bosom of his Father ineffable delights, himself the object of his adorable Father’s love. Behold the Son of God casting his eyes on this earth, touched with a sight of the miseries into which sin bad plunged the wretched posterity of Adam; forming from all eternity the generous design of suffering in thy stead, and executing his purpose in the fulness of time. See him, whom angels adore, uniting himself to mortal flesh in the virgin’s womb, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger at Bethlehem. Represent to thyself Jesus suffering the just displeasure of God in the garden of Gethsemane; sinking under the weight of thy sins, with which he was charged; crying in the extremity of his pain, “O my Father! if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! “See Jesus passing over the brook Cedron, carrying to Calvary his cross, execrated by an unbridled populace, fastened to the infamous instrument of his punishment, crowned with thorns, and rent asunder with nails; losing sight for a while of the love of his Father, which constituted all his peace and joy; bowing under the last stroke, and uttering these tragical words, which ought to make all sinners shed tears of blood, “My God! my God ! why hast thou forsaken me?” Ah! philosophical gravity! cool reasoning! how misemployed are ye in meditating these deep mysteries! “How excellent is thy loving-kindnesses, O God!” Psal xxxvi. 7. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches,” Psal. lxiii. 5, 6. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” Rom. V. 5, ” I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Gal. ii. 20. ” He that hath wrought us for the self same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of his Spirit. The love of Christ constrains us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” This is the language of a heart inflamed with an idea of the love of Christ.

II. Let us consider the impressions of the love of Jesus Christ in regard to the different receivers of it, The love of Christ constrains us, that is to say us believers, whatever rank we occupy in the church: but in a particular manner us apostles of the Lord. I have already intimated, that my text may be considered as an explication of what related to the apostles in the foregoing verses. What idea had St. Paul given of apostleship in the preceding verses? He had represented these holy men as all taken up with the duties of their office; as surmounting the greatest obstacles; as triumphing over the most violent conflicts in the discharge of their function; as acquitting themselves with a rectitude of conscience capable of sustaining the strictest scrutiny of men, yea of God himself; as deeply sensible of the honor that God had put upon them, by calling them to such a work; as devoting all their labors, all their diligence, and all their time to the salvation of the souls of men. We must repeat all the foregoing chapters, were we to confirm these observations” by the apostle’s own words. Jn these chapters we meet with the following expressions. “Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,” 2 Cor. i. 12. “Thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savior of his knowledge by us in every place,” chap. ii. 14. “We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God : but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ,” ver. 17. ” If the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?” chap. iii. 7, 8. “All things are for your sakes, that abundant grace might redound to the glory of God,” chap. iv. 15. To the same purpose are the words immediately preceding the text. “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.” What cause produced all these noble effects? What object animated St. Paul, and the other apostles, to fill up the noble character they bore in a manner so glorious? St. Paul tells you in the text, “The love of Christ constrains us;” that is to say, the love of Jesus Christ to his church makes such deep and lively impressions on our hearts, that we can never lose sight of it. We think we can never take too much pains for the good of a society, which Jesus Christ so tenderly loves. We are so filled with gratitude for his condescension, first for incorporating us into this august body, and next for substituting us to act in his place, that Ave rejoice in every opportunity of sacrificing all to express our sense of it.

These are the true sentiments of a minister of the Gospel. When I speak of a minister of the Gospel, I do not mean a minister by trade and profession only, I mean a minister by inclination and affection. For, my brethren, there are two sorts of ministers, the one I may justly denominate trading ministers, the other affectionate ministries. A trading minister, who considers the functions of his ministry in temporal views only, who studies the evidences and doctrines of religion, not to confirm himself, but to convince others, who puts on the exterior of piety, but is destitute of the sentiments of it, is a character sordid did and base, I had almost said, odious and execrable.

What character can be more odious and execrable, than that of a man, who gives evidence of a truth, which he himself does not believe? Who excites the most lively emotions in an auditory, while he himself is less affected than any of his hearers? But there is also a minister by inclination and affection, who studies the truths of religion, because they present to him the most sublime objects that a reasonable creature can contemplate, and who speaks with eagerness and vehemence on these truths, because, he perceives, they only are worthy of governing intelligent beings.

What effects does a meditation of the love of God in Christ produce on the heart of such a minister? St. Paul mentions the effects in the text, The love of Christ constrains, surrounds, presses, transports him. My brethren, pardon me if I say the greatest part of you are not capable of entering into these reflections; for, as you consider the greatest mysteries of the gospel only in a vague and superficial manner, you neither know the solidity nor the beauty of them, you neither perceive the foundation, the connection, nor the glory of them. Hence it is, that your minds are unhappy when they attend long to these subjects, reading tires you, meditation fatigues you, a discourse of an hour wears out all your patience, the langour of your desires answers to the nature of your applications, and your sacrifices to religion correspond to the faintness of those desires, and to the dullness of those applications which produced them. It was not thus with St. Paul, nor is it thus with such a minister of the gospel as I have described. As he meditates he learns; as he learns, his desire of knowing increases. He sees the whole chain of wonders, that God hath wrought for the salvation of men; he admires to see a promise made to Adam renewed to Abraham; he rejoices to find a promise renewed to Abraham confirmed to Moses; he is delighted to see a promise confirmed to Moses published by the prophets, and long after that publication accomplished by Jesus Christ. Charmed with all these beauties, he thinks it felicity to enter into the views and the functions of Jesus Christ, and to become a worker together with him chap. vi. 1. this work engrosses all his thoughts; he lives only to advance it; he sacrifices all to this great design, he is beside himself. Why? The love of Christ constrains him.

III. Let us add a few considerations on the impressions of the love of Jesus Christ in regard to “the consolations which they afford in the miseries of life, and in the agonies of death.”

By what unheard of secret does the Christian surmount pain? By what unheard of secret does he find pleasure in the idea of death? St. Paul informs us in the text. ” The love of Christ possesses us, because we thus Judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” If one died for all, then were all dead, this is the source of the consolations of a dying man, this is the only rational system that men have opposed against the fears of death. All beside are vain and feeble, not to say stupid and absurd.  What can be more improper to support us under the fear of death than the presumptions, the uncertainties, the tremulous hopes of a Socrates, or a Seneca, or other pagan philosophers?

What can be less likely to arm us against the fear of death than distant consequences drawn from confused notions of the nature of the soul, such as natural religion affords? What can be less substantial than vague speculations on the benevolence of the Supreme Being? Can any thing be more extravagant, can any thing be less capable of supporting us under the fear of death, than that art which worldlings use, of avoiding the sight of it, and of stupefying the soul in tumult and noise?

Let us not assume a brutal courage; let us not affect an intrepidity, which we are incapable of maintaining, and which will deceive us, when the enemy comes. Poor mortal! victim of death and hell! do not say, “I am increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Rev. iii. 17. while every voice around thee dies. “Thou art poor and miserable, blind and naked.” Let us acknowledge our miseries. Every thing in dying terrifies me.

The pains that precede it, terrify me. I shudder, when I see a miserable creature burning with a fever, suffocated, tormented, enduring more on a death-bed than a criminal suffers on a scaffold or a wheel. When I see this, I say to myself, This is the state into which I must shortly come.

The sacrifices, to which death calls us, terrify me. I am not able, without rending my soul with insufferable grief, I am not able to look at the dismal vail, that is about to cover every object of my delight. Ah! how can I bear to contemplate myself dissolving my strongest bonds, leaving my nearest relations, quitting, for ever quilting my most tender friends, and tearing myself from my own family!

The state into which death brings my body, terrifies me. I cannot without horror figure to myself my funeral, my coffin, my grave, my organs, to which my Creator hath so closely united my soul, cold and motionless, without feeling and life.

Above all, the idea of a just tribunal, before which death will place me, terrifies me. My hair starts and stiffens on my head, my blood freezes in my veins, my thoughts tremble and clash, my knees smite together, when I reflect on these words of St. Paul just before my text, “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one

may receive the tidings done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” ver. 10. Miserable I! I, who have so often sinned against my own light; I, who have so often forgotten my Creator; I, who have so often been a scourge to my neighbor; so often a scandal to the church; Wretched I! I must ” appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive the things done in my body, whether they be good or bad!” What an idea! What a terrible, what a desperate idea!

The impressions which an idea of the love of Christ makes upon my soul, efface those gloomy impressions which an idea of death had produced there. The love of Christ consoles my soul and dissipates all my fears. If one died for all, then were all dead, is a short system against the fear of death.

Jesus Christ died for all. The pains of death terrify me no more. When I compare what Jesus Christ appoints me to suffer with what lie suffered for me, my pains vanish, and seem nothing to me. Beside, how can I doubt, whether he, who had so much love as to die for me, will support me under the pains of death? Having been tried, in all points like as we are, will he not be touched with a feeling of my infirmities, and deliver me when I am tried as he was?

Jesus Christ died for all. The sacrifices that death requires of me, terrify me no more. I am fully persuaded, God will indemnify me for all that death takes from me, and he who gave me his own Son, “will with him also freely give me all things,” Rom. viii. 32.

Jesus Christ died for all. The state to which death reduces my body, terrifies me no more. Jesus Christ hath sanctified my grave, and his resurrection is a pledge of mine.

Jesus Christ died for all. The tribunal before which death places me, hath nothing in it to terrify me. Jesus Christ hath silenced it. The blows of divine justice fell on his head, and he is the guardian of mine. Thus “the love of Christ presses, covers, and surrounds us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

IV. The impressions of the love of Christ on us are considerable, in regard to that universal obedience with which the tender love of a Redeemer inspires us. This is the meaning of these words, “he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.” Of the characters, the motives, the pleasures of this universal obedience, you cannot be ignorant, my brethren. They make the chief matter of all the discourses that are addressed to you; and they have been particularly the topics for some weeks past, while we were going over the history of the passion of Christ, a history that may be truly called a narration of Christ’s love to you. I will therefore confine myself to one reflection. To make this reflection in order to prevent mistakes on this disposition of mind, of which my text speaks. Let us not imagine, that St. Paul, by exhorting us to live only to Christ, intends to dissuade us from living for the benefit of our fellow-creatures. On the contrary, I have already recommended that sense of the words which some commentators give; “the love of Christ constrains us,” that is, say some, “the love of Christ unites us in bonds of love to one another;” and I have already shown, that if this could not be proved to be the precise meaning of St. Paul in the text, it is however, a very just notion in itself, and a doctrine taught by the apostle in express words in other places. But what I have not yet remarked is this. In the opinion of some interpreters there is a close connection between the words of my text, “the love of Christ constrains us,” and the preceding words, “whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.” According to this notion, St Paul having described the two parts of devotion, or if ye will, the two kinds of Christian devotion, unites both in this general expression, Live unto Christ. The one is the devotion of the closet, the other that of society. Closet devotion is expressed in the words, “whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God.” This is expressive of the effusions of a soul, who, having excluded the world, and being alone with his God, unfolds a heart penetrated with love to him, “Whether we be sober, it is for your cause, for the love of Christ unites us,” signifies the state of a soul, who having quitted the closet, having returned to his natural course of thought, and having entered into the society in which God has appointed him to live, makes the happiness of his neighbor his principal occupation.

I say of this interpretation, as I said of a former, I am not sure, that it contains precisely the meaning of St. Paul in the text: but it contains an idea They just in itself, and which the apostle, as well as other inspired writers, has expressed elsewhere. Would ye then perform this necessary duty, agreeably to this sense of the text? Would they “who live not live to themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again?” Let your devotion I have two parts. Let your life be divided into two sorts of devotion, the devotion of the closet, find the devotion of society.

Practice private devotion, be beside yourselves unto God. Believer! Is it right for thee to indemnify thyself by an immediate communion with thy God for the violence that is done to thine affection, when thou art obliged, either wholly to lose sight of him, or to see him only through mediums, which conceal a part of his beauty? Well then, enter into thy closet, shut thy door against the world, flee from society, and forget it, give thyself up to the delights which holy souls feel, when they absorb themselves in God. Beseech him, after the example of inspired men in their private interviews with him, to manifest himself to you in a more intimate manner. Say to him as they said, “O Lord, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. It is good for me to draw near to God. Whom have I in heaven but thee? there is none upon earth!, that I desire besides thee,” Exod. xxxiii. 18. Psal. lxxxiii. 28, 2.5.

But, after thou hast performed the devotion of the closet, practice the devotion of society. After thou hast been beside thyself to God, be sober to thy neighbor. Let love unite thee to the rest of mankind, Visit the prisoner ; relieve the sick; guide the doubtful; assist him who stands in need of your credit. Distrust a piety that is not ingenious at rendering thee useful to society. St. Paul somewhere says, “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This proposition seems hyperbolical. Some expositors have thought it justifiable, by supposing, that the apostle speaks here only of the second table of the law. Their supposition is unnecessary. In some respects all virtues are comprised in this command, thou shall love thy neighbor. To love our neighbor, we must be humble. When we have lofty notions of ourselves, it is impossible to pay that attention to a neighbor which his merit demands. To love our neighbor, we must be patient. When the first obstacle discourages us, or when the least opposition inflames our tempers; it is impossible to enter into those details which love for a neighbor requires In order to discharge the duty of loving a neighbor, we must be moderate in our pleasures, When we are devoted to pleasure, it is impossible to endure those disagreeables, which love to a neighbor demands. Above all, to love a neighbors, we must love God. Remember the saying of St. John, ” If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar,” 1 John iv. 20. For what is love? Is it not that sympathy which forms between two intelligent beings a conformity of ideas and sentiments? And how can we flatter ourselves, that we have a conformity of ideas with a God of love, who hath communicated to his creatures a conformity of sentiments and ideas, if we withhold our affection from his creatures, and live only to ourselves? “He then, who saith, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar.” If thou dost not love him, thou art (permit me to say it,) thou art a visionary, a fanatic. Who is a visionary? who is a fanatic? He is a man who creates fanciful ideas of God. He is a man who frames an arbitrary morality. He is a man, who, under pretense of living to God, forgets what he owes to his fellow-creatures. And this is exactly character of the man, whose closet devotion makes him neglect social religion. Ah! had thou just notions of God, thou would know, that God is love; and had thou just notions of morality, thou would know, that it is impossible for God, who is love, to prescribe any other love to us, than that which is the essence of all moral duties.

All these ideas, my brethren, would require much enlargement: but time fails. I shall not scruple so much the closing of this subject today, without considering it in every point of view, as I should do in our ordinary exercises. I descend from this pulpit to conduct you to the table of the Lord, on which lie the symbols of that love of which we have been speaking, and they will exhort you in language more forcible than mine to reduce all the doctrine of this day to practice.

We have been preaching to you fervor, zeal, transports of divine love; attend to those symbols, they preach these virtues to you in words more powerful than ours. Say to yourselves, when you approach the holy table: It was on the evening that preceded the terrible day of my Redeemer’s infinite sufferings, that he appointed this commemorative supper. This bread is a memorial of his body, which was bruised for my sins on the cross. The wine is a memorial of that blood which so plentifully flowed from his wounds to ransom me from my sins. In remembering this love is there any ice that will not thaw? Is there any marble that will not break? will not love the most vehement animate and inflame you?

We have been preaching that the love of Jesus Christ ought to animate you. Hear the voice of these symbols, they preach this truth to you in language more powerful than ours. There is not today among you an old man so infirm; nor a poor man so mean; nor a citizen so unknown to his fellow citizens, that he may not approach the holy table, and receive from sovereign wisdom the mysterious repast.

But, ministers of the gospel, we have been saying, ought more than other men to be animated with the love of Christ. My dear colleagues in the work of the Lord, hear these symbols; they preach to you in language more powerful than ours. What a glory hath God put upon us in choosing to commit to us such a ministry of reconciliation? What an honor to be called to preach such a gospel! What an honor to be appointed dispensers of these rich favors, which God today bestows on this assembly! But, at the same time, what love ought the love of God to us to excite in our hearts? The heart of a minister of the gospel should be an altar an which divine fire should burn with unquenchable flame.

We have been preaching to you, that the love of Christ will become to you an inexhaustible source of consolation in the distresses of life, and in the agonies of death. Hear these symbols ; they preach these truths to you in language more forcible than ours. Hear them; they say to you in the name of God, Fear not, thou worm Jacob! When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee when thou walk through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt,” Isa. xli. 14.

We have been preaching to you an universal obedience to the will of God. Hear these symbols; they preach this truth to you in language more forcible than ours. And what exceptions would you make in your obedience to a Savior, who does for you what you are going to see, to hear, and to experience? What can you refuse to a Savior, who gave you his blood and his life; to a Savior, who, on his throne, where he is receiving the adorations of Angels and Seraphim, thinks of your bodies, your souls, your salvation: who still wishes to hold the most tender and intimate communion with you? My dear brethren, I hope so many exhortations will not be addressed to you in vain. I hope we shall not be ministers of vengeance among you today. You are not going, I trust, by receiving sacramental bread and wine at our hands today, to eat and drink your own condemnation. I hope the windows of heaven will be opened today, and benedictions from above poured out on this assembly. The angels, I trust, are waiting to rejoice in your conversion. May Jesus Christ testify his approbation of your love to him by shedding abroad rich effusions of his love among you! May this communion be remembered with pleasure when you come to die, and may the pleasing recollection of it felicitate you through all eternity! O thou mighty one of Israel! O Jesus, our hope and joy, hear and ratify our prayers! Amen. To him, as to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory for ever. Amen.

James Saurin, “The Efficacy of the Death of Christ,” in Sermons Translated from the Original French of the Late Rev. James Saurin (Schenectady: Published by William J. Carter, 1813), 3: 237-265. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; underlining mine.]

Sins of the world:

1) One day, I saw the administration of the Lord’s supper, which, awaking my attention to the grand sacrifice that divine justice required for the sins of mankind, affected me in a manner so powerful and moving, that I thought myself obliged in gratitude to dedicate my whole life to him, who in the tenderest compassion had given himself for me. James Saurin, “The Longsuffering of God with Individuals,” in Sermons Translated from the Original French of the Late Rev. James Saurin (Schenectady: Published by William J. Carter, 1813), 1:382.  [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; underlining mine.]

2) In the fifth place, What vehement desire! This is another vague term. Godly sorrow produces divers kinds of desire. Here I confine it to one meaning, it signifies, I think, a desire of participating the favor of God, of becoming an object of the merciful promises, which he hath made to truly contrite souls, and of resting under the shade of that cross, where an expiatory sacrifice was offered to divine justice for the sins of mankind. A penitent, who sees the favorable looks of a compassionate God intercepted; a penitent, who cannot behold that adorable face, the smiles of which constitute all his joy; a penitent, who apprehends his God justly flaming with anger against him, desires only one thing, that is to recover a sense of the favor of God. James Saurin, “Repentance,” in Sermons Translated from the Original French of the Late Rev. James Saurin (Schenectady: Published by William J. Carter, 1813), 3:321. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; underlining mine.]

3) But the chief reason for our rejecting the comment of the church of Rome is the nature of the doctrine itself, in proof of which they bring the text. A heterodox doctrine, which enervates the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered on the cross for the sins of mankind; a doctrine directly opposite to a great number of passages of scripture, which tell us that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, that he that believes is passed from death unto life, that when the righteous dies, he is taken from the evil to come, and shall enter into peace, Rom. viii. 1. John V. 24. and Isa. Ivii. 1,2. A doctrine founded on a thousand visions and fabulous tales, more fit for times of pagan darkness than days of evangelical light ; a sordid doctrine that evidently owes its being to that base interest which it nourishes with profusion, luxury and extravagance; a barbarous doctrine, which produces in a dying man a dreadful expectation of passing from the agonies of dying to whole ages of greater agony in flames of fire. James Saurin, “The Different Methods of Preachers,” in Sermons Translated from the Original French of the Late Rev. James Saurin (Schenectady: Published by William J. Carter, 1813), 5:325. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; underlining mine.]

4) HAVING represented the death of Christ under the idea, 1. Of an expiatory sacrifice, in which the Victim was charged with the sins of the whole world: we proceed,

2. To consider it, as the body of all the shadows, the truth of all the types, the accomplishment of all the predictions of the ancient dispensation, respecting the Messiah. In fact, on what state or period of the Old Testament church can we throw our eyes, without discovering images of a dying Jesus, and traces of the sacrifice which he offered up? James Saurin, “The Crucifixion,” in Sermons Translated from the Original French of the Late Rev. James Saurin (Schenectady: Published by William J. Carter, 1813), 6:129-130. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; underlining mine.]

to be continued….

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