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and mission : he was condemned by the supreme coun. cil of the nation as an impostor and blasphemer; nay, the whole body of the people disowned him in the most public and contemptuous manner before Pontius Pilate the Roman governor, crying out as with one voice, " Away with bim, away with him! crucify him, crucify him!” Thus was he despised and rejected of men, in the days of his humiliation, to which the prophet more immediately refers.
But as the Jews are not the only people chargeable with this crime, as Christ hath been, and still is, despised and rejected by many, even by many of those who were baptized into his church, and are called by his name ; we may be allowed to consider the prediction in my text as reaching beyond the time of our Saviour's abode on this earth, and looking forward to all that injurious contempt, which, in after ages, should be cast upon the blessed Jesus by pretended friends, as well as by open and professed enemies.
In this large extent I shall at present take the liberty to discourse upon these words. And my design is, first, To show in what respects it may still be said that men despise and reject the Saviour; and, secondly, To inquire whence it is that they do this ?--After which, I shall lay before you the heinous nature of their guilt, and direct you to the proper improvement of the whole.
I begin with showing in what respects it may still be said that Christ is despised and rejected of men.
True it is, that his glorious person is no more exposed to the outrage of men. That body which was "scourged," “buffetted," “ spit upon,” and “ cruci. fied,” is far beyond the reach of any such abusive treatment. He is now exalted to his Father's right hand, where he is adored and worshipped with the most low
ly reverence by all the heavenly host. But yet there are some other, and no less criminal respects, in which he is still despised and rejected of many. I speak not here
I of those baptized infidels, who openly deny the Lord “ that bought them,” and traduce the whole of his religion as a mere human contrivance; neither shall I take much notice of those who, while they profess a general regard to Christ, do, at the same time, entertain and publish opinions evidently inconsistent with a real esteem of him, though it cannot be wholly overlooked, that such there are in the Christian world; some deny. ing his divinity, and others his satisfaction; some disowning the necessity, and others the virtue and efficacy of his grace: All which are so many different ways of vilifying the great Redeemer, and detracting from his true honour and dignity. But, passing these, my design is to show, that even among such as you, my brethren, who I trust are not tainted with these doctrinal errors, it is possible to find some who ungratefully depise and reject the Saviour. May God open their hearts to receive conviction, that they may no longer delude themselves with “ a name to live,” wbile they are spiritual
dead," and liable to everlasting destruction. In general, then, all who are grossly ignorant of the religion of Jesus, must necessarily be reputed despisers of him; for as the means of acquiring knowledge are so easy, and the opportunities of receiving instruction so frequent, it must be owing to some culpable neglect of their own, if any who are capable of learning other things be unacquainted with the great doctrines of Christianity; and this neglect too plainly betrays a contemptuous disregard of Christ himself.
More particularly, men may be said to despise Christ, when they do not receive him as their alone Saviour, as
the true, the living, nay, the only way to the Father. He is set forth in Scripture as the sole mediator between God and man; who, by his atoning sacrifice, hath satisfied divine justice, and purchased the Holy Spirit to heal our diseased natures, and thereby render us meet for the perfection of our happiness, in the enjoyment of that God who cannot behold iniquity : so that we do not properly express our esteem of him, unless we acknowledge him in that important character, and pay to him those practical regards which it claims. To honour him, is to acquiesce thankfully in this ordinance of God for redeeming his faller creatures; it is to renounce all hope of being justified or saved by any other means, and to rely wholly upon the sacrifice and intercession of this High Priest for the pardon of our sins, and the acceptance of our persons with God; it is to apply that blood to ourselves which “ cleanseth from all sin," and to receive bis Spirit to dwell within us, and to sway the scertre over all the powers and faculties of our souls. A lawyer is honoured when men employ him, and commit their cause to his management; a physician is honoured when men apply to him for advice, and use his prescriptions for their cure :- In like manner, the great Advocate with the Father, and the Sovereign Physician of souls, is honoured, not when men talk well of him, and verbally profess an esteem of him, but when they actually commit their cause to him, and place their entire dependance upon him for pardon and grace and complete sal. vation; and they that come short of this are in reality no other than despisers of Christ; and, as such, shall be disowned by him at his second coming.
Again, Christ is despised and rejected of men when they practically deny his authority by breaking his commandments. We are expressly told, “ that all power is
committed to him in heaven and on earth;- for God hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things for the church.” Now, to honour him in this eharacter, is to yield a cheerful and unreserved obedience to his laws; it is to acknowledge his sovereignty over us, and his property in us, not only as our Creator, but likewise as our Redeemer, who hath bought us with his blood; and in consequence thereof, to glorify bim both with our bodies and our spirits, which are his. Therefore, all they who make their own will the rule of their conduct, who do not resign themselves entirely to the disposal and government of this King of Zion, whatever their profession be, they certainly despise and reject him; and though not in words perhaps, yet by their deeds they say with the rebellious Jews, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Why call ye me Lord, Lord,” said our Saviour, “and do not the things which I say?" plainly intimating, that all outward expressions of esteem are mere hypocrisy and empty grimace, without a sincere and unlimited subjection to his laws.
Further, men despise Christ, when they do not gire him the chief room in their hearts, nor prefer him in their choice to every thing else. The language of a true disciple is, “Wbom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth wbom I desire besides thee.” If Christ be not esteemed and loved above every thing, he is not truly esteemed or loved at all; and this I take to be the meaning of these strong expressions, (Luke xiv. 26.) “ If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” They who are not willing to part with ease and pleasures, with riches, and honours, and friends, with whatever is dear to them in a present world, nay, with life itself, for Christ's sake, plainly discover that they have no just sense of his worth and excellence : They who do not prefer bim to the whole world, and cannot rest in his love as a sufficient portion, without any thing else, pretend what they will, they do not truly esteem him. And, to conclude this head,
They too must be numbered among the despisers of Christ, who do not publicly confess him before men, or who wilfully neglect any of those ordinances he bath instituted, as the methods of testifying our subjection to him, and the means of receiving benefits from him. I really do not see bow any man can be said to esteem Christ, who doth not embrace every proper opportunity of conversing with him, or of hearing tidings concerning him; and, in particular, the habitual neglect of social worship, either in the family or in the church, bath such a strong appearance of estrangement and disregard, that it is hard for me to conceive how any person can persist in it, who doth not in his heart despise the Saviour.
Thus have I endeavoured to show in what respects it may be said, even at this present time, that Christ is despised and rejected of men.
The causes of this contempt are the second thing to be inquired into. And I apprehend the first and main cause of this contempt of Christ, among the hearers of the gospel, is a secret unbelief which they are not aware of. For did they truly believe the doctrine concerning the Saviour;-that he only “is the way, the truth, and the life; and that no man cometh,” or can come,“ to the Father, but by him;"—that he is God's beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased;-and that without an interest in bim, and entire subjection to him, they cannot be saved ;-it would be impossible to despise him