« PoprzedniaDalej »
misery; and says,
« Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden ; and I will give you rest.
The Baptist's call to repentance, to prepare them for the kingdom of the Messiah, which was what he chiefly preached to his countrymen, would give offence, because it plainly indicated that that kingdom for which it was to prepare them, was not what they looked for, and that it was a dignity, and dominion, for which true piety and virtue and berevolence were the only qualifications.
This disgusted many who desired not to be reformed, who would not relinquish their worldly ambitious pursuits; and thus refusing to comply with the terms proposed, of qualifying themselves for the kingdom of God, disdained to belong to Christ its king, when he offered himself to them.
This holy man of God, John, taught them, and he teaches us, that there is a certain disposition of mind and heart necessary
for the reception of the divine truth of the Gospel ; and that worldly dispositions and vicious practices will make us averse to it, and to resist the strongest evidence in its favour. One would hardly, for instance, think it
possible for a man to have seen Christ raise a dead man to life, under the most awful circumstances, and upon an appeal to God, as hearing him and answering his prayer by enabling him to do it; and yet having seen this, and believing the miracle, should nevertheless go away with a malicious design to inform his enemies against him. Yet this was the case with some who were witnesses of his raising Lazarus to life, that had been four days buried. For the history, informing us afterwards of the effects of this miracle, says; (John xi. 15.) " Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen these things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.”
Where interest and worldly fears prevail, men will give wrong turns to the plainest facts, and blind and harden themselves against conviction.
In some instances, high conceit of themselves, and their own superiority of parts and learning, and false systems of philosophy, will make men disrelish the plain truths of the Gospel, and set them against the strong evidence for it, as much as those vicious pursuits which are incompatible with the high standard of purity which it lays down and requires of all.
This vain turn of mind is finely touched and refuted by St. Paul, in the beginning of his first epistle to the Corinthians, in reply to some philosophers who ridiculed the Gospel, because its founder, the holy Jesus, was put to death (though most unjustly) on the infamous cross of wood, after the manner of slaves. “ For the preaching of the cross (says he) is to them that perish, foolishness; but, unto us that are saved, it is the power of God : i. e. the plain insisting on the death of a crucified Saviour, who was iniquitously put to death for his attestation to the truth of God, is, by those who reject it, received as a foolish contemptible thing; though by us who believe it, and have seen the salutary effects of preaching it, and the miracles accompanying it, it appeared nothing less than the power of God. Soon after he adds, (ver. 21.) after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God; it pleased him by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe :" i. e. since mankind, by their natural
« For, abilities and improvements, in what with them passed for wisdom, acknowledged not the one only true God; it pleased him by the plain, and (as the world esteems it) the foolish doctrine of the Gospel, to make these truths known to men, and to save those who receive and obey it.
After dwelling on this subject, and the meanness of the instruments, in men's estimation, by whom and amongst whom this doctrine of the cross, by which men were taught the true God and eternal life, was propagated; he concludes with observing, that human wisdom and abilities could never have pointed out or reached this way to happiness. It was to God's wisdom alone that we owe the contrivance of it ; and in our being the followers of Christ, by whom he hath revealed it to us, is all the dignity and preeminence that is of
value. Ver. 30, 31; « But of him are ye in Christ Jesus ; who, of God, is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption :" i. e. Christ is made the author of these blessings to us ; that, according as it is written, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Some men's prejudices against the Gospel
are hardly ev r to be overcome. The ordinary turn of education, especially amongst the rich and great, in this Christian country of ours, to our reproach, generally tends to this.
At home, children seldom mix with their parents, or hear any thing serious or useful from them relating to God, or their duty to him. They have the less chance of learning any thing of this important kind from those who are put about them at that early age, though it be almost the only season of receiving pious good impressions, as this is seldom any part of the qualification required. These evils might be corrected afterwards, if proper rational instructions in Christianity made a part of education in schools and se- . minaries for youth, or at the universities afterwards. But experience shows, and it is too well known, how rarely this is done.
When our youth afterwards go abroad into the world, and mix with their equals in their own or in foreign countes, too frequently the Bible is the standing topic of ridicule, by stale and hackneyed objections, which would have no force, if there were any previous knowledge of the important subject; but make deep im