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we disregard the gospel. This gospel proposes humiliating doctrines, which we are too proud to receive; and self-denying rules of conduct, which we cannot endure to follow. This was the real cause of its rejection by the Jews, and it is the real cause of its rejection by so many of us. They quieted their conscience by assigning other motives for their neglect; imitate not their example, lest you share their destiny; show yourselves the children of wisdom, by embracing and improving the divine instructions.
Having thus reproved the neglectors of the gospel in general, Jesus proceeded to denounce heavy judg. ments against those cities which he had particularly blessed with his presence; in which he had delivered many excellent discourses, and wrought the most stupendous miracles. He denounces against them woes more awful than those with which God visited Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, cities infamous for their impiety, pride, luxury, and debauchery. “Wo unto thee, Chorazin ; wo unto thee, Bethsaida : for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in
, Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more
. tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, in the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heuven, shalt be brought down to hell ; for if the mighty works which have been done in thec, had been done in Sodom, is would have remained unto this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for you.”
How deep is the guilt! how awful will be the condemnation of those who enjoy the means of grace, the ordinances of God's worship, the light of the gospel, and yet despise them! The word of God returneth not empty; it produces always some effect; it
ripens our graces or our sins. If it prove not “ a savour of life unto life,” it becomes “ a savour of death unto death.” Every means of grace that you have ever enjoyed, every sermon that you have heard, every opportunity of spiritual improvement with which
have been blessed, are recorded in the book of God's remembrance, and will be produced to you at the judgment day. If they have not inspired you with holy principles, if you, imitating the conduct, must share the doom of these cities. With what anguish will you look back upon neglected sabbaths and wasted opportunities. Brethren, there is thunder and lightning in the word of God; if the one do not break the heart, the other will blast it.
Jesus, having thus reproved the impenitence of these cities, blessed God that although the gospel was rejected by many who were esteemed for wisdom and prudence, such as the scribes and pharisees, yet it was cordially embraced by those who were humble, modest, meek, and docile; for this is the sense that is very frequently annexed to the term babes in scripture. “ I thank thee, O Father, Lord
O of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these thing from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Had it been otherwise; had the great, the learned, and the wise, at first received the gospel, it would have been said, and with some plausibility, that it owed its reception among the nations to their influence. But when such weak instruments established the religion of Jesus, in every part of the habitable world, against the combined wisdom, power, and malice of devils and men, we cannot rationally avoid acknowledging that it was supported by the arm of the Almighty.
My brethren, though the great body of those most venerable for their wisdom and science, have been warmly attached to Christianity, and have joyfully laid all their honours at the foot of the cross, yet there are still to be found some of the wise and prudent of the world to whom "the gospel is hidden." Let us pity them, and pray for them. When they boast of their reason, let us say to them, in the words of one of our sacred poets:
"Wrong not the Christian; think not reason yours:
Lest the example of these unbelievers should influence the multitude, Jesus says to them, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father." He hath committed to my care every thing relating to the salvation of the world: "And no one knoweth the Son but the Father" He alone knoweth the dignity of the Son, what he hath done, and what he will do for the salvation of the world: "Neither knoweth any one the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." I alone perfectly know his nature and perfections, and it is my great business on earth to reveal them to the unhappy children of men. Warmed with the sincerest love to our race, he then exclaims, "Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" Listen to this voice of grace, you that are bowed down with either temporal or spiritual afflictions. If you are drinking of the
cup of sorrow, or groaning under the sense of sin, he invites you to him. Go to him in faith, believing him able and willing to relieve you. Go to him with hope, let your expectations be large and comprehensive: ye are not straitened in him, be not straitened in yourselves. Go to him with love ; approach not like those driven by necessity, but let his love attract you, and his excellence warm your heart. Be not discouraged by a sense of your unworthiness; he of
. fers his blessings freely, “ without money and without price.”
He promises you rest ; and were his promises ever falsified, did his faithfulness ever fail ? If your troubles are of a temporal nature, the anguish of your spirits shall be soothed, your tears shall be dried, or changed into tears of joy. If your sorrows are spiritual, you shall find in the sufficiency of his blood, and in the efficacy of his grace, a firm and stable foundation of pardon and peace, of holiness and glory.
Jesus adds, “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and
ye rest to your souls.” •Put yourselves under my instruction. I will impose nothing upon you but what I myself practise. You will not find me an austere instructer. You will find me gentle and condescending, ready to condescend to your ignorance, and to encourage your feeblest efforts. You shall, by learning of me, obtain for your souls rest from the uncertainty of conjecture, from the accusations of conscience, from the turbulence of passion, from the fear of death, “ My yoke is easy and my burden light." I impose no unnecessary restraints, my service is
perfect freedom, and my commands are not grievous. If in them you find some difficulty, such assistances
and encouragements shall be given you, as will en. able you
with ease to surmount it.' Blessed Jesus! may we all listen to this gracious invitation, and experience the fulfilment of this promise in the sacred calm and tranquillity of soul, which thou givest thy followers on earth, and in the unclouded and undisturbed serenity of heaven.
LIFE OF CHRIST.
POOL OF BETHESDA,
JOHN v. 1-9. 13, 14.
You recollect, my brethren, that we lately commenced the history of our blessed Saviour. We together contemplated the “ glory that he had with the Father before the foundation of the world :" we considered the nature of that incarnation on which all our hopes are founded : we visited the manger of Bethlehem, and were affected by the song of the angels, the rapture of the shepherds, and the adoration of the magi: we followed the holy family into Egypt, and on their return contemplated the touching example of the youth that dwelt in Naza