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that the auditory of Christ enter- | his instructions; instructions, which,
kind? But it must not be concealed, of unhallowed designs, who would that here was vengeance, as well have seized the first occasion to as kindness.
This was the proper ensnare, and, if possible, destroy mode, because; him; and that, if he had delivered 2. While its obscurity left their those truths in perfect simplicity, violent prejudices undisturbed, it and with perfect clearness, which he was adapted to secure the infliction was pleased to conceal under the of a very suitable punishment on guise of parables, not all the sacred- them, for entertaining these guilty ness of his adorable Name, would dispositions. And Christ expressly have screened him from the effects declares, that he had this in view in of popular resentment. Commotion using this mode. He spoke to them and clamour would have been raised by parables, according to Luke viii. among the people, and he would 10," that seeing they might not see, soon have been obliged to suspend and hearing they might not hear;"
or, more fully, according to Mark iv. * Compare Mat. xii. 24, and Mark iii. 12, that seeing they might see and 22, with Mat. xiii. 1.
not perceive; and hearing they might
hear and not understand, lest at peace, and which they had so long any time they should be converted neglected, he was resolved to hide and their sins should be forgiven forever from their eyes; and the them.'*
Christ had before said, veil under which he first began to “ therefore speak I to them in para- conceal them was the parabolic mebles, because they seeing see not," thod of addressing them used on &c.; but the reason now is, that see- this occasion. ing they may see not. That mode Let us now proceed to the inof instruction which their wicked- ferences which may be deduced ness made indispensable, and which from the subject. Mercy would use rather than none, 1. It affords testimony to the Di. Justice employs as an instrument of vinity of Christ. Christ is here punishing their wickedness.
presented, as conducting in a manAnd seldom has wickedness call- ner, which in any creature would be ed more loudly for punishment. The unwarrantable and presumptuous. very thing which made it expedient What creature may without arrothat Christ should address them in gance, pretend familiarity with the parables, also made it expedient, thoughts and intentions of the eterthat divine indignation should pur- nal Mind : may adopt as a rule of sue them to perdition. Their che- action, the unrevealed decrees of rished stupidity, their determined God; and aim at the fulfilment of aversion to whatever might have a purpose involving the everlasting conduced to their spiritual illumi- destruction of men ? nation, was not merely calamitous, 2. The subject does not present but most fearfully criminal. The Christ to our view as a Being only means by which they had arrived Merciful. He appears Just, as well at this desperate state of heart, as Kind; exercising vengeance as should not be forgotten. It was by well as compassion, and thus had hearing that they heard not; and he been represented on the propheby seeing, that they saw not. Their tic page. Prophecy had announced hearts had become gross, their ears
that he should come into the world, dull of hearing, and their eyes
to proclaim the day of the venaverse to the light of evidence, by geance of God, as well as the acbeholding so frequently the mighty ceptable year of the Lord. He was acts, and by attending so constantly set for the fall, as well as rising on the ministrations of Christ. The again of many in Israel. For judgmeans of their moral degradation ment came he into this world, that were means which ought to have they who see not, might see, and that elevated them to thrones of eternal they who see, might be made blind. glory. They had extracted pollution Although he was the propitiation from purity, death from life, and for the sin of the world, he was not endless perdition from the Saviour the minister of sin; neither will he of the world. Thus had they in- protect any impenitenttransgressor, volved themselves in. guilt which against the assaults of divine indigGod would not forgive. And as it nation. There was in him, all the
purpose to destroy them, he severity of almighty wrath, as well would not suffer that purpose to be as, all the tenderness of infinite pity; frustrated ; and therefore it was and if to some he was the author of his will that Christ should now eternal bliss, to others he was the speak to them in parables. As they occasion of aggravated woe. would not see and hear, he deter- 3. It appears from these remarks mined that they should not. The that the same things which illusthings which belonged to their trate the divine Mercy, may be in
strumental of illustrating the divine * See Doddridge in loc.
Displeasure. In speaking to the
multitude by parables, Christ dealt mercy and justice, and to the very kindly and tenderly with the most nature and necessity of the case. guilty of mankind; but he also dealt But his speaking in parables was with them in a manner which con- not the only mysterious circumsisted with, and had an influence stance in the history of our Lord. on, their ultimate perdition. They There was mystery in every thing were not able to hear the word ex- respecting him. İt was far less cept in parables: it was certainly wonderful that he should obscure a mercy that they were permitted the lustre of his doctrine, than that to, hear it in this manner: And yet he should obscure the lustre of his Christ intended, in speaking to Divinity. His addressing the multhem thus, that hearing they should titude in parables, was not so amazhear and should not understand. ing, as his pining in poverty, his beWe here have Love and Vengeance ing despised, defamed and persestrangely united. Thus, while God cuted by men, when by dropping endures with much long suffering the disguise of his humiliation, he the vessels of wrath fitted to de- would have displayed a Being, whom struction, he, by this very means, no mortal could have looked at and prepares them for their doom, in lived. We are troubled with but which, he shows his wrath and makes one, among innumerable difficulties, his
power known. · Thus, while when we ask "why speakest thou in he manifests his benevolence to- parables ?” Christ was the author wards the wicked, by lavishing on of the whole inspired volume ; and them the fruits of his bounty, these why, we might also ask him, are blessings, through the infatuation of there so many obscurities in that their hearts, become poison and holy book ? Why was not the Bible perdition to their immortal souls. written so plainly, as to oblige the
Thus, while he indulges sinners whole world to adopt the same with the privileges of his sanctuary, creed ? Again ; in all the disposals and by a thousand methods shows and allotments of Divine Provihis willingness to save them, their dence, the agency of Christ should depravity, taking occasion by these be regarded. He who now preached very things, worketh in them to the in parables to the multitude at lake increase of itself, and to their cer- Gennesareth, is the Governor of the tain and dreadful ruin in hell. What universe, and the Disposer of all goodness in God to send his minis- events. Do we wonder that he ters with messages of grace to guilty spoke to this multitude with so men; and yet how often are these much obscurity? Should we not raministers, as the apostle speaks, a ther wonder, that he has suffered savour of death unto death in them hundreds of millions to remain tothat perish.
tally destitute of evangelical privi4. We may learn from this sub- leges, even to this remote period of ject the rashness of censuring the time? Christ is able to convert a Divine Conduct, because we cannot nation in a day: why then must so comprehend its reasons and designs. much treasure be expended, so maStrange and inscrutable as was ny lives hazarded, so many, and Christ's speaking to the multitude such costly sacrifices made, in the in parables, the mystery was capa- work of evangelizing mankind ? ble of satisfactory solution. A few And why after all is the progress of words of explanation from their this work so slow? Master, showed the astonished dis- The conduct of Christ, at this ciples that, in what had seemed so time, was not more mysterious, than wonderful, he had not only conform- ten thousand other things which are ed his conduct to the plan of Heaven, ascribable to his agency. He “doth but likewise to the demands alike of great things past finding out; yea,
and wonders without number." they will never be able to derive And because his doings are to us from the Sovereignty which suffered incomprehensible, shall we pro- them to perish, any reason to comnounce them unwise ? What will
plain against their offended Maker? our censure avail ? Should we not 6. We are instructed by this subrest assured, that he who could vin- ject, to beware of entertaining predicate his conduct in the particular judices against the truth. Prejuinstance before us, could vindicate dices kept this multitude from heait in every instance if he pleased ? The state of their hearts renBut he is not pleased to do this, that dered inexpedient a plain method our hearts may be tried. This world of exhibiting the truth; but it also is a probationary stage; and we are rendered their salvation inexpediall here on trial for eternity. The ent. Their prejudices were undisDivine Conduct is adapted to a state turbed; but their souls were undone. of trial ; and if it detect and reveal The plainest mode of preaching the thoughts of our hearts, God they could tolerate, was too obscure will not be dishonoured or disap- to be instrumental of their illumipointed, even should these thoughts nation; for they hearing heard not, appear to be ebullitions of enmity neither did they understand. against himself.
It is submitted for consideration, 5. It appears from the subject of whether ordinary preachers of the these remarks, that God, in the exer- gospel, may, lawfully, keep back or cise of his sovereign pleasure, may conceal, any portion of divine truth, withhold his saving favour from on account of the prejudices of their men, without giving them the least hearers. Christ knew the decrees cause to complain. What, though and intentions of Jehovah; he also it was not given to the multitude to knew the hearts of men; and cerknow the mysteries of the kingdom tain it is, that he sometimes preachof heaven, since they did not wish, ed and acted, in a manner, which, and could not bear to know them? but for his omniscience, he would What, though Christ spoke the not have chosen. Ordinary miniword to them in parables; since sters know nothing but what has they could not tolerate a plainer me- been revealed; and, as to the things thod of discourse? What, though which they are to preach, have rethey were doomed to eternal per- ceived explicit instructions, under dition ; since they opposed so many the most solemn sanctions that inefforts made to save them ? Was finite authority and power can imnot every cause for complaint in pose. Whether any imaginable cirthis instance excluded ?
cumstances may justify them, in It is explicitly taught in scripture, shaping their discourses to the that it is the purpose of God to wishes and feelings of the people, show his 'wrath and make his
deserves their sober attention; but, known, in the destruction of
consequence impenitent sinners. And if it shall to the people, of their not being able hereafter appear that these persons to bear the faithful inculcation of brought destruction on themselves, truth, may be their eventual perdiby a course of voluntary rebellion tion. In the boasted enjoyment of against God; that they did not wish to delusive peace, they may be permitknow the truth; that they could not ted to remain without disturbance, endure sound doctrine plainly and until the thunders, of infinite venfaithfully inculcated; that they re- geance arouse them to endless ansisted conviction ; grieved the Holy guish and horror. Spirit, and laboured to render them- Prejudice,is too commonly thought selves unsusceptible of serious im- an apology for that rejection of the pressions, how manifest is it, that truth, of which it is the cause; but
pel? Have not our privileges been perverted by us, into instruments of stupidity and hardness of heart? Let us oblige our souls to answer these questions, and if the answer shall be affirmative, let us take the alarm, and hasten out of danger too tremendous, to be described or conceived.
T. H. S.
it is not thought so, by “him who judgeth righteously.” He deems it a culpable evil; holds it in abhorrence; and often makes it the ruin of those who foster it. . This he does too, in an unsuspected way. The victims of prejudice, by refusing to hear the truth plainly and pungently preached, and by pleasing themselves with a kind of instruction which excites no repugnance in their hearts, prevent themselves from being awakened out of spiritual slumber, and convinced of their enmity to God and holiness. They act as though they were afraid, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and healed. In this manner they accomplish the designs of Divine Wrath. They fall by their own hands; and go “in their own counsels” to eternal destruction.
The only safe policy, is to keep a candid and docile mind; a mind mainly desirous to know the truth, and pleased most, when the truth is most clearly disclosed. The most welcome method of exhibiting the truth, should be that, which holds it forth, in all its majestic simplicity, and independence on human opinion and feeling
Finally, our subject admonishes us of the danger, of neglecting or slighting the Means of Grace. These Means we enjoy, in a pre-eminent degree. Like Čapernaum, we are exalted to heaven, with respect to our advantages for securing salvation. Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things we see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things we hear, and have not heard them. But have not some of us cause to fear that it is with us, as it was with the multitude, whose heart had “waxed gross” under the ministry of Christ? May it not be true even of us, that seeing we see not, and hearing we hear not? Has not the world more attractions, in our view, than the cross of Christ and the truths of his gos
On Oaths; their lawfulness and
abuse, An oath is a declaration or promise, confirmed by an appeal to God for the truth of what is declared or promised. It is a religious rite, and ought not to be used but with solemnity, and on occasions of suitable importance. The inspired penman of the epistle to the Hebrews, remarks, (chap. vi. 16.) “that an oath, for confirmation, is to men an end of all strife.” We learn, from this passage of scripture, what is the proper end and use of an oath: it is to terminate strife and elicit truth, in order to the distribution of justice, and the equitable settlement of disputes among mankind. And as the apostle refers to the use of oaths, for the purpose just stated, without any note of disapprobation, · it is fair to conclude that he did not deem the usage anti-christian: this will be made evident, in the sequel, from his own practice.
In all ages, and among all nations, the oath has been, not only used, but used religiously, and considered of great importance to the welfare of human society. It seems, indeed, to be a branch of natural religion ; and the writer of this article hopes to be able to demonstrate, that it is abundantly sanctioned by divine revelation, as well in the New Tes tament, as in the writings of Moses and the prophets.
It is known to every person who reads the Bible, that the Almighty himself often confirms his word by an oath. “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;" Ezek. xxxiii. 11.