Obrazy na stronie

explicit than the intention of our Sa- | lief, under the light of his gospel,

viour and of the gospel in their appearance amongst us. We are told repeatedly that Christ came not to condemn the children of men, but that through him they might be saved. We are told that he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. We are told that he came to express to us the love of GOD; that believing in his name we, who were liable to perish, might have life everlasting. This is purely the intention of his coming, this is purely the substance of his ministration, and this is purely the great end of that ministration, when it is received by a living faith: it is, that we might be saved.

It is remarkable, therefore, that he is thus set for the fall as well as the rising of many. He comes in pity to our lost estate; he comes to put himself as our substitute, in our place; he comes to pay that obedience to the divine law which we could not pay; he comes to bear those penalties of the divine law which we must otherwise have suffered; he comes to accomplish with mighty power a full and complete salvation: and yet it is said of him that, in his appearance, he should be for the fall as well as for the rising of many.

It is the more remarkable, in the second place, because the evil arising to us from the testimony of Christ is to be found in ourselves, and not in the Saviour. If it is said that Christ in his appearance shall be for the fall and rising again, for the condemnation as well as the salvation, of many, it is not so much descriptive of the intention of his coming as of the effect of his coming. His intention is that of mercy, that of love, that of compassion, that of saving the children of men; but the effect of his appearance shall be in many cases that some shall fall away, that some shall continue in unbelief, and that, continuing in unbe

their unbelief shall be aggravated, and their condemnation eternal. He shall in this sense be for the falling of many.

But "behold"-let it be considered remarkable, fix your attention on it, that this arises from their own perversity, their own unbelief, their own sin. Christ shall appear, and he shall so appear as to be for the falling away of many; nevertheless, those who fall away, fall away through their own unbelief, their own perversity and hardness of heart. Is not this, then, remarkable?-should it not fill us with astonishment, as well as anxiety, that Christ comes to us, comes to us as sinners, for our good, for our present and eternal salvation; and that, nevertheless, we reject and dishonour his message-nevertheless we give ourselves to vanity and to dying trifles, and disregard our eternal and spiritual condition? Oh, marvel at this-be astonished at this: "My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out eisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." "I have sent to them, last of all, my own son, demanding that they should hear my son;" but instead of hearing him with reverence and confidence, they have crucified the Lord of life and glory. What an evidence of depravity, of consummate depravity! Brethren, tremble at yourselves; tremble to be left to yourselves, to the hardness of your spirits, to the unbelief of your minds: for so surely as you are left to yourselves and the action of evil principles, so surely will you dishonour Christ, disbelieve his name, and pervert the very message of his mercy to the great instrument of your conversion. "Behold," then.

We are exhorted thus to behold and improve it because we have a se

Enquire, then, of your conscience your posture of mind. Are your receiving Christ? Are you believing in Christ? Are you renouncing every thing contrary to the faith of him, and to the love of him, that you may cleave only to him, and rejoice only in him? Then he is for your rising again: though you were dead, you shall live; though you were lost, you shall be found; though you were condemned, you shall be justified; though you were miserable, you shall be happy: you shall be received through him, acknowledged through him, and appointed by him to ever

rious concern in it. If it may be said name. He will administer in such a that Christ's appearance is to many service as this, either what contritheir falling away, and that Christ butes to your happiness, or what conshall be the innocent means of their tributes to your just condemnation. greater condemnation, we are to take the greater heed to ourselves lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief, lest we depart from the living GOD, lest we renounce the testimony of Christ,-or lest we, professing to believe in him, shall be found the children of unbelief in the last great day. Behold, he is set for the falling, as well as for the rising, of many in Israel-in the bosom of the church, amongst those who profess love to him, honour to him; nevertheless, amongst these he is set for the falling of many. We are, therefore, each one to take the message to himself, and each one to ex-lasting habitations of peace and joy. ercise a holy jealousy in reference to the state of his own mind concerning Christ Jesus. If he is set for the falling of many, and for the rising of many, it becomes us to inquire whether we have a beneficial or an injurious interest in his coming-whether he is set for our fall or for our rising whether we have hope in his death, or whether we are disregarding his testimony, and pursuing a worldly and a wicked life. The whole of the subject, then, addresses itself immediately to our consciences; and we are to know that even in this very service we shall fall under the one or the other of the declarations, that Christ is set for our fall, or for our rising again. If you are receiving him by a new act of faith, then he is set for your rising again; and if you are once more trifling with his message, disregarding his name, and procrastinating the great attention you should pay to your own salvation, then he is for your falling away. You will go away from this house either justified, believing in Christ, or condemned, disbelieving in his

But if you are despising once more his name, if you are remaining indifferent to his message, if you are slumbering in the flesh, if you are giving your attention to the world, and your affections and passions to sin-then it is, as to your present state, to your falling away. This message will aggravate your condition; your continuance in sin under this declaration of his mercy will still more harden your hearts, and still more blind your eyes, and still more leave you without excuse before GOD. Look to it, then, my beloved brethren-look to it that you are not, by the very means of grace, aggravating woe. Look to it, then, that you do not find an enemy in this Divine Saviour, who will be your impartial, your fearful, your righteous Judge in the great day. Look to it, then, that after all your professions of love to the Redeemer, you will not be found to have loved the creature more than the Creator, and to have loved the world more than Christ. Desire that this Gospel may not be to you a savour of death

unto death, instead of a savour of life | and may ultimately bloom and blossom unto life; that it may give you life; in the perfection of immortality for that it may increase that life; that ever. May GOD sanctify his word, that life may become vigorous, and and dispose you by his Holy Spirit yet more vigorous; that you may to seek salvation and eternal glory, feel it is connected with immortality, through his beloved Son. Amen.

A Sermon,



Luke, x. 37.-" Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."


his hearers, it was his custom to exhibit them in attractive dresses, which at once fixed the attention and called forth the exercise of the mind. At one time he delivered a parable, and himself condescended to show its application; at another time he left the parable, without comment, to the curiosity of his hearers, that, whilst they should please themselves by exercising their ingenuity, they might insensibly imbibe instruction and reproof-without disgust at the mode by which they were imparted, and without reproach of him who, in a manner, compelled them to become their own teachers.

To have conversed with Christ and to have retired from his presence unimproved in heart or understanding, must have argued more than ordinary perverseness or dulness. The heart, which was not won by his gentleness and benevolence, must have been strangely insensible to those virtues which most commonly charm; and the understanding which rejected his teaching, must have been strongly armed against conviction. persons adapt their teaching, almost exclusively, to the tastes and the capacities of the poor and unlettered; others address their discourses more particularly to the learned; and many of both descriptions fail in their use- These remarks were suggested to fulness by reason of the uninterest-me by the circumstances attending ing form in which their doctrine is the delivering of the parable of the conveyed. But Jesus Christ was a good Samaritan. “A certain lawyer,” preacher both for rich and for poor.one of those scribes whose proHe simplified, so far as was expedient, the doctrines and duties of the Gospel, that the meanest in intellect, amongst his hearers, might not be ignorant of the truths he came to teach; and then, that this simplicity and frequent repetition of necessary and immutable truths might not be contemned by the better educated amongst

fession it was to study and to teach the law of Moses, "came to Jesus tempting him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" This question, it would seem, did not arise from any honest desire, on the part of the lawyer, to learn of Christ; but rather, it would appear, with a view to ensnare Christ into the deli

Now, had our Lord at once, and directly, told this lawyer that every human being, even his enemy, was his neighbour-had he attempted to show that this definition and extension of the duty was not at all at variance, but strictly conformable, with the very laws of Moses, which he could have done by reading the following passages from the book of Exodus, "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again —If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him:" had our Lord pursued this course, the lawyer had been ready with doubts and quibbles, and case upon case, and learned Rabbi's opinions; and in the end he would have parted from Christ, if not conscious he had got the best of the argument, at least proud of his learning; and also in doubt whether his duty, in the extended sense, was so clear as to claim his unequivocal and entire obedience. To prevent all needless discussion, our Lord, therefore, delivers the pa

very of some doctrine at variance | opinion opposed to Moses' law, or in with the law of Moses, and which disparagement to Moses' authority. would give occasion to stigmatize Christ as a teacher of heresies. Our Lord, therefore, instead of vouchsafing a direct answer to the interrogatory submitted to him, referred the lawyer to the very authority whom he expected Christ would set at naught: "He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?" The lawyer answering, said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy GOD with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." The lawyer, it appears, knew his duty, for Jesus said unto him, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." Now, the lawyer as he knew his duty, so, apparently, he thought he had done his duty; for immediately, "willing to justify himself," that is, to make it appear that he was not wanting in his duty to GoD and his neighbour, he demands, “Who is my neighbour?" His reasoning, probably, was of the following sort "Where is the necessity or propriety of enjoining me to love GoD and my neighbour when I have always done so? I love God and my own neigh-rable of the good Samaritan; and bour, that is, all of my own nation and religion, what more is required of me in the law of Moses?" But he might have said to Christ, "You, perhaps, put a different construction on those laws; the one commandment, to love GOD with all my heart, soul, and strength, you cannot possibly understand otherwise than I do; it must be, therefore, in the other duty-the love of my neighbour, in which you account me deficient: who then in your opinion is my neighbour?" Thus, it is likely, the lawyer debated the matter in his own mind, and persisted in his questions, thinking to succeed at last in eliciting from Christ some

afterwards asked the lawyer himself,
what was his opinion of the Sama-
ritan's conduct towards the poor Jew,
who had fallen among thieves and
been left half dead. The Jews hated
the Samaritans with the most perfect
hatred: "Two nations my soul hateth,"
saith the son of Onias-" the Sama-
ritans and the Philistines."
art a Samaritan and hast a devil,"
said the Jews, in their bitter malice
against Christ. The Jew, conse-
quently, had little claim on the Sa-
maritan's good offices, yet the Sama-
ritan, saith the parable, ministered
to the poor Jew as if he had been
his own brother. "Which now of

these three thinkest thou," says Christ | danger which deterred the Priest and

to the lawyer, "was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?" "He that showed mercy," was the inevitable answer. The lawyer was compelled to confess that the Samaritan was neighbour to the Jew, and that, consequently, a man's enemy was his neighbour, and entitled to kindness, if need or opportunity should occur. He had learned an important duty in a pleasing way; he could not be angry with Christ because of the result he arrived at, for it was the work of his own conscience; if his pride had been wounded-if his result had been defeated, he himself was the only one to blame. So that without any cause of offence at Christ, which might have hindered any improvement in his conduct-while his conviction was lively and his self-consciousness abased, he was dismissed by the Saviour to go and imitate the conduct which he himself could not help admiring in others, but in which, he himself had hitherto grievously failed.

The parable to which the preceding remarks apply is too familiar to us to render any circumstantial explanation necessary. As its design, however, was to enforce the duty of universal benevolence, I know not how I can more effectually promote this, than by enquiring for a little time into the validity of certain excuses which, possibly, governed the Priest and the Levite on this occasion, and which reconcile many besides them to the abstinence from works of brotherly love. And then, as the example of the Samaritan may lose somewhat of its influence with us, who are Christians, and not Jews, I shall refer to an example infinitely more perfect, and one also which we are bound by the deepest obligations to revere and imitate.

In the first place, then, we may suppose, that it was a fear of personal

the Levite from stopping to assist their poor and ill-used countryman. The road where he lay was very perilous to travellers; so much so, that it was called the "bloody way," from the numerous robberies and murders committed by the banditti which at that time infested Judea. It might, therefore, have been under the apprehension of falling into the power of some of these robbers that urged the priest and the Levite to go forward with as little delay as possible. Now this pretence, under certain circumstances, is lawful and good. It is no where commanded us, on the contrary it is sinful, to throw away our lives-to expose ourselves wantonly to certain peril and death. Life is God's gift, and, like all other divine blessings, should be entertained with care as well as with gratitude. But then, we should remember it is commanded us to love our neighbour as ourself. To have all regard, therefore, to our own safety, and none for that of our neighbour-to care for what we may suffer, and to care nothing for what others suffer — to call out "There is a lion in the way,” where no lion is seen-these are excuses, indeed, for the neglect of charitable offices, but they are positive and unfeeling evasions of God's law.

Secondly, It may have been that these men had pressing business, which would not admit of their stopping, no, not for a minute, to dress the wounds of the neglected Jew. But, if their ox, or their sheep, had fallen into a pit, would they not have stayed, however urgent their engagements were, that they might rescue their ox or their sheep? or would they not, at the least, have sent others to their assistance? Yes, undoubtedly. But this man was neither their ox, nor their sheep, and their own interest was not

« PoprzedniaDalej »