« AnteriorContinuar »
To minister to others is no disparagement to us, but our glory.
4. If angels need Christ's help, how much more we who are so much below them, not only in dignity, but in power! May our misery excite his mercy, and his strength be made perfect in our weakness!
ON RIGHTLY SEEKING THE SAVIOUR.
LUKE VIII. 23.
Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
Christ, as the great Prophet of the church, was now employed in his delightful work of instructing the people. In this he is interrupted by some of them that were nearest to him, who, it is probable, were requested to do so by others at a greater distance, who addressed him in the words of my text, “ Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.” A crowd, unless it be a crowd of worshippers, is not a likely place to meet with Christ; nay, it has often been a great hinderance to those who are setting out in the ways of religion, and an insurmountable obstacle for a time to their converse with their Lord. By Christ's mother we are to understand the Virgin Mary, in whom he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and of whom he was born in Bethlehem; to whom he was subject in his minority; and whom, at his death, he committed to the care of that disciple who had been indulged with the freedom of leaning on his breast. She had been once reproved for an unseasonable application to him ; and it is said, “ She laid up the saying in her heart :” but she seems to have forgotten it now; at least, she did not make a proper and practical use of it. By brethren, in Scripture, we are to understand either those of the same family, as Jacob and Esau; or of the same country and nation; as the apostle frequently calls the Jews, though his inveterate enemies and cruel
persecutors, brethren; or of the same religious profession; thus, all true Christians are brethren, being united in the same faith to one head. It is in the first sense that the word is to be taken in my text-brethren by consanguinity;--the sons of Joseph, as some have thought, by a former wife, whose name is said to have been Escha; or rather, as others have supposed, Mary's sister's children, and, consequently, cousins-german to our blessed Redeemer. Their coming with Mary shows their regard to her; and her coming with them was an evidence that, though the mother of Christ, she was not ashamed of her other kindred. They all came upon the same errand—to see Christ. Yet there was something defective (unless we consider it as the fruit of absolute necessity) in the manner in which they sought to have their desire gratified ;-they stood without.
I. They desired to see Christ, and this their desire might proceed,
1. From a proud and vain-glorious principle, from which the best of men are not entirely free. They might want to make it known that they were related to Christ, a person so followed and talked of, who preached such heavenly doctrines, and performed such astonishing miracles. They saw that he was distinguished and taken notice of, and they might have a secret ambition to be distinguished and taken notcie of too. It is probable they might wish to be pointed out by the surrounding multitude, and to hear it whispered from one to another, “ Lo, this is the mother, and these are the brethren of Christ.” If so, they were disappointed; for, when engaged in his Father's work, he knew no relations but those that were so in a spiritual sense. Like Levi, he said unto his father and to his mother, “ I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren." It must, therefore, be a mortification to their pride and vanity to hear him say, “ My mother and my brethren are those which bear the word of God, and do it." " Those that prefer Christ before their relations,” says one, “ shall be 2. From an undue, and, indeed, unnecessary regard to the health of Christ's body and safety of his person. It is probable they thought the crowd in that hot country would incommode him, that he would exhaust his spirits by the length of the exercise, and that he wanted some relaxation and refreshment. Herein they might be Satan's instruments, who might thus tempt Christ by proxy; which seems to have been the case with Peter, to whom he gives that severe rebuke, “ Get thee behind me, Satan." But did the devil gain his end? No; the sermon was not begun for him, and it should not be ended for him. Though he chose the most suitable instruments, yet he was disappointed. It was Christ's meat and drink to do his Father's will, and it is probable this very circumstance might make his hearers the more attentive. He was so intent upon his work, and so armed with the Spirit, that let whoever would tempt him, Satan or his agents, and these either good men or bad men, friends or enemies, strangers or his nearest relations, it was alike to him: he could say, as that blessed servant of his afterwards said, “ None of these things move me."
3. From natural love, without any other design but to please themselves with the company and conversation of one with whom they were so nearly connected, and for whom they had so great regard. Mary was a tender and indulgent mother, who, once missing her son in returning from Jerusalem, was filled with the utmost anxiety and distress till she found him; and the same temper and disposition might bring her and her companions to the place where Christ was now teaching. Religion is no enemy to natural affection. Christ was not, like many children, the heaviness, but joy of her that bare him. He loved her, and she loved him; and the same harmony subsisted between him and his other relations. They were brethren that dwelt together in unity.
4. There might also be a mixture of spiritual affection. These brethren might be James and John, Simon and Judas, who had been instructed by him, and believed in his name. But though the principle might be good, their conduct was reprovable, the application being unseasonable; and the check that Christ gave them should teach us, that no intrusion or solicitation should draw us from the work of the Lord; but we should say, as Nehemiah did, " Why should the work cease whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” In Matthew, it is said, they desired to speak with him. Thus, when we are engaged in the most important business relative to our own souls, or the souls of others, profit says, “ I would speak with thee;" pleasure, preferment, and carnal ease, all say,
“ We would speak with thee;" but we should learn to disregard all such interruptions, as Christ disregarded this.
Give me leave to add, that as it was with Christ's natural, so it is with his spiritual relations, or real saints. After long absence, they want to see him; after long silence, they want to speak with him. Like the persons spoken of in my text, they want a present sight of him. Like Sisera's mother, they are ready to say, “ Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariot?" or with the spouse in Canticles, “ Be thou like a roe, or young hart, on the mountains of Bashan.” They also want a near sight of him. A remote prospect over the heads of the multitude will not content them. “ I shall behold him," says Balaam,“ but not nigh;" this might satisfy him, but it will not satisfy them. They want not only to see, but to converse with, and receive something from him. They are sometimes ready to use the language of the church, “O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee ; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house," &c. In a word, it is a spiritual sight of Christ that the saints now want, which, as it is the only sight that is at present attainable, so it is more suitable to the nature of the soul than a bodily or corporeal sight could be, and more