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Is our faith Let us run
captive,' and is now seated on his kingly throne, | adopted into God's family, and show that we are And his sons in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.' Having a way of access to the divine presence, and claims on the divine mercy, established for, and made over to us by Jesus, the surety of a better testament,' founded on better promises, let us seek by instant prayer, supplies of grace from the fountain of grace,' that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.' God is for us, and who then can be against us? at times weak and like to expire? to the mercy-seat, and there make known our fears of making shipwreck of our Christian confidence. Our Intercessor is still there as kind and compassionate, though he may have withdrawn his face for a little, as ever. Are we attacked by the temptations of the world, the instruments which Satan employs, to regain possession of souls that have been rescued from his thraldom, and restored to the liberty of the gospel? Let us immediately raise our eyes and our thoughts to heaven, and as certainly as God has been reconciled by the one free-will offering of his Son, his Spirit will bring relief, subdue the adversary, and enable us to adopt the prophet's language, and to join in his song of anticipated, and soon to be completed victory, 'Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy. For when I fall, then shall I rise.' Are we beset with spiritual fears, and troubled with despondency, under the hidings of the Saviour's countenance! Let us besiege the throne of grace with still more importunate prayers, and calling to remembrance all the past tokens of the Redeemer's love, let us plead and implore till he has heard, and shall thus graciously address us: Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines, with the tender grape, give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.'
'the head over all things to his church.'
He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me,' Luke x.
JESUS Christ spake these words to the seventy disciples, whom he sent before him, to prepare the people for his coming, in those places which he was about to visit. They contain weighty matter for meditation
1. In regard to the work of gospel ministers. | as one sent by Christ, and entrusted with a mess'He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that age to me, that would bring me at once into the despiseth you, despiseth me.' Jesus Christ identi- position of one dealing with Christ. The only way fied himself with these his servants, and he does in which we can now hear Christ, is by hearing so still with all ministers who truly preach the his servants speaking his truth. The King hath gospel. A minister of the gospel is avowedly an gone into a far country to receive a kingdom, and ambassador for Christ. He must, therefore, be to return. Meanwhile, his ambassadors are sent careful to know and speak the mind of Christ, as with a message from him, to those who have rerevealed and recorded in the scriptures, for the belled against him, in this province of his domiLord's sake whose ambassador he is, for his own nions. They speak not of their own, but of sake, and for the sake of those to whom he is Christ's things, and by his command: so that he sent. It is an awful thing to misrepresent the who heareth them heareth Christ. character and will of the Lord Jesus Christ,-to announce that which is not true with a 'thus saith the Lord.' May the Spirit of God preserve his servants from this dreadful sin! And is there not deep guilt in misleading, to their eternal ruin, precious souls inquiring the way to be saved? When a simple, honest-minded man, reads in the scriptures this passage, in which our Saviour says, 'He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me;' and when in consequence, with all sincerity and earnestness, he listens to his minister, as to one whose teaching has the weight and authority of Christ himself; and when his minister largely mingles error with the truth, and thus perverting the understanding, and hindering the faith, and making the man's very light to be darkness, ruins the man's soulO better to be one of God's irrational creatures, than such a minister: better had it been for such a minister, that he had never been born.
It must be the first care of Christ's ministers to speak as Christ speaks. By study, by meditation, by prayer, they should seek acquaintance with divine truth. And in expounding scripture, they should be more anxious to bring forward what is true, than what is new. For it is not enough, in expounding scripture, that a truth be set forth it is needful that the truth contained in the passage be brought out that the mind of the Spirit in that portion of the word of God be unfolded. Fanciful interpretations of the word are sinful and dangerous. Why, for the sake of being thought striking and original, torture a passage of scripture to make it teach an important truth, which is plainly and repeatedly taught in other passages?
But our Lord's words also teach that a responsibility, equally weighty and solemn, attaches to those who enjoy a gospel ministry. To this responsibility many, in hearing the gospel, are utterly insensible. It is the preacher only that they see or think of. The fact that Christ is addressing them through the preacher, never once occurs to their mind. If I regarded the preacher
What a vast importance does this give to the gospel message! How foolish to let little excrescencies distract my attention from the truths claimed, in which I have so deep an interest! When I go to the house of God, let me remember that it is not to my minister merely that I go to listen, but to my Saviour speaking to me by my minister. And when I retire from church, let me treasure up, and value, and observe what I have heard, as my dear Saviour's message to me for my correction, my comfort, my instruction, or my guidance. For I read that Jesus said to his followers sent forth to preach the truth, He that heareth you, heareth me.'
The fact that the gospel set forth in preaching is Christ's word, and not the word of the minister, also involves in deep guilt and awful danger those who despise the gospel message, or hear it with indifference or neglect. When I despise a fellow-creature labouring truly and rightly for my good, I am guilty of sin: but when I despise the eternal Father, who sent his own Son to humiliation and agonies for my sake, what name should be given to my conduct? When I hear, with utter indifference, or cold unconcern, Christ telling me of his love, and his sufferings, and his death, and the deliverance from hell that he hath purchased, and the heaven of holiness, and happiness, and glory that he hath prepared, how should such behaviour as mine be characterised?
But surely few are guilty of such sins? Nay, verily, but many are. How many statements of gospel truth on these points have I and others despised-either treated them as fanatical imaginations, or heard them with inattention and indifference? No matter though it was only a minister, perhaps a minister weak in gifts, or awkward in manner, or rude in speech, that made the gospel statement. Was he a servant of God, and did he speak the truth of God? Then Christ in sending him forth said to him, ' He that despiseth thee, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.' Every time, therefore, that I treat with neglect or indifference gospel
truth which I hear, I. am really guilty of despising the Son and the Father. Lord, is it even so? How great, then, my guilt! To despise or treat with indifference my Saviour and my God! Lord, pardon thy servant this thing.
When God sends his truth to me, he always furnishes me with means by which, if I rightly use them, I may satisfy myself that it is the truth of God which is spoken. If I fail to do so, and thus am led to neglect the divine truths, I am verily guilty much, because I am not at the pains to ascertain the important point whether God be speaking to me or not. When, therefore, I wait on the public exercises of the sanctuary, and listen to a preached gospel, it is my duty seriously to think with myself whether or not it be the truth of God which I hear. And in as far as my mind admits and owns it to be that truth, I am to listen to it and obey it, just as if Jesus Christ, with his own lips, was addressing it to me. To act otherwise to sit under what I admit to be a declaration of divine truth, with coldness, indifference, or disregard, is to despise not the minister who is preaching, but Jesus Christ, and his Father who sent him-no light sin, surely, and to be avoided with all earnestness, and by much watchfulness and prayer. May God the Holy Ghost give me that watchfulness, and make me continue instant in prayer.
"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes,' Luke x. 13.
TYRE and Sidon were two famous cities, situated near each other, on the shore of the MediterranThey were in that portion of Canaan which fell to the tribe of Asher, but the ancient inhabitants, the Phoenicians, were never dispossessed by the Israelites. Tyre and Sidon were, therefore, heathen cities. They became exceedingly opulent and powerful, and at the same time exceedingly proud, luxurious, and corrupt. They never recovered their ancient glory after they were taken, and almost destroyed by Alexander the Great, and in our Saviour's time they were poor, miserable, little towns.
Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities of Galilee, visited by Jesus Christ, and the scenes of many of his miracles. But the men and women of these cities seem to have heard unmoved the words
of him who spake as never man spake, and to have gazed with wonder on his miracles, and then gone away, and sinned as before. The wondrous works that Christ did in them, though accompanied by his divine teaching, produced no general reformation of manners. He found them wicked; he called them earnestly, affectionately, powerfully to repentance, by his teaching and his miracles, and notwithstanding all, he left them as wicked as he found them. Then he uttered against them the solemn woe that we have read. When he spoke these words, Chorazin and Bethsaida were fair and flourishing cities, and the hum of a busy population was heard in their streets. But a woe denounced by the lips of the compassionate Saviour is a fearful thing. It falls where it is thoroughly deserved, and it blasts, like the lightning, the things, the places, the persons on whom it falls. For where is Chorazin now? where Bethsaida? Utterly perished. No one can even tell where they stood. Travellers dispute which of the ruins that they visit were once Chorazin and Bethsaida.
The heathen cities of Tyre and Sidon, and the Jewish cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, then, have all been visited with destruction. For the sinfulness of their inhabitants they have been so visited. But Chorazin and Bethsaida enjoyed advantages which Tyre and Sidon did not. latter cities indeed, were near the land of Israel, and their idolatry might have been rebuked by the worship which the Israelites paid to the living and true God. But in the streets of Chorazin and Bethsaida did the Son of God oftentimes teach; and in testimony that he was a teacher sent by God, he wrought many wonderful works before their eyes. It did not manifest such hardened and daring wickedness in Tyre and Sidon, to resist the influence of their intercourse with the Israelites, wayward, perverse, and rebellious as these Israelites often were, as it did in Chorazin and Bethsaida to resist the divine teaching of the Son of God, and the many striking miracles of mercy which he wrought among them. Had matters been reversed, or had Tyre and Sidon enjoyed the teaching, and beheld the miracles of Christ as did Chorazin and Bethsaida, our Lord declares that these heathen cities would have repented a long while before. they did not enjoy such advantages was the will of God. They had means, but did not improve them, and therefore they perished in their sins. But deeper was the guilt, and heavier the condemnation of the two Jewish cities, who despised and resisted means and privileges so exceedingly great as those which Chorazin and Bethsaida
enjoyed, and which would have prevailed to bring guilty! Nay, guiltier. For Chorazin and Beth
to repentance, the luxurious and corrupt heathen cities of Tyre and Sidon.
We do not profess to explain how these means would have been effectual to produce repentance in the one case, when they were not so in the other. We believe Christ that things would have been as he says. His word on this, as on every other point, is enough for us. May the Lord ever preserve us from the pride which refuseth instruction, because God's ways are deeper than our understanding.
Who is guilty of this fearful sin? Lord, is it
saida never acknowledged the divine authority of Jesus Christ, whose miracles and teaching they resisted. But how many of us profess to acknowledge the divinity of Christ, and to admit that he is the only Saviour, and that his doctrine unfolds the only way of a sinner's escape from hell, and of admission into heaven; and yet we treat Christ and his doctrine with utter coldness and indifference. It was a fearful sin to refuse altogether Christ, and his miracles, and his teaching, treating him as an impostor. But surely it But do no cities except Chorazin and Beth- is a sin more fearful still, to admit that Christ is saida neglect privileges, and reject means of a divine Saviour, and that his doctrine is absograce? Have none but the inhabitants of these lutely necessary to our eternal well-being, and cities turned a deaf ear to heaven's calls to repent-notwithstanding to neglect or despise him. ance? It is easy to find fault with others: it is safer to judge ourselves. There are cities in these lands which equal, or perhaps surpass Tyre and Sidon in wealth, luxury, and commercial greatness. Much, and very awful wickedness is to be found in these cities, and were it not that there is also to be found in them a number of those who are the salt of the earth, and who preserve them from utter putrefaction and corruption, we might expect those cities speedily to share the fate of Tyre and Sidon. Nay, with regard to religious privileges, the cities of our land are as highly favoured as were Chorazin and Bethsaida. For though the mind dwells with a pleasing fondness on the personal teaching of Jesus Christ, it cannot be doubted that a fuller and clearer revelation of the gospel was given after his ascension, than was previously unfolded. The latter times being come, and all the revelation of divine truth that God judged necessary being about to be given and recorded, the Holy Ghost taught the apostles a fuller measure of divine truth than even the Son of God himself taught to men.
I? Do not I admit the reality of Christ's miracles, of which the evangelists testify? Do I not hear many a time, in terms plain and earnest, the doctrines of the gospel; and do I not allow the heavenly origin of these doctrines, and their unspeakable importance to sinners of mankind? Yet these miracles have, in truth, had as little weight with me, as if they had been the tricks of an impostor. I have many a time heard the glorious gospel with less attention than I have given to an idle tale; and its statements, warnings, entreaties, promises, threatenings, examples, revelations, affect not my heart, nor influence my conduct. My bible, how little prized, read, pondered, understood, believed, obeyed, enjoyed! My Sabbaths, how little are they my delight! My minister, the Lord's servant and messenger, how carelessly do I hear him, how little thoroughly believe him, to how small an extent do I obey his teaching!
So then I am not free from the sin of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Am I safe from their woe? No voice is heard proclaiming it against me; but is it therefore not in existence? It hath not yet come; is that a reason for believing that it shall never come? Methinks I hear the Saviour saying to me, and to my fellow-sinners, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' May the example not be lost. May the call not be refused or neglected.
And what the Holy Ghost taught to the apostles, is now freely and fully taught to us. We behold not with our eyes the miracles which Jesus Christ wrought in the cities of Judah; we hear not the living voice of the Son of God. But we profess to believe (do we really believe?) that these miracles were by Jesus Christ assuredly wrought; and we read, and we hear a fuller statement of divine truth, than it was consistent with the divine will that the Son of God should make, when he tabernacled as a man on the earth. How, then, shall they escape, who neglect so great salvation? Was it only with Chorazin and Bethsaida, and their inhabitants, that God was dis-Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no
pleased? Is there no risk of his being angry, even to destruction, with cities and persons in the present day, who are as guilty as they? As
flesh be justified in his sight,' Rom. iii. 20.
Law, in this passage, means all those rules whica
duct, the law originally written on Adam's heart, and of which fragments still remain in man's natural conscience; the ceremonial law given to the Israelites; and the moral law summarily comprehended in the ten commandments. 'Deeds of the law,' are whatever things are done towards obeying the law. And the assertion of the inspired apostle is, that by works of obedience to law, there shall no flesh be justified in God's sight—no flesh, no human being, shall stand clear and righteous in regard to all that any law requires of him. There will not be an exact agreement between the conduct of any human being, and any law that God has given for man's direction; so that no man can look at any law of God, and then at his own conduct, and say to God, ‘I am a just person; I have done all things required of me by this law of thine.'
At the same time, it must be understood, that it is not owing to any defect in the law, or in obedience to the law, that no flesh can be justified by obeying the law. The law is good, and obedience is good, and if the obedience met the law on all points, and was a perfect obedience, then the man who rendered it would be, by that obedience, justified. The expression no flesh,' shows that the apostle is speaking of fallen man. His obedience is, in every instance, an imperfect obedience, and it is this imperfection of the obedience which causes that by deeds of law there shall no flesh be justified in God's sight.'
This doctrine is of great practical importance, inasmuch as the right reception of it prepares a man for God's way of salvation, whilst the disbelief of it leaves a man seeking for salvation, in a way that shall end in his everlasting ruin. Why should any of us wish to shut our eyes to the truth? May the Spirit of God be our teacher in this matter, on which our soul's salvation depends.
Is it, or is it not true, that our best services and all our holy things have in them a taint of imperfection and sin? It is true, if the testimony of scripture, to which agrees candid accurate observation, is to have any weight. For it is written in the word of God, that the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth,' and that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags before God.' But if a man knows so little of scripture, and of himself, as to believe and maintain that some of his actions are perfect, without stain of sin, will any one be found to maintain that his every thought, word, and act, are of this description? Folly and blindness cannot go so far as that. Almost all are ready to admit that in many things they offend, either coming short
of duty, or doing what they ought not to do. And as many as admit this, must perceive that by deeds of law they cannot be justified in the sight of God. Granting that their own view of themselves were the correct one, and that some of their thoughts, words, and deeds were perfect, and exactly such as the law of God requires them to be; still some of them being either not conformed to the law, or transgression of it, in respect of these latter, when he is compared with the law, he cannot be justified. Nay, we may go a step farther. We may suppose a man to be altogether conformed to the law of God, except in one point; to have throughout his whole life done exactly what was required, except on one solitary occasion: that one point, that one occasion of transgression or omission of duty, even in the midst of an else perfectly blameless life, would constitute him a breaker of the law, and bring him under condemnation. This is the judgment of both scripture and right reason. For scripture says, 'Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them;' and 'Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.' Our first parents were an example of this, for their one offence placed them among law-breakers, and subjected them to the penalty attached to disobedience. God is the judge, and when man is called before him and asked, Hast thou kept the law? and he begins to say, In most things I have, but-or even, in all things I have, but in one particular; he is instantly stopped and told that the question is not, In what particular hast thou kept the law? It simply is, Hast thou kept the law? And unless thou canst give a true unfaltering answer that thou hast kept the law, by works of obedience to the law thou canst not be justified.-Verily I am constrained to admit that this is a reasonable view of the matter. My understanding approves of it. What should be its practical effect on me? Doubtless to make me feel and act as one who cannot, and who does not expect to be regarded as just by God, in virtue of any works of obedience to the law.
Under the first covenant, or covenant of works, in which Adam was the representative of the human race, life was to be by obedience to the law. But when that covenant was broken, and man's nature became corrupt by the fall, there could be no longer life by the law, for by not one individual was it fully obeyed. It spoke only of condemnation and death, because not one of those to whom it spoke but was a transgressor. The law now does not justify; it condemns. So that if I go to it seeking life, it will speak to me