Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

both from the works and the word of God, that his precepts were just, and his doctrines true. Thus he charmed by variety and novelty, as well as proved by argument and evidence; and became,’ innocently, ‘all things to all men, that’ at least he might gain some.'

The same character he discovered in a manner not less remarkable, in answering the questions and resolving the cases proposed to him by the Pharisees and Sadducees. In every instance of this nature he refuted their arguments, exploded their opinions, defeated their crafty designs against him, and publicly put them to shame and to silence. Thus he beautifully illustrated the truth of that memorable declaration which he had anciently mado concerning himself, ' I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence.'

The same truth he still more strikingly illustrated by the uniform tenour of his life. This was such as to defeat all the malicious accusations of his numerous and bitter enemies, and to place his character beyond a doubt of its innocence and uprightness. To this end it was not sufficient that he was really innocent and upright. It was additionally necessary that be should be consummately prudent. In proportion to their want of prudence, all men are endangered in this respect, and most become sufferers. But Christ was regularly considered as an innocent man by all persons even of moderate candour, had a high reputation for worth in the eyes of the public, and, when tried on the accusation of enemies and villains before a malignant and unprincipled tribunal, was pronounced clear of every imputation. Equal proof of prudence as well as innocence was never furnished in the present world.

(4.) His integrity was equally perfect.

This dignified characteristic is strongly visible in several of the things already recited as proofs of his candour ; candour itself being rio other than a particular mode of exercising integrity. Of this nature are his impartial censures and commendations of his friends and his enemies. The same spirit is conspicuous in bis reproofs which, on the one hand, were bold, open, and sincere, and, on the other, were perfectly free from selfishness and ill nature. It is also strikingly evident in the perfect simplicity of his instructions and conversation. In them all there cannot be found a single instance of flattery,

[ocr errors]

sarcasm, ambiguity, affectation, vanity, arrogance, or ill-will. Nay, nothing is enhanced beyond the strictest bounds of

propriety. Nothing is so coloured as to deceive, nothing left so defective as to mislead. The strongest specimen ever given of integrity in the manner of communication is found in the instructions of Christ.

Many persons have been distinguished for their integrity, and so distinguished as to leave behind them in their history little or no stain upon their reputation in this respect. But Christ differs, evidently, from them all in the degree in which he manifested this attribute; and so differs from them, as that simplicity and openness of communication forms a remarkable characteristic of the style in which he spoke ; and constitutes, eminently, what may be called

be called his own original manner. As this runs through all his discourses, as recited by the several Evangelists, it is evident from this fact, that it was his own manner and not theirs.

The same illustrious attribute was, in the same manner, evinced in all his conduct. By applause be was never allured'; by obloquy he was never driven. Popular favour he never coveted; popular odium he never dreaded. To friends and enemies, to the populace and the Sanhedrim, he declared truth, and proclaimed their duty, without favour or fear. When he stood before the Sanhedrim, and was on trial for his life, being adjured by the high priest to declare whether he was the Son of God, he boldly said, though he knew that death would be the consequence, 'I am. And, to place the declaration beyond all reasonable doubt, subjoined, ' And ye

sball see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.' In a word, he treated all men while he was teaching, exhorting, and reproving them, as merely rational and immortal beings, and not as friends or enemies, nor as members of any sect, party, or nation. In this manner he left a noble example to every succeeding teacher of mankind.

(5.) His benevolence also was without an example.

Many of the observations already made strongly illustrate this glorious attribute of the Redeemer. It will, however, be useful to mention other things more particularly, as exemplifications of this disposition. Among the numerous miracles wrought by Christ, there is not one which was not perforined for the direct purpose of lessening distress or danger, or producing safety, comfort, and happiness to mankind. Many of these miracles, also, were wrought for those whom he knew to be his enemies, with the full conviction on his part that they would continue to be his enemies. While his life was filled up with that peculiarly bitter provocation which arises from ingratitude daily repeated, never wearied, and even increased by the very kindness which should have melted the heart, even this provocation never slackened his hand, nor moved his resentment. . When he came in sight of that ungrateful city, Jerusalem, where so many prophets had been killed, where so many of his benevolent offices and so many of his wonderful miracles had been performed in vain ; notwithstanding all the injuries which he had received from the inhabitants, notwithstanding they were now employed in devising means to take away his life, he wept over' the guilty, abandoned spot, and cried with inexpressible tenderness, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.' On the cross he forgave, and prayed, and secured eternal life for murderers, while they were imbruing their hands in his blood, and rendering a most bitter death still more bitter by adding insult to agony. At the same time, he communicated faith, and peace, and hope, the forgiveness of sin, and an earnest of immortal glory, to the miserable malefactor who, by his side, hung over the burnings of devouring fire.

(6.) Equally wonderful was his disinterestedness.

This attribute, though often considered as the same with benevolence, is really a qualification of benevolence; as is evident from the mere phraseology, so customarily adopted, of disinterested benevolence. But it is the crown, the glory, the finishing of this character.

There is not an instance in which Christ appears to have proposed his own private, separate good, as the end either of his actions or sufferings. He came to live and die for others, and those enemies, and sinners. From them he needed and could receive nothing. From him they needed every thing, and from him alone could they receive that which they needed. For such beings all his labours, instructions, and sorrows were planned and completed. The objects which he had in view were the most disinterested, public, and honourable which the universe has ever known; the deliverance of mankind from sin and misery, their elevation to virtue and happiness, and the supreme glory of God in this divine and most wonderful work. These objects be accomplished with extreme difficulty and self-denial, and with immense expense on his own part. This arduous work he began with a fixed purpose, pursued with unshaken constancy, and triumphantly completed in spite of every discouragement, difficulty, and danger. On all his progress heaven looked with wonder and gratulation, and, at his return to that happy world, the ransomed of the Lord exclaimed, and will for ever exclaim, · Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, ard strength, and honour, and giory, and blessing!'.

SERMON LII.

THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST.

HOLINESS OF CHARACTER

HIS SELF-GOVERNMENT.

FOR SUCH AN HIGH PRIEST BECAME US, WHO IS HOLY, HARMLESS,

UNDEFILED, sePARATE FROM SINNERS, AND MADE HIGHER THAN THE HEAVENS.

HEBREWS VII. 26.

In the preceding Discourse, I considered the holiness of Christ as one great branch of his priestly character. In the course of this consideration I stated, summarily, my views concerning the manner in wbich Christ performed the duties, owed by him immediately to God, and to mankind. I shall now make a few observations concerning those which he owed more immediately to himself. The two former classes are generally denoted by the names piety and benevolence; the latter is usually denominated temperance, or self-government.

It ought here to be observed, that our Saviour's life was regulated by the rules of perfect virtue in all those ordinary and less delicate cases, in which mankind so commonly transgress, and in which we usually look for the proofs of a gross and guilty character. The truth is, imputations of the kind here referred to are not made on the Redeemer even by the worst of men, and have ceased, notwithstanding the groundless and brutal calumpies of his contemporary enemies, who accused

« AnteriorContinuar »