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of James and Joses, and Salome the mother of James and John. Now they who know that there are three distinct degrees of life and of perfection in the human mind, which may be respectively called celestial, spiritual and natural; and that the ruling affection in the celestial degree is love to the Lord, the ruling affection of the spiritual degree is love to the neighbour, and the ruling affection in the natural, when this is regenerate, is the love of obedi. ence to the divine truths of the Word; and that these are three universals which enter into all the various excellences that constitute the church; will see why three women in particular are continually mentioned as attending on the Lord, and will readily conclude that Mary Magdalen is a representative of the celestial church, and of those who supremely cherish the principle which distinguishes it. This principle is love to the Lord ; and how strongly do we see this imaged in all the conduct of Mary Magdalen! Her forsaking of her home in Galilee to follow the Lord; her ministering to Him of her substance; her watching the proceedings at His crucifixion ; her providing ointments and linen cloths to do the last offices to His remains; her hovering, as it were, about the sepulchre till His resurrection; her grief and despair on finding that His body was gone; and her reverential joy when she saw Him risen : all these are marks of the most tender attachment to Him, and point her out as the proper representative of that celestial love, which turns invariably to the Lord alone. It is true that, in most of these acts, she had coadjutors; which demonstrates that all affection which is really of a heavenly origin, whether it be that which distinguishes the celestial or the spiritual church, or that of the spiritual-natural, looks to the Lord, and derives all that it has from Him: but Mary Magdalen is every where represented as taking the lead in these holy offices, and was alone the person, as all the evangelists testify, to whom He first revealed Himself after His resurrection : a demonstration that she represented a higher principle than all the others; that the attachment she so constantly displayed to the person of her Lord was a representation of that exalted love to Him which characterizes the celestial church, and which is not merely a love for His person, but a love of all that constitutes His nature ; a love of His goodness and truth in heart, thought, and act, accompanied by a constant habit of referring every thing excellent to Him alone. How superior is a principle of acknowledgment from love to an acknowledgment which is more from faith, is evinced by the difference of conduct between the Lord's female attendants and His
male disciples at the hour of His extremity. Fearful of sharing His fate, the latter all forsook Him and fled; while the former continued by Him till His death and His resurrection; and she who displayed the most entire devotedness of all, was Mary Magdalen, the worthy type of the pure love of the Lord; of that love, the operation of which the Lord explains when He says, “If ye love Me, keep my commandments."
But how is this state of exalted love to the Lord to be acquired? By the careful exploration and renunciation of every thing in ourselves that is opposed to it; the relinquishment of all self-dependance, a willingness to see and acknowledge, not to shut our eyes against and deny, our own evils, and in every instance renouncing our own wills, that we may make the will of the Lord our own. This is represented by its being said of Mary in our text, that out of her went seven devils. What the nature of that possession was by which the demoniacs of the New Testament were afflicted, may in some measure appear from some of the instances which are there recorded. That they who were the subjects of it were not in possession of the free use of their will and understanding, but were in a state very much like some kinds of insanity, is evident; and of course, whatever such persons might do, they could not be accountable for it, nor would it be any proof that they were worse than others. But this external possession by evil spirits, represented that internal possession by all manner of evil concupiscences and false persuasions, which occupy the mind of every man in his unregenerate state; and of course, the casting out of devils by the Lord, represented the liberation of man from the evils of his selfish nature, and from the infernal connexions which adhere to them. Now, as to their state by birth and inheritance, all men are in a considerable degree alike. Though some are more prone to one thing, and some to another, all, as to their own selfhood, independent of the good impressions which continually flow into them from the Lord, are nothing but evil. When therefore it is said of Mary, that out of her went seven devils, it does not mean, that she, as to her selfhood, was worse than others, but that, by regeneration, she became better than others; the evils which are common to all, being, in her, or in such as she represents, more completely cast out, and of course the mind and heart more thoroughly purified. Seven is a number which pre-eminently signifies what is holy, or its opposite, and which has a particular reference to the celestial man, or his opposite : wherefore to say that seven devils went out of a person,
is the same thing as to say that that person was regenerated to the highest or celestial degree, every thing that prevents the opening of that degree, or that obstructs the reign throughout the mind of the love proper to that degree, which is that of the Lord and all goodness, being radically removed.
On the whole, nothing is more calculated to impress on our minds the necessity and the superiority of a principle of love, founded in humility and self-renunciation, than all that the Scriptures record of Mary Magdalen. She even first carried the news of the Lord's resurrection to the disciples, to instruct us, that unless the principle represented by her be present in the minds of those who take their predominant character from other graces, their graces would be unsound, incapable of leading them to the Lord and heaven. Let us then, brethren, be earnest to obtain some community of mind with the spiritual Magdalen : and to this end let us submit to the casting out of the devils within us, and be faithful and constant in following the Lord.
THE NATURE OF THE LORD'S INVITATION TO ALL
THAT LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN.
BY JAMES KEENE.
Matt. xi. 28. “ Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest." These words are worthy our serious consideration, not only because they are the words of the Lord, but because that, in our present state of perversion, depravity, and obtuseness of intellect, we cannot understand them-cannot either see their wisdum or feel its influence, without abstracting the mind from various opposing feelings and thoughts, and devoting all its powers undividedly to that purpose.
Let us, then, my brethren, on the present occasion approach the subject worthily, and we shall receive abundantly of divine light and love. In order to do this, the mind must be abstracted from the selfish pursuits of the world, we must feel ourselves now, as it were, from the world and in conimunion with the Lord. By abstraction from worldly influences we shall be enabled to see the truth; by conjunction with the Lord our hearts will be disposed to affectionately love the truth; and when this is the case, the truth will be full of life, and our lives will be renewed thereby.
The first thing that strikes our attention in the words under consideration, is the sweet affection which they breathe,—“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is surely the language of love-ardent love, ineffable love; it is divine love manifested to us. The advice is wisdom itself, the gracious manner of its communication is love itself, and to see it, and to feel it, is to have some idea of the ineffable mercy of its divine author. If we dwell on this passage with pure desires, we may feel far more than language can make evident.
" Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
In considering these words, we will, firstly, endeavour to see what doctrines they teach :
Secondly, the manner in which they are taught : and,
Thirdly, endeavour to point out the blessed effects of their exemplification in the life.
Firstly, with regard to the doctrine of the words. We find, in the first place, that the Lord is no tyrant, that he inflicts us not with Jabour or heavy burdens grievous to be borne ; for the express object of his invitation is, that those invited may be relieved from their labour, released from their burthens, and obtain rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We find, secondly, who are invited, namely, those who labour and are heavy laden; and who are they? any particular class of his children are there any who do not labour ? any that are not heavy laden? If there be, then, does our Lord make an election, and such are not invited; but if not, then is the invitation extended to all in the most express and unequivocal terms; extended to all without any exception; and if so, the doctrine of partial election is not true.
We can with the certainty of demonstration, thirdly, conclude, from wbat labour and burthen it is we are invited to be relieved. It is evidently not the burthen of our personal, family, and social duties : all these are things necessary and of divine appointment; they are not only necessary to the happiness of the great body politic, but of each individual; and experience fully proves that those who seek happiness or rest by ridding themselves of such duties do not find it. We certainly find, most of us, that we are not happy in the performance of our duties, we do not like the labour requisite to obtain the means of existence; the apparently necessary duties of life appear very burthensome to the body, and very often they oppress the mind with a weight of care and anxiety which seems insupportable; but let those who are thus unhappy, thus apparently oppressively burthened with the labour and the cares and anxieties of their avocations, be certain whether or not the rest of peace and happiness is to be obtained by getting rid of such burthens. They will find their afflictions not to consist in any necessary duty of life, but that the burthen is a mental one, and while this mental—this spiritual evil exists—this unhappy state of mind, nothing external can remove it. Happiness or rest depends on the spiritual state of the individual, and not on any external circumstances: he who is unhappy while he is engaged in active and useful duties, is unhappy while under the most favourable circumstances for the full enjoyment of life. If under such circumstances he cannot be