« AnteriorContinuar »
past finding out!" without feeling that it would be absolutely impossible, if he were to devote all that he has ten thousand times over, body, soul, and spirit, to make any return for all the benefits that God hath done unto his soul; and that, as being unable to appreciate the greatness of them, his bounden duty is to throw himself upon the love of God, imploring him to give him a due sense of all his mercies, and to make his heart unfeignedly thankful for them, and thus to dispose and enable him to show forth his praise 'by giving himself up to his service, and by walking before him in holiness and righteousness all his days.'
By these considerations, more especially, would we urge you, my brethren, to give yourselves unto God. The Christian minister would rejoice to use the motives of persuasion, and to set before you the mercies rather than have recourse to the terrors of the Lord. And these mercies he would employ in beseeching you. Not that the minister of Christ should withhold the terrors, or lay aside the tone of authority, for there are cases where it is his bounden duty to "save with fear," and to proclaim the righteous vengeance of God; and this as much upon the authority of his Master, as when he speaks in the tone and language of reconciliation. But if with the Master he serves severity is a strange work, so should it be with the servant, never used but from necessity, never adopted but with sorrow,
5 Rom. xi. 33.
6 Jude 23.
and in the hope and prayer that it may lead to peace and joy.
But, after all, he must remind you that arguments drawn from mercies, from gospel mercies, are arguments addressed to believers, to those who have embraced and are enjoying them; that none others can really and truly feel the force of them; and that to them only, in strict propriety, could the appeal before us be applied. But this does not prevent him from addressing others, and setting these mercies before them; at the same time earnestly imploring them to consider what they are doing in rejecting them, and affectionately beseeching them not to allow these mercies and this grace to be offered to them in vain. There is,
in this sense, an indescribable awfulness connected with the delivery of the gospel message of pardon and love, when the minister of Christ knows that every offer he makes must be registered as accepted or refused. And remember, my dear brethren, that outwardly, at least, you have made profession. You have been baptized into Christ; and in that baptism, the dedication of yourselves to God, which it is the object of this portion of Scripture to enforce, was made for you; and, I presume, that in after life the greater part of those whom I address, have made it for themselves. To such then, as far as this profession goes, I am authorized to say, "I beseech you by the mercies of God." These you say you have embraced; examine yourselves well
7 2 Cor. vi. 1.
whether you have done so, and if you have not, do it without delay. And then I would "beseech you by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." And to that entreaty I would add my prayer, that "the very God of peace may sanctify you wholly, and that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."8
8 1 Thess. v. 23.
MARK ii. 3.
AND THEY COME UNTO HIM, BRINGING ONE SICK OF THE PALSY, WHICH WAS BORNE OF FOUR.
THE chapter from which my text is taken opens with the account of one of the most remarkable of our Lord's miraculous cures; and it is recorded by the evangelists Matthew and Luke, with little variation. I propose to make this miracle the subject for our present consideration, following the order of the narrative, and drawing from the several parts of it such inferences as may appear likely to be profitable to our souls; earnestly desiring that the Holy Spirit may apply them and lead us who, by nature, are sick, even unto death, to Him who can forgive all our iniquities, and heal all our diseases, and enable us poor sinners to rise from the bed of our soul's infirmity, and go forth to serve and praise the Lord, and glorify Him for all his wondrous mercies, both with our bodies and our spirits which are his.
Our Lord, we learn in the preceding chapter, had healed the leper who approached him with
these words of confidence, " Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean;" on which occasion he received from him that gracious answer, which he returned, and ever will return to those who come to him in the same confiding way, "I will, be thou clean." He had charged him to comply with all the requirements of the Mosaic law, and not to make known his cure ; evidently in the fear, lest, in the early stage of his ministry, an opposition might be raised against him, which would impede his progress, and not from any dread of persecution on his own account; from which he never thought of shrinking when the proper time for enduring it arrived; but the work of instruction which was committed to him being finished, was ready to deliver himself up into the hands of sinful men, to be offered up a willing sacrifice for the sins of mankind. The restored man, however, whether from feelings of joy which he could not restrain, or from a mistaken sense of gratitude, which would have been better proved by observing what Jesus had enjoined him, began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more enter into the city, but was without in desert places, where the people nevertheless came to him from every quarter, and where he was probably enabled to instruct them with less danger of tumult and opposition.
After an interval of some days he returns to Capernaum, and crowds immediately flock to the
' Mark i. 40.
2 Ver. 44.
3 Ver. 45.