Imágenes de páginas

II; I proceed to explain- in some of its branches the' instruction to be deduced from

the history of Naamam

. 'i. The power of the Deity is conspicuously exalted, when he "accomplishes his gracious purposes by means which are undervalued or despised. Naaman for a time would not bear the idea that a river in the land of Israel, a land which he beheld with scor-n, a land which he probably had trampled down at the head of his victorious host, could be the: instrument by which God would remove his kpcosy. Does the New Testament supply nbfparallel? When Christ apjaeared; on feaæth 'to save mankind by his atoning death andhyvhis. sanctifying doctrine; all .the world took offence at him. To the Jews, lie was a, stumbling-block; to the Greeks, foolishness. - The Jews expected their Redeemer to manifest himself in worldly magnificence and grandeur; to place himself in triumph on the throne of David in Jerusalem; and to render the people of Israel the glory acid the dread of the whole earth. A SaViour who was found in the humblest rank of life; who disclaimed all human dignity arid power; ,who submitted to be treated as a malefactor, to be put to death upon the cross; they were too proud and too ignorant to acknowledge.

- - 7 b

Is not this the Carpenter, the son of Mary? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth (a)? The Greeks had fixed their hearts on the ostentatious subtleties which they denominated wisdom. They despised all doctrines which were not distinguished by intricate, resined, and disputatious learning, and decorated with a parade of eloquence. The simple,pure, and holy gospel of Christ they regarded as unworthy of the notice of informed and cultivated minds. Are humility and discernment universal among ourselves? Even in our own days, the divine authority of our crucified Lord is by many persons scornfully decried: and the righteous instructions and commandments which he delivered are represented by blind . and presumptuous sinners as possessing no. particular merit, and as in some respects hard, unreasonable, and pernicious. To such scoffers what shall be our reply? We reply to them in the words addressed by Christ to the unbelieving Jews: Wisdom is justified of all her children {fi). They who understand the Christian plan of salvation, they perceive it to be the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1. Observe, secondly, that if there be any blessing which you are desirous of obtaining

(a)%Mark, vi. 3. John, i. 46. (£) Luke, vii. 35.

R 2 from from the hand cf God, it must be sought in 'the manner which he enjoins. If you seek •but the smallest of his gifts; pursue the appointed track: turn not aside to the right hand nor to the left. Would you atchieve the greatest, even salvation? Seek it through that channel which he has ordained. You cannot attain It through any other. The ;inercy of God will be exercised, the grace .of God will be bestowed, in his own method, and m that only." If you will not accept his bounty in the way and under the qualifications which he proposes ; you never will obtain it: Could not the Omnipotent have removed the leprosy of Naaman by various means? But the waters of Jordan were the instrument which he thought fit to appoint. If Naaman had obstinately persevered in refusing to make use of them; he never would have been healed. He might have bathed ia Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus of which he so highly boasted: he might have consulted the most,skilful physicians: he might have applied the most celebrated remedies: he might have practised every method which his imagination could devise for the recovery of his health: and all would have been entirely in vain. He would have remained a distempered and a miserable 5 . obJect>

object, grievous to himself, and offensive to others: he would have gone down to his grave a leper as white as snow. If you wish to be saved; remember that you can be saved only through Christ. There is salvation in no other. And, if you would be savi-d through him; remember that he will be no Saviour to you, unless through the grace of God it be your constant study and endeavour to believe whajt he has commanded you to believe, and to practise what he has commanded you to practise. It is a very nffiicting and a very alarming truth, that in most congregations there are many professed Christians, who will not take Christianity as they find it in the Scriptures. Puffed up with selfrighteousness, or proudly confiding. in their own imaginations and reasonings, they shut their eyes against the plainest declarations bf Jesus Christ: and frame to themselves such ideas of the divine method of salvation as the gospel not only does not authorise,' but positively contradicts. Some men become arrogant: and daring enough to think that they have but little occasion for the atoning blood and mediation of Christ: that their lives have been in the main sufficiently good: and that if God were not to admit them into the glories of heaven, their exclusion would

R. 3 scared/ scarcely be less than partiality and injustice. Others, who have not so far lost the fense of their own radical guilt and deep unworthiness, take the gospel piecemeal. They would be surprised and offended, were any doubt expressed as to their reverence of the Scriptures. But what is the method in which such a person treats the Scriptures? Some parts he perceives to accord with the opinions which he has formed concerning the duties of religion. Those he mentions with respect. Other parts he discovers to be in a certain degree at variance with his private sentiments and prepossessions. Of them he speaks with less regard. "These things," he remarks, " may "prove thus, or they may not. It is a very "doubtful matter. It is probable that we ** misunderstand the passage; and that the ** true meaning is very different from that "which is commonly assumed." But towards other passages, which are absolutely irreconcir lable with some favourite prejudice of his own, he uses no ceremony or moderation. "This "position," he pronounces at once, "cannot "be. This precept is intolerable. To follow "this direction is impossible: and to attempt "to follow it would not only be ineffectual, "but would be to expose myself to continual "disadvantages, mortification, and ridicule.

« AnteriorContinuar »