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in his heart, God's Name on his lips, God's kingdom i his hopes; this is the view it gives us of a Christian. What simplicity! what grandeur ! and what definiteness! how one and the same, how consistent with all that we read of him elsewhere in Scripture !
Alas ! my brethren, so it is, when you have subjects like this dwelt upon, too many of you are impatient of them, and wish to hurry past them, and are eager to be reminded by the preacher in the same breath with his presenting them, nay, you remind yourselves, that you of this day can have no immediate interest in them,—that times are changed. Times are changed, I grant; but without going on to the question of the obligation now of such a profession of the Gospel as I have been describing, do persuade yourselves, I intreat you, to contemplate the picture. Do not shut your eyes, do not revolt from it, do not fret under it, but look at it. Bear to look at the Christianity of the Bible ; bear to contemplate the idea of a Christian, traced by inspiration, without gloss, or comment, or tradition of man. Bear to hear read to you a number of texts; texts which might be multiplied seven-fold ; texts which can be confronted by no others; which are no partial selections, but a specimen of the whole of the New Testament. Before you go forward to the question, “How do they affect us, must we obey them, or why need we not ?" prevail on yourselves to realize the idea of a Scriptural Christian, and the fact that the first Christians really answered to it. Granting yoù have to apply and modify the pattern given you, before you can use it yourselves, which I am not denying, yet after all, your pattern it is ; you have no other pattern of a Christian anywhere. No other view of Christianity is given you in Scripture. If Scripture is used, you must begin with accepting that pattern ; how can you apply what you will not study? Study what a Bible Christian is ; be silent over it; pray for grace to comprehend it, to accept it.
And next ask yourselves this question, and be honest in your answer. This model of a Christian, though not commanding your literal imitation, still is it not the very model which has been fulfilled in others in every age since the New Testament was written? You will ask me in whom? I am loth to say; I have reason to ask you to be honest and candid; for so it is, as if from consciousness of the fact, and dislike to have it urged upon us, we and our forefathers have been accustomed to scorn and ridicule these faithful obedient persons, and, in our Saviour's very words, to “ cast out their name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.” But, if the truth must be spoken, what are the humble monk, and the holy nun, and other regulars, as they are called, but Christians after the very pattern given us in Scripture ? What have they done but this,-continue in the world the Christianity of the Bible? Did our Saviour come on earth suddenly, as He will one day visit, in whom would He see the features of the Christians He and His Apostles left behind them, but in them? Who but these give up home and friends, wealth and ease, good name and liberty of will, for the kingdom of heaven? Where shall we find the image of St. Paul, or St. Peter, or St. John, or of Mary the mother of Mark, or of Philip's daughters, but in those who, whether they remain in seclusion, or are sent over the earth, have calm faces, and sweet plaintive voices, and spare frames, and gentle manners, and hearts weaned from the world, and wills subdued; and for their meekness meet with insult, and for their purity with slander, and for their gravity with suspicion, and for their courage with cruelty; yet meet with Christ everywhere,—Christ, their all-sufficient, everlasting portion, to make up to them, both here and hereafter, all they suffer, all they dare, for His Name's sake?
And, lastly, apply this pattern to yourselves; for there only will you have power to apply it rightly. You know very well, most of us know it too well, that such precepts and examples do not directly apply to every one of us. We are not severally bound to give up the world by so literal a surrender. The case of Ananias and Sapphira is enough to show us this. Their sin lay in professing to do what they need not have done ; in making pretences to a voluntary deprivation which they did not execute. They kept back part of the price of the land which they made a show of giving up; and St. Peter urged it against them. “ Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power ?” A most awful warning to every one, not to affect greater sanctity or self-denial than he attempts; but a proof withal, that those great surrenders which Scripture speaks of, are not incumbent on all Christians. They could not be voluntary if they were duties; they could not be meritorious if they were not voluntary. But though they are not duties to all, they may be duties to you ; and though they are voluntary, you may have a call to them. It may be your duty to pursue merit. And whether it is you cannot learn, till first you have fairly surrendered your mind to the contemplation of that Christianity which Scripture delineates. After all, it may prove to be your duty to remain as others, and you may serve Him best and most acceptably in a secular life. But you cannot tell till you inquire ; enough do we hear of private judgment in matters of doctrine; alas! that we will not exercise it where it is to a certain extent allowable and religious ; in points, not public and ecclesiastical, and eternal and independent of ourselves, but personal,—in the choice of life, in matters of duty!
SERMON X X.
WISDOM AND INNOCENCE.
MATTHEW x. 16.-“ Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst
of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
SHEEP are defenceless, wolves are strong and fierce. How prompt, how frightful, how resistless, how decisive, would be the attack of a troop of wolves on a few straggling sheep which fell in with them! and how lively, then, is the image which our Lord uses, to express the treatment which His followers were to receive from the world! He Himself was the great Exemplar of all such sufferings. When He was in the hands of His enemies, surrounded by a mad multitude, gazed on by relentless enemies, jeered at, struck, hurried along, tormented by rude soldiers, and at length nailed to the cross, what was He emphatically but a sheep among wolves? “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He ope; eth not His mouth.” And what He foretold of His follo ers, that the Psalmist had declared of them at an earlier time, and His Apostle applies it to them on its fulfilment. “As it is written," says St. Paul, “For Thy sake we are killed all the day long ; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."* Such was the Church of Christ in its beginnings, and such has it been in every age in proportion to its purity. The purer it has been, the more defenceless; whenever it has been pure, it has, in one way or another, been defenceless. The less worldly it has been, and the more it has cultivated its proper gifts, and the less it has relied upon sword and bow, chariots and horses, and arm of man, the more it has been exposed to ill-usage; the more it has invited oppression, the more it has irritated the proud and powerful. This, I say, is exemplified in every age. Seasons of peace, indeed, have been vouchsafed to it from the first, and in the most fearful times; but not an age of peace. A reign of temporal peace it can hardly enjoy, except under the reign of corruption, and in an age of faithlessness. Peace and rest are future.
* Rom. viii. 36.
Now, then, what is it natural to suppose will be the conduct of those who are helpless and persecuted, as the Holy Spouse of Christ ? Pain and hardship and disrepute are pleasant to no man; and, though they are to be gloried in when they are undergone, yet they will rather, if possible, be shunned or averted. Such avoidance is sanctioned, nay, commanded by our Lord. When trials are inevitable, we must cheerfully bear them; but when they can be avoided without sin, we ought to prevent them. But how were Christians to prevent them when they might not fight? I answer, they were allowed the arms, that is, the arts, of the defenceless. Even the inferior animals will teach us how wonderfully the Creator has compensated to the weak their want of strength, by giving them other qualities which may avail in their struggle with the strong. They have the gift of fleetness; or they have a certain make and colour; or certain habits of living; or some natural cunning, which enables them either to elude or even to destroy their enemies. Brute force is countervailed by flight, brute passion by prudence and artifice. Instances of a similar kind occur in our own race. Those nations which are destitute of