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diminishing, as Dr.Clarke observes, expressly and in particular, “ that which is the whole foundation of the Romish superstition and will worship” to this great object of them.
When one of Jesus's disciples, whom he called to be his immediate follower, said to him, “Lord suffer me first to go and bury my father; meaning that, after the death of his aged father, he should have leisure from his secular affairs to give Jesus constant attendance ; our Lord answered, Let the spiritually dead, thy kinsfolk, perform this office : “ do thou go and preach the kingdom of God,” as I now call thee. This present opportunity is the fit one for that purpose, while I continue on carth to afford thee instruction and support, and to prepare thee for the times of persecution which will soon follow. Let therefore the superior duty take place of the subordinate.
When another disciple and occasional follower was called to a strict personal attendance, he answered, I d will follow thee, Lord; but suffer me first to employ some space of time in bidding farewell to those of my house. Jesus answered, No man who has engaged in the ministry, as thou hast, and again desires to pursue his secular concerns, is a fit instrument for propagating my gospel. The present season requires that my followers should detach themselves from worldly and domestic objects, if they aim at perfection. Whoever among them casts a longing eye on these, is like one who puts his hand to the plough
h Serm. cxstr. See also Tillotson on 1 Pet. ii. 21. Serm. cxxxvii. vol. ij. fol. 210. c Luke ix. 59, 60. and p. p. dib. 61, 62
and · looks back, neglecting the work on which he should be intent.
When our Lord commissioned the twelve to preach, he foretold that his doctrine would create divisions, and that these divisions would subsist even among the nearest relations. Upon which he added, " Hef that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”
He mentions these as naturally entitled to our affection in the highest degree ; and observes that even these must yield to love of him, to zeal for his gospel, and to the hope of the heavenly reward which was set before his disciples.
The same sentiment is more strongly expressed by him in another place. “ If 8 any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also ; he cannot be my disciple.” If any man hazard not the loss of these, postpone not the consideration of them, love them not in a less degree than the favour of God and the interests of my religion ; let him not be one of my followers, who are the h salt of the earth,
• See Hesiod, opera & dies, 443, 4, 5, who says that a good plough, man is one
"Ος κ' έργο μελετών θείαν αυλακ' ελαύνοι,
Θυμόν έχαν. .
His mind upon his work,
. Luke xiv. 26, See p.i. c. i. sect. 9. p. 39. Luke xiv. 34.
who must benefit others by their instruction and example, and who, if they are offended in the approaching time of trial, will fall away to perdition. In this passage life alone is supposed to be dearer than the closest human relations.
Though our Lord was a prophet mighty in word and deed, he was not ashamed of his mean kinsfolk at Nazareth : and though his fellow citizens rejected him, and even compelled him to preserve his life by miracle, yet he a second time attempted their conversion : such attention did he shew not only to the great object of his ministry in general, but to the ties of consanguinity in particular.
When Jesus declined attending the feast of * tabernacles in company with his brethren, no part of the transaction shews want of mutual love. Though his kinsmen withheld their belief from him, they acknowledged his miraculous power, and exhorted him to display it still more publicly at Jerusalem. But in the work of his ministry, he disregarded their suggestion, acted as prudence required, and mildly assigned the reasons of his conduct.
The last act of natural affection in Jesus's life is the most striking. While he hung on the cross, his mother in company with some other women stood near it, and fulfilled Simeon's prophecy that a sword should 'pierce through her soul. At this time, when his injunction would be most deeply impressed, he shewed true filial piety by saying to the disciple whom he loved for his peculiar sweetness and benignity of disposition, “Behold " thy mother ;” one whom thou art to treat with the same honour and tenderness, as if she really stood in that relation to thee.
* John vü.2-10.
i Luke iv. 16, &c. Matt. xiii. 54, &c. Luke 11.35.
OF OUR LORD'S FRIENDSHIPS.
IN such a disposition as our Lord possessed, we may naturally expect to find a readiness to approve and love the amiable and excellent qualities of others. A heart in which there was so much sensibility and affection could not but be susceptible of friendship.
Every man is more or less inclined to this pleasing and
generous attachment, which many moralists have placed in the number of a virtuous habits. And it is very observable throughout our Lord's discourses, that he always supposes human nature to be what we actually find it. In the following words a love of preference is mentioned as common among mankind.
. “If you love them who love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your friends only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so ?” “ Which d of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves: for a friend of mine on a journey is coine unto me, and I have nothing to set before him ?” In another place the order of enumeration is remarkable : “ Call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours.” It is likewise mentioned by Christ as a very aggravating circumstance, that, in the season of persecution, his disciples should be betrayed both by relations and friends. Again : his remark is, “Greater I love than this hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It must be allowed that in these
m John xix. 27. a piría nox“ Tas ifis dozei sivet. Arist. Eudem. viii, 1. p. 268. Du Val. • Matt. v. 46, 47. pirks, which explains v. 46. is the true reading and not essa@g's, which seems a correction from the Vulgate. Cod. Brix. in Blanchini has amnicos.
Luke xi, 5, 6: See also c. xv. 6, 9, 29.
passages the existence of friendship, and the disposition of men towards it, are plainly supposed.
But it is expressly mentioned that friendship had a place in our Lord's breast, where every thing resided that was truly laudable and good. Lazarus, and bis two sisters Martha and Mary, lived at Bethany near Jerusalem. The circumstances concerning them, related in the gospels, are worthy of our attention. . On one ' occasion, Martha was commendably intent on a hospitable reception of our Lord ; but Mary was stiil more commendably employed in sitting at Jesus's feet and hearing his words. After Lazarus's death, we read that many of the Jews affectionately visited these sisters to k comfort them for the loss of their brother. On Jesus's approach to Bethany, Martha respectfully went forth to meet him ; and, a fit occasion offering, expressed a firm belief in his
e Luke xiv. 12 f Madèria's Gugg srcīs or is wanting in Beza's ms. and Cod. Lat. See also Cod. Vercell. in Blanchini. It seems a gloss on the foregoing clause. But see Luke xxi. 16. & Luke xxi. 16. » John xv. 13. i Like x. 38–42. * John xi. 19–32.