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*' others sulleAly refusing to join in it?

"And when to engage their fancies and

"meet their humours, the fictitious repre

"fentation of some sorrowful circumstance

"was begun; have you not marked the

"unconquerable perverseness with which

"they withheld their attention? Thus dif

"satisfied, thus obstinate, thus unconquer

*' ably perverse, have you proved your

"selves in your proceedings with respect to

"John the Baptist and myself. God, soli

"citous that you should be converted and

"live, has pressed upon your acceptance

"the only method of salvation, salvation

"through my blood, the blood of the Lamb

"of God which taketh away the sins of

** the world, by two messengers, widely

-" differing each from the other in appear

"ance and in habits of life. John the Bap

"tlji came neither eating breads nor drinking

"wine. He came not in soft clothing, and

"living delicately. He disclaimed not

"merely regal mansions, but the customary

"abodes of men. His raiment was fack

■* cloth, of camels' hair: his meat locusts and

"wild honey: from his birth he tasted not

"wine nor strong drink. His dwelling

•" was in the wilderness: and in the wilder


"ness he sliewed ' himself to Israel under - «• the ** the austere semblance of Elijah. How *' were you impressed by his solemn de** meanour, his abstraction from the world, <s his unbending self-denial? Under all "these characteristic marks did you acknowledge the preacher of Repentance? Ye ** said, He hath a Devil. You exclaimed, "He is mad: he renounces the common "comforts of life: he is a morose and su*' perstitious fanatic. He is under the de*' luding power of an evil spirit. Let him "preach to the desert: regard him not. "Then came the Son of Man eating and "drinking. Then began I my ministry "among you: then proclaimed I grace "and life eternal. As the messenger and *' the author of peace and joy and endur"ing happiness, I have shunned all tokens "of austerity. I have adopted no pecu"liarity of apparel. I have frequented "your cities. I have not refused invita"tions 'to your houses. I have gratefully "accepted and temperately used the ordi"nary gifts of God. I have studied not "to shock your prejudices by unnecessary "rigour. I have endeavoured that my "private deportment as well as my public "preaching should conciliate you to faith "and holiness. What has been the confe

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"quence? How have you received me? "Behold a gluttonous man and a nvinebibber; "a friend of publicans and finners. Those "very circumstances in my conduct which "were calculated for the purpose of winning your regard, and diffusing instruction with greater efficacy, you have twisted into pretexts for calumny, and "urge as reasons for denying me to be the "Messiah. This Jesus of Nazareth, you "exclaim, maintains not that strictness of "manners, that severe sanctity of conduct, *' which become a prophet, and are indis'* pensable in one who announces himself "as more than a prophet. He is a fre*l quenter of feasts, and from motives, we "doubt not, of sensuality. The man is a "sinner, and a companion of sinners; an "associate even of the unhallowed publicans, "whom every Israelite of common piety "abhors, whom the Son of God would in"stantaneoufly drive from his presence. "Thus ye revile and reject my forerunner "and myself. From opposite proceedings "you equally deduce pretences for slander, "and excuses for hardness of heart. No "messenger can be acceptable to those, who "are determined to shut their ears to the "message. No preacher can render reli

"gion pleasing to men who wilfully aban"don themselves to .the power of sin. But "does your refusal to hearken and obey "shake the truth of our doctrines and de'* nunciations ?. What if you do not be"lieve? Shall your unbelief make the faiths "of God of none effect? No. Wisdom is "justified of her children. They who ** labour to prepare their hearts for the re"ception of religion, shall glorify religion. "Salvation through a crucified Redeemer, "which to your pride is a stumbling block, "and to the pride of others shall appear *' foolishness; (hall be welcomed by the "humble and contrite as the power of God "and the wisdom of God. They who "are willing to hearken with the teachable "spirit of children to the instruction of "heavenly wisdom, and with the affec"tionate earnestness of children shall con'" form their ways to her commands; they ** shall adore the length and breadth and "depth and height of the unsearchable riches "of Christ: they shall justify the ways of "their heavenly Father, who, while he "hideth his counsels from those who in ** their own sight are wise and prudent, ** revealeth them unto babes." Vol. II. E , II. How

II. How shall we apply to our edification the lessons which this portion of holy Scripture conveys?

First: Let us consider it as a very unfavourable symptom of tbe state of our hearts, if we discover in ourselves a propensity tocavil at religion; and to impute blame to those persons, whether ministers of the Gospel, or individuals among the laity, who by holiness of life and conversation, conspicuously demonstrate the power of faith. Since the day when Christianity was promulgated, to raise false accusations against the servants of God has been a distinguishing feature in the conduct of the wicked. Some of the calumnies disseminated by the Jews against John the Baptist and against our Lord have recently been produced. From other passages in the Gospels we learn that the enemies of Christ seized every specious occasion of loading him with opprobrious names and imputations; of representing him as an impostor, as a mover of sedition, as a conspirator against Cæsar, as a defpifer of the Sabbath, as a blasphemer of the temple, as a confederate with Beelzebub. Spontaneously vanquished for a season by lies and, the father of lies, Jesus Christ gives up the ghost. Malignity pursues his Apostles.


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