Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

our

by the basest and most unrelenting of human of reverence for “God whom he hath not passions, and leagued with a time-serving seen.' priesthood who put every thing up to sale. While we contemplate with shame and

We have before us a striking and an en- sorrow the corruptions which disgraced the couraging instance of the power and influ- Jewish Church, is it possible to refrain from ence of one person of inflexible integrity, in lamenting the equally deplorable corruptions a corrupted state of society. He may singly which have disfigured the hallowed form of and successfully oppose a torrent of iniquity. Christianity? Did not all history attest the Vice is timid when directly attacked. — truth of it, who would believe that there was The wicked flee,” saith the wise man, a long period, not yet quite expired in some “ when no one pursueth, but the righteous parts of Christendom, and that there was a are bold as a lion." Irresistible is the force succession of priests, called Christians, who of truth and conscience. “ Is not my word presumed, for a piece of money, to grant a like as fire ? saith the Lord: and like a man indulgence to commit every species of hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" wickedness, which his corrupt heart might “The word of God is quick, and powerful, suggest, and for any given period, with comand sharper than any two-edged sword, plete impunity? Who could believe that piercing even to the dividing asunder of this priest, in consideration of something cast soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, into his treasury, would take upon him to and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents issue a pardon of the most atrocious offences, of the heart.” This is the weapon which and thereby screen the vilest of offenders

Master wielded, together with the from punishment; nay, confer the power of scourge of small cords.” Smitten at once pardoning on stone walls and lifeless altars ? in their persons and in their consciences, The murderer who smote his brother to death they retreat with shame from the field, ac- in the open street, in broad day, had but to knowledging, feeling the superiority of real step into the next church, and it stood always goodness. Thus then learn, O man, to arm open on purpose, to be protected from the thyself, and say, " the Lord God will help vengeance of the law. Who could believe me; therefore shall I not be confounded; that a present or bequest to the Church was therefore have I set my face like a flint, and considered as a full compensation for all the I know that I shall not be ashamed.” From crimes of a life of violence, and rapine, and the inexhaustible stores of Scripture draw blood, and as a fair passport to the kingdom thy resources for the warfare, and thou shalt of heaven? That such things should ever find thyself invincible. What has he to have existed is most wonderful; that they fear, who is conscious of the goodness of should have maintained their ground over all his cause, who employs “the sword of the Europe for many centuries together is most spirit, which is the word of God," and who wonderful. But the scandalous usurpation goes forth conquering and to conquer in full is hastening to a close. And with the downconfidence of divine conduct and support. fal of popery, may every remaining error in

It is evident from the censure pronounced the doctrine, discipline, and practice of the upon the violators of the temple, that their churches of the Reformation finally termitrade was every way unlawful. This trans- nate. action is recorded by all the four evangelists The disciples of our Lord possessed one with little if any variation. And by com- great preparatory qualification for the exerparing them together we shall find, that the cise of their future ministry, acquaintance abuse exposed and condemned was a horrid with the Scriptures of the Old Testament. mixture of impiety and dishonesty, of con- Struck with this display of their Master's tempt of God, and robbery of man. Not only zeal for the honour of God, and for the purity was “the house of prayer for all nations" of temple-worship, they call to rememabominably polluted by what fell from the brance à text from the Psalms of David, flocks and herds for sacrifice, but it was which appeared to them a prefiguration of literally perverted into “a den of thieves,” what had just passed. “ And his disciples who had entered into a wicked combination remembered that it was written, The zeal of to prey upon the public, by enhancing the thine house hath eaten me up." price of an article which was at once a neces- tend not to affirm that the words of the sary of life and of religion. These two Psalmist amount to a prediction of what enormities, however, generally go hand in Christ felt, and said, and did upon this occahand. If there is no fear of God before a sion. David unquestionably uttered his own man's eyes, his neighbour has but a slender feelings, though there was as yet no temple hold upon either his veracity or integrity, at Jerusalem dedicated to the most High when the falsehood may be uttered, or the God. But the expression amounts to this: fraud committed without danger of detection. Whatever affects the character and worship And, on the other hand, he who deliberately of Deity, I make my personal concern. “The practises deceit upon “his brother whom he zeal of thine house hath eaten me up:"arhath seen,” cannot have a very high degree dent regard for the honour of thy sanctuary,

We pre

like a secret flame pent up in my breast, must | beam out of thine own eye; and then sha: either have vent or consume me: and the thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of sequel is in the same spirit, "and the re- thy brother's eye." To which I subjoin the proaches of them that reproached thee are prayer of the Psalmist : “ Search me, O God, fallen upon me.” But though we may not and know my heart; try me, and know my have here a direct prophecy of a future event, thoughts; and see if there be any wicked we have a powerful assimilation between way in me, and lead me in the way everlasttwo most eminent personages, at very dis-ing.” tant periods, breathing one and the same 2. If such were the dignity which the Sa spirit, aiming at one and the same end: and of God assumed, and the authority which be this similitude partakes of the nature of exercised, while he tabernacled with den prophecy. And the whole leads us to this upon earth, attended by a few simple Galconclusion, that there may be predictions, leans, is it not a matter of very serious conresemblances, analogies in Scripture, hitherto cern to meditate on the majesty and importconcealed even from the wise and prudent, ance of his coming to judge the quick and to be hereafter unfolded, or perhaps reserved the dead? If his presence was thus awful for the instruction and delight of the king- and tremendous when armed with only a dom of heaven, when there shall be in Scrip- scourge of small cords," what must it be, ture nothing obscure, or hard to be under- when “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed stood. What a motive is this, now to listen from heaven with his mighty angels, in to the command of Christ. “ Search the flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have know not God, and that obey not the Gospel eternal life: and they are they which testify of our Lord Jesus Christ : who shall be of me."

punished with everlasting destruction from In this passage of our Lord's history, as in the presence of the Lord, and from the glory all Scripture, we have many things " profit- of his power.". In this judgment to come we able for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, are all equally interested, and we are furnishfor instruction in righteousness."

ed with a present rule of judgment in the 1. We have a humiliating view of the decisions of conscience and the dictates of treachery and deceitfulness of the human the word of God. Happy is that man who heart. The very persons who considered it understands, believes, and improves the iestias a crime to * eat bread with unwashen mony of those faithful and true witneses; hands,” could quietly digest the profanation who, knowing the terrors of the Lord, is perof the temple and of the worship of God. I suaded to flee from the wrath to come, and Such self-delusion do men practise every to lay hold on eternal life. “He that be day. They treat their own infirmities as lieveth on him is not condemned; but he that some mothers do very homely, wayward, or believeth not is condemned already ; because even deformed children, who not only show he hath not believed in the name of the only them all possible indulgence themselves, but begotten Son of God. And this is the coare offended if others adopt not their fond-demnation, that light is come into the world, ness and partiality. At the same time, the and men loved darkness rather than light, slightest blemish in the character of another because their deeds were evil. For every is quickly seen and severely censured. The one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither deception is frequently carried much farther. cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be A man shall actually discern and rigidly reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh condemn in his neighbour, the very fanlt to to the light, that his deeds may be made which he himself is notoriously addicted. manifest that they are wrought in God." The proud person can endure no one's pride These last words open a brighter prospect, but his own; the passionate stand astonished and disclose to us “ the Son of man coming at the transports of those who are hasty like in the clouds of heaven, with power and great themselves: and who are so severe upon glory, and sending his angels with a great hypocrisy as the hypocritical ? Every lesson sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather taught by the great Teacher has a foundation together his elect from the four winds, from in human corruption, and has a tendency to one end of heaven to the other." Then shall correct it, and this is an important one: he be "glorified in his saints, and admired in Judge not, that ye be not judged. For all them that believe.". Thus are good and with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be evil, death and life, the blessing and the judged: and with what measure ye mete, it curse set before us. Thus all that is terrible shall be measured to you again. And why in justice, armed with almighty power, adbeholdest thou the mote that is in thy bro-dresses itself to our fear, and all that is ther's eye, but considerest not the beam that amiable and alluring in unbounded goodness is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say and love, expands to our hope, "an inberitto thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out ance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that of thine eye:

and, behold, a beam is in thine fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the who are kept by the power of God, through

[ocr errors]

faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in , ing zeal, as Christ predicted concerning the last time.” May we this day know him them. “ They shall put you out of the synaas a Saviour whom we must in that day gogues: yea, the time cometh, that whomeet as a judge. May we have wisdom to soever killeth you will think that he doeth comply with the counsel of him, as a friend, God service.' Thus the hard measure whom it is certain and utter ruin to encoun- which they would have meted to others, was ter as an adversary. Behold, now is the measured out unto themselves. But there accepted time: behold, now is the day of is a zeal, as well as a doctrine, “which is salvation."

according to godliness:" a pure and lambent 3. Take care, frai), ignorant, erring man, flame of love to God, which admits of no how thou proposest to thyself the purifier of mixture of human passion, which views the temple as a pattern of zeal. It is every object through the medium of Deity, good," saith the apostle, “to be zealously and aims but at one end, that God may be atfected always in a good thing;" but unless glorified. This excellent spirit will never zeal be directed by prudence and knowledge, think of doing God service, by showing unit may produce incredible mischief. There kindness or cruelty to man. But it is so is a zeal about trifles, which diverts the rare and so easily counterfeited, that even mind from objects of serious importance. its emotions are to be regarded with a jeaBattles have been fought, and volumes writ- lous eye, for there is no small danger of a ten to determine the posture in which the man's mistaking the ebullitions of his own sacrament ought to be received, and the mind, for the impulse of God's spirit, espehabit to be worn by the priest in reading the cially in cases where guilt is to be conservice of the church. While contention demned and vengeance executed. David about such non-essentials waxed hot, the spi- made a wise and happy choice, when conrit of piety and prayer grew cold. There is strained to submit to one of three great a zeal which is the offspring of prejudice evils. "I am in a great strait;” said he, and habit. It actuated Saul of Tarsus, when - Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, “ he made havock of the church, entering (for his mercies are great) and let me not into every house, and haling men and wo- fall into the hand of man." I like not to see men, committed them to prison;" and while the scourge, the sword, the torch voluntarily he yet breathed out threatenings and assumed by one of like passions with myself. slaughter against the disciples of the Lord:” In vehement attempts to reform abuse, I and when, speaking of himself, he says: “I should tremble to think of their degeneratverily thought with myself, that I ought to ing into a rage to destroy. The treinendous do many things contrary to the name of attribute of vengeance, God will contide to Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did no hands but his own, but he permits man to in Jerusalem; and many of the saints did I carry the imitation of divine mercy as far as shut up in prison, having received authority he can. " Dearly beloved, avenge not yourfrom the chief priests: and when they were selves, but rather give place unto wrath : for put to death, I gave my voice against them. it is written, vengeance is mine: I will reAnd I punished them oft in every syna- | pay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine gogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give and being exceedingly mad against them, him drink: for in so doing thou shall heap I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome, There is a vainglorious, ostentatious zeal, of evil, but overcome evil with good.” which cannot bear to pass unobserved, 4. Mark the power of conscience, and which must be fed with public attention and learn to secure its testimony in your favour. admiration. Such is that which inspired What made cowards of those gross and bruJehu, when he exultingly challenged ap- tal men? An ill conscience. "What chased plause: "Come with me and see my zeal away a multitude before one man? An ill for the Lord." There is a malignant, into- conscience. What overawed a rapacious lerant zeal, which pities not, spares not. priesthood and a licentious populace? An Even the disciples James and John were ill conscience. Conscience drove our guilty under its influence, when a village of the progenitors to seek concealment from the Samaritans refused to receive their Master, presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees

Lord,” say they, “wilt thou that we com- of the garden.” Conscience sent out murdermand fire to come down from heaven, and ous Cain “a fugitive and a vagabond in the consume them, even as Elias did ?" and it earth," under the dire apprehension that received a just and severe reprehension from every one who found him would slay him. the mouth of Christ: “He turned, and re- It is conscience that dictates the unavailing buked them, and said, Ye know not what cry to despairing wretches, who in bittermanner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of ness exclaim “ to the mountains and rocks, man is not come to destroy men's lives, but fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him to save them.” The disciples themselves that sitteth on the throne, and from the became the victims of this fiery, exterminat- / wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his

G

wrath is come; and who shall be able to perience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamstand ?" But what, in opposition to this, is ed; because the love of God is shed abroad the source of a Christian's composure and in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is satisfaction? ** Our rejoicing is this, the given unto us.” testimony of our conscience, that in simpli Though the buyers and sellers were abashcity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly ed and put to flight, some of the consequetwisdom, but by the grace of God, we have tial cavillers, who are to be found in every had our conversation in the world.” Herein age, and in every society, maintain the ground, consisted the triumph of the apostle over and call for the commission under which den the fear of the Roman governor, and over sus acted. “Then answered the Jews, and the oratory of Tertullus: “Herein do I said unto him, what sign showest thou unto exercise myself

, to have always a conscience us, seeing that thou doest these things!" void of offence toward God and toward | This furnished him with a fair occasion of men.” And this constitutes the triumph and bringing forward the peculiar and distinthe security of every believer in Christ guishing doctrine of his religion, the resurJesus: “ Being justified by faith, we have rection of the body, which was soon to be peace with God, through our Lord Jesus exemplified in his own resurrection from the Christ: by whom also we have access by dead, as “ the first fruits of them that sleep." faith into this grace wherein we stand, and This will accordingly constitute the subject rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And of the next Lecture. “Blessed and holy is not only so, but we glory in tribulations he that hath part in the first resurrection, on also: knowing that tribulation worketh pa- such the second death hath no power; but tience; and patience, experience; and ex- they shall be priests of God and of Christ."

HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.

LECTURE CXXV I.

Then angwered the Jews, and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thon doest these

things ? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it op Then said the

Jews, Forly and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days! but he spake of the temple of his body. When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now, when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast-day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all' men: and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in manJohn ü. 18—25.

The actions and events of Christ's life will I lay to the line, and righteousnes to are the basis on which the truth and im- the plummet.” Here is the design of the so portance of his doctrine rest, and the solidity vereign Architect, not sleeping like many a of the foundation must be estimated from the beautiful human plan in the portfolio of the structure which it supports. The foundation artist, never to be realized, but quick with the of a building lies buried under ground, and spirit of life, already executed " in the purcannot be examined by the eye; but when pose of him who worketh all things after the we behold a stately, lofty, and venerable pile, counsel of his own will,” and to arise, in due which has withstood the attack of ages, and time, the wonder of angels and of men. This which still presents undiminished beauty and building of God at length began to appear strength, we justly reason from what we do and to ascend. But it accorded not with husee to what we do not; and we feel ourselves man ideas of grandeur and magnificence. constrained to applaud the excellency of the The very depositaries of the original design, design, from the perfectness and durability were the first to resist the completion of it, of the execution. ""Behold,” saith the Lord because it justified not their prejudices and God, by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, more prepossessions. Their opposition, however, than seven centuries before the fabric began served only more illustriously to display the to appear, behold, I lay in Zion for a found- manifold wisdom and goodness of God, and ation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cor- to expose the weakness and folly of man, ner stone, a sure foundation: he that be- Had the edifice been of man's devising and lieveth shall not make haste. Judgment also rearing, it could not have stood * the sash

66

ing of a tide,” for the “foolish man built his cuted judgment: and so the plague was house upon the sand: and the rain descend- stayed. And that was counted unto him ed, and the floods came, and the winds blew, for righteousness unto all generations for and beat upon that house; and it fell: and evermore.” Did not the sign, in the present great was the fall of it.” But infinite Wis- instance, appear in the act ? Did not the dom founded the fabric of Christianity upon great Reformer authenticate his powers by a rock. The rains have descended, the floods the manner in which he exercised them, have come, the winds have blown and beaten and by the effect which they produced ? upon this house, but it has not fallen; for it is Did the guilty resist ? Did they call in founded upon a rock.

question his authority? Did they drag In the gospel history we behold the him, in their turn, to the tribunal? No, groundfloor or platform of the Christian re- they feel his ascendant, and shrink from ligion. It principally consists in a narration his rebuke. Who, then, call for a sign? of plain, unadorned facts, well authenticated Not the offenders; they had received suffiindeed, but recommended by no artificial cient evidence: not the populace, for they polish, and deriving all their importance and must have been equally overawed and coneffect from their own native truth and ex- founded. The rulers of the Jews hearing cellence; serving, nevertheless, as a solid of this singular transaction, some of them, support to the precepts, the promises, the perhaps, being on the spot, and eye-witnesses predictions, the doctrines, the consolations of what passed, jealous of their honour, and of our most holy faith. Take, for instance, considering their prerogative as invaded; the event which our blessed Lord, in the they, as men having authority, demanded a passage which has now been read, foretold sign. From their general character, and concerning himself, namely, that the temple from the inefficacy of this and other signs of his body should be destroyed, and in three afterwards given, we know from what modays raised up again. Now when this event tive the present demand was made; not in actually did take place, not only was the ve- the spirit of meekness, not from the love of racity of Jesus, as a prophet, completely es- truth, not to obtain conviction; but in the tablished, but a foundation was laid of suffi- hope of finding occasion to censure, or of cient strength to sustain the whole weight putting the assumed authority of Christ to a of the Christian's hope, of a resurrection to test which it could not stand. life and immortality. We shall, therefore, A sign is given them, and a most refirst consider this all-important doctrine, in markable one it is. “ Jesus answered and the history which is the foundation of it, and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in then in the superstructure reared.

three days I will raise it up." Whatever In purifying the temple from the abomi- construction the Jews might put on these nations practised in it, Jesus had undoubt- words, what Jesus intended to convey is edly assumed the authority of one invested obvious, and it was in every point justified in the office of magistracy, or with the cha- by the corresponding event. He who is racter of a prophet. That he was no ma- simplicity and truth itself could have no degistrate all men knew, and he never pre- sign to mislead. The action and emphasis tended to it. To have acted in this capacity with which he spake, clearly pointed out the might have been considered an usurpation. object. The general attention had just been As a prophet, then, and only as a prophet, directed to a temple made with hands, a could he appear in the character of a public temple wickedly profaned by an abominable reformer. But it is requisite that a prophet traffic, which was connived at by its proshould produce his credentials. This sug- fessed conservators, and whose honour had gested the demand: "What sign showest been so nobly vindicated by a stranger. That thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these stranger had already attracted general nothings?" which plainly implied, that one tice by the singularity of his speech and deacting under a commission from heaven, was portment; every eye was fixed upon him, obliged to support his claim by a sign from his every attitude and gesture were observed, heaven. But is there need to produce su- and these plainly indicated that the temple pernatural testimony to a right to reform to be destroyed, and raised up in three days, known, public, flagrant abuse? Did not could not be the venerable pile in the court their own history furnish a noted instance of which this conversation passed. When of a pivate person's assuming the sword of he afterwards foretold the approaching dejustice, and acting at once as judge and exe-struction of that temple, he expressed himcutioner, in the case of open and gross vio- self in terms not liable to misapprehension. lation of the divine law; that of Phinehas, “ As he went out of the temple, one of his who was but the grandson of Aaron the priest? disciples saith unto him, Master, see what He not only became liable to no censure, manner of stones and what buildings are but obtained a deathless name, and an ho- here! And Jesus answering, said unto him, nourable office for his seasonable interposi- Seest thou these great buildings? there shall tion. “ Then stood up Phinehas, and exe- not be left one stone upon another, that shall

« AnteriorContinuar »