« AnteriorContinuar »
doctrine of our teacher. Ask an exact philosopher, What is conscience? He will tell you; It is a man's opinion of his own actions. Ask him, What is hell ? He will tell you; It is a state of future punishment. Ask him, what repentance is. He will tell you : It is a sorrow for sin. All true; all just; all exact; but all as cold as clear, like a sharp frosty night. Jesus Christ will inform you, that repentance is the return of an undutiful profligate, home to his kind, though insulted Father. Conscience is the worm that never dieth ;" hell is “ the fire that never shall be quenched.” “The words that I speak unto you," said he," they are spirit, and they are life.” Hence thousands join with the officers in the text, and say, “Never man spake like this man.”
Finally, consider one excellence more in the instructions given us by our Saviour; they were all confirmed by his own example. Many teachers of mankind Trave been mere teachers of words, and their lives have falsified all they said. What a sad course of life : to render truth probable by our preaching, and doubtful by our practice : to describe the path to heaven on the Lord's day, and to tread out the road to hell all the week! Éven the best of men have exemplified only a part of their doctrine : such are the imperfections of the most wise and willing ! But Jesus Christ exemplified every part of religion. Did he teach piety? He was pious himself, and paid his heavenly Father the first and highest adoration. Did he teach us to love our neighbours? And who ever carried his love to others so far as our Divine Instructer ? Did he teach us to love ourselves ? He showed us in his own person what a wise and well directed self-love is. In short, he neve er did any thing to render his religion suspected; and every action of his life tended to establish it. His vile disciple, Judas, who betrayed him, and whom he kept in his family perhaps for the sake of submitting his most private actions to examination, Judas, I say, hanged himself for betraying innocent blood. It is the privilege of Jesus Christ alone to stand
6. Which of you,” friends or enemies, you strangers, or you of my own family, which of you convinceth me of sin ?
up, and say
Blessed Lord ! Far be it from us to blame any one action of thy life! We admire the whole, we subscribe to the description of one, who thoroughly knew thee, and say with him, Thou art “ the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth :” full of truth, and endowed with the most graceful manner of uttering it. No,“ never man spake like this man.
Sum up all these excellences; a perfect knowledge of all truth in every part; a wise choice of such truths, and such parts of truths as were proper to constitute a religion fit for this world ; a clear manner of stating them so as to carry conviction to the understanding, and to obtain assent and belief; an affecting colouring, natural, beautiful, and pathetic, engaging all the emotions of the heart in the service of truth; an example showing religion alive in real actions of every kind of holiness, of piety towards God, purity in self, and love to all mankind,--and allow Jesus Christ the honour due to his merit, that he was the first and most excellent of all teachers, and that “never man spake like this man.'
Consider the dignity and duration of his doctrine. Spoken only in the little kingdom of Judea, it hath sounded through all parts of the world, and thousands living and dying have reported it, and set their seal to the truth and goodness of it. It hath not been supported in the world by arms or artifice, learning or wealth: but it hath stood where a religion ought to stand, in the convictions and consciences of mankind; and so forcible hath it been, that it hath withstood all the attacks of learning and ignorance, riches and cruelty, the malice of its enemies, and the unguarded injuries of its friends. How many ignorant minds hath it enlightened! How many hard hearts hath it softened ! How many daring rebels hath it subdued! How
wicked thoughts hath it prevented from growing into actions! How many tears of repentance, how many holy resolutions, how many just and charitable actions, how many exercises of piety, how many holy lives, and happy deaths hath it produced! Were the effects of his doo
rine suspended only for one day, how many would spend that one day in crying, “ Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel ?” What am I saying, one day? I venture to affirm that of the doctrine of Christ, which the Scripture says of the air, “ If he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath, in a moment shall they die, all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."
My brethren, the day will come, in which Jesus Christ will, so to speak, “ gather up his breath and his spirit,” call again for the Bible he lent you, and inquire what use you made of it. I hope you will not say as the unjust Jews did, “God forbid.” Our Lord was one day teaching the people in the temple; and the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders were present. He told them in a parable, which they well understood, that they were tenants to God for a well planted vineyard, and that justice required they should pay their rent: but that, instead of doing this, they wounded and shamefully treated the servants of their Lord, who were sent to demand it; and when he sent his son on the same errand they murdered him. Το which he added this question, “ What therefore shall the Lord of the vineyard do unto them?” And as they made no answer, he assured them, “ the Lord of the vineyard shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this they cried, “God forbid !” Forbid what?' Would you, priests, murder the son of God, and not be tried for the crime ? Would you, scribes, read and write over the contract between the Lord and his tenants, and know the profits of the vineyard to be immense, and the rent to be small and easy,--would you abuse the produce and pay no rent, and insult your Lord, and after all not be called to an account? And you, grey-headed elders, where is your gravity, and wisdom, and justice, where are all the laws and rules of court, by which you judge your fellow-creatures ? would you be above law, and set the law-giver of the world at defiance? God forbid justice should not be done! God forbid there should be no difference between “him that sweareth, and him that feareth an oath!” “ If the foundations," the first principles.
of all order and government, be destroyed, what can the righteous do ?" No, do not say, 66 God forbid ;' but rather say, “Thy kingdom come! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Weigh this well, before you put up a prayer so dangerous to some people. Do you know what answer Jesus Christ makes to this prayer? He confirms what was just now said to you, that when he comes he will call for an account of the book he lent
Hear him. “ Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of this book. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of this book, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book." · Let us conclude by establishing the wisdom and goodness of this last declaration, in substance an answer of the prayers of good men, and as applicable to all other inspired books as to that of the Revelation of John, to which it is affixed. In order to this we will apply the subject to two characters.
Can any thing sufficiently expose the folly of such as would either increase, or diminish the Gospel of Jesus Christ ? Suppose I should say to you, Good people, in the course of my ministry, I perceive I give you offence; I am determined to do so no more; and in order to give you a full proof of my sincerity, I will in future sit one hour before preaching in the cottage just by the barn, and receive your instructions in writing. If
you would have me not preach any part of the Gospel, signify that part, and if you would have me mix with the Gospel any thing to suit your disposition, only speak the word, and it shall done. If a people could be found so silly, and so wicked, what a collection of notes should I have ! One would be, Sir, I beg you would not speak against covetousuess: it will offend me. Another would be, You are desired to say nothing against slander: it is the pleasure of my life. A third would be, Pray, preach nothing but the
terrors of the law; and a fourth, Please to dwell wholly on the promises of grace, and say nothing about duty. One would say, Mix a little personal abuse with the Gospel, and rage and rail at my enemy; my pleasure rises with his pain. Although nobody is so lost to shame as to speak thus, and to say to a teacher of religion, Pray flatter my sins, and make me twofold more a child of hell than before,” yet almost all love to have it so: but at this rate what of the Gospel should we have left? As it is, it is the wisdom of God, and the power of God; and though it be a “ stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks,” yet it is that by which “it pleaseth God to save them that believe."
Let us renounce such idle dreams and let us 6 search the Scriptures, for in them we have eternal life, and they are are they which testify of Jesus Christ.” Let it never be said of
66 Ye have not his word abiding in you." Bold undertaking! Burn the old Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is too hard or too easy, too holy or too patient, too zealous or too cool, or too something, that does not suit the taste of the world; and let me compose and publish a new Gospel, with a God but without a law, with a Saviour but without a cross, with a heaven but without a narrow way to it! Bold and daring rebel! Who are you? The whole world shall rise up against you; you shall not leave out such essential parts, you shall not add, or diminish one word, one jot, or one tittle, till all be fulfilled: and 6 whosoever shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”
Christians, I address myself to you, to you who " es teemed the word of God more than your necessary food." Enjoy this evening the pleasure, that this rich subject affords. You love your Divine Master, you think, for you know by experience,“ never man spake like this man. You wish others knew the wisdom and goodness of his doctrine, and especially your near relations. You envy Martha, and could you have the honour she had of entertaining Jesus Christ in person, you would ask him to use his influence with your friends to direct