Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

enjoys the perception at least of its own existence. * This is the plain import of our Lord's declaration to Martha, that whosoever liveth and believeth in him shall never die. The same doctrine is implied in many other passages of Holy Writ, - in our Lord's promise to the thief upon the cross, to be with him in paradise on the very day of his crucifiction ; in his commendation of his own spirit, in his last agonies, to the Father ; in St. Paul's desire to be absent from the body, that he might be present with his Lord !; but, most of all, we may allege the sequel of this same story. The manner in which the miracle was performed made it a solemn appeal to Heaven for the truth of this particular doctrine. Many incidents are recorded which evince the notoriety of the death : physical causes could have no share in the recovery ; for the offensive corpse was not to be approached, and no means were used upon it: our Lord, standing at the mouth of the cave, called to the dead man, as to one to whom his voice was still audible. His voice was heard, and the call obeyed ; — the deceased, in the attire of a corpse, walked out of the sepulchre, in the presence of his relations, who had seen him expire, in the presence of a concourse of his townsmen, who had been witnesses, some to the interment of the body, some to the grief of the surviving friends. Is it to be supposed that He who is truth itself would by such a miracle become a party in the scheme of imposture, or set his seal to the dreams of enthusiasm ? God forbid that any here should harbour such a suspicion! But let us remember, that

* For a fuller illustratrion of this doctrine, see SERMON Twentieth.

the soul's fruition of its separate life is described as a privilege of true believers, of which there is no ground to hope that an unbeliever will partake ; for to them only who believe in Jesus is it promised that “ they shall live though they be dead,” and that “they shall never die.”

Now, to him that hath called us to this blessed hope of uninterrupted life, terminating in a glorious immortality, - to Him with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity, — to Him who shall change our vile body, that it may be made like to his glorious body, - to the only-begotten Son, with the Father, and Holy Ghost, Three Persons but one God, be ascribed, &c.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

SERMON XXXVII.

Mark, vii. 26.

The woman was a Greek, a Syrophænician by

nation.

The maxim of our great moral poet, that the preponderance of some leading passion in the original constitution of every man's mind is that which gives the character of every individual its peculiar cast and fashion, influencing him in the choice of his profession, in the formation of his affinities and friendships, colouring both his virtues and his vices, and discovering its constant energy in the least as well as the more important actions of his life, — that the variety of this predominant principle in various men is the source of that infinite diversity in the inclinations and pursuits of men which so admirably corresponds with the variety of conditions and employments in social life, and is the means which the wise Author of our nature hath contrived to connect the enjoyment of the individual with the general good, to lessen the evils which would arise to the public from the vices of the individual, and enhance the benefits accruing from his virtues, — the truth of this principle is confirmed, I believe, to every man who ever thinks upon the subject, by his own experience of what passes within himself, and by his observation of what is passing in the world around him. As our blessed Lord was in all things made like unto his brethren, it will be no violation of the respect which is due to the dignity of his person, if, in order to form the better judgment of the transcendent worth and excellence of his character in the condition of a man, we apply the same principles in the study of his singular life which we should employ to analyse the conduct of a mere mortal. And if we take this method, and endeavour to refer the particulars of his conduct, in the various situations in which we find him represented by the historians of his life, to some one principle, we cannot but perceive, that the desire of accomplishing the great purpose for which he came into the world was in him what the ruling passion is in other men.

Two things were to be done for the deliverance of fallen man from the consequences of his guilt : the punishment of sin was to be bought off by the Redeemer's sufferings, · who is therefore said to have bought us with a price; and the manners of men were to be reformed by suitable instruction. From the first commencement of our Lord's public ministry, perhaps from a much earlier period, the business on which he came had so entirely taken possession of his mind, that he seems in no situation to have lost sight of it for a moment. On the contrary, it was the end to which every action of his life was, not so much by study as by the spontaneous habit of his mind, adjusted. In the greater actions of his life, we find him always pursuing the conduct which might be the most likely to bring on that tragical catastrophe which the scheme of atonement demanded, and studious to prevent every obstacle that might be thrown in the way

[ocr errors]

of the event, either by the zeal of his friends or the malice of his enemies. He works a miracle, at one time, to avoid being made a king, — at another, to secure himself from the fury of a rabble. The acceptance of an earthly kingdom had been inconsistent with the establishment of his everlasting monarchy; and he declined the danger of popular tumult and private assassination, that he might die in the character of a criminal by a judiciary process and a public execution. When by this management things were brought to the intended crisis, and his imagination shrunk from the near prospect of ignominy and pain, the wish that he might be saved from the approaching hour was overpowered by the reflection that “ for this hour he came into the world.” Before the Jewish Sanhedrim and the Roman governor he maintained a conduct which seemed to invite his doom : before the Sanhedrim, he employed a language by which he knew he should incur the charge of blasphemy; and at Pilate's tribunal he refused to plead “not guilty” to the false accusation of treason.

As the more deliberate actions of our Saviour's life were thus uniformly directed to the accomplishment of man's redemption, at the time and in the manner which the prophets had foretold, — so, in what may be called the ordinary occurrences of life, we find his whole conduct shaped and determined by a constant attention to the second branch of the great business upon which he came, the reformation of mankind. In every incidental situation, something peculiarly characteristic is discernible in his actions, by which they were marked as it were for his own, and distinguished from the actions of ordinary men in similar circumstances; and all these characteristic peculiarities of

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »