« PreviousContinue »
cause no variation can deprive him of the happiness which he hath chosen.
And what are the men who resist our ministry: who hear our sermons, as if they were simple amusements; who when they depart from their places of worship, return to the dissipations and vices from which they came; who after they have fasted and prayed, and received the communion, are always as worldly, always as proud, always as revengeful, always as ready to calumniate as before? They are really idiots, who know not the days of their visitation ; who despise the riches of the forbearance of God, not knowing that his goodness leadeth to repentance, Rom. ii. 4. they are idiots, who felicitate themselves to-day with worldly pursuits, which to-morrow will tear their souls asunder on a death-bed, and the sorrowful remembrance of which will torment them through the boundless ages of eternity. And those auditors who are attentive to our doctrines, and obedient to our precepts; those auditors who thankfully receive the wise, and patiently bear with the weak, in our ministry; what are they? They are wise men, who refer our ministry to its true meaning, who nourish their souls with the truths, and daily advance in practising the virtues of their calling.
How much doth a contrast of these characters display the glory of christianity ? is this religion less the work of wisdom, because idiots reject it; doth not the honor of a small number of wise disciples indemnify us for all the attacks that a croud of extravagant people make on it? And were you to choose a pattern for yourselves to-day, my brethren, which of the two examples would make thedeepest impresions on you? Would you choose to imitate a small number of wise men, or a multitude of fools ? To be reproached for preciseness and singularity is
a very powerful temptation, and piety will often expose us to it. What! every body else goes into company, and would you distinguish yourself by living always shut up at home? How ! every body allows one part of the day to gaming and pastime; and would you render yourself remarkable by devoting every moment of the day to religion ? What! nobody in the world requires above a day or two to prepare for the sacrament; and would you distinguish yourself by employing whole weeks in preparing for that ceremony? Yes, I would live a singular kind of life ! Yes, I would distinguish myself! Yes, though all the pharisees, though all the doctors of the law, though all the whole synagogue should unite in rejecting Jesus Christ ; I would devote myself to him! World! thou shalt not be my judge. World ! it is not thou who shalt decide what is shameful and what is glorious. Provided I have the children of wisdom for my companions, angels for my witnesses, my Jesus for my guide, my God for my rewarder, and heaven for my recompense; all the rest signify but little to me! May God inspire us with these sentiments! Amen.
was a charge more unjustly brought, never was a charge more fully and nobly retorted, than that of Ahab against Elijah. Elijah was raised up to resist the torrent of corruption and idolatry, which overflowed the kingdom of Israel. God, who had appointed him to an office so painful and important, had richly imparted to him the gifts necessary to discharge it: so that when the scriptures would give us a just notion of the herald of the Messiah, it saith, He shall go in the spirit and power of Elias, Luke i. 17. Sublimity in his ideas, energy in his expressions, grandeur in his sentiments, glory in his miracles, all contributed to elevate this prophet to the highest rank among them, who have managed the sword of the spirit with reputation and success. This extraordinary man appears before Ahab, who insults him with this insolent language, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 1 Kings xviii. 17. Was ever a charge more unjustly brought ? Elijah is not terrified with this language. Neither the majesty, nor the madness, of Ahab, neither the rage of Jezebel, nor the remembrance of so many prophets of the
true God sacrificed to false gods, nothing terrifies him, nothing affects him. I have not troubled Israel, replies he; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim, ver. 18. Was ever a charge retorted with more magnanimity and courage?
My brethren, I invite you to-day to contemplate men more unjust than Ahab, and I invite you to contemplate one more magnanimous than Elijah. Jesus Christ undertook a work, that all the prophets—what am I saying? he undertook a work which all the angels of heaven united would have undertaken in vain. He came to reconcile heaven and earth. God, who sent him into the world on this grand business; communicated the Spirit without measure to him, John iii. 34. Jesus Christ dedicated himself entirely to the office. He made the will of the Father, who had charged him with the salvation of mankind, his meat and drink, chap. iv. 34. By meditation, by retirement, by a holiness formed on the plan of the holiness of God, of whose glory he is the brightness, of whose person he is the express image, Heb. i. 3. he prepared himself for that grand sacrifice, which was designed to extinguish the flames of divine justice, burning to avenge the wickedness of mankind. After a life so truly amiable, he was dragged before judges, and accused before human tribunals of being a firebrand of sedition, who came to set society in a flame. Jesus Christ was not moved with this accusation. Neither the inveteracy of his accusers, nor the partiality of his judge, nor the prospect of death, nor the idea of the cross, on which he knew he was to expire, nothing could make him act unworthy of his character. Always ready to communicate to enquirers
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, of which he was the depositary, and to reveal himself to them, as the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, John 1. 9. on this occasion, he justly discovered his superiority over his accusers, and over bis judges, by refusing to gratify the vain desire of Herod, who wished to see him work a miracle, and by leaving, without any other apology, his doctrine to apologize for itself.
These are the grand objects, which are proposed to your meditation in the text, and in the seven following verses, that are connected with it. The whole period is perhaps the most barren part of the history of the passion: but the most barren parts of this miraculous history are so fruitful in instruction, that I must needs omit many articles, and confine myself to the examination of the first words, which are my text, he stirreth up the people. It will be necessary, however, briefly to explain the following verses, and after a short explication of them we will return to the text, the principal matter of this discourse. We will examine the charge of troubling society, which hath been always laid against Jesus Christ, and his gospel.
O, you ! who so often blame religious discourses for troubling that false peace, which you taste in the arms of security ; blush to-day to see what unworthy models you imitate ! And we, ministers of the living God, so often intimidated at this odious charge, let us learn to day courageously to follow the steps of that Jesus, who bore so great a contradiction of sinners against himself! Heb. xii. 3. May God assist us in this work! Amen.
Jesus Christ had been interrogated by Pilate, and had answered two calumnies, that had been objected against him. The conduct of Jesus