Page images
PDF
EPUB

stance the father of Annibal, whose dying injunction to his son was, that he should never forgive the Romans: this precept he must swear he would obey. And many children learn of their parents now the same lesson. They are apt to learn, and they often have precept and practice to teach them. “Cursed parents! Cursed children !”

But let the heart be once subdued by the grace of God, and the lesson of the text is easily learned. The doctrine is simply this. If one treats us unkindly, we must treat him well. If he defame, let us say the kindest things possible of him. If he hurt our interest, let us advance his. If he expose our faults, let us cover his. If he will not oblige us, we must do kindnesses to him. If he deals reproach, we must practice no retort. If he curse us we must pray for him; if he hunger we must feed him, and if he thirst give him drink. If he smite us on the one cheek, turn the other. In one word, when he has done his best to injure us, let us do our best to bless and comfort him.

It may be well, when possible, to do another good in the very article in which he has intended our hurt. This will be entering the list with him, and will bring our virtues into a close compari- . son with his iniquities; thus shall we heap coals of fire on his head, and he be not a rock, shall melt and subdue him. When we would overcome an enemy with kindness, we make his conscience our ally, and bring him to hate himself and respect us. Then his weapons recoil upon his own head, and his violent dealings come down upon his own pate. We conquer him by love.

But in every effort of this nature we must feel kindly. A counterfeit affection will not bear us through. The heart must be primarily consulted in every such act of Christian revenge. the hypocrisy will be evident, and the defeat certain. When Paul said to the high priest, who had commanded him to be unlawfully smitten, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall,” he neither obeyed the injunction of the text, nor was in a proper state of mind to obey it. Not even piety will render it certain that we shall feel kindly under abuse. In the blessed Jesus we have the only example that never failed. He was proof against every attack. The only case in which he exhibited the appearance of anger, was when his Father's house was made a den of thieves; and then he was angry without sin. Let our temper be like his, and we shall find it easy to do right; and to be like him, we are infinitely obligated.

It may greatly help us, when we come in contact with unhal

lowed passions, to reflect, that not certainly is the man our enemy, who may be tempted to treat us unkindly. When he has done us this one injury, if we bear it with a Christian temper, he may remain kindly disposed to us, may become a firm and steady friend : while our wrath and revenge may erect him into a subtle and dangerous enemy. He may have made his onset upon us in an hour of irritation, and

may

be in an hour, more ashamed of himself than we are of him.

Is the offender an ungodly man, there is a single thought that must prepare us to meet his rage with calmness. He has no treasure in the heavens. He is passing on to the blackness of darkpess for ever. We shall see him when a few days have gone by, unless the grace of God prevent, covered with shame and confusion. His harvest will be passed and his summer ended, and he not saved. And can we be angry to-day with one who is to perish to-morrow? Can any sensation but pity control us, while we see a deluded man raving on the very threshold of perdition?

Or is the offender a Christian, then how it should shame us to become angry with him. Angry with a brother, a follower of the Lord Jesus! He could not intend me wrong ; his judgment erred ; he will ask forgiveness, before the sun goes down, of God and of

The followers of the Lord Jesus bite and devour one another! "O, tell it not in Gath ; publish it not in the streets of Askalon !” The Savior must not be so wounded in the house of his friends. Let me have, I will not say my religion, let me have my reason in exercise, and I will bear any thing from a child of God. For my right hand, I will not raise it against one who is heir with me to an inheritance in the skies, and is to help me adore the Lamb for ever. Joint heirs ith Jesus Christ! what a binding influence has this thought upon Christian hearts.

me.

REMARKS.

1. How highly should we value our Bibles which teach us this amiable lesson. But for this book, we had never learned how to receive an injury, or forgive one. It belongs not to human nature, untaught from heaven, to invent such a sentiment as the text. Our parents had been fierce and cruel, and they had taught us to be implacable, had not the Bible been the associate of our home. And how this one heavenly principle lessens the miseries of human life! How many the wrongs it obliterates, and how many of the social endearments it begets! Precious book, be thou the inmate of my bosom, till the spirit shall quit its house of clay !

2. This subject will teach us to pity the heather. Their end

[ocr errors]

less quarrels are because they have no Bible. They would let their children, their widows, their sick, and their aged live, if they had a Bible. They would forgive their enemies and be meek, and benevolent, and gracious, had they not been without the book that teaches these heavenly lessons. Send them a few of your Bibles, and they will soon beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and those vast fields of blood will be transformed into the garden of the Lord. He will accompany his word with his Spirit.

3. How happy the period of the Millenium. The Bible will then have its legitimate influence, and there will prevail the very spirit inculcated in the text. In what noble figures does the prophet teach us this truth, “ The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shali lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cocatrice-den. They shall not hurt nor destroy. in all my holy mountain : for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” You have often read this precious text. How happy the eyes that are not closed upon the scenes of life, till that sweet morning has come, and all these tumults, that keep this world a wilderness, have subsided ! May some favored child of mine live to see that happy period.

4. Let us learn, brethren, whether that day approaches. It will not burst upon us in a moment. There will be a gradual increase of that spirit which the text inculcates; till every parent will teach it to his children, and every child will love to learn. From the family circle it will spread out over the whole land, and render it Immanuel's land, a mountain of holiness and a habitation of right

Do we see an increase of this spirit? Do we feel it in our hearts? Does it go out to view in our daily deportment ? Then the day approaches.

5. This subject will try our piety. Can we overcome evil with good? Does the tiger or the lamb, predominate in our social intercourse? When we receive abuse, with what temper do we act? To this test our religion must at last be brought, and by this and other similar tests, the question must be decided, whether we can be happy with angels, or must make our bed in the pit. Will God sanctify us by his Spirit, and fit us all to dwell in a peaceful happy world. Amen.

eousness.

SERMON XLIV.

A BRAND PLUCKED FROM THE FIRE.

LUKE XXIII. 43.
To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.

[ocr errors]

The scene of the crucifixion was, in many respects, the most awfully interesting that ever human eyes witnessed. Many things combined to create this interest : the time, the place, the motley mixture of character among both the persecuted and the persecutors, the miracles wrought, the worlds interested in the event, all conspired to render the moment like no other since the wheels of time began to move. Angels gazed, and devils, at the whole scene, and probably every world in being was interested.

And yet, in all this scene, it has seemed to me that the redemption of the dying thief was one of the most interesting circumstances. Here was seen all the grace of Jesus Christ, and with it the supremacy of his power. He proved himself the Alpha and the Omega, having the keys of hell and of death, since, in the act of dying, he could communicate to his fellow-sufferer immortal life, and snatch the prey from the teeth of the destroyer, and bear it up to heaven in triumph. The friends of God, in every age before and since then, have fixed their eye on that hour as the proudest and most precious section of time in all the revolving ages.

The spirit of prophecy, looking through the lapse of many hundred

years, and dwelling with rapture on the character and conflict of the Redeemer, foretold that he should be numbered with the transgressors. Accordingly, two men of despicable character, who had been condemned to die for theft, were crucified with him, one on his right hand and the other on the left. It was doubtless the intention of his enemies, by this arrangement, to degrade the immaculate Son of God.

We are told that one of the malefactors which were hanged, railed on him, “If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation and we indeed justly,

for we receive the due reward of our deeds : but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

We are told by one of the other Evangelists, “that the thieves also which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth :" implying, as it would seem, that the penitent thief, at the first, joined his companion in reproaching the Lord of glory. In pursuing the subject, my object will be to notice the evidence afforded us in the narrative, that one of the malefactors was saved. I shall then inquire, Whether there are, probably, many instances of late conversion ?

1. I am to notice the evidence afforded us in the narrative, that ONE of the dying malefactors was saved. The probability seems to be that he was nailed to the cross, a stupid unbeliever. If he joined his fellow in reproaching the Savior, there can remain no doubt that he was then in his sins. But between the sixth hour and the ninth, he was evidently made a new creature. Of this interesting fact we have evidence :

1. In the faithfulness with which he reproved his miserable associate. I know that the bare act of administering reproof is not of itself decisive testimony, one way or the other, of piety. We are always to notice the circumstances and the spirit with which the reproof is adıninistered. It often happens that the basest of men, in a fit of passion, reprove their fellow-men. But the circumstances in which the dying malefactor reproved his fellow-sufferer, give his conduct in that matter peculiar weight. All about him were despising the Lord Jesus Christ as an impostor and a miscreant. The Redeemer was accused of many gross crimes, and probably the thief had not the means of knowing their accusations to be false. It would not have been surprising if he had viewed the Savior as the vilest of the three sufferers. With such impressions he would not have viewed the conduct of his fellow as very criminal. His reproof then, testifies, that he had other views of Christ than were entertained by the multitude who witnessed his agonies. And while he abhorred the conduct of his fellow, he boldly expressed that abhorrence, in contempt of the full tide of public opinion. If one should reprove the profane or lewd, while in the company of pious men, or at a time or place where and when religion was popular, it would be no very decisive testimony of his piety; but let him administer reproof when all

« PreviousContinue »