Page images

the wrong: so that, before he gives the reward unto his Samaritans, he will punish the ungodly. Moreover, he makes use of many words in this judgment upon them, certainly more than he does to the Samaritan, so that it might be manifest to every one, how deeply he is affected, and how far he is from forgetting either their unrighteousness or our righteousness. Nor does he wait till they come before him and be there accused, but he inquires for them himself: so that, without doubt, the ungodly ways of the wicked move him long before they can hurt our minds or do us any mischief or harm : concerning which it is written, Deut. xxxii. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” And again, Rom. xii. “ Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath."

Ånd he said unto him, Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.

Behold, I pray you, are not these words worthy of admiration-his ascribing the cleansing unto faith? By this declaration he condemns the declaration of the priests, who told the other nine, that it was their sacrifice in obedience to the law that procured them their cleansing. But the declaration of Christ stands and prevails :—that it was not for their going to the priests, nor for their oblation, but by their faith only that they were healed.

And therefore, as was observed before, faith admits no works near it, so as to be of any service to it unto the attainment of righteousness and salvation. For the peculiar work and nature of faith is, to admit nothing Dear it as a helper. Works are to be done to another end ; namely, to benefit our neighbour, even as Christ has benefited us.

And here, to draw up the crowning conclusion to the whole, -We may see set before us in this Gospel, a representation of the sum of the Christian life, together with all those things which ought to acccompany a Christian.

These are the two hinges upon which the whole of Christianity turns,-faith and love. Faith receives the

“ We give

good things, and love gives them forth again. Faith offers us to God that we may be his, and love offers us to our neighbour for his benefit. And where such a life is begun, there God is come, and he by afflictions and temptations causes it to advance, by means of which, the man grows more and more strong in faith and love; so that, in the progress of his own experience, he begins to love God with so cleaving an affection, and to find him so sweet, that he has no more fears remaining. And hereupon hope begins to grow up and the man has an assurance that he shall not be forsaken of God: concerning which Paul saith, Rom. v. “We glory in tribulations also; knowing, that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, probation ; (whereby, a man is found to be right inwardly, and in truth, as fire proves gold whether it be sterling or not ;) and probation, hope. And hope maketh not ashamed.”

And these same three things Paul mentions again in his Epistle to the Colossians, chap. vii. thanks unto God—since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and love towards all the saints, for the hope that is laid up for you in heaven ; whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel, which came unto you.” And still more particularly, 1 Thess. i. “Making mention of you in our prayers : remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father,” &c.

llow beautifully does he set forth these three things in their order! making faith to be in work, love in labour, and hope in tribulations or patience! As though he should say, your faith is not a dream or fancy, but life and work. So also your love cannot sit down inactive, nor indulge in ease, but is engaged in serving your neighbour; but all this is done in quiet. Moreover, your hope in afflictions is exercised through patience; and all is in Christ. For there can be neither faith, love, nor hope, out of Christ; as we have shewn before. Thus the Christian life by yood goes through evil, until it break forth out of this course of life, and

arrive at his appointed goal. In the meantime, it thirsts not for revenge, but commits all judgment and retribution to the will of God.

And thus, it grows and enlarges “by little and little" in faith, love, and hope; and love which naturally flows out of faith divides itself, and takes two directions. It loves God first, from whom it receives all blessings in Christ; and then, its neighbour, that it might do unto him according to the benefits it has itself received of God. Wherefore, all the works of a man thus anointed, are directed to the benefit of his neighbour, and that for God's sake, who hath loved him. Nor does it do any work with the design of gaining thereby the favour of God, except that of loving and praising him; and this it confesses openly before the whole world. For all other works God cannot endure : so that the whole of divine worship is from the mouth. Though doing good to our neighbour also, is serving God, yet I am here speaking of that worship only which is paid to God, of which no man whatever can partake; and that is solely loving and praising God. Which worship, if thou wilt firmly maintain, thou must of necessity, how great soever thou mayest be, expose thyself to all kinds of peril and evil. And what else requirest thou unto Christianity ?-If thou wilt be a Christian, embrace faith and love, and stand fast in them, and then, thou hast and knowest all things. Amen!

[blocks in formation]


CHRISTIAN LIFE. St. Paul, writing to Timothy, thus sets forth, in his First Epistle, chap. i. in a few words, the sum of the Christian life.

God. But as to thyself, thou standest still, and canst not allow thyself to be accounted nought with Christ. Thou wouldst have all thy own things to be accounted of God, and to be condemned by no one. How then can it be, that thou shouldst ever endure a thus rejected Christ? much less cast thyself at his feet and account thyself unworthy to be despised with him? Since therefore God hides himself in the despised Man, Christ, and it has seemed good unto him to dwell in him, think not that thou wilt ever find Christ any where but where contempt is found. And hence, thou must come to that state, to think thyself happy, and to rejoice that thou art exposed to contempt. In a word, thou must think and fall down at the feet of thy contempt which cries aloud that all thy things are nought; so that, it may not only be expressed in words, but in reality, when thcu proclaimest that God alone, and no man, is to be praised. And thus, that doctrine will be first exemplified in thyself: and then, thou wilt suffer, for the doctrines' sake, all the things above-mentioned, and wilt yet consider thyself unworthy of all those things which thou endurest. It was in this manner that Christ also taught, and bore the name of the only God; and this was what first and above all things fell upon his own head; so that, at last, he was put to death in the most dreadful

manner, and in that consict which no other will ever • endure.

This example of glorifying God is most rich and most great, and might occupy a long dissertation. But it is enough for us to have shewn, how great a thing it is to praise God in reality, and to fall down on our faces at the feet of the Man, Christ, the most despised of all men. This is what the apostles did, Acts v.“ And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”

So also it is said, Psalm xvii. that the enemies of Christ shall “ lick the dust,” and shall“ fall down before him :” that is, as Paul saith, shall glory in affliction and the cross, which shall come upon them on account of that praising of God, and for condemning all human righteousness. For, since Christ himself suffered the cross and punishment, such a value has been put upon them, that no one is accounted worthy of them, and they are to be embraced and blessed as a distinguished grace.

And it is these things that make it manifest how very widely the Christian life differs from the natural. For, 1. It despises itself. 2. It loves and thirsts after being despised. 3. It proves, that whatever will not be despised, rushes headlong into every kind of destruction. 4. It is itself despised, and on account of this contempt, and because it condemns others, it incurs persecution. ' 5. It accounts itself unworthy to endure such persecution.—Here then the world and nature are shut out by the comparison. What then is to become of every thing else?

There is, however, one thing more here still remaining; namely, 'falling down at the feet of Christ,' concerning which the priests know nothing, nor do they wish to know any thing. For it is not every kind of faith that is effectual here: it must be faith in Christ: it is that alone that truly humbles.

And he was a Samaritan. But what moved the Evangelist to add to this history this particular above all the rest,— that “ he was a Samaritan?” Hereby he opens our eyes and teaches us, that there are two kinds of men who worship God in two different ways. The one is, those who them the name and appearance of an upright, spiritual, and holy life, snd exercise themselves therein, wonderfully in all kinds of works, while the whole together is nothing but outside show; they are very ravening wolves concealed under sheep's clothing: nevertheless, they procure to themselves thereby a great name and reputation, and nearly all men look upon them as the true ministers of God. And hence, they have an overflowing abundance of wealth, honour, friends, and the good things of this world ; and that, all under the name of God, whom they consider to be in the midst of

carry with

« PreviousContinue »