Page images
PDF
EPUB

has this been so fully verified as in the case of our Saviour.

Though chosen of God the chief corner stone, yet was he despised and rejected by the foolish builders of this world. His neighbours were offended at the fame of his superiour merit, and thought that it did not exist because they could not account for it. The great and proud were offended at the meanness of his descent, and could not possibly condescend to receive instruction from him whose father and mother and brothers and sisters they all knew, and saw occupying the lowest and least honourable stations in life.The whole Jewish nation, deluded by their mistaken expectation of a temporal Saviour, were offended at his humble appearance, so destitute of pomp and show, so ill calculated to draw the attention of the multitude, or gain adherents by means of authority and power. In short, the sufferings and persecutions which he endured, the ignominious death which he at last suffered, formed an insurmountable stumbling-block of offence, and completed their conviction, that a person so meanly descended, placed in so low a station, and so persecuted and despised, could not be the

messenger of heaven, nor the Saviour of mankind.

Yet if we analyze this celebrated objection, we find it to be merely a compound of envy, pride and ignorance. Had not the neighbours of Jesus been blinded by envy, they would have reasoned in a very different manner, and, instead of being offended at him, because they could not tell whence he had all the wonderful gifts of which they saw him possessed, they would have said, “ With this man's birth, ed"ucation, and fortune we are well acquainted. “ It is impossible that he should do those things - which we see and hear, by any skill of his own; he has had no opportunities of instruction “in those sublime truths which he delivers “to him the stores of learning and science have “never been opened. It is evident, therefore, “that he is taught from on high; that he is en“ dowed with supernatural and divine power, “ for no man could work the works which he “hath wrought, unless the father had sent him.”

Had not the rulers and pharisees been puffed

up with pride and vain glory, they would have listened to the voice of truth, from whatever quarter it proceeded; they would have been more attentive to it, as proceeding from

a quarter from which they least expected it; they would have acknowledged that true worth is confined to no one situation of life; that the greater the disproportion between the instrument and the work, the more certain an indication does it afford of the interference of God, who frequently chooses the weak things of this world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised, and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are.

In short, they were ignorant of the true character of the divine ways, of the predictions concerning the Messiah, of the great ends of our Saviour's appearance, or they would have perceived that it was necessary that the Captain of our salvation should be made perfect through sufferings, and should under

humiliation before he could enter into his glory.

1. The divine ways are not as our ways, and we shall certainly err if we apply the same reasoning to both. The weakness of man renders necessary a long train of vain ceremonies, and requires much pomp

and parade to hide it from the view of others. A prince clothes his ambassadours with all the trappings

go

of state, and all the pageantry of office, in order to inspire men with awe and reverence for what might otherwise be entitled to no respect. A greater share of inherent dignity and power would render unnecessary all this external pomp and grandeur. For as true beauty when unadorned is most conspicuous, so real merit shines forth with greatest lustre in the humblest state. The meanness of our Saviour's appearance, instead of detracting from the majesty and glory of God, as if an ambassadour so humble and unattended, were unworthy of so great a sovereign, is thus a proof of the contrary; and is of a piece with all the other works of God. He who said at first, “ Let there be light, and there was light” -at whose presence Jordan fled back; who declared, “I will, be thou clean”—the same it was who determined to save the world by weak, and in the eye of human reason, incompetent instruments : by the agency humble and despised Nazarene.

In this respect it truly might be said, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God, stronger than men. For though no outward beauty shone in our Saviour to draw the carnal eye, though there was in him

of a poor,

no form nor comeliness for which he should be desired; yet still we behold in him such marks of greatness and power as throw into the shade all the little efforts of human vanity and pride, to gain the attention and applause of the world. Doth not the meek and humble Saviour of mankind, who healed the sick, raised the dead, and stilled the stormy wave, appear in the eye of unprejudiced reason, infinitely greater and more exalted, even though clothed in poverty, than the mightiest monarch of the earth surrounded with his attendants and courtiers, or the greatest conquerour at the head of his victorious army.

All human glory fades away when compared with that heavenly glory which is everlasting.

2. It was, further, necessary that the Saviour of men should appear in a low and humble state, that he might fulfil the predictions delivered concerning him by the prophets. Nothing can be more evident than that the Messiah promised to the fathers, was foretold as one whose first appearance was to be accompanied by poverty, distress and suffering. Glorious things were indeed told of him, but these things were to be preceded by a state of humiliation and abasement, He was not to be

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »