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your hearts, while he is kept standing without and refused admission. But still, by the instrumentality of his gospel, if by nothing else, he continues to knock and to urge you to come to him; or he tenderly upbraids you that you will not. But why does the blessed Jesus thus expostulate? It
. is not,' saith he, that I receive honor of men; it is not that I seek to be gratified with the barren applauses of men, or that I hope for human requital; but these things I say unto you, that ye might be saved.' Yes, Savior of sinners, this is thine only object, that they might be saved; the object of all thou hast said to them, and of all thou hast done for them; the object which is always present to thy mind. For this thou hast surrounded thyself with convincing proofs of thine appointment and power to save; and, O, surpassing grace, thou even consentest to wait for. their decision till they have examined the evidence of thy claims in detail. For this thou hast withheld nothing, not even thy blood, thy life; thou hast done so much for them that infinite love can do no more.
Behold, then; behold, in the boundless love of Christ, a sufficient inducement to repair to him at once. be regarded, at this moment, as standing before you, with the hoarded love of eternity in his heart, offering to make you heirs of all its wealth ; nor is it in your power to grieve him more, than by disregarding the gracious overture. He fears nothing but your neglect; deprecates nothing but your inattention. The first look you direct towards him, would not escape his notice; the first step you take towards him, would bring him more than a step towards you. All things are ready for your reception; he will meet your weakness with his almighty strength, your emptiness and poverty with his inexhaustible fullness.
THE PRACTICALNESS OF OUR LORD'S TEACHING.
'Blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.'
Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.'
I. CONSIDERED as a teacher of holiness, our Lord Jesus Christ exemplified his wisdom, not only in the light which he imparted, but also in what he withheld.
1. Pretenders to a divine revelation have seldom omitted to infuse into their systems of error a large proportion of the marvelous. Calculating on the credulity, and ravenous curiosity of the multitude, they have been graphic and unsparing in their disclosures of the invisible and future. Besides pandering to the prevailing passions of mankind, they have aimed to establish their dominion by stimulating and engrossing the imagination with wonders; and having raised the veil of mystery to its utmost height, they proceed to measure the infinite, to paint the inconceivable, and to materialize and subject the spiritual to the senses.
But he who came forth from the bosom of the Father, and who could therefore have dazzled and astounded the world with celestial visions, practised a wise and gracious reserve. He came, not to astonish, but to instruct and to save; and to instruct solely with a view to save; and, knowing that to feed curiosity is only to increase its appetite, that to impart a particle of knowledge more than is essential to our advance in the path of holiness, would operate as a diversion from that path rather than an incitement in it, he limited his communications to the exact measure of practical utility. He kept his hand, if I may say so, on the pulse of conscience, and administered only so much of the exciting element of knowledge as would subserve the health and holy activity of the soul.
In order to estimate the gospel aright, it is necessary to bear in mind, that it is not meant for intellectual beings as such ; it is not addressed to man in his mental, but in his moral capacity: it contemplates him as a lapsed and ruined creature, to whom the only kowledge that is essential is a knowledge of the way of deliverance. If, besides containing this vital information, it also ministered to his unsanctified curiosity, he would, undoubtedly, prior to his conversion, value it the more highly ; but, from the moment he opened his eyes to a perception of his guilt and danger, he would as certainly account that very circumstance a great defect. His first solicitude and employment, then, would be, to disentangle and detaching on these, and on these alone, the name of gospel, the plain and simple prescriptions of mercy; and, bestowing would cast theremainder away as refuse, as an insult to his anguish, a mockery of his woe. However unnatural his cravings before, nothing now but the unadulterated bread of life can satisfy his famishing soul.
Accordingly, at the hazard of displeasing the speculative and inquisitive, the Savior confined his communications to the wants of our condition. Repelling the curiosity of his disciples, how often did he turn their prying inquiries into occasions of solemn practical appeal. When they sought to pluck from the interdicted tree of knowledge, he graciously presented them with the fruit of the tree of life. They found every avenue closed, but the nar
way that leadeth to life eternal; every fountain sealed, but the fountain of the water of life. While the heavenly Oracle was prompt in answering even the mental and unuttered inquiries of the devout and humble, the inquisitive received a rebuke which contained a blessing. Hay
ing come to seek and to save that which was lost, to open a way from the mouth of that fearful pit around which we had gathered to the gate of heaven, he caused all the light of revelation which he shed to fall on that path alone : that we might not be tempted to wander from the highway of holiness, he left it skirted on each hand with original darkness; while, from whatever part of the spacious firmament of truth he brought the beams of revelation, he caused them all to converge and rest on that strait and narrow way.
2. But if we admire the wisdom of the Great Teacher, in thus limiting his discoveries to the measure of our wants and interests, we cannot withhold our complacency at his legislation, in delivering a code of pure and simple morality entirely unencumbered by the clogs of an onerous and elaborate ritual. Discharging his disciples from the cares and vexatious obligations of the ancient ceremonial, he has laid aside for them every such weight, and left them free for the race of holiness to heaven. The rites of baptism and the Lord's supper are too simple and spiritual to be treated as exceptions to this fact. Instead of wasting the powers, and exhausting the vigor of the soul, on outward
, observances, he holds it disengaged and fresh for the upward path of holiness. Economizing our energies and passions, he points us to a sphere of duty in which angels might engage with honor, and commands us to put forth all our strength, adorning ourselves with all that is fair, emulating all that is great, overtaking the excellencies and embody. ing the perfections of heavenly natures. Having touched and given impulse to all our spiritual powers, instead of imparing that momentum by calling us to surmount the obstacles of preliminary rites, he collects and compacts its force, and dismisses it in a line direct from heaven. Treating our nature with a divine respect, the code which he enacts is one of generous authority, taking off every depressing weight, only prescribing what is absolutely necessary, and actuated in doing so by the aim of building up our character into a goodly fabric of spiritual beauty and perfection.
II. If it comported with our design to specify the subject of our Lord's discourses, we should unhesitatingly say, that his most favorite practical topics were humility before God, and a spirit of forbearance and love towards
In the inculcation of morals, by uninspired teachers, novelty is the last quality to be desired, since it could scarcely fail to be error; but the practical instructions of Jesus had this distinction, that their peculiarities were excellences. One of these marked peculiarities consists in his taking under his special protection certain dispositions which the world had consented to brand and cast out, had conspired to frown out of existence ; in restoring them to
; the rank of duties, and proclaiming them graces of the kingdom of God.
1. Humility is a habit of mind which has never been in favor with the world : in every age it has been degraded into the footstool of vanity, and conceit, and enthroned pride; but, in direct opposition to the unanimous verdict of mankind, he raised it out of the dust into which it was trodden, pronounced it a favorite of heaven, and clothed it with the garments of salvation. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'
Since the fatal moment when man aspired to be as a god,' his great quarrel with his Maker has been, a determination to assert a power of independence altogether alien to his nature and condition. The standard of revolt was then erected; and the history of all his subsequent conduct has been the history of an insane endeavour to con