« PreviousContinue »
Afternoon Reading, Gen. xix. 1-29.
Afternoon Lesson, Matt. xi. 7-15.
NOTES ON THE LESSON.
VERSE 7. Who departed ? Matt. xi. 2. What multitudes ? Matt. iii. 5. When did John preach in the wilderness ? Matt. iii. 1. Whom does a reed shaken with the wind denote? A changing, inconstant man. Why did Christ ask this question ? To direct their attention to John's sincerity and persevering zeal.-Verse 8. How was John clothed ? Matt. iii. 4.-Verse 9. What did he prophecy ? Matt. iii. 2, 11. How was he more than a prophet? He saw his prophecy fulfilled. John i. 29.-Verse 10. Where is the prophecy ? Mal. iii. 1.-Verse 11. Who is meant by the least in the kingdom of heaven? The least of the apostles of Christ and of the first preachers. How were they superior to John ? They had seen more of Christ's works and miracles.-Verse 12. What does the expression 'the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence' denote ? The earnestness of men to obtain the blessings of the gospel.—Verse 13. What portions of scripture were the prophets and the law ? The law denoted the five books of Moses, and the prophets the remaining books of the Old Testament.--Verse 14. In what respect could John be called Elias ? Luke i. 17. The two were very much alike in zeal.- Verse 15. What is meant by this? That God holds us responsible for hearing the truth.
IMPROVEMENT. Dwell upon, 1, The devotedness of John to his appointed work: 2, The superior privileges of christianity over all previous divine revelations: 3, The importance of earnestness in seeking salvation.
NOTES ON THE LESSON. VERSES 16, 17. What did Christ refer to in this language ? The dissatisfaction of the Jews with God's messengers, so that they were not pleased either by joyful or mournful intelligence.- Verse 18. How did John come without eating or drinking? He differed from other men in his food. Luke i. 15; Matt. iii. 4.-Verse 19. What instances are there of Christ's having done this ? Luke v. 29, 30; xv. 1, 2; xix. 7. Was he gluttonous and a winebibber ? No. How was wisdom justified of her children? Although some hated him, yet the wise would appreciate and approve of his conduct, and that of John.-Verse 20. What is it to “upbraid ?" To reprove.VERSE 21. Where were Chorazin and Bethsaida ? Near Capernaum. Where Tyre and Sidon? In Phænicia. What works were done in Bethsaida ? Mark viii. 22–25; Luke ix. 10–17. What disciples were of Bethsaida ? John i. 44.-Verse 23. How was Capernaum exalted to heaven? It enjoyed great privileges. Matt. iv. 13; ix. 1, 2. How would it be brought to hell? By being deprived of those privileges as well as condemned for their abuse.VERSE 24. Why will the punishment inflicted on Sodom be more tolerable than that of Capernaum ? Because one had fewer advantages than the other.
IMPROVEMent. Dwell upon the duty of not only attending to, but also of profiting by, the means of grace, and of the shame and woe that will follow the rejection of the gospel.
Afternoon Reading, Gen. xxi.
CONVERSATION ON THE LESSON. You remember our speaking of the Bible as our only guide in matters of religion a few Sabbaths since ? Yes. Will you tell me what you remember?...... Now you know what tradition is ? Yes. Knowledge that is handed down from one generation to another. Do you think that tradition should be made our rule in matters of religion ? No; because the Bible is our sufficient rule already. Do you think tradition is ever true ? Yes, sometimes. Not always then? No, very seldom. Why do you think so ? Because man's memory is imperfect, and what is true when first told is added to afterwards, until it becomes corrupted and false. Have you ever had proof of this ? Yes. I have heard of many things in this neighbourhood, which were perhaps true when first mentioned; but every one has added a little to them, until they have become quite untrue. Then you would not trust man in conveying religious truth to others ? No. Not without the Bible constantly to correct him. Did Christ ever condemn those who followed tradition instead of the law ? Yes. Mark vii. 9, 13. Did his apostles ever condemn them ? Yes. Col. ii. 8; 2 Thess. 3, 6. But is not tradition approved of in some parts of the apostle's writings ? Yes. I Cor. xi. 2; 2 Thess. ii. 15. How do you account for this ? It was not properly tradition, for the apostle had taught both churches himself. He merely meant that the Corinthians and Thessalonians were to remember and practice what he taught. Then it was scarcely the same thing as what we mean by tradition ? No. There was no “handing down” through different persons. Besides the apostle was taught of God, and would teach them aright. Well, we shall speak of some who follow tradition now instead of scripture the next time we speak on this subject.
IMPROVEMENT. Dwell on the importance of endeavouring to understand aright the authority of the Bible as an inspired book.
REVIEWS The Final Triumph of God's Faithful Servants. A Sermon preached in Stepney Meeting House, on the morning of Lord's Day, June 18, 1843, on occasion of the lamented death of the Rev. Joseph Fletcher, D.D. By R. Wardlaw, D.D. Το which is prefixed the Funeral Address. By H. F. Burder, D.D. London, J. Snow. p. 52.
This is a work which will be read with deep interest, by the religious public generally, and especially by the numerous friends, and admirers of the estimable man, whose lamented death has called it forth. Dr. Fletcher was no ordinary man; and his removal has produced a chasm in our denomination, which will not easily be filled up. The occasion was adapted to elicit the highest powers of the preacher's mind, and to touch the finest chords of feeling in his heart. The departure of such a man as Dr. F., after a long, and honorable, and eminently successful ministerial career—the removal of an intimate and beloved friend of thirty years—are no common occurrences; and could scarcely fail to awaken trains of thought at once elevating and consoling. The discourse produced a deep impression when delivered from the pulpit; and the reader of it will not be disappointed. It is beautiful and impressive; full of fine thoughts and felicitous illustrations of scripture; and throughout there is a tone of hallowed feeling which touches
The discourse is founded on Isaiah xxv. 8 : “ He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it.” The passage is explained as relating to the period of the resurrection of the just. When the prediction of the seventh verse shall have had its accomplishment, and when the glory and felicity resulting from the universal diffusion and influence of divine truth shall have lasted its promised time, then cometh the end as described in the words of the text : “ He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, &c.” The victory referred to is then illustrated as consisting of the destruction of death : the cessation of sorrow : the vindication of character. “ The victory and the destruction will be, 1, conspicuous ; 2, perfect; 3, eternal.” These particulars are illustrated in a beautiful and eloquent manner.
The following passage is in Dr. Wardlaw's happiest style of scripture illustration; he possesses the rare power of at once seizing the exact figure, and catching the spirit of a scripture text.
“The image in our text is a very interesting and beautiful one: “The Lord God shall wipe away tears from off all faces.” It is the image of a kind and benignant father, delighting to make his children happy, putting a perpetual termination to all their sorrows. By every heart of sensibility, it is tenderly experienced, how large a portion of the pleasure of having our tears wiped away, arises from attachment to the relation or the friend whose hand performs the office of sympathizing kindness. It is not the mere drying of the tears; it is the hand that does it, that constitutes the pleasure. The pleasure springs from the assurance of its being the expression of the love of a beloved object. What fond wife or fond husband has not felt this, when the starting tear has been kissed away by the tenderness of conjugal affection? What loving child of a loving father has not felt this, when, in the hour of sickness or of trial, that child has known, by experience, how it is that “a father pitieth his children;" when, with the tear trembling in his own eye, the pitying parent has wiped away those of the gentle sufferer? Is there a child in the family of your lamented pastor, and my lamented friend, that will not, from sweet recollection, set his and her seal to the truth of the sentiment? Now, it is the hand of a Father's love-of a Divine Father's love that shall dry his children's tears; and when they are then and thus wiped away by a Divine hand, who shall ever be able to open the fountains of sorrow again? “There shall be no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying; for the former things are passed away.'”
We cordially recommend the discourse to our readers. It will richly repay a careful perusal. We hasten to notice the brief sketch of the departed which is appended to it.
Dr. Fletcher was born at Chester, on the 3rd of December, 1784. In 1801 he was received into church fellowship at Queen Street Chapel, Chester. And in May, 1803, he was received as a student at Hoxton Academy. Previously to his entrance into that institution, he preached frequently in the villages and smaller towns of Cheshire, where the estimable character of his father, together with his own youthfulness, and the excellence of his addresses, even at that early period of his course, rendered him a general favourite. We happen to know that his first sermon was preached at Middlewich in that county, to a few pious persons, who then worshipped in a room. After the service, he repaired to the house of an elderly female relative, who resided in the neighbourhood; and having, in the course of conversation, disclosed the fact that he had been preaching, the youthful herald of the cross received a severe reprimand for his presumption in daring to enter a pulpit. The good lady's notions of propriety were shocked. How little did she imagine what an honourable and distinguished career awaited her youthful relative!
In October, 1804, Mr. F. went to the University of Glasgow, as a student on Dr. Williams' exhibition ; and in May, 1807, he became the pastor of the Congregational Church at Blackburn in Lancashire. There “ he remained till 1823, and during the latter and larger portion of the sixteen years which he spent there, he discharged, along with his pulpit and pastoral engagements, the duties of the theological chair of the Blackburn Academy, which was then instituted under his tutorship.” Greatly was he beloved by the people of his first charge; and after his removal to London, his occasional visits to the scene of his earlier labours were hailed with delight by his numerous friends there. Well do we remember one of those occasions. The Dr. had preached a beautiful and heart-stirring discourse from 2 Cor. v. 14. “For the love of Christ constraineth us,” and was seated in the vestry after the service; when so great were the numbers, who were anxious to speak to him, that the two doors of the vestry were thrown open, and the crowds passed through, entering at one door and retiring by the other. It was touching to witness the cordial greetings that took place, and to hear the many inquiries which the Dr. made, after the health and prosperity of his former flock; all whose faces, and names, and families, and circumstances, seemed to be quite familiar to his mind. The scene presented a beautiful example of sincere affection between a pastor and his charge.
In 1823 Dr. F. removed from Blackburn, and entered on the important sphere of ministerial labour, which he so long and