Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

by prayer. Converse with your Bibles. Attend upon the public ordinances. In the humble use of these means, (while you endeavour to act faithfully according to the light you have already received,) you shall gradually advance in wisdom and comfort. The Christian growth is not instantaneous, but by degrees, as the early dawn increases in brightness till the perfect day*, and as the corn comes forward surely, though unperceived t. In this manner your views of Gospel truth shall increase in clearness, evidence, and influence, till you are removed from this land of shadows to the regions of perfect light, to behold the truth as it shines in the person of Jesus, without a veil, and without a cloud for ever.

SERMON II.

IN WHAT SENSE THE MYSTERIES OF THE GOSPEL ARE HID FROM MANY.

MATTH. xi. 25.

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

WHEN our Lord appeared upon earth, though he

came on the most gracious and important business, displayed the perfection of holiness in his conduct, and

* Prov. iv. 18.

† Matth. xiii. 31, 32.

performed innumerable acts of kindness and love, he met with little regard. He found many enemies, but few hearty friends. Especially those who were most eminent for riches, learning, power, or reputed goodness, disdained him; and most of those who followed him were either people in low circumstances, or whose character had been offensive. Publicans and sinners, fishermen, unlearned and obscure persons, were almost the only friends he had. The Lord Jesus, who was infinitely above the selfish views which are too apt to influence our little minds, was well satisfied with this event. He did not desire honour from men.

"The

"souls of the poor were precious in his sight*. He spoke kindly to those whom men abhorred; and if he mourned over the obstinacy of the chiefs of the people, it was for their own sakes. Yet, (as I observed formerly,) when he considered the appointment and will of God in this dispensation, he was not only content, but he rejoiced. He expressed his approbation in these words "I thank thee, O Father," &c. There is something observable in this passage which will be of continual use and application, so long as the Gospel shall be preached. For as it was then, so it is still; the things that are hid from the wise and prudent, are revealed unto babes. Five particulars offer from the words for our consideration.

1. What may be intended by these things? 2. Where and in what sense they are hid? 3. From whom? The wise and prudent.

4. How the knowledge of them is to be obtained? By revelation; thou hast revealed.

* Psalm lxxii. 13, 14.

5. Who are thus favoured? Babes.

I. By the things which it pleases God should be hid from the wise, and revealed to babes, we may understand,

1. In general, the things pertaining to salvation. That most men are ignorant of them, and careless about them, is too plain. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and the tree is known by its fruits. Men speak as though their tongues were their own; they act as though they were to give no account; they live as though they were to live here for ever. The way of truth is hid from their eyes, and the fear of God has no place in their hearts.

2. More particularly, those doctrines which are in an especial sense peculiar to the Gospel, seem here to be intended. If the principles of what some call Natural Religion, though agreeable to the light of natural conscience, are little regarded; the more spiritual truths of the Bible are not only neglected, but scorned and opposed. The same spirit, which showed itself under our Lord's personal ministry still subsists. The chief doctrines he taught, and for which he met with the fiercest opposition, were precisely the same with those which have awakened the scorn and rage of the world ever since; and which multitudes who bear the name of Christians in this day oppose with all their strength. Such as,

First, The divinity of Christ. When he spoke of himself as existing before Abraham, and said that God was his own father*, the Jews took up stones to stone hiin.

John v. 18. Пaripa dior eye. He said that God was his own father; in a sense peculiar to himself, and exclusive of all others. The Jews well understood the meaning of this assertion

And this mystery is still hid from the natural man. No one can say, acknowledge, and believe, that Jesus Christ is Lord or Jehovah, that he who once hung upon the cross, bleeding to death, is God the maker of all things, the rightful object of the supreme love, trust, and homage of men and angels, but by the Holy Ghost*.

Secondly, Distinguishing grace. "When Jesus first "preached at Nazareth, the eyes of all were fixed upon "himt;" but when, making application to themselves,he touched upon this point, from the examples of Naaman the Syrian, and the widow of Sarepta, who were released when many lepers and widows in Israel were passed by, they were filled with indignation, and would have thrown him headlong down the rock. And it is to this hour an offensive doctrine to all who do not know the value and the need of it.

Thirdly, The new birth. When this was proposed to a master in Israel, he cried out, "How can these things "bet." And by many who are wise and prudent in their own sight, it is at this day accounted nonsense. A small acquaintance with the general strain of what is published either from the pulpit or the press, may prove that modern divinity has, for the most part, found a

that thereby he made himself equal with God; and therefore, as they did not believe in him, they charged him with blasphemy. It would indeed have been blasphemy in a mere man, or in the highest archangel, to have spoken of himself in these terms. But the force of the expression is lost in our version of the New Testament, through the omission of the word dor, his own; which seems one of the most important mistakes to be found in that translation.

* 1 Cor. xii. 3.

† Luke iv. 16-20.

#John iii. 9.

smoother path to tread than that by which Nicodemus was conducted to the knowledge of himself, and his Saviour. Such a doubtful inquirer might now be entertained with many ingenious essays on the beauty of virtue, the efficacy of benevolence, the excellency of the human mind, and other favourite topics. He would find teachers enough to encourage and improve the idea he has of his own importance, but he would hardly meet with many who would speak to him in our Lord's language, and refer him to the brazen serpent, and a new birth, in order to learn the means and the nature of the Gospel salvation.

Fourthly, The nature of the life of faith. When our Lord spoke of this, under the metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, many, who till then had professed themselves his disciples, "turned back, and "walked no more with him.", And none can bear it now, who are not taught of God, to see such an excellency and sufficiency in Jesus, and such emptiness in themselves, as constrains them to cry out with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we got?" These things are hid from the wise and prudent. But,

II. Where, and in what sense, are these things hid?

1. Where are they hid?

First, They are hid in Christ. "In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge‡." He is the great repository of truth. "It pleased the Father that "in him should all fulness dwell§." And he is the messenger by whom the will of God is made known to man||. From hence observe,

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinua »