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consign them to eternal death, under the heaviest aggravations of guilt and misery. Remember the doom of Capernaum, and why it was denounced. Jesus preached amongst them the words of eternal life, and they rejected him. This was all. In other things, perhaps, they were no worse than their neighbours, and probably disdained to hear themselves judged worthy of a heavier punishment than Sodom, and those cities which for their abominations were consumed with fire from heaven. But our Lord assures us, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for those who slight his word. For this guilt and condemnation is not confined to the Jews who rejected his person, but extended to all who should at any time treat his Gospel with contempt. However inconsiderable his ministers are in other respects, if they faithfully deliver his message, he has declared himself closely interested in the reception they meet with: “ He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that
despiseth you, despiseth both me and him that sent “ me*.” It is therefore at your peril to treat what we say with indifference, (if we speak agreeably to the Scripture,) the word of God which we preach will judge you at the last day.
2. Be afraid of being wise in your own eyes, lest you should approach to the characters of those from whom the righteous God sees fit to hide the knowledge of those truths, without which they cannot be saved, The Gospel is not proposed to you to ask your opinion of it, that it may stand or fall according to your decision; but it peremptorily demands your submission. If
you think yourselves qualified to judge and examine
it by that imperfect and depraved light which
you call your reason, you will probably find reasons enough to refuse your assent.
assent. Reason is properly exercised in the ordinary concerns of life, and has so far a place in religious inquiries, that none can or do believe the Gospel, without having sufficient reasons for it. But you need a higher light, the light of God's Spirit, without which the most glorious displays of his wisdom will appear foolishness to
you come simple, dependent, and teachable; if you pray from
your heart, with David, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may see “ wondrous things in thy law *;" you will be heard and answered ; you will grow in the knowledge and grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ : but if you neglect this, and trust in yourselves, as supposing this promised assistance of the Holy Spirit unnecessary, the glorious light of the Gospel will shine upon you in vain; for Satan will maintain such hold of you by this pride of your hearts, as still to keep you in bondage and darkness, that you shall neither see it, nor desire to see it.
3. Those of you who have some spiritual apprehensions of these things, have reason to praise God that you see a little. You was once quite blind; you neither saw your disease, nor your remedy. You could discern nothing of the excellence of Christ, or the beauties of holiness. But now the eyes of your understanding are in some measure enlightened. It is the grace of God has made you thus far to differ from what you once was, and from what multitudes around you still are. Be thankful. Accept it as a token for good. Be not discouraged that the beginnings are small; but wait on the Lord, and they shall be increased. Seek him
* Psalm cxix. 18.
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.
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 arth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
HEN 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 révealed 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 1xxii. 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 thein, 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.
First, The divinity of Christ. When he spoke of hiinself as existing before Abraham, and said that God was his own father*, the Jews took up stones to stone hiin.
* John v. 18. Hatipa doy neys. 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