Imatges de pÓgina
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revealed will in the gospel, who neglect and despise so great salvation.

Let it then be firmly rooted in our minds, on the authority of the divine Author and Finisher of our faith, that to do the will of God, as far as we know or can discover it, is the best temper and disposition of mind in which we can prosecute our religious enquiries; and that, next to the promised unction from the Holy One, it is the surest guide to the sacred recesses of the temple of divine truth. And what, I ask, can be conceived either more agreeable to the dictates of sound reason, or more strictly consonant to the nature and relation of dependent creatures, than that the revealed will of God should always be regarded by them as the rule of their obedience, both as being an expression of infallible wisdom, and as invested with supreme authority? A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master : if I then be a father, where is mine honour ? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts. This claim of obedience arises from the relation we stand in to God as the creatures of his power, and the objects of his constant care, and is evidently universal. And how greatly is it strengthened by the consideration of His redeeming mercy, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity? The manner in which he opened his commission in the synagogue of Nazareth, exhibits at once the design of his prophetic character and office, and the authoritative import of his Father's will, as binding upon every individual to whom the gospel method

of salvation is declared. The Spirit of the Lord, said he, is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor ; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind ; to set at liberty them that are bound ; to preach, or proclaim, the acceptable year of the Lord.

· If, indeed, the gospel were a message only to the learned, requiring either much time or great talents for the comprehension of its fundamental principles, it could not be esteemed an universal blessing. If to the unlearned only, that is, if it included no other truths but what might be fully perceived, and understood immediately by all alike, it would be unlike all the other works of God, and seem to be wanting in the signature of its heavenly origin. By accommodating its blessings to the circumstances of both, it more fully corresponds with our ideas of the divine wisdom and benignity. While the principles of the doctrine of Christ are plain and intelligible to the weakest capacity, there are truths connected with them, in the study of which the greatest genius and talents may find ample scope for their exercise. The great mystery of godliness is equally the subject of joy and wonder to the peasant and to the archangel ; to the whole church on earth, and to the glorious society in heaven. Here, in the language of the apostle, there is not only plain food for such as have need of milk, but there is also strong meat for them that are of full age, even those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.

But, in order to read the scriptures with advantage, it behoves us to read them with prayer. Our supplication should be, that God would bless to us his own word, and give us his Holy Spirit to impress it upon our hearts. The word of God contains his counsel to his children; the Spirit of God opens the mind to receive that counsel. And we are then most likely to receive it, when we feel the same seriousness upon our minds as if He audibly addressed us, and when we search the scriptures as containing the words of eternal life. All the proofs of their divine inspiration shew that they contain an inestimable treasure-a treasure which Providence has watched over with peculiar care. It is nearly three thousand years since the first of our acred books, and nearly eighteen hundred years since the last of them was written and yet not one of them has been lost, notwithstanding all the persecutions that were raised against Jews and Christians, and all the attempts of their furious persecutors to burn and destroy their sacred oracles. A book so wonderfully preserved, and so precious in itself, ought to be dear to our hearts. Let us make it the subject of our daily meditation, and let us prosecute our enquiries with a becoming seriousness and solemnity of spirit. Let us regard it as the standard of our faith, the rule of our conduct, the charter of our inheritance. Let us treasure up its precious truths in our hearts, and study, through the grace of God, to reduce them to practice, that we may walk as children of the light and of the day.

To as many as walk according to this rule, who study the gospel in this manner, the result is as certain as it is glorious. Their minds, however capacious, shall be still further expanded and ennobled. They shall behold the wonders of creation, and the mysteries of providence and redemption, with new eyes, and explore them with new delight. Contemplating in the gospel, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they shall be changed daily more and more into his image by his Holy Spirit. Honouring him in life, they shall glorify him in death. Looking not so much on the grave as on its Conqueror, they shall quit the present scene of trial with longing desires after immortality, and with a well grounded hope, that, when absent from the body, they shall be present with the Lord.

SERMON XII.

THE SABBATH MADE FOR MAN.

MARK, II. 27.

The Sabbath was made for man.

THE

HE Jews, as appears from the context, carried the prohibitory precept of the Sabbath to a great degree of superstitious scrupulosity. Our blessed Lord embraced every opportunity that occurred, of giving them just views of its real nature and design. On the present occasion he shews them that there are excepted cases-cases of necessity and mercy to which that part of the law of the Sabbath which forbids the doing of any work does not reach. And as they had found fault with his disciples for gathering a few ears of corn on the Sabbath, to satisfy the demands of hunger, he produces a case exactly in point, which not even the strictest Pharisee had ventured to condemn. Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shew bread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him.

Having thus vindicated the character of his dis

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