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LECTURE III.

ST. MARK, XV. 32.

They came to a place which was named Gethse

mane.

AFTER the institution of the Eucharist, it appears, that our blessed Saviour delivered the discourse contained in the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel. The paschal solemnity was then brought to a conclusion, by the singing of a hymn. And, since the Lord Jesus, himself, joined in this sacred and pleasant exercise, it should excite feelings of no ordinary interest, when we learn, that the hymn generally adopted on these occasions, was the great Hallel, which, commencing with the hundred and thirteenth, terminated with the hundred and eighteenth Psalm.

We remarked, on a former occasion, that, on each night of this sad and eventful week, the holy Jesus had been accustomed to retire to the

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village of Bethany; of Bethany, then, flourishing amidst its vineyards, corn-fields, and olivegardens, a pleasant land, a goodly heritage, beautiful for situation; of Bethany, now, a wilderness, desolated by the stranger from a far country, where joy hath withered from the hearts of men, because, when the Lord was in that place, the degenerate sons of Jacob knew him not, neither honoured him as such. Here was the abode of Martha and Mary; of Simon, who had been cleansed from his leprosy; and of Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. Here, therefore, the Son of man, when, for our sakes, he became acquainted with grief, was certain to meet with that tender sympathy, which he was ever ready to extend to others, and which could not fail to be peculiarly gratifying to a nature so meek, so gentle, and of such exquisite sensibility as his. If, indeed, the kind and tender-hearted are, sometimes, exposed to sorrows from which severer natures are exempt, to them, also, are open sources of consolation and joy, of which the cold, selfish, and unfeeling, can neither entertain a hope, nor form an idea.

And now, that the Supper was over, and the Eucharist instituted, our Lord, having risen from the table, and left the guest-chamber, was repairing to his accustomed retreat. He foreknew,

as we have already seen, that his hour was come; that he was betrayed into the hands of sinners; and that, being delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, he would, at this feast, be condemned to an ignominious death. But, of his character or conduct, as the Son of man, it formed no part, to tempt the Lord his God, by inviting persecution, or by rushing inconsiderately towards the termination of his sorrows. On the contrary, in this, as in every thing, he is our bright and perfect example; teaching us to await, in patience, the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (1)

It was, probably, during our Lord's passage through the city, and his ascent up the acclivity, which led to the first summit of Mount Olivet, (which, in his way to Bethany, he must necessarily pass,) that those promises, admonitions, and instructions, were delivered, which are recorded by St. John, in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of his Gospel. These chapters, in conjunction with that which immediately follows, and in which is narrated the intercessory prayer of our Great High Priest, (that prayer, which no true Christian can examine, without being overwhelmed with astonishment, gratitude, and love,) I heartily commend to your serious attention, and private study.

If, in the discourses of our Lord, we expect to meet with those refinements of speculation, on which, from the period when they indulged their day-dreams in the academy, or their doubts in the portico, the wits of the worldlywise have been employed, down to the present hour, when it is deemed a mark of independence, to leave the light and to plunge into darkness, a token of genius, to deride religion, while credulously embracing the fables of superstition (2), if, in the wisdom of the blessed Jesus, we expect to find any of those fine-drawn theories, which, amusing the fancy, only delude the understanding, we shall, indeed, be much mistaken and disappointed. For the grandeur of the sentiments contained in the Gospel, is not more remarkable, than the plain and practical nature of the evangelical precepts. To gratify curiosity, is never the object of revelation; and practical holiness, is, invariably, the end of spiritual wisdom. (3)

Those persons, therefore, who open the Bible, merely to while away an hour of lassitude, or to gratify an idle curiosity, without attentively weighing its precepts, and without any solicitude to reduce them to practice, will rise from its perusal, seldom greatly edified, and sometimes wofully perplexed. How frequently do such

persons, sporting with their own deceivings, quote insulated passages, to establish conclusions, which the inspired writings, duly considered, unequivocally condemn! (4) The sacred volume is, I repeat, really satisfactory to those, and those alone, who make it their companion, their counsellor, their own familiar friend.' Consulting it with simplicity, and godly sincerity, these obtain an understanding heart, and become wise unto salvation. Not only inquisitive to search, but diligent to perform, the will of God, they mark, and learn, and inwardly digest, whatever they have read. (5)

If, indeed, we would comprehend the sense in which God speaks, we must contemplate revelation, not in its fragments, but as a whole. Scripture, must be explained by Scripture; spiritual things, must be compared with spiritual things; truths, must be enlightened by truths; facts, must be elucidated by doctrines; doctrines, must be deduced from facts; and later revelations, must be interpreted by what was revealed before. In one word, to the analogy of faith, the strictest attention must be paid. But such attention can be paid, by the diligent student only, of those sacred records, which are given for our study; and the study of which, is to be the great employment of life. He, who makes them such,

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