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lost also his connexion with angels-Jesus however, by becoming man, gathers together againm both men and angels under himself as their common head: yea, he comes, as it were, to the very gates of hell, that he may take from thence sinners of the human race to fill the thrones once vacated by the apostate angels-It is by no means improbable that the very same humiliation of Jesus that exalts men to glory, is the source of establishment to the angels that retained their innocence—At all events, the restoration of their Lord to the honour of which man by transgression had deprived him, and their communion with man in the benefits conferred upon him, cannot fail of exciting in their breasts the liveliest emotions of gratitude-Indeed, we see that this is no fanciful idea, since it is realized in heaven, where saints and angels join in one general chorus, ascribing" salvation to God and to the Lamb""]
TO ENFORCE then the injunction we have been considering, we would say
1. Welcome him
[Let not his advent be regarded with indifference; but welcome him with acclamations and hosannas-The captious Pharisees may indeed condemn you; but if you neglect to honour him thus, the very stones will cry out against you°-] '2. Submit to him
[Jesus comes, not merely to save mankind, but to set up his kingdom in the world-Let your hearts then, yea, "the very thoughts of your hearts, be brought into a willing captivity to him"-"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish:" and present your offerings before him in token of your allegiance to him, and your unreserved subjection to his will]
3. Depend upon him
[He is that nail in a sure place on which are to be hanged all the vessels of his Father's house"-Trust then on him; and let his vicarious sufferings and obedience be the stay and support of your souls-]
4. Glory in him
[Since he is the boast of all in heaven, let him be the boast of all on earth-Let the frame of your hearts be joyous, exulting, and triumphant-Thus from worshipping him below, you shall be brought to worship him for evermore in heaven-]
m’Ανα-κέφαλαιώσασθαι. Eph. i. 10.
P Ps. ii. 12.
o Luke xix. 38-40. Isai. xxii. 23, 24.
• See Isai. xliv. 23.
n Rev. v. 9, 13.
q Matt. ii. 11.
CLXXIV. CHRIST'S EXECUTION OF HIS PASTORAL OFFICE.
Ezek. xxxiv. 16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
THERE is no office under heaven so important as that of ministering unto men the gospel of Christ. But, alas! its importance is too little felt, and its duties are too negligently performed. There is, however, one shepherd, whose care and vigilance are without intermission. He it is, who, many hundred years before he came into the world, spake by the prophet, and declared the manner in which he would execute his office.b
In the words before us we see
I. The different states of Christ's sheep
[All are considered as the sheep of Christ, who by name and profession belong to him, as well "the fat and the strong, who shall be destroyed," as those who shall be saved.
All without exception, while in their natural state, are "lost," straying from God, and ignorant of the way in which alone they can return to his fold. Some feel an inclination to enjoy his benefits, and at times resolve that they will turn from their evil ways: but they are "driven away" by the violence of their passions or the fear of man.
Of those that have been brought home to the fold, many, like David, are complaining of griefs and sorrows, more painful than a "broken" bone. And all are "sick" of sin, that loathsome malady which pervades all their powers both of body and soul, and incapacitates them for serving God as they would wish to do.f
There are too many, alas! who are "fat and strong," in their own conceit. Were they really in good condition, they should not be "destroyed." But, like the Laodiceans of old, they deceive themselves; being really destitute of all wisdom, goodness, and strength, in exact proportion as they fancy themselves possessed of these things.]
b Ver. 23. c John x. 16.
d Isai. liii. 6.
f Rom. vii. 18, 19, 21, 23, 24. Gal. v. 17.
It is in this sense that our Lord speaks of "the whole," and "the righteous." Matt. ix. 12, 13. h Rev. iii. 17.
a See ver. 2—10. e Ps. li. 8.
II. The correspondent dealings of Christ with them
[Though in many instances our Lord displays his sovereignty in stopping the progress of most grievous sinners, while he suffers persons of more amiable deportment to wander further from him, yet all are to expect that he will deal with them in a perfect correspondence with their character.
He came from heaven in human flesh, and still comes in the preaching of his gospel, to "seek" and save" that which was lost." And if any, who have been "driven away" by the force of temptation or persecution, are desirous to put themselves under his care, he will gladly bring them to his fold, and protect them from every inward or outward foe.k
As for those who are already in his fold, he will administer to all their wants, "binding up" the broken-hearted,' and "renewing the strength" of those who are ready to faint. By the efficacy of his word, and the consolations of his Spirit, he will turn their sorrows into joy:" and his grace shall be sufficient for them under all the trials they may be called to endure.°
Willing as he is to pardon the very chief of sinners on their repentance, he will awfully punish the impenitent. The proud and self-sufficient, who despise his offers of mercy, shall surely feel his awful displeasure. He will "destroy" them as enemies both to himself and his flock: and, in order to their destruction, he will "feed them with judgment," giving them up to follow their own delusions, till they shall have completed the measure of their iniquities, and fattened themselves for the sword of his indignation.P Yes; to eternity shall they eat of the fruit of their own ways, and feel the judgments which they would not deprecate."]
1. Let us put ourselves under the care of this good Shepherd
[The more we consider our state the more shall we see, that we are straying, or, at best, diseased sheep. But here is our comfort, that we have a tender and faithful Shepherd that will forgive our wanderings, and supply our wants. Let us then return to him, if we are afar off; or, if he have brought us to his fold, let us rely upon his care and faithfulness."]
2. Let us imitate him to the utmost of our power
i Acts ix. 1-6. Mark x. 21, 22. Ver. 11-15. with John x.
n Isai. xxxv. 1, 2, 10. Prov. i. 31.
t1 Pet. ii. 25.
1 sai lxi. 1, 3.
m Isai. xl. 29-31.
[Doubtless it is in the first place the duty of ministers to follow the steps of this great Shepherd, because his flock is more immediately committed to their care. But it is also the duty of every one in his place and station to exert himself to the utmost to enlarge and edify the flock of Christ. And, if we were more diligent in our respective spheres, how many might be reduced from their wanderings, or strengthened in their difficulties, or comforted in their troubles! We know not how useful a word in season might prove. "Let us then, as the elect of God, put on bowels of mercies," and shew our relation to Christ by our conformity to his image.]
* If this were the subject of a Visitation or Ordination Sermon, this thought should be prosecuted at some length, in reference to the whole preceding part of the chapter.
CLXXV. THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST TOWARDS
Matt. xii. 18-21. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in him shall the Gentiles trust.
ONE might gather almost as complete a character of Christ from the prophecies as from the gospels themselves
Not only the great incidents relating to his life and death were foretold, but his spirit and conduct were most minutely delineated—
He had just withdrawn himself from the Pharisees who sought to destroy him
And had strongly enjoined his attendants not to make known his miracles
This conduct appeared strange to those, who were expecting him to erect a temporal kingdom
But the Evangelist declares that these very things had been made the subject of prophecy many hundred years
The passage quoted by him from Isaiah is recorded, not with literal exactness, but according to its true import-It declares
I. The commission given to Christ
Christ was the Father's ambassador to our ruined world
[However, in his divine nature, Christ was equal to the Father, yet, in his mediatorial capacity, he was the Father's
The office assigned him was to shew judgment, that is, the way of righteousness and salvation both to Jews and Gentiles
And for this he was qualified by an immeasurable communication of the Spirit to him-]
In this view the Father exceedingly delighted in him [The Father doubtless regarded him as his beloved for his
But was peculiarly pleased with him as having undertaken the work of man's redemption—
In him he saw, as it were, all his own perfections glorified, and the thrones of apostate angels occupied by sinners of the human race
Hence in triumphant exultation he declares his acquiescence in him, and calls every human being to "behold" him-]
The prophet further specifies
II. The manner in which he should execute it,
He was to accomplish his work
[There was to be nothing in him ostentatious, contentious, or clamorous---
Together with firmness and fidelity, he exercised continued gentleness and meeknessaa
Would to God that many who bear a similar commission would learn of him to execute it in a similar way!-]
[The terms here used seem to be proverbial
The former metaphor is taken from reeds, which were used as musical instruments by shepherds, and which, when bruised, could no longer emit any melodious sound
The smoking flax alludes to the wick of a lamp which, when the flame is extinct, produces an offensive smell
Both these metaphors fitly represent the state of a soul bruised under a sense of sin, and lamenting that its grace is nearly extinguished while whole clouds of corruption are arising from it
a Johu iii. 34. Isai. xi. 2, 3.
sa His conduct, as related in the context, strongly illustrates this.