Imatges de pÓgina

take away." The peculiar blessing pronounced by the Saviour of the world "on them that mourn," and the gracious assurance, that "they who sow in tears shall reap in joy," will no longer be read as words almost without a meaning; but will be deeply felt, and treasured up in the heart. The consideration of God's continual presence, his protecting Providence, and the conviction, that we are sustaining the part, which He, in his infinite wisdom, has ordained, will also be a source of great and never-failing comfort to us, whether our condition be that of poverty or riches, of suffering or enjoyment, or whether, as is most frequently the case, it affords that mixture of good and evil, which seems best adapted to our probationary state.

Lastly, the comfort, which true believers may seek, and always find, in the revealed word of God, is greatly strengthened, or rather it chiefly rests, on that "blessed hope of everlasting life," which we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. This, indeed, is the crown and consummation of our faith, and is the final object of the apostle's declaration in the text; which evidently points to the transcendent rewards that are promised in the great scheme of human redemption, through the merits, mediation, and atonement of the


[ocr errors]

Son of God. Without this merciful dispensation of Divine Providence, it is impossible that we should have any sure, well-founded hope after death: because, admitting a belief of the soul's immortality, there is "none that doeth good," with undeviating constancy, no not one." The merciful intercession of a Saviour, therefore, and the appointment of a Judge, "who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," are equally necessary to teach us our duty, to enable us to "run with patience the race that is set before us," to chear us with comfort, as we journey through life, and to set before us the glorious hope of the Gospel, when we are about to enter the regions of death.

Let us farther reflect, that this covenant of Grace is equally calculated, by the wisdom and mercy of God, to check the presumption of the strong, and to encourage the feeble efforts of the weak for the merits and atonement of Christ are to be considered not only as an expiation for sin, but as an aid and supplement to our own imperfect works: so that while it may be truly said to "help our infirmities," it calls forth all our efforts "to make our calling and election sure." It promises nothing to the indolent and careless; but offers its gracious aids

to the diligent, and assures its mercy to the humble, penitent, and contrite sinner. In short, the sentence of the divine Justice is thus summed up by the apostle. "To them, who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,-indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil," (that is, without repentance, or any purpose of amendment), "to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile."



MATT. IV. 1.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.

THE text is the commencement of the very extraordinary narrative, which you have this day heard, of our blessed Lord's temptation in the wilderness. It is recorded, with little variation, by all the Evangelists, except St. John; whose Gospel being intended, for the most part, as supplementary to the rest, contains little in common with them, beyond an account of some of the miracles, and a more circumstantial detail of events respecting the Crucifixion.

St. Luke, indeed, in the original Greek, says, that Jesus was led " in the Spirit ;" which being the very form of expression used occasionally

* Preached on the first Sunday in Lent.

by the prophets, and by the inspired Evangelist, in recording the sublime Visions of the Apocalypse, has induced many pious and learned men to consider the striking scene of our Lord's Temptation in nearly the same point of view.

The incidents are, indeed, so singularly strange and supernatural, and the difficulties attending a literal interpretation are so embarrassing, that we may reasonably be inclined to favor this idea, particularly when we consider the visions of Jacob, Ezekiel, and some other prophets, not to mention that of St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, and of St. Paul, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians *.

Others would understand the whole, as the natural suggestions of the Saviour's own mind, in the hours of private meditation and fervent prayer, expressed in the highly figurative and symbolical language of the East, when he was about to open his divine ministry, and to encounter the difficulties and dangers, the temptations and calamities, the sufferings and sorrows, to which, during his sojourning on earth, he knew he should be exposed.

Let me remark, that the humble and sincere believer may be permitted to adopt either interpretation, or to adhere to the strict letter

*Ch. xii. 1-5.

« AnteriorContinua »