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dying thief may first come to your mind. He believed that Jesus had the key of heaven, and therefore he prayed for admission there. Stephen believed in the Saviour's Godhead, adored his majesty, published his greatness, and then laid his bleeding brow upon the Saviour's breast. The apostle Paul, having received the testimony of Jesus as the redeemer of the chief of sinners, committed his soul to his charge.
Now these men ventured all the vastness of eternal life, because they believed ; only because they believed that Jesus was equal to his word. My dear young friends, we have the same testimony; why should not we have the same faith. Why should not you say with the apostle, “He will keep what I have committed to him till that day?” I am urging no impracticable effort. A minister whom I could name supplied the pulpit of a neighbouring brother. He was accommodated at the house of a hospitable friend. After dinner he sat awhile with several of the gentleman's daughters. They were kind and intelligent. He ventured to address them in some words like these: “Well, you have long heard the gospel, are you converted—are you found in Christ? Your kindness will excuse this question.” “We never were spoken to in this way before,” replied one of them. “ As to what you say, I fear it has never been to us a matter of
We thought that the gospel was a blessing to God's favourites; but we never thought of claiming the comforts of the elect of God; we have no reasons to believe that we are of that happy number.” “My dear friends,” rejoined he, “I intreat you to believe that God loves you ; that he loves you now.” “But how can we do that?” • Because he says so.
God so loved the world! You are part of it. Believe, I beg, that he loves you. that he loves no sinners more than he loves you.” “But why should we do so ?” “Rather say, why should you not do so, Tell me why ?” He left them for that time. They pondered the question in their hearts. They ventured to believe the glorious truth; they were melted into grateful love; they both became devoted to God. One of them died in the triumph of hope; the other is walking with God in peace and love to this day.
My dear young friend, if you are reading these lines alone, stop now, just now, and let angels witness the great transaction; yes, pause at this very line; kneel down and surrender thy helpless spirit to thy great redeemer's charge.
MORNING AND AFTERNOON LESSONS FOR EVERY
SUNDAY IN THE MONTH.
JANUARY 14. Morning Reading, 2 Sam. xxi. Morning Lesson, Matt. xiv. 1-12.
NOTES ON THE LESSON. VERSE 1. What Herod was this ? Herod Antipas, son of Herod the king, referred to in Matt. ii. 1. What does “ tetrarch” mean? Ruler over fourth part of a country. What parts did this Herod rule over ? Galilee and Perea.—. VERSE 2. What made Herod say this ? His conscience, which smote him for what he had done to John. But was not Herod a Sadducee, or one who professed to disbelieve in the resurrection? Yes. Matt. xvi. 6, compared with Mark viii. 15. Hence the great force of conscience, which extorted this language from Herod, contrary to his professed faith.—VERSE 3. Read Mark and Luke respecting this matter. Mark vi. 17 ; Luke iii. 19. Where was John imprisoned ? None of the evangelists say. But Josephus the Jewish historian says-in Machærus, which was in Perea, and two days journey from Tiberias, where Herod's court was.
This explains Mark's language-Herod “had sent forth”—Mark vi. 17.VERSE 4. Had John said rightly? Yes. Lev. xviii. 16.—VERSE 5. Why did Herod wish John to be put to death ? In order to get rid of his reproof.--VERSE 6. Was it customary for kings to keep their birth-days? Yes, and with great pomp and festivity. Gen. xi. 20; also Mark vi. 21-29.-VERSES 7, 8. Was this promise a rash promise ? Yes, as all such promises must be.—VERSE 9. Why was the king sorry? Because beheading John would displease the people. Was Herod's oath binding ? No. It is wrong to take an oath and then break it, but it is worse to keep an oath, which is unlawful. —VERSES 10–12. What is a charger ? A large dish.
What do you think of Herodias and her daughter ? They were licentious, cruel women.
IMPROVEMENT. Show how one sin leads to another, as in Herod's case. Dwell upon the evils connected with sensual enjoyments.
Afternoon Reading, Gen. xxxii. Afternoon Lesson, Matt. xiv. 13–21.
NOTES ON THE LESSON. VERSE 13. Why did Jesus go to a desert place? Probably to avoid danger. As he went by ship, he must have crossed the sea
of Galilee. Luke calls the place Bethsaida because it was near it. -VERSE 14. How did this great multitude come to Jesus ? On foot, that is, they went round by the sea of Galilee which Jesus crossed. VERSES 15, 16. Compare these verses with John's account. John vi. 5—7.-VERSE 17. Who had these loaves and fishes ? John v. 9.–VERSES 18, 19. What is meant by sitting down ? Lying at length on the ground. In what order did they recline ? Mark vi. 39, 40. Why did Christ look up to heaven? As a sign that he waited for God's blessing. How were the loaves multiplied? In a miraculous manner, as he brake them. What do we learn from the word “bra ke?” That the loaves were thin and brittle. They were made of barley.—VERSE 20. Why did Christ permit so many fragments to remain ? To make the proof more clear that they had been fed miraculously. What baskets were these? Such baskets as were used in those days for carrying provisions in.—VERSE 21. How many do you think there were altogether? About ten thousand. What was the effect of this miracle? John yi. 14.
IMPROVEMENT. Dwell upon the fact that all our blessings, including our daily bread, come to us from the same hands which fed these multitudes. John i. 3.
Morning Reading, 2 Sam. xxiii. 1—23.
Morning Lesson, Matt. xiv. 22–33.
NOTES ON THE LESSON.
VERSES 22 and 23. What does “constrained” mean? Ordered -influenced. Was it late? Yes. Verse 15. Why did he send them by ship at that time of night? That he might display his power afterwards when they were in peril. Why did Jesus choose this time for prayer ?
Because he wished to humble himself before God, after the miracle which he had wrought; the more so, as the effect of the miracle proved a temptation to him. The multitude had desired to make him king at once. John vi. 15.VERSE 24. Where does John say the ship was ? John vi. 19. Is that the same as the midst of the sea ? Yes. The sea was about sixty or seventy furlongs across, so that twenty-five would be half-way or in the midst.--VERSE 25. What time was included in the fourth watch? From three to six in the morning. The Jews divided the night into four watches. The first watch was from six in the evening until nine; the second from nine until twelve; the third from twelve till three; the fourth from three till six.
VERSE 26. Was it natural for them to say, ' it is a Spirit ?" Yes. It must have been a wonderful thing to see Jesus walking on a stormy sea.-VERSE 27. Why did Jesus speak these words ? That they might no longer be alarmed.—Verses 28–31. Was Peter's conduct natural? He was always very ardent, sometimes very rash. What lesson might Peter have learnt from this event ? That his courage was not so great as he thought it to be, and that his only safety was in the power and mercy of Christ.–Verses 32, 33. Why did the wind cease ? Because Jesus had hushed it.
Did Jesus refuse their worship? No; and we learn from this that he was God.
IMPROVEMENT. Christ is an example to his disciples in the matter of prayer. Christ ought to be the confidence of his disciples in every time of peril.
Afternoon Reading, Gen. xxxiii.
Afternoon Lesson, Matt. xiv. 34-36.
NOTES ON THE LESSON.
Verse 34. Gone over what? The sea of Galilee. Where was the land of Gennesaret ? In Galilee, on the west side of the sea. Capernaum was in that region.-Verse 35. What is meant by the expression “had knowledge of him ?” When they knew that he had come into their country, and that he had such wonderful power. What did their sending into all that country prove? That they were a kind-hearted people, and wished well to their afflicted neighbours. Would it not take some time and cost some trouble to do what they did? Yes; the people of that district were widely scattered about. What may we learn from their conduct ? To be willing to put ourselves to trouble, in order to benefit our afflicted fellow-men. Who is our greatest pattern in this respect? The Redeemer, whose whole life was one of sorrow and trouble for us. Why did they bring the diseased to Christ? That he might heal them. Can we imitate the men of Gennesaret in this respect ? Yes; by prayer to the Redeemer, who is the physician of the soul as well as of the body, we may bring sinners to Christ.–Verse 36. What did their beseeching Christ show ? That they were in earnest. What did their request to touch the hem of his garment prove ? That had great faith in his power. Do you recollect a similar instance of faith ? Matt. ix. 20-22. Was it their touching the hem of his garment or their faith that made them whole? Their faith. Matt. ix. 22.
IMPROVEMENT. Dwell upon the duty of making Christ known to others, when we have knowledge of him ourselves.
NOTES ON THE LESSON.
VERSE 1. What made these scribes and Pharisees come to Jesus ? They came to find fault with him. What happened before they spake to Jesus ? Mark vii. 2.-VERSE 2. Whom did they mean by the elders ? Their ancestors. What is tradition? Anything handed down from one generation to another by word of mouth instead of writing. Was it sinful to transgress such tradition ? No. In Mark's gospel, is any other tradition mentioned besides this ? Mark vii. 4.—VERSE 3. What did Christ mean by this language ? That their traditions were corrupt, seeing that many of them were opposed to God's law.–VERSE 4. Jesus says, “ God commanded." What do we learn from this ? That Jesus honoured the Jewish law as divine. Where are these commandments ? Ex. xx. 12; xxi. 17.-VERSES 5 and 6. What word is used in Mark instead of " it is a gift?" Mark vii. 11. What custom did our Lord refer to ? It was common for the Jews to rid themselves of their duty to their needy parents by pretending to dedicate their property to God; and when once they had done so, by saying, “it is corban,” their traditions forbad them to give such property away. What is meant by " he shall be free?" He shall not be held guilty of breaking the divine law. Was not Christ's condemnation of this conduct just ? —VERSE 7. What is a hypocrite? One who makes a pretence to religion without being religious. Who is Esaias ? Isaiah.— VERSE 8. Where is this prophecy ? Isaiah xxix. 13. How did the Jews draw nigh unto God with their mouth, &c. ? By their prayers and public worship, &c. How did they show that their heart was far from God? By the present instance and many others. — VERSE 9. What do we learn from this verse ? That all worship of God is vain which springs from submission to human authority.
IMPROVEMENT. 1, The Bible is our only guide in matters of religion. 2, Without sincerity all worship of God is vain.
Afternoon Reading, Gen. xxxv. 1—20. Afternoon Subject, Differences of opinion respecting what the Bible teaches.
CONVERSATION ON THE SUBJECT.
What was our last subject of conversation ?.
...... You are aware that there are many different riews respecting what the Bible teaches? Yes. Mention some of the principal names by which professing christians are distinguished. Papists, Lutherans, members of the Church of England, Presbyterians, Independents, Methodists,