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on the minds of the whole assembly: “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, this is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.” There was therefore, it is evident, a generally prevailing expectation of the appearance of the august personage whom the prophets had announced ; and what proof of a divine mission more illustrious could be displayed, than that which had just reached the understanding through all the avenues of sense ? But it is truly humbling to observe the perpetual intrusion of a worldly spirit. That prophet whom all ranks looked unto and waited for, all ranks thought proper to invest with temporal power and splendour. The idea of raising him to kingly supremacy is immediately enteriained. What quality could a prince possess that led more certainly to success than that of subsisting his armies, without the expense and incumbrance of magazines ? Under this impulse the multitude are disposed instantly to rear his standard, and to enlist in his service. And when a man faithfully examines himself, he will find that the world, in some form or another, is lurking in his heart. He will find time, and sense, and self blending with his purest, most generous, inost exalted views, and directing his most seemingly disinterested exertions. Jesus demonstrates that he is much more than a king, by withdrawing from popular applause and proffered royalty. “When he perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” He meets and relieves their real necessities, but retires from their projects of
and ambition. To the demand of Pilate, “ Art thou the king of the Jews ?” this was his modest reply: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
We conclude with a few practical reflections.
1. The law of man's nature is a stated religious monitor to him. day he hungers, he thirsts, he waxes faint, he must lie down and go to sleep. He is as often admonished of his frailty, of his dependance, of his obligations. Let the animal functions be ever so little deranged or suspended, and the whole man, spirit as well as body, pines and languishes. An eye which never - slumbers nor sleeps watches him by night and by day. An unseen hand spreads his board, fills his cup, feedeth him with food convenient for him. A careless spirit overlooks common mercies, lightly esteems them, wastes, perverts, abuses them. And where the hand of God is not seen, felt and acknowledged, there can be no enjoyment superiour to that which the beasts of the field have in common with the rational creation. The devout spirit refers all to Deity, and thereby a relish is communicated to the simplest and most ordinary things. “A dinner of herbs where love is, a dry morsel, and quietness therewith," far exceed the luxury of the " stalled ox," and of “ a house full of sacrifices.” Herein the poor have infinitely the superiority over the rich and great. Hunger seasons the poor man's food, thirst sweetens his cup, labour softens bis couch. He beholds his daily supply coming from the bounty of a Father in heaven, he gives God thanks. Thus meditates the Psalmist in contemplating the providential care exercised over all creatures, especially those of the human race: “ Man goeth forth unto his work, and to his labour, until the evening. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches : So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships ; there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are "troubled : thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust,
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created ; and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works." Thus is the eye of man, from day to day, alternately directed to the ground out of which he himself was taken, to behold the support of his life likewise springing up out of it, and to heaven, toward “the Father of lights,” for,“ every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above." God, in his great mercy, has not entrusted to human reason the preservation of the body, but constantly warns him by an animal instinct of what his frame requires, and renders that savoury to sense which he knows to be necessary to life; and thus pleasure and duty, as they ever ought, go hand in hand. “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wouderful works to the children of men; for he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.'
2. If God is pleased to humble man, and to suffer him to hunger, it is to "make him know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” In the animal part of his nature he is reduced to the level of the beasts that perish ; io his spirit he rises to the rank of angels, he draws supplies immediately from the Father of spirits, he feeds on immortal food, he drinks of the "pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." The Christian, like his divine Master, has meat to eat which the world knows not of. “My meat,” says he, " is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work :" and, speaking of his doctrine, in contrast to the support and refreshment of the natural life, “ Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again : but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life;" and again, under the same image of ne
My father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God, is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life : he that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." 's Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” " For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink ; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The believer's feast is thus described by one who was a liberal partaker of it: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also : knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and
experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed ; because the love of God a is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us;" and
in another place, “ I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” “ I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.' I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
3. In proportion as this spiritual appetite increases, attachment to the world will diminish. Nature, says the proverb, is satisfied with little, and grace with still less. The disciple of Jesus knows and feels that he has here no continuing city, and therefore seeks one to come. He “coveteth no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." While the rich worldling, is pulling down his barns and building greater, in which to bestow bis fruits and his goods, laying up treasure for himself, without being rich towards God, the follower of Christ
cessary food : "
is employed in laying up“ treasures in heaven, where neither moth_nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” He desires " a better country, that is, an heavenly:" he looks for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” His master has taught him, when he prays, to say not, "give me much goods to be laid up years,” but “ give us this day our daily bread :"\ my heavenly Father knoweth what things I really need." He knows that the day of the Lord cometh, " in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up." He, according to the promise of God, who cannot lie, “ looks for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Hence he learns “in whatever state” Providence may be pleased to put him, " therewith to be content.” “I know,” says Paul, “ both how to be abased, and I know how to abound : every where, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Brethren, the time is short, it remaineth, that they who weep be as they who weep not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it ; for the fashion of this world passeth away."
4. Let the ministers of Christ remember that they are “ stewards of the mysteries of God," and that " it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” That which they deliver to others, they themselves received from the Lord. There is one and the same fare provided for them, and for their fellow-servants, and the provision is at once excellent and abundant. Every one is entitled to the portion most suitable to him, and in the proper season. “ New born babes," in Christ, “ desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” “ But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” In various ways may a steward be found unfaithful to his trust. He
be negligent, and then the household runs into confusion and every evil work; every one does that which is right in his own eyes, and of consequence every thing goes wrong. He may withhold what is due, and the family starves. The food may be improperly mixed, and thereby changed into poison. He may be injudicious, and the aliment of the healthy and vigorous is administered to the puny and feeble, while the delicate nourishment that suits sickliness and imbecility is presented to maturity and strength. He may be deliberately wicked, and betray the trust which he was appointed to guard. As a contrast to this melancholy picture, turn your eyes to the portrait of that faithful steward, and able minister of the New Testament, the apostle of the Gentiles, in the solemn appeal which he makes to the elders of Ephesus, on bidding them a final farewell; “ Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations which befel me by the lying in wait of the Jews ; and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befal me there : save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, 50 that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men,
for I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God-remember, that, by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.--I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.” But there is an appeal still more solemn and affecting, and in circumstances infinitely more interesting, that of the chief Shepherd himself, addressed to his heavenly Father, in the near prospects of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world ; thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee: for I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me: and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” “ Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are."
5. Let not the constant and regular operations of Deity, in the course of nature and providence be overlooked. Like the people who did eat of the loves and were filled," we take and enjoy the repast, but discern not the miracle which produced it. The naturalist traces the progress of vegetation as an amusement, as a branch of science. The husbandman pursues it as his destined occupation, he casts seed into the ground, leaves it there and goes to sleep, observes it day after day springing and growing up, he knoweth not how ; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear, but his eye and his heart are all the while set on the time of putting in the sickle, when the harvest is come. The eager merchant too watches the process, as a commercial speculation, as favourable or unfavourable to his plaps of buying, and selling, and getting gain. With what a different eye does a devotional spirit contemplate Deity spreading a table for every thing that lives! The Christian considers the fare upon his own board, whether simple or sumptuous, flowing in whatever channel, coming from the east or from the west, from the south or from the north, as a supply immediately furnished by the hand of his heavenly Father, as children's bread, as a foretaste of the rich provision of his Father's house above. This communicates to ordinary things a relish unknown to the banquets of the luxurious and the proud. With the five thousand he beholds his God in person feeding him. He passes from the table which he calls his own, and at which his divine Master sat as a guest, though invisible, to that which Jesus emphatically calls his, and he finds it replenished "with all the fulness of God." He eats and is satisfied, he goes on his way rejoicing, he advances from strength to strength, he mounts up as on eagles' wings, he runs and is not weary, he walks and faints not. Thus may every one of us in the Zion that is above appear before God. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen,”