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you are parents after the flesh; if, after having introduced them into this world of nature, you are made the happy instruments of introducing them into the kingdom of God; if you and they together are at length added “ to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to the spirits of just men made perfect," through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and the “ blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Young man, thou wert in early infancy, by the piety of affectionate parents, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The birth of nature bestowed on thee the naine of thy Father after the flesh; when thou wert sprinkled with water, another name was prefixed to it, which continues to be thy distinctive appellation. Both were indeed imposed without thy consciousness or consent, but in both thou hast cheerfully acquiesced, perhaps they are a source of pride to thee. Even the acquisition of an estate will hardly induce a man of spirit to forego his parental designation, but the Christian name is indelible. Every time thou writest it then, every time thou hearest it addressed to thee, thou art admonished of thy dedication to God. Baptismal engagements rise into view. “I am not my own, for I am bought with a price. What, deny my name! What, sell it for a painted bauble ! No, I glory in it; I will not permit it to be dishonoured. What my parents did in my behalf when I was a little child, I now openly avoiv. They have done their part, through the help of God I will do mine.
The name of Christ shall not be blasphemed through my unworthiness. My brothers bear with me the common name of our ancestors, but I will render my own distinguished among many brethren. I will never blush at being called a Christian."
My friend, thou hast passed through the water at the age of puberty. Baptism was thy own act and deed. Thou hast entered into the kingdom of God, consciously, deliberately. The vows of God are upon thee. That young person, made a christian by the act of parents, when come to years may disallow that act, may renounce the name, but thou hast subscribed with thy hand unto the Lord.
Thou hast put the yoke of Christ upon thy own neck and hast assumed his burthen. Thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, and must not look, must not go back. Thou standest pledged to God and to the world to support the honour of the Christian name,“ to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” You feel and acknowledge the obligation; no temptation, no compulsion can induce thee to retract it. Next sacramental solemnity the vow shall be renewed, repeated. The language of thy heart is: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth :" “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
If the spirit and power of the institution, we repeat it, are thus understood and felt, let a man pass through water into the pale of the church of Christ, or procure that privilege for his child, by the rite of aspersion as conscience may prescribe, and let us " be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
The evangelist, at this interval, presents us with the genealogical table of Christ's descent from Adam downward. It brings us all to the common level of brethren. Through endless and intricate ramifications every man finds himself derived from one and the same root," the son of Adam, the son of God.” And the Christian is " born again,” he is “a new creature," being " begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.'
The law of nature binds us to each other as men, the law of the gospel doubles and strengthens the cord of love. This is Christ's “ new commandment," the badge of discipleship, the fulfilling of the law," "the bond of perfectness."
" A new commandment,” says our blessed Lord, “ I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
have love one to another."
Has God vouchsafed to give such testimony to the Son of his love ? Receive it, resť upon it, improve it as a rule of life, as a source of consolation. Ye “have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we have made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ;" for though you were not "eye-witnesses of his majesty,” you have "a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts."
Ye call Christ " Master and Lord;" and ye say well, for so He is. became him to fulfil all righteousness ;" He put respect on the ordinances, on the house, on the word of God ; " leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” Let the name, the day, the temple, the word of the Lord be hallowed in your eyes." “Know ye not that so znany of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
“ The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon Him :" when He was leaving the world, and going unto the Father, he promised his disciples to “ give them another Comforter, to abide with them for ever; even the Spirit of truth.” That Comforter was to teach them all things and bring all things to their remembrance." He shewed himself” to them “ alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs :" He repeated his promise ; " He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water ; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.” It was accordingly fulfilled : “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Thus were they comforted for their Master's departure; thus they received an unction from the Holy one," whereby they were set apart unto, and fitted for their great work; thus were they strengthened to begin and pursue a career which will be felt till time expire. The same Spirit is promised, and is given to us to help our infirmities," to " guide us into all truth," to take what is Christ's and shew it unto us, to “comfort us in all our tribulation," to shew us things to come. We look not for a miraculous effusion, to enable us to speak with tongues, to prophecy, to work miracles but we have good ground to ask and to hope that God will give us " the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” “O send out thy light and thy truth ; let them lead me, let thein bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles; then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy."
Our blessed Lord entered on his public ministry at the age of thirty, and it was accomplished within the space of little more than three years. Think how much was done in that short space. Were the things which Jesus did, as they stand on this record, and the many other things” not recorded there
in, to be " written every one,” such would be their number and their lustre, that they would to the world appear to be absolutely incredible, and therefore the world would not be disposed to receive them. Here we have an illustrious pattern of the employment, of the improvement of time. “I must work,” says he, " the works of Him that sent me, while it is day;" the duty of the season in its season. How ought we to blush at our laborious idleness, at our pompous nothings! What have we to shew for our thirty, forty, fifty, threescore years! Hardly enough to furnish a decent inscription for a tombstone. Were the history of the most industrious and useful life to be fairly delineated, the world would have cause to wonder at the frequent and hideous chasms, the wild confusion, the indecent rapidity, the causeless delay which the detail would present. What a picture then must the life of the professedly idle and dissipated, of the profligate and vicious exbibit! All enters into the book of God's remembrance, and must all come into judgement. What precious time, what invaluable opportunities of doing and of receiving good, have been shamefully neglected, have been vilely cast away!
What moment granted man without account?
Night THOUGHTS, II. 30.
Much is irretrievably lost. Who knows how little may remain ? « Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: the night is far spent, the day is at hand : let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day," and "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See that ye walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil,”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
MATHEW IV. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when le had fasted forty days and foriy nights, he was afterward an bungered. And when the templer came to him he said, it thou be the Son of God, cominand that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word ibat proceedeth out of the mouth of God. And the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God, casi thyselt down : for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time tbou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, it is written again, thou shall not tempt the Lord ihy God. Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweih him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, aud saith unto bin, all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me Then saith Jesus uinto him, gel thee hence, satan : for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt ihou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
WONDERFUL is the influence which external objects possess over the mind of man : wonderful it is to reflect how body and spirit act upou each other. On a simple determination of the will, every limb is in motion, every nerve is exerted; and the man is burning under the line, or freezing at the pole. Let the blood be transmitted with a little more than usual rapidity, or move a little more sluggishly, and all the mental faculties are deranged, a new world arises, every former idea is blotted out. The glance of that eye, at one time, chills me with terror, and at another it melts me into love. This note rouses me to the battle ; and that soothes me into melancholy. Internal serenity and depression are produced by a clearer or grosser state of the air. And if we are thus liable to be affected by objects merely material, what must be the influence of mind upon mind! How powerful must be the sympathy, how prompt the communication of kindred spirits, intuitively perceiving and interchang. ing mutual sentiments of kindness, gratitude or esteem! Who can conceive or explain the influence which beings wholly spiritual may exercise over the human species, creatures composed of matter and spirit, whose senses, whose imagination, whose memory, whose understanding, all are so easily impressible?
Of all the faculties which spiritual beings possess, that of rendering themselves the objects of sense most of all exceeds our comprehension. They present a form, they utter, and receive, and return articulate sounds, and anon they are vanished into air, thin air.” The appearance of Gabriel to Zacharias and to Mary, and of the multitude of the heavenly host to the shepherds, is a striking demonstration of it. We have before us another instance of this astonishing faculty, in a spirit of a very different character, and for a very different purpose--Satan, the destroyer, “foe to God and man,” tempting Christ in the wilderness.
The two Evangelists, who have given us the history of this temptation in detail, differ only in respect of the order of the facts related, that which is placed second in St. Matthew's Gospel is the third in Luke's and that which is the second in Luke is the third in Matthew. We have chosen to follow the latter, because, as he was shortly after called to the office of apostleship, he probably received the history from Christ's own mouth; and because the words which He addresses to the wicked one, in the close of the third temptation, according to Matthew's statement of it, “Get thee behind me, Satan," seem to have concluded the scene. This slight difference, however, serves only to confirm the authenticity of both historians, as it is a proof that the one did not copy from the other. We now proceed to the temptation itself.
“ And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Attend to the season which he laid hold of. It was at the moment that he saw Jesus ready to faint with hunger. Attend to the place ; it was in the wilderness, which produced nothing fit for food. Attend to the suggestion ; it presents nothing apparently offensive.
He only wishes a little seasonable relief to one under the pressure of the greatest distress, and that relief procured by means at once simple and innocent. The law had relaxed somewhat of its severity in favour of cases like the present, by exenipting from the punishmeut of theft, the person who had committed it only to satisfy his hunger. But here there was not the shadow of a crime; He had but to employ the power which he certainly possessed, and which he lawfully might exercise. It would be a demonstration of his immediate reliance on his heavenly Father; it would remove all doubt respecting the divinity of his mission ; 'Who could refuse to acknowledge Him who was thus declared to be the Son of God? He himself wants only this proof, to induce him, like another Herod, to fall down and worship him.
It is clear that the tempter, when he used the expression “the Son of God, did not fully apprehend the import of what he said, that he did not mean by it to acknowledge the divinity of the Saviour. Had he known with whom he had to do, Durst he have undertaken to tempt and seduce him? By " the Son of God," therefore, he understands only a Prophet of distinguished rank, superiour to all others, of preeminent virtue and merit, endowed with higher gitis and powers, chosen and commissioned of Providence for the conversion and salvation of the world, and of consequence infinitely dear to God. In this persuasion his object is an attempt to defeat the plan of Providence, to counteract the measures of Heaven, and, as he had succeeded in the seduce tion of the representative head of the human race, he entertained the infernal hope of prevailing also over its Restorer and Redeemer. He would dive, therefore, to the bottom of the character of Him, for whose appearance in the world such mighty preparation had been made, and whom a series of circumstances the most extraordinary had pointed out as the peculiar care of heaven. The operation of a miracle will one way or another serve to clear this
up. The conversion of stones into bread appearing to him an impossibility, if Christ refuses to perform it, an imputation lies against his power ; if he undertake without effecting it, his divine mission is rendered questionable. Can he be God's beloved Son, if he withhold the concurrence of omnipotence in a situation where it is of such high importance to determine what he in truth is ? And again, on the other hand, if Jesus pay any attention whatever to the suggestions of Satan he cannot be the Son of God, for that were to betray ignorance of the person who accosts him, and of the design which he entertained.
Mark still farther " the depths of Satan.” He too, unhappily, knows what is in man: and he well knew what a stimulus it is to a mind ever so slightly tinctured with pride or vainglory, when placed, especially in eminence of