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God. And vain is the contention of man against God: it is hard for thee, O persecutor, to " kick against the pricks."
In the history referred 10 by our Lord, and in the instance of a miraculous supply of food to the widow of Sarepta, in a season of extreme scarcity, as well as in the other equally noted instance of a miraculous cure of leprosy performed on the body of Naaman the Syrian, we perceive the dawning of the gospel day upon the Gentile world. They believed and obeyed the word of the prophet, and they obtained relies, while " the seed of Abraham after the flesh" remained unbelieving and impenitent. “Of a truth, God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation, he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." " The tiines of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent : because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” How God will deal in the judgement with those who never enjoyed the benefit of either the Law or the Gospel, it is not for us to determine. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” But “ we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ; which, at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the fioly Ghost, aceording to his own will ?”
Among other evidences that the Christian dispensation is from heaven, the universality of it is not the least. This act of grace contains no unkind exceptions. There is no proscribed region, or family or individual. The proclamation is, “ peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord.” This dawning light was now in a progress unto“ the perfect day.” Though Christ's personal mioistry was, in the first instance, addressed “ to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” its influence quickly spread far beyond the confines of Judea. "His fame went throughout all Syria;" a woman of Canaan believed on him, and her daughter was healed : the Roman Centurion, who had been made partaker of the same precious faith, in like manner had power with God, and prevailed in behalf of his palsied servant. Some of our Lord's immediate attendants lived to see the kingdom of God come with power.” The Centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus' on the cross, “ when they saw the earthquake, and those things that were done,” though unaccustomed to fear, they feared greatly,” and made this open confession, “ Troly this was the Son of God.”
The miraculous effusion of the Holy Spirit of the Apostles, in the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost, opened a passage in all directions for the speedy diffusion of the truth as it is in Jesus, over all lands. Peter no longer trembles and denies his Master, but stands boldly up to plead his cause, and precions souls by thousands are added unto the Lord. Cured of his Jewish prejudices, by a vision from heaven, he descends to Cesarea, preaches the word of life to the Centurion, Cornelius and “his kinsmen and near friends.” It is accompanied with power, and “with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” That same A po tle was spared to address epistles “to the strangers scattered throughout Poutus, Galaria, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Philip, the Evangelist, “ went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those
things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” That Evangelişt finds a proselyte in the desert of Gaza, in a person “ of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure." He, too, gladly receives the word, is baptized, and goes on his way rejoicing, to carry into those dark regions the light of divine truth, and the Scripture is fultilled which saith, Ethiopia sha soon stretch out her hands unto God.”
Time would fail in tracing the progress, and marking the success, of him, who is emphatically denominated the Apostle of the Genuiles, through the islands of the Mediterranean, over the states of Greece, in Italy, at Ruine. John the beloved disciple, had the pleasure of dispatching particular letters, dictated by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, to the seven churches of Asia. He was one of those, then, concerning whom Christ said, in the passage already quoted, “ verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” His life was prolonged to extreme old age. the kingdom of his divine Master established in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, The great Western World was still unknown; but, in the wisdom of God, it too has emerged out of the bosom of the vast ocean, to swell the Redeemer's empire. To embrace the whole globe is its generous design. The period approaches, when “great voices in heaven” shall proclaim, saying ; * The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoins of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” Though Israel," therefore, s be not gathered,” Messiah “shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord :" for he saith of him; “it is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." And as the ancient dispensation contained many intimations of favour to the Gentile world, so the Gospel contains and discloses a dawn of hope to the Jewish nation. • Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unscarchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out !”
Some intérpreters of note have remarked a coincidence between the duration of the great famine which afflicted Israel, in the days of Elias, and that of our Saviour's ministry from his baptism to his death, namely three years and six months. As during the former period, at the word of the prophet, heaven was shut up, and all elementary influence suspended, to the inexpressible distress of the whole land; so during the latter, through the mediation of a greater than Elias, full communication was opened. In the one we have displayed the severity of the Law, in the other the grace of the Gospel ; in Elias, the minister of wrath and condemnation : in Jesus, the minister of mercy and reconciliation; the one inflicting a temporary cuirse, the other calling down an everlasting benediction; there the clouds bound up, and the dew restrained; here a " doctrine dropping as the rain, and speech distilling as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." The prophet represents, in beautiful language, the blessedness of an open communication between earth and heaven:
- It shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear. Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say,
Thou art my God.” But the contrast is dreadful ! " She did not know thai I gave
her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my fax; and I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees.” The prayer of faith is the channel of this interesting communication.
It is humiliating to observe, and to reflect on the uniform and unrelenting malignity of the human heari. That greatness, power, wealth should be envied, and the possessor hated and thrust at, is not so much an object of sura prize. But that simplicity, innocence, kindness, beneficence should provoke hostility, would exceed belief, were not the proofs too numerous and too stubom born to be resisted. We justly detest the wickedness, injustice and ingratitude of the Nazarenes, in attempting to destroy their unassuming, unoffending townsman : but is the angry, the lofty spirit of man now subdued to the obedience and love of Christ ? Has not a daring attempt lately been made by a great nation, once denominated Christinn, to obliterate the name, and overwelm the cause of Christ? Wherefore change the ancient measurements of time ! It was in the hope of swallowing up the distinctiou of days, and thereby of sinking the observance of the Lord's day in the mass. With the abolition of the Sabbath the service of the sanctuary is swept away; and the spirit of Christianity, it was presumed, would not long survive its forms and rites. Are there none among ourselves who express rancorous animosity against the worthy name which they so unworthily bear ? Is not the Lord's day profaned and the temple deserted; and, in defiance of the law of the land, to say nothing of the obligations of decency and religion, are not efforts made by persons high in place and station, to discredit and disuse the ordinances of the Gospel, and thereby to bring the Gospel itself into disrepute ?
e say, however, concerning such men, in the spirit and words of the wise Gamaliel :
“ Refrain from these men and let them alone : for if this counsel, or this work, be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, they cannot overthrow it ; lest haply they be found even to fight against God.”
To this fell spirit in man, what a striking, what an amiable contrast have we in the temper and conduct of our blessed Lord! To withdraw himself from among these ingrates is the only mark of displeasure expressed by him. He desisted from teaching persons who were determined not to learn; “ He did not many mighty works there," because they were liable to misapprehension, to misrepresentation. . “ He, passing through the midst of them, went his
Thus men grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and he departs from them. And thus the Apostles of the Lord, Paul and Barnabas, when “the Jews, filled with envy, spake against them, contradicting and blaspheming," they
" It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” And is it no punishment to be forsaken of a friend; a friend whom we have grieved and offended, who feels himself constrained to retire, but retires silently, slowly, reluctantly ? Little do men reflect what sorrow, what remorse they are treasuring up to themselves, in slighting, in neglecting a day of merciful visitation. It drew tears from the eyes of the compassionate friend of mankind : - And when he was come near he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are bid from thine eyes." “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
We conclude with pointing out the Saviour as a pattern of perseverance in
well-doing. Nazareth is no longer a theatre of teaching and working. Does he therefore suilenly, resentfully cease from discharging the duties of his high office ? No, other cities will gladly receive him. “He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.” And what a course of active, unwearied beneficence did the remainder of his earthly pilgrimage exhibit! through evil report and good report, through opposition and discouragement, through sorrow and suffering, by night and by day, till, bowing his head, he could say, “ It is finished.” “Arm yourselves,” therefore, Christians, “ with the same mind :" "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith :consider him that endured such contradiction of sioners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." " And let us not be weary in welldoing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”
" Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovcable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye kaow that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
DIATTHEW IV. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.
Now, when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison he departed into Galilee: and leaving
Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias, the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, bevond Jordan, Ganlee of the Gentiles: the people which sat in darkness saw greal light: and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Aud Jesus, walking hy ihe sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Sinon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a vet into the sea : for they were fishers. And he saith unto them. Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straighiway left their nets, and foilowed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two breth, ren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, meoding their nets ; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed. him.
Among the other means of arriving at certainty, respecting “ the things wherein we have been instructed." it may be of importance to compare the present state of Christianity with its origin ; to contrast the smallness of its, beginnings with the greatness of its success; to consider the real influence which a cause so unpromising has had on human affairs, and the changes which it actually has produced on the face of the globe. Who is its Author ? A mighty potentate, armed with sovereign power and authority ? An invincible conquerer travelling in the greatness of his strength, at the head of triumphant legions, from victory to victory ? An experienced statesman skilled in every art of intrigue, and amply furnished with all coinmanding gold, to gain over credulous, or to purchase the suffrages of corruptible multitudes ? The reverse of all this is the fact. The Author of our Faith, Christians, as has frequently been repeated, was the reputed son of a carpenter; he was brought up in an obscure village of a region proverbially contemptible, of a conquered country; he was destitute of means, of friends of worldly wisdom ; he was a pensioner on the bounty of others, and frequently without a place where to lay his head.
Will any one presume to allege that he associated with the great of this world, that he insinuated himself into the favour and counsels of the princes of the earth, that he went forth armed with their commission, and advanced in their name conquering and to conquer ? No, history contradicts all this. He lived up to the age of thirty in the very depth of obscurity; his associates and coadjutors were few in number, men of mean parentage and parts, in the very lowest ranks of society, fishermen, the sons of fishermen. Did he employ, then, the arts of insinuation, adıiress and flattery to captivate the vulgar? Did he teach an easy, palatable, pliant morality, and attract the countenance and support of the million, by gratifying their passions, by conniving at their vices, or by humouring their prejudices? No such thing. His life and doctrine were quite the reverse. He preached and exemplified mortification, and self-denial, and patient submission to painful and unmerited suffering, and renunciation of the world. Undoubtedly then his followers could not be numVol. vn.