authenticated his commission by the seal of miracles. Under that seal he executed it; and that seal he transmitted to his immediate disciples. Under it they acted, and the world was christianized. Miracles have effected all that they were intended to effect, and the Gospel now rests on its own unmoveable basis. What need of the formality of a seal to a writing which bears the impress of Deity on every line, on every letter ? You eall for miraculous proof of its divine original. That very call, in the nineteenth century from its first establishment, is the proof. Had it not been the cause of God and truth, it must long ere now have ceased to be a subject of discussion. When the opposition of avowed enemies, and the treachery of pretended friends, are taken into the account, that Christianity should at all exist, is the greatest wonder that ever was presented to the world. You call for proof; it is at hand. What political, philosophical, moral system ever lasted so long, or could boast so many proselytes ? What system is so favourable to science, to intellectual, civil, moral improvement ? Introduce the spirit of Christ, and despotism and slavery expire together ; man is settled on a basis of equality which disturbs not the order of society, and a prospect is opened of a state of being in which all the disorders now prevalent shall be completely rectified. You call for proof; it is at hand. Go to hamlets and huts; look to empty scrips and exhausted penury, to the field of painful, unproductive toil, and to the bed of languishing; see Rachel weeping for her children, because they are not: and David mourning over living, ungracious children. The sufferers repine not, they charge noi God foolishly; they commit themselves to Him who clotheth the lily and feedeth the raven ; labour makes rest sweet, and hope puts a pillow under the drooping head; the heart is poured out before God, and the countenance is no more sad. Is this no miracle? In what school of the philosophers are such lessons taught? And let it be observed that these, and such as these, are not the glaring, splendid triumphs of Christianity, but its daily, poiseless, unobtruding, unustentatious operation.

Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." Is miraculous proof of the divinity of the Gospel still demanded ? It is at hand. By what instruments does the great Jehovah still support and extend the Mediator's kingdom? By men thenıselves feeble, ignorant, forlorn like those to whom they minister: men standing in need of the self-same instruction, consolation and support which they are called to administer to others : men, in general, as little qualified by natural endowments, or by the acquisitions of literature, to subvert the kingdom of Satan, and to build up that of Messiah, as the fishermen of Galilee were to shake the throne of the Cæsars, and to restore that of David which was fallen down. It is in every age the same. " Where is the wise ? where is the scribe ? where is the disputer of this world ? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." “ Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I bave planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." 66 We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not

Still call for proof! What kind and degree of proof will satisfy or silence Infidelity? Siiall the sun stand still and the moon be stayed? Are not the constant and uniform motions and appearances of those great luminaries an equal, or a superiour demonstration of srereign power and wisdom? Shall the shadow upon the sun dial of Ahaz be accelerated or retarderi ten degrees. What can it prove more than is done by a steady and regular progression ?

of us."

Thousands are fed miraculously, at once, by a few loaves and fishes. Is the miracle less which day by day feeds the innumerable tribes of the human race, by a process of vegetation, and of animal increase? The producing hånd is the same in both cases, the manner of production makes all the difference. Should one rise from the dead, will ye believe and repent ? One has arisen from the dead: but infidelity still holds out. And we must leave it to its consequences : “ If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded thongh one rose from the dead."

As the evidence, so the doctrine of Christianity is the same that it was from the beginning Whether to the Jew or to the Greek; the preaching of John or of Christ himself, of the primitive disciples, or of the ministers of to-day, it is a “ testifying of repentance toward God, and of faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” From the beginning to the end of the world, the call is, “ Turn ye, turn ye, Why will ye die ?” “ Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” The command and the promise are blended together : “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," and they are addressed equally to the jailor at Phillippi, and to the multitudes at Jerusalem:

“Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The universaliiy of guilt demands universality of contrition and reformation ; and there is but one “ blood” that “ cleanseth from all sin ; " " peither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

What other teacher, what other legislator did not find himself under the necessity of suspending, of relaxing, of mitigating the severity of the law; of accommodating himself to times, tempers, and circumstances ? Even Moses himself was obliged to temporize, and to connive at the breach of the law, in favour of the hardness of the people's hearts. But the great Christian Legislator has but one unvarying, inflexible code, for the prince and the peasant, for the noble and the ignoble, for the slave and his master. It alone suits all nations, all seasons, all situations. Among the other marks of Deity this is not the least. Christianity is a religion, not for this district or for that, but for the globe; not for the Jew or the Greek, but for mankind, and thus approves itself to be of him who“ hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Nay more, Christianity is a religion for both earth and heaven, for time and for eternity. Its spirit is the spirit of love, and perfect love is the fulfilling of the Law and the perfection of felicity. “ Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” Wherefore ? Faith and hope are adapted to a state of trial and suffering; they imply doubt, difficulty, imperfection : "but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” But after the exercise of faith and hope has ceased, charity is arrived at its maturity; a maturity that knows no decay. Thus are " the spirits of just men made perfect."

Once more we ask: Is the history which we have been reviewing the history of a mere man? Is there nothing superiour, nothing divine in this mode of teaching and acting ? What mortal could have engaged in such an enterprize, with such support and have prospered ? What human power and skill reach to the paralytic, the lunatic, the Jeper? What arm of flesh can control “ the prince of the power of the air ?” What eloquence of man can persuade the rich, or the poor to give up every thing? What tongue can say, with effect, to the wind and the sea, Peace, be still ? If these are not proofs of a present Deity, What proof can be demanded, What proof can be given? Our knees bow, our tongues confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Amen.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through

thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in beaven. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my father : and no inan knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal bim.

Wise and good men have attempted to present an artificial arrangement of the several events recorded in the history of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, or what they call a Harmony of the Gospels. It is both a pleasing and an useful amusement to ascertain the dates and to settle the order of events; and labours of this kind merit high commendation. But the native majesty and simplicity of Scripture_stand in no need of artificial arrangement. The whole spiritual building is august and venerable, and each particular part has its peculiar beauty and excellency. To be assured that such things were done, is of infinitely higher importance than to determine the exact series of succession. Every line of the history of Christ is a radiant display of divine perfection ; every step he takes leaves an impress of benignity behind it. It was predicted concerning him, that he should be " a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." But it was likewise predicted that he should " see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” The words which have been read contain the accomplishment of this last prophecy. In all our affliction he was afflicted ; let us weep with him : and when he “rejoices in spirit,” let us also rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory ; receive ing the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls."

The followers of Christ had now increased to a great multitude. And need we wonder, if such doctrine, supported by such purity and dignity of character, and by such mighty works, had the power of attracting attention and respect wherever he went ? “There followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan." Out of those multitudes he selected first twelve, with the peculiar designation of disciples and apostles, to whom he imparted a portion of his spirit and power: " He gave them authority over all devils, and to cure diseases, to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." Vol. VII.


It was

Afterwards “ he appointed other seventy, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself would come.” on occasion of the return of those seventy, after having fulfilled their mission, and upon the report which they made of their success that Jesus broke out into this holy rapture : “ In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." Let us trace the process.

The Evangelist records, at full length the commission granted to those seventy, but gives us no particulars respecting their progress. These must be collected from the account which they themselves give of it.

The Seventy returned again with joy. Every thinking man enters on a difficult or a hazardous enterprise with very mixed emotions. He feels the consequence attached to an arduous and important station ; he feels the pressure of responsibility, and the solicitude of general expectation pointed towards him. The animating stimulus of hope is repressed by the dread of miscarriage. It is a terrible thing to return foiled, disappointed, discomfitted. The eve of a battle is a season of solicitude. But when the conflict is over, when success is no longer doubiful, the soul enters into a state of perfect composure. Mournful is the reflection, “ 1 have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain ;" but how complete is the triumph of an apostle reviewing a successful ministry, and looking forward to the glorious recompense of reward. “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 ihe Lord the righteous judge shall give me in that day.” Such was the triumph of the seventy, having finished their circuit of the cities of Jo Galilee.

They express peculiar satisfaction in reporting to their divine Master, that “ even the devils were subject to them, through his name.” It was matter of great joy to them, that their preaching had been acceptable and asesul; that ihey had been the honoured instruments in his hand, 10 “heal all manner of 19 sickness, and all manner of disease ;" to predispose the minds of men to receive the kingdom of God, by healing their bodies: but to prevail against the great adversary who had so long tyrannized over the nations, leading them " captive at his will,” this filled up the measure of their joy. At the same time, they modestly disclaim all personal merit. They humbly ascribe the glory of all this wonderful success to the potent name of their almighty Lord. Jesus himself exercises underived power over universal nature. “ What a word is this !" exclaimed the astonished multitudes, “ for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out:” but the disciples have power, and prevail only through virtue communicated to them. Without me," says he, " ye can do nothing:" and then is the believer most strong when he rests on imparted strength. Now those disciples were speedily to be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, carrying with them the doctrine and the name, that is the wonderworking power of their Master. Wherever, therefore, virtue accompanied that name. There was Christ himself present; and of whom but of Deity can it be affirmed that he is in more thau one place, in many places, in all space at once ? God challenges omnipresence as his own : “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off ? Can

any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord : do not I fill heaven and earth ? saith the Lord." " Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them ; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: and though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel. I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I com

[ocr errors]

mand the serpent, and he shall bite them.” The great Author and Finisher of our faith asserts to himseit the same divine attribute, and connects with it perpetuity of duration, in the charge which he gave to his disciples before he ascended up into heaven : “Go ye and teach all nations ;" there is a claim of universal power and presence; and he adds the gracious assurance; "and lo, I am with you alway, even unio the end of the world." Here are omnipresence and endless unchanging existence united. When the viper dropped harmlessly from the apostle's hand, in the island of Melita, there was the name, the presence and the power of Christ. When Philip, in the desert of Gaza, “preached Jesus” to the Ethiopean eunuch, and converted him to the Christian faith, there was the name, the presence and the power of Christ. When John, in the isle that is called Patmos, “ heard a great voice, saying, I am Alpha and Omega," there was the name, the presence and the power of Christ. That presence, my brethren, we hope and trust, is in the midst of this worshipping assembly, and presiding over it; is to consecrate that table and those elements of bread and wine; is to sanctify and ennoble our communion and fellowship. But it is not confined to this place. It is at this moment diffusing light, and hte, and joy over myriads of worshippers in the east, in the west, in the south, in the north. It is "the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea :" "in all places where I record niy name I will come unto thee and bless thee." Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

This subjection of the devils to the disciples, through the name of Christ, Jesus in bis reply contemplates as the beginning of Satan's complete and final overthrow, as a step toward the total subversion of his kingdom. * Ile said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven;" " when I sent you forth armed with my commission and furnished you with power to execute it, I saw swift destruction overtaking the destroyer. You have begun a conquest which I am proceeding to accomplish. You have subjected his mischievous agents. I shall bruise Satan biinseif under your feet shortly." “ His usurped dominion, as "the God of this world,” as “the prince of the power of the air,” as “the ruler of the darkness of this world,” is hastening ** to expire. Rooted, established as it may seem to be, it shall vanish in a moment, rapid as a flash of lightning, which disappears before it is well seen.” The expression is in use with both the sacred and profane authors. The downfall of the king of Babylon is, by the prophet, represented under this bold imagery :

“ How art thou fallen from heaven, () Lucifer son of the morning! bow art thou cut down to the ground !” The Roman orator says of Anthony, thou hast dragged down thy colleague from heaven;" and when Pompey the Great was hurled from his proud preeminence, Cicero represents him as having " fallen from the stars.” The time to favour a darkened, enslaved world was now come, and Jesus triumphs in the near prospect of the conversion of the gentile nations " from darkness lo light, and from the power of Satan unto God."

The former mission of the seventy was limited to " the cities and places, whither he himself would come ;' now their sphere is enlarged, and with an extended commission fresh assurances are given of divine protection wherever they went. “ Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means

After the resurrection from the dead, an unbounded career is set before them, the vast globe is spread out as the scene of action, the whole human race, through all ages and generations is the grand object of the gospel ministry, and powers adequate to the undertaking are granted. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"-"and these

hurt you."

« ElőzőTovább »