Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

we

hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and signs, and wonders, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are witnesses. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins."

This simple testimony of the Apostles is the real basis of all preaching, the only authority by which stand

up

from sabbath to sabbath as the ambassadors of Christ, “as if God did beseech you through us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Unless this effect is produced, no matter whether you believe little, or much, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What saves mankind, is not any opinion about the nature of Christ, for men may believe any possible propositions concerning him, and still be lost and miserable sinners. It is Christ, precisely as we see him in the evangelic narrative. There he stands as the Ambassador of God's mercy, pointing to the Father under the figure of the parent of the prodigal son. The language of this parable no sinner ever misinterpreted, and its invitation from God to him is, “ Though thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” He stands there as the perfect teacher of truth and duty; “ the way, the truth, and the life.” His words fix themselves in the conscience as the ultimate convictions of the human soul. They put us at once upon trial, whether we will prove loyal to God, or false to every conscious obligation. In his history we see the pattern of a perfect life. In every relation he was faultless. In piety to God, in duty to man, he filled up the measure of all conceivable perfection. He not only lived, but died for human good; his Gospel comes down to us sealed not only by his miracles, but by his blood. And when we go with the witnesses, and with them look into the empty sepulchre, we feel a stronger conviction that a morning is to dawn upon the night of the grave, than by reading ten thousand arguments for the immortality of the soul.

Thus is Christ judging the world, by proposing the tests which determine men's moral state, and his disciples whom he called from the fishing nets of Galilee, by promulgating his all powerful word, sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Lecture XI.

GRADUAL ILLUMINATION OF THE APOSTLES.

John 16: 7—14.- Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away,

the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on me. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he shall show you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you.

The condition of the Apostles of Christ during his ministry was altogether without a parallel. They were preparing to be prime agents in the mightiest revolution that has ever taken place on earth, but in entire ignorance of the means by which it was to be brought about. Their ears were daily drinking in, their memories were treasuring up those eternal truths by which they were one day to sway the world, still they comprehended them not. Many of them were preserved in the mere words by which they were conveyed, and left for time and events to unfold and explain. And his discourses and parables to the multitude, like the rich fruits with which God loads the autumnal tree, while they satisfied a present appetite, contained, moreover, within themselves, the seeds of another spiritual harvest, which should be developed and bear fruit in other and succeeding ages.

The great truths of the new dispensation were gradually and slowly introduced. Their ideas of the Messiah and his kingdom were already formed, but they were erroneous. A struggle immediately commenced between the new and the old, which never ceased as long as they lived.

When the disciples first joined the more immediate society of Jesus, they were not only unintellectual but unspiritual. Not only were their views to be enlarged and corrected, but their characters to be elevated. From grasping aspirants, raised from an ordinary calling to a hope of great dignity, power and wealth, they were to be transformed to generous, high-minded, disinterested propagators of truth and righteousness among men. The discourses of Jesus must have had a strong tendency to bring about this transformation. Every word of his discourses is replete with the loftiest sentiments which can ennoble the human heart. In his presence, every selfish propensity, every evil passion must have felt rebuked and repressed. Every religious susceptibility must have been cultivated, every just and humane emotion each moment called into exercise. Of all means of moral and spiritual culture, the society of the pure and excellent is the most efficacious. Nothing is so contagious as the dispositions of the soul. If you would form the soul to truth, let it associate with those who know no disguise. Would you cherish the gentler virtues, cultivate the society of those who have acquired the most entire self-control. Would you cherish habitual piety to God, the surest means is to live in the presence of those whose natures are filled with the highest reverence for sacred things. Men will never be taught by a parrot, let him string together the finest sentences, and pronounce them with the greatest propriety. Nor will they consent to imitate a machine, let its movements be adjusted with any degree of precision. The only teacher is a sincere and earnest soul. That alone preaches with unction from on high.

This moral transformation seems to have taken place in all the disciples except Judas Iscariot. His heart was so hard, his soul so debased, that even the society and teaching of Jesus made no impression upon him. A daily life of fraud and deception was sufficient to counteract all the redeeming influences of Christ's character, and plunge his soul farther and

« ElőzőTovább »