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SUBJECT :- The Revolutionary and the Revelationary Forces
of the Gospel.
“And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel ; and for a sign which shall be spoken against : (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”—Luke ii. 34-35.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sixty-fifth. SIMEON, having clasped the Incarnate One in his arms, blessed God, and exultingly sought a dismission from the world, turned to the parents of Jesus and “ blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, behold this child,” &c. We shall take the words to illustrate :
I. THE REVOLUTIONARY FORCE OF THE GOSPEL. With the truth-inspiring spirit upon Simeon he prophecies that the holy child was set for “the fall and the rising of many in Israel.” What does this mean? Three things may be included in it:
First : That His system will bring down the proud, and elevate the humble. The first thing His gospel does is to bring the proud soul down into the depths of self-abasement, and then to raise it into blessed fellowship with all that is great and good in the universe. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” &c. The cross is the condition of the crown, the valley of humiliation is the pathway to the heights of celestial honor. This revolution the gospel always effects in the soul in which it effectually acts. It casts down every imagination, and every high thing, and every thing that exalteth itself. It may include :
Secondly : That His system will effect great social changes. In whatever social sphere His gospel has worked to any great extent its mission, it has so modified the conditions of social life, that the proud, arrogant, and overbearing men, that once occupied high positions, fall from their altitudes, and men of moral worth, from classes below, rise and take their place. In our England the types of men who once occupied our throne, presided over our courts of justice, and officiated in our temples, will occupy these dignified offices no more. These types of character have fallen in public esteem; they will never rise again. Men of another type will ascend to these situations. Let the gospel thoroughly leaven our country, and far greater social revolutions in this respect will you see than have yet taken place. It may include :
Thirdly : That His system will prove a moral injury to some, whilst it insures the well-being of others.
This is an awfully solemn point. The old prophets had the idea that the Messiah would be a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” to some, and the apostle speaks of the gospel as proving “the savour of death unto death,” as well as “of life unto life." How does the gospel injure? (1) Not by design. (2) Not by inherent tendency. (3) Not' by divine effort. Three things may explain it. (1) Multitudes reject Christianity. (2) The rejection of it is the greatest sin. (3) The greatest sin will insure the greatest misery. Many will rise to the sublimest heights through the gospel, many will fall to the profoundest abysses of woe. Many will curse the day that they ever heard its “ blessed sound.” Christianity then is a revolutionary power.
" It overturns," &c.
II. THE REVELATIONARY FORCE OF THE GOSPEL. “ The thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Simeon in the text specifies the influence which Christ would exert upon the mind of His enemies, and upon the mind of His mother. He would arouse His enemies to hostile speech, He would be to them “a sign which shall be spoken against,” a mark against which the tongue of the enemy would hurl its arrows of calumny. This was verified in His life. What calumnies by Scribe, and Pharisee, Priest, and Magistrate, were zealously propagated concerning Him. This was true of His
* See last number of the Homilist.
Church. In the past ages it was a “sect everywhere spoken against." This has ever been true of His system. The worldly and the infidel have always spoken against it. But Simeon speaks here also of the influence which He would exert upon the mind of His mother. “A sword shall pierce through thy own soul.” The calumnious words which
had uttered against her holy son, and the heartless cruelties she saw perpetrated on Him, went as a javelin to her heart. What mother's heart can estimate the agonies of Mary's bleeding bosom? Thus He reveals the thoughts of enemies and friends. How does Christ reveal men's thoughts
First : He does so by rousing them into action. Christ during His short public ministry woke up the mind of His country. The mind of Judea had been sleeping for ages. There was no independent thought anywhere. routine and monotony. There was scarcely a ripple of free thought upon the sea of Jewish intellect. The waters were stagnant, the machine was stationary.
But Christ soon changed the scene. He stirred the mental depths of His age, and made it surge with thoughts. He touched the springs of souls, and set the wheels of reason in rapid motion. Thus Christ always acts. He evokes thought. His gospel is a thought-generating power.
He reveals men's thoughts :
Secondly: By discovering their moral character. Thoughts as they come out by the pressure and in the light of His system show their true character. The Scribes and Pharisees, and many of the Jewish people stood as great saints till Christ came. His deeds and doctrines brought out their souls into the sunlight of eternal truth, and they appeared as black as hell. So it is now.
Men appear virtuous and moral until you press Christianity upon them in all the divinity of its claims, and then you see them corrupt as they are. Men, renowned for their refinement, will show their gross materialism, if you only press home upon them the spirituality of the gospel. Men, renowned for their intellectual freedom, will show their slavery to prejudice, only press home upon
them the unsectarian doctrines of the gospel. Men, renowned for their generosity, will show their selfishness, only press home upon them the self-sacrificing spirit of the gospel. It reveals the thoughts of man, it shows men to themselves, to society, and to the universe. It is, as James says, "a mirror.”
SUBJECT :—The Love of God.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John iii. 16.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sixty-sixth.
The subject of the text is God's love, as manifested in the plan of salvation. God's love is seen :
I. IN THE GREATNESS OF THE GIFT WHICH HE HAS BESTOWED. “He gave his only begotten Son.” First: This gift infinitely surpasses in value all the preceding bestowments of God. However precious the innumerable natural blessings which have been bestowed on the human race from the time of Adam till now, we have every reason to believe that they are of minor importance in comparison with this. In granting this gift, “God commendeth his love." Secondly : This gift, in the course of God's future providence, can never be equalled. As in creation and providence, He has given innumerable blessings ; He is capable of doing likewise again; but He cannot confer another gift equal in value to this. It was “His only begotten Son.” How amazing His love to fallen man! God's love is seen :
• II. IN THE UNWORTHINESS OF THOSE ON WHOM THIS GIFT IS BESTOWED. “The world.” First: Mankind possessed no claim on God. Were the Divine Being under some obligation to man, His love in conferring on him this blessing,
would not have been a matter of such great wonder and admiration ; but man lost every claim on God, when the crown of moral purity fell from his brow. Secondly : Mankind were destitute of everything that could attract God's favor. To have merited His affection, their conduct must have been in perfect unison with virtue ; but it is said, “There is none righteous, no not one.” Thirdly : Mankind in character were calculated only to repel the Divine nature. In how bright a contrast, then, does the love of God in Christ stand forth, beside the depravity of mankind. God's love is seen :
III. IN THE BENEFITS WHICH ACCRUE TO MAN FROM THIS
First : Escape from everlasting punishment,—“not perish.” The most terrible pictures of woe and distress that we behold in this world, can give us but a faint conception of the sufferings of the wicked in the future. We shudder at the very thought of plunging into the rolling sea of unquenchable fire. What, then, must be the reality? But God sent his Son into the world to rescue us from the “deep damnation" of sin. Secondly: Enjoyment of perfect happiness,—" life." See the progressive grades of this love. Not only are we saved from hell, but promised heaven. Thirdly : Enjoyment of perfect happiness without end,"everlasting life.” This still enhances the love of God. God's love is seen :
IN THE SIMPLICITY OF THE MEANS WHEREBY BENEFITS ACCRUING FROM THIS GIFT MAY BE OBTAINED. First: They are obtainable through faith. Men labor hard to gain trifles ; but salvation is obtained by simply believing. Secondly: They are thus obtainable universally," whosoever believeth." Such are a few aspects of this inexhaustible theme; each progressive ; each showing the love of the Father in a brighter light.
Bound, every heart, and every bosom burn;