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Urge assemblage of virtues, which are required to constitute the Christian character. And so sar is it from being true, that any single virtue will give us admission into the kingdom of heaven, that St. James lays down a directly oppofite doctrine; namely, that if we do not to the best of our power cultivate every virtue without exception, we shall l>e objects of punishment, instead of reward. "Whosoever, says he, shall keep the whole law, and yet ofsend in one point, he is guilty of all." Nay, even if we endeavor to sulsil all righteoufhass, yet it is not on that righteousness, but on the merits of our Redeemer, that we must rely for our acceptance with God. For the plain doctrine of scripture is, that it " is the blood of Jefts Christ that cleanseth us from all sin*;" and that "by grace we are saved through saith; and that not of ourselves it is the gift of God." Of this, indeed, no notice is taken in our Saviour's description of the last judgment, and that for a plain reason; because he had not yet sinished the gracious work of our redemption. He had not yet offered himself up, upon the crofs as a sacrisice, a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. But aster that great act of mercy was performed, it is then the uniform language of the sacred writers, "that we are justisied freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesusf."
We must therefore collect the terms of our salvation not from any one passage of scripture, but from the whole tenor of the sacred writings taken together; and if we judge by this rule, which is the only one that can be securely relied upon, we shall sind that nothing less than a sincere and lively saith in Christ, producing in us, as sar as the insirmity of our nature will allow, vni-verfa!hoSntfi of life, can ever make our sinal calling and election sure. But thus ranch we may certainly collect from our Lord's representation of our sinal judgment, that charity, or love to man, in the true scriptural sense of that word, is one of the most essential duties of our religion; and that to neglect that virtue, above all others, which our Redeemer and our Judge has selected as the peculiar object
* l John, i 7. Ephes- ii 8. f Rom- iii- 24.
of his approbation, and as the representative of all the other evangelical virtues, must be peculiarly dangerous, and Tender us peculiarly unsit to appear at the last day before the great tribunal of Christ.
How soon we may be summoned there, no one can tell. The sinal dissolution of this earthly system may be at a
: great distance; but what is the same thing to every moral and religious purpofe, death may be very near. It is at least even to the youngest of us uncertain, and in whatever state it overtakes us, in that state will judgment sind
i ,us; for there is no repentance in the grave, and as we die fo shall we stand before our Almighty Judge. "Take heed therefore to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surseiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this lise, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell on
- the sace of the earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come upon you, and to stand before the Son of man*." . .>
* Luke xxi. 34.-v - . - •.
f f E are now approaching the last sad scene of our Saviour's lise, which cofhmences with the 26th chapter, and continues in a progressive accumulation of one misery upon another to the end of St. Matthew's Gofpel.
The 26th chapter, which will be the subject of the present Lecture, begins with insorming us that two days before the great Feast of the Passover, the chief priests, and the scribes and the elders of the people assembled together unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill him.
Whilst they were thus employed, Jesus himself was in Bethany (a small village near Jerusalem) at the house of a person called Simon, whom he had cured of a leprofy; and here an incident took place which marks at once the manners of the country and the times, and places in a striking point of view the different characters of the several persons concerned in it.
"As Jesus was sitting at meat in the house above mentioned, there came unto him a woman, having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, to what purpofe is this waste? For this ointment might have been fold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, why trouble ye the woman, for she hath wrought a good work upon me? For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this oint
ment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I saj unto you, wheresoever this Gofpel shall be preached m the whole world, there aHb shall this which this woman hath done be told for a memorial of her."
There are in this little story several circumstances that delerve our notice.
The sirst is, that the act here mentioned of pouring tie ointment on the head of Jesus, though it may appear 'strange to us, yet was persectly consormable to the customs of ancient times, not only in Asia, but in the more polished parts of Europe. Chaplets of flowers and odoriserous unguents are mentioned by several classic authors, as in use at the sestive entertainments both of the Greeks and Romans, and particularly among the Jews, the custom of anointing the head seems to have been almost as common a practice as that of washing the sace. For they are mentioned together by our Lord in his direction to his disciples on the subject of sasting. "But thou, when thou lasteft, anoint thine head, and wash thy sace, that thou appear nofnnto men to sast, but unto thy Father which iee'th hi secret*."
But there was a much higher purpofe to which the effulion of ointment on the head was applied to the Jews.— It was by this ceremony that Kings, Priests, and Prophets, were set apart and consecrated to their respective ossices.— And -for this reason it was that our blessed Lord himself, -who united in his own person the thieefold character of King, Priest, and Prophet, was distinguished by the name of the Messiah, which in the Hebrew language means The Anointed. It was therefore with peculiar propriety that this discriminating mark of respect was shewn to Jesus by the devout woman here mentioned, though she herself was probably altogether unconscious of that propriety. Jesus however saw at once the piety of her heart, and the purity of her intentions, and with that sweetness of temper, and urbanity of manners which were natural to him, not only accepted her humble offering with com
» Matth. vi. 17.