Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ting out in lise, that we are to look for the most violent assaults from our passions within, and from the world and the prince of it without. And if we strenuously resist thofe enemies of our salvation that present themselves to us at that most critical and dangerous period, all the rest that follow in our maturer age will be an easy conquest. On him who in the beginning of-lise has preserved himself unspotted from the world, all its subsequent attractions and allurements, all its magnisicence, wealth, and splendour, . will make little or no impression. A mind that has been long habituated to discipline and self-government amidst sar more powersul temptations, will have nothing to apprehend from such assailants as these. But after all, our great security is assistance from above, which will never be denied to thofe who servently apply for it. And with the power of divine grace to support us, with the example of our Lord in the wilderness to animate us, and an eternity of happiness to reward us, what is there that can shake our .constancy or corrupt our sidelity? .

Set yourselves then without delay to acquire an early habit of strict self-government, and an early intercourse with your heavenly Protector and Comforter. Let it be your sirst care to establish the sovereignty of reason and the empire of grace over your soul, and you will soon sind it no disssiculty to repel the most powersul temptations. "Watch ye, stand fast: in the faith; quit yourselves like men; be strong,"* be resolute, be patient; look frequently up to the prize that is set before you, lest you be weary and saint in your minds. Consider that eyery pleasure you sacrisice to your duty here, will be placed to your credit and encrease your happiness hereafter. The conssict with your passions will grow less irksome every day. A sew years (with some of you perhaps a very sew) will put an entire end to it; and you will then, to your unspeakable comfort, be enabled to cry out with St. Paul, " I have fought a good sight, I have sinished my course, I have kept the saith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me in that day."f

* i Cor. xvi. 13. f % Tim. iv, 7,8,

LECTURE V.

MATTH. iv. Latter Part

T

1 HE former part of the fourth chapter of St.

Matthew, which contains the history of our Saviour's temptation, having been explained to you in the preceding lecture, I shall now proceed to the latter part of the chap, ter, in which an account is given of the sirst opening of our blessed Lord's ministry, by his preaching, by his chusing a sew companions to attend him, and by his beginning lo work miracles; all which things are stated very briefly, without any attempt to expatiate on the importance and magnitude of the subject, which was nevertheless the noblest and most interesting that is to be found in history; an enterprize the most stupendous and astonishing that ever before entered into the mind of man, nothing less than the conversion of a whole world from wickedness and idolatry to virtue and true religion.

On this vast undertaking our Lord now entered; and we are informed by St. Matthew, in the 17th verse of this chapter, in what manner he first announced himself and his religion to the world. His sirst address to the people was similar to that of the Baptist, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The very sirst qualisication he required of thofe who aspired to be his disciples was repentance, a sincere contrition for all past offences, and a resolution to renounce in suture every species of sin; for sin, he well knew, would be the grand obstacle to the reception of his, Gofpel.

What a noble idea does this present to us of the dignity and sanctity of our divine religion! It cannot even be approached by the unhallowed and the prosane. Before they can be admitted even into the outward courts of its Crnctuary, they must leave their corrupt appetite and their sinful

practices behind them. "Put off thy shoes from off thy "seet," said God to Mofesfrom the burning bush, " for the "place whereon thou standest is holy ground."* Put off all thy vicious habits, says Christ to every one that aspires to be his disciple, for the religion thou art to embrace is a holy religion, and the God thou art to serve is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot even look upon iniquity. In some of the ancient sects of philofophy, before any one could be admitted into their schools, or initiated in their mysteries, he was obliged to undergo a certain course of preparation, a certain term of trial and probation, which however consisted of little more than a sew superstitious ceremonies, or some acts of external discipline and purisication. But the preparation for receiving the Christian religion is the preparation of the heart. The discipline required for a participation of its privileges, is the mortisication of sin, the sacrisice of every guilty propensity and desire.

This sacrisice however the great sounder of our religion did not require for nothing. He promised his followers a recompence insinitely beyond the indulgences they were to renounce; he promised them a place in his Kingdom, a kingdom of which he was the sovereign; a-kingdom of righteousness here, and of glory hereafter. Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at handjr.

He then proceeds to select and associate to himself a certain number of persons, who were to be his assistants and coadjutors in the establishment and the administration of his heavenly kingdom.

And here it was natural to expect, that in making this choice he should look to men of influence, authority, and weight; that being himself destitute of all the advantages of rank, power, wealth, and learning, he should endeavor to compensate for thofe desects in his own person by the contrary qualities of his associates, by connecting himself with some of the most powersul, most opulent, most learned, and most eloquent men of his. time.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

And thls most undoubtedly would have been his mode of proceeding, had his object been to establish his religion by mere human means, by insluence or by force, by the charms of eloquence, by the powers of reason, by the example, by the authority, by the sashion of the great. Eut these were not the instruments which Christ meant to make use of. He meant to show that he was alove them all; that he had far other resources, sar disserent auxiliaries, to call in to his support, in comparison of which all the wealth and magnissicence, and power and wisdom of the world, were trivial and contemptible things. We sind therefore that not the wise, not the mighty, not the noble were called* to co-operate with him; but men of the meanest birth, of the lowest occupations, of the humblest talents, and most uncultivated minds. "As he was walking by the sea of Galilee, St. Matthew tells us, he saw two brethren, Simon willed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were sishers. And he saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you sishers of men; and they straightway left their nets (that is in sact all their subsistence, all the little property they had in the world) and followed him. And going from thence he saw other two brethren, James the fon of Zcbedee and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their sather mending their nets; and he called them, and they immediately left the ship, and their sather, and followed himf." These were the men whom he selected for his companions and assistants. Theie sishermen of Galilee were to be, under him, the instruments of over-throwing the stupendous and magnisicent system of paganism and idolatry throughout the world, and producing the greatest change, the most general and most important revolution in principles, in morals, and in religion, that ever took place on this globe. For this astonishing work, these simple, illiterate, humble men, were singled out by our Lord. He chose, as the apostle expresses it, "the foolish things of the world to confound ihe wise, and the weak things of the world to consound the things which are mighty %; that his religion might not be established by the enticing words of man's wisdom, but by demonstration

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »