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18. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
19. And a certain Scribe came and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
20: Jesus saith unto him, the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.
THE power of Jesus Christ to perform mi
racles was so generally known at the time, in which the events recorded in these verses occurred, that great multitudes assembled about him, expecting to receive some benefit from his gracious hands; but, as the motives of all, who attended his steps, were not equally good, and as he knew many were induced to follow him only out of idleness and vain curiosity, he thought proper to change his station, and therefore he gave commandment to his Disciples to depart unto the other side of the Lake of Gennesareth, on the borders of which he had been teaching; and "a certain Scribe," who doubtless had heard of his fame, " came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee
whithersoever thou goest; and Jesus said unto him, the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head."
In discoursing upon these words, I design to speak
I. Of the determination of the Scribe;
II. Of the Answer given to him by our Lord.
I. I am to speak of the determination of the Scribe. A Scribe was a person employed in copying out the Books of the Law, and, as printing was not then known, the office was a very honourable one, and the person who bore it kept company with those who were most esteemed in the country. Hence it is, that
we often read in the New Testament of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Rulers of the Jews, at the time that our Saviour made his appearance upon Earth. These, for the most part, were leagued together against him; for, conceiving from some expressions in the Prophets, to which they gave a wrong explanation, that he was to be a temporal Prince, who should deliver them from the yoke of a foreign power, they were offended at him, when they observed the meanness of his birth, and heard him deliver those lessons of heavenly instruction, which were directly contrary to the proud and
arrogant notions which they had conceived. As, however, his miracles were so striking and so public, the Scribe in question, it seems, was pretty well convinced that Jesus was the person whom Moses and the Prophets did say should come in the fullness of time to be the Saviour of Israel; but, still entertaining the idea that He would be raised to a state of royal grandeur, he conceived that his salvation would be wrought by some signal victories, and that a portion of the honor, which attached to the Prince, would belong to all the subjects of his dominion, therefore he saith, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest."
Now, the disposition of this Scribe is precisely that of many Christians. They admire Christ, and are ready to follow him to certain lengths, persuading themselves that nothing very difficult will be required. I will give you two or three instances of this disposition.
1st, The admirers of Christ are ready to follow him in all the ceremonies of his religion. Being fully convinced of the truth of the Scriptures, and understanding that it has been the common practice of the Church, from the earliest ages, to admit her members by the rite of baptism, they are careful to conform to her regulations, and thus to dedicate their children unto God. After this, when reason begins to
dawn, and they are capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong, they are told, that God is favourable to the good, but full of anger against the wicked. They are informed of the kindness of Jesus Christ in dying for sinners, and of the good thoughts which he puts, by his spirit, into the hearts of those who give themselves up to him. These truths are explained and enforced by parents and teachers, according to the capacity of their young hearers; then they are taught the Catechism, which contains a summary of the Christian Faith; in due time they are confirmed by the Bishop, and receive the Holy Communion; and, to obtain further information, join the congregation from Sabbath to Sabbath in the House of God. Notwithstanding the too general indifference which prevails concerning serious things, yet are there still not a few who have been so religiously educated, and who entertain such a sense of what is decent, orderly, and respectable, that they would be ashamed to neglect the service of God, or to refuse to their children, or any other young persons committed to their care, those advantages which I have just enumerated. Thus, then, there are many who will attend Christ in the ceremonies of his religion, and in the ordinances of his worship.
2. The admirers of Christ will speak good of his name. They will acknowledge him to be God over all, blessed for ever; omnipotent, and omnipresent, the foundation of their hope, and the object of religious adoration. They will express their obligations to him for leaving the glory, which he had with his Father before all worlds, and condescending to take upon him our nature, so as to become man for our salvation. They will speak readily and clearly of his life and doctrine, of his actions, his miracles, his death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and glorification. They will be strenuous advocates of his atonement, and desire to make mention of his righteousness, and of that only; and they will farther consider him as the author of every gift of grace, and the channel through which they are conveyed to sinful men. Of these things, and of what may, in any other way, relate to the office and work of Christ, they will be ready to speak as occasion may require, and for this faith they will contend earnestly against those, who have the boldness to oppose it; for this is the common Faith of the Church of Christ, and ought to be defended by every one, who bears the Christian name.
3. The Admirers of Christ will follow him in the observance of moral duties. Riot