Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

lamentable thing to observe this indifference prevailing so extensively; and it becomes our duty, my friends, on this account, to guard the more diligently against its encroachments. The causes of it would appear to be various. One of them may be found, as we think, in those exaggerated views of the objects of the mission of Christ so common in society, and to which our attention has lately been directed. There is so much of the theatrical, so much calculated for effect, in the popular systems of faith, that they incapacitate men for taking a reasonable share of interest in sober realities. All the unspeakably important blessings to which your attention has been directed, seem to shrink in their dimensions when contrasted with the awful and stupendous tragedy of Calvary. We do not, of course, mean to imply that these effects are universal, or always equally conspicuous; but the cause of insensibility here referred to, is one which ought not to be passed over. A second source of insensibility to gospel blessings, may be conceived to exist in an undue estimate of the value of natural, as contradistinguished from revealed religion. Some reflecting minds may, perhaps, feel so well satisfied with the conclusions, doctrinal and practical, at which, in the present state of things, reason may enable them to arrive, as to look upon the interference of revelation as unnecessary, perhaps injurious. Without presuming to pass judgment upon the advocates of this opinion, we must be allowed to contend, upon the grounds already stated, that the additional light afforded by Christianity is to us, and to mankind at large, unspeakably valuable. But a third, and by far the most general, as well as most mischievous, cause of insensibility upon this subject is moral depravity. Our Lord, long ago, described a class of persons as preferring darkness to light, because their deeds were evil. A degree of moral depravity is not unfrequently found mixing itself with the causes formerly referred to, so as to produce the most pernicious results. Wherever it exists, it will not fail either to originate or increase insensibility to gospel blessings.

To conclude, let us, my friends, frequently reflect with gratitude on the advantages which we have derived from the mission of Jesus. Let us beware of imitating the fickleness of that multitude, whose boisterous Hosannahs were too speedily converted into infuriated shouts of

crucify him," crucify him ;" but grateful, deeply, permanently grateful, for the inestimable benefits conferred upon us by a crucified Master, let us endeavour, with the divine blessing and assistance, to shew the sincerity of our affection for him by keeping his commandments.

SERMON XXVI.

CHRIST'S CHARACTER OF LITTLE CHILDREN.

MATTHEW xix., 14. But Jesus said, suffer the little children, and forbid them not to

come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

It was usual, amongst the Jews, for parents to present their children to those for whose characters they entertained a particular respect, and especially to those whose superior wisdom, and, above all, whose miraculous works seemed to furnish rational grounds for believing that they stood high in the divine favour, in order that they might enjoy the advantage of being recommended to God by their prayers, and might receive their benediction. This custom, though better suited, perhaps, to an earlier age than to the present, and certainly more congenial with the feelings and habits of eastern nations than with ours, had yet an evident foundation in reason as well as in nature, and on some occasions at least, such for example as that now under consideration, could scarcely have been objected to even by the most fastidious. The parents of the children mentioned in the text, or those who had been entrusted with the care of them, impressed, no doubt, with the deepest veneration for our Lord's character, in all probability convinced that he was a prophet, by miracles which they had themselves witnessed ; and possibly, besides all this, believing him to be the promised Messiah, were proportionally anxious to recommend their children to his favourable notice; and endeavoured, perhaps with little attention to ceremony, to make their way to him for this purpose. The disciples, perceiving their intention, probably deeming such matters altogether beneath their Master's notice, and provoked, besides, at so unceremonious an interruption of a conversation upon the subject of marriage, in which they were not a little interested, seem to have returned their rudeness with interest, and rebuked them in no very measured terms for their presumption. Our Lord, ever on the alert to check the slightest appearance of ill-nature or insolence on the part of his followers, perceiving the opportunity that presented itself of forcibly inculcating a valuable moral lesson, and led, at the same time, by his own amiable disposition to take pleasure in gratifying the feelings of the parents, and in paying the tribute of affectionate attention to infant innocence, instantly interfered. We are informed by Mark, whose account of this transaction is the fullest, that when he perceived the conduct of the disciples “ he was much displeased, and said unto them, suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God:” adding, “ Verily, I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” He then “ took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” What was the particular nature of the blessing pronounced by our Lord upon these little children, the evangelists have not informed us; but, most probably, it was embodied in some brief but comprehensive and pathetic intercession addressed to his heavenly Father on their behalf. Let us, my fellowChristians, make this interesting occurrence of our Lord's life the subject of our present meditations, and endeavour to apply to our own improvement the moral lesson which the text co tains.

Let us begin by attending a little to some reflections, doctrinal and practical, which seem naturally to arise from a contemplation of this incident.

« AnteriorContinuar »