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This surely ought to be the frequent care, not only of those who have the tremendous charge of educating such as are ere long to be intrusted with the honour of the gospel and the care of souls, but of those who are now struggling with the glorious labours and trials of that important office, and even of all those private Christians, who cordially love the interest of their Master, and wish the salvation of their fellow creatures.
Let us unite our cries to him who has engaged to be always with his church even to the end of the world, and say, Light up, O Lord, a brighter and stronger flame in the lamps of thy sanctuary! Polish these arrows of thy quiver, that they may pierce deep into the consciences of men! Let thy priests be clothed with salvation, that thy saints may shout aloud for joy! And pour forth upon them so plenteous an unciion of thine Holy Spirit, that the odours of thy grace may by their means be diffused around throughout all thy tabernacles ; like that of the fagrant oil, which was poured on the head of Aaron, in such rich abundance, that it not only ran down on his beard, but reached even to the skirts of his garments ! Amen, and Amen.
Christ repeats in the plain, many passages of his sermon delivered on
the mount, LUKE vi. 20—36.
20 ND (Jesus) lifting up his eyes on his disciples and apostles,
said, Happy are you poor; for the kingdom of God is yours. 21 Happy are you who are now hungry ; for you shall be filled. Hap22 py are you who mourn ; for
you shall laugh. Happy are you when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their
assemblies, and shall reproach you, and cast out your names as 23 evil, on account of the son of man. Be glad in that day, and leap
for joy; for, behold, your reward in heaven is great: For thus
their fathers did to the prophets. 24 But wo to you who are rich ! for you have received your conso25 lat on*. Wo unto you who are filled! for you shall suffer hunger.
Wo unto you who now laugh! for you shall mourn and lament. 26 Wo unto you when all men speak well of you! for thus did their 27 fathers to the false prophets. But I say
unto you that hear me, 28 Love your enemies ; do good to them that hate you ; bless them 29 that curse you; and pray for them that spitefully abuse you. And
if a man smite thee on the one cheek, rather than return the blow, offer also the other to him ; and if he take away thy mantle, do
not by violence hinder him from taking also thy vest. 30 Give to every one that asketh thee for an alms, where it is chari
ty to do it ; and from him that taketh away thy possessions, do not
demand them back, in the forms of law, but rather endeavour by 31 gentler methods to reduce the offender to reason.
And as you
* It is evident, such expressions as these are to be taken with some limitations, otherwise they would in some instances be contrary to fact.
would that men should do to you, do you also in like manner to 32 them. For if you only love them that love you, what thanks are 33 due to you? For even sinners love those that love them. And if
you do good only to them that are your benefactors, what thanks 34 are due to you? For even sinners do the same. And if
lend only to them from whom you hope to receive, what thanks are due to you? For even sinners lend to sinners, that they may receive
the like. 35 But I exhori, love your enemies, and do good, and lend when
you can hope for nothing again ; and so your reward will be
great, and you will be sons of the most High ; for he is kind to 36 the u:grateful and evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as also your
heavenly Father is merciful,
REFLECTIONS. How necessary is it, that our forgetful hearts should have tine upoz line and precept upon precipt ? If Christ aid not think it improper to repeat this discourse, surely it will not be needless for us to renew our attention to it. Oh that every word of it were engraven on our hearts as with the point of a diamond, that we might learn, in spite of all the foolish wisdom of this world, to form ourselves on these maxims, as the surest guide to present and to eternal felicity ! Our Lord. again pronounces the poor and the hungry, the mournful and the persecuted, happy; and represents those as miserable who are rich and full, joyous and applauded : not that this is universally the case ; but because prosperous circumstances are so frequently a sweet poison, and affliction a healing though bätter medicine. Let the thought reconcile us to adversity; and awaken our caution when the world smiles apon us; when a plentiful table is spread before us, and our cup runneth over ; when our spirits are gay and sprightly: or when we hear, what to corrupted nature is too harmonious music, that of our own praise from men. Oh that we may secure, what is of infinitely greater importance, the praise of our heavenly Master, by a constant obediential regard to these his precepts !
May we be happy proficients in the art of bearing and forgiving injuries ! May we be ready to every good word and work ! maintaining an eye quick to observe, a heart tender to feel, a hand open to relieve, the calamities and necessities of friends, of strangers, and of enemies : giving to some; and where perhaps, there may be little prospect of a return, lending to others; which, if it engage them to greater industry, is as real a benefit as if the loan were a gift. On the whole, let us not presume to call God our Father, if we do not labour to resemble him; nor dare to challenge the peculiar honour and privileges of Christ's disciples, if we do not distinguish ourselves from others by the charity of our tempers and the usefulness of our lives, as well as by the articles of our faith, and the forms of our worship.
Other passages of the sermon on the mount repeated with some addi
tions. LUKE vi. 37, &c.
37 FUDGE not, and you shall not be judged : Condemn not others,
you shall not be condemned : Forgive, and you shall be 38 forgiven. Give, and it shall be given to you'; men shall as it were
pour into your lap good measure ; blessings pressed down, and shaken together, and even running over; for by the same measure, that ye measure with to others, it will be measured back
39 He spake also, a parable to them; to caution them against an ima
filicit faith in ignorant teachers. Can the blind guide the blind? 10 Will they not both fall into a pit? The scholar is not above his 41 teacher, but every finished scholar will be as his master. And
why dost thou look at the little mote (or aplinter) which is in thy um brother's eye, and observest not the beam in thine own eye? Or
how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, hold stiil, and I will take out the mote which is in thine eye, while thou seest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out
the beam from thine own eye, and then thou wilt discern how to 43 take out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. Till thou shalt thus
reform thyself, do not expect to reform others; for there is no good
tree which produces bad fruit; neither is there any bad tree which 44 produces good fruit : for every tree is known by its proper fruit.
Men, for instance, do not gather figs of thorns, nor do they gather, 45 a cluster of grapes from a bramble. A goori man produces that
which is good, out of the good treasure of his heart ; and a bad man, out of the bad treasure of his heart, produces that which is
bad ; for his mouth speaks from the overflowing of his heart. 46 And why do ye call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which 47 I
say ? I will shew you to whom that man is like, who comes to 48 me, and hears my words, and practises them : He is like a prua
dent man that built an house, and laid the foundation upon a rock: and when the inundation came, the current violently broke upon
that house, and was not able to shake it, because it was founded 49 upon a rock. But he that hears, and does not practise, is like a
man that built an house on the ground; without a foundation ; against which the stream dit violently break, and it presently fell down; and the ruin of that house was great.
REFLECTIONS. Let a frequent reflection on our own faults teach us candour; and let a sense of our continued dependence on the divine liberality make us liberal towards those that need our assistance; lest we lose tlie comfort so justly forfeited, and abused mercies be another day repaid with measures of wrath, firessed down, shaken together, and running over. We are another day to give an account of ourselves before God: let us then jucige for ourselves in matters of religion ; and be very careful that we do not stupidly follow blind guides, til we fall with them into destruction. Lead us, O Lord, in the way everlasting! Form us to a more perfect resemblance of our great Master! Make us severe to ourselves, and, so far as it is real charity, indulgent to others ! Sanctify our hearts by thy grace, that they may be as trees bringing forth good fruit, or as fountains pouring out wholesome streams! There way a good treasure be laid up, from whence good things may be abundantly produced ! There may those holy and benevolent affections continually spring up, which may flow forth with unaffected freedom, to refresh the souls and animate the graces of all that are around us !
May these beautiful, striking, repeated admonitions, which our Saviour gives us of the vanity of every profession which does not influence the practice, be attended to with reverence and fear! We are building for eternity ; may we never grudge the time and labour of a most scrious inquiry into the great fundamental principles of religion ? May we discover the sure foundation, and raise upon it a noble superstructure, which shall stand fair and glorious when hypocrites are swept away into everlasting ruin, in that awful day in which heaven and earth shall flee away from the face of him that sits upon the throne !
Christ goes to Capernaum and miraculously cures the centurion's ser
vant. LUKE vii. 1-10. Matt. viii. 5-13.
OW when he had finished all these his sayings in the hearing
of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And the servant of a certain Roman officer, called a centurion ( from having the command of a hundred men) who was greatly esteemed by him, was ill, and in danger of death. And hearing of Jesus, when he entered into Capernaum, he came to him ; but first sent unto him the elders of the Jews, entreating him that he would come and heal his servant ; and saying, Lord, my servant lies in my house, seized with a palsy ; dreadfully tormented. And being come to Jesus, they entreated him with great importunity, saying, He is worthy of this favour; for he loves our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come, and heal him.
And Jesus went with them. And now, when he was not a great way from the house, the centurion sent other friends to him ; and at last came in person ; and answered, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself ; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither did I think myself worthy to come to thee; but only speak the word, and my servant shall be healed. For even I who am a man ranged under authority, have soldiers under myself; and I say to one, Go, and he goeth ; and to another, Come, and he cometh : and to my slave, Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing these things admired him ; and turning about, he said to the multitude that followed him, Verily, I declare unto you, That I have not found, even in Israel, such faith. But I say unto you,
many shall at last come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into that darkness which is without : there shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion, Go thy way; and be it unto thee according to thy faith. And in that very hour was his servant healed. And they who had been sent returning to the house, found the servant that had been sick restored to perfect health.
REFLECTIONS. It is pleasant to think of this good centurion, who, amidst all the temptations of a military life, retained the principles, not only of liberality and humanity, but of piety too; and, probably amidst the raillery of his irreligious and idolatrous brethren, had the courage to frequent, and even to build, a synagogue. Surely his devotion did not enervate, but rather invigorate and establish, his valour ; nor did he find himself less dutifully regarded by the soldiers under his command for his parental tenderness to his afflicted servant, which brought him thus humbly to petition Christ in his favour. Such may our officers be! and we may hope that the hosts of heaven will with pleasure cover their heads in the day of battle, and obedient troops be formed, by their example and their care, to the discipline of virtue as well as of war.
We see the force of real goodness to conquer the most inveterate prejudices : the elders of the Jews at Capernaum turn petitioners for a Gentile, for a Roman centurion : so may we disarm the virulency of a party spirit, and conciliate the friendship of those who otherwise might have their eyes upon us for evil ! In plentiful circumstances and an honourable station, how great is the humility of this worthy man ! How low are the thoughts that he has of himself! And with what veneration and respect does he address himself to Christ ! And, had this centurion been even a tribune or a general, this humble address would well have become him when he was thus 'applying unto Christ. And how well does it become us, when entreating the blessed Jesus to exert his healing power on our hearts, to bow with deep humility before him, and to say, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under, my roof, or worthy the honour of appearing in thy presence ! He that thus humbles himself, shall be exalted: nor do we ever stand fairer for the praise of Christ than when we see ourselves undeserving even of his notice.
Behold an instance of faith in a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, by which their unbelief was condemned! Oh that the virtues of heathens may not another day rise up to our condemnation, notwithstanding an higher profession and much nobler advantages ! We cannot but rejoice to hear that many shall come from the east and the west, to sit down with the pious patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven : but how deplorable is the case of those children of the kingdom, who, with all their towering expectations, shall be cast out, and doomed to hopeless sorrow and to everlasting darkness ! May almighty grace Vol. I.