Page images

10 a stone ? Or if he ask for a fish will give him a serpent ? 11 If therefore you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to

your children; how much more will your father in heaven, 12 give good things to those that ask him? Therefore, all things which

ye would be willing that men should do to you, do ye also in like manner to them : for this is a summary of the law and the pro

phets. 13 Enter in through the straight gate ; for wide is the gate and

spacious the way which leads to destruction; and there are many 14 who enter by it: because straight is the gate and rugged the way

which leads to life; and they who find it are few. 15 Be on your guard against false prophets, who come to you in 16 the clothing of sheep, but inwardly are ravening wolves. You

may know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from 17 thorns, or figs from thistles ? Even so every good tree produces 18 good fruit, but a corrupt tree produces bad fruit. A good tree

cannot bear evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree which beareth not good fruit, is cut down, and cast 80 into the fire ; so that you shall know them by their fruits.

REFLECTIONS. When will the happy time come in which Christians shall form themselves on these important maxims of their great Master! When shall they be known to be his disciples by the candour of their sentiments, the equity of their conduct, and the beneficence of their actions, as well as by the articles of their faith, and the forms of their worship! Let us all apply these charges to ourselves in the dear and awful name of him that gave the

What can be more dreadful to us than to think of being severely judged by that God, without whose hourly forbearance and gracious indulgence we are all undone ? Let us then exercise that mercy which we need : and to form our minds to this most reasonable temper, let us often be thinking of our own many infirmities, and be humbling ourselves before God on account of them. Animated by the gracious invitations and the precious promises which are here given, with earnest importunity let us make our daily addresses to his throne; asking, that we may receive ; seeking, that we may find; and knocking, that the door of mercy may be opened to us. And while any of us feel in our hearts the workings of parental tenderness towards our infant offspring, let us consider it as a delightful emblem of yet greater readiness in our heavenly Father to pity and relieve his children.

May universal righteousness and charity be practised by us in the whole of our behaviour, and may we always exercise ourselves herein to have a conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards men ! May we avoid all manner of injustice, and guard against the sallies of a proud and overbearing temper! May we be upright and benevolent än all our conduct ; and make it our constant care to govern our actions by that most equitable rule, Of doing to others as we would reasonably desire they should do to us, on a change of our circumstances and theirs! Happy those generous souls in whom the bias of self-love is

so rectified that they can, in this instance, hold the balance between themselves and others with an impartial and unwavering hand ! On the whole, let us remember that we ourselves are at last to be tried by the rule by which we are here directed to judge of others, even by the fruits which we produce. May God by his grace make the tree good, that the productions of it may be found to his glory and the refreshment of all around us, that we may not be cut down as cumberers of the ground, and cast into the fire ?

The way of life, which our blessed Redeemer has marked out for us in such precepts as these, may indeed, to corrupt nature, appear fugged and narrow, and the gate straight through which we are to pass : but let us encourage ourselves against all these difficulties, by considering that immortal life and glory to which they infallibly lead. Then shall we, doubtless, prefer the mostpainful way of piety and virtue, though with yet fewer companions than we might reasonably expect, to all those fowery and frequented paths of vice which go down to the chambers of death.


Our Lord concludes his sermon on the mount, representing the necessity

of a practical regard to his precepte. Matt. vii, 21, &e.


21 ОТ

to the kingdom of heaven : but he who performs the will 22 of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day,

Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy

name have cast out devils ; and in thy name have done many won23 derful works? And I will then declare unto them, I never knew 24 you; depart from me, ye workers.of iniquity. Therefore, every

one who heareth these my words, and doeth them, I will compare 95 him to a prudent man who built his house upon a rock.–And the

rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat 26. upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock. But

every one that heareth these my sayings, and doeth them not, may

be compared to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; 27 - And the raïn descended, and the floods came, and the winds

blew, and struck on that house ; and it fell, and its ruin was great. 28 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these say

ings, the multitudes were struck with amazement at his doctrine. 29 For he was teaching them as one that had authority, and not as the


REFLECTIONS. How justly may our admiration concur with theirs that heard these sayings of our Lord, while we have the honour and pleasure of attending these discourses as the inspired penmen have recorded them, by the assistance of that Spirit who was to bring all things to their ree membrance ! Are we not struck with the authority of this divine Teacher, so as to bear our witness to the gracious and edifying words that proceeded out of his mouth? Let us not content ourselves with applauding what we have heard, but let us go away and practise it. Shortly will that stormy day arise which must try the foundation of our hopes. God will lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet ; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. How thankful should we be that God has laid in Zion for a for!ndarion, a chief Corner-stone, elect and precious ; with an assurance, that he that believeth on him shall not be confounded! But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon ; lest the weight of his ruin be proportionable to the height of his hopes. We

e say unto Christ, Lord, Lord; but let us remember this will not secure our entering into his heavenly kingdom. Whatever be our profession, or whatever our office in his church, the most splendid and honourable of our works will be vain if we are found workers of iniquity; for our great Master will then disown us as those whom he has never approved. Blessed Jesus ! it will then be in vain to fly to thee with the importunity of prayer, and to repeat the inost earnest addresses. We would now, while yet there is room for it, fall down before thee, entreating thee to add the teachings of thy Spirit to those of thy word, that we may be effectually engaged to do the will of thine heavenly Father, that we may finally be confessed and owned by thee, and be admitted into the joy of our Lord !


Jesus descending from the mount, cleanses a Leper. MATT. viii. 1-4

LUKE y. 12—16. Mark i. 40, &c.

OW as he was coming down from the mountain, great multi

[blocks in formation]

man full of leprosy, seeing Jesus, came to him, entreating him ; and kneeling down to him, fell prostrate and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst cleanse me. And Jesus, being moved with compassion, stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying unto him, I will, be thou clean. And immediately as soon as he had spoken, the leprosy departed from him; and he was cleansed. And having strictly charged him, he dispatched him presently away; saying unto him, See thou say nothing unto any one ; but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift [and] those things which Moses has commanded for thy purification for a testimony to them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to proclaim the matter abroad. And so much the more there went a fame of him; and great multitudes from all parts came together to him to hear, and to be healed of their infirmities by him. So that he could no longer openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places. And he withdrew into the wilderness, and prayed.

REFLECTIONS. Our souls are overspread with the leprosy of sin : and where should we apply for help but to the healing power and recovering grace of

the great Redeemer ! Be the malady ever so deep, spreading, or inveterate, we may surely adopt the words of the leper before us, and say, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And how much reason have we to hope his compassion will be moved in our favour, and his power exerted in our cure ? If we have received that favour, we are under the obligation of no command to conceal it. It is, on the contrary, our duty most gratefully to publish it abroad, for the honour of our Benefactor, and the advantage of those who may be encouraged to make the same application in humble hope of the

same success.

But when will the happy time come that men shall be as solicitous about their spiritual welfare as about the health of this mortal body ! Almighty Physician! exert thine energy in this instance as a token of further favours ! Convince men of their pollution and danger, and bow their stubborn knee, that it may bend in submissive and importunate supplication! Let the compassionate air with which this cure was wrought, be considered by all spiritual physicians as a lesson of condescension and tenderness; and let the modesty with which it was con lucted engage us to avoid every appearance of ostentation and vain-glory.

To conclude ; since Christ himself found it proper to retire into a desert place to pray when crowds of admirers were flocking in upon him, let it teach those who are engaged in the scenes of public business, and fill them up with the greatest applause, yet resolutely to command some seasons for retirement; as remembering, that the more various and important our public labours are, the more evidently do we need to draw down succour, by ardent prayer, that we may be strengthened and prospered in them.



Christ heals a paralytic; vindicates his power of forgiving sins ; and

calls Matthew the publican. Mark ii. 1-14. LUKE v. 17–28. Matt. ix. 2-9. ND after [some] days he again entered into Capernaum ; and

it was heard that he was in the house. And it happened on a certain day, while he was teaching, (several] Pharisees and doctors of the law were sitting by ; who were come out of every town of Galilee, and of Judea, and from Jerusalem ; and the power of the Lord was (present] to heal them who applied to him. And immediately so many were assembled that there was not room to receive [them] even about the door ; and he preached the word to them. And behold, they came unto him, bringing a man seized with the palsy, laid on a bed, and carried by four men. And they endeavoured to bring him in and lay him before him. And when they could not find any way to bring him in, and could not come near because of the crowd, they went up to the top of the house*, and uncovered

* The roofs of the houses were fat (Deut. xxii. 8.) and accessible on the outside. Mark xiii. 5. This room where Christ was, had no chamber over it, and might have a trap door. See 2 Kings i. 2. VOL. I.


[ocr errors]

the roof where [Jesus] was, and when they had pulled it up, they Jet down (the paralytic] with his couch, through the tiles, into the midst, before Jesus. And Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man that had the palsy, Take courage, son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

But behold, some of the Scribes and Pharisees were sitting there; and reasoning in their hearts, they said within themselves, This man blasphemeth : Who is this? [and] why does this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone ? And immediately, when Jesus, who knew their thoughts, perceived in his mind that they reasoned thus in themselves, he said to them, Why do you reason thus in your hearts? [and] wherefore do you think (such] evil things ? Which is easier to say to this paralytic, Thy sins are forgiven thee ; or to say, Arise, and take up thy couch and walk ? But that you may know that the Son of man on earth, has authority to forgive sins (he says to the paralytic)-I say unto thee, Arise ; and take up thy couch, and go thy way to thine own house. And immediately he rose up before them all, and taking up the couch on which he lay, he went forth to his own house, glorifying God. And when the multitude saw it they were amazed, and glorified God, who had given such power to men. And they were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day: We never saw any thing like it. And he went forth again by the sea-shore; and all the multitude resorted to him ; and he taught them. And after these things, as Jesus passed out from thence, he saw a man (a publican) whose name was Matthew [or Levi] the son of Alpheus, sitting at the custom-house, and he said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and left all, and followed him.

REFLECTIONS., It is a pleasure to reflect upon it that Christ was attended by such vast numbers of people, and that they who were teachers of others should themselves sit down to hear him. But it is melancholy to reflect on the perverse purposes with which many of them came; and how few did, on the whole, receive his word into their hearts, so as to bring forth fruit unto perfection. Curiosity led some, and interest others; and some came to find occasion of hurting him whose whole business in life was to do good. Yet these low, these vile purposes did not prevent his preaching and working miracles before them, and being ready to exert his power for their benefit. Thus courageous and resolute let us be in the discharge of our duty ; thus solicitous, that we may not be overcome of evil, but may (which, on the whole, is always in some degree practicable) overcome evil with good.

How industrious were the attendants and friends of this poor paralytic to obtain a cure for him! What contrivance, what labour did they use to find a proper opportunity to bring him in, and lay him before Jesus! Ought we not to be as tender and zealous in all the offices of the truest friendship; and to imitate, so far as suits the difference of circumstances, their importunate application, and their lively faith? Theirs had its praise and its reward. Our Lord said to this distempered person, Thy sins are forgiven thee. He pardoned all his iniqui

« PreviousContinue »