« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
“ others fullenly refusing to join in it! “ And when to engage their fancies and “ meet their humours, the fictitious repre“ fentation of some forrowful circumstance ..“ was begun; have you not marked the un6 conquerable perverseness with which they us withheld their attention ? Now behold 6 their counterpart. Thus dissatisfied, thus “ obstinate, thus unconquerably perverse, “ have you proved yourselves in your pro“ ceedings with respect to John the Baptist “ and myself. God, folicitous that you “ should be converted and live, has pressed “ upon your acceptance the only method of “ salvation, salvation through my blocd, the “ blood of the Lamb of God which taketh “ away the fins of the world, by two inef“ fengers, widely differing each from the “ other in appearance and in habits of life. “ Yohn the Baptist came neither eating brea “ nor drinking wine. He came not in soft “ clothing, and living delicately. He dif“ claimed not merely regal mansions, but “ the customary abodes of men. His rain, “ ment was fackcloth, of camels' hair: his “ meat locusts and wild honey: from his 66 birth he tasted not wine nor strong drink. " “ His dwelling was in the wilderness; and " in the wilderness he shewed himself to
“ Ifrael under the austere semblance of “ Elijah. How were you impressed by his “ solemn demeanour, his abstraction from “ the world, his unbending self-denial? Un“ der all these characteristic marks did you “ acknowledge the preacher of Repentance? “ Ye said, He hath a Devil. You exclaim“ ed, He is mad: he renounces the com“ mon comforts of life: he is a morose and “ superstitious fanatic. He is under the de“luding power of an evil spirit. Let him “ preach to the desert: regard him not. “ Then came the Son of Man eating and “ drinking. Then began I my ministry « among you: then proclaimed I grace “ and life eternal. As the messenger and “ the author of peace and joy and endur-* ing happiness, I have shunned all tokens “ of austerity. I have adopted no pecu“ liarity of apparel. I have frequented “ your cities. I have not refused invita• tions to your houses. I have gratefully " accepted and temperately used the ordi“ nary gifts of God. I have studied not " to shock your prejudices by unnecessary “ rigour. I have endeavoured that my “ private deportment as well as my public “ preaching should conciliate you to faith “ and holiness. What has been the conse
. “ quence ? “quence? How have you received me? « Behoid a gluttonous man and a winebibber; “ a friend of publicans and finners. Those “ very circumstances in my conduct which “ were calculated for the purpose of win“ ning your regard, and diffusing instruc“ tion with greater efficacy, you have “ twisted into pretexts for calumny, and “urge as reasons for denying me to be the “ Melliah. This Jesus of Nazareth, you “ exclaim, maintains not that strictness of “manners, that severe fanctity of conduct, “ which become a prophet, and are indif“ pensable in one who announces himself “ as more than a prophet. He is a fre“ quenter of feasts, and from motives, we “ doubt not, of sensuality. The man is “ a finner, and a companion of sinners; an “ associate even of the unhallowed publicans, “ whom every Ifraelite of common piety “ abhors, whom the Son of God would in“ stantaneously drive from his presence. “ Thus ye revile and reject my forerunner “ and myself. From opposite proceedings “ you 'equally deduce pretences for slander, “and excuses for hardness of heart. No “ messenger can be acceptable to those, who " are determined to shut their ears to the “ message. No preacher can render reli
“gion pleasing to men who wilfully aban“ don themselves to the power of fin. But “ does your refusal to hearken and obey " Thake the truth of our doctrines and de“ nunciations ? What if you do not be“ lieve? Shall your unbelief make the faith “ of God of none effect? No. Wisdom “ is justified of her children. They who “ labour to prepare their hearts for the re“ ception of religion, shall glorify religion. “ Salvation through a crucified Redeemer, “ which to your pride is a stumbling block, “ and to the pride of others shall appear “ foolishness; shall be welcomed by the “ humble and contrite as the power of God 6 and the wisdom of God. They who “ are willing to hearken with the teachable « spirit of children to the instruction of “ heavenly wisdom, and with the affec“ tionate earnestness of children shall con“ form their ways to her commands; they “ Thall adore the length and breadth and “ depth and height of the unsearchableriches “ of Christ: they shall justify the ways of " their heavenly Father, who, while he “ hideth his counsels from those who in “ their own fight are wise and prudent, 66 revealeth them unto babes.” VOL. II.
· II. How shall we apply to our edification the lessons which this portion of Holy Scripture conveys ?
First: Let us confider it as a very unfavourable fymptom of the state of our hearts, if we discover in ourselves a propensity to cavil at religion; and to impute blame tò thofe persons, whether ministers of the Gofpel, or individuals among the laity, who by holiness of life and conversation, confpicuously demonstrate the power of faith.
Since the day when Christianity was promulgated, to raise false accusations against the servants of God has been a distinguishing feature in the conduct of the wicked. Some of the calumnies disseminated by the Jews against John the Baptist and against our Lord have recently been produced. From other passages in the Gospels we learn that the enemies of Christ seized every fpecious occasion of loading him with opprobrious names and imputations; of representing him as an impostor, as a mover of fedition, as a conspirator against Cæsar, as à despiser of the Sabbath, as a blafphemer of the temple, as a confederate with Beelzebub.. Spontaneouily vanquished for a season by lies and the father of lies, Jesus Christ gives up the ghost. Malignity pur