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How well does it become the disciples of Christ, and especially how well does it become his ministers, to imitate what was so amiable in their Lord, and not to despise the day of small things. Let us not strive nor cry; but, laying aside all unnecessary contentions and angry debates, let us receive one another as Christ hath received us (Rom. xv. 7), and, avoiding all vain ostentation, let us silently and meekly attend, each of us, to the discharge of his proper office. So may we hope that the cause of religion will go on successfully around us, and that righteousness will in due time be brought forth to complete victory over all opposition, and by its own genuine influences, be happily established in the earth.
The Gentiles trust in a Redeemer's name, and the British Isles are numbered among those that wait for his law. May our souls with humble submission bow themselves to receive it, and observe it with such faithful care and obedient regards, that our example, wherever it is seen, may promote the reception of it among those that as yet are strangers to it!
MATT. X. 2-4.-MARK III. 13-19.-LUKE VI. 12-19. AND it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples, whom he would, and they came unto him: and of them he chose and ordained twelve, whom also he named apostles: And ordained that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach: And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: the first, Simon, (whom he also surnamed Peter,) and Andrew his brother, and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, (and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder;) and Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew the publican, and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon the Canaanite, called Zelotes, and Judas Thaddeus the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him. And they went into an house.
LUKE VI. 17-49.
And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and a company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
When we consider how much the church in all ages has been indebted to the labours of the apostles, and how much we ourselves owe to them, we shall see great reason of thankfulness to our wise and gracious Master, who was pleased to assign this work to his servants, and so eminently to qualify them for it. It is observable, that before he sent them forth he chose them to be with him in a more constant attendance on his person and ministry. May all who succeed them as preachers of the gospel, be such as have intimately known Christ themselves, and have been accustomed to spiritual converse with him; that they may with the greater ability, zeal, and efficacy, recommend him to others!
We may assure ourselves that these his future ministers had no inconsiderable share in those petitions in which, with unabating fervour and intenseness of devotion, our Redeemer spent this memorable night. And if we have any regard for the support of religion in the rising age, let us likewise be earnestly praying both for them that are already in the ministry, and for such as are preparing for it. 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 a 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 unction 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 fragrant 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.
LUKE VI. 20-36.
AND he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reprove you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them
of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again: and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
How necessary is it, that our forgetful hearts should have line upon line, and precept upon precept? If Christ did not think it improper to repeat his 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 bitter medicine. Let the thought reconcile us to adversity, and awaken our caution when the world smiles upon 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.
LUKE VI. 37-49.
JUDGE not and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom : for with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit: for every tree is known by his own fruit: for of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of his heart the mouth speaketh.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, I will shew you to whom he is like he is like to a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock : and when the floods arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it, for