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LUKE IX. 51-62.
AND it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to And he said unto another, Follow me. Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
lay his head. But he said,
Who would not have imagined that the blessed Jesus should have been most cordially welcome wherever he came, when there was grace in all his words, and benevolence in all his actions? Yet these Samaritans would not receive him because he was a Jew. And thus do unhappy prejudices, taken up on imaginary grounds, against men, and things in the general, sometimes injure the best of men, and prove much more hurtful to the persons themselves by whom they are entertained.
The rash disciples would have called for fire from heaven; and let us observe how Christ treated the proposal. He treated it like himself; like the kind compassionate Friend of human nature; and also like one who well knew what was in man, (John ii. 25), and how little human terrors and severities can do towards producing a real conviction. Yet fire from heaven might have carried along with it some rational ground of conviction, which penal laws and sanguinary executions can never produce. What then would Christ have said to these disciples if they had themselves proposed to smite with the sword, or to cast fire-brands into the house of these inhospitable men? Little do they know their own spirit; little do they understand either the true genius or the true interest of the gospel, who have recourse to such violent methods as these to extirpate heresy and to propagate truth. Let us bless God that neither the guilt nor misery of such a conduct is ours.
Let us learn to search our own hearts, that we may form a thorough acquaintance with ourselves; which will greatly promote both the comfort and usefulness of life. Especially let us attend to our aims and intentions, and be greatly jealous over our own hearts, lest we indulge our irregular passions under religious pretences, and set up the standards of malice and pride in the name of the Lord.
May no considerations of ease or interest, or even of human friendship, lead us to turn a deaf ear to the calls of duty; or suffer us, when we once have engaged in his service, to think of deserting it, lest on the whole we should be judged unfit for the kingdom of God! May thy grace, O Lord, animate our souls, that nothing may prevent our faithfulness unto death, and so deprive us of that crown of life which thy grace has promised to such a character! (Rev. ii. 10.)
LUKE X. 1-16.
AFTER these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute
no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, That the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
So unwilling was the blessed Jesus to give over his kind attempts for men's salvation! He projected another circuit through the country, and sends forth other messengers, more numerous than the former company. He renews his invitations to perishing sinners, and his lamentations over those, who had hitherto rejected the counsel of God against themselves. (Luke vii. 30.) Thus let us love the souls of men; thus let us use repeated endeavours to deliver them; endeavours which would probably be much more successful than they are, if these wise and gracious directions of Christ to his ministers were more attentively observed by those who are honoured with that important office.
Let all such cast their care upon God; let them go forth
cheerfully in a dependence on his protection and favour; let them carry about with them hearts full of affection for the whole human race, seeking and praying for the peace of all around them; cheerfully contenting themselves with such things as they have, (Heb. xiii. 5); and neither pursuing the grandeurs nor the delicacies of life with any eager attachment.
Send forth, O Lord, such labourers into thine harvest, and animate them to a becoming zeal in their work, by a deep sense of that dreadful condemnation, which those will incur, who despising them, pour contempt on their Divine Master, and his heavenly Father, in whose name he was sent! May God preserve our country from that guilt and ruin! The kingdom of God is come nigh unto us, and we are lifted up to heaven by our privileges: may we not, after all, be cast down to hell for the abuse of them! but may Divine grace make such a way for the gospel into our hearts, that we may cordially receive all who faithfully proclaim it, and bid them welcome in the name of the Lord!
LUKE X. 17-24.
AND the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things
that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
And are not our obligations in some measure proportionable to theirs, while these glorious sights are reflected to our eyes from the mirror of his word, and these glad tidings are echoed back to our ears? Have not we also reason to adore the peculiar favour of God to us, and to admire the sovereignty of his love, that he has been pleased to reveal his Son in us, and has given to such babes, as we must own ourselves to be, that spiritual knowledge of him, which he has suffered to remain hidden from the great, the learned, and the wise! Even so, Father, must we also say, for so it seemed good in thy sight : thou hast mercy on whom thou wilt have mercy, and often exaltest the riches of thy grace by the meanness and unworthiness of those, on whom it is bestowed.
Have we reason to hope that our worthless names are written in heaven? let us often think of that glorious society, amongst whom we are enrolled as members, and rejoice in the thought of those privileges, which result from such a relation to it privileges in comparison of which, a power to heal diseases, and eject demons with a word, would hardly deserve our joy. In a grateful sense of them, let us adore the grace which gave us a place in the Lamb's book of life, and be ever solicitous to behave in a manner worthy of so illustrious a hope.
We have great encouragement to expect that he, before whom Satan fell like lightning from heaven, will enable us finally to trample on his power. Let us not servilely fear that condemned criminal, already marked with the scars of the Divine vengeance; but let us cheerfully hope, that the triumph over him will be renewed by the preaching of the gospel. Quickened by that hope, let us more earnestly pray, that the ruin of his gloomy kingdom may be daily more and more apparent, especially among us; that our gracious Redeemer, who reckons the interests of souls his own, may have renewed reason of joy and praise on that account. Exert, O blessed Jesus, thine own almighty arm for that great purpose; and, as thou alone canst do it, reveal thine heavenly Father to those who, by neglecting thee, shew that they know not him!