« AnteriorContinuar »
Hence if there were any spot on earth that might expect the sternest exclusion from the blessings of the gospel, that spot was Jerusalem. But the wonderful fact is, that it was to this very spot, all stained with guilt, that the first offer was to be made. And why? Because their guilt was not so deeply dyed ? Oh, no, but just because its dye was so deep and indelible; for if Jerusalem, all red with the blood of prophets and martyrs, and last of all, the priceless blood of the well-beloved Sonif Jerusalem could be forgiven, pone need despair. If Jerusalem can be saved, none need be lost. This is the sublime and tender assurance of this injunction. If a soul feels its sins to be too heavy and dark, it only needs that we point to the fact that the offer of mercy was to begin at Jerusalem, to show that no sin, however deeply dyed, can exclude from pardon, if the sinner will come with a penitent heart to Christ.
Bunyan in his quaint tract on these words, entitled, “The Jerusalem sinner saved, or good news for the vilest of men,” gives in his dramatic vein, a lively picture of the fulfilment of this part of the commission. He represents Peter declaring to the people of Jerusalem the message, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you," and the people urging their objections. "Obj. But I was one of them that plotted to take away his life: may I be saved by him? Peter. Every one
of you. Obj. But I was one of them that bare false witness against him: is there grace for me? Peter. For every one fo you. Obj. But I was one of them that cried out, Crucify, crucify him, and that desired that Barabbas the murderer might live rather than him: what will become of me, think you? Peter. I am to preach repentance and remission of sins to every one of you. Obj. But I was one of them that did spit in his face when he stood before his accusers; I also was one that mocked him, when in anguish he hanged bleeding on the tree: is there room for me? Peter. For every one of you. Obj. But I was one of them that in his extremity said, Give him gall and vinegar to drink: why may I not expect the same, when anguish and guilt is upon me? Peter. Repent of these your wickednesses, and here is remission of sins for every one of you.".
And yet deep as was the guilt of these Jerusa. lem sinners, the very atrocity of their guilt when pardon is offered, makes the guilt of impenitence and rejection of the gospel now to be yet more atrocious. If it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the great day, than for Chorazin, Betbsaida, and Capernaum, it will be more tolerable for the Jerusalem sinner than for many in our day. For he may well say to the soul that rejects Christ now,"I never knew that the crucified Jesus was the Saviour of sinners, I rejected him
ignorantly in unbelief, not knowing that he was the Holy One of Israel; I never read the pages of the New Testament, unfolding so richly the great ideas of the Old; I never saw the stupendous mass of evidence that eighteen centuries of history have piled around the cross ; I never had a Christian mother to whisper of the babe of Bethlehem in my childhood, or a Christian father to tell me of the man of Calvary in riper years ; had I enjoyed all these, I would long since have repented in dust and ashes." And the force of this plea is undeniable. Hence it may be that if the offer of mercy was to begin at Jerusalem, so also must the gentence of doom. It may be that as the long line of unhappy souls begins to file away from the left hand of the Judge, and take their places in the dark chambers of the damned, the same rule may be applied then that was applied at the opening of the gospel, “ beginning at Jerusalem,” and ending with those who have been nurtured in Christian homes, instructed in Christian churches, and yet who have refused themselves to be Christian disciples. It may be that some of these may be compelled to say to the guilty sons and daughters of Jerusalem, "Give me room to sink to a deeper, darker, hotter doom than even that beginning at Jerusalem ; for as much higher as have been my privileges, so much deeper must be my doom."
THE TENTH APPEARANCE-APOSTOLIC COMMISSION
The gospel of the Holy Ghost. I. Waiting for the promise of the
Father. Gorgeous dreams of the kingdom-Curiosity about the future-Almanac makers of prophecy-Waiting for the visionCreation groaning-How must we wait? II. The promise of the Father. Meaning of baptism-Mode of baptism-The dispensation of the Spirit-Christ's ascent the condition of the Spirit's descent-Intercession of the Holy Ghost, how it differs from that of Christ. III. Effects of the fulfilment of the promise. All Christians witnesses for Christ-Passive witnessing—Martyrs-Cocil and his mother, Addison—The unconscious witness.
“Eternal Spirit, we confess,
“ The former treatise have I made, 0 Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen : to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait
for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you : and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts i. 1-8.
We have now reached the last form in which the apostolic commission was issued by the Holy Spirit, and the last record that was made of this closing interview between Jesus and his disoiples. We have seen how precisely each of the preceding forms of the commission was adapted to the purpose of the gospel in which it is found. It will, of course, not be supposed for a moment that it is designed to represent either as an inaccurate statement of the words of our Lord. It has already been stated, that the probability is that our Lord spent all the night preceding the ascension with his disciples, and that he said very many things that have not been recorded, and said the same thing in different forms, leaving each writer to select that portion of his discourse that was most suitable to the object of his narrative. Hence there being a necessity, in the existing condition of the world, and in the great representative nations then most prominent, for different utterances of the same facts, the same necessity