« AnteriorContinuar »
Your parents have failed of their first duty, and you have lost your best privileges. If good impressions have not, bad impressions have, been made upon your hearts, while they were most tender and susceptible. Probably you have not been driven but weaned from heaven, have been taught to sin by example, and been left to it by negligence, have never learned to remember God, but by the sight of business, bustle, and pleasure have been persuaded to say to him, “ Depart from
us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” In a word, you are now suffering the very evils which have been mentioned in this discourse as flowing from a bad education.
But unhappy as this case is, it is not of course desperate. The ways of God are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts. He may look upon your calamities with an eye of peculiar compassion, may exert towards you peculiar long-suffering, and may spread before you, in his providence, peculiar motives to repentance. He took Abijah to himself from the palace of Jeroboam, from the side of the golden calf of Bethel, and from the foot of its altar. Surely, then, there is hope for you. Awake from the sleep of sin and death, and lay hold on eternal life. Feel all the dangers of your situation, the inestimable worth of your souls, the incomprehensible importance of the means of grace and the day of repentance. Remember that God is more angry with you every day for every sin, and that at no distant time, if you continue to harden your hearts, he will swear in his wrath that you shall not see his rest.
Others of you have had a happier lot, have had religious parents, and have been instructed by them in the fear of God and the knowledge of your duty. You have also seen, in the undeceiving evidence of their lives, that they believed the doctrines which they taught, and loved the precepts which they enjoined. What has been the issue of these privileges ? God has put into your hands a price to get wisdom. How plainly have you been destitute of a heart to the divine attainment! How obviously have you devoted yourselves to worldly pleasure, forgotten God, lightly esteemed Christ, trifled with your duty, and disregarded your souls ! How often have you profaned the Sabbath, idled and slept away the solemn season consecrated to the worship of God, and turned a deaf ear to the thunders of the law and the invitations of the Gospel! How regularly have you hardened your hearts against the reproofs of your parents, the solemn warnings of the desk, the threatenings of the Scriptures, the alarms of providence, the invasions of disease, and the knell of death! How foolishly have you flattered yourselves that you could hide in secret places, so that God could not see you, and said that the darkness should cover your sins from his sight, voluntarily forgetting that he fills heaven and earth with his presence, and that the darkness and the light are both alike to him.
Look back on all your past life, and see whether there is any thing which your consciences can remember with comfort, or even with hope. Is not the whole volume a blank of good, and filled up with evil ? a cumbrous record, written out only in melancholy lines of sin and shame; a story of guilt, of hatred, and forgetfulness of your Maker, of crimes perpetrated, and duties left undone, of Sabbaths wasted and a sanctuary profaned, of heaven refused and souls cast away? This volume must be read before God. All these things will be rehearsed to you, and confessed by yoụ, in the judgment, and will constitute a part of those works according to which you will be judged.
If this be your situation, your peculiar privileges will only aggravate your guilt and your condemnation. You will have known your Lord's will and done it not, and will, therefore, be beaten with many stripes.
Awake, then, to a sense of your danger. See Satan, the world, evil companions, and many temptations all labouring to destroy you; God labouring to prevent your destruction, and yourselves uniting with his enemies to accomplish your ruin. . How long do you believe he will permit this controversy to be carried on? How long will it be before he will say of you,
Ephraim is joined to idols ; let him alone ?”
THE YOUTH OF NAIN.
LUKE vii. 11-15.
“ And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city
called Nain ; and many of his disciples went with him, and
much people. “ Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold there
was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and much people of the city was with
her. “ And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and
said unto her, · Weep not.' “ And he came and touched the bier, and they that bear him
stood still. “ And he said, “ Young man, 1 say unto thee, Arise.' “ And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he
delivered him to his mother."
In the preceding part of this chapter we are informed, that our Saviour, entering into Capernaum, was entreated by a centurion, distinguished for unrivalled faith and piety, to heal his sick servant. He accordingly healed him. The next day he left Capernaum, to perform the duties of his ministry in other
places. In his progress he passed through Nain, a city near s to Mount Tabor, and six miles from Nazareth.
As he came nigh to the gate, he met a funeral procession following a youth to his burial. This youth was an only son, and his mother was a widow. The family, it would seem, was greatly respected by the citizens, and the event excited an uncommon degree of sympathy; for we are told, that much people of the city accompanied the mourning parent to the grave of her son.
Our Lord, whose tenderness was supreme, and whose benevolence was manifested on every proper occasion, was moved with compassion at the sight of this afflicted mother, and directed her to weep no more.
Having said this, he came and touched the bier, upon which the bearers stood still. Then, with a solemnity and authority suited to his own character, >, and exhibited by him on every important occasion, he said, “ Young man, I say unto thee, arise.” Accordingly he arose, and sat up, and began to speak. Our Lord then delivered him to his mother.
We cannot wonder, that a miracle of such a nature, performed before such a concourse, should be followed by great fear in all those who were witnesses of it; that they should glorify God; that they should cry out, “ A great prophet has “ arisen up among us, and God has visited his people;" or that the fame of this glorious transaction and its divine author should suddenly spread throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.
This is the first instance in which Christ exhibited to the world the life-giving power challenged by him in the 5th chapter of John as his personal prerogative.
" As the father," saith he,“ raiseth up and quickeneth, even so the Son quick“ eneth,” that is, giveth life to “ whomsoever he will.” This stupendous power he afterwards exercised in various instances, particularly on the daughter of Jairus, on Lazarus, and on himself.
This story is in many respects interesting and instructive. The very manner in which it is related is remarkably beautiful and affecting. It is told with the utmost degree of simplicity, which is a prime ingredient in all fine narration. The circumstances are selected with singular felicity, and are preeminently fitted to touch the heart. The miracle itself was
of the most glorious kind conceivable. It was equally wonderful and benevolent. It was the first fruit of that divine power which will hereafter be displayed in a manner still more awful and amazing at the final day; when all that are in their graves
shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation. It was a miracle, clear of all objections. The occasion was casual. No concert between Christ and these people can be supposed. No harmony of designs or wishes can be
suspected. The miracle was performed in the most public manner, before a great assembly, composed of those who were either indifferent, or hostile to the character of the Redeemer. The event was unexceptionably miraculous. The youth was dead, and was summoned to life by a command. The facts were seen by this great multitude, and were acknowledged by them in a manner solemn, religious, and unequivocal. One would think, therefore, that the transaction would be received at once as a proof of the mission and the divinity of our Saviour.
My intention, however, is to derive from this narrative a train of considerations widely different from all these. I propose, in this discourse, to consider the miracle in question as a work of Christ, strongly symbolical of one much more interesting, which by his Spirit he performs on various persons generally in the same circumstances as this young man.
There is a death, which all young men die in the present world; a state of the soul, which God himself has thought it proper to call by this name. He declares mankind to be dead in trespasses and sins. There is a life, which some of them obtain ; a spiritual life, the beginning and the security of life immortal. To all these Christ is the source of life as truly as to the youth of Nain. From him must they receive it, if they receive it at all; from the same compassionate Saviour, who, passing by, sees them spiritually dead, and says to each of them, “ Young man, I say unto thee, arise.” With this design, I shall address to the assembly before me the following considerations :