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SERMON XXIV.

THE FAMILY OF OUR LORD.

Mat. xii. 49, 50.

And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples,

and said, Behold my mother and my brethren ! For whosoever fall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and fifter, and mother.

1 ADDRESS this assembly in the language of our Saviour to the Pharisees; “What think « ye of Christ ?” And surely a more serious inquiry it is impossible to make. Your opinions upon vari. ous other subjects are comparitively of little consequence ; but it is of the highest importance to entertain proper apprehensions of the person and character, the offices and work of Christ.

There is however another question which it is equally necessary to ask, What does Christ think of you ? What you are in the sentiment of your fellow creatures signifies little. It is a light thing to be judged of man's judgment. Your happiness does not depend upon him ; he may be deceived in his conclusion.

He that judgeth you is the Lord ; his decision is infallible, and his sentence regulates your doom. Does He view you this evening as enemies or friends ? As strangers or relations ? Is it possible to determine this? It is not only possible but easy. Observe what he did, and remember what he said in the days of his flesh. 66 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples 66 and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For “ whosoever shall do the will of my Father which 6 is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and “ mother.”

Our Saviour preached in various places. He was now in a private house; and is said to be “ talking to 6 the people.” It marks the ease, the simplicity, the familiarity with which he fpake. When a preacher can exemplify this mode of address without sinking, he is peculiarly pleasing to his hearers, and often molt successful in the force and sublimity of his thoughts. 6 While he yet talked to the people, behold his moth“ er and his brethren stood without defiring to speak 66 with him.” What was the design of his friends it is impossible to determine ; but they had something interesting to communicate, and could not approach

fore conveyed along the notice of his relations from one to another till it reached the person who stood by him. Then one said unto him, Behold thy mother “ and brethren stand without, desiring to speak with " thee.” Our blessed Lord was despised and rejected of men ; but there were some who knew his worth, and loved and honoured him ; and at hearing of his mother and his brethren, they were ready to exclaim,

O happy brethren! to have such a brother ! O happy mother! to have such a fon! Our Saviour was not so confined to his subject, as to refuse a new idea suggested by the occasion ; therefore knowing their thoughts he tells them of another connection with himself; from his family according to the flesh, he leads them to his spiritual kindred ; and from a union with him, which was temporal and confined to few, he leads them to one which was everlasting and embraced all good men. " But he answered and said 6 unto him that told him, Who is my mother? " and who are my brethren ? AND HE STRETCHED “ FORTH HIS HAND TOWARD HIS DISCIPLES, AND 6 SAID, BEHOLD MY MOTHER AND MY BRETHREN ! “ FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL DO THE WILL OF MY FA66 THER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN, THE SAME IS MY C BROTHER, AND SISTER, AND MOTHER.”

Whence we observe, that OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE WILL IS AN EVIDENCE OF OUR BEING RELATED TO Jesus Christ. Our Lord here gives us the character and the privilege of his disciples.

I. Their CHARACTER ; they do the will of his Father.

II. Their PRIVILEGE ; they are his brother, his fifter, his mother. “Remember me, O Lord, with 6 the favour that thou bearest unto thy people : 0 “ visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good “ of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of «thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.”.

1. We have the CHARACTER of his disciples. He

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describes them as DOING THE WILL OF His FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. All obey ; but some do the will of the devil ; some do the will of man ; some do their own will; and some do the will of God.

Some do the will of the devil. This is a dreadful charge ; but it is fully supported by the address of our Saviour to the Jews; “ Ye are of your father the “ devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” And what is all sin, but “ the work of the devil ?” “ For 6 the devil finneth from the beginning.” He therefore who lives in the practice of sin co-operates with him, resembles him, strives to please him, fulfils his wishes. The devil loves pride, and the finner cherishes it ; he takes pleasure in revenge, and the finner in dulges it ; his empire is maintained by iniquity, and the sinner commits it.

Some do the will of men. They are entirely governed by others; they receive the law from the opinions, maxims, and manners of their companions, superiors, relations ; from the conversation received by tradition from their fathers ; from the example of the multitude. And by no better authorities than these, are many influenced even in the concerns of religion! But “ we ought to obey God rather than man;" and " to live the rest of our time in the flesh, not to the « lusts of men, but to the will of God.”

Some do their own will. They are as regardless of the authority of God, as if they were persuaded that his being and perfections were a fable ; they live without him in the world, never asking when they engage in any course of action, whether it will please or pffend him, whether he has forbidden or enjoined it ?

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. xxiv. They follow only the bias of their own inclination, and this being since the fall depraved and irregular, carries them widely astray from their duty and happi. ness. For it is as dangerous as it is criminal to obey such a guide. Hence to be abandoned to its influence is spoken of as the greatest curse ; 6 So I gave " them up unto their own hearts' lust , and they 6 walked in their own counsels.” It has been said of children, that they are undone if they have their own will ; and the reason is, because they are not wise enough to choose the good and refuse the evil. But this is much more true of man ; if he has his own will, he will be sure to ruin himself; for a finner is much more likely to make a foolish choice than a child ; and he who wants grace, has less understanding than he who wants years.

But the Christian makes the will of God the grand, the only rule of his life ; and every consideration induces him to say, “ Not my will, but thine be done.” His authority over us is supreme, and his relations to us are numerous. He is our Father, and we owe him honour; our Master, and we owe him fear ; our Benefactor, and we owe him gratitude ; our God, and we owe him obedience, devotion, all we are, and all we have ! Nor does our obligation spring only from his dominion over us, and his claims to us ; but from the very nature of his will, which is wise, and righteous, and good.

That we may not be ignorant of his will, he has been pleased to reveal it; this revelation is contained in the Scriptures of Truth. Opening these, we find all needful information ; they are a lamp unto our

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