Imatges de pÓgina
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incidentally appears that he did not himself keep the purse, out of which alms were distributed to the poor; but committed the charge of it to Judas, who afterwards betrayed him. 1 One of the severest reproofs which he gave to the Jewish rulers is this : that they were ambitious of receiving honour one from another, and sought not the honour which cometh from God only ; or, as it is expressed in another place by the evangelist, that “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God: ” a disposition to which our Saviour ascribed, as an almost necessary? consequence, their rejection of the Christian faith. In contradistinction to this spirit hear his own instructions. “Blessed are the meek. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same shall be greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” 3 It has been shewn that his own actions were a faithful illustration of these precepts.

Our Saviour, whose abhorrence of all mixture of hypocrisy in acts of charity and of devotion has been recently noticed, stigmatises deceit in general, and in terms which imply extreme aversion. The falsehood of the Jews he pointedly reproves 4 ; and ascribes lies to the Devil as their author. 5

Of himself he says, “ For this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth.” 6 - “ Because I tell you the truth

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Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you.” 8 His veracity shone conspicuous under the hardest trials. He boldly rebuked and ex

66 In

1 John, xii. 6. xiii. 29.

2 John, v. 44.

xii. 43. 3 Matt. v. 5. xviii. 4. Luke, xiv. 12. 4 John, viii. 55. 5 John, viïi. 44. 6 John, xviii. 37. 7 John, viii. 45. 8 John, xiv. 2.

posed the vices of the Jews, and discountenanced their darling prepossessions, though perfectly aware of the hatred and active enmity which he thus drew upon himself. The great purpose of his life was to establish his religion. Yet he never concealed from his followers the dangers and persecutions which they would bring upon themselves from the powers of this world by professing his doctrine ; but plainly forewarned them that they should be hated and despised of all men, that they should be driven from city to city, that they should be scourged, afflicted, and put to death. In answer to Pilate's question, whether he was a king, he returned without hesitation the dangerous avowal, that he was. 1 A clear and forcible admonition is this to us, that no worldly advantage whatever will justify a deviation from the paths of truth.

Courage is a quality which obtains from mankind much higher praise than it deserves. In consequence of its obvious utility, it is commonly permitted without inquiry to take its place among the virtues. But, considered in itself, it has no more an inherent title to be denominated a virtue than bodily strength, or swiftness, or than wit, or reason. It is an instrument: and becomes the object of approbation or of disapprobation (for in this case as in other instances we transfer to the quality, according to the ordinary use of language, the praise or blame which belongs to the agent,) solely according to the principles, upon which it is cultivated and employed. When natural fortitude is cultivated by its possessor for the sake of promoting the glory of God and the welfare of his creatures ; and is exerted in the face of danger for the purpose of promoting that glory and that welfare, we behold it with reverence. Such was the fortitude of Jesus Christ. In this sense his whole life was a demonstration of his fortitude. Several of those particulars in his conduct, which have been cited as proofs of his veracity, might be repeated as shining examples of religious magnanimity. As the hour of his death drew nigh, and afterwards when the fatal period had now overtaken him, the manifestations of his

1 John, xviii. 37. Pilate, therefore, said unto him, “ Art thou a king then?” Jesus answered, “ Thou sayest, that I am a king:” that is, according to the idiom of the language, Thou sayest rightly, that I am a king. That this mode of expression was an acknowledgement and affirmation of the fact, concerning which the question was proposed, is evident from Luke, xxii. 70, 71. and also from a comparison of Matt. xxvi. 64. with Mark, xiv. 62. where the latter evangelist, instead of the words “ Thou hast said,” in our Saviour's answer to the question whether he wa the Son of God, substitutes the words, “ I am."

magnanimity were numerous and matchless. Though he knew the sufferings which awaited him at Jerusalem, he undauntedly went thither to the passover; foretelling to his disciples, who followed him in amazement and terror, every thing which was to befall him. At his last supper, when Judas was about to betray him, Jesus calmly said to him ; « That which thou doest, do quickly.' And when the traitor arose, and went out to conduct the soldiers that they might seize upon his master, our Lord, who knew the reason of the departure of Judas, far from showing any marks of fear, rejoiced at the approach of his death for the redemption of mankind; and said, “ Now is the son of Man glorified; and God is glorified through him." In his agony in the garden, his human nature recoiled under the anguish which he was experiencing. But his most fervent prayers to be delivered, if it were possible consistently with the redemption of man, from that anguish, were accompanied with another, that the determination of his heavenly Father should take place. Let it be remembered that the death and sufferings of our Saviour were perfectly optional. All was in his own power. “ I lay down iny life : no man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself.”l66 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my

Father; and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?” He spoke; and resigned himself to his enemies. When Peter denied him, Christ looked upon the fallen apostle with an eye of calm pity that pierced his heart. When smitten unjustly, he replied with magnanimous composure, “ If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” When derided and blasphemed before his crucifixion by the chief priests, scribes, and elders, by the Roman soldiery, and by Herod and his men of war; when mocked and reviled, as he hung upon the cross, by his enemies who exulted in the spectacle, and even by one of the malefactors crucified with him : he bore without emotion all that malice could devise; and, as the prophet had foretoldy, was like a lamb led to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth. A principal foundation of this holy fortitude in our Saviour was his conviction of the perfect innocence and righteousness of his life. Herein also he hath given us an example. He, who conscientiously and habitually endeavours to discharge, as the disciple of Christ, his duty to God and his neighbour, will receive such gracious assistance from above as will sustain him under all the distresses and

2 Matt. xxvi. 53, 54.

1 John, x. 17, 18. 3 Isaiah, liïi. 7.

afflictions of life, and fill him with hope and consolation on the bed of death.

By superficial enquirers it has been affirmed that the Gospel inculcates not either patriotism or friendship. And this false assertion has been brought forward as an objection to Christianity. That the Gospel mentions not the term patriotism, nor commands under the shape of a formal precept the duties obviously comprehended in the term, is true. And he, who considers that a prevailing fault of the nations whom Christianity first addressed was selfishly to love their own country too much; that the Jews regarded the love of their country as consisting in contempt and abhorrence of every other people ; and that the Romans had converted the same principle into a pretext for subjugating the world to the dominion of Rome; will not deem it wonderful that Christ was cautious of referring to the subject in direct exhortations, which either were unneces

cessary, or in consequence of the erroneous and mischievous opinions universally prevalent on the subject, would probably have been perverted or misunderstood. Yet while by teaching the equality of all nations in the sight of God under the Gospel, and by inculcating on all men the duty of loving their enemies, of regarding every man as their neighbour, and of practising on all occasions mutual benevolence as between brethren, he guarded against the mistakes and excesses to which patriotism, ill understood, has so often led: he taught both by precept and example the duty of loving our country. When, in reply to an ensnaring enquiry, he commanded the Jews to render unto Cæsar the things which were Cæsar's; he taught the first duty of patriotism, faithful obedience to lawful governors. Tribute he paid himself : and wrought a miracle that

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