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ledge, at the door of every family of the civilized world, to have sprung from a poor mechanic in Strasburg ? Would you have expected the invention of manufacturing machinery, which has multiplied the resources of human comfort a hundred-fold, to have started from the brain of a poor barber in Yorkshire ? But examples of this kind, illustrating the principle that great mercies often spring from unlikely sources, are almost innumerable. Streams from flinty rocks.
Secondly: Do philanthropic institutions conduce to the secular well-being of man? Unquestionably. If you look to the origin of your Temperance Societies, your Asylums, your Provident Associations, &c., &c., all of which are streams to bless the world, you will find that they have for the most part sprung from the most unlikely sources-flinty rocks.
Thirdly : Does political liberty conduce to the secular well. being of man ? Undoubtedly yes. Who has won it for the peoples of the world? Who shall win it for the Jews in Egypt ? Would you have expected that the little babe found in the ark of bulrushes on the Nile was to become their deliverer? Who shall free Europe from Papal tyranny? Would you expect that the poor son of a miner, who sang ballads in the street for a livelihood, would become their deliverer ? Who shall deliver England from the tyranny of kingcraft ? Would you expect that a brewer in a little country town would be the man? The political liberty of mankind has come mostly from unlikely sources. The waters have come from the flinty rock.
II. THE SPIRITUAL DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN HISTORY WILL
FURNISH STILL GREATER ILLUSTRATIONS OF THIS
Here the principle appears in far more striking aspects :First : See it exemplified in the Spiritual Deliverer of
Is there to be found a system by which a sinful world is to be justified, made holy and happy; by which the power, guilt, and consequence, of sin are to be removed for ever from the world, and by which man and God shall be
again brought together in unbroken and delightful fellowship? This would be confessedly the greatest of all achievements. But how is it to be obtained ? Who is to fulfil this “desire of all nations ?” Go to Bethlehem and
will find a babe in the manger, the son of a poor carpenter, who grew up to be “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief,” and to die at last, a malefactor upon the cross. This is the Being that is to give the world these wonderful mercies ;—this is the rock from whence these streams will flow.
“This rock,” says Paul, “is Christ”-is like Christ. How does it resemble Him ? (1) In the value of the blessings which emanate therefrom—which are most needed and most adequate. The world needs them, and they are sufficient for the world. It resembles him (2) In the method employed to secure the blessing, the rock was smitten. Christ was smitten. “He was wounded,” &c. But the most striking part of resemblance is (3) In the fact under notice, the unlikelihood of the source.
That poor Galilean seems as unlikely to benefit the world, as that rock at first sight to allay the thirst of the Israelites for forty years.
Secondly: See it exemplified in the first preachers of the Gospel. Who are the men who are to bear the Gospel through the world? Where were the men selected from? The seats of statesmen or the chairs of scholars ? No. From poor fishermen. How are the great blessings of Christianity to be proclaimed to the heathen world? Go to that young man who is witnessing Stephen's martyrdom—who hurries to Damascus, &c.
Thirdly: See the principle exemplified in the missionary enterprise. Who is to bear the Gospel to the Heathen ? Carey, the shoemaker-Williams, the blacksmith-Moffat, the gardener, &c.
This subject suggests (1) Good ground for trusting God in the greatest difficulty. You may be famishing with thirst and there may be nothing before you but the dry and Ainty rock; but do not despair, God can turn the rock into a fountain. "Though you walk through the valley," &c. The subject serves (2) To remove all ground for glorying in your usefulness. God could make the meanest creatures do all and more than you can accomplish. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” &c. 1 Cor. i. 27, 29.
SUBJECT :-Christ in the House of Simon; or, the Technical
and the Spiritual in Religion.
“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind himweeping,and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him : for she is a sin. ner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat
say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors : the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty,” &c.—Luke vii. 36-50.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-first.
The Bible records with minuteness, events which the secular historian would either overlook or deem unworthy of his pages. The fluctuations of commerce, the discoveries of science, the progress of civilization, the revolutions of governments, the birth, movements, and death, of those who wield the destinies of empires, are the subjects seized with earnestness, and narrated with enthusiasm and eloquence by the mere annalists of this world. They have neither the faculty to discern, nor the heart to feel, the importance of those history-forming events, that are ever transpiring in the hidden world of mind. The religious emotion, the quiet thoughts, the earnest resolves, forming a crisis in the history of individual souls, and giving a new impulse and direction to humanity, they seldom if ever notice.
But these are the very subjects which Biblical historians take up, and bring out prominently on the page. The workings and epochs of individual minds, are here presented with artless precision and natural charm. The conversion of a soul to truth, is to the Bible historian, the sublimest event. He studies it with interest, he records it with joy. He sees in it a new victory over moral evil, the opening of a new fountain of moral influence, whose vital streams will irrigate the world. These remarks are suggested by the piece of history before
In these few sentences, there is an unmasking of individual character-a revelation of heart. Here are the cold ossified nature of the formalist, the warm swelling bosom of the penitent, and the sublimely benignant spirit of Him who is the Saviour of the world. Some have imagined that this incident, is the same as that recorded in the 26th chapter of Matthew, the 14th of Mark, and the 12th of John; but although some of the incidental circumstances appear to resemble each other, there are too many fundamental points of dissimilarity to support the view of an identity. In those passages, the woman was one who had led a devout life and who was seized at the time with special gratitude to Christ on account of a special favor; here the woman is an awakened sinner who had evidently pursued a very corrupt life heretofore. In the former mentioned passages, a heartfelt love which knew no bounds is set in broad contrast with the common mind of the country which was incapable of comprehending such transcendent affection; here, the different relations in which the technical Pharisee and an awakened sinner stand to Christ, who is ever ready to receive the vilest of the vile, are vividly represented.
We take this narrative to illustrate the contrast between the technical and spiritual in religion :-Simon shall represent the one, and The weeping woman the other :
I. THE CONNEXION OF THE ONE WITH CHRIST WAS FORMAL, THAT OF THE OTHER WAS VITAL, Christ is in the house of Simon by a formal invitation. Christ affected no pietistic austerity, no rigorous ascetism. He seemed to hail every opportunity of social intercourse. He freely mingled with all classes, even with those who had no sympathy with Him; amongst the domestic festivities, the religious devotions, and the commercial engagements of His countrymen, He was often found. He sought to bring His own warm heart in contact with the heart of His age. He did so, and its pulsations are felt to this hour.
Everything about Simon seems to be cold and formal. There is no heart in anything he says or does. His connexion with Christ now, is purely conventional. He meetswith Him through the formal ceremony of an invitation to dinner. He does not appear in any way impressed with His dignity or inspired with His love. Why he sought this intercourse is not easy to divine. It might have been through curiosity- -a desire to hear the conversation and mark the demeanor of One, who was exciting the attention of His country; or it might have been vanity-a desire to honor himself by entertaining as his guest, One, who was rapidly growing in popularity among the people of Judea; he might have been of that class of men, who make their hospitality not a blessing to the needful and the worthy, but a means of putting themselves in connexion with those whom society begins to honor, in order if possible to be brightened into a little fame by the flickering rays of a borrowed glory. Or, it might have been ambition ;—perchance he wished to play the patron.
Now all technical Christianity is something of this sort; its connexion with Christ is of the same kind as that which Simon now had-conventional and formal. Such Christianity is without soul-merely assumed for a personal gratification and convenience. Christianity comes to your mere technical saints, as Christ entered the house of Simon, through the mere formalities of the times. They put themselves into formal connexion with it, invite it to their house, because it is becoming popular, and will answer their ends. There is a great temptation to this in these days. Christianity is in