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again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance incorruptible, undehled, and that fadeth not away." Never lose sight of this inheritance. It belongs to you. It is "reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation."
Some of you may be near the end of your course. You have travelled in the ways of Zion many years, and this year may be the last. While you lament the slowness of your progress, and your unhappy wanderings, you are thankful that these are still the ways you love, and in which you walk. "Now is your salvation nearer than when you believed." And what should be your feelings, and your conduct, under this reflection? The traveller, near his home, forgets fatigue, and urges on his way with cheerfulness. A thousand tender thoughts crowd into his mind, and interest his heart, as he approaches the scene of his endearing domestic comforts. Your home is heaven. Anticipating its enjoyment, therefore, "go forward!" Do not fret and grieve about the troubles of the way: keep its end in view. Do not count your steps, with impatient wishes; remember, each step brings you so much nearer the happy close. And as home is welcome to the traveller, in proportion to his fatigue; so will heaven be welcome to you, as succeeding the toils and trials of the present state. You find not rest 6n earth, nor can you reasonably expect it: "there remaineth a rest for the people of God." Ere long, you "shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God." And the Saviour hath promised; "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne: even as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father in his throne."
But we must not say to all, " Go forward!" If we did, we should be urging many to what is directly wrong and ruinous. Some of you may be yet in your sins, and, as such, in the broad way which leadeth to destruction. Surely, the sooner you stop the better; the more prompt and speedy your return the better; lest by a life of criminal delay, you destroy both body and soul in hell! Conscience testifies that to this hour you have walked in the way of danger and of death. Shall we then say, Go forward? God forbid! The Bible forbids it; Christian benevolence forbids it; common humanity forbids it . Stop, therefore, before it be too late,. Consider where you are, what you are doing, and whither you are going. These are matters of eternal moment, and cannot be regarded with too much seriousness and self-application. "Thus saith the Lord,"—He speaks to you who have hitherto wandered in the paths of folly and sin—" Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths; where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls*."
• Jer. vi. ie.
THE UNDERSTANDING OPENED.
Luke xxiv. 46.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might
understand the Scriptures.
XT was predicted by Moses to the Jews: "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall you hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you." This Prophet is Jesus Christ. And in the discharge of his office he perforins two great works, in which both Jews and Gentiles are closely concerned:—He reveals the will of God ;—and he secures its cordial reception.
May there not be the former, where there is not the latter? Doubtless. The will of God may be revealed, where it is neither understood nor received. It may be published freely, while yet the mind is sealed in ignorance, and the heart closed in enmity and unbelief. The Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, in pursuance of his office as a Prophet, effects this happy change—the illumination of the mind, the opening of the heart;—a change universally needed, unspeakably desirable, and essential to salvation.
The text refers to what took place just before our blessed Lord ascended into heaven. He had joined two of his disciples in their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and so conversed with them, that "they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Soon after, he presented himself in the midst of them, and said, "Peace be unto you." But such was the suddenness of his appearance, and the hurry of their minds on the occasion, that "they were affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit." The Lord Jesus, ever ready to allay the groundless fears of his disciples, tenderly expostulated with them. He used various means to convince them, that he was indeed their Friend, their risen Saviour. "And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I vras yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which are written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures; and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his Name, among ail nations, beginning at Jerusalem; and ye are witnesses of these things." Here was, you perceive, the opening of the Scriptures: but this was not all. He opened the understanding to discern their meaning, their application, and their use.
It may be asked, Were not these disciples already enlightened? Were they not converted men? Certainly. The text, in its reference to them, does not imply that they were in a state of tolal darkness; but only, that in some things their views were yet obscure. Their knowledge was defective, particularly in what regarded the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. What is expressed in the text, is needed not only by sinners in an unconverted state, but also by believers in a state of grace. David was a believer, and he prays: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law j yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart." The Apostle Paul, after he had known Christ, many years, had preached his Gospel, and been eminently useful in sthe instruction of others; diligently sought to improve, and counted all things but loss for the excellency of this knowledge.
The subject before us is of general application, and is interesting, whatever be our state, our character, or attainments. We propose to notice—The Change produced—its Author—and its End.
I. The Change produced, as stated in the text— the understanding of the disciples was opened.
The "understanding" seems here to denote, not the mind only, or that power of the soul which perceives, but all its powers; not one faculty, to the exclusion of the rest, but the whole comprehended in this one term. The understanding or mind, as one observes, is to the heart, what a door is to a house: "it is the way of entrance;" and though many truths which are heard go no farther than the understanding, yet, when this is opened, in the sense of the text, they find their way to the heart.
The opening of the understanding, therefore, means, the unlocking of the whole soul: not only the dispersion of that darkness which veils the mind, but the destruction of that enmity which steels the heart; the breaking down of all the barriers of pride, of pre-: