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Divine appointment shall be, that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Isa. xi. 9.
His QUALIFICATIONS for this office, which are peculiar and complete, may next be pointed out.
He is an all-wise Teacher. He has infallible wisdom. However pious human teachers may be, and however disposed to assist us, none are wholly free from ignorance and error; it is not so with Christ, in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and this for us : he is made of God unto us wisdom. He not only knows what is in man, but in the Father also (Matt. xi. 27). The Divine Spirit is given by measure to man; it is given without measure to the great Mediator; (John iii. 34.) and the Spirit of the Lord that rests upon him is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. Look at the displays of this wisdom when he was upon earth ; with what authority and distinctness, with what love and tenderness he instructed his followers; how he baffled all the tricks and subtilty of Scribes and Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians; how ably he solved the artful questions about the tribute-money, the doctrine of the resurrection, and the woman taken in adultery, leaving a holy lesson, and removing all the fancied difficulties ; how wisely he taught his disciples as they were able to bear it, and opened their understandings to understand the Scriptures; what depths of wisdom are there in his parables and discourses! He is still the same all-wise Teacher. He knows every circumstance. He knows
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened . unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
He is an experienced Teacher. He has himself practised all his lessons. He has learned in the school of experience the truths which he teaches. Human instructors are often inefficient, because they have had little experience; we all more or less
il, as we say and do not. It is a most humbling and affecting proof of our fall, that we can clearly discern and expose the fault of another, at the very time that we are blind to our own commission of the same fault; we can admit correct notions without their becoming living principles; but it is the peculiar glory of this Teacher that there is not an excellence which he sets before us in instruction that is not in full perfection in himself, and that he has not set before us in his own life; and this not merely in prosperous circumstances; he has known want and poverty, he has gone through darkness and temptation, he has been in deep sorrow and extreme suffering ; though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. The Saviour first did and then taught (Acts i. 1. Matt. xi. 49.) His early life in his father's business as a carpenter, is full of sweet instruction to the humble Christian. We think that it is of great value to have the advice of an experienced Christian, and so it is, but let us not fail to look still higher. All Christians may have the advantage of that experience which the Saviour's unequalled temptations and sufferings have given to him. This gives him such sympathy with his people, that in all their afflictions he is afflicted. He has again long exercised this gracious office. Look at the scholars of his school. Mark the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, the noble army of Martyrs, the blessed band of the Reformers, and the holy Church, in ages past ;
they were all under his teaching. He has already guided thousands and millions safely home; he has lost none of them that were given unto him; he rejects none that come unto him; let us also go that we may have life.
He is a kind Teacher. Sometimes human teachers are harsh and severe ; sometimes they do not like to be interrupted ; sometimes they are dogmatic, proud, and negligent,. But Jesus is mild and gentle, meek and lowly, kind and faithful. It is delightful to mark his readiness to instruct while on earth; when he was weary, when he wished for retirement, when they followed him into his secret retreats, when he had not time so much as to eat bread, when even little children were brought to him, he never once refused to teach. Blessed Saviour, may we imitate thy unwearied love! How precious are thy words, Come unto me all ye that are weary—take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. Read the 8th chapter of Proverbs, and in the invitations of wisdom see a beautiful picture of the willingness of Christ to instruct. See how graciously he promises (Prov. xxxii. 8). I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thon shalt go, I will guide thee with mine eye. Look at his life, though he speaks with authority, yet it is the authority of truth and love, as well as of power and dominion; it is all marked by inexpressible kindness, and patience, and tenderness. How wonderful his patience in bearing with the unbelief and dullness, the prejudices and perverseness of his disciples ; what allowances he made for them, and how readily he pardoned, and again received them !
Once more, he is an abiding teacher. It was his last promise on earth to his church, Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world. Human teachers can give but short lessons, and they are gone. However, much we may sometimes desire their counsel, there are seasons when they cannot come to us, and we cannot go to them. He is ever present, and the Christian can say, that he will be our guide unto death. When in the midst of enemies, and under the most perplexing difficulties for his name's sake, we can,
without the possibility of man's interference, realize the presence of this Teacher, apply to Him, and hold communion with Him, and He will give a mouth and wisdom which all our adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. Happy are Christians, the pupils of the Teacher who has promised I will never leave thee nor forsake thee ; and who may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me.
From this view of his qualifications we must conclude, that He is an unparalleled Teacher: he has a fitness for this office that is quite unequalled. All the glories of his person as God and man, all the titles which he bears, all the endowments with which he is enriched as our Mediator, and all the offices which he has undertaken eminently, and without a rival, qualify Him to be THE PROPHET. He is God, and therefore omniscient and omnipresent, he can counsel the thousands of his Israel in all ages and places, and at one and the same instant direct and lead them; nothing can be hid from Him: He is man, and therefore can descend to and sympathize with human infirmity. The union and combination of His varied names show His peculiar qualification ; he is the chief Bishop, the Bright and Morning Star, the Counsellor, the Faithful Witness, the
Guide, the Lawgiver, the Light of the world and the Light of Life, the Shepherd, the Sun of Righteousness, the true Solomon, the Teacher come from God, the Truth, the Word of God, and the Wisdom of God. What an unparalleled Teacher is here! How long shall his people be clouded under the mists and darkness of human errors, because they come not to that better Instructor, who alone teacheth to profit. Isaiah, xlviii. 17. Let us too remember that he has assumed no office which he will not adequately fulfil; faithfulness is the girdle of his reins. We may entirely depend on Him for the due and full use of his endowments : he is faithful to him that appointed him, as Moses was faithful in all his house ; but in a vastly superior, in an unparalleled degree: Moses as a servant; with human defects; Christ as a son over his own house, and though touched with a feeling of our infirmities, yet holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
The MEANS BY WHICH CHRIST TEACHES are very varied. We might go through the preceding chapters of this work, and show that all the different topics on which we have been dwelling illustrate the modes in which the Saviour instructs. By human learning, by holiness, by more immediate divine teaching, and by the Scriptures ; by practical and controversial works; by the history of his church; by the ministry of the word, or the publications of His servants, He is carrying on one and the same design, the instruction of his people. The great Teacher is still one, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor are different and apparently opposite modes inconsistent with his wisdom. John the Baptist comes in an abstemious manner and under a severe garb, neither eating bread,