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to him. The charge of the bag is an office full of temptation; and an attachment to the bag has been often at the bottom of many censures and misrepresentations which have been thrown out against the people of God. It has been, and it will be so; but the Lord has appointed, that wherever the Gospel should be preached to the end of the world, this action of Mary, with the observation of Judas upon it, and the motive from which he made it, should be handed down together, that we may not be discouraged at things of the same kind. Without doubt, the treason of Judas and his unhappy end, after having maintained a fair character so long, and shared with the rest in the honours of the apostleship, were to them an occasion of grief, and afforded their enemies a subject of reproach and triumph. But we may believe ono reason why our Lord chose Judas, and continued him so long with his disciples, to have been that we mighi learn by this awful instance not to be surprised if some, who have made a show in the church, been chosen to important offices, and furnished with excellent gifts, do, in the end, prove hypocrites and traitors: “Let him that “thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
A desire of pre-eminence and distinction is very unsuitable to the followers of Jesus, who made himself the servant of all; very unbecoming the best of the children of men, who owe their breath to the mercy of God, have nothing that they can call their owr, and have been unfaithful in the improvement of every talent. We allow that every appearance of this is a blemish in the Christian character, and especially in a Christian minister; but if, on some occasion, and in some degree, human infirmity has wrought this way, though no example can justify it, yet those who, through ignorance of their own hearts, are too rigid censurers of others, may be reminded, that this evil frequently discovered itself in the apostles. They often disputed who should be the greatest; and when our Lord was speaking of his approaching sufferings, two of them chose that unseasonable time to preclude the rest, and petitioned that they might have the chief seats in his kingdom. The first offence was theirs; but when the ten heard it, they were all moved with indignation, and showed themselves equally desirous of superiority. It is plain, therefore, that, unless the apostles were hypocrites and mercenaries, some transient escapes of this sort (though confessedly criminal and indecent) are no sure proofs that such a person is not in the main sincere, disinterested, and truly devoted to the service of God and his Gospel.
No less contrary to the meek and gracious spirit of Jesus, is an angry zeal, expressing itself in terms of ill-will and bitterness to those who oppose or injure us. One of the highest attainments and brightest evidences of true grace, is, from a sense of the love and example of Christ, to show bowels of mercy and long-suffering to all men, and, by perseverance in well-doing, to overcome evil with good. And a contrary behaviour (if frequent and notorious) will, like a dead fly in precious ointment, destroy its savour, if not the efficacy of all we can attempt for the service of God in the world. However, if repeated falsehoods and studied provocations do sometimes, in an unguarded moment, extort from the disciples of Christ such expressions and marks of displeasure, as in their cooler hours they willingly retract and sincerely repent of before God; this ought not to be exaggerated beyond bounds, as an offence inconsistent with their profession; at least, not by any who would be afraid to speak dishonourably of the apostles James and John, who once went so far in their anger? as to demand, that fire might be sent from heaven to devour their adversaries.
We might proceed to other particulars; but enough has been said, to show the general resemblance which the preaching of the Gospel in later times bears to our Lord's personal ministry. The doctrine is the same, the effects the same. It was, and it is, to many, “a stone of stumbling, 6 and a rock of offence.” The opposition it has met with has been always owing to the same evil principles of pride and the love of sin, which are latent in every unrenewed heart : though the pretexts are various, they may be reduced to a few leading motives, which are always at work. The professors of this Gospel lave at no time been very numerous, if compared with those who have rejected it; and of these, too many have dishonoured or forsaken it: neither have those who have received it most cordially, and been most desirous to adorn and promote it, been wholly exempt from mistakes and imper
z Luke, ix. 54. They thought they were influenced by a commendable zeal for their Master, and that their proposal was warranted by an authorized precedent. We do not find that they ever wished for fire to consume the Scribes and Pharisees, who were Christ's most inveterate enemies. But when the Samaritans rejected him, the vile Samaritans, whom they, upon a national prejudice, had been accustomed to hate; then their hearts deceived them, and they indulged their own corrupt passions, while they supposed they were animated by a zeal for Christ. Are we not often deceived in the same way? Can we not silently bear, or ingenuously extenuate, the faults and mistakes of our own party, while we are all zeal and emotion, to expose, censure, and condemn what is amiss in others ?
fections. The tenour of their conduct has proved them partakers of a more excellent spirit than others; their faith in Jesus has not been an empty notion, but fruitful of good works, such as no man could do except God was with him. They have been governed by higher motives, and devoted to nobler aims, than the world can either understand or bear; yet they are deeply conscious of inherent infirmity, and sometimes, to their great grief, they give too visible proofs of it; which their watchful adversaries are glad to aggravate, and charge upon them as consequences of their doctrine. This should induce all who love the Lord Jesus to redouble their guard, and to pray with David that they may be led in the right way, because of their observers. If the question is concerning the infirmities or even the vices of others, almost every one is ready to plead in their behalf; allowances are freely and largely made for human frailty, and none are willing to be thought harsh or censorivus. But the believer in Jesus must look for 'no abatement or extenuation; even the
professed admirers of candour and charity will not hesitate to put the worst construction upon all he says or does; for they are seeking occasion to wound the Gospel through his misconduct. They are sensible that he is generally above them, and therefore rejoice to find, or pretend, aflaw, on which they may expatiate, to reduce him as near as possible to their own level. Though, if their censures are extended to their just consequence, they will (as we have seen) fall hard upon the apostles themselves.
I hope that what I have said upon this subject will neither be misunderstood nor perverted. We do not defend even the infirmities of the best men; much less would we provide a plea for
persecution or ambition. Let not the man who supposes gain to be godliness, who makes the Gospel a ladder whereby to climb the heights of worldly preferment, whose heart, like the insatiable fire, is craving more, and practising every art to accumulate wealth and honour in the church;-let not the proud man, who would lord it over conscience, and, though unable to command fire from heaven, would gladly prepare fire and slaughter upon earth for all who will not venture their souls upon his faith ;- -let not these avail themselves of the examples of James and John : but rather let them tremble at the reflection, that, while they manifest ng part of the apostles' graces, they are entirely possessed of those tempers, the smallest traces of which our Lord so severely rebuked in his disciples.
The first believers, though not faultless, were sincere. The natural disposition of their hearts was changed; they believed in Jesus, they loved him, they devoted themselves to his service, they submitted to his instructions, shared in his reproach, and could not be either enticed or intimidated to leave him. Their gracious Master was their guide and guard, their advocate and counsellor; when they were in want, in danger, in trouble, or in doubt, they applied to him, and found relief; hence they learned, by degrees, to cast all their care upon him. He corrected every wrong disposition; he pardoned their failings, and enabled them to do better. His precepts taught them true wisdom; and his own example, which, to those who loved him, had the force of a thousand precepts, was at once the model and the motive of their obedience. To make them ashamed of aspiring to be chief, he himself, though Lord of all, conversed among