صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

of Rome has placed a legal righteousness in mortifications and pilgrimages, so have we placed a legal righteousness in tears. It is indeed very true, there is in a solitary tear an uncomputed weight, greater than all the weight of the mountains of the world; in a tear which flows from the deepest fountain of the penitent soul; and yet, even tears cannot atone for us. And the reason of their insufficiency is not the simple fact, that our penitence is never deep enough, and our tears are never warm enough; by no means; nothing but the pure unmerited grace of God, appropriated to ourselves by faith, can make the atonement for our sins.-Believer, this grace will fall into your right hand scale, and the scale will sink !-To this consciousness now, that neither our works nor our tears can cause the right hand scale to descend, only that man comes, who has travelled in the rough way of the discipline of God's law. So it is then, that this severe life under the law stamps a sure seal upon the fact, that we have chosen for our good the way of grace, a way that conducts us to happiness in the life to come, and to peace of heart in this life.

Come then, Christians, whoever of you are earnestly engaged for your highest welfare, never surrender yourselves to your sinful impulses. Pray for the Spirit of God, who moveth the children of God from within. Whenever a single duty, a single command is presented to your conscience and you are not able to perform the duty, to obey the command, under the mere incitement of the spirit, then surrender yourselves in obedience to the divine law. It will be for you a school-master to bring you to Christ, and to afford you the favor of communing with the Son of man. Whoever is actuated by the Spirit of God, the same is Lord of the Sabbath. He is a righteous man, and as the apostle says, no law is given to him.

SERMON II. 1

GENTLENESS OF CHRIST.

CHRISTIANS, this day are you assembled the second time, for the purpose of celebrating the advent of a child. What a birth-day

For an Analysis of this Sermon, see Note D, at the close of the Sermons.

solemnity is this! What child is there among mortals, whose birth is celebrated by such multitudes as in all parts of the world go this day to their holy places, and by such tears of joy as are poured out this day in many a closet. And this has been the fact for eighteen hundred years, and will continue to be, as long as time shall endure. My christian friends, either this child was in fact incomparably superior to all children, who have ever been placed at the mother's breast; or else Christendom is devoted to error, as no other community of men has been. But no! Christians, under no miscon ception do you come together in the holy place; under no misconception do the flames of sacrifice ascend, pure and holy, to heaven, from all parts of the world, on this day. The child that was born to you to day is the Prince of Peace, the Government is upon his shoulders. And the two days which are set apart in our christian community, for the purpose of celebrating his advent, are only the highest point of that festival in honor of the infant's birth, which is observed by all redeemed hearts as often as, in their anguish and forebodings, they console themselves with the thought, that this infant is the Redeemer from all sin and all evil.

Delightful and instructive is this day-spring from on high, as the Holy Scripture denominates the birth of Jesus, whether we consider what the Redeemer has abolished, or the particular style of action which he adopted. It is this last consideration which will engage our minds during our present exercise. The passage, to which we annex the discussion, we find in 1 Kings, 19: 1–13.—“ And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, and said unto him,- May the gods do to me this and more also, if I do not, tomorrow about this time, make thy life like the life of one of these men.' When he saw that, he arose and went forth whither he would, and came to Beersheba in Judah and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the desert, and came and seated himself under a juniper tree, and prayed that he might die, and said, It is enough; so now, Lord, take away my life; I am not better than my fathers.' And he lay down and slept under the juniper tree. And behold, an angel touched him, and said to him,― Rise up and eat.' And he looked around him, and behold at his head lay toasted bread and a can of water. And when he had eaten and drank, he lay down again to sleep. And

the angel of the Lord came the second time, and touched him, and said, Rise up and eat; for thou hast a long journey before thee.' And he arose, and ate and drank, and went on the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, even to Horeb, the mount of God. And he went unto a cave there, and remained in the cave over night. And behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, and said to him,- What doest thou here, Elijah?' He said, I have been zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, and broken down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I only am left, and they attempt to take my life. Go forth,' he said, ' and stand upon the mount before the Lord.' And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, came an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, came a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle soft sound. When Elijah heard this, he hid his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the door of his cave."

When you see the child of God, whose birth we this day celebrate, descending in the still night to the manger in little Bethlehem, unnoticed by all the great and wise of the earth; and when you see the small company of shepherds celebrating the natal day; and when you understand the passage just recited from the Old Testament; tell me, does it not appear to you as if the ancient narration, which we have read, were barely a prophetical discourse on the birth of your Saviour?-The Lord is not in the storm and the tempest, but in the gentle soft sound;-this is the sentiment here proclaimed to us. It is indeed true, that when originally uttered, the words had a reference very different from that which we have just noticed. If we look for the meaning of this elevated symbolical appearance in the connection of Elijah's history, we shall see how the great prophet had been consumed with zeal in the contest against the impiety of his nation, and how his love of life even had forsaken him. He went a day's journey into the wilderness, and seated himself under a juniper tree, and prayed that he might die, and said, It is enough, so take now, Lord, my life from me.' This appearance therefore may be regarded as a mere admonition, that God was not in the consuming zeal of Elijah, so far as that zeal was

unsustained by love, by patience, by forgiveness. There would be found, in this reference of our text, a rich subject of consideration, if I were disposed to show you, in what way the zeal of Elijah must be tempered, in order that God may be in it. The topics for consideration and application, which the subject presents to us, are very various, whether we apply the subject to the mode in which we are related to God, or the mode in which He is related to us; whether we apply it to the history of the world, or to an individual heart. Variously and in multiplied forms is it true, that God is not in the storm and tempest, but in the soft gentle sound. To day, however, we will consider this truth in regard to the manifestations of the Saviour of the world; and, first, in regard to his entrance into the world; secondly, in regard to his progress through the world; and thirdly, in regard to his departure from it. Throughout the whole discussion, we will inquire how he might have appeared when confronting a finite race, and when confronting a sinful race, and how he actually did appear.

1. The Lord is not in the storm and the tempest, but in the soft gentle sound.' Thus are we addressed by the entrance of the Son of God into the world. How might he have appeared when he met a finite race?-There rests concealed behind all the excellence of nature, there rests concealed behind every spectacle in history, there is ruling concealed in the depth of the earth, there is ruling concealed in the immensity of the starry world, the eternal spirit, which we call God! There are hours, when thou dost imagine thyself to come near him ;-oh, there are wonderful hours in the life of man, when it is as if the great mystery of all existence would at once burst asunder its bar, and come forth, unveiled! Our inmost soul is agitated at such an hour. But how is it when the bar is actually burst asunder; when he who dwells in unapproachable light, where no man can draw near,-when the infinite Spirit, who sustains heaven and earth, assumes a visible form, and appears among his finite creatures? Who does not now expect, what is written of the day of his second coming, that his heavens, which are his throne, will tremble; that this small earth, his footstool, will shake; that a foreboding sentiment, such as we have elsewhere discovered at the occurrence of great natural phenomena, will seize all tribes of the earth, and cause some to rejoice, and others to weep!

1 See Note E, at the close of the Sermons.

'Soon after the affliction of that period,' it is written, 'the sun and the moon shall lose their brightness, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with great power and glory.' Yet behold, as nature is everywhere still when she creates, and loud only when she destroys, so is she still, indescribably still, when the greatest of all who are born of women comes into the world. The sun did not stand motionless in the heavens, when he came; it was night. He did not make his first appearance in the capital city; but in one of the smallest places of the land. No sleeper waked up at his coming; but only they who watched through the night had intelligence of his advent. The earth that night did not shake; the heaven that night did not tremble. Only a few childlike souls, who then kept vigil at his birth, trembled; yet their trembling was a trembling for joy. "The eternal light enters," says the poet," and gives the world a new splendor; it shines clearly at midnight, and makes us children of the light. He whom the whole circumference of the world could not embrace, lies in the womb of Mary. He, who alone sustains the universe, has become a little infant."

How might Jesus have appeared when he met a sinful world? He will, at his second coming, appear to it as its Judge; and at his first coming, even then, it might have been said, in the words of the poet," Trembling at the foundations of the earth, will proclaim the approach of the Judge, and he will search into the hearts of men." Even at that advent, might an anxious foreboding have seized the whole world of sinners; even then might they have cried, as they will one day cry, Ye mountains, cover us ; ye hills, fall on us.' Yet the Lord was not in the tempest, but in the gentle soft sound; and the heavenly hosts sung at his birth,-Peace on earth and good will to men. As the poet says,-" The Son of the Father who has the same nature with God, became a guest in our world; he raised us up from the valley of our lamentation, and gave us an inheritance in his palace."

Beloved of God, with what feelings must we keep this natal feast, when we reflect how the Redeemer might have appeared, and how he did appear; and moreover, when we reflect on the other side, how he will appear at a future period. For, says the apostle,

« السابقةمتابعة »