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stead of longing to enter into the courts of the Lord, their secret pleasure was to get out again. In a word, they saw nothing amiable, nothing lovely in holiness, to make them desire and love it. What sort of welcome can such
persons, who fancy they have been seeking heaven, but have been seeking it only as in a dream,—what sort of welcome, I say, can they look for from the God of holiness? What can be their lot, but to be driven from his presence into the outer regions of sin and death? God, who in his mercy has so lately preserved us from the pestilence, preserve us all, my brethren, from this worse, this second death! May we, through the help of his Spirit, become holy as he is holy; that we may be admitted for Christ's sake into heaven, that holy of holies, where are joys unspeakable, and pleasures for evermore.
A VISITATION SERMON,
Preached at Devizes, August 2, 1832, before the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
OFFENSES IN THE MINISTRY A STUMBLINGBLOCK TO CHRISTIANS.
MATTHEW Xviii. 7.
It must needs be that offenses come: but wo unto that man by whom the offense cometh!
THE occasion which led our Saviour to give this awful warning to his disciples, and to the Church after them, is well known. Some disputes had arisen among the apostles, as to which of them should be the greatest in the temporal kingdom of the Messiah. They had not yet learnt to serve God for love alone; or at least to serve him only for those heavenly blessings, which faith and love so elevate and sanctify, as to raise them above the shade of selfishness, and to invest them in the midst of their solid reality with a sort of ideal character well fitted to ennoble and to soften
every heart that pants after them. The realities to which the apostles were then looking forward, were the realities of earth. Their minds were still too much in the dark about the true character of their Master's mission, and the heavenly nature of his kingdom, not to be hoping for dominion here below. Places of power and trust at the Messiah's court seem to have been the objects which were now dazzling the fancies of the Galilean peasants selected by Jesus to be his followers. Nor are there many things more instructive in the story of these poor men, than the contrast between their thorough confidence in their good Master, and those petty views of personal aggrandizement, which mingled with their confidence in him, and lowered its value. For great must needs have been their trust, and, but for the flaw of selfishness, invaluable, when they could see in the meek and lowly Jesus an instrument to break in pieces the colossal empire which was then, with its legs of iron, overstriding and trampling on the world. This trust in God, so entire and so courageous, has scarcely had justice done to it. To me it seems well worthy of the old heroic times of the Jews. Men possest with it might have fought by the side of Gideon and Barak and David, and those others recounted in the Epistle to the Hebrews, who out of weakness were made strong, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Indeed there cannot be a stronger proof how entire the confidence of the apostles in Jesus was, than the fact that, before the battle was begun, they should have been arranging and contending about their portions of the spoil. As if their Master had been king already, they had been disputing among themselves, St Mark tells us, (ix. 34,) who should be the greatest. It was not enough for them to know that, in realms so vast as the prophets and the Psalmist had promised to Messiah's sway, there must of necessity be many great. To take their stations as princes and governors among those many great, did not satisfy the ambition of these poor peasants. More than one aspired to be the greatest, and would be content with nothing less. A similar emulation is well known to have been exprest by the first and most distinguished of the Cesars. But what appears admirable in the eyes of men, is often worthless in the sight of God. However great, according to mere human notions, that illustrious Roman may have been, so low is earth and every thing earthly,-its views and standard and wisdom and conceptions,-in comparison with everything heavenly, that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater and higher than he. The emulation, which has been deemed no blemish in the character of one of the most renowned among the sons of men, must, if we believe our Saviour's words and emblematic ac
tions, be utterly destroyed and rooted out of the hearts of all such as aim to be the sons of God. For when the ambition of the disciples led them to inquire of Jesus, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,he continued, laying his hand perhaps on the child's head, as it stood by him shrinking into itself, and blushing at the notice taken of it,-the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Having thus, according to his wont, taken advantage of their curiosity to impress a lesson on them, and instead of a fact having given them a principle, our Saviour seems to have raised his eyes from the present toward the future; and discerning the scandals and impediments which would one day arise out of such worldly and contentious tempers as had just been manifested by his disciples,-discerning too how greatly those scandals and impediments would obstruct and endanger the path which he was making for men toward heaven, -the sad sight moved him to utter the warning wo, which immediately precedes my text: Wo unto the world because of offenses! As if he had said; " In the road over which my religion will have to travel,