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influence the will by force: "the absurdity in both cases is exactly the same.' Men's external actions may be forced, but not their hearts; and all that persecution can do is to make them hypocrites. Let us abstain, then, from all approaches to it. Let us seek to influence men aright, by scriptural arguments, gentleness, and good deeds; looking up, all the while, to Him who has the hearts of men in his hand, and praying Him to draw them with "the bands of a man" -with the bands which alone are suitable to man, even "the cords of love."
4. In all we do, and especially in what we do under the name of religion, let us carefully consider what manner of spirit we are of. There are some who seem to think that, provided there be some truth on their own side, and something wrong on the other, little caution is required as to the keenness they display, and the means of attack they employ; and hence, though they evidently become a prey to prejudice and passion, and get so excited as to be incapable of forming a deliberate and impartial judgment of several of the points in dispute, and set no bounds to their violence, they pretend to despise the remark, that they are proceeding in a very bad spirit. But how can any Christian consistently disregard this, or object to the caution, when Jesus Christ himself here virtually calls to us all to consider and know what manner of spirit we are of? It is not enough that our zeal in attacking error have some real error in view: we must also take heed to the manner in which our zeal works, both internally and outwardly. There is a furious zeal which leads a man to cry, "Come, see my zeal for the Lord of hosts," which has no regard to moderation in degree, or propriety in manner, and which is quite reckless of consequences. That was a bad spirit which led Moses repeatedly to strike the rock, and to cry out, in a passion, “Ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?" A bad spirit is plainly at work when men manifest such symptoms as the following-when, despairing of carrying their point by calm argument, they have recourse to passionate invective and clamour-when they misconstrue the motives, and words, and actions of those whom they are opposing-when they lay hold, with eagerness and satisfaction, on what is doubtful, to twist it to what is plainly to be condemned, exaggerating faults, and omitting, or undervaluing excellencies-when they slyly, but falsely, insinuate that they know
* Dr S. Clarke,
more than they choose to express-when they sacrifice the common maxims of friendship and the common courtesies of life at the shrine of violence-and when they bring themselves into a situation in which they are tempted to rejoice in iniquity, and not in the truth. It is quite in vain for men, when they are going on in this way, to plead that they are engaged in a good cause: the fact is, that, in the great majority of cases, truth is found on the opposite side from such procedure; and even when men have the right side of the question, it is disgraced by such violence. It often happens that those who are proceeding in this way, when they think they are acting a very faithful and very noble part, and doing much good, are acting very foolishly, and doing much mischief. If they seem to succeed, by such means, for a time, the tide soon turns, and what seems to be gained, is lost. Let us not have "bitter envying and strife in our hearts." "Let us not render railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing." Michael, the archangel, when disputing even with the devil, durst not bring against him a railing accusation; and that should be a lesson to us, even in the most provoking cases, and in dealing with the most inveterate enemies of religion. "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men," patient;" "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth." Alas! many good people are often under the influence of a bad spirit, and know it not. Let us all watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation.
Lastly. Let us be very thankful when we think of the gracious purpose for which the Son of God is here said to have come into the world. His gospel has already saved the temporal life of many; and if wars, and fightings, and persecutions, have arisen, they have arisen, not from the gospel, but in defiance of it. The time is coming, too, when his gracious purpose, in this respect, shall be completely accomplished. When Christ's reign is universal, the reign of violence will be everywhere unknown. Men shall then beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and not learn the art of war any more. They shall not hurt nor destroy, in all God's holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." But especially ought we to be thankful that the Son of God came, not to destroy,
but to save, in the spiritual sense. He came, not as a messenger of vengeance, as our guilty fears might have apprehended, but as the Prince of peace, and the God of salvation. Yes; "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life; for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." Let us fall in with his gracious design, by receiving the gospel for ourselves: and may he hasten the time when his salvation shall reach to the most distant lands, and when men shall be blessed in him, and all nations call him blessed. Amen.
LUKE IX. 57-62.
"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house. 62. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
We have here an account of the way in which three different persons acted in reference to the one duty of following Christ; and we shall examine their cases in the order in which the evangelist introduces them, and endeavour to carry along with us the practical instruction which each of them respectively suggests. It is not certain that they all occurred on one occasion, and it is clear that they are not introduced, or at least the two first of them are not introduced, by Luke in the order of time. He had been just giving an account of Jesus' going up to Jerusalem; and now he says, in the first verse of the passage under consideration, "And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way;" but he does not expressly say that it was in the way to Jerusalem: and, when we compare the parallel passage in Matthew, 8th chapter from the 18th verse, we find it written, as introductory to the account of two cases which are so similar to the two first here before us, that they cannot be reasonably supposed to have occurred twice: "Now, when Jesus saw great multitudes, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side;" that is, to cross over the lake of Gennesaret to the country of the Gergesenes; and the cases in question are represented as having happened before he entered into the ship, and, of course, happened when he was on the way to the sea shore, accompanied by his regular disciples, and others who were occasional hearers. Though
multitudes were waiting to hear him where he was, yet others, in other places, needed instruction as well as they ; besides, his removal to some distance would serve to try the sincerity of those who appeared to be so earnest to hear him, for if they did really value his ministry as they ought, they would not grudge the trouble of following it when it was withdrawn from their immediate neighbourhood. Observe here, that while there are some who are negligent of the ordinances of God's house, though they live almost at its very gate, and have every facility of attendance, there are many who are so remiss that a very moderate distance, or a very slight difficulty, is reckoned an insurmountable obstacle, and a sufficient excuse for general, or, at least, frequent absence: and hence learn that, however you may be situated, nothing but necessity should prevent you from waiting regularly on the public worship of God, and the preaching of his word.
Jesus Christ, being about to leave that part of the country and cross the sea of Galilee, “A certain man" (according to Luke) "said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." Matthew tells us that this man was a "scribe,"—that is, literally, a writer; and as writing, and especially writing with expertness, was, at one time, but a rare qualification among the people, the name signified a man of learning in general, and a scribe was a doctor, or teacher and interpreter of the law. For the most part we find the scribes, along with the Pharisees, openly opposed to Christ; but here we find a scribe promising well, addressing Jesus as Lord, or Master, and declaring that he would continue to wait on him. He had been an occasional hearer, and now had obtained a certain conviction, though probably a vague conviction, of the dignity of Jesus, and the excellencies of his discourses, and was under such a temporary impression, as prompted him to make this declaration; and you observe that it was of his own accord, determined, and unlimited. The resolution was good as to its letter, but very deficient as to its spirit. In all probability, he imagined that Jesus was to assume a temporal kingdom, and expected that he would gladly accept of such an offer from a learned and influential scribe, and would exalt him to a high and profitable station: and it is plain that the resolution was adopted and expressed without due consideration-indeed, with excessive rashness, and self