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lead us to feel for those who enjoy no such privileges, and to do everything we can to extend them to the utmost corners of the earth. As in Old Testament times there were those who longed for Messiah's coming into the world, so there are those now, in other places of the earth, who desire his coming to them in the ordinances of his word and ministry, and in the blessings of his salvation. There are who are uttering the Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us," and who would be ready at once to welcome the messengers with the words, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that publish good tidings of peace!" And shall their cry and their desire be disregarded? There are multitudes, too, much greater multitudes, who have no desire, indeed, for Christian privileges, but who have a longing desire for something which they can never find, for something to satisfy the restless cravings of the heart, who are panting to see and hear something which can give them rest. That something, though they know it not, is the gospel. For this the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together. And shall we not reckon ourselves happy, if, by our exertions and prayers, we can do anything towards causing that gospel to be published to every creature under heaven, that men may be blessed in Jesus, and all nations call him blessed?
LUKE X. 25-37.
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26. He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27. And he, answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30. And Jesus, answering, said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."
THOUGH there are two cases mentioned by Matthew and Mark, which are, in some respects, similar to the case of this lawyer, this interesting account is peculiar to Luke. A certain man who was a 66 lawyer," or scribe, whose profession it was to study and expound the law of Moses, formally "stood up" in the midst of the people who were listening to Christ's instructions, "and tempted him;"put a question to him with the view of trying him, or proving him, and, perhaps, impiously and treacherously expecting that he would commit himself. But, taking it in the least offensive view, as simply a trying of Christ's skill, with the view of showing off himself, the procedure of the lawyer, on this occasion, suggests useful cautions to all inquirers. How unbecoming and sinful, for example, is it to turn to the written word of Christ, not to learn from it, but to judge it! how unbecoming for the blind and erring
creature to pretend to decide upon the skill of the all-wise and divine Prophet! Instead of being guilty of such presumptuous self-confidence, which can only lead to ruin, let us sit humbly at the feet of Jesus, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save our souls. We here learn, too, that a good question may be put from a bad, or inadequate motive, and are reminded to attend to our motives, as well as to our words. Eternal life is a most important topic, and should be often spoken of, but it is not enough to speak of it in any way. To converse and inquire about God and eternity, in a spirit of carelessness, disputa tiousness, and captiousness, instead of being commendable and useful, is sinful and hurtful, and is a taking of God's name in vain.
Addressing Jesus by the appellation of "Master," or Teacher, whether with feigned or real respect, does not exactly appear, though he was well entitled to the name, as he was indeed "a Teacher sent from God;" the lawyer put this question to him, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" There is nothing in the way in which this question is worded which would, of itself, have been sufficient to show the self-righteous spirit of its proposer, but we are plainly told afterwards that such was his spirit, and, therefore, we must keep it in view from the first. The word "do" does not necessarily imply the idea of doing with the view of establishing a meritorious claim to life, for it might be used in a very extensive sense, as implying both faith and holiness- -whatever God requires, either as the means of acceptance, or as the way in which accepted persons are bound to walk. The Philippian jailer put this very similar question to Paul and Silas, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and they evidently considered it as a very proper question, put in a right spirit, and answered it in the sense referring to the means of acceptance, by saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." In this case, however, our Lord, perceiving the character of the man, resolved to try the lawyer who came to try him, and referred the question back to him, saying, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" The law, or word of God, is the only rule of faith and practice, and to it, in every case, the ultimate appeal should be made. As to this man, being himself a professed student and expounder of the law, he must have been expected to be well acquainted with it. To our Lord's question the
lawyer replied, quoting in substance Deut. vi. 5, and Lev. xix. 18, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he, (Jesus) said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live."
It is, at the first glance, somewhat difficult to determine on what principle this passage ought to be interpreted, whether as chiefly teaching us the impossibility of being justified by the law, or as chiefly reminding us of the duty we owe to God and our neighbour. On mature consideration, I am inclined to think that a full, impartial, and faithful exposition requires that both of the ideas should be considered as pervading the whole. Taking what is afterwards said of this man's desire to justify himself in connexion with the words, "This do, and thou shalt live," we are immediately reminded that the law, as a covenant, requires perfect obedience, and that no mere man can ever render such obedience. Even in this view of the law as a covenant, the lawyer "answered right;" for he could not have given a more complete summary of its demands; and our Lord declared that if he perfectly observed them, he should be saved. But these words of our Lord as plainly implied that, if the lawyer ever had already failed, or should hereafter fail, of perfect obedience, he could not obtain life from the law, but must be judged as a transgressor. This is exactly the view given by the apostle Paul, who reasons to prove that sinners cannot be justified by the deeds of the law, and then goes on to open up the only way of acceptance which is now practicable, namely, the way of free grace through faith in the righteousness of Christ. See Rom. iii. 19-25; Gal. iii. 10-14. Let us, then, mark this truth well. Let us not seek to be under the law as a covenant of works; for, if we will only hear the law, we shall hear it pronouncing sentence against us. When we consider how we have broken this holy, just, and good law, let us not seek to justify ourselves, but let us plead guilty before God, and cast ourselves on his mercy, by faith in the blood of his Son. Let us seek after righteousness, not by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith.
At the same time, let none suppose that because sinners who have once broken the law must for ever despair of compensating for past sins, and of acquiring the divine favour by their own doings, and must have recourse to the
gospel of grace, they may therefore be indifferent to the duties of piety and morality. Let none suppose that they may continue in sin because grace abounds. While the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, Christ brings us back to the duties of the law, though not for life, yet for direction. His people, though not perfectly conformed to the law, are yet renewed and sanctified, so as habitually to delight in it after the inward man, and to obey it in the outward conduct. The law-that is, the moral law-is the rule of their life. The scribe answered right, therefore, in this view also, when he gave this abridgment of duty. Our Lord himself gave a similar answer on a somewhat similar occasion, as we read in Matt. xxii. 35-40. In answer to the lawyer's question, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Lend a willing ear, then, while we now direct your attention to these two great commandments of the law.
First, the duty of love to God. And here we begin with observing, that there is no such principle as love to God in the heart of any man by nature, but that it is a principle divinely implanted in the renewed hearts of believers. Love to God constituted part of man's righteous-ness when he was in his original state of innocence; but, in rebelling against God, he forsook this his first love. Men are now described as "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;" and as "enemies in their minds by wicked works." Without a renovation of mind, then, we can have no love of God in us. This holy affection proceeds from God himself, being implanted and cherished in the soul by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Moses said,* "The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live:" and the apostle Paul teachest that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Nor is it to be overlooked, that the way in which the Holy Spirit produces this love is by bringing men to the knowledge and belief of the love of God manifested towards them through Jesus Christ.
* Deut. xxx. 6.
+ Rom. v. 5.