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explain away this, as to free them from the charge of idolatry. It is the more incumbent to speak out plainly on this point, as the superstition, in conjunction with a kindred train of errors, still bears over the minds of its adherents an unmitigated sway. Let us commiserate those who are thus blinded; and let us employ all scriptural means that they may be brought unequivocally to hold that, as there is but one God, so there is but "one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," and honestly to renounce all trust in the merits of creatures, and to look for acceptance only in the Beloved. At the same time, let us look also to ourselves, and beware of every sentiment which stands in the way of faith and holiness-in the way of a hearty submission to the gospel. The spirit of will-worship, and of false trust, is characteristic of our fallen nature. To what device will not men repair, when left to themselves, rather than come to Christ? To angels, to Mary, to saints real and saints imaginary, to consecrated relics and consecrated places, to holy water and holy wells, to long prayers and many prayers to a variety of works, some of which are materially good and others materially evil-to stations, and pilgrimages, and mortifications, and horrid cruelties, and human sacrifices-in short, almost to any thing will men resort, as a ground of hope, except to the blood of Christ alone, and as a rule of life, except to the precepts of Christ alone. "Brethren, these things ought not so to be." Let right views of Mary's history, contrasted with the corruptions which have been ingrafted on it, put us on our guard against this spirit.
Finally. As we have the opportunity, let us make it our habitual study to secure that greater blessedness of which our Lord here speaks. We may be ready almost to envy those who had the honour to be allied to the Saviour, or the privilege of seeing and hearing him: but we need not; for, the advantages of which we are called to partake are far greater. It is the spiritual, and not any natural relation; it is the looking to Jesus with the eye of faith, and not with the eye of sense; it is his speaking to our hearts by his Holy Spirit, and not his speaking to our ears by his human voice, which can prove the means of conversion and edification. Those who were personally acquainted with him when on earth, were soon obliged to say: "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." But he is ever near to his people, in his saving
offices, as revealed in his word. "The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring down Christ from above;) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith which we preach: that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." This word we are called on to hear and to keep. If we do not, God will require it of us; but, if we do, nothing more will be needful for our happiness. There will be no need for us to regret that we are of Gentile extraction, or that Jesus never trode our native soil, or that he left the world before we came into it. There will be no need for us to ask, with Thomas, to see the print of the nails, or the wound of the spear: for, interested in an ever-living and ever-present Redeemer, and accustomed from the very heart to address him as our Lord and our God, we shall have the blessedness of those who have not seen, and yet have believed, and we shall rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let us, therefore, seek to become partakers of this blessedness, if we have hitherto overlooked it; and let us hold it fast, if it be already our own. Thus shall we be more blessed than tongue can tell, or heart conceive. We shall be blessed in all our pious friends, blessed in all our religious privileges, blessed in all the height of our enjoyments, blessed in all the depth of our sorrows, blessed in life and in death. Nay, all this is but little in comparison of what a God of love will do; for, when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away; the song of our pilgrimage shall swell into the song of Zion, and the blessedness of time shall usher in the blessedness of eternity.
LUKE XI. 29-36.
"And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 33. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."
We noticed, on a former occasion, that the 16th verse of this chapter was to be considered as the natural introduction to the 29th. The former is the demand, and the latter commences the answer to that demand; and they are brought close together in the parallel passage in the 12th chapter of Matthew, beginning at the 38th verse. In the 16th verse of this chapter, we read, " And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven." Matthew says, that "certain of the scribes and Pharisees" made this request. Dissatisfied with all the miracles he was working on the ground on which they were treading, they still desired something more, they presumed to dictate to him-they asked him to give them some sign, to show them some miracle, "from heaven," from the clouds, some celestial appearance. Perhaps they might think they were excusable in making this proposal by the example of some of the Old Testament prophets. Moses, for instance, "stretched forth his rod towards heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground." Joshua “said, in the sight of Israel, Sun,
stand thou still upon Gibeon; and, thou moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies." "Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel; but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them, and they were smitten before Israel." Elijah prayed, "and the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench;" and, on two different occasions, he called down fire from heaven to consume the company who came to apprehend him. Some of these examples may have occurred to the scribes and Pharisees. They, no doubt, also meant to affirm that such a sign would be much more convincing than any Jesus had shown. Now, testimony was given to the divine mission of Christ by various signs from heaven in this sense, both before and after the period here referred to: for example, by the miraculous appearances and voices at his birth and at his baptism-by the voice from heaven, like thunder-by the circumstances of his transfiguration and by the darkness at his crucifixion. There was no want, therefore, even of such signs. But he would not allow caprice to dictate to him. Besides, why should any miraculous appearance from the sky have been more convincing than the miracles he was working on the ground? Would any thing of that kind have been such a triumph over Satan as the dispossession they had just witnessed, but with which they declared themselves dissatisfied? Suppose Jesus had immediately gratified their unreasonable demand, would they not still have had something to object? Might not the cavillers, who had already ascribed his miracles to Beelzebub, the chief of the devils, have said that he occasioned appearances in the clouds by connivance with the prince of the power of the air? When signs of this, or of any other kind, were demanded from wanton curiosity, or obstinate unbelief, or in order to tempt or try him, our Lord would not gratify any such useless and improper desires. Signs were granted, when they were asked in faith, for the confirmation of faith, to Abraham and Gideon; but they were justly denied to those who were prepared to look on their not being given as an apology for their unbelief.
Luke thus proceeds, in the 29th verse: "And when
the people were gathered thick together," crowding round Jesus, probably, to see whether he would give a sign from heaven, "he began to say, This is an evil generation." According to Matthew, he added the epithet "adulterous;" that is, they were a spurious and wicked race, as being greatly degenerated in character from what the descendants of Abraham ought to have been. When they said, "Abraham is our father," Jesus said unto them, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." They were not at this time guilty of literal idolatry, which is commonly called adultery in the prophets, but they were guilty of unbelief and wilful sin, in various ways, and, therefore, they were not entitled to be considered as the children of God and of faithful Abraham. Their seeking such a sign, in such circumstances, was a proof that such was their character. Our Lord declared that "no sign," of the kind they then so unreasonably demanded, should "be given," to that evil and degenerated race. He went on, however, afterwards to work more miracles similar to those which he had already wrought: and he intimated that another sign would be given them, of a different nature, namely, his own resurrection, which, being attended with the appearance of a descending angel, was a sign from heaven. This he here designates as "the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas" (says he) "was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation" and the meaning is here fully brought out, in those additional words recorded by Matthew,* "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Observe how exactly the type and the antitype here correspond. Jonah, being cast into the sea, in order to save the lives of many others who were in danger of perishing in the storm, was received into the whale's belly, or rather, into the belly of a great fish, which he calls "the belly of hell," or of the grave: so, Jesus Christ, being put to death to save sinners from perishing for ever, was laid in the dark sepulchre. Jonah, in that dismal situation, comforted himself with the hope of deliverance, and looked again towards God's holy temple: so, it is said that Christ's heart rejoiced, and his flesh rested in hope, because God would not leave his soul in hell-would not leave him in the grave, or state of the dead, neither would *Matt. xii. 40.