« السابقةمتابعة »
Sermons for the Christian Seasons.
BRINGING OUR BRETHREN TO CHRIST.
Sr. John i. 40. One of the two which heard John
speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
The year of the Church, the Christian year, begins on the first Sunday in Advent; and the solemn order of the Church's festivals begins with this festival of St. Andrew the Apostle.
St. Andrew would seem to have been the first disciple who came to Christ, and so his festival stands first in the order of the Church.
And here it may not be out of place to say a few words on the use and comfort which such holy days may be to us. They remind us of that article of our Christian faith, the Communion of Saints ;' they remind us that we are of the same household and family of God, of which the faithful departed also are members; they set
forth the power of God's grace made perfect in man's weakness. The saints of God, whose names and days we keep in memory and honour, are our brethren in Jesus Christ: sustained by the same grace of God, nourished by the same sacraments. They, indeed, have finished their course, have won their crown, have entered into their rest: and we have still our race to run, our crown to win : we are still set in the midst of trials, dangers, enemies, all around us. Still it is full of peace and comfort to look back to God's saints of old, to meditate on their faith, and love, and holiness, to gain strength to do and to suffer God's will from the records of their lives and of their deaths. No doubt there is but one all-perfect pattern, the Son of God made man; still, in their measure, His saints also are patterns for us, patterns unto which we shall do well to conform ourselves, even as they sought to be conformed unto Him, that so we may be followers of them, even as they were followers of Christ.
Thus, then, of how manifold uses may these holy days be to us, if they lead us to meditate upon God and the unseen world; if they withdraw us from the cares and pleasures and business of every-day life, and touch us with a sense of the power of God's grace, and of the holiness unto
which, with His help, His saints have attained even in this life.
Much more could be said on this matter; but this may be enough to suggest what reason we have to bless God for the ordinance of holy days, set apart and consecrated to the remembrance of His saints and servants.
Now to speak of the holy apostle whom we have in memory to-day.
St. Andrew was a native of Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, on the banks of the Lake of Gennesareth, the son of Jonas, a fisherman of that town, and the brother of Simon Peter. He had been a disciple of St. John the Baptist, who, in his case as in that of others, had prepared the way of the Lord by the preaching of repentance. And the occasion of the first coming of St. Andrew to Christ, was the witness which St.John the Baptist bore to Christ. Thus we read in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, from which the text is taken;
Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples ; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto Him, Rabbi, (which is to say,
being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day : for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother."
The preaching of St. John the Baptist, it would seem, had already called him to repentance; and true repentance had brought with it a deep sense of sin, and an earnest desire of forgiveness, and so the words, “Behold the Lamb of God,” the true sacrifice for sin, (of which the lamb of the daily morning and evening sacrifice was but a type and figure,) at once spake to his heart. Many may have heard St. John's words before ; but the same words do not speak to all alike; words, ever so solemn, ever so touching, ever so serious, do but move us in proportion as our hearts are opened to receive them. St. Andrew had, doubtless, learned from St. John the Baptist to look to another, not to St. John, for remission of sins; and when He came, it needed not many words to point Him out to a watchful and earnest mind. And so St. Andrew won this especial blessing, that he was the first out of the whole race of mankind, who came to Christ.
But it was not enough to St. Andrew that he had himself found the Christ; his first act after he had found Him and had been taught by Him, was to bring to Christ the brother whom he loved. “He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.” And so it will ever be. They who have found the Christ themselves will seek to bring their brethren also to Him; they who have known the blessings of a religious life will seek to lead others, and chiefly their own kindred, to live religious lives also: humbly, quietly, pa
iently, they will seek to lead them to the knowledge and obedience of that God whom they serve and obey. If they are parents and masters they will seek to do this by teaching and discipline; and, even where they have no claim to instruct or guide others, who are as old, or older than themselves, still they may do much, by God's grace, (and yet not leave their proper place, nor offend against Christian modesty and humility,) by the quiet influence of good example, by setting forth in their lives the peaceable fruits of the faith which is in their hearts.
After St. Andrew had thus come to Christ himself, and had also brought St. Peter to Him, both he and his brother appear, as we gather from