« السابقةمتابعة »
and loving service; although not bound by the letter of the law, yet she came with devout and pious care, at the time appointed, “when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished," she came both to present her Son, and to make her offering. Let Christian mothers learn of her, whom all nations have called blessed; let them imitate her pattern, let them come unto the house and altars of the Lord; to pay their vows in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the Lord's house. And, surely, it is a solemn and touching thought, that they are herein following in the steps of the mother of our Lord, drawing near unto God, as she drew near unto Him, to offer to Him their prayers and praises for fresh mercies and together with their prayers and praises, to offer unto Him the fruit of their womb, the children whom God hath given them, that He may bless them, and sanctify them, and make them His own children in Jesus Christ.
JOHN HENRY PARKER, OXFORD AND LONDON.
Sermons for the Christian Seasons.
WARNINGS AND SAFEGUARDS.
ACTS i. 26. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
THERE is something in this day's festival different from others; such as to call up feelings of awe, and alarm, in the minds of serious persons. For on this day we not only keep in memory the holy apostle St. Matthias, and the high place in the Church of Christ into which God by His grace called him; but we cannot avoid having in memory also that lost and miserable man the traitor Judas Iscariot, into whose place St. Matthias was chosen, to take part of the ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell. And if the memory of the holy apostle is blessed, who preached Christ in his life, and witnessed unto Christ in his death, painful and fearful must be the thought of that other, who fell away and perished in his sin. Now the fall of Judas Iscariot may be a lesson
and a warning to us, at this day, far more than we usually think. It is true indeed that the sin of Judas was very fearful, and such as cannot in the same way be committed again; but so was their sin who crucified Jesus Christ; and yet we know that there is a sense in which we, by our sins, may crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame: and so there may be a sense in which we, at this very day, may betray Jesus Christ; or, at the very least, we may fall into, and allow in ourselves the same sinful temper and feelings which led on Judas to betray his Lord to death. We do not usually think very seriously of the danger to our souls of one known and allowed sin, of the power for evil of one sinful habit and temper; least of all do we so think, when the sinful habit or temper is not one of (what is called) open and gross sin, or is not one which our fellow-men usually condemn. And yet, so far as we read in holy Scripture, that sin which bears the deepest brand of infamy, which all Christians hate and shudder at, the sin of the traitor Judas, was the result of one sinful temper, and that a temper which the world rarely condemns severely. So far as we read in holy Scripture, that which led on Judas to betray his Lord and Saviour was covetousness.
When the devout Mary anointed the body of Jesus with the precious ointment, Judas was offended and disappointed. Thus we read in St. John's gospel that it was Judas Iscariot who said, "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor;" and it is added, "this he said not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." And the same is shewn by his saying to the chief priests: "What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?" and by his making a bargain with them to get all he could. Now do we, when we think and speak of the sin of Judas, who
betrayed the Son of man with a kiss," do we usually bear in mind that it was a covetous temper which led the wretched man to it? or do we not, too many of us, who would shudder at his sin, allow in ourselves that very evil temper of heart which led him to it? It is a solemn thought and not lightly to be set aside; that we have in us too often the seeds of sin, the evil tempers which lead to sins, such as we should be the first to condemn; and this, although we know it not.
But there is also another lesson to be learnt from the sin of Judas Iscariot. Should God at any time for our sins, set evil ministers over us ;
it becomes a great scandal and offence to see men of evil and sinful lives minister God's holy word and sacraments; and we are tempted, (especially at this day,) to doubt and question, whether such men can be ministers of God at all; and whether Christians are bound to listen to God's word preached, or to receive Christ's sacraments ministered, by such men; now there is one text of holy Scripture clear and express on this matter, teaching us that we may, at once, receive their teaching, and yet shun their evil example. The case of any evil ministers can hardly be worse than that of the Scribes and Pharisees in our Lord's time; yet of them Christ "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not;" listen to them, so far as they are lawful teachers set over you by God, but follow them not in their works, wherein they sin against God. And the same lesson we learn from the instance of Judas Iscariot; even within the glorious company of the apostles, there was a traitor; so our Lord Himself says, "Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil." Yet was he an apostle of Christ, as truly as others; chosen by