« السابقةمتابعة »
reason thus," I find myself, from my childhood, incorporated into a society of men professing a common subject of belief as a matter of vital importance. I find this society in possession of a sacred volume containing an express revelation from the God who made me. I find that, from some cause or other, certain religious ordinances have been instituted,-days set apart for religious purposes,-places set apart for religious assemblies,-men set apart to study the word of God and to dispense religious instruction; and over all these things there is thrown a shade of sanctity and solemnity which demands my especial attention. Now, what do these things mean?"—And they told him, continues St. Luke, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. Here was intelligence for poor blind Bartimæus! He learnt that it was no common occasion which had caused the multitude to come together. The people had collected around that wonderful person of whom he had heard so much, that Jesus of Nazareth who had often opened blind men's eyes, and who had never shut his ears against a poor man's prayer. And the wonderful deliverer, whose presence he had so often desired, had at length come near to him, and was now actually passing by!And here, in a higher sense, is intelligence even for ourselves. In the ordinances and ministrations of religion, Jesus of Nazareth still passeth by. The meaning of our sacred days and places and persons, and of all religious services, is no
thing less than this :-Jesus of Nazareth, who, by his grace, has opened the eyes of many a blind understanding,-who, in his infinite compassion and mercy, has never shut his ears against the prayer of the destitute, but has imparted to multitudes the riches of his free salvation,-this Jesus of Nazareth still passeth by. Here is the significancy, here is the truth and vitality, of our religion, without which it were a mere empty show. Here is the meaning of every thing connected with it.-What means, for instance, the baptismal font? Jesus is there to receive members into his church,-to seal the forgiveness of sin to all those who do or shall truly believe in his saving name, to declare their adoption into the family of God,-and to promise them those spiritual aids and powers, which, duly accepted and employed, will conduct them safely through life's pilgrimage, to the Canaan of everlasting rest and blessedness.-What means the holy table? Jesus is there to strengthen and refresh the souls of all who draw near with genuine penitence and lively faith, to give the assurance of pardon, acceptance, and heavenly favour, and to bestow those renewed and appropriate graces of the Holy Spirit, whereby the soul of the humble and believing communicant may be endued with increased ability to resist temptation, and to keep the commandments of God. What means the united supplications and thanksgivings of assembled worshippers? It is that
wheresoever two or three are met together in the name of Jesus, he is in the midst of them, ready to catch every sincere devotion from every humble heart, and to waft it to the high and holy place, perfumed with the incense of his atoning sacrifice, and his allavailing intercession.-And, lastly, what means the reading and the preaching of the word of God? The voice is the voice of a man, but the language is the language of Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth passeth by, pleading with the profane, and saying, "Why will ye die?"-exhorting the careless," Awake, thou that sleepest!"-speaking to his obedient people, "This is the way, walk ye in it," and saying to one and all, "Look unto me, and be ye saved!" -Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
When the blind men heard that Jesus passed by, they
Cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. Having been reminded of our Christian privileges, we are here again directed to the exercise of our Christian duty. When Jesus passed by, these blind men sought his mercy and his aid; and if they had neglected to do this, we have no reason to suppose that they would have received their sight. In like manner, it will be to no purpose that the almighty Saviour passes before us in the ordinances of religion, unless we personally apply to him, in a faithful and diligent use of those means of grace. We must use these things, and we must use them with an humble, honest, and faithful
heart; or else we derive no benefit from their institution. For example;
when we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we have no reason to take to ourselves the comfortable assurance that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin, unless there be in our hearts a sincere sorrow for our manifold transgressions of God's holy law, and a desire (by God's help) to forsake every evil way,-together with humble trust in God's mercy through the merits of the sacrifice which we solemnly commemorate, and a real purpose to walk, through grace given us, in the way of holy obedience.-And the same may be said concerning every other privilege which we enjoy. What will it avail us that Christ is ready to receive and to present the prayer of the heart, if we pray only with the lips? And what benefit do we derive from the reading or the preaching of the word of God, if it fall upon stony ground, or take root in a scanty soil, or afterwards be choked with thorns?-Let us, then, take a lesson from the conduct of these two blind men. Let us look for a blessing, not in the mere possession, but in the use, of those privileges which, as Christians, we enjoy.
And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace.— Surely they ought rather to have taken these sufferers by the hand, to have led them to Jesus, and to have mingled in their supplications, saying, "Lord, have mercy on these our needy brethren!" And such also, in a spiritual sense, is the duty
of professing Christians in the present day. If they see a fellowcreature in earnest respecting the attainment of salvation,-if they see a man attempting to make use of the day of grace, while the blessed Redeemer, full of mercy, love, and power, is passing by,-a man seriously endeavouring to become a partaker of those spiritual blessings which the son of David is ready to dispense, -then surely it is their duty, a duty which ought to be most welcome to their hearts,-not to throw a stumblingblock in the way of such an one, not to hinder him in making choice of that good part which may never be taken from him,-but rather to assist him in that choice, to encourage him, to lead him on his road to heaven, and to commend him in their prayers to the grace of God.-But, alas, how often is the opposite course pursued! In how many cases does the conduct of the baptized world towards humble Christians resemble that of the multitude towards the two blind men at Jericho !
But they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. Here again is the Christian's pattern. Let the scorn and contempt of the world incite him to redouble his diligence in seeking after the Lord. Let him study, in all things, to give no offence; let him invariably mingle good will to men with his love to God;-and when the world rebukes him, let him cry so much the more, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David.
And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. -How lovely and delightful is the compassion of Christ, in contrast with the rebuke and despitefulness of the world! The merciful Redeemer, far from joining with the multitude in commanding the blind men to hold their peace, took notice of their application, and spoke to them in a tone of kindness and encouragement. And thus it continues to be. If any man, with humble boldness and a lively faith, sends up from his heart that prayer, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me;-if any man, convinced of his spiritual blindness and poverty and need, seeks the supply of his wants from the good Physician of the soul,-that man shall in nowise be cast off or sent empty away. The world may rebuke him and command him to hold his peace; but Jesus will give him encouragement, and command him to tell forth all his wants. And he will make it appear, that, while as the Saviour of the world, he passes before all and is accessible to all alike, he has also for those who faithfully apply to him, an especial inquiry,-involving a peculiar offer of kindness,-What will ye that I shall do unto you?-Again and again, by emblems the most significant, and by declarations the most solemn and explicit, the Scriptures make known to us the readiness of the Redeemer to receive and to bless all those who come to him in faith.
some suppose, to the seats of honour in the Sanhedrim.
Our translators have not been happy in their rendering of part of the 23rd verse. Indeed, the words which they have inserted in italics, without authority or any good reason, appear to give even a false complexion to the sense; as though our Saviour were here asserting that it is not his office to distribute rewards and honours in his kingdom! The simple translation of the Greek is this;-"To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, except to them for whom it is prepared of my father," or we may retain the word but in this sense, "is not mine to give but, &c." Our blessed Lord merely affirms that he will not make any arbitrary or capricious choice of favourites;-and that, in dispensing his blessings and rewards, he will act, as in all other cases, in accordance with the will and ordinance of the Father who sent him. As God, his will is one with the Father; as man, it is in complete subordination and submission. Therefore as Mediator, God and man, Christ will give rewards only according to the wise and holy purpose of the Father; and we know that it is his purpose to give them, not to persons who may possess certain privileges, or stand in a certain visible connection with the Redeemer or his church, but to those who shall be fitted to receive them,-to those who shall be (so to speak) entitled to them, according to the covenant of grace.
READER.-Our blessed Lord's prophetic declaration of his sufferings and death is here repeated for the third time, (see chap. xvi. 21; xvii. 22, 23). It sounds like a knell ringing at solemn intervals in the Gospel, preparatory to the closing scene of our Saviour's deep humiliation.-Our minds may well be affected with a sense of the voluntary character of our great sacrifice, from the deliberate manner in which Jesus faced and met his sufferings. Let the eye of our faith contemplate the picture which these few verses exhibit ;-the man of sorrows, not only accompanying his disciples, but heading them, leading the way, in this most eventful journey towards Jerusalem.-St. Mark, in the parallel passage, (chap. x. 32— 34,) sets this circumstance in a striking point of view. He says, "They were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them; and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him."-May we bear upon our hearts a devout and affectionate remembrance of this mournful journey! As disciples of the blessed Saviour, may we see him going before us in our journey, through life and death, to the heavenly Jerusalem!
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children, &c.-There are many points in this narrative from which we may derive instruction.
Here we perceive undue solicitude on the part of a parent, and its failure. Doubtless it is one part of a parent's happy duty to offer up prayers on be
half of their children. They should, as it were, go with them to Jesus. But they should remember that their prayers for their children, as well as for themselves, ought to be "according to the will of God." And they may learn, from this history, not to be supremely anxious for their obtaining earthly dignity or power.
Here also we fear that we discover a worldly spirit and an ambitious turn of mind, on the part of James and John. Alas! they do not appear to have rightly understood the nature of our Saviour's kingdom, and they were disposed to mix up with it their favourite ideas of earthly pomp and power, even after having witnessed on the mount of transfiguration that exhibition of our Saviour's glory which might well have cast all worldly splendour for ever into the shade! How fondly man's heart cleaves to things present and temporal! How earnestly should we pray that God would continually make us to love that which he promises, as well as enable us to perform that which he commands. But here we have, more particularly, a specimen and type of ambition, ecclesiastical ambition, -a love of preeminence and power in the church. Sad, pestilential spirit-which, although solemnly denounced by Christ, has existed, to the present day, with lamentable consequences, among Christian churches!
These Apostles were ignorant of the true nature of their request (ye know not what ye ask), and of their own weakness and inability to
do and suffer all that the grant of it would involve (We are able).—When we read of the life and sufferings of our holy and blessed Lord, let us think of him as addressing to ourselves that inquiry-Are ye able to drink of my cup? And then let us remember, for our comfort and direction, that although we are not able to do this of ourselves, yet we can do all things through Christ, by his Spirit, strengthening us. The Lord Jesus gave strength to these weak disciples to do and suffer much for his sake. St. James was put to death by Herod, Acts xii. 2; and St. John was banished to Patmos, Rev. i. 9.
The extravagant and ambitious views of these disciples gave occasion to great discontent and jealousy among their brethren. When the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. They ought, perhaps, to have pitied them ;-but one evil often leads to another. And not a few of the animosities, heart burnings, and divisions which have arisen in Christian churches, may be traced to some aspiring and ambitious pretensions on the part of spiritual rulers,-to some acts of aggression or usurpation, which have aroused the indignation of men, and excited them to acts of severe and uncharitable recrimination. - How plain and pointed is our Saviour's
rebuke of this ambitious and domineering spirit! How solemnly does he assure us that this worldly desire of rule, distinction, and preeminence is totally inconsistent with