« السابقةمتابعة »
the reputed son of a carpenter, and the real son of a poor virgin, true of a royal tribe, for she was a royal princess of the house of Judah; yet now Judah was in its degradation, and with all Israel was in the dust-I say this reputed son of Joseph, and this poor son of a poor and lowly, but royal virgin, claimed this, that he lived before Abraham. And what said the Jews? "Why you are not fifty years old, man, and you lived before Abraham!" and then they insulted him. But that is not enough for them; they think, in their malice and anger against him, and ignorance of his real character, they think that he is a blasphemer; and they are for very summarily dispatching him, taking the law into their own hands, and putting him to death as a blasphemer. They took up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself from them, and so passed out of the temple, working a miracle, so that they beheld him not. Either they beheld him not, as some commentators imagine, or else, as others have not improbably conjectured, that he gave forth such a look of inexpressible dignity and majesty and glory, that not a man among them dared to touch him. Such, then, my brethren, when comparing the two texts together, such is the way in which, as I said at first, they mutually explain and establish one another.
What follows from this? I answer, I call upon you all, man, woman, child, old and young, learned and illiterate, high and low, rich and poor, join me, and join the church of Christ in proclaiming the style and dignity of the Son of God; in letting the world know who he is, what he is, and what are his pretensions. Do you not know, that as soon as one of our British monarchs drops into the grave, indeed before the body is committed to the grave, as soon as the vital spark has fled-what is done? Why the chief officers of state meet, they go to the chief places of concourse, they go to Charing Cross, and there they proclaim the name and style of the king now upon the throne. What did they do at the death of George the Fourth? They met, and went, if I recollect right, to Charing Cross, and proclaimed William the Fourth, and the people that stood round, though they said nothing, they felt, "Yes, this is our king, God bless him! God preserve him!" And then they went into the city, and there either they or the city officers, proclaimed again the name and the style of the monarch. I call upon you in these days of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy, I demand it at your hands (no wincing! no being afraid of the crown of thorns around his bloody brow!), I demand you bear your part in proclaiming the style of Jesus, the Son of God. I demand in these days when so many are found who give not him the glory due unto his name, when some are found where they ought not to be found—I call upon you, I demand of you, as you shall answer at the dreadful day of God, that you join with his faithful church and people in proclaiming his style: in other words, in setting forth before the world the honours and glory due unto his name. And I do not hesitate to say I demand this upon the peril of your eternal damnation! Go over to the foe if you dare! Go over to the enemies of Christ if you dare! Go over to the blasphemers of the cross if you dare! There is salvation in none other but Jesus, and “whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my word, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his glory, and the glory of his Father, and the glory of the holy angels."
But, further, if the Christ of the New Testament be indeed the "I am" of the Old, then I not merely demand your homage, but I demand your hearts for him. The homage is one thing; the heart, that is another. Many a man
will give his homage who will not give his heart; and yet I do say that if you have not given your heart to Christ, your homage is nothing. What, shall angels desire to look into these things, shall they at his birth sing their anthems of praise, and all heaven have a gay day, and rejoice with hearts full of unspeakable joy, while they chaunt or sing Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good-will towards man;" shall they take such an interest in this matter, and we, alas, take none? God forbid.
O, brethren, I say I ask for Him your hearts; not merely your homage, but your hearts. Any thing else? Yes, I demand from him, though but a poor unworthy witness of his cross, I demand as a minister of his, not only the homage of your hearts, but of your lives. There is not a man among you but what has been bought by the precious blood of Christ: there is not a man, woman, or child, in this church, who at length shall attain to eternal glory, who shall not owe his all entirely and for ever to the bleeding sacrifice of the dying love and rising power, and all-prevalent intercession of his Lord Christ. I ask, then, your lives. Some of you have spent your lives quite in another service. Some of you are grown old and are on the borders of the grave. Some there are, who, though they give their homage to Christ, have never given him their hearts. I ask, then, for your hearts-I ask for your lives. Religion appeals to our best affections: it is not a cold-blooded system, that merely exhibits certain doctrines or certain duties, without any reference to men's hearts. No, it teaches us all the brighter lessons in the school of Christ, through the heart to the understanding. As in the first instance we are led through the understanding to the heart; so, I apprehend, as we advance in the knowledge of the truth of God, it becomes more a work for the heart, and less a work for the head. And yet Christianity does not shrink from investigation and examination. The same plan, the same truths, feebly indeed, yet plainly preached among you this day, these are the truths it preaches. These were the things which martyrs held, and for which they bled.
Go, then, shew the world your religion. But how will you shew it? Let every man in his own life exhibit a miniature edition of it: let every man in his own heart carry it there; and what would it do for him? "In that last day," (this will answer the question) "that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."
THE SABBATH A HIGH DAY.
REV. W. B. LEACH,
ROBERT STREET CHAPEL, GROSVENOR SQUARE, MARCH 6, 1836.
"(That Sabbath-day was an high day)."-JOHN, xix. 31.
THIS parenthesis in the narrative before us, is the evangelist's explanation of the particular character of that Sabbath which immediately followed the day of our Lord's crucifixion. The fact is asserted as a reason why the Jews were so desirous of extinguishing the last quivering spark of life in the malefactors whom they had crucified, by breaking their legs, lest, surviving the day of their execution, they might desecrate the sanctity which was attached to the day of rest. For this purpose, as they had no longer the power of life and death in their own hands, that having been assumed by their Roman masters, they applied to Pontius Pilate, the governor, for his permission that the bodies might be removed ere the Sabbath commenced, and the more so, as "that Sabbath-day was an high day."
But O! the unblushing hypocrisy of this people. During the week they could meet and plan the destruction of the innocent and benevolent Jesus. They could bribe a man of treachery and blood to betray him. They could suborn false witnesses to "lay to his charge things which he knew not." They could clamorously demand his condemnation in violation of law and justice. They could witness unmoved his writhing sufferings, and deride him when hanging upon the cross and bleeding to death; and yet, after thus loading themselves with infamy and guilt, and imbruing their hands in the innocent blood of their unoffending victim, they wish to appear on the Sabbath with all the calm serenity of devout and humble worshippers of the God of truth and justice, and under the sanctimonious garb of ceremonial purity. With these motives, every vestige of their guilt is to disappear. Their Martyr, if he still survived the agony of lingering dissolution, is to be dispatched by force. The cross is to be taken down. The rugged hill of Calvary, impressed by the feet of those who assembled to shed innocent blood, is to be deserted. Every drop of purple gore crying for vengeance is to be obliterated. The eye of the dawning Sabbath is to behold nought but sanctity and love, and the God of the Sabbath," who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," is to be approached by a nation of murderers, under the outward forms of religion and virtue, sincerity and uprightness.
What an insult to the Great Searcher of the heart! Here was 66 a people drawing nigh to him with their mouths, and bonouring him with their lips, when their hearts were far from him Well might he threaten to inflict upon
them "a marvellous work and a wonder." O, my dear o taren, never forget that "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth," as " he will be sanctified in all them that wait for him; and it is not the outward observance of the Sabbath that will excuse the guilt of the week. There are those who are so deluded by the deceitfulness of sin, and so blinded by the god of this world, as to believe that an hour spent in a place of worship on the Lord's day will atone for the offences which have been accumulating during the other six days, and that having passed under the power of a miracle or the influence of a charm, they may return again to the same thoughtless course as before. This, indeed, is a dangerous delusion, a fatal deception; and yet, what is more common? The Sabbath is a blessed day, as we shall presently show, richly fraught with holy influences to those who value and improve it; but God will not be mocked.
"Nothing but truth before his throne
With honour can appear;
Their bended knees the ground;
Where not the heart is found."
Having thus marked the guilt and hypocrisy of our Lord's betrayers and murderers, and derived that salutary lesson of caution which their conduct suggests, we shall proceed to investigate the peculiar character of that Sabbath which is thus distinguished in the text, that we may appropriate the terms which are applied to it for our mutual improvement, "as that Sabbath-day was an high day."
The pre-eminence which it received above other sacred seasons, arose from the religious festival which was then celebrated. It was the feast of the Passover, one of the three great public ceremonies of the Jews, when all the males of the nation assembled at Jerusalem to worship the Lord in a holy convocation. In Israel's best days those were services long to be remembered, and such Sabbaths on which they occurred might well be called "high days." Here was a nation of the professed worshippers of God, having one creed, one set of principles, one class of feeling, one hope, one object before them, one bond of union, which bound them to each other and to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, whilst the instructions which were presented, and the emotions which were enkindled by such services were calculated to leave a lasting savour upon every mind.
I have said that the festival which gave the Sabbath of which our text speaks so much pre-eminence as " a high day," was the feast of the Passover. Let us glance a moment at that impressive ceremony. It was instituted on the memorable night in which the first-born were slain by the destroying angel in the land of Egypt, and it was to become the peaceful sign and protecting shield by which the Hebrews were to be secured, when the minister of death smote the rising offspring of their imperious enemies. The particulars of this event, memorable to the Jews, to the church of Christ, and to the world, is recorded in the twelfth chapter of Exodus, from the first verse. By a reference to that instructive record, we behold an affecting type of our captivity under the fatal
power of sin and Satan, and our deliverance by the atonement and grace of the great Redeemer The children of Israel, though numerous, were then in a state of cruel slavy, and unable to break the yoke of their enemies. This is our case. Anough the whole world are in bondage beneath the oppressive power of the prince of darkness, he rules with an uncontrolled sway, and no ingenuity, no contrivance, no combination of human effort, could have broken the chain which bound us. But though unable to help themselves, the God of grace and love pitied their condition, raised them up a Deliverer, and brought them forth with a high hand and an outstretched arm. It is so with us. If happily set free from our spiritual bondage, we owe our liberty to the Lord of all power and might, who has sent forth his Son to seek and to save that which was lost. The children of Israel were preserved and adopted into the family of God, while their enemies were destroyed, and Christ our Lord has overcome death and him that hath the power of death, which is the devil, whilst he has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places," and made us "fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." And whilst the deliverance of the Jewish captives was thus determined and effected, they were distinguished by the peaceful sign of the blood of the Paschal Lamb, between which and the blood of sprinkling derived from "Jesus and our passover, who was sacrificed for us," you will perceive a very obvious analogy.
According to the testimony to which we have adverted, we find, that the victim in the Passover was a lamb, the emblem of innocence and gentleness; fit representation of " the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." It was to be the firstling of the flock and without blemish—an appropriate type of Him who is "the first-born among many brethren," &c., was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." There was no blemish either in his temper, his conversation, his deportment, his judgment, or his feelings, or in any of his mediatorial offices or performances; all was perfect, all was complete. The Lamb was to be taken from the flock and set apart from the tenth to the fourteenth day of the month, and we can easily conceive how the different families must have felt during this interval when they looked upon the innocent victim whose blood was to become the shield of their protection from the angel of death. In like manner Jesus was set apart by his voluntary susception of the mediatorial office "to die for our sins according to the Scriptures," and came forth as "one chosen out of the people" to be " an offering and a sacrifice unto God for a sweet smelling savour." The Lamb thus selected, and consecrated to the Lord, was to be slain; and "without shedding of blood there is no remission," Jesus must die, or man must perish, world without end. The blood thus shed was to be sprinkled upon the door-posts of the Hebrews, as the seal of God's covenant with them. This formed their distinction. This secured their safety. Nor is "the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without spot and without blemish," merely shed. It must be applied. This is the office of the Holy Spirit, of whom the Redeemer said, "He shal take of mine and shall shew it unto you." Hereby we have the witness in ourselves, and are "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of the Lord's glory." The victim slain, and the body roasted with fire, shadowing forth the fiery trials and bitter sufferings to which the blessed Redeemer submitted, was to be eaten with bitter herbs. And where is the true believer who does not partake of the bitters of life as well as of the sweet