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we know, that, even if we have taken sin to our bosom, if we have called our enemy our friend, if it hath stung us and grieved us-that we know there is a way by which the grief can be allayed, there is a way by which the sting can be extracted, there is a way by which the poison can be extracted; there is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness; there is a way by which God himself will comfort us, and take away the cause of grief out of the heart, and put in its place the peace and joy that passeth all understanding. Let us rejoice that we know by the light and the glory of God, and the peace of Jesus Christ, how we may come to him, devote ourselves to him, cast ourselves upon his mercy, and repose upon his strength, and thus being guarded spiritually by the might and the power of God, can go up spiritually, and take our possession, and have our coasts enlarged, our knowledge increased, our sanctification advanced; the enemies within, one by one, expelled and destroyed, until we shall be fitted and perfected for taking possession of the Canaan above, the eternal inheritance of the saints in light. We know this, or ought to know it: may our knowledge become powerful, and active, and transforming, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE SAVIOURS CHARACTER, LIFE, AND DEATH.
REV. W. JAY,
SURREY CHAPEL, JUNE 7, 1829.
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."-MATTHEW, XX. 28.
THESE words are the continuation and conclusion of a paragraph, which it will be necessary for us to bring to your notice. It regards the request of Zebedee's children. Nothing is said on this occasion of the father or husband: he might have been dead; he might have been absent; he might have been otherwise minded. We are going to indulge in no illiberal or invidious reflections; but it is well known that the maternal heart is too easily accessible to the emotions of children; and a female heart too much alive to the distinctions of rank. "Then came the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thon? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." And these two sons were John and James. We have reason to fear the motion originated with them, though it was to be proposed by the mother; and if so, it is humiliating in the extreme, that after all the education ess had given them, his disciples should have been such dull scholars, as yet to think his kingdom was of this world; that he was come to deliver them from the Roman yoke, to place them at the head of the nations, and to lead them forth conquering and to conquer ; and that in this secular empire, as in all others, there would be degrees of power and glory; and in desiring the chief places for themselves, they betrayed not only their ignorance, but their carnality, their pride, their ambition. "The best of men are but men at the best." "But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to oe ministered unto, but to minister, and to
give his life a ransom for many." Thus our Saviour not only rejects their motion, but seizes an opportunity to inform them concerning the end for which he entered our world, and by which they were to regulate their expectations and their lives. It regards three things-his character, his life, and his death. It shows us his condescension in life, his grace in death; in the one he was a servant, in the other a sacrifice.
How would it delight me, could I persuade myself that these thoughts would be received by very many this morning, who can say with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and who can pray with Watts,
"Be thou my pattern; make me bear
Then God, the Judge, shall own my name,
These reflections will enable me to conduct you to the table of your dying Lord; and they will be by no means unsuitable to the season which reminds us of the dispensation of the Spirit; for this is the result of his death, and, therefore, the apostle says, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
The testimony of our Saviour first regards HIS CHARACTER: the Son of man. This perhaps is not peculiar to the New Testament; at least, David speaks of "the Son of man whom God hath made strong for himself." This probably alludes to the Messiah. Daniel speaks of "one like the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven." This certainly refers to the Messiah. But you will find the expression constantly in the four Gospels; and it is used there, you will remark, not by the four evangelists, but always by himself; and must be in the recollection of many of you, how frequently, how constantly he called himself "the Son of man." The enemies of his divinity would avail themselves of this; but it is to very little purpose. There would be, indeed, some force in the objection they derive from hence, if we did not allow that he is really a partaker of human nature, and that his deity is not invalidated by admitting this. But hear what Isaiah says concerning him: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever." And, says the evangelist, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Here are things spoken of him which are certainly not true of him as man, and here are things spoken of him as God. How then is this difficulty to be solved? Why only by this-that there are the divine and the human natures conjoined in his wonderful person. How often did he give intimations of his divinity? First, by proclaiming himself always the subject of his ministry; and though he was meek and lowly in heart, yet always preaching himself. "I am the bread of life:"I am the light of the world:" "No man cometh to the Father but by
me:" "I am the resurrection and the life.” And secondly, by his claimance of attributes peculiar to Deity; as, for instance, with regard to one (and one is enough, for if he be possessed of one attribute peculiar to Deity, he must possess all) as to his omnipotence: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." And, thirdly, by suffering others to ascribe the same perfections to him, and allowing himself to be adored and worshipped without rebuking the adorers and the worshippers.
This being premised, we can bring forward two very satisfactory reasons why he was accustomed to call himself the Son of man. The first is, because he would gradually develop himself. This aim continued with him even to the end. Just before he was leaving this world to go to the Father, he said to them, "I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear then now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth for he shall not speak of himself:" he will not be the Author of a new dispensation, but will confirm and establish mine: "but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you." And the other is, because our concern with him principally lies in his assuming human nature. Where is the soul that was ever awakened to reflection, but would say with Dr. Watts,
"Till God in human flesh I see,
And, therefore, the apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, says, "We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” You see, he makes the incarnation of the Saviour the very medium of our salvation; and so it is, and every view of it will convince us of the necessity of it. Being a man, as our teacher, his terror does not make us afraid. Being a man, he becomes our complete example, which he could not have been if he had been God only; for how, as God only, could he have been our example? How could he have gone before us with regard to all that impulse, and reverence, and obedience, and tenderness, and suffering, which we see in his character? And yet how much of our religion is connected with all this? Being man, he can gain our confidence, and be able to sympathize with us in our distresses, which he could not have done as God only. "In that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Being man, he could become perfect through suffering, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, which he could not have done as God only.
The second part of his testimony regards HIS LIFE" the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." There is something in this that fills us, at first, with astonishment. When we consider his grandeur, when we consider the place from which he descended, for he came down from heaven, when we consider the honour, and glory, and homage he enjoyed there, it is natural for us to conclude, that when he enters our earth, he will be welcomed in a manner becoming his dignity; that he will have numerous attendants who will be all ready to run and fly at his nod, and to anticipate all his wishes,
But what says the fact? "He was in the world, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not." When a king visits a part of his dominions, or when he enters the house of one of his subjects, what an ado is there; what exertions and sacrifices are made! When a man rises a little above his fellow-creatures, when he ascends a little in the world, he must always encumber himself by a number of servants, and employ others to do that for him which God has given him hands enough to do for himself. The thing is, man must be great; and as he is not so really, and cannot be so really, he must be so in appearance. It is worthy of observation, that titles, and a thousand other things that are supposed to indicate greatness, are really and only founded on a want of it, for if men were sufficient without these, all these would be unnecessary. But, alas! poor little man cannot work without these, cannot govern without these; and thus the shadow of greatness is called in to supply the place of the reality. Why does a female ever paint? Because the colours she lays on are to be substituted for the tints nature has denied her. Our Saviour could derive nothing from external appendages. What could any of these distinctions have added to a king who opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead, calmed the sea in a moment-a being who, by a word, could make worlds, and before whose look the heavens and earth flee away? He could, therefore, dispense with all these things: and though he knew how much they were valued and idolized in our world, and that persons are very much estimated according to them, yet he would dispense with them: "He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."
We read-God bless their memories—we read of women, who "ministered to him of their substance," and their names are recorded in the book of life, and wheresoever the Gospel is preached, that which they did shall be told for a memorial of them. One of these was Mary Magdalene; another was the wife of Herod's steward. But, alas! this very ministering unto him was a part of his humiliation. How reduced must he have been to stand in need of the assistance and succour of the very creatures of his power. O, when will his reproached followers remember that he was " a worm, and no man," and "a reproach among the people?" When will his poor followers remember, that while foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, he had not where to lay his head? He assumed no state, and required no waiting upon. We only read of his riding once in his life, and then it was upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass: all his other travels were on foot. And many a stray step did he take for us: he went about doing good; and not only seized opportunities when they offered, but sought after them when they did not present themselves. And, for this purpose, how often did he refuse himself needful refreshment, and give up the enjoyment of the sweets of retirement. See him in the house of Lazarus: he lamented that he had given so much trouble: he commended Mary, who sat at his feet to hear his words, while he kindly reproved Martha for her being cumbered about much serving to indulge an appetite which he never did indulge; for he came to feed, not to be fed; he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
Now, there are persons who will often dispense with the attendance of others on themselves, who are not willing themselves to attend upon others, and especially those who are below them. But what do we see yonder? Jesus rises from supper. and lays aside his garments, and takes a towel, and girds himself.