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chimeras?" No, my brethren, neither in a coun- marks of the love we describe;—a man who, cil of war, nor legislative assembly, nor philo- rapt up in his own sufficiency, and in the ideas sophical society, never were questions more im- he forms of his own grandeur, sees nothing portant discussed. A rational man should worthy of himself in the religion God has prehave nothing more at heart than their eluci- scribed, would, however, converse with his dation. Nothing whatever should afford bim Maker, and receive his benefits, but who shuts greater satisfaction, than when engaged in re- his door against his neighbours, abandons them searches of this nature, in which he discovers in their poverty, trouble, and obscurity;- such some additional evidence of immortality; and a man, far from being a Christian, has not even when he finds stated with superior arguments, a notion of Christianity. At the moment he the demonstrations we have of the Holy Spi- congratulates himself with being distinguished rit's descent upon the apostles, the anniversary from the rest of mankind by the seal of God, of which we now celebrate.
he has only the seal of the devil,-inflexibility 2. If there are dispositions which retard, and pride. and cherish, the first agency of the Holy Spirit On these days I would, my brethren, require on the heart, there are also dispositions which concerning charity, marks more noble, and retard and cherish the second. The Holy tests more infallible, than alms and good offices: Spirit, we have said in the second place, con- I would animate you with the laudable ambifirms to us the promises of the gospel, by com- tion of carrying charity as far as it was carried municating the grace of sanctification. What by Jesus Christ. To express myself in the lansuccess can be expected from his gracious ef- guage of Scripture, I would animate you to forts to purify the heart, while you oppose the love your neighbour as Jesus Christ has loved works? Why have those gracious efforts hither- you. In what way has Jesus Christ loved you to produced, with regard to most of you, so What was the grand object of his love to man little effect Because you still oppose. Desi- It was salvation. So also should the salvation rous to make you conscious of the worth of of your neighbours be the object of your love. holiness, the Holy Spirit addresses you for that Be penetrated with the wretchedness of people purpose in the most pointed sermons. In pro- "without hope, without God in the world," portion as the preacher addresses the ear, the Eph. ii. 12. Avail yourselves of the prosperity Holy Spirit inwardly addresses the heart, of your navigation and commerce, to send the alarming it by that declaration, “ The unclean gospel into districts, where creatures' made in shall not inherit the kingdom of God," 1 Cor. the image of God, know not him that made vi. 10. But you have opposed his gracious them, but live in the grossest darkness of the work; you have abandoned the heart to irregu- pagan world. lar affection; you have pursued objects calcu- Be likewise impressed with the wretchedness lated to inflame concupiscence, or enkindle it of those, who, amid the light of the gospel, with additional vigour.
have their eyes so veiled as to exclude its lusThe Holy Spirit, desirous to humble the tre. Employ for the great work of reformation, heart, exhibits the most mortifying portraits of not gibbets and tortures, not fire and fagot, but your weakness, your ignorance, your dissipa- persuasion, instruction, and every means best tion, your indigence, your mortality and cor- calculated for causing the truth to be known ruption,-a train of humiliating considerations and esteemed. in which your own character may be recognis- Be touched with the miseries of people edued. But you have opposed his work; you have cated in our own communion, and who believe swelled your mind with every idea calculated what we believe; but who through the fear of to give plausibility to the sophisms of vanity; man, through worldly-mindedness, and astonyou have flattered yourselves with your birth, ishing hardness of heart, are obstructed from your titles, your dignities, your affected litera- following the light. Address to them the clo ture, and imaginary virtues. Improve this sest exhortations. Offer them a participation thought, my brethren, confess your follies; of your abundance. Endeavour to move them yield to the operations of grace, which would towards the interests of their children. Pray reclaim you from the sins of the age, and for them; pray for the peace of Jerusalem; make you partakers of the divine purity, in or- pray that God would raise the ruins of our der to a participation of the divine felicity. temples: that he would gather the many scatPractise those virtues which the apostles so tered flocks; pray him to reinvigorate the Chrisstrongly enforced in their sermons, which they tian blood in these veins, which seems destitute so highly exemplified in their lives, and so of heat and circulation. Pray him, my fellowpowerfully pressed in their writings.
countrymen, that he would have pity on your Above all, my brethren, let us follow the country, in which one prejudice succeeds anemotions of that virtue which is the true test, other. Be afflicted with the affliction of Joby which the Lord knows his own people, I seph, be mindful of your native land. mean charity: such are the words of Christ, 3. We have said lastly, that the Holy Spirit which we cannot too attentively regard; “ This confirms the promise of celestial felicity, by a is my commandment that ye love one another," communication of its foretastes here below to John xv. 12. When I speak of charity, I would highly-favoured souls. On this subject, I seem not only prompt you to share your superfluities suspended between the fear of giving countewith the indigent, and to do good offices for nance to enthusiasm, and of suppressing one of your neighbours. But a man, who, when cele- the most consolatory truths of the Christian rebrating the anniversary of a day in which God's ligion. It is, however, a fact, that there are love was so abundantly shed upon the church, highly-favoured souls, to whom the Holy Spirit in which the Christians became united by ties confirms the promises of celestial happiness, by 80 tender, feels reluctance to afford these slight la communication of its foretastes here on earth.
By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean which attracts the heart, and the heart of the the impression made on the mind of a Chris- best amongst us. tlan, of the sincerest piety, by this consolatory Let us then love the world, seeing it has thought; “My soul is immortal: death, which pleased God to unite us to it by ties so tender. seems to terminate, only changes the mode of Let us endeavour to advance our families, to my existence: my body also shall participate add a little lustre to our name, and some conof eternal life; the dust shall be reanimated, sistency to what is denominated fortune. But and its scattered particles collected into a glo- o! after all, let us regard these things in their rious form."
true light. Let us recollect that, upon earth, By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean, man can only have transient happiness. My the unshaken confidence a Christian feels, even fortune is not essential to my felicity; the lustre when assailed with doubts,—when oppressed of my name is not essential to my felicity; the with deep affliction, and surrounded with the establishment of my family is not essential to veil of death, which conceals the objects of his my felicity; and, since none of these things are hope: this assurance enables him to say, “I essential to my happiness, the great God, the know in whom I have believed, and I am per- Peing supremely gracious, has without the suaded he is able to keep that which I have least violation of his goodness, left them in the committed unto him against that day,” 2 Tim. uncertainty and vicissitude of all sublunary i. 12. “ I know that my Redeemer liveth, and bliss. But my salvation, my salvation, is far that he shall stand at the latter day upon the above the vicissitudes of life. “ The mountains earth. And though after my skin worms de- shall depart, and the hills be moved; but my stroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see kindness shall not depart from thee, neither God,” Job xix. 25, 26. "O God, though shall the covenant of my peace be removed," thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee. Though Isa. liv. 10. "Lift up your eyes to the heaI walk through the valley of the shadow of vens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the death, I will fear no evil,” Ps. xxii. 4. "I heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the have set 'the Lord always before me; because earth shall wax old like a garment; but my salhe is on my right hand, I shall not be moved,” vation shall be for ever, and my righteousness Ps. xvi. 8.
shall not be abolished,” Isa. li. 6. May God By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean, indulge our hope, and crown it with success. the delights of glorified saints in heaven, which Amen. some find while dwelling on earth; when far from the multitude, secluded from care, and conversing with the blessed God, they can ex
SERMON LXXXVII. press themselves in these words, “My soul is satisfied with marrow and fatness, when I re- THE FAMILY OF JESUS CHRIST. member thee upon my bed, and meditate upon thee in the night watches,” Ps. Ixiii. 5, 6.
Matthew xii. 46-50. “ Our conversation is in heaven," Phil. iij. 20.
By foretastes of celestial happiness, I mean, While he yet talked to the people, behold his mothe impatience which some of the faithful feel, ther, and his brethren stood without, desiring to to terminate a life of calamities and imperfec- speak with him. Then one said unto him, betions; and the satisfaction they receive every
hold, thy mother, and thy brethren stand with evening on reflecting that another day of their out, desiring to speak with thee. But he anpilgrimage is passed; that they are one step
swered and said unto him that told him, Who is nearer to eternity. “In this tabernacle we my mother? And who are my brethren? And groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon
he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, with our house which is from heaven," 2 Cor. and said, Behold my mother, and my brethren. v. 2. “My desire is to depart, and to be with
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father Christ,” Phil. i. 23. Why is his chariot so which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and long in coming? Why do his coursens proceed
sister, and mother. 80 slow? “When shall I come and appear be- He “said unto his father and to his mother, fore God," Ps. xl. 2.
I have not seen him; neither did he acknowMy brethren, in what language have I been ledge his brethren, nor know his own children," speaking? How few understand it! To how Deut. xxxiii. 9. So Moses said of the tribe of many does it seem an unknown tongue! But Levi. Was it to reproach, or applaud? Folwe have to blame ourselves alone if we are not lowing the first impression of this sentence, it anointed in this way, and sealed by the Holy contains undoubtedly a sharp rebuke, and a Ghost; and if we do not participate in these deep reproach. In what more unfavourable foretastes of eternity, which are the genuine light could we view the Levites? What became earnests of heaven. But ah! our taste is spoil- of their natural affection, on disowning the ed in the world. We have contracted the low persons to whom they were united by ties so habits of seeking happiness solely in the recrea- tender, on plunging their weapons in the breasts tions of the age. Most, even of those who con- of those who gave them birth? form to the precepts of piety, do it by con- But raising the mind superior to flesh and straint. We obey God, merely because he is blood, if you consider the words as connected God. We feel not the unutterable sweetness with the occasion to which they refer, you will in these appellations of Father, Friend, and find an illustrious character of those ministers Benefactor, under which he is revealed by re- of the living God; and one of the finest panoligion. We do not conceive that his sole ob- gyrics which mortals ever received. ject, with regard to man, is to make him hap- Nature and religion, it is admitted, requiro py.' But the world, the world, --is the object I us to love our neighbour, especially the mem
bers of our families, as ourselves; and if we his hand; to thee he will say, here is my bromay so speak, as our own substance. But if it ther, and mother, and sister. be a duty to love our neighbour, it is not less The Holy Spirit presents a double object in admissible, that we ought to "love God with the words of my text. all our heart, with all our soul, and with all I. The family of Jesus Christ according to our mind.” In fact we ought to love God the flesh. alone. Farther, our love to him ought to be II. The family of Jesus Christ according to the centre of every other love: when the latter the Spirit. “One said, thy mother, and thy is at variance with the former, God must have brethren, desire to speak with thee.” Here is the preference; when we can no longer love the family of Jesus Christ according to the father and mother without ceasing to love God, Alesh. “Who is my mother and who are my our duty is determined; we must cease to love brethren? Whosoever shall do the will of my our parents, that our love may return to its Father which is in heaven, the same is my centre. These were the dispositions of the brother, and sister, and mother.” Here is the Levites. Obedient children, affectionate bre- family of Jesus Christ according to the Spirit. thren, they rendered to the persons to whom Both these objects must be kept in view. God had united them, every duty required by I. The idea which our Divine Master has 80 close a connexion. But when those persons given us of this first family, will supersede our revolted against God, when they paid supreme minuter efforts to trace its origin. It is obvidevotion to an ox that eateth grass,” as the ous from what he has said, that our chief atPsalmist says; when the Levites received this tention should be to develop the character of commandment from God, their Lawgiver and those who belong to his family, according to Supreme; “Put every man his sword by his the Spirit, rather than to trace those who beside, and go in and out from gate to gate long to him according to the flesh. Whatever, throughout the camp, and slay every man his therefore, concerns this Divine Saviour, claims, brother; and every man his companion, and though not equal, at least some degree of atevery man his neighbour,” Exod. xxxii. 27.tention. For we find in our researches conThen the Levites knew neither brother, nor cerning the family of Jesus Christ, according friend, nor kinsman. By this illustrious zeal, to the flesh, proofs of his being the true Mesthey acquired the encomium, “He said to his siah, and consequently information which confather and his mother, I have not seen them; tributes to the confirmation of our faith. and to his brethren, and liis children, I have There is no difficulty in determining connot known them.”
cerning the identity of the person, called in My brethren, if we must break the closest my text, the mother of Jesus. The expression ties with those who dissolve the bonds of union ought to be literally understood; it designates with God, we ought to form the most intimate that holy woman, whose happiness all ages connexion with those who are joined to him must magnify, she, by peculiar privilege, beby the sincerest piety. The degree of attach- ing chosen of God to be “overshadowed by ment they have for God, should proportion the the Highest,” to bear in her sacred womb, and degree of attachment we have for them. Of bring into the world, the Saviour of men. She this disposition you have, in the word:3 of my is called Mary, she was of the tribe of Judah, text, a model the most worthy of imitation. and of the family of David. This is nearly One apprised Jesus Christ, that his mother and all we know of her; and this is nearly all we brethren requested to speak with him. “Who ought to know, in order to recognise in our is my mother? And who are my brethren?" re- Jesus, one characteristic of the true Messiah, plied he; "And stretching forth his hand to- who, according to early predictions, was to dewards his disciples, he said, Behold my roother, scend of this tribe, and of this family. and my brethren, for whosoever shall do the It is true that Celsus, Porphyry, Julian, will of my Father which is in heaven, the same those execrable men, distinguished by their is my brother, and sister, and mother.” hatred of Christianity, have disputed even this:
The nobility of this world, those nien of at least, they have defied us to prove it. They whom the Holy Spirit somewhere says, “Men have insinuated, that there are so many conof high degree are a lie,” have by this consi- trarieties in the genealogies of St. Luke, and deration been accustomed to enhance the dig- St. Matthew, concerning the ancestors of our nity of their descent. Titles and dignities, say Jesus, as to leave the pretensions of his descent they, may be purchased with money, obtained from David, and Judah, uncertain. It is to by favour, or acquired by distinguished actions; be regretted, that the manner in which some but real nobility cannot be bought, it is trans- divines, and divines of distinguished name, mitted by an illustrious succession of anca istors, have replied to this objection, has, in fact, which monarchs are unable to confer. Chris- given it weight, and seemed the last efforts of tian! obscure mortal! offscouring of the world! a desperate cause, rather than a satisfactory dust and ashes of the earth, whose father was solution. an Amorite, and whose mother was a Hittite, Is it a solution of this difficulty? is it a proof the source of true nobility is opened to thee; that Jesus descended from the family of David, it is thy exclusive prerogative, (and may the as had been predicted, to say that the evangethought animate, with holy ambition, every lists insert the genealogy of Joseph, and omit one in this assembly!) it is thy exclusivia pre- that of Mary, Jesus Christ being reputed the rogative to be admitted into the family of the son of a carpenter, and having been probably blessed God. Take his moral perfections for adopted by him, was invested with all his thy model; and thou shalt have his glory for rights, the genealogy of the reputed father, thy reward. To thee Jesus Christ will extend I and the adopted son, being accounted the
same, thougа of different extraction? Would that St. Luke, whom we presume to have
this, “Jesus began to be about thirty years of Is it a solution of the difficulty to say, that age, being, as was supposed,
the son of Joseph, St. Matthew gives the genealogy of Christ, which was the son-in-law of Heli,” having be considered as a king, and St. Luke the gene- trothed his daughter Mary. This is sufficient alogy of Christ, considered as a priest; that on the genealogy of Mary. the one gives the genealogy of Mary, whom But who are those called by the evangelist, they pretend was of the tribe of Levi, which brethren of Christ? "One said unto him," and establishes the right of Christ to the high- these are the words of my text, “Behold thy priesthood; the other gives the genealogy of mother, and thy brethren, stand without, deJoseph, descended from David's family, which siring to speak with thee." establishes his right to the kingdom? Is not The opinion which has had the fewest partithis opposing the words of St. Paul with a sans, and fewer still it merits (nor, should we bold front ** If perfection were by the Leviti- notice it here, were it not to introduce a genecal priesthood, what farther need was there ral remark, that there never was an opinion, that another priest should rise after the order how extravagant soever, but it found supportof Melchisedec, and not to be called after the ers among the learned,) the opinion, I say, is
I order of Aaron. For he of whom these things that of some of the ancients: they have venare spoken, pertaineth to another tribe, of tured to affirm, that the persons called in my which no man gave attendance at the altar; text, the brethren of Christ, were sons of the for it is evident that our Lord sprang out of holy virgin, by a former husband. To name Judah; of which Moses spake nothing concern- this opinion is sufficient for its refutation. ing the priesthood ..... after the similitude
The conjecture of some critics, though less of Melchisedec there arises another priest, who extravagant, is equally far from truth; they is made, not after the law of carnal command presume, that the brethren of Christ were sons ments, but after the power of an endless life,” of Joseph: a single remark will supersede this Heb. vii. 11–13. These are the words of our notion. Four persons are called the brethren apostle.
of Christ, as appears from Matt. xiii. 54; it is Without augmenting the catalogue of mis- there said, that his acquaintance, the people of taken solutions of this difficulty, we shall at- Nazareth, talked of him in this way; "Whence tend to that which seems the only true one. hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty It is this: St. Matthew gives the genealogy of works! Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus Christ, and his mother called Mary' and his brethren, he is so called in the second chapter, and for James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas. This ty-eighth verse of St. Luke. And it is very James is unquestionably the same who is called important, that posterity should know the the less. Now it is indisputable that he was farnily of the illustrious personage, to whose the son of Mary, who was living at our Sasuperintendence Providence had committed viour's death: she was sister to the holy virgin, the Messiah in early life.
and stood with her at the foot of the cross durSt. Luke gives the genealogy of Mary, to ing the crucifixion. Hence, if James were the identify that Jesus Christ had the essential son of Joseph, he must have been betrothed characteristic of the Messiah, by his descent to the holy virgin, while married to her sister, from David's family. It was also very impor- who was living when he contracted his second tant for posterity lo know that he descended marriage, which is insupportable. from David; that he had a right the throne, Let us, therefore, follow here the general not only as being the reputed son of one of course of interpreters. The name of brethren, his offspring, who could confer it by adoption; is not always used in the strictest sense by the but also that being conceived by the Holy sacred authors. It is not peculiarly applied to Ghost, and having for his mother a woman de those who have the same father and the same scended from David, according to the flesh, he mother: it frequently refers to the relatives himself descended from him, as much as it is less connected. In this sense we use it here. possible for a being to descend, introduced so Mary, the wife of Cleophas, was sister to the supernaturally into the world.
holy virgin; and the term sister the evangelists According to what has been advanced, it apply in the closest sense. She had four sons, may be objected, that there is no mention made above named, and they are called the bretliren of Mary in the latter genealogy, more than in of Christ, because they were his cousins-gerthe former, that both concern Joseph alone; I man. She had two daughters, who for the
same reasons, are called his sisters. If this hy- afforded more distinguished evidences of their pothesis be attended with some difficulties, this faith and devotion to the will of his Father. is not the place for their removal.
Neither was it our Saviour's design,—when It was a most glorious consideration to the he seemed to disown his brethren, and his moholy virgin, to James, to Judas, to Joses, to ther, properly speaking,—to detach us from Simon, and to their sister, to be so nearly re- persons to whom we are united by consanguilated to Jesus Christ in the flesh. How ho- nity, and to supersede the duties required by nourable to say, this man, whose sermons are those endearing connexions. By no means: so sublime,-this man, whose voice inverts the those affectionate fathers, who have invariably laws of nature,—this man, whom winds, seas, sought the happiness of their children;—those and elements obey, -is my brother, is my son! children, who, animated with gratitude, after So the woman exclaimed, after hearing bim sharing the indulgence of a father during his s0 conclusively refute the artful interrogations vigour, become, when age has chilled his blood, of his enemies. “Blessed is the womb that and enfeebled his reason, the support of his debare thee, and the paps which thou hast suck- clining years;—those brothers who afford exed," But how superior are the ties, which amples of union and concord, -are actuated by unite the family of Jesus Christ according to the religion of Jesus Christ. The laws of nathe Spirit, to those which unite them accord- ture ought, in this view, to have a preference ing to the flesh! So he said to the woman to the laws of grace. I would say, that, alabove named, “ Yea, rather blessed are they though religion may unite us more closely to a that hear the word of God and keep it,” Luke pious stranger, than to an impious father, I xi. 27, 28. In my text, when apprized that think it the duty of a child to bestow more care his most intimate relations, in the flesh, desir- in cherishing a wicked father, than a deserving ed an audience, he acknowledged none to be stranger. of his family but the spiritually noble.
What our Saviour would say in the text is, hold thy mother, and thy brethren,” said one, that though he had a family according to the "stand without, desiring to speak with thee. flesh, he had also a preferable family according Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?" to the Spirit; and that the members of his spireplied he, “and he stretched forth his hand ritual family are more closely united to him towards his disciples, and said, behold my mo. than the members of his natural household. Of ther, and my brethren. For whosoever shall | this spiritual family I proceed to speak. And do the will of my Father which is in heaven, I have further to say, my dear brethren, that I the same is my brother, and sister, and mo- would associate you in this spiritual family, in ther.” This we shall proceed to illustrate in the latter period of this discourse. Condescend the second part of our discourse.
to follow us in the few remarks we have yet to II. Our Saviour did not, in these words, de- make. We will show, 1. The nature, and 2. sign to exclude from his spiritual family all | The strength of this family connexion. 3. Its those who belonged to his family in the flesh. effects; or to speak with more propriety, its Who can entertain any doubt but that the holy wonders. 4. Its superior felicity. 5. The pervirgin, who belonged to the latter, did not also sons it includes. belong to the former? Whoever carried to 1. The nature of this relation consists in singreater perfection than this holy woman, piety, cere obedience to the will of God. “Whosoever humility, obedience to the divine precepts, and shall do the will of my Father, the same is my every other virtue which has distinguished brother, and sister, and mother.” Here we saints of the highest order?
have two extremes to avoid: the one is the The Scriptures afford also various examples forming of too severe an idea, the other of conof the love of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, to ceiving notions too relaxed, of this disposition Jesus Christ. She followed him to Jerusalem of heart. when he went up to consummate the grand sa- Do not, therefore, conceive too severe an idea crifice, for which he came into the world; she of obedience. I do not mean, that devotion to stood at the foot of the cross with the holy vir- the will of God can ever be carried too far. gin, when he actually offered up himself; she No! though you were ready, like Abraham, to went to water his tomb with her tears, when | immolate an only son; though you had such apprized of his resurrection.
exalted views of the recompense of the reAs to those whom the evangelists call the ward,” that, like Moses, you would prefer the brethren of Christ, I confess, that to him they reproach of Christ to Egypt and its treasures; were not equally devoted. St. John affirms ex- though you had the fervour of Elijah, the piety pressly, "That his brethren did not believe in of David, the zeal of Josiah, the affection of St. him, John vii. 5. But whether we may take John, and the energy of St. Peter; though you this assertion in a more extended sense than in were all ready, like the cloud of witnesses menthe text: or whether St. John spake of the early tioned in the epistle to the Hebrews, to be period of our Saviour's ministry; certain it is, stoned, to be slain, to endure cruel torments, to ihat among the four persons here called the be killed with the sword, to wander about in brethren of Christ, all of them had received the sheep-skins, and in goat-skins, in deserts and seeds of piety, and avowed his cause; as I could mountains, in dens and caves of the earth, you prove, if the limits of this discourse would per- would not exceed a due devotion to the will of mit.
God. If, therefore, Jesus Christ designated none as But though it is not possible to carry this disthe members of his spiritual family, but those position too far, it is, nevertheless, possible to who were then recognised as his disciples, it was exaggerate that degree which constitutes us not intended to exclude his relatives according members of the Saviour's spiritual family. He to the flesh, but to mark that the former then I knows whereof we are made. Religion is not