« السابقةمتابعة »
all his trials there was no murmuring word, no impatient thought. Ever acquiescing in the dispensations of God, he cries under the severest afflictions, “ The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” And this proceeded not from a stoical apathy, or stupid insensibility: his body, exquisitely organized, was probably more sensible to pain than that of ordinary men; and since he was perfectly innocent, the union between soul and body, which would never have been dissolved but by sin, was more firm, and its dissolution must have been attended with greater agony.
And if thus patient, he was also forgiving. Under reproaches, slanders, and contumelies, he was always gentle : “ As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” When termed a devil, he refuted the odious charge, only by showing the benevolence of heaven, and proving that he was free from any diabolical passion. When termed an impostor, he replied only by working more splendid miracles, and more powerfully declaring the truth. When called a traitor, he answered the charge by meekly subjecting himself to death. Never did he discharge the thunders which he held in his hands to crush his enemies, but always pitied and prayed for them. In these virtues imitate his example, ye who are murmuring at far lighter afflictions, and internally charging Providence with cruelty; ye who, while ye easily forget the mercies of God, firmly remember the unkindnesses of man, and breathe out threatenings against your enemies. Ah! how unlike are you to the meek and lowly Jesus!
6. He is an example to us in tolerance and forbearance. Though zealous, his zeal was never cruel and malignant; though perfectly innocent, he tenderly
compassionated the errors and the follies of men. Though his censures were faithful, they were ever meek and gentle. Hear him, when his disciples, irritated at the unkindness of the Samaritans to him, would have called down fire from heaven to consume them, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” Behold his condescension, in listening to the prejudices of the Samaritan woman, and refuting them! Behold him bearing with the presumption of Peter, the unbelief of Thomas, the prejudiced ambition of the wife of Zebedee, and the frequent errors and doubts of all the disciples! Behold him, when unjustly and ignominiously smitten before the high-priest, replying in the spirit of meekness, “ If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?"
Ah, brethren! do those who cruelly and bitterly revile their erring brethren, or even open sinners, here imitate Jesus? “Will he, who has learned of Jesus, be disposed to talk harshly of defects in others, as though he himself were free from defect? Will he view with an eagle eye, and condemn with the moroseness of a censor, every little irregularity of temper, or even of conduct in others? Be not deceived, this cold and lofty spirit is the fruit of spiritual pride; and those who indulge it forget that Jesus bore with meekness the infirmities of men, and that they themselves are children of infirmity and folly.” This forbearing spirit of Jesus, mingled as it was in him with zeal and love for souls, and displayed in our conduct and our censures, may reform, when dignified contempt or frigid neglect would only harden. No oratory is so powerful as that of mildness. The drops that fall easily upon the corn ripen and fill the ear; but the stormy showers that fall with violence
beat down the stalks flat to the earth, and lay whole fields without hope of recovery.” [Hall.] Oh! that we could see more of that temper of Jesus, who pitied and prayed oftener than he censured!
Brethren, it is with pain that I pause on a subject on which I love to meditate; but I must leave to your retired thoughts the further development of it. Review the whole of your Saviour's life, contemplate all his virtues, and while you are musing, may the fire burn, the Holy Spirit descend, and impress upon this his likeness.
How few real Christians are there in the world! High professions, sanguine hopes, angry zeal for a particular system of doctrines; these do not constitute Christianity; but the temper of Christ inwrought in the soul and displayed in the life. Where do we see such believers? If a person who had never seen or heard of the gospel history, were to behold us, could he learn with any accuracy from our deportment, what was the conduct of Jesus upon earth? Brethren, we all must be abased in the dust under a sense of our imperfections.
But, Christian, if thou art really engaged in the service of God; if, like the eagle who fixes his eye upon the sun and soars aloft, thou fixest thine eye on the Sun of Righteousness, and ascendest to him in thy desires and wishes, do not relinquish thine hope, though thou must pour forth thy tears, when thou considerest the amazing interval between thy model and thyself; for know, that though thou must aim at the perfection of Jesus, this perfection is not the condition of salvation; but the soul that renounces sin, that embraces the sacrifice of Immanuel, that conscientiously aims to arrive at the stature of the fulness of Christ, shall, through the righteousness of VOL. III.
the Redeemer, be brought to unite with the “ spirits of the just made perfect;" to see Jesus as he is, and be made like unto him.
BENEFITS OF SICKNESS.
JOHN xi. 3.
Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
Was there ever on earth, my brethren, a more privileged family than that of Lazarus ? All the members of it were united in love to each other, and in love to the Redeemer, and were honoured, in return, by his most tender friendship. " Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." They resided at Bethany, a small village about two miles from Jerusalem; and to their hospitable roof the Saviour often retired from the tumult and noise, the vices and follies, of the city, and gave them the most sub-, lime instructions, the most tender consolations, which they received with eager attention and with full faith. Who, then, would not have supposed that the dwelling of Lazarus, so gloriously distinguished by the frequent presence of the Son of God, would be inaccessible to those calamities and afflictions which embitter the lives of mortals, and would ever be hlest by peace, by prosperity, and felicity? If these
precise hopes were not entertained by this pious and amiable family; if, instructed in the school of Jesus Christ, the members of it had learned that his kingdom was not of this world, and that therefore it is not in this world that the believer must expect a perfect felicity; they seem at least to have flattered themselves that their intimacy with him, who by a single word cured the sick, would avert from a household, to which he was so much attached, the pains of sickness and the languors of disease. We may infer this from the message which the sisters of Lazarus send to Jesus Christ: “ Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” We may infer it from the words which Martha addressed to the Redeemer, when she met him approaching to Bethany: “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."
Their faith in the power and goodness of Jesus was unlimited; but it must be confessed, it was not sufficiently enlightened and submissive. The surprise which they express because the friend of Jesus is sick, and because the Redeemer does not immediately fly to his relief, ought at least to have been balanced by the persuasion that this sickness was for the benefit of Lazarus, and that it was permitted from motives equally wise on the part of Jesus, and useful for his friend. If the first emotion of nature made them exclaim, “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died;" religion should have induced them immediately to add, • Lord, thy will be done. Thy wisdom so perfectly knows what is necessary for us, that we are fully persuaded that all thy dispensations are right. Thy love for the men whom thou camest to redeem, is so tender and enlightened, that we do not for a moment doubt, that the afflictions which thou sendest are useful to them :