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them as much under the tyranny of pride, passion, sensuality, envy, and malice, as any of the vulgar whom they despise for their ignorance. It is well known, to the disgrace of the morality which the world applauds, that some of their most admired sentimental writers and teachers have deserved to be numbered among the most abandoned and despicable of mankind. They have been slaves to the basest and most degrading appetites, and the tenour of their lives has been a marked contradiction to their fine-spun theories. But Jesus Christ effectually teaches his disciples to forsake and abhor whatever is contrary to rectitude or purity; and inspires them with love, power, and a sound mind. And if they do not talk of great things, they are enabled to perform them. Their lives are exemplary and useful, their deaths comfortable, and their memory is precious.
4. The disciples of Jesus are, or may be, always learning. His providence and wisdom have so disposed things, in subserviency to the purposes of his grace, that the whole world around them is as a great school; and the events of every day, with which they are connected, have a tendency and suitableness, if rightly improved, to promote their instruction. Heavenly lessons are taught and illustrated by earthly objects; nor are we capable of understanding them at present, unless the mode of instruction be thus accommodated to our situation and weakness. The Scripture* points out to us a wonderful and beautiful analonly between the outward visible world of nature, and that spir itual state which is called the kingdom of God; the former is like a book written in cypher, to which the Scripture is the key, which, when we obtain, we have the other opened to us. Thus, wherever they look, some object presents itself, which is adapted, either to lead their thoughts directly to Jesus, or to explain or confirm some passage in his word. So, likewise, the incidents of human life; the characters we know, the conversation we hear, the vicissitudes which take place in families, cities, and nations; in a word, the occurrences which furnish the history of every day, afford a perpetual commentary on what the Scriptures teach concerning the heart of man, and the state of the world, as subject to vanity, and lying in wickedness; and thereby the great truths which it behooves us to understand and remember, are more repeatedly and forcibly exhibited before our eyes, and brought home to our bosoms. It is the peculiar advantage of the disciples of Christ, that their lessons are always before them, and their master always with them.
5. Men who are otherwise competently qualified for teaching
* John, iii. 12.
in the branches of science they profess, often discourage an intimidate their scholars, by the impatience, austerity, and distance of their manner. They fail in that condescension and gentleness which are necessary to engage the attention and affection of the timid and the volatile, or gradually to soften and to shame the perverse. Even Moses, though eminent for his forbearance towards the obstinate people committed to his care, and though he loved them, and longed for their welfare, was at times almost wearied by them.* But Jesus, who knows before-hand the weakness, the dulness, and the refractoriness of those whom he designs to teach, to prevent their fears, is pleased to say, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly.' With what meekness did he converse among his disciples while he was with them upon earth! He allowed them, at all times, a gracious freedom of access. He bore with their mistakes, reproved and corrected them with the greatest mildness, and taught them, as they were able to bear, with a kind accommodation to their prejudices; leading them on, step by step, and waiting for the proper season of unfolding to them those more difficult points, which, for a time, appeared to them to be hard sayings. And though he be now exalted upon his glorious throne, and clothed with majesty, still his heart is made of tenderness, and his compassions still abound. We are still directed to think of him, not as one who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but as exercising the same patience and sympathy towards his disciples now, which so signally marked his character during his state of humiliation. The compliment of the orator to a Roman emperor, though excessive and absurd when addressed to a sinful worm, That they who durst speak to him were ignorant of his greatness, and they who durst not were equally ignorant of his goodness, is a just and literal truth, if applied to our meek and gracious Saviour. If we duly consider his greatness alone, it seems almost presumption in such creatures as we are, to dare to take his holy name upon our polluted lips; but then, if we have a proportionable sense of his unbounding goodness and grace, every difficulty is overruled, and we feel a liberty in drawing near to him, though with reverence, yet with confidence of children when they speak to an affectionate parent.
A person may be meek, though in an elevated situation of life; but Jesus was likewise lowly. There was nothing in his external appearance to intimidate the poor and miserable from coming to him. He was lowly or humble. Custom, which fixes the force and acceptation of words, will not readily allow us to speak of
*Numb. xi. 11, 12.
humility as applicable to the great God. Yet it is said, 'He humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in earth.'* Humility, in strictness of speech, is an attribute of magnanimity; an indifference to the little distinctions by which weak and vulgar minds are affected. In the view of the high and holy One who inhabiteth eternity,'† all distinctions that can obtain among creatures vanish; and he humbles himself no less to notice the worship of an angel, than the fall of a sparrow to the ground. But we more usually express this idea by the term condescension. Such was the mind that was in Christ. It belonged to his dignity as Lord of all, to look with an equal eye upon all his creatures. None could recommend themselves to him by their rank, wealth, or abilities, the gifts of his own bounty; none were excluded from his ragard, by the want of those things which are in estimation among men. And, to stain the pride of human glory, he was pleased to assume a humble state. Though he was rich, he made himself poor's for the sake of those whom he came into the world to save. In this respect he teaches us by his example. He took upon him the form of a servant,'|| a poor and obscure man, to abase our pride, to cure us of selfishness, and to reconcile us to the cross.
The happy effect of his instructions upon those who receive them, is 'rest to their souls.' This has been spoken to before; but, as it is repeated in the text, I shall not entirely pass it over here. He gives rest to our souls-By restoring us to our proper state of dependence upon God; a state of reconciliation and peace, and deliverance from guilt and fear; a state of subjection; for till our wills are truly subjected to the will of God, we can have no rest-By showing us the vanity of the world, and thereby putting an end to our wearisome desires and pursuits after things uncertain, frequently unattainable, always unsatisfying-By a communication of sublimer pleasures and hopes than the present state of things can possibly afford-And, lastly, by furnishing us with those aids, motives, and encouragements, which make our duty desirable, practicable, and pleasant.
How truly, then, may it be said, that his yoke is easy, and his burden light!' such a burden as wings are to a bird, raising the soul above the low and grovelling attachments to which it was once confined. They only can rightly judge of the value of this rest who are capable of contrasting it with the distractions and miseries, the remorse and forebodings, of those who live without God in the world.
*Psalm cxiii. 6. Isa. lvii. 15. Phil. ii. 5.2 Cor. viii. 9. || Phil. ii. 7.
But we are all by profession, his scholars. Ought we not seriously to inquire, what we have actually learned from him? Surely the proud, the haughty, the voluptuous, and the worldly, though they have heard of his name, and may have attended on his institutions, have not hitherto sat at his feet, or drank of his spirit. It requires no long train of examination to determine whether you have entered into his rest, or not; or, if you have not yet attained, whether you are seeking it in the ways of his appointment. It is a rest for the soul, it is a spiritual blessing, and therefore does not necessarily depend upon external circumstances. Without this rest, you must be restless and comfortless in a palace. If you have it, you may be, at least comparatively, happy in a dungeon. To-day, if not before to-day, while it is called to-day, hear his voice and while he says to you by his word, Come unto me, and learn of me,' let your hearts answer, Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.**
* Jer. fi. 22.
THE LAMB OF GOD, THE GREAT ATONEMENT.
JOHN, i. 29.
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!
'GREAT and marvellous are the works of the Lord God Almighty! We live in the midst of them; and the little impression they make upon us, sufficiently proves our depravity. He is great in the very smallest; and there is not a plant, flower, or insect, but bears the signature of infinite wisdom and power. How sensibly, then, should we be affected by the consideration of the whole, if sin had not blinded our understandings, and hardened our hearts! In the beginning, when all was dark, uninformed, and waste, his powerful word produced light, life, beauty, and order. He commanded the sun to shine, and the planets to roll. The immensity of creation is far beyond the reach of our conceptions. The innumerable stars, the worlds, which however large in themselves, are, for their remoteness, barely visible to us, are of little more immediate and known use, than to enlarge our idea of the greatness of their Author. Small, indeed, is the knowledge we have of our own system; but we know enough to render our indifference inexcusable. The glory of the sun must strike every eye; and in this enlightened age, there are few persons but have some ideas of the magnitude of the planets, and the rapidity and regularity of their motions. Further, the rich variety which adorns this lower creation, the dependence and relation of the several parts, and their general subserviency to the accommodation of man, the principal inhabitant, together with the preservation of individuals, and the continuance of every species of animals, are subjects not above the reach of common capacities, and which afford almost endless and infinite scope for reflection and admiration. But the bulk of mankind regard them not. The vicissitudes of day and night, and of the revolving seasons, are to