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2. We are thus led, in the second division of this discourse, to contemplate the various offices which our blessed Lord was commissioned to execute.
The preacher of good tidings to the meek. "The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek," or, according to the evangelists quoting this passage, as translated by the Septuagint, "to preach the Gospel to the poor," to those whose humble condition in the world presents fewer obstacles to the receiving of the selfdenying precepts which he inculcated than the rich and great would have to encounter, and disposed them to listen with eagerness to the joyful news of happiness in a better life; while those who are encircled with splendour and immersed in pleasure, think it good for them to be in this world.
"To preach the Gospel to the poor," especially to the poor in spirit, the meek, and humble, who, labouring under a sense of their guilt and wretchedness, listen with eagerness to the glad tidings of salvation, and discarding all prejudice and pride, receive with meekness the incomprehensible, but glorious doctrines of their divine Teacher.
Behold Jesus Christ fulfilling this part of his. commission. He first opened his divine message to fishermen of Galilee-to publicans and sinners. He listened to the cries for mercy from the blind beggar by the way side. He pronounced pardon and peace on the penitent suppliant who, in deep abasement and affectionate piety, washed his feet with the tears of contrition. Hear him pronouncing the benediction-" Blessed are the poor in spirit."
Again: He was commissioned to be the herald of the acceptable year of the Lord, of liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, or the recovering of sight to them that are blind.
By the sound of the trumpet throughout all the land, was the year of jubilee announced to the Jews. This was the joyful year, when all servitude was abolished, all debts remitted, and all forfeited inheritances restored. A more joyful jubilee, a more acceptable year was proclaimed by Jesus Christ a year of spiritual jubilee to all mankind, announcing deliverance to those enslaved by sin and Satan, so that they recover their spiritual vision, discerning the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ-proclaiming remission of sins to the guilty race of mankind, and a restoration to the forfeited inheritance of heaven.
Jesus Christ fulfilled this divine commission; he proclaimed this acceptable year; saying to the miserable captives of sin and Satan, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." He poured not only upon the sightless eye-ball the light of day, but on the dark and benighted soul the more grateful light of his own glory; and he passed "through the grave and gate of death" to his throne of everlasting dominion in the heavens, announcing, "I am he who was dead, but now liveth for ever, and hold the keys of death and hell. And to him that overcometh will I give to sit on my throne for evermore."
Jesus Christ, by those whom he commissioned to be the heralds of his Gospel even to "the end of the world," still proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord-the day of salvation. By his word, and by the power of his Holy Spirit, dispensed
be renewed in the spirit of their mind, they must be sanctified in soul and body, they must be established in holiness. Thus, then, Jesus Christ is commissioned by the Father to sanctify those who believe in him, that they may be a peculiar people zealous of good works. For this purpose he engrafts them on himself, the true vine; he takes them from the barren soil of nature, and plants them in the garden of the Lord, that holy church, where, through the channel of the ministry, the sacraments, and ordinances, they receive the purifying and invigorating streams of divine grace, refreshed and strengthened by which they become as "trees planted by the water side, bringing forth fruit in due season." The wilderness of nature becomes a fruitful field, which the Lord hath blessed. Instead of the thorn, there comes up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier, the myrtle-tree: and the desert and solitary place rejoices and is glad." The deformed and hateful vices of the flesh are succeeded by the beautiful and glorious virtues of the Spirit; and believers, sanctified in soul and in body, flourish as trees of righteousness, bringing forth the fruits of holiness. God is thus glorified; for by his grace they are "planted" in Jesus Christ, in whom only they are justified; by his grace only they are created anew unto good works; and finally, by his grace only they overcome, and in the "end" obtain "everlasting life." All the glory of their salvation must therefore be ascribed unto Jehovah, their righteousness, their strength, their Redeemer.
5. There is still another part of the commission of Jesus Christ. He was not only the herald of
the "acceptable year of the Lord," but of "the day of vengeance of our God."
That day, when, coming in his wrath to execute his judgments upon the Jewish nation, there was great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world; great distress in the land; the brother betraying the brother to death, and the father the son; children rising up against their parents, and causing them to be put to death; false prophets arising, and deceiving many; nation rising against nation, and kingdom against ingdom; famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places; fearful sights and great signs from heaven; Jerusalem encompassed with armies, and trodden down of the Gentiles; of her temple, adorned with goodly stones, not one stone left upon another; her people falling by the edge of the sword, and led away captive into all nations; cursing, vexation, and rebuke came upon them; they were made a hissing, a by-word, and a reproach among all nations. These were the days of vengeance; because Jerusalem would not know, in the day of her merciful visitation, the things that belonged to her peace.
But there is a day of the Lord still more great and terrible. The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall; upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him;-the shout of the archangels, and the blast of the trumpet, like the sound of mighty
thunders-"Wo! wo! the day of vengeance is
Brethren, this day of vengeance may be to you the day of mercy; for Jesus Christ is anointed to "publish good tidings to the meek," "to preach the Gospel to the poor." Be ye poor in spirit, meek and lowly of heart; be ye humbled under a sense of your spiritual weakness, devoutly submitting to the will of God,-and to you shall salvation come. He is anointed to "bind up the brokenhearted, and to comfort them that mourn in Zion." If ye then feel the anguish of a heart wounded with the, sense of your sins, and the apprehension of the terrors of divine justice, deploring the malady of sin which infects your hearts, and confessing that there is no health in you, he who was commissioned to bind up and comfort, will apply to your broken hearts the consolations of his mercy.
He was anointed to "preach deliverance to the captives;" and, oppressed with the galling chain of your iniquities, and bending under the burden of your sins, go unto this Deliverer of the soul, thus labouring and heavy laden, and he will give you rest.
He was anointed to proclaim "the opening of the prison," or "the recovering of sight to them that are blind." Blind by nature to spiritual things, seek the illumination of this Sun of righteousness, and he will arise upon you with healing under his wings; he will open your eyes to discern and to enjoy celestial truth; he will guide you through the temptations of the world in the way of holiness; and he will animate you with the prospect of entering, when your course is finished, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.