Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

who gave him sight. Three things here deserve our consideration--the extent of his benevolence; his gracious condescension ; and his ascription to the blind man's faith of the salvation which he found.

II. 1. The extent of our Lord's benevolence is worthy of remark. · It embraces the whole human race. The rich and honourable counsellor of Arimathea, and the blind beggar on the way from Jericho, are alike observed by him, and have his regard. In like manner his redemption embraces all mankind.

The penitent Magdalene shares it with faithful Abraham, No sinner is so far removed from God, that he may not be brought nigh by the blood of Christ.' Poor blind man by the way-side, despair not to call upon Jesus, if he come in thy way! He died for thee.

II. 2. Another thing remarkable in the conduct of our Lord, is his gracious condescension. He stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.' The Son of God, the heir of all worlds, stops on his way to hearken to the prayer of a blind beggar: he calls him to him, and enters into an enquiry concerning his wishes and his wants; and this for our instruction :—that when awed by the greatness of our Creator, and overwhelmed by the distance between him and us, we may be encouraged to call upon him, and hope in his name. The blind man put confidence in his goodness, and obtained his desire.

II. 3. It is important also to observe, that the faith of this suppliant procured him his relief. The Scriptures give us no example of any blessing obtained from our Saviour, without this quality. If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' And again, woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.' And here in the case before us, Jesus said unto him, “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.' Awakened sinner; wouldst thou share the mercies, and come unto him, believing that thy God hath sent him into the world for thy redemption ? Have confidence in his goodness, and the sufficiency of his power to save thee. If there were no other reason why faith should be

required of thee, it were a sufficient and an awful one, which St. John hath given, he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.'

Brethren, the application of this interesting portion of Scripture is to yourselves. God has placed you, though blind and poor, in the way in which you may hear of his Son the Re. deemer. When you hear the voices of the prophets, and the movements of the types and the sacrifices are set before you, do you ask what it meaneth ? "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.' When the Church calleth you to joy in the Christmas, to keep the Lent fast, to solemnize the Good-Friday, to observe the Easter festival, to celebrate the ascension, do you ask what it meaneth ? «Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. When the altar of God hath upon it its white covering, and there are placed thereupon bread and wine, do you ask what it meaneth? Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.' Are your desires to go to him for the salvation you need, restrained by your fears or the opposition of the enemy, or the cavils of an evil world ? • Rise, he calleth you. Are you guilty? He calleth you to pardon. Are you feeble? He calleth you to grace. Are you afflicted ? He calleth you to consolation. Are you mortal ? He calleth you to eternal life. “Come unto me,' saith he, "all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' Be not deterred then by the difficulties in the way. Lay aside the upper garment of your own sufficiency. It may entangle you in going to Jesus. Think not of your claim to his help. Regard not your inability to compensate him for your cure. Have faith in his character. Have faith in his pity, and his power. His name is Saviour. Contemplate him by his name, and cry to him perseveringly, "Jesus, thou Son of David have mercy on me.' He standeth still when the poor calleth; He also will hear their cry, and will help them.'

[BISHOP DEHON.]

..

.

SERMON XXXVII.
QUINQUAGESIMA.

CHARITY. 1 Cor. xiii. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ;

but the greatest of these is charity.

[Text taken from the Epistle for the Day.] In the chapter before this, mention is made of several spiritual and extraordinary gifts, which God, in those early times, conferred upou Christians: but even these excellent gifts of the holy Spirit of love and peace and order, did not altogether produce in the Corinthian church the fruits which might have been expected:-there were persons, who misapplied the gifts of tongues; some were guilty of pride and ostentation; others, of jealousy and envy. St. Paul therefore puts them in mind that these gifts, various and variously distributed, though unequal in their use and excellence, yet all proceeded from one and the same Holy Spirit, and all conspired to the same good end; being designed by him for the edification of the Church, and to preserve unity and concord amongst its members, though unhappily perverted by some of them. Hence he takes occasion to exhort them to put away all strife and vain-glory, and envy, and contempt; to love and esteem and serve each other ; and to apply the powers which they had received from God, to the public good, and to the glory of their author. “Covet earnestly,' says he, 'the best gifts; and yet show I unto you a more excellent way:'--that is; You may beg of God that he would confer upon you those gifts, which are most useful; for to serve him in this manner is an honourable employment, and to desire it is a laudable ambition : but remember that there is a grace of more value in the sight of God, and more beneficial to men,--more glorious therefore, and more desirable, than all these extraordinary gifts, than all the abilities of the mind,and that is, Charity.

St. Paul proceeds to show the nature of charity, and the effects which it produces. • It suffereth long, and is kind; envieth not ; vaunteth not itself; doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not its own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth ; beareth all things; believeth all things; hopeth all things; endureth all things.'

The charitable man, as he is represented by St. Paul, is one who, in all his behaviour, hath the convenience and welfare of his neighbour as much in his view and at heart, as his own. He bears with gentleness, meekness, and patience, the defects and faults of others, and is willing to conceal them, though himself is the sufferer ; nor doth he expose them, unless justice and the public good absolutely require it. He allows those who have offended against him, time and leisure to become sensible of it, and to amend their manners. He is inclined to entertain hopes of their reformation, and to give credit to favourable reports of it, when there is any reason to suppose them true. Free from suspicious malice and censoriousness, he had much rather be mistaken in thinking too kindly, than too harshly. He is never hurried away and overcome by anger; never loses his prudence, and becomes unable to govern himself. He always tempers his passion, and restrains it from breaking out into any indecencies of words and actions. He is courteous and civil, void of austerity, ill humour, and moroseness; liberal and ready to the utmost of his power, to relieve and assist all who stand in need of his aid. He envieth not the prosperity of his neighbour ; he sincerely desires it, and rejoiceth at it, as if he were a gainer by it; and indeed he is, for, by this benevolent temper, he in some sort partakes of it, and makes it his own, without any loss to the proprietor. He is free from that pride, conceit, and arrogance, which are always attended with a disregard and contempt of others. He never misbehaves himself through vain-glory; but seems rather ignorant of his own good qualities, than an admirer and proclaimer of them. He is willing to submit to the lowest offices for the benefit of his fellow-christians, not thinking it beneath his dignity to be thus employed. His zeal for the glory of God, and for the advancement of religion, is strong and active, but joined with discretion and goodnature. He is disinterested and public-spirited, and prefers the common welfare to his private advantage and convenience. Thus he thinks, and thus he acts, not by fits and starts, but uniformly, and through the whole course of his life.

Let us now proceed to consider what St. Paul advances concerning the necessity of practising this virtue.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a

ies, than in the lowes it bene

tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity,--I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity; it profiteth me nothing.' That is,-If I had the gift of tongues, a gift which you earnestly covet, and sometimes misapply, if I had it in the utmost extent, so that I could speak all languages; yet if I have not charity also, which would direct me to use it properly at all times, for the good of the church, and which would keep me from exalting myself above others upon that account,-I should be only a vain and useless talker, and should sound forth my own praise, not the glory of God.

And though I have the spirit of prophecy,'a gift superior to the former, by which I can expound the Scriptures, and teach the Gospel, and sometimes foretel things to come; ' and though I understand and can explain all the figures and mysteries of the Old Testament accomplished in Christ; and though I am perfect in the knowledge of divine truths ; and though I have the highest degree of that faith by which we are enabled to work miracles, so that I can perform the most wonderful works ; if I have not charity, I am nothing; nothing worth in the sight of God, nor to be compared with those who have this virtue, but am far from Christian perfection.

And though I give alms to the needy, till by relieving them I become as poor as they ; though I lay down my life, when I might save it by renouncing my religion, yet if I have not charity, it availeth me nothing. If I think by those splendid acts of self-denial and constancy to please God, and at the same time violate the duty of charity, I deceive myself in imagining that God will accept so incomplete an obedience. If I have not charity, whatsoever I may do that appears great and commendable, and whatsoever gifts of the holy Spirit I may possess, I cannot deserve the name of a good man.

Thus St. Paul, in a few words, but those the most striking and expressive, declares the necessity of performing this great duty. He proceeds to make some observations upon the excellence of charity, in the following manner:

* Charity never faileth ; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease ;

« AnteriorContinuar »