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cipate the communications of distant friends, preparation for the inheritance of saints in who are never to return! But of the expect- light, for the kingdom which cannot be moved, ed guests, of the innumerable company in- Let us not presume to “darken counsel by vited to "the marriage of the Lamb," not words without knowledge." Let us not preone shall be missing, no bitter recollection sume to draw aside the veil which separates shall intrude, no painful apprehension shall a material world from the world of spirits, arise. And with what subjects of conversa- which interposes between time and eternity. tion are they eternally supplied ! With Scripture itself, after exhausting every image, what enlarged views of those subjects do every idea of negative and of positive glory they discourse! The glories of nature are and felicity, as descriptive of " the kingdom contemplated with new eyes, and excite of heaven,” refers us to a future revelation emotions before unfelt. The mystery of Pro- of that glory. Paul, “caught up to the vidence, once so intricate and inscrutable is third heaven, caught up into paradise," adunravelled; the mighty plan, the minute mitted to the intercourse of celestial beings, parts, the universal and the individual inte- and sent back to earth, finds himself incaparest are found in perfect unison. The won- ble of describing the heavenly vision. The ders of redeeming love, intermingling with words which he heard were unspeakable, the glories of creation and the mystery of which it is not lawful, which it is not possiProvidence, communicating to them all their ble for a man to utter. In this blessed, unbeauty, all their importance. What a theme defined, undescribed state we leave it: “ It for the whole company of the redeemed, for is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, interchange of personal experience, for mu- neither have entered into the heart of man,
tual congratulation and delight! What ex- the things which God hath prepared for them 'alted employment, what inexhaustible source that love him.” of joy for the endless days of eternity ! The contrast is dreadful : “But the chil
They shall sit down with Abraham, and dren of the kingdom shall be cast out into Isaac, and Jacob.” There is a natural desire outer darkness, there shall be weeping and in man to be in the company of the eminent- gnashing of teeth." By “the children of ly great, and wise, and good. But this de- the kingdom," our Lord undoubtedly means sire is tempered by a consciousness of our to denote the posterity of Abraham after the own inferiority. We shrink from the pene- flesh, the original heirs of the promises, the trating eye of wisdom, we feel “ how awful depositaries of the covenants, who, with all goodness is," we blush inwardly at the thought the advantages of birth, of education, of a of our own littleness. But those ingathered revelation which they acknowledged to be outcasts from the east and west feel no un- divine, and of which they made their boast, easy apprehensions on being introduced to obstinately rejected the promised Messiah, to society so dignified, for “there is no fear in whom all their prophets give witness; who, love." They indeed feel their inferiority, valuing themselves upon, and vainly resting but it excites no mortification. They are in in a mere natural descent from illustrious their proper place, and they have their pro- ancestors, without inheriting a particle of per measure of glory. While time was they their spirit, wilfully excluded themselves pronounced those venerable names with awe, from the kingdom of heaven. Their means they accounted those persons happy who of knowledge, their peculiar privileges were could claim kindred to men so highly distin- a horrid aggravation of their guilt, and a full guished, admission to the court of the Gen- justification of their tremendous punishment. tiles terminated their ambition, birth had The blessedness of the righteous in the heaexcluded them for ever from the common- venly world, is, in the preceding verse, wealth of Işrael. Now they find that they represented under the well-known and famiare the real posterity of Abraham,“ born, not liar image of the banquet, or marriage feast, of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of and various passages of the gospel history the will of man, but of God." If any man throw light upon the allusion, particularly hath not the spirit of Abraham, he is none of the parable of the ten virgins. "Those so his. By the spirit they are related to the fa- lemnities were usually celebrated in the ther of the faithful, and he joyfully acknow- night season. The apartments destined to ledges them as his children, and heirs with the entertainment of the guests were superbhim of the promises,
ly illuminated. The bridegroom and his • They shall sit down with Abraham, and train came to the banqueting house in magniIsaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." ficent procession, by lamp or torch light. This implies a participation of all the privi- The invited guests were admitted through leges of saints on earth, communion and the wicket, to prevent promiscuous intrusion. fellowship with one another, as members to- As soon as the nuptial band had entered the gether of that body whereof Christ is the doors were shut. The careless and the tarhead, and joint “ fellowship with the Father, dy were of course excluded, and no after and with the Son Jesus Christ.” Such is the expostulation or entreaty could procure adkingdom of God in this world, and such the mittance; they were left in outer darkness,
rendered more hideous by comparison with other prisoners, on the disastrous voyage! the splendour which reigned within ; left, in which terminated in shipwreck on the island the cold and damps of the night, to their own of Melita, paid singular attention to the aposbitter reflections, dreadfully aggravated by tle, followed his advice, and spared the rest the idea of a felicity to them for ever inac- of the prisoners, that he might preserve Paul's cessible. By a representation so powerfully life. And upon their arrival at Rome, when impressive, so easily understood, so awfully this generous officer delivered over the rest alarming, were the elders of the Jews ad- of his charge to the captain of the guard, he monished of the guilt, danger, and misery of had sufficient credit and ability to express rejecting the counsel of God against them- his friendship for our apostle, by procuring selves, of refusing the testimony which God for him a greater enlargement of liberty: had given to his Son Christ Jesus.
" Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with After this very solemn digression, Jesus a soldier that kept him." returns to the subject which had given rise From this interesting story let us learn, to it, the servant's malady, and the master's 1. To despise no man's person, feelings, marvellous faith. He bestows a present re- opinions, profession, or country. His person ward on the one, by instantly relieving the is what God made it, and he makes nothing other. " And Jesus said unto the centurion, that is in itself contemptible. You are bound Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so in equity to respect the feelings of another, be it done unto thee. And his servant was for you wish that your own should not be healed in the selfsame-hour.” Here the Sa- handled rudely. It ill becomes one who has viour condescends to be dictated to. He himself formed so many erroneous opinions, yields to the prayer of a faith so very extra- and veered about so frequently with the flitordinary, he proceeds no farther on his way ting gale, to prescribe a standard of opinion to the centurion's house. The petition runs, to other men. Unless a profession be radi“speak the word only, and my servant shall cally, and in its own nature sinful, those who be healed;" he speaks the word, he wills the follow it ought not to be condemned in the cure, and virtue goes out of him to perform it. lump: if it expose to peculiar temptations to
Neither of the evangelists pursue the history act amiss, he who resists the temptation and of the centurion farther. But we have every overcomes himself is the more estimable. thing to hope, every thing to believe of a Over the place of his birth a man had no man who so eminently distinguished himself more power than over the height of his staas an excellent soldier, a kind master, a mo- ture, or the colour of his skin. It is an object derate ruler, a pious worshipper of God, and of neither praise nor blame.
The apostle an humble but firm believer in Jesus Christ. Peter received a severe and just rebuke or In his history the Christian world has to boast this head by a vision from heaven. He was of another of the triumphs of the Captain of prepared, and he needed to be prepared, for salvation, of another successful invasion of the exercise of his ministry at Cesarea, and Satan's kingdom, of another display of divine to the family and friends of the excellent perfection in the person of Jesus Christ. It Roman centurion already mentioned, and is not unworthy of remark, that various per-whom his Jewish pride had taught him to sons of the same, rank and profession, that of hold in contempt, by a thrice repeated mancenturion, stand with high marks of approba- date which he dared not to disobey: “What tion on the sacred page. Next to this most God hath cleansed, that call not thou comrespectable character, we find another em- mon." Let us consider it as addressed to ployed on a very trying occasion. He, with ourselves. Why dost thou judge thy brothe company under his command, was ap- ther? or why dost thou set at nought thy pointed to see the sentence of crucifixion brother? for we shall all stand before the executed, for soldiers are put upon many a judgment-seat of Christ." painful service, and he was not an uncon 2. The fearful doom denounced against uncerned spectator of that awful scene. "Now believing Jews ought to operate as a warning when the centurion, and they that were with to still more highly privileged Christians, lest him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and any man “fall after the same example of those things that were done, they feared unbelief.”. “ For if the word spoken by angreatly, saying, truly this was the Son of gels was steadfast, and every transgression God." The name of Cornelius of Cesaren, and disobedience received a just recompence the centurion of the Italian band, is renowned of reward; how shall we escape if we nein all the churches of Christ, as “a devout glect so great salvation; which at the first man, and one that feared God with all his began to be spoken by the Lord, and was house, which gave much alms to the people, confirmed unto us by them that heard him?" and prayed to God alway." He is further We sometimes express contempt for the Souvrably reported of by those of his own pagan world, sometimes affect to pity the household, as a “just man, and of good report blinded nations, and without hesitation preamong all the nation of the Jews." The sume to pass a sentence of final condemnacen trion who had charge of Paul and the tion upon them. The unhappy tribes of
Africa, in particular, Christian Europe calmly minded, but fear: for if God spared not the reduces to the condition of beasts of burden natural branches, take heed lest he also spare in this world, with hardly an effort to amelio- not thee.” I conclude with the solemn derate it in the next. And yet they are men, nunciation of Christ himself, respecting the they possess many virtues which ought to men of his generation, and which is still in put their tyrants to the blush, and which will equal force." The men of Nineveh shal] one day rise up in judgment against them. | rise in judgment with this generation, and We despise the miserable Jews, and stigma- 1 shall condemn it: because they repented at tize them as infidels, as if all those who bear the preaching of Jonas ; and, behold, a greater the name of Christ aetually believed in him. than Jonas is here. The queen of the south * Boast not against the broken-off branches;" shall rise up in the judgment with this gene-thou wilt say: The “branches were bro- ration, and shall condemn it: for she came ken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear because of unbelief, they were broken off, the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greatand thou standes by faith. Be not high-ler than Solomon is here.”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
LECTURE CX X X.
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great mult. tude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Je. sus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. "When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? (and this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.) Philip answered him, Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes, but what aro they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. Wher they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five
barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world. John vi. 1--14.
The course of nature is a standing mira- | man? The same observation applies to the cle. To be an atheist is to cease from being religion of the Gospel. Here the learned
To think of arguing with such a have no advantage whatever over the illiteone is to undertake a labour as fruitless as rate. It consists of a few plain, unadorned attempting to reason the lunatic into a facts, authenticated by the testimony of a sound mind. A case like this ought to ex- cloud of unsuspected witnesses; of a few cite no emotion but compassion, mixed with simple, practical truths, level to the most orgratitude to God that he has not reduced us dinary capacity; and of a few precepts of to a condition so deplorable. Refinement in self-evident importance, which it highly conreasoning is, in general, both unprofitable cerns every man to observe. Should it be and inconclusive. The man of plain com- alleged that these are blended with things inon sense may advantageously observe and hard to be understood, it is admitted. And devoutly acknowledge the wisdom and good- here again the wise and prudent have nc ness of the Great Supreme in the regular superiority over the vulgar, but both meet ebbing and flowing of the tide, though he the God of grace as well as the God of nacannot trace the process of the sun's action ture exercising his divine prerogative, in on the waters of the ocean; or of the wind, ministering to the necessities, while he checks in conveying the fluid to the mountain's top; the pride and presumption of man. or of gravity, sending it down to water the · The miracles of our blessed Lord which plains beneath; or the supposed influence of have hitherto passed in review, had a more the moon, or of the melting of the polar ices, li nited object. Their design was to relieve producing an alternate and regular flux and individual, or domestic distress; they were reflux on our shores, or in our rivers. Of an appeal, public indeed, to the understandwhat importance is the theory of vegetation, ing and senses of all who witnessed them, coinpared to the simple but valuable labour but slightly felt, imperfectly understood, and and experience of the gardener and husband-little improved, except by the varties more
inmediately interested in them. They were the multitude, recorded with exactly the granted to importunity, and as a reward to same circumstances in all the four evangethe prayer of faith. That which is the sub- lists. Mark affixes an additional date. It ject of the passage now read, embraces a was at the time when the disciples returned much wider range than any of these, and is from the execution of their first commission, the spontaneous effusion of his own divine with an account of their success: * And the benevolence and compassion. Ten thousand apostles gathered themselves together unto persons, at a moderate calculation, were at Jesus, and told him all things, both what they once the witnesses and the subjects of the had done, and what they had taught." On miracle, and in a case wherein it was im- this Jesus proposed a temporary retirement possible they should be mistaken, for they from the public eye, for the conveniency of had every sense, every faculty exercised in private conversation, of repose, and of the ascertaining the truth. And here he waits necessary refreshment of the body: “And not, as in other cases, till the cry of misery he said unto them, come ye yourselves apart reaches his ear, but advances to meet it, to into a desert place, and rest a while: for there prevent it; he outruns expectation, and has were many coming and going, and they had à supply in readiness, before the pressure of no leisure so much as to eat. And they de. want is felt.
parted into a desert place by ship privately;" The duration of Christ's public ministry, and this, as before, prepared for the miracle from his baptism to his passion, has been of the loaves and fishes. The self-same circalculated from the number of passovers cumstances are minutely narrated in Luke's which he frequented. This, as may be súp-gospel. These mark the precise epoch when posed, has occasioned considerable variety of Christ went over the sea of Galilee, and reopinion. The attentive reader will probably tired with the twelve to a mountain in the adopt that of our illustrious countryman, desert of Bethsaida. But though he went Sir Isaac Newton, who reckons five of these by water, to escape for a season the multiannual festivals within the period. The first, tudes which thronged after him, the place of that recorded in the 2d chapter of St. John's his destination is discovered, and thousands, Gospel, at which he purged the temple, filled with impatience, admiration, gratitude, predicted his own death and resurrection, hope, outstrip the speed of the vessel, by a and performed sundry miracles. The second, circuitous journey along the shore of the according to that great chronologist, took lake. Their motives were various. The place a few months after our Lord's con- powerful principle of curiosity attracted versation with the woman of Samaria, which many. A thirst of the word of life impelled he founds on that text, John iv. 35—“Say others. “ A great multitude followed him, not ye, there are yet four months, and then because they saw the miracles which he did cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, lift on them that were diseased," and many had up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they themselves“ need of healing=”. An affecting are white already to harvest.” The third, a view is exhibited of Christ's benevolent few days prior to the sabbath, on which the character. As from the elevation of the disciples walked out into the fields, and mountain he beheld the people pressing forplucked the ears of corn, when he cured the ward by thousands to the spot where he was, impotent man at the pool of Bethesda. The all thoughts of food, of rest, of accommodafourth, that which was now approaching at tion lost in an appetite more dignified and the era of this miracle; and the fifth, that pure, his bowels melted : “And Jesus, when at which he suffered. The people were now he came out, saw much people, and was therefore flocking from all parts of Galilee, moved with compassion toward them, because on their way to Jerusalem to keep the pass- they were as sheep not having a shepherd: over: and this accounts for the very extraor-, and he began to teach them many things.' dinary number who at this time attended his The sight of a great assembly of men, preaching and miracles.
women, and children, must ever create a *** After these things," says John. The lively interest in every bosom alive to the other three evangelists connect this scene, feelings of humanity. The view of his in respect of time, with a most memorable mighty host melted Xerxes into tears, merely event in the history of Christianity, the de- from reflection on their natural mortality. capitation of John Baptist in the prison. What then are the "bowels and mercies" of When these melancholy tidings were told to the compassionate friend of mankind, on surJesus, Matthew informs us, that he departed veying innumerable myriads ready to perish thence by ship into a desert place apart: and everlastingly for lack of knowledge, dying when the people had heard thereof they fol- in their sins! He feels even for their bodily ‘owed him on foot out of the cities. And wants, which, in the ardour of their spirits, Jesys went forth, and saw a great multitude, they seem to have themselves forgotten, and and was moved with compassion toward a supply is provided before the cravings of them, and he healed their sick;” and then nature have found out that it was necessary. immediately follows the miracle of feeding | And thus a gracious Providence, in things
both temporal and spiritual, outruns not only ny different inclinations, pursuing as many the supplications of the miserable, but their different interests, with as many different cavery hopes and desires.
pacities, should be brought to one point, "The day began to wear away,” they should co-operate in promoting the same purwere in a desert place, the multitude was pose, should, unknown to each other, invoprodigiously increased, they had fasted long, luntarily enter into exactly one and the same no provision of either victuals or lodging had pursuit, is not to be explained on the combeen made, and the adjacent villages promised mon principles of human sagacity, and can but a slender accommodation of either, even proceed only from the Lord of hosts, who had there been money to purchase them. A is wonderful in counsel and excellent in case of truly aggravated distress! The fore- working.". Philip immediately has recourse thought and sympathy of the disciples went to arithmetical calculation; he estimates the no farther than to suggest the propriety of multitude at so many, he examines into the an immediate dismission of the assembly, state of their finances, and finds them deplowhile sufficient light remained to procure what rably deficient : "two hundred pennyworth was needful for exhausted nature. “ When of bread is not sufficient for them, that every the day began to wear away then came one of them may take a little.” No, the diffithe twelve, and said unto him, Šend the mul- culty was not to be thus resolved. Neither titude away, that they may go into the towns was the matter much mended to human apand country round about, and lodge, and get prehension, when Andrew, Simon's brother, victuals: for we are here in a desert place.” brought information that there was a lad preBut their gracious Master looked much far- sent who had five barley loaves and two small ther, and felt more tenderly. He addresses fishes to dispose of. He himself sets no great himself particularly to Philip, who was of store by his intelligence; a single loaf to a the city of Bethsaida, and might be supposed thousand men appeared to him a mere noto know the state of the country, and how thing, an aggravation rather than an alleviamuch it could produce in an emergency of tion of the distress: “but what,” says he, this kind, on the supposition that their stock despondingly, "are they among so many ?" of money was equal to the demand: "he The case is thus brought to an extreme saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy point. Five thousand men, beside a multibread that these mày eat?" Why the ap- tude of women and children, probably to an peal was personally made to Philip, may be equal, if not a greater number, feel the presaccounted for from some peculiarity in that sure of hunger, and of no one of our natural disciple's character. He appears to have been appetites are we more acutely sensible than one of those who slowly, suspiciously, relucts of this; every one of this myriad, therefore, antly admitted the evidence of their Master's down to the youngest child, was a distinct divine mission; for we find him, long after and a competent witness upon the occasion, this, discovering a diffident, scrupulous in- of the individual and of the general calamity, credulous disposition ; and his kind Master and of the total want of an adequate supply. administering a just and seasonable rebuke: Providence thus frequently permits things to “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the come to the very verge of wo, that man Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith un- may feel his own weakness and insufficiency, to him, Have I been so long time with you feel his entire dependence, and learn to acand yet hast thou not known me, Philip ? he knowledge and to adore the seasonable inthat hath seen me hath seen the Father; and terposition of heaven; that God may how sayest thou, then, show us the Father?" as "our refuge and our strength, a very Thus was 'it needful that the witnesses of present help in trouble.” the truth to others should have their own As if every preparation of human sagacity doubts completely removed. And, thus, He, had been made, Jesus with dignified compowho knew what was in man, will bring out sure, commands, saying, “ Make the men sit of the man himself what is in him; not with down." The attention and sympathy of the insidious design of deceiving and ?xpo- Christ are observable in minute circumstansing him, as men often act by each other, ces. His guests had passed a day of uncombut of making him feel his own weight; of mon fatigue; they were now overtaken with enabling him to form a just estimate of his two great infirmities, want of food and want wisdom and strength; of affording him a of rest. A standing meal, weary as they fresh and irresistible proof of his Master's su- were, would have been an unspeakable benepreme power, and divine intelligence. “This fit; or to have stretched out their 'exhausted he said to prove him: for he knew what he limbs to repose, even with a slender proviwould do."
sion, for “the sleep of a labouring man is We have here a most sublime representa- sweet, whether he eat little or much." He tion of the Redeemer's foreknowledge of who careth for oxen, who feedeth the raven, the natural reasonings of the human mind, who sustaineth the sparrow on the wing, and of the existence and effect of second "shall he not much more" hear the cry of causes. That a thousand persons, of as ma-huinan wretchedness ? Both the precious