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If the mind and conscience be defiled by the guilty consciousness of iniquity unforgiven there ; if uneasiness and anguish be a most prominent feature of the disease; 'tis also the bitter root, the fountain from whence every evil issues in the life, as was observed by one of the greatest philosophers that ever informed this earth, an experimental philosopher too, who with infinite skill hath anatomized the human mind, and with exquisite accuracy developed the phenomena of its secret operations, laying it down as an incontestible and invariable maxim that unto them that are defiled nothing is pure, nor have they a taste for purity, the main cause of which is that their conscience is defiled, and thereby the whole of the powers, faculties and inclinations of their minds are polluted and perverted, Tit. ii. 15. and they are to every good work reprobate. This is, by a concise and unerring method, to come at the radix at once. The primum mobile or lowest cause is the conscience defiled with guilt; that defiled conscience pollutes the active powers of the soul; and I leave you to judge from this simple deduction, what must be the leading bent of his temper and chosen practice, "till God's own Son with skill divine, the inward fire assuage;" the leading bent of his temper under that predominating influence. Trace the effects to their cause and then determine, bearing this remark in your memory, that you are yourselves principally concerned; and by that (by your own) decision you must stand or fall. We have all sinned we know, and come short of the glory of God; the law of God is so strict, that cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, Gal. iii. 10. What makes hell so dreadful and the Devil so full of horror? The sad thought of having offended Gody and the sad feeling of his displeasure; the; curse of his holy
law, and the distracting reflection of being hopelessly and for ever condemned, and reserved to blackness of darkness for ever. If a man have any degree of this guilty conscience prevalent in his own mind now, it is the same in a degree that the damned feel; 'tis the condemnation of sin within him, the wrath of God burning in his soul, and which is a sort of foretaste of hell, a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour the adversaries; and it proves that God (now provoked and irritated by sin) is in all his dispensations aconsumingfire,even a jealous God ; and I do not wonder that people strive by a variety of methods to drive it away, to drown or stu pify it, or by intense application to lose sight of and not attend to it»for it is, as it were the fire of hell in the soul, the worm that dieth not, the fire that is not to be quenched; and whereby a man, if he had all the gaities, the diversions, the pleasures, gratifications and profits of this world poured into his lap, he cannot be at rest; perfect peace, sweet serenity and composure of soul is no part of his enjoyment; for then he would seek it in Jehovah, and by his quenching the fire of hell in the soul. But where that preliminary is not obtained, there is no satisfaction in the Lord; and where can a creature have true satisfaction but in him who made him 1 Therefore if not happy in the Lord he is not happy any where. To say the best of him, he i s in an ignorant, dark, stupid, listless frame of mind; and having no true felicity, he discovers his uneasiness by a thousand shifts: "Who will shew us any good!" By fretfulness, by discontent, by covetousness and carking cares; by repining at the ways of providence, or that the allwise disposer has not made their lot more pleasing to their senses; by self-seeking and ambition; and as the tongue » one of the most prominent an
familiar vehicles of expressing the inward feelings of the mind—a method also by which the heart can give vent to its feelings in the most extensive manner; when the heart is set on fire of hell, the tongue is the combustible that quickly catches fire, and spreads the desolation far and wide; yea so large and extensive is the devastation, as in the language of my text to prove it v. fire, a world of iniquity that defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; an untameable, unruly evil, full of deadly poison, ver. 8. that rages all the world over, and from one generation to another. It is often remarked that the use of the tongue, and the faculty of speech is that which particularly marks the distinction between man and the beasts; that by it we can with facility convey our thoughts one to another; and hence the more evil and vile is sin, which has abased that noble faculty; which when it is perverted, is also the most hurtful and does more mischief than all the other powers of our bodies. Corrnptio optimi est pessima, was an adage well known to the sages of antiquity, and to this day it remains uncontradicted.
[ To be concluded in our next.]
THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, THE BREAD OF ETERNAL LIFE.
A View of John vi. 48—51. There is much valuable instruction to be gained by a careful attention to many apparently minute incidents in the life and ministry of tlie Son of God, which is altogether lost by a superficial reading of the Evangelical history. This observation is remarkably verified in the chapter before us (John vi.) The Passover, one of the Jewish festivals, was approaching, ver. 4. and Jesus, who had been for some time discharging the duties of his public ministry in the city of Capernaum, crossed
the sea of Galilee with his disciples, intending to be at Jerusalem during the time of the feast. The miraculous cures which he had wrought in that city excited general interest, and induced a vast multitude of persons to follow him, ver. 2. and the additional circumstance of the feast of the Passover being at hand, would still further augment the number of his followers.
Having crossed the sea of Tiberias our Lord did not immediately proceed on his way to Jerusalem, but ascended^a mountain which was situated in the vicinity of the place where he and his disciples) had landed. As he sat there, surrounded by his select few, he lifted up his eyes, and from the eminence on which he was, beheld an immense concourse of people flock, ing towards him out of the adjacent cities (Mark vi. 33.) attracted by the wonderful cures which he had performed upon the sick and infirm in their neighbourhood. Here therefore Jesus continued, probably, two or three days ;' and as the Evangelist Mark has it, "He began to teach them many things." ch. vi. 34. It was the custom in those countries, says Dr. Mack night (Harmony. Sect. 60.) to have two or three days provision with them when they travelled; but their stock was now exhausted, and therefore the disciples, perceiving that evening was drawing on, entreated their Divine Master to dismiss the multitude and send them away, that they might go into the towns and villages around them, and buy themselves bread, or victuals. But Christ, who had it in contemplation now to give them a divine attestation of his Messiahship, by performing a stupendous miracle, replied to his disciples, " It is not necessary to send them away on that account— Give them to eat of what ye have." They seem to have been surprised at this answer, and immediately remark to him, that the multitude was immense; that two hundred pennyworth of bread was inadequate to the supply, so that every one of them might take a little. One of them added that there was indeed a lad in the company who had five barley loaves and two small fishes, but what was this among so many persons 1 Jesus, however, instructed them to make the men sit down in ranks by hundreds, and by fifties, according as the ground would best admit of their being regularly disposed. Luke ix. 14. with Mark vi. 40. The members of each company appear to have been placed in two rows—the one row with their faces towards those of the other, as if a long table had been placed between them. The first company being thus set down, the second was to be placed beside it in a similar manner, and the third by the second till all were set down, the direction of the ranks being up the side of the hill.
Having thus disposed his guests, Jesus, who stood below at the bottom of the ranks, was full in the view of all the company; and calling for the loaves and the fishes, he *' looked up to heaven" and gave thanks to his heavenly Father, for his boundless beneficence in furnishing food for all flesh. He then brake the bread and the fishes, distributing a piece of each to one of his disciples, who delivered it to the first person in the rank; when this individual had broken off what was sufficient for himself he delivered the food to the second who did the same, and he to the third, and so on, until the whole company, consisting of five thousand men, had all eaten and were satified.
But how great must have been the astonishment of this multitude, when they beheld the food expanding its dimensions before their eyes, both in the hands of the Lord Jesus, and also of the
multitude; so that it continued to swell and enlarge itself, not merely so as to create a sufficiency foi satisfying the hunger of this mul. titude; but, after they had all eaten and were filled, the fragments that remained were more in quantity than the original loaves and fishes! This stupendous miracle, which was conspicuous, not to the disciples only, who carrying each his basket in his hand, had an incontestible demonstration of its truth; but to every individual guest also at this divine feast, who had all felt themselves delighted, filled, refreshed, and strengthened by the food of which they had now partaken.
We cannot, therefore, be surprised that such a manifestation of divine power, as was displayed by the Son of the Highest, on thU occasion, should have excited the admiration of the people. They recollected that Moses, after delivering their fathers out of Egypt, had done something like this, when he fed them with Manna in the wilderness—and the inference they drew from the present miracle was, that he who could thus feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes must surely be able to deliver them from the Roman yoke! In the height of their transport, therefore, they proposed to "take Jesus by force and make him a king." But, he, perceiving that the carnality of their hearts had led them to make' a perverse use of this miracle, withdrew from them into a retired place and so frustrated their intention.
Meeting with him, however, again, upon a subsequent day, we find the multitude eagerly expressing their congratulations at seeing him, and a most interesting conversation now ensued between them. Jesus, throughout the whole of his discourse, endeavours to lead them to make the proper improvement of the miracle which they bad witnessed—corrects their mistaken notions of what had happened to their fathers in the wilderness—and labours to raise their grovelling minds from things carnal to things spiritual—from the earthly to the heavenly manna— from a temporal to a spiritual deliverance. "I am the bread of life," says he: "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if a man eat of this bread he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world ."John vi. 48—51. As whatsoever was written- aforetime was intended for our admonition, let us for a moment forget the ancient Jews and see what important instruction, we of modern times may deduce from this memorable piece of scripture history. And with a view to that, let it be remarked, that,
1. From the 26th verse of this chapter we see what unworthy ends men may propose to themselves in following Christ. Here is a vast multitude following him for loaves and fishes, who had no relish for his spiritual doctrine. This is not a thing peculiar to those carnal Jews. Since nominal Christianity has become the religion of the nations, there are thousands for one who follow him from no higher principles. Many make a trade of the Christian religion, whilst the chief ground of their attachment is, that by this profession they have their bread. Many take up the profession to gain a name among men, to establish their credit, and so to advance their Worldly honour and interest—Some follow him from a principle of selfrighteousness, as giving them the best directions how to obtain eternal life by working the works of God, ver. 28. while they have no notion ef hint at the end of the
law for righteousness to every one who believes. Others take up a profession of his name from a licentious principle; they consider Christ as having purchased a dispensation for them to sin with impunity—use his blood as an opiate to still the just clamours of their consciences, and consider his imputed righteousness as some how superseding the necessity of personal holiness. Such are continually declaiming against every appearance of strictness as self-righteous, while they conform to the world in self-indulgence as part of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Let the reader therefore examine himself, as to his motive in professing the name of ^Christ; and the rather as we see from this passage,
2. That Jesus knows all the thoughts, motives and intents of our hearts. None of this multitude openly professed to follow him for the loaves and fishes; but he saw into the inmost recesses of their souls, and discovered their motives. Many went still farther than these did, and professed to believe on him when they saw the miracles which he did; but Jesus did not commit himself unto them because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man, ch. ii. 23—25. Hence speaking to the churches he says, "All the churches shall know, that I am he who searcheth the reins and hearts." Rev. ii. 23. Let the hypocrite in Zion therefore consider this, and be afraid; for he will bring every secret thought to judgment.
3. From this chapter we may also see the unreasonableness and inexcusableness of unbelief. This great multitude saw his miracles which he did on them which were diseased, ver. 2. Five thousand of them had also been fed by him with five loaves and two small fishes, ver. 8—14. These wer« acts of divine power which none but the Creator of the world could perform; and they were not per. formed merely to raise their wonder without informing their judgments; but as confirmations of the truth of the doctrine which he taught them, chap. v. 36. His doctrine and miracles were such incontestible proofs of his divine mission as left them entirely inexcusable in rejecting him, ch. xv. 22—25. This appears farther from their partial convictions; for when they had seen the miracle which Jesus did, they were constrained to confess, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." ch. vi. 14. Why then did they not subject themselves to his teaching, and hear him in all things whatsoever he said unto them? Why, because they saw nothing in his appearance or doctrine that suited their carnal inclinations— nothing that answered their worldly preconceived notions of the Messiah and his kingdom. The miracle of feeding the multitude struck them with a temporary conviction, not of his true character and kingdom, but that he was the person whom they fondly expected should restore the kingdom to Israel; and in this view they were for taking him by force and making him an earthly king, ver. 15. But no soonei does he begin to preach to them about spiritual things, and particularly of his giving eternal life to all that believe on him, than they immediately demand a sign that they might believe him, as if he had given them none hitherto! Had he been of the world and spoken of the world they would have heard him, and believed him without any farther sign ch. v. 43. because such doctrines would be suited to their carnal inclinations, and consequently would go easily down; but as to the spiritual doctrines of the gospel, they always wanted farther evidence, and could never be satisfied witb signs. This
leads us to the true source of infidelity, which lies not so much in the want of evidence as in the disaffection of the carnal heart. True indeed, the natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned. But simple ignorance is not the only reason of his unbelief. Our Lord assigns a cause for this ignorance, ch. viii. 43. "Why do ye not understand my speech? even (says he) because ye cannot hear my word," i. e. do not relish it. In this chapter they declare their disgust at Christ's words, saying, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" ver. 60. and many of his professed disciples being offended at his doctrine, went back and walked no more with him, ver. 66. Thus the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; why? because they are foolishness unto him— and this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, 1 Cor. ii. 14. John hi. 19. This shews us how faith is a matter of exhortation, and how all who hear the gospel are without excuse in rejecting it, because they do it through disaffection and not for want of evidence..
4. We may observe here that our Lord sets himself forth as the true bread in allusion to and as the antitype and truth of the manna wherewith Israel were-miraculously fed in the wilderness. The Jews in seeking a sign of him remind him of the manna wherewith their fathers were fed in the desert, ver. 31. from which he takes occasion to show them that He was the true bread pointed out by that manna, and infinitely excelling it in every respect. For first; the manna came only from the lower heavens, the atmosphere which surrounds the earth; hence he says "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven," i. e. the highest heavens; but Christ came down