« הקודםהמשך »
in it. Be sure, Christ never revealed any thing to-men that derogates from his own glory, or prejudices and obstructs the ends of his own death.
5. And as it will serve us for a test of doctrines, so it serves for a test of ministers ; and hence you may judge who are authorized and sent by Christ the great Prophet, to declare his will to men. Surely those whom he sends have his Spirit in their hearts, as well as his words in their mouths. And according to the measures of grace received, they faithfully endeavor to fulfil their ministry for Christ, as Christ did for his Father: "As my Father hath sent me,” says Christ, "so send I you.” John, 20:21. They take Christ for their pattern in the whole course of their ministration, and are such as sincerely endeavor to imitate the great Shepherd, in the following respects:
Jesus Christ was a faithful minister, the "faithful and true witness." Rev. 1:5. He declared the whole mind of God to men. Of him it was prophetically said, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness, and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” Psa. 40:10. To the same sense, and almost in the same words, the apostle Paul professed, "I have kept back nothing that was profitable unto you," "I have showed you all things." Acts, 20:20, 35. Not that every faithful minister, in course of his ministry, anatomizes the whole body of truth, and fully expounds and applies each particular to the people; but with respect to those doctrines which they have opportunity of opening, they do not, out of fear, or to accommodate and secure base, low ends, withhold the mind of God, or so corrupt and abuse his words as to subject truth to their own, or other men's lusts: "They preach not as pleasing men, but God.” 1 Thess. 2: 4. "For if we yet please men, we cannot be the servants of Christ.”
Gal. 1:10. Truth must be spoken, though the greatest on earth be offended.
Jesus Christ was a tender-hearted minister, full of compassion to souls. He was sent to bind up the broken in heart. Isa. 61:1. He grieved at the hardness of men's hearts. Mark, 3 : 5. He mourned over Jerusalem, and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! how oft would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings!” Matt. 23 : 37. His bowels yearned when he saw the multitude as sheep having no shepherd. Matt. 9 : 36. This tender compassion of Christ must be in all the under shepherds. "God is my witness,” says one of them, "how greatly I long after you all, in (or after the pattern of) the bowels of Christ Je. sus." Phil. 1:8. He that shows a hard heart, unaffected by the dangers and miseries of souls, can never show a commission from Christ to authorize him for ministerial work.
Jesus Christ was a laborious, self-denying minister: he put a necessity on himself to finish his work in his day; a work infinitely great, in a very little time; "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day : the night cometh, when no man can work.” John, 9: 4. O how much work did Christ do in a little time on earth! "He went about doing good.” Acts, 10 : 38. He was never idle. When he sits down at Jacob's well, to rest him, being weary, presently he falls into his work, preaching the Gospel to the Samaritan woman. In this must his ministers resemble him ; " striving according to his working, that worketh in them mightily." Col. 1: 28, 29.
Jesus Christ delighted in nothing more than the success of his ministry; to see the work of the Lord prosper in his hand, this was meat and drink to him. When the seventy returned, and reported the success of their first embassy, "Lord, even the devils are subject to us through thy name !” he said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." As if he had said, You tell me no news, I saw it when I sent you at first : I knew the Gospel would succeed where it came ; "and in that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.” Luke, 10:17, 18, 21. And is it not so with those sent by him ? do not they value the success of their ministry? "My little children," saith Paul," of whom I travail again in birth, till Christ be formed in you.” Gal. 4 : 19.
Jesus Christ was a minister that lived up to his doctrine. His life and doctrine harmonized in all things. He urged to holiness in his doctrine, and was the great pattern of holiness in his life ; " Learn of me, I am meek and lowly.” Matt. 11 : 29. And such his ministers desire to approve themselves; "What ye have heard and seen in me, do.” Phil. 4 : 9. He preached to their eyes as well as ears. His life was a comment on his doctrine. They might see holiness acted in his life, as well as hear it sounded by his lips. He preached the doctrine, and lived the application.
Jesus Christ was a minister that maintained sweet, secret communion with God in all his constant public labors. If he had been preaching and healing all the day, yet he would redeem time from his very sleep to spend in secret prayer; " When he had sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray, and was there alone. Matt. 14 : 23. O blessed pattern! Let the keepers of the vineyards remember they have a vineyard of their own to keep, a soul of their own that must be looked after as well as other men's. Those that, in these things, imitate Christ, are surely sent to us from him, and are worthy of double honor: they are a choice blessing to the people.
OF CHRIST'S PROPHETICAL OFFICE.
ILLUMINATION OF THE UNDERSTANDING.
" Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand
the Scriptures.”—Luke, 24 : 45.
Knowledge of spiritual things is well distinguished as intellectual and practical: the first has its seat in the mind, the latter in the heart. This latter, divines call a knowledge peculiar to saints; and, in the apostle's language, Phil. 3:8, it is, " The excellency of the knowledge of Christ." And indeed there is but little excellency in all those petty notions which furnish the lips with discourse, unless by a sweet and powerful influence they draw the conscience and will to the obedience of Christ. Light in the mind is necessarily antecedent to the sweet and heavenly exercise of the affections: for the further any man stands from the light of truth, the further he must needs be from the warmth of devotion. Heavenly quickenings are begotten in the heart, while the Sun of righteousness sheds the beams of truth into the understanding ; yet all the light of the Gospel spreading and diffusing itself in the mind, can never savingly open and change the heart, without another act of Christ upon it described in the text : " Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures.” In which words we have,
1. Christ's act upon their understandings : He "opened their understandings." By understanding is not here meant the mind only, in opposition to the heart, will, and affections, but these were opened by and with the mind. The mind is to the heart, as the door to the house : what comes into the heart, comes in through the understanding; and although truths sometimes go no further than the entry, and never penetrate the heart, yet, here, this effect is undoubtedly included.
Expositors consider this expression as parallel to that in Acts, 16 : 14, " Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened.” And it is well observed, that it is one thing to open the Scriptures, that is, to expound them, and give the meaning of them, as Paul is said to do, Acts, 28 : 23, and another thing to open the mind, or heart. There are, as a learned man truly observes, two doors of the soul barred against Christ; the understanding, by ignorance ; and the heart, by hardness: both these are opened by Christ. The former is opened by the preaching of the Gospel, the other by the internal operation of the Spirit. The former belongs to the first part of Christ's prophetical office, opened in the foregoing discourse; the latter, to that special internal part of his prophetical office, which is to be opened in this.
That it was not a naked act upon their intellect, but that both their minds and hearts were touched by this act of Christ, is evident by the effects mentioned, ver. 52, 53, “ They returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” It is confessed, that before this time Christ had opened their hearts by conversion ; and this opening is therefore to be understood in reference to those particular truths, in which, till now, they were not sufficiently informed, and so their hearts could not be duly affected with them. They were very dark in their apprehensions of the death and resurrection of Christ, and consequently their hearts were sad and dejected about that which had befallen him, verse 17. But when he opened the Scriptures and their understandings and hearts together, things appeared with another face, and they returned, blessing and praising God.