« הקודםהמשך »
St. MATTHEW x. 7.
And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom
of Heaven is at hand.
AFTER our Saviour had chosen twelve men, whose names are told to us in the Holy Bible, he gave them directions what they should do. Some of these directions concerned themselves chiefly, and all such who preach the word: others may be of
behaviour and manner of living. You may remember that I told you the last time, that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to the Jews, first to teach them and to save them. But they rejected, despised, and afterwards crucified him. All, indeed, were not concerned in
this shocking, ungrateful conduct, but the greater part certainly were. Hence it is said, that he came unto his own, and his own received him not. However, while Jesus was upon earth, and before he ascended into Heaven, he taught his gospel to the Jews only. The mercy was first offered to them, though they put it away from them, and are to this day suffering for having done so. Accordingly, our blessed Lord commanded the twelve disciples to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The kingdom: has begun which our blessed Lord has come from Heaven to set upa kingdom, not like the kingdoms of this world,-a kingdom, which is made up of all the religious and the good, of all who repent of their sins, are baptized into the name of Christ and live like Christians, a kingdom,which will lead to eternal happiness in Heaven, where all, without regard of colour or to wealth, high and low,
bond and free, will hear from their Saviour these blessed words, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. This, however, will be said to those only, who hear his voice in this world, and who love and obey their Saviour, though they have not seen him with their eyes, nor heard him with their ears. What a voice was that, my friends, which was heard through the streets and through the roads, calling, entreating, advising, poor miserable sinners to confess their sins, to acknowledge their wretchedness, and come to Christ for pardon, for instruction, and for help. How must it have sounded in the ears of a people, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, think
ing only of the the things of this world, thinking little or not at all of the things of another world, which lasts for ever. As ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.
How could any one refuse to hear those, who did such wonderful things before them. Perhaps you will say, had we lived in the days of Christ, had we heard a voice preaching and saying, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand, a new religion has come down from God to man; had we seen the men, who thus spake, healing the sick by a word, raising the dead to life,
and casting out devils from people possessed by them, and raving like madmen, we should have fallen on our knees in a full sense how unworthy we were, and should have cried out, we will follow and obey you: teach us what to do, and we will do it: we have set our hearts on God, and we will seek bis favour through the Saviour of the world. We are thine, O Christ: receive us: cast us not away. You think perhaps that you would have said and acted thus; but perhaps you are mistaken. You would perhaps have done as the Jews did. Some would hear : others would set at 'nought the counsel of God for their good. What makes me say this is, that something like this is happening every day. There, in that desk before you, lies the Holy Bible, written, some of it, iby some of the very men, whose voice was heard in the streets of the Jews. Though dead, they yet speak to you. They tell you a great deal more than the voice said. They also tell how the sick were healed, the dead were raised, the poor were preached to. They lived as they taught: they died to prove the truth. Will ye not hear them? Will ye not do, as perhaps ye say, ye would have done? Rely on it, if your hearts are not right towards God, you would not hear and be saved, though the Saviour appeared before you in all his glory. After a few months you would forget him, and think no more of him. If your hearts are right towards God, you will love bim, though you see him not, you will love and believe in your Saviour, though you hear him not. You will love to hear those who tell you of him.