תמונות בעמוד

ter represent the labours by which his disciples should accomplish the designs of their ministry, in gathering men into the gospel kingdom of righteousness and peace.

After his resurrection, Jesus held a most interesting conversation with Peter, who thrice denied him on the memorable night in which he was betrayed. By the sea of Tiberius, after the disciples had refreshed themselves with food, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, yea Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, feed my lambs. He saith again unto him the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, yea Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, feed my sheep. He faith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep.

And in his last, his farewell charge to his disciples, the Saviour said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have coinmanded you: And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, Amen."

These instructions, which were given to the Apostles, clearly set forth the nature of the work to which it is the duty of a christian minister to attend.

2dly, According to promise, we may now notice the occasion and peculiar character of the reproach which faithfulness in the gospel ministry is sure to provoke, from those for whose benefit it is designed. That we may avoid embarrassment, by keeping at a distance from the superstitions of our own times, we may begin this inquiry ly asking what

occasioned the reproaches which were suffered by Christ and his Apostles? Never was a teacher more reviled, never was one more reproached, than was the blessed Jesus himself, And what seems as the most peculiar trạit in the character of that enınity, which was so much excited and brought into action by him who spake as never man spake, is that it became the most pungent, and put on its worst rage, at those benevolent acts, which were the most evident marks of the divine power and goodness. That astonishing miracle, which gave sight to a man who was born blind, elicited from the enemies of Jesus their most careful scrutiny. They first contended that this man had not been blind; and to make it out that he had not, they called his parents to testify respecting the fact. They held over the parents the dreadful lash of excommunication; having established an ordinance, that if any should have the temerity to confess Christ openly, they should be cast out of the synagogue. They would be willing to allow people the rights of the synagogue, who believed in Jesus, if they would be hypocrites and deny him. But the parents were cautious enough to elude their wicked designs, and told them that their son, was truly born blind; but as he was of age to answer for himself, respecting the means by which he had received sight, they might put their questions to him. Having learned from the man himself, that it was Jesus who had bestowed on him this inestimable favour, they replied, "Give God the glory; as for this man, we know he is a sinner."

When their vigilant enemies were convinced, by occular demonstration, that Jesus had cast out a most inveterate demon, they blasphemously asserted that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils, Simon, the Pharisee, perhaps with an intention to draw a teacher who was so much followed by the people, away from wicked company, invited Jesus to his house to dine. But he had not been there but a short

time, when sinful Mary came and washed his feet with her tears of penitence, and wiped them with her hair. This indulgence of Jesus provoked reproach. Simon said, "If this man were a prophet, he would know what manner of woman this is, for she is a sinner.” Jesus was reproached for being a friend to publicans and sinners; of receiving sinners and eating with them; of going to be a guest with sinners.

It is very possible that the query arises in the mind of the hearers, what was the cause of this eninity, and of these reproaches? This is the subject of the present inquiry; and you have the substance of the answer in our text. The same "rock of offence” which procured the reproach of the Apostles, was that which excited the religious Jews to reproach their master. St. Paul, in our text, says, “Because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men.” If Jesus had told the Pharisees and Scribes, the elders and doctors of the law, that God was their Father and Saviour, but that his wrath and displeasure rested on the rest of mankind, they would never have reproached him. He might have wrought his miracles of mercy on those who belonged to their orders, without giving them the least offence. But the indiscriminate benevolence of his grace they abhorred. The doctrine which he preached, was equally as offensive as were his miracles. This doctrine, which commends our heavenly Father as the Saviour of all men, we learn most clearly from such instructions as the following: “It hath been said, thoii shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sunt to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." If we must love our enemies, that we may be like our heaven

ly Father; and if, to be like him, we must do good to those who hate us, is it possible to avoid the conclusion that God is the Saviour of all ?

The christian ministry, being opposed to that immense mass of error which the religious Jews had imbibed, and of those wicked traditions by which they made void the law of God, could not fail to bring on its votaries the enmity and cruelty of those whose errors and traditions it opposed. But had the gospel been as partial as were the creeds of men, then would there have been no offence.

What we see in our own times, fully confirms the arguments here laid down. The revival of the apostolic doctrine, which teaches us to trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and the labours which have been devoted to advance the light and knowledge of this doctrine, have received, in our day, no better reception, among a people whose creeds have limited the favour of our heavenly Father, than did the same doctrine among the Pharisees and Scribes, in the days of Christ and his Apostles. And it is abundantly worthy of notice, that the reproaches which are cast on the promulgators and professors of this blessed doctrine, in our times, are of a similar character to those which indicated the spirit of the Pharisee in former times. The parable of the elder brother of the prodigal was designed, by the Saviour, to represent the moral condition of his enemies. Because the father had kindly received the penitent, and because there were indulgences of joy suited to the happy occasion, the elder brother was angry, and would not consent to join in the felicities of the happy family. The father's kind 'entreaties and expostulations, in room of softening his hard heart, only drew forth most bitter reproaches. "Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends; but as soon as this thy

son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”

Here we have the subject of our inquiry plainly laid before us. The peculiar character of this reproach appears in the words of the elder son to his father. This reproach accuses the father of being more kind, and granting greater favour to his son, who had lived a wicked and profligate life, than to him who had so faithfully served him, as never to have transgressed his command. This is surely the same reproach which is now brought against our labours, which are designed to persuade men to trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all. The angry son, in the parable, did not reproach his father for not being willing that he should partake of the fated calf with his brother, for this was the very thing to which the father endeavoured, without success, to persuade him. The reproach embraced two accusations1st. The father had not in times past suitably recompensed his faithful services; and, 2d. He had shown an unjustifiable kindness to the wicked. Now this is precisely the amount of all the reproach which, in our times, is urged against the blessed doctrine of the salvation of all men. The Pharisees of the present day contend that in this life the righteous are not recompensed. They attend to arduous duties which yield them not a kid to make merry with their friends; and if their neighbours, who here live at ease, and seldorn pay tithes of mint, annis and cummin, are to be received to everlasting favour hereafter, when mortality shall put on immortality, and death shall be swallowed up of life, then it is evident that our heavenly Father shows more kindness to the wicked than to the righteous. Thus they speak against God, thus they reproach the most High.

It is very possible that while we are now attending to this subject, there may be some present, who are unable to see why the elder son had not

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