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refuse to acknowledge even the claims and ties of nature in a case where they came in competitition with fidelity in the Lord's service.
The mind engrossed by those transcendant realities which the Word of God reveals to the meek, cannot be other than humble; applause and popularity are disclaimed by that man“ whose praise is not of men but of God,”—and the children of God can only honour in you that which honours God-His moral image.
It is in having daily recourse to the armoury from which the prophets and apostles were supplied, together with watchfulness against the wiles of the tempter,—and prayer to be delivered from them, that you shall stand fast in the estate of sonship and allegiance to which you are called.
Thus only shall you overcome” the insidious proffers, and the secret and open attacks of the adversary of your King and Kingdom.
That you may more and more glorify His Name, who hath called you out of darkness unto His marvellous light, seeking as your supreme happiness to do His will with an eye single to His glory-and that after“ turning many to righteousness” here, you may hereafter shine as a star in that Kingdom wherein dwelleth Righteousness, is the earnest prayer
of your affectionate father in Christ and I your servant for Christ's sake,
B. A. S.
The disclosure of future events, combined with a practical bearing on the circumstances and condition of the persons to whom they were addressed characterize the parables of our Lord. His all-pervading Wisdom and Knowledge, wrapt up in the imagery which analogy supplied, the deep counsels of God, while the future pointing and application of the advice which he gave to his last disciples (who should live and testify in these times), is wound up in the practical improvement of these prophetic discourses to his immediate hearers. The whole of His teaching on the Mount, comprehending from the 5th to the 8th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, is an illustration of this remark. From the 13th verse to the end of the 7th chapter, is peculiarly striking; but this is better to be understood in its connection with the piece of harmony of which it forms the conclusion.
Our Lord begins his discourse by shewing what sort of characters shall enter the Kingdom to come, where His Father's will shall be done on Earth as in Heaven; he shews that not the self-sufficient, but the docile and teachable shall enter therein; not they that rejoice at the absence of the good shepherd, but those who lament and mourn in consequence of that absence shall be comforted at His appearing. That it is not the fierce leaders of religious factions, but the meek who shall inherit the earth;
not those who hunger and thirst after classical or scientific knowledge, or fame, or patronage, or gain, but after Righteousness, that shall be filled with good things, when these shall be sent empty away.
That it is not the persecuting zealot, but the merciful who shall obtain mercy; not the men of strife, but the peacemakers who shall be called children of God; not the persecuted for the defence of opinion, or of gifts, but for Righteousness’ sake, who shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The synchronical expression of “ inherit the Earth” and
Kingdom of Heaven,” is explained in the 6th chapter and 10th verse, where the Will of the Father being done on Earth as it is in Heaven, constitutes the renewed Earth, the heavenly residence of His glory; and at this consummation the Seraphim were by the Prophet heard to exclaim, shrouding their faces with their wings, their thrice holy praise to Jehovah, because then the whole earth is filled with His glory. Our Lord enjoins His disciples, by doing those good things which the Pharisees only taught, to enter in at the straight gate which leadeth to Life. This is finely expressed in the Revelations.
6 Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of Life,” &c. Or as our Lord said to the young man, “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," one of which was, that he should hear that Prophet who spake the Words of God, and leaving all, follow Him as the evidence of faith in His mission. He admonished practically, and especially prospectively, to beware of false prophets, who assume the exterior semblance of sanctity, while their hearts are full of selfish feeling. He selects thorns and thistles, the production of the ground which yielded them, as the emblem of transgression, and its curse, and asks, if it would be reasonable to expect figs
or grapes, the fruits of a cultivated soil, from these relics of the fall.
The inference is, they who have the Law of God written in their heart, under the covenant of grace, will bring forth the fruits of the Spirit; while those who graft faith in Christ on a liberty to think and act of their own will, bring forth evil fruit. Their religion is will-worship, a zeal “ to do those things which they ought not to have done, and to leave undone those things which they ought to have done.” Very awful is the illustration of this from our Lord's own mouth, “ Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (or taught) in thy name ? and in thy name cast out devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you ; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken unto a wise man, who built his House upon a Rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that House, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a Rock : and every man that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, I will liken him unto a foolish man, who built his House upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that House, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Here our Supreme Teacher instructs us as a prophet ; for as he had his eye on the desolation of Jerusalem and her Sanctuary, when he shed prophetic tears over its fall, so now he intimates the elemental and political strife which shall conspire with the internal corruption of her state and character to effect the irremediable subversion of this Roman empire, which he foresaw would exalt itself on a nominal and theoretical profession of faith in Him. A house on the sand
serves a temporary purpose; it is only in being tried by conflicting outward and inward causes that the treacherous nature of its foundation is discovered. Those who say Lord, Lord, in honour of the atonement or mediation of Christ, without doing the will of His Father, are by our Lord here associated with folly ; while they who do the will of the Father, being constrained thereto by a grateful sense of His atonement and mediation, are by Him accounted wise. In like manner the Lord spake by Daniel, “ They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
Let us enquire what almighty power was wielded by the man, Christ Jesus, during His sojourn amid trial and temptation. He wielded the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. It was the Light of the Law and the testimony by which he detected and rebuked Satan. “ The Law of God was in his heart, none of his steps could slide." His human body wanted bread to sustain it, but He felt at that moment of urgent need, the greater call which should be first attended to, in sustaining the inner man with the Words of God. Thus it was that angels came and ministered to nature's wants: well, therefore, could our Examplar say, “ Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness thereof, all other things shall be added unto you.”
“ It is written,” was in his hand the fiery sword which turned every way, to re-open the way to the Tree of Life. We are called to “prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” It is by the unerring standard of the Law and the testimony, that we are to prove and try what is good or evil; the good being assimilated with and the evil opposed to it. “ If they speak