« PreviousContinue »
Our Saviour gave an early promise of this devotedness to his calling in the remarkable answer to his mother — Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business. Throughout his course his zeal in the exercise of his ministerial functions was unwearied; and in the synagogue or abroad, he was always found acting consistently with the character he assumed. He hungered more to do the will of him that sent him and to finish his work, than to satisfy the wants of the body, to which as man in the infirmity of the flesh he was subject even as ourselves. When wearied with his journey,' and in want of seasonable refreshment, he yet entered with all his usual energy into his office of teacher, and laboured to dispel the misapprehensions which darkened the understanding of the woman that talked with him. This is a height of excellence to which man cannot soar, but it may be contemplated as a standard of imitation, and sought after with prayer to him who will proportion his strength to our weak
8 John, iv. 6.
And though the ministers of his ordinances cannot look for that high witness which Moses obtained, or hope to be accounted faithful in all their house, yet they may by God's grace so approve themselves as diligent dispensers of his word and sacraments, as finally to hear from their master and pattern that gracious eulogy- Well done, ye good and faithful servants; enter ye into the joy of
2. When Christ is considered as an Apostle, it obviously occurs to the mind, that in the person of the messenger we see in some measure. the very lineaments and moral representation of the almighty power from whom he was sent. The nature of the divinity itself to a certain extent stands revealed to our view; and though no man hath seen the Father at any time, yet through the medium of the Son, as just an idea is formed of the unapproachable Godhead as the understanding of man can receive.
In the conduct of human affairs an ambassador invested with authority to transact the
business of his principal, carries with him in his whole behaviour a deportment agreeable to the instructions of his superior ; he speaks in the language, and adopts the general character of the power whom he is commissioned to represent. We collect without difficulty from the pacific or warlike tone of his demeanour, whether the intentions of the party for whom he appears are conceived in a friendly or a hostile spirit.
Just such an ambassador is Christ between heaven and earth. We may gain a knowledge of the manner in which God regards mankind, from the character of him whom he sent from his bosom to propose terms of reconciliation to them. Under the old dispensation he appeared to the world as a jealous God,unapproachable by mortal presence,-shrouded in the semblance of a burning fire, and encompassed with the terrors of the storm and whirlwind,—whom none could see or hear, and live. But seen through the medium of Jesus, God is contemplated under a new character. He is no longer an avenging judge, exacting the penalties of the law, and demanding satisfaction for his offended justice; but a Father reconciled by an expiatory sacrifice of his own appointment, looking complacently on the renewed nature of his once lost children, and sending them through his son a message of pardon and love. Former revelations had unfolded much of the majesty and grandeur and awfulness of God; but the declaration made of him by Christ is one which, while it detracts nothing from his sublimity and power, invests him at the same time with all the gentler attributes of tenderness and mercy. Through the Apostle who has now again passed into the heavens, after discharging his appointed ministry, the characteristics of the divinity assume a new aspect; we see expressed in every trait of Christ's human nature compassion and long-suffering and love unspeakable; and we transfer in our 'reflections all these endearing qualities to that Father of whom the Son is pronounced to be the express image. Instead of the rod and the sword of his wrath, the cross is lifted up in token of redemption and salvation. Instead of a sentence of universal punishment,
inasmuch as all have come short of the glory of God, instead of that terrible reckoning for sin which awaited every inmate of a fallen world, we hear the Almighty speaking once again in terms of favour to his creatures—we receive from his lips an assurance of peace on earth and good will towards men,--and we look forward with confidence to the gracious pledge, that he who spared not his own son will also with him freely give us all things.
3. If Christ condescended to teach, that he might give his own sanction and authority to the dispensation how humbly should it be received, -- how implicitly venerated,-how dutifully obeyed. We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three wit