Page images
PDF
EPUB

have the advantage, so far as we can judge from the little that is known respecting the institution, of acquiring a competent knowledge of the Jewish law ; but their studies would not have qualified them for understanding such subjects as the true character of the Mosaic dispensation, or the spiritual meaning of the sacrifices and ceremonial observances. Like those of whom St. Paul prophecied as about to rise in the last days', though ever learning, they were never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Again, the disciples of John the Baptist would have obtained from the repeated warnings of their master a correct idea of the near approach of the kingdom of heaven, and of the necessity of repentance; but yet they were left totally ignorant of other things with which it highly imported them to be acquainted. They did not so much as know whether there were any Holy Ghost, and were slow to acknowledge

I 2 Tim. iii. 7.

that Christ was the Messiah who should come, though John bare express testimony to the fact .

But it is a special privilege attending our Lord's doctrine, that it embraces all useful knowledge, and unfolds new objects for meditation, in proportion as we obtain an insight into the first principles of divine truth. If we have begun to attend on Christ, our path will shine more and more unto the perfect day. For the inquirer whose soul is athirst for God, the stone is rolled away from the mouth of the well, and a fountain opened from whence springs up a never-failing source of refreshment. It was not any exclusive promise of some extraordinary communication granted to the chosen disciples, but it was to the Jews at large who believed, that Jesus said, Ye shall know the truth 3; a declaration which has been fulfilled in favour of those who are taught of God in all

ages. The

2

Acts, xix. 2. Matt, ii. 3.

3 John, viii. 32

spirit of truth guides them into all truth“. To them it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven ; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly s.

God's dealings with the Eastern Magi were analogous to his customary manner of opening and teaching the heart. All was gradual, and yet progressive. He placed in the heavens the appearance of a star; he attracted their attention to its course; he disposed them to follow its leading; he brought them onwards on their way in faith and hope, till they finally came where the young child was, to derive from the object of their admiration, even in his lowly

The argument is not materially impaired, even if we understand this text in the limited sense to which Lightfoot restricts it. “ The words in John, xvi. 13, are appropriate to the apostles. None ever were, or will be, whom God • led into all truth,' save the apostles. He leads indeed every saint he hath into all truth needful for him,-but the apostles into all truth needful, both for themselves and the whole church; because God, by them, was to give the rule of faith and manners to all the church."-Works, vol. v. 211.

$ Matt. xiii. 11, 12.

manger, new lights and a more excellent wisdom than that which they had hitherto cultivated. The very next revelation which was made to them was of a higher order; it was no longer by a star that they were directed, but they were warned by God in a dream to defeat the intentions of Herod, by returning to their country another way.

Such, too, is usually the progress of divine grace. Small in its beginnings, like a grain of mustard-seed, it gradually expands and strengthens ; and though while the day of small things lasts, we see as it were through a glass darkly, a blessing is shed on him who seeks humbly to know the truth, until the first glimmering of the star in the East brightens into the glorious light of the Sun of righteousness, and all the mercies of redemption are clearly displayed through the angel of the covenant.

The religious progress of Mary, as it may be traced in the concise narrative of the Evangelists, shews in another way how Christ gives his disciples grace for grace, and strength in proportion to their strength,-a gift which no other teacher could impart to his followers. We read of her, that she listened to our Lord's discourses with that diligent and humble attention which is described by the proverbial phrase of sitting at Jesus' feet'. Nor was it in vain that her eyes saw,

and her ears heard, and her heart pondered upon that wisdom which many prophets and kings under the old dispensation had desired to witness, had the fulfilment of their wish been consistent with the divine purposes. That pious and prophetic act of love which she soon afterwards performed in the house of Simon the leper, towards the person of him who had raised her brother, and which was to be spoken of as a memorial of her affection wheresoever the Gospel was preached, both showed how well she had chosen the better part, and how wisely she had profited in improving the advantages of her situation by drinking of the waters of the well of life at the fountain head”.

6 Luke, x. 39.

7 Matt. xxvi. 6-13.

« PreviousContinue »