Page images
PDF
EPUB

shall not be condemned : forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you ; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. Such is the conduct which becomes the children of God, who look up to Him as their Father, whose commands it is their bounden duty to obey. To talk of moral virtues to others, is much the same as to talk about objects of sight to a man who has been born blind. He may acknowledge what is said to be all very right, but he is incapable of entering into the subject. Until a man is made a partaker of the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he turns to God with all his heart,32 and looks

up

to Him as his father in Christ Jesus, and from love and gratitude desires to please Him ; the precepts of Divine revelation can have no hold

He may acknowledge their excellence, but he can feel no interest in them. He regards them only in their bearing upon society in general, and not as they respect God and himself. As for instance, he may observe that the man who is quick to pass censure upon others meets with the same treatment in return ; while he that is inoffensive and placable in his disposition, often meets with similar in

upon him. He

32 Joel ii. 12.

dulgence. He who is kind, and generous, and bountiful, will find others act towards him in the same way, should it be required. The highest aim to which the natural man rises, is, to do to others as he would desire they should do to him in similar circumstances.

But the true Christian will act upon a much higher and nobler principle than even this. As the mind of the natural man is set upon this world, in which all his desires and hopes center; so the mind of the child of God is set upon God and heaven, and the things which are above. When therefore, such precepts as these are laid before him, as the commands of his heavenly Father, he applies them to himself; and is ready to ask his own conscience, What is my disposition and conduct with regard to these matters? He knows that if the Judge of all the earth were to call him to account, he could not answer for one of a thousand of the charges that might be brought against him. His language is, If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?33 Being conscious that if judgment were laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, 34 he should be speechless before the just tribunal of the Most High; he therefore feels that it becomes him to be backward in judging of others, and slow in passing sentence of condemnation

upon

them;

33 Psalm cxxx. 3.

34 Isaial xxviii. 17.

35

and that he should rather be disposed to excuse even their culpable conduct, than hasty to censure them. And if he is sensible that his sins, which are many, have been forgiven him freely, he also feels that it becomes him to forgive his fellow-servants,

even though he should have received just cause of offence. For how light must the offences of others against us be, in comparison of ours against our good, and gracious, and most merciful Father. If, therefore, God has been kind and bountiful to us, we ought to show kindness to them that need it, according to our ability. If we have received great mercy and compassion from our heavenly Benefactor, we shall feel that it is our duty to show the same to others. Such is the manner in which the Christian will reason on these subjects. Being sensible that much has been forgiven him, he will love much ;36 and in proportion as the love of God abounds in his heart, its influence will be manifested in his life and conduct.

To illustrate this subject still further, our Lord spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. In this parable our Saviour seems to allude particularly to the Pharisees, whose doctrines and conduct He had been exposing. For He applied this description to them expressly at another time, They be blind leaders of the blind; and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.37 They were persons who were accustomed to be exceedingly censorious, having formed an extraordinarily high opinion of themselves, and holding allothers in the utmost contempt. This prevented them from receiving the instructions which our Lord Jesus Christ communicated. He therefore here intimated what would be the end of their self-confidence and ignorance; namely, the ruin both of themselves and of those who followed them. How needful is it that we should be careful whom we take for our guides in religion ; since there is such a thing as being led to destruction by those who are looked up to as spiritual guides. Our Saviour has told us how His servants are to be distinguished from others. Ye shall know them by their fruits.38 If the fruit of the Spirit, which is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,39 appear in their conduct, there is reason to regard them as having received their commission from Him; but if ungodliness mark their character, they prove to all around them that they are none of His.

35 Matthew xviii. 33.

36 Luke vii. 47.

We may also understand by this parable that something more than human teaching is

37 Matthew xv. 14.

38 Matthew vii. 16. 39 Ephesians v. 9.

needful in order to our salvation. As the learner cannot obtain more knowledge from his teacher, than the teacher is able to communicate, it must be highly important that we should seek Divine instruction, as well as that which is human. While then the word of God is explained by His ministers, those who hear it should pray earnestly for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, that it may be applied to their hearts and consciences, so that receiving heavenly wisdom from a Divine Instructor, they may be made wise unto salvation. If we have Him for our Teacher who is infinite in wisdom and knowledge, we shall attain to a more excellent knowledge than we can otherwise reach. Thus David was made wiser than his enemies ; had more understanding than all his teachers; and understood more than the ancients.40

If one is our Master, even Christ," it will be the business of our lives to imitate Him; and we shall find that we come so far short of His bright example, that we shall not have leisure to trouble ourselves in dwelling on the imperfections of others. Our Saviour asks, Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in

40 Psalm cxix. 98, 99, 100.

41 Matthew xxiii. 8.

« PreviousContinue »