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for the poor and needy; who would never stoop to write a letter for a menial domestic; who treat their servants no better than brutes -and often not half so well.
Do we lay too much stress upon this cir
But servants should be considered as fellow-creatures and as humble friends. It is a scandal to a Christian, to suffer a servant to cumstance?-The salvation of one soul, the soul of a poor slave, is an event of far greater importance than the deliverance of a nation from civil bondage. "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." Besides, Onesimus became a minister; the Apostle speaks of him as such in his epistle to the Colossians: Ignatius, in his epistle to the Ephesians, speaks of him as pastor of their church immediately after Timothy: and the Roman martyrology assures us that he was stoned to death in Rome under the reign of Trajan the emperor. There he entered a state of grace, and there also he entered a state of glory! How WODderful! At one time this man was there a wicked fugitive slave-and a few years after a preacher of the Gospel, a martyr for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ!
leave his house unable to read. Are you not to do good as you have opportunity? Shall we call that contemptible which God deigns to honour? Did not He who made thee in the womb make them? Has he not endued the low-born child, the beggar, the slave, with a portion of reason and immortality? Are they not the care of his providence? Are they not the purchase of the Saviour's blood? And has he not assured us that "it is not the will of our Heavenly Father, that one of these little ones should perish?"
known "in the palace," and we read of "saints even in Cæsar's household." And, Onesimus! you will have reason to bless God for ever for his confinement and imprisonment there!
Secondly. Let us learn how impossible it is to hinder the work of God: or frustrate the purposes of his grace.-"Whom I have begotten in my bonds." Nothing comes to pass by chance. What appears to be chance among men is nothing less than the providence of God permitting, appointing, arranging, overruling all events. "He doth according to his own will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou? His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure." And what a complication of occurrences and circumstances sometimes enters into the execution of his design: some of them apparently inconsistent with it, others seemingly subversive of it! But he grasps and guides them by an unerring hand: he harmonizes them and gives them a unity of tendency they reach their end: none of them are superfluous; none of them could be spared. The very wrath of man praises him, and the remainder of it he restrains. Can a man stop the rolling tide? Can heren unto Abraham." retard the progress of the sun? The cause of God is in motion and will crush every obstacle. Nor is this all-he makes opposition an advantage: his enemies intend one thing and he another; and they serve an interest they despise and labour to repress: their schemes fulfil his plan; he turns them from their natural currents into secret channels prepared to receive them, and in which they flow along into "the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
Paul, persecuted in Judea, is driven to Rome. But though he "suffers as an evil doer, even unto bonds, the word of God is not bound." In these bonds he did wonders. His sufferings turned out to the furtherance of the Gospel. There he wrote many of his epistles. There he re-animated the timid by his example. He filled the capital with the savour of the Redeemer's knowledge. How many were called by his instrumentality we know not; but we find that his name was
Thirdly. Therefore let us learn to despair of none of our fellow-creatures. Whatever time has elapsed; whatever means have been useless; whatever lengths a man has run, let us encourage ourselves with this thought, that other seasons may prove more favourable-that other instruments may prove more successful-that he is not gone beyond the reach of the divine arm; of the mercy of God to pardon; of the grace of God to change and sanctify.
This observation is for you, O parent, whose heart is bleeding over those undutiful and ungodly offspring, who despise your authority, your prayers, and your tears. "God is able, even of these stones, to raise up chil
This observation is for you, O minister, whose sabbath-day evenings are imbittered by the exclamation, "Lord, who hath believed our report!"-who are looking with despondency on that hearer who, after all your faithful warnings, is rejecting the counsel of God against himself. The desire of his eyes may be torn from him. Sickness may recall him from the wanderings of health. He may go into a new neighbourhood; he may meet with very different companions; he may hear another preacher; and he may so hear as that his soul may live. Is any thing too hard for the Lord? He can vary his means. His resources are endless. We are prone to give up characters too soon. Persons have been considered as abandoned of God at the very time he was going to dis play his power and the riches of his grace in their conversion.
This observation is for you, O sinner, who have to this hour been unhappy, or rather
criminal enough to live without God in the | Abraham by faith; "I will bless thee and world, but now that you feel a willingness to thou shalt be a blessing." return, are concluding that it will be in vain. Finally. We remark that our being useNo. "There is hope in Israel concerning ful does not depend upon our abilities and this thing." And "where sin has abounded, station. See Onesimus-a slave-profitable grace shall much more abound. That as sin-even to such men as Philemon and Paul hath reigned unto death, even so might grace-profitable to "thee and me." It is with reign through righteousness unto eternal life the community as it is with the body. "The by Jesus Christ our Lord." body is not one member but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you." Thus we behold in the world and in the church, difference of rank, of office, of talents; but there is a connexion between the whole, and a dependence arising from it. And from this none are exempted; even "the king is served by the labour of the field."
Every man, whatever be his condition and circumstances, is of some importance in society-and we should labour to impress our minds with this reflection—especially in three
Fourthly. Conversion makes a man useful." Who was in time past unprofitable, but is now profitable." This is the case with every regenerate sinner. To render us profitable is the design of religion, and it is easy to see that it must be the effect of it. Religion is social and diffusive. According to our Saviour's language, the possessors of divine grace are the salt of the earth to keep it from corruption. They are the lights of the world to keep it from darkness; and this light is not to be concealed "under a bushel," but to be fixed "on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house." And their light is "so to shine before men, that they may see their good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven." The talents they receive from God look beyond themselves. The blessings they enjoy they are to communicate. They are to "comfort others with the comforts wherewith they themselves are comforted of God." Of their fortune they are only stewards, not owners. -They are commanded to "bear one another's burdens." And even in their prayers they are taught brotherly love-they are to plead for others as well as for themselves; they are to say, "our Father-forgive us our trespasses; and give us this day our daily bread." Divine grace never leaves us as it finds us. It produces a change the most wonderful and glorious and beneficial. "The ! wolf also dwells with the lamb: and the leopard lies down with the kid and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child leads them. Instead of the thorn comes up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier the myrtle-tree. The wilderness and solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
Divine grace destroys those vices by which we are injurious to others. For the best charity I can exercise towards my fellowcreatures, says a good man, is to leave off sinning myself. It subdues the selfishness which is so common to our depraved nature; it enlivens and expands the affections; it leads us to rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. It teaches and enables us to act with propriety in every capacity and relation in life. Every company and neighbourhood is the better for us: we are as "a dew from the Lord." And thus the promise is fulfilled in every child of
Let us remember it-when we are in danger of pride and disdain with regard to any of our fellow-creatures. The idol you adore is not every thing, and the wretch you despise is something. Perhaps he is more necessary to you than you are to him.
Let us remember it-when discouraged from exertion. Oh! if I had such opportunities and means, I would serve my generation. But if great faculties were necessary, they would be more frequently bestowed. Situations calling for ten talents are rare-those which require five are more common-but those which demand only one are to be found every where and every day. And in nothing are we so likely to be mistaken as in such conclusions. He that is not faithful in little," has no reason to believe that he would be "faithful in much."
We should also remember it-when we are tempted to do good in unlawful ways. What I mean is this. Some suppose that they can only be useful in such a particular station or office, and hence they are ready to leave their present condition to rush into it. But, says the Apostle, "Let every man abide in the calling in which he is called of God." Things are so constituted, that if any man wishes to do good, he may do it in the circumstances in which he is placed; he has some influence. For instance-and to refer to the case before us-are you a servant? Jacob
was a servant, and Laban, his master, said, | the firmest basis of morality: secure God's claims and you will not miss your own.
Let this influence those who have companions to choose; and also those who have connexions to form. Oh! young man, "fa. vour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." Oh! young woman, devote thyself to nothing profane, sceptical, irreligious; marry, but "only in the Lord."
"I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for thy sake." Joseph was employed by Potiphar, "and it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field." Hence, says the Apostle to Titus, "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." And hence he says to Timothy, "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed." Here we see how much depends upon Christian servants: they may either recommend their religion or disgrace it. For the people of the world are not quite so blind as we sometimes suppose them to be: although incapable of entering into Christian experience, they can estimate the value of principles, by the goodness of their effects. And what can they think of the gospel, if the professors of it are as bad, or even worse than others; inattentive to the duties of their places, idle, gossippers, busy-bodies, heady,
Secondly. If religion be profitable to others, it is much more so to ourselves. It sanctifies all our mercies. It sweetens all our trials. It teaches us "in whatever state we are, therewith to be content." "Its ways are pleasantness. Its paths are peace." "Yea, it is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
insolent, unfaithful to their trust? On this principle, I am sorry to say, that there are some who have expressed a determination to have nothing more to do with religious servants. But they surely mean servants who are religious only in pretence-who raise hopes by their profession, which they disappoint by their practice-and thus cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of:-for as to those servants who are really religious, they must be better than others-they must be "profitable."
Let us therefore conclude with two reflections.
First. If religion renders people, in all situations, valuable and useful, how deserving is it of encouragement! Let therefore all unite together to promote it.
Let governors and magistrates promote it. This is the way to have good subjects and citizens. Innumerable are the advantages which communities derive from it in civilizing, restraining, and sanctifying mankind. Human laws cannot extend far enough, in a thousand cases interesting to the peace and welfare of a nation. They can never reach the heart. But religion lays hold of the conscience, and places a man, even when alone, under the eye of God, and in sight of endless happiness or wo.
Let masters of families promote it in their households. This is the way to have obedient servants, and dutiful children. Piety is
No wonder therefore it should be called wisdom, and that Solomon should speak of it as he does. "Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding."
THE CURE OF BLIND BARTIMEUS.
And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh
unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth pass eth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? and he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight. thy faith hath saved thee. And immediate ly he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God.-Luke xviii. 35-43.
To read the Scriptures superficially will not answer the purpose of a man who is desirous of being made "wise unto salvation." He will peruse them with reverence, he will explore them with diligence, and feel all anxious and prayerful to have the end for which they were given realized in his own experience. And what is this end? The Apostle tells us. "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learn ing, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope."
Our Saviour made every misery he beheld his own. "He took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." As he moved from place
to place, he restored friends to the bereaved, and health to the diseased. He raised the dead. He made the lame to leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing. He gave ears to the deaf, and eyes to the blind. These things, even in a temporal view, cannot fail of exciting in us a sympathetic joy with the poor wretches who received relief, and adoring praise to the Author of their deliverance; but as intended to convey spiritual instruction, they acquire additional importance. For if these miracles are not to be considered as types, they furnish us with illustrations in explaining the disorders and cure of the mind.
Let us therefore review the circumstances of the history before us-and endeavour to derive some useful admonitions from it.
behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." And so here: "It came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side begging." Was then, you may ask, was his finding these objects accidental or designed? Unquestionably designed. He was not taken by surprise. He saw the end from the beginning. His plan was formed; and he was working all things after the counsel of his own will." But he would show us that he is master not only of events, but of occasions, and of circumstances; and that though these cireumstances appear loose, irregular, and contingent to us, they subserve his pleasure, and all occur in their proper time and place. Thus the bow "drawn at a venture," carried the arrow which fulfilled the purpose and the word of God in the death of the king of Israel.
The subject of the miracle was "a blind man." We are not informed whether he was born blind, or whether the calamity had befallen him by disease or accident. This however was his melancholy condition; and a more pitiable one perhaps cannot be found. It is worthy of compassion even when found in circumstances of affluence and ease-but how much more so when it is attended with indigence and want! And this was the additional affliction of blind Bartimeus-" He sat by the way-side begging.' Poor people should be thankful to God for the preservation of their limbs and senses. If they have no patrimony nor independence, they can labour; and while they have hands and eyes, they should scorn habits of beggary. But the helpless are not to starve; nor are we indiscriminately to reject every application we meet with upon the road.-Though, blessed be God, there is less need of this in our highly-favoured land than in most other countries, owing to the legal provision made in all our parishes for the poor and needy who are unable to gain a subsistence by labour.
One of the characters of our Saviour's miracles was publicity. Impostors require secresy and darkness. There have been miracles designed to delude the ignorant and credulous but where have they been manufactured? In cells, convents, and deserts. Before whom have they been performed? A few selected, interested witnesses. But says our Saviour, In secret have I done nothing. He wrought his miracles in the face of day; in the most open and exposed situations; before crowds of spectators; and among whom were found not only the curious, but malicious. Thus he recovered this man before a multitude in the high way, and close to the city of Jericho.
Several of our Saviour's miracles seem to have been unintentional. Thus it is said, "As he entered a certain village, there met him ten men, that were lepers, who stood afar off." Thus again we read, that "when he came nigh to the gate of the city of Nain,
The occurrence, however, was casual to Bartimeus himself; and when he rose in the morning, and was led forth by some friendly hand to the place where he was accustomed to beg, little did he imagine that before the evening he should obtain his sight, and be walking at the distance of some miles from home without a guide! This was the most successful of all his begging days. Boast not; despair not-of to-morrow, for thou knowest not, either as to evil or good, what a day may bring forth.
Imagine him then sitting under the shadow of some hedge or tree, against the side of the road-listening to apprehend if any travellers were approaching, of whom he might ask a small pittance of alms. For though he could not see, he could hear-this was an allevia tion of his distress; and it has been remarked, that scarcely ever was there an instance of a man being naturally both blind and deaf. And in many cases we find the loss of one sense in some measure made up by the greater perfection of another. Blind people are generally very quick of hearing; as may be observed by those who visit their asylums. Well, while musing-a noise strikes him, and the sound draws nearer and nearer. He asks what it means-and being told that "Jesus of Nazareth was passing by"—he cried, saying, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me! Though I am not deserving, my case is distressing. O pity me. O help me!"
But whenever was it known that a poor suppliant met with no hinderance in coming to the Deliverer for mercy? "They which went before rebuked him that he should hold his peace." From what principle could this proceed? Knowing that silver and gold the master had none, did they suppose that he was clamorous for alms? Did they conclude that his entreaties would be deemed noisy and troublesome? Did they deem him beneath the Saviour's notice, and suppose that the Son of David would have nothing to do
with him? Alas! they discovered too little tenderness themselves, and were too little acquainted with their Lord and Saviour, who never did and never will consider such importunity unreasonable or presumptuous; And what would be the feelings of this never did and never will break a bruised man as soon as he received sight! O what reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Nor was joy, what ecstasy, what gratitude, would he Bartimeus to be discouraged. He felt wisely. discover! How would he look, and gaze"This is my opportunity, and it may never all things are become new!-But the first return. I have addressed thousands who object upon which he would fasten his eyes could give me bread-but never did I meet would be his Benefactor and Deliverer. He with one before who could give me eyes. would admire-and weep-and adore-and And, oh! in a moment he will be out of hear-kneel-and arise-and resolve never to leave him. Thus the man lame from his mother's womb no sooner received strength in his feet and ancle-bones than he, "leaping up, stood and walked, and entered" with his deliverer "into the temple-walking-and leapingand praising God:" how exquisitely natural is all this! But what follows is no less so: it is said-"The lame man which was healed held Peter and John, while all the people ran together unto them, in Solomon's porch :" he held them, grasping their hands or their garments-it was a grasp of affection-of gratitude-perhaps also of fear, lest the malady should return, and he should not be near those who alone could cure him.
ing-and when may he pass by again? He cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me!'"
Such a cry arrests our Lord in his journey; he cannot take another step-"He stood." What cannot prayer do? Once the sun of nature stood still at the desire of Joshua, who was eager to complete his victory. And, lo! now, "the Sun of righteousness" stands still, with "healing under his wings," at the desire of Bartimeus, who begs a cure. "He stood." And has thereby taught us never to think it a hinderance in our journey to pause to do good. To do good is our chief business; and to this every thing else is to be rendered subordinate and subservient. "And commanded him to be brought." By this circumstance he administered reproof and instruction. Reproof-by ordering those to help the poor man who had endeavoured to check him; instruction by teaching us that though he does not stand in need of our help, he will not dispense with our services; that we are to aid each other; that though we cannot re-into them by degrees; the man cannot meacover our fellow-creatures, we may frequently sure distances, nor judge with accuracy; and bring them to the place and means of cure. he is not fit to be left to himself. But it is said, our Lord, “did all things well." His manner distinguished him-the man saw at once clearly: and was able to conduct himself. Secondly, it was an improvement of the greatness of the mercy. "I can never," says he, "discharge my obligations to such a gracious and almighty friend. But let me devote myself to his service-let me continually ask, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
So here: as soon as Bartimeus received sight from the Lord Jesus, "he followed him in the way, glorifying God." We may view this two ways. It was first an evidence of the reality and perfection of the cure. In other cases where human skill has removed blindness by couching-the restored orbs cannot be immediately used; light is admitted
From the narrative thus explained, I would take occasion to bring forward FOUR ADMONITIONS.
And the First is this. BE PERSUADED THAT YOU ARE ALL SPIRITUALLY IN THE CONDITION OF BARTIMEUS-and that without divine illumination, you are no more qualified for the concerns of the moral world than a blind man is for those of the natural world. It may be as difficult as it is important to convince persons of this truth. For "vain man would be wise, though he be born like a wild ass's colt ;" and inany, like the offended Pharisees, ask-"Are we blind also?" But to the law and to the testimony. There is no image under which the Scripture more commonly holds forth our natural condition than blind
Our Saviour is acquainted with all our sins, but he requires us to confess them; he understands all our wants, but he commands us to acknowledge them; he is always graciously affected towards our case, but he would have us properly affected with it ourselves. He knew the desire of this man-the case was too plain to be mistaken-but he would know it from himself; and therefore when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee!-And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee." Wherein did this man's faith appear? I answer, in his confession-calling him the Messiah, and Jesus, the son of David: and also in his application -for had he not believed in his power as able, and in his goodness as willing, to succour and relieve him-he would not have addressed himself so earnestly to him. Thus his faith honoured Christ, and Christ honoured his faith. Thus his faith excited prayer, and prayer brought him relief. Thus his faith produced a unity of design and a correspondence of disposition between the giver and the
receiver, the agent and the subject, the physician and the patient. It is in this way that so much is ascribed in the Scriptures to the influence of faith.