« PreviousContinue »
subservient to falsehood ;-nor is it the zeal of the restless Fanatic, who “ compasses sea “ and land to make proselytes,” regardless of the means or qualifications by which to effect his purpose;—but it is a zeal, rational, soberminded, founded on that “ Wisdom from “ above,” which “is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy “and good fruits, without partiality, and with“out hypocrisya.” By this let our conduct still be guided, and the adversary will in vain assail us.
God's “faithfulness and truth will “ be our shield and bucklerb:" and the Prophet's encouraging assurance to his people of old, may, without presumption, be extended to every Church so conducting itself :-“ No
weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ; and every tongue that shall rise
against thee in judgment thou shalt con6 demn c.”
a James iii. 17.
b Psalm xci. 4.
c Isa. liv.
MATTHEW V. 13, 14.
lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? ...
AMONG the extraordinary features which characterize our Lord's Sermon upon
the Mount, none, perhaps, is more remarkable than the terms in which He speaks of the influence that His religion was destined to have upon
the interests of all mankind. Although the several qualities on which He had pronounced a blessing, and which He had inculcated as the distinguishing marks of His disciples, were such as seemed least likely to attract general admiration or notice, He distinctly states, that, by adopting them into their own conduct, they were to become instruments of purifying and enlightening the
a Preached in St. Nicholas Church, Newcastle, Sept. 3, 1829, for The Sons of the Clergy in the Diocese of Durham.
rest of the world. He addresses His followers as persons going forth, under His auspices, to impart knowledge, to work reformation, to preserve and perpetuate truth, virtue, and happiness, to the whole human race. He intimates that, through their means, the corruption and ignorance, the blindness and depravity, then universally prevalent, should eventually be dispersed; yielding to a more perfect apprehension of the real good of man.
_“ Ye are the salt of the earth,” to preserve it from error and corruption :-“Ye are the “ light of the world,” to shew it the way of righteousness and truth.—No images could more vividly represent the effect to be produced by the religion He then began to promulgate, or the duties thence resulting, to those by whom its profession should be embraced.
With this high and elevated tone of authority nothing that ever fell from mere mortal lips can worthily be compared. And when we consider to whom these exhortations were addressed, they become so much the more a subject of wonder and astonishment. To the people of Judæa, to a mixed multitude in no way distinguished from the most ordinary description of hearers ;— to citizens, moreover, of a state in subjection to a foreign
power, with no visible means of exercising influence beyond their own circumscribed territory; nor even there, in opposition to the ruling authorities ;-how marvellous must have seemed the invitation to adopt this new system, not for their own sake alone, but expressly with a view to the conversion and improvement of the world at large! Yet this in reality appears to be the purpose manifested throughout this memorable discourse, delivered on the very first opening of our Lord's commission. To this point tend those expositions of the Jewish moral law, which, far from annulling any one of its precepts, gave them (under a sanction not inferior to that of the law itself) such enlargement and extent as should adapt them to universal observance; applying them, moreover, to the inward affections and dispositions of the heart, no less than to the external conduct. To the same end are those injunctions which appear more immediately to originate with this heavenly Teacher himself; the warnings against hypocrisy and dissimulation, the exhortations to heavenly-mindedness, to simplicity and singleness of heart, to steadfastness of purpose,
and unshaken adherence to the truth. All these essentially discriminate the views of our Lord from those of mere human legis
lators; and prove the real scope and object of His discourse to have extended far beyond the circle to whom it was then addressed ; to have been designed for after-ages and far distant countries, even for “ as many as,” in due course of time, “the Lord our God should “ call” to the profession of the faith. So true was it in this, as in every other instance, that he“ spake as never man spake ;" with an authority which none but the Son of God could have assumed, without incurring the charge of arrogance and presumption.
It is a strong confirmation of our Lord's just pretensions to this exalted character, that these intimations, on His part, of the effect of His religion, have been most amply verified. The actual result of the dissemination of the Gospel throughout the civilized world attests, by evidence almost irresistible, the inspired foreknowledge, or, rather, the knowledge divinely inherent in Him, who was nevertheless “meek and lowly,” “ despised and re“jected of men;" — in Him, who, issuing forth from the obscure dwelling of humble parents, and the solitary recesses of the wilderness, commenced the functions of His high office with indications of majesty and power, only equalled by the mildness of His bearing, by the simplicity of His instructions, by the