« ZurückWeiter »
that prompted his statements. Christianity is not a system thought out in a study, having all its parts placed in their logical relations. Were this the case, in the quiet study it could be learned ; but it is rather a record of certain statements addressed to certain classes of men according to their social and moral circumstances. If we would understand what it means, we must acquaint ourselves with these circumstances; we must make Judea the home of our minds; the path in which Jesus walked should be familiar to us in all its windings. We must be able to throw ourselves into the spirit of the age in which he lived, to understand those errors of the times that instigated his sufferings, engaged his attention, and drew forth his words. We must learn to identify ourselves with the various characters he addressed, to stand side by side with them, and look the teacher in the face while he speaks. Would you have his idea of worship, place yourselves by the side of the Samaritan woman whilst he enunciates the sublime truth "God is a spirit, and they who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Would you understand the spirituality of his claims, the respect which he has to the most hidden springs of action ? Bow before him with the young man who comes seeking eternal life, and hear him say, “Go and sell all thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven : and come, follow Me.” Would you get at his thoughts concerning moral timidity and unfaithfulness in the cause of truth? Enter the palace of Caiaphas ; stand by Peter, and catch the glance of that eye that broke the apostle's heart. Would you learn his idea of self-righteousness ? Stand by the proud pharisee whilst the terrible woes come thundering from his lips ? Would you ascertain his tender compassion for broken-hearted penitents ? Go into the house of Simon, prostrate yourselves before him with that woman who is washing his feet with her tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head; and listen to his touching words of love—“Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.”
3. Another rule to be observed in order to learn of Christ is, that you invoke the help of his Spirit; his Spirit lives to teach his system. This idea, so full of encouragement to the young enquirer, removes much of the supposed difficulty connected with the study, out of the way. He who is anxious to interpret the meaning, understand the principles, and to drink deep into the spirit of the system of Plato, or Newton, or Kant, or of any other departed author, will find no direct access to them for help; they are dead, they cannot be asked for any farther light into the principles of their philosophy. We may call on them in vain. “ There is no voice, neither any that answers.” But it is not so with the Author of the Gospel. Jesus ever lives, to open out to every enquirer the mysteries of his life, walk, death, and mediation. Why, then, when he invites you to learn of him, do you not pray that he would open your eyes to behold wondrous things out of his law. You are to learn of him
II. MORALLY - Christ is not a mere theoretical teacher, but a practical one; he teaches habits as well as ideas ; nay, he teaches ideas, in order that he may impart habits. A habit is a far more important thing than an idea. The Author of our nature intended that all our ideas should tend to the formation and growth of holy habits; men are constantly acquiring habits. Days may transpire without any accession to our ideas, but scarcely an hour without some accession to our habits-the old are confirmed, and new ones are superinduced.
Man requires moral as well as intellectual culture; he has spiritual sympathies which require to be schooled up to a sense of right and to the will of God. He needs right dispositions as well as true ideas, and these are to be obtained from Christ. To this he particularly refers in the text. “Learn of me,” not be. cause I am intellectually wise, but morally good—“ because I am meek and lowly of heart”—because I can give you a new disposition. It is not so much truth, as character, that you are to learn of Me-how to live according to the will of God.
This moral teaching of Christ is not thought so much of as the doctrinal. Many persons are very particular about their articles of faith who think but little about their principles of conduct, their moral life-which enfolds the heaven or the hell. They will read, study, argue, work, and fight for orthodoxy; whilst they cherish and exemplify a spirit which stands in contrast to the whole genius of Christiauity. The letter without the spirit is nothing-worse than nothing—“ it killeth.” Doctrinal knowledge, apart from the true spirit, will only increase a man's capacity for evil; swell his responsibilty, and irradiate his path to hell. Correct faith is only valuable as it is embodied in a right practice. A man is blessed, not for knowing the will of God, but for doing it. Christ came, not so much to give man a correct theology, as a holy character. Man might have derived a correct theology from other sources, but a holy character he could have only through the perfect model and mediatorial work of the Son of God.
Remember then, that Jesus is the teacher of the heart, and as such we are to learn of him. He taught the great moral -lessons of self-discipline, social excellence, and religious devotedness, by his living example.
We are told that He “grew in favor with God and man.” Regarding him as human, we believe thatthe soul of Christ grew by the ordinary means of self-discipline, as truly as his body by the ordinary means of food. We find him at twelve years old, not only astonishing by his understanding and answers, but actually learning, in the temple-hearing the doctors and asking them questions. Such attention did he pay to self-culture, that when he comes forward to preach and teach in their synagogues, what full qualifications for that high and holy work does he exhibit!
Look again at his social excellence. Every relation of life, he adorned. As a son, how affectionate, how obedient, how solicitous for the well-being of his mother! Even amidst the agonies of the cross, he commits her to the care of those about her, before he can dismiss his spirit. As a citizen, how he repudiated all error, all bad principles. “ Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's.” He was no revolutionist-no leader of the bad passions of bad men, even against a bad government. As a philanthropist, what love he manifested for universal man; he was a model for our imitation. He went about doing good; he observed, pitied, and sought to mitigate the woes both of mind and body; he was the friend of the whole man. As a religionist, what a pattern did he furnish of religious devotedness, laying himself out entirely for God; doing his father's will, seeking his Father's pleasure. All the sympathies of his being throbbed in unison with the everlasting law of right. His life is the book from which you are to learn his habits.
Now, how are we to learn Christ's moral character-how are
we to get at his habits and disposition ? Not by moral transference; this is impossible, but simply by imitation ; just in the same way as man is constantly getting his character from his fellow man. There is no mystic method ; and in order to do this we must possess
1. A thorough knowledge of our model. We must know Christ experimentally - live with him, commune with him, enter into all his thoughts and feelings; and look to him in all things as our great moral example.
2. We must have a high appreciation of him. We may have an intimate knowledge of some characters and yet dislike them. In such cases there will be no incentive to imitation. But it is not so with Jesus Christ: to know him is to love him; and especially to know that great truth which breaks the heart of the world. “God so lored the world as to give his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.
3. We must carry this knowledge out into practice. The architect who has only a theory on the subject of his art, or the painter who has never practically brought his skill to bear upon the canvas, will be, and ought to be, but lightly esteemed : so it 18 with all professions, not excepting that of Christianity. If you would learn the art of virtue, you must commence the copying of it from the great model, Christ-you must copy one feature alter another, one shade of excellence after another, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.
Let us study to be made conformable to his death-to count no knowledge so important as the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us think as Paul thought, and he was no mean judge. He was a master of rabbinical learning, he had traversed the flowery fields of philosophy and literature; he could argue with the sages of Athens, confound the rulers of the synagogue, and make Roman governors tremble on their thrones ; but with all these attainments, though he had gathered flowers, tasted sweets, inhaled fragrance from many a field of knowledge, the moment he entered Christianity, plucked the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley, all lost their beauty and their worth, and he exclaims, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Pay, then, a
systematic attention to the history of Christ, his life, his character, his work, his sufferings, his death ; and at once resolve to learn of him who is meek and lowly of heart, and secure that peace for your souls which you can find nowhere else.
GUTTA PERCHA. Dr. Montgomery states that the tree yielding the gutta percha (pronounced pertsha) is common in many places in the island of Singapore; that he was informed that it grew on the south-east coast of Borneo ; and that Mr. Brooke, of whom he had requested inquiries at Sarawak, had stated that the tree was plentiful there, though the people were not acquainted with the properties of the same. Some hundreds of tons of gutta percha are now annually imported into England from Singapore, I may here also state that the urceola of Penang is a species of creeper or climber plart of the vine genus, and is a native of that island and the neighbouring coast of Sumatra. It will be found indigenous in Borneo also; and as it yields caoutchouc of the purest quality, equal to that from South America, it is to be hoped that in time our home market will be abundantly supplied from that quarter.- Pharma. ceutical Times.
MARTYRS. According to the calculations of some, about 200,000 Christian Protestants suffered death, in seven years, under Pope Julian ; no less than 100,000 were massacred by the French in the space of three months; Waldenses who perished amounted to 1,000,000; within thirty years the Jesuits destroyed 900,000; under the Duke of Alva 26,000 were executed by the hangman; 159,000 by the Irish massacre, besides the vast multitude of whom the world could never be particularly informed, who were proscribed, starved, burnt, assassinated, chained to the galleys for life, immured within the walls of the Bastile, or others of their church and state prisons. According to some, the whole number of persons massacred since the rise of Papacy, including the space of 1400 years, amounts to 15,000,000.