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of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbathday? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Again do we see, in a very instructive instance, the power and goodness of Christ. It wrought on a poor despised creature; but our Lord considered her as a daughter of Abraham, and honoured, even in her, whatever traces of her father Abraham's faith and piety his penetrating eye might discern. Her zeal and willingness to attend on public worship brought her out, though she could not stand upright, and had probably in that respect a much better excuse for staying at home than many could make, who now often absent themselves from the much nobler services of the Christian sanctuary.
She met with Christ in the synagogue, and returned with a cure. And oh, how many, as the effect of such a pious zeal, though they have not been loosed from their infirmities, have at least been greatly strengthened to bear them.
Our Lord says that Satan had bound her. That malignant enemy to our bodies and souls rejoices in any opportunity of hurting either. But it is pleasing to think, that his power is always under the controul of Christ; and therefore shall never be exercised on his people any farther than their gracious Redeemer sees it consistent with their good, and will take care to render it subservient to it.
How gravely does this ruler of the synagogue instruct the people in a point of ceremony, while his heart was full of enmity to Christ, and hardened against every sentiment of human compassion! Justly was his hypocrisy confounded
We should with pleasure see this Sun of Righteousness thus victoriously breaking through those clouds, which envy and malice had raised to obscure him, and diffusing his sacred
light from one end of the heavens to the other. With pleasure should we view the accomplishment of these parables, which represent the success of his gospel as so great; and we should daily pray, with increasing earnestness, that all the remaining nations and kingdoms of this world may at length become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ: and sincere converts flock to him from every side, even as doves to their windows! (Rev. xi. 15, and Isaiah lx. 8.)
LUKE XIII. 22-35.
AND he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to-day,
and to-morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate and verily I say unto you, ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And who would not welcome such a Saviour, when he appears on so kind a design! who would not bless him that cometh in the name of the Lord, to gather our souls with the tenderest care and to shelter us from wrath and ruin! that Saviour, whose bowels yearned over us, and whose heart poured forth its blood for us! Too many reject him, and will not hearken to the kindest calls of his compassionate voice. Unhappy creatures! the time will come, when they too late will be convinced of their fatal error.
Let each of us be solicitous for himself. Away with those vain curiosities, which serve only to amuse and distract our thoughts. Let us call, and fix them down to the great concerns of our own salvation: and, if we would secure it, let us prepare to encounter difficulties, and strive, as for our lives, to break through all the opposition of our enemies, and resolutely to enter in at the strait gate. How many have sought it, when the door has been barred? and how soon may the great Master of the house arise and shut it for ever against those who are yet trifling!
Let not hypocrites trust in vain words. The workers of iniquity shall be disowned by Christ at last, though they may have eaten and drank in his presence. But oh, who can express the disappointment, the rage, and despair, of those who fall from such towering hopes, and plunge, as from the very gates of heaven, into the lowest abyss of darkness and horror! Their hearts will endeavour to harden themselves in vain; their doleful cries shall be distinguished in that region of universal horror! but they shall not penetrate the regions of the blessed, nor interrupt the delight, with which even the dearest of their pious relatives shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
If we through grace have more substantial hopes, let us imitate the zeal and courage of our Divine Leader; and, whatéver threatenings or dangers may oppose, let us go on day after day, till our work be done, and our souls at length perfected in glory. But let us carefully distinguish between those
things, in which our Lord meant himself as our Pattern, and those which were peculiar to his office as a Prophet sent from God. That extraordinary office justified him in using that severity of language, when speaking of wicked princes and corrupt teachers, to which we have no call; and by which we should only bring scandal on religion, and ruin on ourselves, while we irritated, rather than convinced or reformed, those whom we undertook so indecently to rebuke.
LUKE XIV. 1-14.
AND it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath-day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; and answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath-day? And they could not answer him again to these things.
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him: and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room: that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Then said he also to him that bade him, When
thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
How happy were they, who had frequent opportunities of conversing with Christ, whose discourses were always so wise and so useful: how well did he repay all the entertainments he received, in the advantages which he gave for religious improvement! In vain might his enemies watch for occasions against him. In his tongue was the law of wisdom as well as of kindness, (Prov. xxxi. 26.) And surely the lips of his ministers and disciples would feed many to their everlasting benefit, were this blessed model to be more carefully traced! (Prov. x. 21.)
Let us particularly observe, what he here says concerning a modest and humble deportment, which is indeed the surest way to be honoured and respected. And let us take great heed, that that good breeding, which consists so much in the expressions of humility and readiness to prefer others to ourselves, do not degenerate into a mere form, and prove, as it too often does, the cloak of arrogance and pride; but that it have its foundation in a lowly opinion of ourselves, and an habitual disposition to submit even to our inferiors, when we may do it without breaking in upon the duties and decencies of life, and injuring those to whom it may be exercised, by an indulgence which they know not how to understand and improve.
Let us hearken to these exhortations to charity from the mouth of our charitable Saviour, who gave himself for us. And as Christ pleased not himself (Rom. xv. 3), let us not allow ourselves to squander away great quantities of money, in what may gratify our own senses, or make a gaudy shew in the eyes of the vainer part of mankind; but let us be willing to spare from the luxuries and superfluities of life, that we may bestow it on the poor and the distressed. And indeed, whatever our circumstances and possessions be, we must expect that the stream of our bounty will soon be dried up, if it be not supplied from the fountain of a prudent frugality. This selfdenial may now in some instances be painful; but it will be amply recompensed at the resurrection of the just. May we then meet with many, whom our liberality has fed and clothed, whom our knowledge and zeal have instructed, and whom our