« EelmineJätka »
THE PEACE CONFERRED BY THE GOSPEL.
John xvi. 33.
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
THE tenth chapter of St. Matthew (which we have heard this morning) tells us that when Christ had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. And he commanded them saying, among other things, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have
144 THE PEACE CONFERRED BY THE GOSPEL.
received, freely give 1." These words, "freely ye have received," may be applied to all the disciples of Christ, none other can describe their position more accurately. Theirs is a condition of privileges. They have received freely and abundantly of every thing that is worth a wish-of every thing that can tend to promote the real comfort and happiness of man. Without money, and without price, the Christian has been endowed with a power against evil spirits to cast them out-against all the temptations, from whatever source arising, which would assault and hurt his soul.-He has been enabled to heal all manner of disease, to soothe all the troubles of the mind, and to turn to blessings all the afflictions of the body. He is partaker of a power which can raise the deadeven the power of Christ's resurrection, with whom he shares in the victory over death and the grave. All this, I repeat, he has "received freely." These blessings
1 Matt. x. 8.
are the free gifts of God to him—he has not wrought for them: they are gratuitously offered to him, and he is invited, nay, earnestly intreated, to accept them.
Yet so imperfectly do we very generally appreciate the Gospel, that I question whether this is the view which many of us take of it. That is to say, which we take of it spontaneously-as the suggestion of our own minds, springing from our own experience, without the need, or the employment of any process of reasoning to convince us. Following the intuitive promptings of our hearts, we should say perhaps, that we have no doubt of the Gospel's being a path which leads to peace, though we have not yet found that it is of itself a way of pleasantness. We believe its promises to be glorious, but we feel its exactions also to be grievous.
For instance, in speaking of Christianity, would not the following appear to most of us, not only an useful practical method of putting the question, but at the same time the fullest and most accurate view to take of it? The religion of Jesus Christ is
indeed a religion of peace, for it proclaims the reconciliation of man with his maker, his deliverance from the power of sin, his redemption from the bonds of death, and the certainty of his resurrection to life eternal.--It has declared in a manner which no language could have done, the ineffable love of God for mankind: his great care for them, and parental interest in them. It has rendered it impossible for us to suppose even for a moment, that the Almighty in any case willingly afflicts those whom he has called his children, but that if they suffer-it is because" as a man chasteneth his son so the Lord their God chasteneth them,” for their improvement and profit.-And this is a consideration which in all their tribulation must enable them to be of good cheer,-must overcome the world, its trials and troubles, and confer that peace of God which passeth all understanding. But then on the other hand, though it be undoubtedly true that all these privileges are conveyed to us by Christianity, yet they are accompanied
by conditions so severe as to render the attainment of the blessings extremely difficult. The body is to be mortified and kept in subjection-The natural appetites and passions are to be eradicated in some cases-controuled in all.
the bitterest afflictions, the soul must be possessed in patience-Man must be dumb, not opening his mouth, though the phials of God's wrath (as it may seem) be emptied upon his head. And all this is hard to flesh and blood-however willing the spirit may be to attempt, the flesh is too weak to accomplish it-No man is sufficient for these things. God forgive us our imperfections, for we cannot remedy them.
I ask again, does not this view of Christianity which presents us with its privileges on the one hand, and its conditions and requirements on the other, appear to us a full and true one?-Yet it is not so.-It is one which it is useful to take, which indeed we must take, when descending to particulars of practice-but as a statement of the first great principles