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Such, then, were some of the great principles of our Saviour's doctrine. They were grave in themselves, and deeply affecting mankind. They were principles, touching the character of God and the condition of man, which no Rabbi had ever uttered from the law-which no Gentile sage ever taught from the heights of Philosophy-which had never been heard in Attic grove or Jewish Synagogue. Shall we wonder at the power of Him who taught such wonderful doctrine? It was in the exposition of principles so new and so sublime, so perfectly simple, and yet so deeply practical and momentous, that Jesus taught with an unexampled authority and power, "and not as the Scribes."
But if the doctrine of our Lord was of a nature to command and impress, we shall find that
II. His MANNER was in perfect harmony with the MATTER of his
1. The leading characteristic of our Saviour's manner as a public teacher was earnestness. There is a histrionic earnestness which the deep player assumes as an artistic propriety demanded by his subject. There is an artificial earnestness, an ad captandum zeal to meet popular expectations, and awaken its applause, and there is a structural earnestness, a susceptibility to certain combinations of thought and forms of imagery and expressions, like the chords of the harp, strung to certain inpulses of the air. But the earnestness of the Great Master was neither professional nor emotional. The weighty matters which he taught were the utterances of the deepest convictions. The doctrine of his ministry, in all its relations and momentousness, had a vital existence in his understanding, and in his heart. He could say, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." That which JESUS proclaimed he felt in his deepest reason. The doctrine which he taught authenticated itself in the vivid sentiment and realizations of his mind. In a word, from the earnestness of his soul his mouth spake.
The message of the Gospel is certainly a communication grave and important in the last degree. The just appreciation of its nature will be followed by earnestness in its announcement. Christ had this earnestness, because he had the full measure of such appreciation.
2. The earnestness of Christ was evinced in the simplicity of his teachings. True earnestness, flowing from deep conviction is, perhaps, always simple. Great thoughts, like costly stones, and precious diamonds, appear best in the simplest settings. The soul inspired by a vast truth, or laboring to disclose a great conviction, rejects the useless ornaments of rhetoric, and selects the plainest form of illustration. The manner of Jesus was perspicuous simplicity; an inartificial transparency of language is the chosen expression of his deep convictions.
In his discourses it is the truth alone the Great Master would
hold up to contemplation. It is some great principle he would bring before the mind, and this object is never obscured nor hindered by the form of the illustration. Throughout his whole ministry, whether addressed to crowds or individuals, whether to lawyers or laborers, whether in the gorgeous courts of the temple, or among the homely scenes of Galilee, there is exhibited the same chaste simplicity, because in all there is the same intellectual earnestness. Jesus had no gifts of eloquence to parade, no accomplishments of knowledge to display, no facetiousness of wit to sport; but he had a Gospel of incomparable solemnity to preach, and "how is he straitened till it be accomplished.' In this simplicity Jesus finds followers among those disciples who drink deepest of his spirit. Of such, no one of our day has had more of this spirit, or been more remarkable for this excellence, than the late venerable and pious Archibald Alexander. His well known simplicity was only equalled by his deep earnestness. Like the Master whom he followed, he was simple, because he had great and earnest thoughts to communicate.
3. The earnestness of Jesus was further evinced by the consistency of his life with his doctrine. The principles which were illustrated by his ministry, occupied habitually the thoughts of his mind. He felt them not only when under occasional discussion, but in all places and at all times. There were moments of relaxation when he escaped from the physical toils of his ministry, but from the influence of his principles, and the force of his convictions, his mind never escapes. Jesus taught nothing which he did not always feel. His life was the exact and everfaithful transcript of his principles. In the easy, familiar intercourse of friendship with his disciples, or in the bosom of the beloved family of Bethany, he throws off nothing of the habitual gravity, devotion, and spirituality inspired by his principles. In all places, and among all men he maintains unity of charactera dignified consistency with himself. It was the depth of his convictions, and the sincerity of his soul which gave to Jesus the highest form of earnestness-the earnestness of consistency.
4. The earnestness of Jesus was still further manifested in the decision and boldness of his manner. The honor of the truth and the immortal interests of men, constitute an object superior to every other. A just apprehension of this object, will raise the minister of Christ above a time-serving and a man pleasing spirit. Honest convictions despise the temporizing suggestions of policy as low and unworthy. In the vindication of the truth, and in the enforcement of its obligations, Jesus was bold and unsparing. The force of his own clear perceptions made him superior to any place, or any presence. He was only intent on the honor of the truth, and the glory of the Father. Truly did he fulfil the prediction of the prophet, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked."
5. It was the manner of Jesus to rely on a few great general principles in the work of human reform. It appears to have been our Saviour's philosophy, that to reform the world, and correct the vices of the social life of mankind, what is most needed, is the implantation of right principles. Men have gone down in degeneracy under the perverting operation of evil principles. Their understandings are blind, and their foolish heart is darkened," and they are now to be raised up and set right, by those fundamental inculcations which comprehend all the rights, and all the duties of man.
Jesus relied on his Gospel to effect the desired reform. He strikes at no particular evil of the social organization of his times. He does not come to the surface of society with his measures of reform, but he descends to the foundation, and disseminates the leaven of correction at the roots of the social tree. Though he lived under a relentless despotism, he did not preach democracy. Though he moved amid scenes of social corruption, he did not organize against any of its forms. Though the world around him rung with the cries and sufferings of the oppressed, yet he raises no standard of revolt, inculcates no violent redress. On the contrary, he enjoins a religious patience, trusting in God and the operation of the Gospel, for the desired improvement of society and mankind.
Jesus was not indifferent to the evils of society; but to reform the world, he relied on the moral operation of his great evangelic principles. He would bring men up to the moralities of life, by first teaching them the great principles of life. In this manner, silently, and without violence, does he pursue his great work. It was by "the foolishness of preaching" he would save man, and organize against individual and popular sins. Such was the manner of Jesus. It may not imply that other modes of social improvement are unlawful, but this is the "more excellent way;" which in our times there is danger of losing sight of. Amid the cry and dust of parties and societies, the bright example of the Master escapes us, and we forget that the Gospel is "the wisdom and power of God to salvation."
On the manner of Christ as an instructor, we might greatly enlarge, by adding many graces of character which contribute to the finish, perfection, and glory of the whole. We can barely allude to his self-denial, his superiority to the world, his condescension, his meekness, his diligence, and his prayerfulness.
The last characteristic of our Saviour's manner we now would notice, is his tenderness. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" for its redemption. The compassion which inspired the enterprize, accompanied the World's Missionary, as the deep, tender, absorbing sentiment of his soul. How he manifested this sentiment, would be to repeat the whole story of his life. It is true, in this tenderness there is no complacency-no love of approbation; it was a compassionate
feeling, awakened by the guilty, blind, suffering condition of the world. But it was a profound tenderness, which no insolence of treatment, no wanton abuse, no violence, no relentless persecutions could extinguish in his bosom. "He was despised and rejected of men, they hid, as it were, their faces from him; he was despised, and they esteemed him not," but his pity endured -it survived the cruel return.
Jesus, our blessed Master, loved men in spite of their unloveliness-in spite of their unprovoked enmity. The tide of his compassion seemed to swell in proportion to the wickedness. that opposed it. Over that city capable of the darkest purpose ever formed and enacted on earth, he shed the tears of his compassion, and uttered words of the most tender lament which ever fell on the notice of a guilty world. And on that cross, the last device of ingenious wickedness, planted by his enemies, and gloated on by malignant eyes, he gave the finishing display of his unextinguishable pity, in his prayer for his murderers.
Such, fathers and brethren, is the great Scribe of our profession-our Master and our model. We have presented him only in those clerical aspects of his character which pertain to him as a model, not wholly beyond our approach and imitation. When we contemplate the doctrine and character of Jesus, are we surprised that "he taught as one having authority, and not as the Scribes ?" In these alone, without the aid of his higher nature, there was enough to account for his wonderful power over the minds of men.
In his character of Teacher, is there no reason, alas! for a closer imitation of Jesus, by his servants in the ministry of reconciliation? Where is that purity and simplicity of doctrine, and where are the graces of character and manner which shone in the Master, and should adorn his servants? Doubtless they exist as the holy anointing of many a Christian pastor, and diffuse an influence over many a privileged parish, giving authority and progress to the truth among men. Such pure, earnest, Christimitating lovers and preachers of the truth, cannot fail of success. Following the Master, they will receive the Master's blessing. To such holy men the promise was given, and will be fulfilled," Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you"-"lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
The dignity of our office, its sacredness, the solemnity of its consequences, all urge us to comprehend and feel the nature of its duties in the contemplation of Him, who has put us into this ministry. From Jesus alone we learn that doctrine, and imbibe that spirit which are fundamental to a successful ministry. What is our work, but the exaltation of Christ before men? On him are centred the hopes of a fallen world. Of him then let us learn, and know nothing" save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
BY REV. SAMUEL HARRIS,
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE LOVE TO GOD.
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."-MARK xii. 30.
WERE I to go to you, my hearers, and ask you, one by one, "Do you love God?" few of you would be willing distinctly to own that you love him not. Yet if Christ should go through the assembly to pronounce his judgment, to how many might he say, as to the ancient Jews, "I know you that ye have not the love of God in you?" This common reluctance to acknowledge the absence of love to God may be owing to indistinct apprehensions of what is meant by loving him. The single object of this discourse will be to present THE CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE LOVE TO GOD.*
I. True love to God must be founded on a correct knowledge of his character.
If you were standing on the summit of the Brocken, among the Hartz mountains, some pleasant morning at sunrise, you might see the famous spectre whose mysterious appearance so often has terrified the simple inhabitants. Science has shown it to be only a colossal shadow of the spectator, which, under peculiar circumstances, the rising sun paints on an opposite cloud; but it was long taken for a supernatural object, and the terrorstricken observer bowed down in awe before a magnified image of himself. Just such is God, as he is conceived of by manynothing better than a magnified image of themselves. This is the charge brought by God himself: "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself."
The gods of the heathen, it is well known, are only magnified men, having all the evil passions of men:
"Gods changeful, jealous, passionate, unjust,
Minds enlightened by the Bible are disgusted with the grossness
* The reader will find a full discussion of this subject in Dr. Bellamy's unrivaled work, entitled, "True religion delineated and distinguished from all counterfeits." While this sermon is an independent discussion of the subject, occasional coincidence of thought will be noticed, which it has not been found possible to avoid.