Imagini ale paginilor

as great exactness, as if the whole transaction had been previously arranged.

Who, then, it may be demanded, could have foretold all these particulars, but He who knew what was in man, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and from whose comprehensive and omniscient mind no secrets can be hid? He foresaw what men would do under certain circumstances. He was conscious what must be done to satisfy the wrath of Heaven. And however difficult it may be to human apprehension, this foreknowledge is made to act in perfect concert with the free will of man, so that the prophecies of Scripture, as far as they depend on mere human agency, are nothing more than anticipations of the conduct of mankind. They are previous disclosures made to the world, of actions resulting from a combination of circumstances, in which the will of God and the will of man meet together. Blessed be the Lord God of heaven, that he hath thus condescended to make use of the instrumentality of his creatures, not by forcibly overruling their wills, but by causing his own great ends to concur harmoniously with them.

In this way we are all of us carrying on his righteous views. Each generation bears its part in the grand scheme of prophecy, and each individual is, in some degree, an agent of his providence. It behoves us, therefore, to be extremely guarded in our actions, lest by any

we frustrate the gracious design of God respecting us, and render our creation vain.

To be


made at all the instruments of his glory, is the highest honour of which a human creature can partake, much less be worthy of; for it is an honour which constitutes the immediate happiness of the purest created intelligences. Such honour is designed for every man when he is born into the world. He comes forth to fulfil a place and business in it, in doing which with diligence, he serves the Almighty Author of his being, and so far brings him glory. The whole existence of man in its best estate, is one gradual scale of divine advancement towards perfection, extending from the dawn of life, when the light of this world first breaks in upon his feeble powers, to that endless and infinite duration which begins in death, and continues without interruption for ever and ever.

[blocks in formation]



This address seems to have been made by Christ to his disciples on the road from the guest-chamber where they had partaken together of the Passover, to the garden where he was betrayed, and contains a prophecy which will be both instructive and interesting to examine. The prophecy declares two striking events; First, That all the disciples, without exception, should that very night (and it was already dark) forsake him and flee away; and Secondly, That after he had risen from the dead, they should meet him again in Galilee.

I. At the time when Christ uttered this prediction, nothing seemed more unlikely than the


[ocr errors]

things it positively asserted. The disciples had just been engaged in a most tender and affectionate intercourse with their Master, receiving from him the kindest instructions, and the most condescending marks of attention, and were united to him by that sympathy of feeling which is common to men both in their social entertainments, and in their hours of sadness. There were no extraordinary appearances of immediate danger to excite alarm, or try their constancy. A common sense of danger, indeed, they all possessed, for they had expostulated with him not long before for venturing to risk his person in Judea. Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again ?" But that was all, of a serious apprehension of mischief to him, not a visible indication. And, therefore, when he announced their defection in the words of the text, they all disclaimed the imputation, saying, “Though we should die with thee, yet will we not deny thee.”

Now, in order to account for this state of mind, and for the consternation into which they were all thrown a few moments afterwards by the seizure of their Master, it will be necessary to ascertain what notions they had concerning his death and resurrection, for by enquiring into these particulars, it will show at once how natural their whole conduct appears to have been, and how little idea they entertained of what was going to befal them.

It is well known to all those who are conversant with the Jewish history, that this chosen and extra

ordinary people, were entirely impressed with the expectation of a great temporal prince.

They had no other notion respecting Messiah, and such parts of their prophecies as we apply to the humiliation of Christ, they interpreted in a quite different sense. This is particularly true of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. They understood this chapter, which contains one of the plainest and most remarkable accounts of the sufferings and death of Christ, to relate to their nation at large, and not to the expected Redeemer of it. The Apostles whom Jesus selected for the companions of his ministry, were all bred up with this expectation. Their prejudices in support of it were exceeding strong, and perhaps, among the views which induced them so readily to obey his call, the hope of being raised to temporal honours, and enriched with worldly prosperity, as

as he should have established his kingdom, were by far the most powerful. It is evident that the foundation of their Master's civil authority, the deliverance of Israel by his means, and their own elevation through him, was the leading sentiment of their breasts. We have abundant proofs* of this in their observations touching his kingdom, in their contentions for precedency, in their request to have the chief places assigned them on the right hand and on the left, and above all, in their conduct when he was seized, condemned, and crucified. For a long time Jesus took no direct notice of their mistake. Doubtless, the reasons which induced him


* St. Luke xix. 11.-Acts i. 6.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »