« PreviousContinue »
He speaks to us through all nature and creation, which we daily see before our eyes ; all nature is a word of God to us, by which he speaks to us and makes himself known. In the book of nature we ought, therefore, to read the infinite Omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness of our dear and heavenly Father. God speaks to us also by the changes which we see in nature, in which times and seasons, summer and winter, day and night, continually take the place of each other, and in which, that which springs up, soon fades away again ; in order that we may reflect upon the instability and transitory nature of every thing temporal and earthly, call to mind our own transitory state, and press forward unto that which is durable and eternal.
God speaks to us, further, by all his judgments, by adversity, by sorrow and disease, which we either experience ourselves, or which is endured by those that belong to us, or which we see in our neighbours, fellow-citizens, or in our vicinity. What else does God seek to teach us by this, than that we, on our part, should take care that the same thing does not happen to us, and that we may escape the well deserved judgment and punishment of sin.
God speaks to us by the powerful voice of his law in our consciences, when he sets before us the cursé on account of the transgression of his commands; when he lets us become anxious and afraid because of our sins and transgressions; and when he plunges us into fear and terror, as often as we think of the great day of judgment, when we must
give an account of the things done in the body, whether they be good or bad.
God speaks to us also by his manifold benefits, which he bestows upon us, both in body and soul. O how many blessings do we not daily receive at his hands of a temporal nature, in his feeding and clothing us, and preserving us from innumerable evils, and in his granting us a variety of enjoyments, by which this life is not only rendered tolerable but agreeable to us! What does God intend to say to us by this ? That we ought, by such benefits, to let ourselves be incited to love him heartily, to thank him heartily, and to praise him heartily. But he reminds us also by them, that we ought to lay up a store against a long and endless eternity; he seeks not merely to satisfy us with temporal things, but also to make us careful with regard to future, infinite, and eternal things.
And therefore it is that God speaks to us also by such a variety of benefits, which he grants us with respect to the soul, in instructing us by his gospel in the way of salvation, in causing the grace which Christ has obtained for us to be offered to us, and in bearing with us, and still having patience with us, notwithstanding our sins, our failings, and infirmities. Seel in all this God speaks to us, that we may let ourselves be induced by it to lay hold on eternal life.
But how little has all this hitherto availed with many! how little effect have all these means, whe
ther gentle or severe, produced ! Jesus himself ! must therefore take up the matter; he must preach
to our hearts, if it is to be of any avail with respect to us.
Let every one therefore give heed to his heart, and to what Jesus will preach to him on this occasion ; for we must hear this preacher inwardly, and not be satisfied with the mere outward sound of words.
We will now, with the Divine assistance, consider from the words we have read, the affecting penitentiary discourse of our Saviour Jesus ; in doing which we will contemplate,
I. The gracious preacher,
III. The necessary application and appropriation to ourselves.
“O dearest Saviour Jesus !. thou self-existing eternal word of the Father! Be thou thyself the preacher in our hearts on this occasion, in order that we may each receive a blessing. Speak, O Lord, and thy servants will hear. Amen!"
I. The gracious preacher presented to us in the words we have read, is the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ our Saviour. Ought we not, therefore, to sit here before him with the greatest reverence and heartfelt devotion and desire, and listen to him with a truly attentive, devout, and abstracted heart? The whole of Scripture is a divine sermon, and ought to be venerable and important in our esteem; but the words of Jesus, in particular, are emphatically the words of God; they are the words which the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of
the Father, has himself preached to us : all his words have an especial power and unction in them—they are spirit and life.
This preacher is, first, a powerful, yea, an Almighty preacher, who can speak and preach “as one having authority," as it is said in Matt. vii. 29. He has not only power and might to command, but he has also power and might to affect the heart, and to give that which he commands, and of which he preaches. Men can tell us what God requires of us, they can instruct and admonish us; but they do not give us the power to accomplish it, they do not give us the substance; but when Jesus preaches and exhorts us, he gives us also the power to accomplish it, he gives us the thing itself of which he preaches. If we are, therefore, desirous of hearing him on this occasion, and of paying attention to his operations in our hearts: he will not only preach repentance, but give repentance; not only preach the necessity of prayer, but also impart a praying heart. O Lord Jesus! give what thou enjoinest, and command what thou wilt,
Jesus is not only a powerful, but also
2. A present, yea, an Omnipresent preacher. It stands here, “ when he was come near.” Jesus came near to the city of Jerusalem. God had caused much to be preached to the Jews, and for a long period; he had predicted and promised them so much concerning Jesus and the Messiah ; Jesus was at length come; he came in particular to Jerusalem; and they had themselves heard his doctrines, seen
his miracles, and besides that, had also heard what he had taught, and what wonders he had done during the year in which he traversed the Jewish territory; they had also heard much from the people that followed him ; but, notwithstanding this, they had no desire to come to him, But now he comes again to them, and presents himself to them for the last time (for, this that we have read happened on Palm Sunday, only five days before the crucifixion): he presented himself to the city, he presented himself to the people once more as their Messiah, who so earnestly desired their salvation and their peace. He came near: “Lo! here am I, once more," as if he had said, 'will you now receive me; will you now recognize me as your Messiah. Lol I offer myself to you, and now come and am ready to shed my blood and to lay down my life for you.',
Now Christ drew near, not only to the city of Jerusalem, but has also come near to all men; yes, God in Christ has graciously drawn near to us men, by the word having been made flesh. Christ took upon himself our poor and destitute humanity. God's chief intention in this was that he might then draw near to mankind, and present himself to their hearts. We could not have borne it had God approached us in his holiness, had he spoken to us with the voice of his justice ; he therefore draws near to us through Jesus Christ. In Christ, God and the kingdom of heaven are come nigh unto us. Hence also Christ preached, saying, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand !"