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of losing it, wishes, but too late, to give every thing to recover it.
Ideas, like these, we never propose to you without reluctance. Motives, of another kind should suffice for christians. Learn the worth of your souls. Enter into the plan of your Creator, who created them capable of eternal felicity; and into that of your Redeemer, who died to enable you to arrive at it. Against all the deceitful promises, which the world, the flesh, and the devil use to seduce you, oppose these words of Jesus Christ, What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ? May God inspire you with these noble sentiments! To him be honor and glory for ever. Amen.
John viii. 36.
If the Son thereof shall make you frce, ye shall be free indeed.
Y brethren, there were many mysteries in the
Jewish feast of the Jubilee. It was a joyful festival to the whole nation : but none celebrated it with higher transports than slaves. No condition could be more deplorable than that of these unhappy people, and, notwithstanding the lenitives that the Jewish jurisprudence mixed with their sufferings, their condition was always considered as the most miserable, to which men can be reduced. The jubilee day was a day of universal enfranchisement. All slaves, even they, who had refused to embrace the privileges of the sabbatical year, their wives, and their children were set at liberty.
Should I affirm, my brethren, that no slave among them had more interest in this festival, than you have, perhaps you would exclaim against my proposition. Probably, you would say to me, as some of them said to Jesus Christ, We were never in bondage to any man. But undeceive yourselves. The jubilee was instituted not only to moderate the authority of masters, and to comfort slaves : but God had greater designs in appointing it. Hear
the mystical design of it. The Spirit of the Lord. God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, Isa. Ixi. 1, 2. Whio speaks in this prophecy of Isaiah ? Had not Jesus Christ answered this question in the synagogue at Nazareth, ye sheep of the chief shepherd, and bishop of your souls ! should ye not have known his voice ?
Come, my brethren, come, behold to-day with what precise accuracy, or rather, with what pomp and majesty he hath fulfilled this prophecy, and broken your chains in pieces. Do not disdain to follow the reflections we are going to make on these words, which proceeded from his sacred mouth, If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed. O may this language inspire us with the noble ambition of terminating our slavery! May slaves of prejudice, of passion, and of death, quit their shameful bonds, enjoy the acceptable year of the Lord, and partake of the glorious liberty of the children of God! Amen. Rom. viii. 21.
If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. In order to explain these words, it will be necessary to relate the occasion of them, and to explain, at least in part, the discourse from which they are taken.
Jesus Christ spoke these words in the treasury, ver. 20. that is to say, in a court of the temple, which was called the woman's porch, because women were allowed to enter it. This court was also called the treasury, because it contained thirteen tubes like trumpets for the reception of public contributions. Jesus Christ it supposed to allude to the form of these, when he says, When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, Matt. vi. 2. Each of these tubes had a different inscription on it, according to the different contributions, for the reception of which they were placed, either charitable contributions for the relief of the poor, or votive for the discharge of a vow, or such as were prescribed by some particular law. In this court sat Jesus Christ observing what each gave to the poor. In this place he observed a woman caught in adultery, and confounded her accusers, whose great zeal against her was excited more by the barbarous desire of shedding the blood of the criminal, than by the horror of the crime. To punish those vices in others, of which the punisher is guilty, ie a disposition equally opposite to benevolence and equity. It was a received opinion among the Jews, that the waters of jealousy had no effect on an adulterous wife, whose husband had been guilty of the same crime. Jesus Christ perhaps referred to this opinion, when he said to the Pharisees, He, that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. ver. 7.
I suppose this woman not to have been one of those, who live in open adultery, who know not what it isto blush, who not only commit this crime, but even glory in it. I suppose her a penitent, and that sentiments of true repentance, acquired her the protection of him, who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matt. xi. 13. Yet the indulgence of our Saviour seemed to be a subversion of that law of Moses, which condemned them to death who were guilty of adultery. (Levit. xx. 10. Deut. xxii. 22.) Nothing could be less likely to conciliate the minds of the Jews to Jesus Christ than the infraction of a religion, the origin of which was divine, and which no person could alter without incurring the most rigorous penalties; ye shall not add unto the word
which I command you, said the supreme legislatorja neither shall ye diminish aught from it, Deut. iv. 2. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them, Isa. viii. 20. Accordingly we find, one of the most specious accusations, that was ever invented against Jesus Christ, and one of the most pardonable scruples, which some devout souls had about following him, arose from this consideration, that on some occasions he had relaxed those laws, which no mortal had a right to alter, this man is not of God, said some, because he keepeth not the sabbath-day, John ix. 16.
This conduct certainly required an apology. Jesus Christ must needs, justify a right, which he claimed, but which no man before him had attempted to claim. This is the true clue of the discourse, from which our text is taken. Jesus Christ there proves, that he is the supreme law-giver, that although the eternal laws of right and wrong, which proceeded from him, are invariable, yet the positive institutes, that depended on the will of the legislator, and derived all their authority from his revealed command, might be continued, or abrogated at his pleasure. He there demonstrates of the whole levitical ritual what he elsewhere said of one part of it, the Son of man is the Lord of the sabbath, Matt. xii. 8.
He begins his discourse in this manner, I am the light of the world. In the style of the Jews, and, to say more, in the style of the inspired writers, light, by excellence, Son of God, word of God, God's Shekinah, as the Jews speak, that is to say, the habitation of God among men, Deity itself, are synonimous terms. Witness, among many other proofs, the majectic frontispiece of the gospel of St. John, the magnificent titles, which he