Page images
PDF
EPUB

some degree, be a matter which you must at present be content to believe on the testimony of others. The object of education is to benefit your manhood; and you must, therefore, arrive at manhood before this benefit can be fully tasted or comprehended. Meantime, it is most certain, that your business here is in truth the business of your heavenly Father; that it is a duty, which he who wishes to do his Father's will must be anxious to perform zealously. “ Both hearing them and asking them questions:"—not only sitting to listen to, or rising up to repeat, words which are forgotten as soon as heard or said; but anxious to remember and to understand what you say and what you hear, that the fruit of it may remain, and that you may be doing God's pleasure now, and may understand in this, as well as in other matters, when the time for knowledge is come, that no one ever tried to do his pleasure without feeling that he had chosen the better part, and that to do the will of God was the best wisdom, both for earth and heaven.

SERMON X.

JOHN xvi. 12, 13.

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.

them now.

IN these words our Lord describes two sorts of persons,—those who cannot yet bear the truth, and those who, through the guiding of the Spirit, are led into all truth. They who could not yet bear it were, we see, our Lord's own disciples ;--they who had followed him from the beginning of his ministry;—they, of whom he had just before said, that they were all clean, except Judas who betrayed him. Still, he had much to say which they could not yet bear, but which they should be able to bear and to understand when the Spirit of truth should come, and lead them into all truth. These words were applicable to our Lord's twelve first disciples, and they are

[blocks in formation]

much more applicable to many of us. There are many in every age,-many I had almost said in every congregation,—who cannot bear all that Christ has to say unto them, because they are not yet led by the Spirit, and neither their hearts nor their understandings can receive the perfect truth.

If we want a more ancient example of this, the whole history of the Old Testament will furnish one.

There, although in the successive revelations of successive ages much was told, still much also was forborne : the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites was the reason why they were allowed some things, which in a riper state of knowledge men would shrink from; why there was a vail over their faces, which hid from them the end of their own dispensation. But there are many who are in this respect Israelites among us; there are many who are still living under the law, and who cannot yet understand or feel the voice of the Spirit. Christ has many things to say unto them, but they cannot bear them now. For this reason, and because I know that,

your age and many other circumstances, many

of you are of this class, I have not spoken to you, in the sermons I have lately

from your age

preached from this place, in the way that some perhaps might have expected: I have not dwelt so much upon your redemption by Jesus Christ, as upon your own particular faults and temptations; I have used the language of the Law more than that of the Gospel. I have done this, because I thought it not in itself the best and highest instruction, but because I was afraid that you could not understand profitably any other. When I mention common things of your daily life,common faults which you every day commit, common feelings which every day pass through your hearts and minds,--you attend, and carefully take in what I am saying ; but, if I were to use the language of St. Paul's Epistles, and speak of your acquittal by faith in Christ only, of your having no confidence in your own works, but being created in Christ Jesus through the Spirit to do good works, your feelings would, I fear, be very little interested. You would think that this was the common language of sermons, and would not so readily bring it home to yourselves. And I will tell you why you would not. The whole of the Gospel message is one of comfort to those who feel themselves sinners, to those whose consciences trouble them, and who fear the

anger of God, and wish to flee from it. It is a medicine for the sick, which they who do not feel themselves sick, cannot be persuaded to care for. You remember what our Lord himself said of the different manner in which he was treated by the Pharisee who asked him to supper, and by the woman who came in while he sat at meat, and washed his feet with her tears. 6. There was a certain creditor," he said, “ who had two debtors : the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman ? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet : but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss : but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she

« PreviousContinue »