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tempted to commit sin. I say the ordinary circumstances of life ; for it would almost seem as if when we are least tried, we are most in danger. On grand occasions faith rises to the trial ; and such is the vitality of Christian love, that, like the influence of the wind on fire, the storm seems rather to blow up than to blow out the flame. How often have Christ's people found it easier to withstand on great occasions than on small ones! Those will yield to some soft seduction, and fall into sin, who, put to it, might stand up for the cause of truth and righteousness as bravely as he who, in yonder palace, stands like a rock before the king. Commanded to do what lays Christ's crown at Cæsar's feet, he refuses. It is a thing which, though ready to dare death, he dare not, and he will not do. He offers his neck, but refuses that-addressing himself in some such words as these to the imperious monarch, “There are two kingdoms and two kings in Scotland; there is King Jesus and King James; and when thou wast a babe in swaddling clothes, Jesus reigned in this land, and his authority is supreme.'
Would to God that we had, whenever we are tempted to commit sin, as true a regard for Christ's paramount authority! With special reference to our own hearts be the prayer ever offered, thy kingdom come—take to thee thy great power and reign. Ours be thy prayer, 0 David" Cleanse me from secret faults, and keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins ; let them not have dominion over me." Alas, how often do we unwittingly, thoughtlessly, rashly, under the
lingering influence of old bad habits, swept away by some sudden temptation, some outburst of corruption, practically deny the Lord that bought us, and yield our members to be the servants of sin ! Let us confess it. Often are we constrained to say, with Ezra, when he rent his mantle, and fell on his knees, and spread out his hands unto the Lord, “Oh my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our heads, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens."
Yet let not the worldling go away to triumph over such confessions, and allege that there is no such thing as genuine religion or true love to Christ. This much I will venture to say for his people, and for the grace of God, in which their great strength lies—Put us to the test, give us time for prayer and reflection, and there are thousands who, rather than renounce Jesus Christ, would renounce their life, and, with unfaltering footstep, tread the well-beaten path that the martyrs have made to glory. Faith, eyeing the opening heavens, would stand on the scaffold, and say, as she changed a Jewish into a Christian hymn—If I forget thee, O Jesus, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jesus above my chief joy !
THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
Translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.—COLOSSIANS i. 13.
aside, on his coronation day, by that great emperor who bestrode the world like a Colossus, till we locked him up in a sea-girt prison-chained him, like an eagle, to its barren rock. Promptly as his great military genius was wont to seize some happy moment to turn the tide of battle, he seized the imperial crown. Regardless alike of all precedents, and of the presence of the Roman Pontiff whose sacred office he assumed, he placed the crown on his own head; and, casting an eagle eye over the applauding throng, stood up, in the pride of his power, every inch of him a king. The act was like the man-bold, decisive ; nor was it in a sense untrue, its language this, The crown I owe to no man; I myself have won it; my own right arm hath gotten me the victory. Yet, with some such rare exceptions, the universal custom, on such occasions, is to perform this great act as in the presence of God; and, adding the solemnities of religion to the scene, by the hand of her
highest minister to crown the sovereign. It is a graceful and a pious act, if, when religion is called to play so conspicuous a part, on such a stage, and in the presence of such a magnificent assembly, all parties intend thereby to acknowledge that crowns are the gift of God, that sovereigns as well as subjects are answerable for their stewardship, and that by Him whose minister performs the crowning act, kings reign, and princes decree justice.
According to that scripture, God sets up one and puts down another, plucks the sceptre from the hand of this man, and gives it to that, and, as our days have seen, makes fugitives of kings, to raise a beggar from the dust and the needy from the dunghill, and set him with princes. And what he does in an ordinary and providential sense to all kings, he did in a high, and pre-eminent, and special sense to his own Son. The “divine right of kings,” with which courtiers have flattered tyrants, and tyrants have sought to hedge round their royalty, is a fiction. In other cases a mere fiction, it is in Christ's case a great fact.
The crown that rests on his head was placed there by the hands of Divinity. It was from his eternal Father that he received the reward of his cross, in that kingdom, which, as we have already shewed, he received neither from the Jews, nor from his own people. “ Yet,” says God, “have I set my king upon my holy hill of Sion.” And so I remark
3. Jesus received the kingdom from God.
great occasions—on which our Lord was crowned, what a striking contrast do they present ?
The scene of the first is laid on earth. Its circumstances are described by the evangelists—men who were the sad eye-witnesses of the events that they relate. And when we have found ourselves unable, without trembling voice, and swimming eyes, and kindling passions, to read some of those touching letters which tell how brothers, and tender sisters, and little children, and sweet babes, and beloved friends, were pitilessly massacred —when one remembers how, even at this distance from India's bloody scenes, we were ready to take fire, and swell the cry that called for vengeance on such revolting cruelties, nothing in the Bible seems more divine than the calm, even, unimpassioned tone with which our Lord's disciples describe the events, and write the moving story of their Master's wrongs. Where one would fancy an angel might have been stirred to anger, or would have covered his eyes and wept outright for sorrow, their voice seems never to falter, nor their pen to shake, nor their page to be blotted by a falling tear. Where, we are ready to ask, is John's fond love, Peter's ardent temper, the strong impetuous passions of these unsophisticated men ? Nor is there any way of accounting for the placid flow of their narratives, other than the fact that holy men of old spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and were the organs of Him whose complacency no event ruffles, and who, dwelling in the serene altitudes of his divine nature, is raised high above all passion.