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clean,-if we have need of far more than a partial washing -are we in the condition of our Lord's twelfth disciple, of whom it is
, said, that he was the son of perdition, and that when his hand was on the table of Christ, it was the hand of one who was betraying his Master ? — God forbid! much rather may we hope that it may be said of us, that we are not far from the kingdom of God, even if we are not yet spiritually entered into it. We are not clean, indeed, too many of us; but that Gospel which is preached unto us,--that Gospel whose great and most solemn completion we this week celebrate,-holds out to you and to me, to every one of the children of men who need it, a fountain for sin and for uncleannessa means whereby our sins, though scarlet, may be made as white as snow, and we, like the Apostles, may stand in the sight of God as “ clean every whit.” The Gospel is “ Christ crucified;" the power of God, and the wisdom of God: power to root out the most hardened evils of our nature,-wisdom to give even to babes a knowledge beyond all that earthly learning could ever acquire or teach. “Christ crucified” is this week more especially set forth before us: would to God that you and I, and all that in name belong unto him, might so dwell with humble and penitent hearts upon that solemn story, that, when we meet in this place next Sunday, we might be able, with something of a fitting joy, to celebrate and give thanks to “ Christ risen.” How often have we lived over this week of our Lord's passion, and felt no grief and no repentance: how often have we attended his service on Easter-day, and felt no joy. I speak not of the observance of these particular days for any especial sacredness in themselves; one week in itself is but like another: but I speak of the opportunity which it offers; I speak of the necessity, if we ever hope to see God, of feeling at some one time or other of our lives what is contained in those few words, “ Christ crucified, and Christ risen;" of letting our minds embrace the reason why he was crucified, and for what he rose; of learning what it is to be a sinner, and what it is to stand acquitted before the throne of God, forgiven and beloved. This is faith,—and by this, and this alone can we ever be acquitted, or ever overcome the world. We may have a deep knowledge of divinity,-still more may we have a deep knowledge of earthly things;-we
may have many qualities which our friends dearly love, many which even our enemies cannot refuse to honour ;-we may live in comfort, with large enjoyment of the pleasures of sense, the pleasures of understanding, and the delights of affection, and our names may be repeated in after times as men who did worthily in their generation to their neighbours and their country ;—all this may be ; and yet we may awake from our graves, when earth falls in ruin around us, and hear from Him, whom we must hear as a Judge, though we may reject him as a Saviour, that we have had our reward, — that in our lifetime, or at least in earth's lifetime, we have received our good things, and that the cup is now empty for ever. All will have passed away, as a thousand worlds, with all their interests and pleasures, may have passed away already, in infinite space and in infinite time. But of eternal life, and of eternal happiness, there is but one fountain, even God: and to sinners such as we are, that fountain is for ever closed, unless we have access to it through Christ, and for his sake are regarded by his Father as “clean every whit.”
LUKE XVII, 36, 37.
I'wo men shall be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and
the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord ? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
The question here put to our Lord by his disciples, seems to partake somewhat of the spirit in which the prophecies of the Scripture are generally read, and by which their usefulness is very greatly lessened. Nor is this Spirit confined to the prophecies only: it is often seen in the explanations given of the parables of our Lord, and indeed of every other part of Scripture. What I mean, is the habit of making the prophecies or parables allude to one thing only, when in fact they allude to many; the making them relate to particular places, persons, and nations, when, in fact, they
relate to particular sins, temptations, and states of mind, which have existed in a great many different places, and in many different persons and nations. Thus we lose the benefit of what we read in two ways; first, by understanding it as speaking of past times, or of other persons, we keep our own lives and consciences out of its reach; and secondly, we absolutely turn our food into poison, .by using such passages as weapons of controversy, wherewith to triumph over others, instead of turning their edge, as we should do, to cut off what is evil in ourselves.
To apply this to the words of the text. It is very true that Jerusalem was the immediate occasion of our Lord's discourse, and its destruction was the first illustration of the truth of his prophecy. When he declared that “in the days of the Son of Man, two men should be in the field; that one should be taken, and the other left," it was a natural question, on the part of his disciples, to ask him where this would be: in what country, and upon what persons, was this sudden and searching judgment to fall ? Let us mark the words of Christ's answer : “ Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” The words are clearly a sort of proverb; but