Page images

difficulties which they have to encounter in their progress to heaven. "Strive," says he," to enter in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate that leadeth to destruction, but strait and narrow the way which leadeth to life;" and he proceeds to illustrate his meaning, by shewing that even they who have professed to lead religious lives will obtain no favour, unless their actions have been conformable to their words. "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord," he says, "shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." These words we ought never to lose sight of, and especially when we see so many who are inclined to substitute a profession of great zeal for religion, for the duties and obligations of it.

Our Saviour concludes his Sermon on the Mount with the following expressive words. 66 Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

It is said that "when Jesus had ended all these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine."

It is for us, knowing "whose we are and whom we serve," to cherish every expression of our blessed Lord, and to lay every command of his to heart. Let us then, diligently, study this divine discourse of his, and endeavour to obey the

precepts which it contains. Let us strive to subdue our passions to the peaceful disposition which he enjoins; to conquer our affections; to feel in our hearts the reality and the truth of his religion. Whether we pray, we fast, or give alms, let us do it in respect to him, not regarding what man may think or say of us, while we feel that we are acting from true principles. Let us, however, examine these principles; let us view them in every light, and place them in every situation, that we may ascertain how far we are correct in our opinions, and how far, perhaps, we may be in error and in doubt.

In this investigation, we shall do well to betake ourselves to God for assistance, for he alone "who knoweth the secrets of all hearts," can aid us in the difficult task of knowing our own.

And if we find that the high point at which we are to aim is above our reach; that, however we may strive, we cannot attain "to be perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect;" then let us con

tinue still in our weaknesses and infirmities, to turn to him, who alone can help and direct us. Let us repose on him for aid; let us rely on him for assistance; let us pray to him for the grace of his holy Spirit; and then let us hope that if we cannot in this world become "pure as he is pure, and holy as he is holy," yet that in the next world" our souls may be washed in the blood of the immaculate Lamb, and that thus, whatever defilements they may have contracted in the midst of this naughty world, through the lusts of the flesh, or the wiles of Satan, being purged and done away, they may be presented pure, and without spot, before God1;" and thus obtain a share of that everlasting salvation prepared for all those who endeavour, in reliance on their blessed Saviour, to fit themselves to partake of it. Which may God Almighty grant us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 Visitation of the Sick.



ST. MATT. xiii. 3.

He spake many things unto them in parables

AMONG the many indirect proofs which the Gospels afford us of the divinity of our blessed Saviour, one, and that not the least, may be found in the exceeding great learning which he possessed, and the even profusion of knowledge and information which he displayed. This is the more remarkable from the acknowledged meanness of his human birth, and the apparent insufficiency of his education. At the conclusion of the chapter from whence our text is taken, we find his countrymen expressing their wonder at his wisdom and his mighty works, and by that very expression, confirming at

« PreviousContinue »