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hold it fast, to cleave to it with per- Truth becomes influential as it is severing faith, to yield themselves brought into contact with the mind. up fully to its influence.
It thus diffuses its powerful health Men may hold Christianity to be throughout the soul. true, and yet never be under its The spiritual mind is in this way proper influence, never continue in nourished; for attention to the acthe faith. They may believe Chris- knowledged truths of Christianity tianity without acting upon it ; their feeds the spiritual life. There is an practical judgment and their con- alienation of mind from God and duct may remain the same as if goodness, which grows in us if there Christianity were not true. But we be no efforts of attention, no care, must continue in the faith, obey its no vigilance in the consideration of influence, and place conscience under truth. And, on the other hand, its direction. Christianity has a Di- there is a spirituality of mind, which vine power to mould the soul more is corroborated and advanced as we and more after its own image, the bestow pains on religion, and fix our image of the Saviour.
thoughts and contemplations on its To this end, we must have the doctrines, under the teaching of the same truths stated over and over Holy Ghost. again. It is not new food, but the III. The Apostles guarded their constant return of the same simple disciples from being turned away food, which nourishes and preserves from the profession and practice of health. Thus, we do not teach you Christianity by tribulation. They new things, but the same, and en- told them, “how that through much deavour to bring your hearts into tribulation,” many trials, various unison with them. They are divine, worldly discouragements and perliving, efficacious principles. When secutions, “ they must enter the they are heard in simplicity they pro- kingdom of God." It was a new duce correspondent effects, though thing to these converts to suffer for there may be a persuasion in the Christ : the Saviour had only just mind of the hearer that he has heard begun to put his cup into their them before. The efficacy of the hands. All Christians must suffer, ministry consists very much in stir- though not in the same degree, or ring up the minds of Christians by under similar circumstances, with way of remembrance, recalling them those of the first age : through to acknowledged principles. Truth much tribulation they must enter is often a quiescent, inactive prin- the kingdom of God. For there is ciple—a seed, not dead perhaps, a kingdom before them, and only but yet not vigorous and vivifying. one way to enter it, and that is by But by loosening the mould, so to tribulation; and not by tribulation speak, around it, it becomes preg- thinly scattered in the midst of nant again, and shoots forth with flowery paths; but by much tribunew life.
lation, thickly sown and continually Thus we enforce and renew the returning. impressions which truth has made. And St. Paul doubtless confirmed Faith admits of all manner of de- the souls of the disciples by his own grees; for everything short of demon- conduct and experience. He shewed stration admits of degrees, and moral by his return to them after being subjects do not allow of demonstra- stoned, his superiority to the inflution. The more we attend to the ence of fear. He comforted them Christan doctrine, and fix our con- that were in any trouble by the templations upon it, and renew and comfort wherewith he himself was deepen the impressions of its truth, comforted of God. the more will our persuasion practi- We are called to a certain procally become strengthened, and our portion of the same tribulation; or faith be vigorous and productive. if not, yet to others not less difficult to bear. There is an opposition be- done the will of God ye may inherit tween the world and the church, the promise.” “Tribulation worketh which nothing can compose. The patience, and patience experience, two bodies never can walk in union. and experience hope." He that is born after the flesh per- There is an arduous struggle in secuteth him that is born after the the Christian course. There must Spirit. The seed of the serpent and be a perpetual effort, a constant rethe Seed of the woman are at en- suscitation of the powers of the mind. mity together, and nothing can de- Who can deny himself and live a life stroy this internal hostility but re- of faith, surrounded as he is with generating grace. The Christian objects full of seduction, but by an must sacrifice his popularity, the effort, a resolution, a courage not to esteem of men ; must be willing to be overcome, with an eye fixed upon be despised by many, and accounted the Captain of his salvation ? weak and extravagant; must forego A man may live a life of worldly many advantages, desert many lu- morality, and be applauded, and feel crative openings, and choose rather no conflict within or without; but if a to suffer affliction with the people of man is truly spiritually minded, and God, than enjoy the pleasures of acts accordingly, he will have fightsin for a season. He must stand in ings and persecutions to endure. a position ready to make any sacri- And one way of confirming the soul fices for conscience sake.
is to remind us that this is necesThere are seasons in every man's sary; that Jesus Christ did not delife when he must make his choice, ceive us, that he bid us from the and shew that he prefers eternity to first to sit down and count the cost. all the vain advantages of this tran- Are there, then, any before me in sient world.
danger of being moved from their Besides, Christians have to fight stedfastness? Let them recollect with the remains of corruption in that these tribulations are the very their own hearts. They have to test of their Christian profession. endure eclipses of the Sun of Righ- Grace which is not tried can never teousness. Indwelling sin will dis- be known to be genuine. God deturb their peace and joy. They are signs by these afflictions to humble engaged in a real conflict, not merely you, and to prove you, to know what with flesh and blood, but with prin- is in your heart. cipalities and powers, with the rulers Do not think that because dis. of the darkness of this world, with couragements arise you must despiritual wickedness in high places. cline the particular duties before In this conflict the Christian must you. Just the contrary. The more struggle and fight. It is Christ, in- difficulties arise, the more it is the deed, that supplies all the strength, will of God, supposing the thing be but the Christian himself must fight: in itself right, that you should go it is he himself that wields the wea- “ Our light afflictions, which pons, that makes the effort, that re- are but for a moment, work out for sists and overconies; whilst Christus a far more exceeding and eternal strengthens his arm, and gives the weight of glory.”
And when we set the kingdom Christ, the Captain of our salva. which is before us over against the tion, was made perfect through suf. trials in the way, there appears to ferings; and so must we be. The be no comparison between them. furnace must be kindled for us, as Soon will the conflict be over: soon much as for any of the saints of old. will the storms of the voyage give All the church has walked in this place to an eternal serenity. way, patiently enduring the will of Can we, then, for a moment hesiGod. “ Ye have need of patience,” tate as to our choice? Shall we says the Apostle, “that after ye have not, like the Apostles, rejoice that CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 351.
we are counted worthy to suffer There are some objections to this shame for his name? Shall we not explanation. consider it, as they did, a gift vouch- Ist. It is not the most obvious safed by Divine goodness, to suffer interpretation; and that interpretafor the sake of Christ ? “ To you,” tion should not be abandoned, exsays the great Apostle, “it is given, cept it be necessary to preserve on the behalf of Christ, not only consistency in different passages of to believe on him, but also to suffer Scripture. for his sake."
2d. There seems no reason why Let us aim, then, at that rooted he should intimate doubts himself piety, which takes stronger hold and which he did not entertain, when becomes more deeply fixed in con- he might just as reasonably and as sequence of our trials. The true easily have professed his object in Christian who has passed through the message to have been to satisfy much tribulation is ripened thereby the doubts of his disciples : much for the glory and bliss of heaven. less why our Saviour should seem, as God has sufficient cordials for his it were, to countenance a deception, suffering servants to make them re- by telling the messengers to “go joice in tribulations. And the same and shew John again" the things God can embitter all worldly pros. which they heard and saw ; when he perity to those who refuse to suffer must have known, from his Divine for him; and make it either awfully intuition, that John himself wanted destructive in its consequences, or no satisfaction upon the subject, but send his frown with it, which shall only his disciples, if such had been make them loathe their earthly com- the fact. forts and pleasures. He has pro- 3d. It appears that not only John mised to give his afflicted servants himself, but also his disciples, at all things that pertain unto life and one time believed Jesus to be the godliness ; yea, that he will withhold Messiah ; for Andrew, and another of no good thing from them that walk John's disciples, left John upon his uprightly.
pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of (To be continued.)
God, and followed the latter. And the next day Andrew told his brother Peter, “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."
At one time, therefore, it should seem to bave been the persuasion
of the disciples of John, as well as To the Editorof the Christian Observer. of John himself, that Jesus was the The reason why John the Baptist Messiah ; and there seems no reason sent his disciples to Jesus, to know why they should require further satiswhether or not he was the Messiah, faction, if he did not. has been thought by the commen- Perhaps the most obvious and tators to require explanation : “Art natural explanation of the matter is, thou he that should come, or look that, though John at first believed we for another ?" (Matt. xi. 2.) Jesus to be the Messiah, he had
It appears from the earlier part afterwards some doubts about it, of John's ministry that he himself and that to remove these doubts was pointed out Jesus as the Messiah, the object of the message. If these and therefore, it is contended, could doubts can be rationally accounted require no additional satisfaction on for, the only difficulty upon the subthat heard; and that his motive for ject is at an end. sending the message to Jesus was, We are told that certain facts and not to convince himself, but to con- circumstances respecting Jesus were vince his disciples.
miraculously revealed to John, which
ON THE MESSAGE OF JOHN THE
BAPTIST TO JESUS.
led him to believe that he was the have been in their apprehension expected Messiah. (See John i. 29, only subordinate and incidental at33, 34, 36, 41, 49, &c.) But it does tributes. This opinion was comnot appear that in the revelation so mon to the disciples of Jesus with made to him he received any dis- the other Jews, and that during the tinct or precise assurance of that whole continuance of their Master's fact, though from what was revealed life; for, till his ignominious death, he was induced to believe it. But by which they were utterly conthis first belief, unsupported, so far as founded, and their hopes disapwe know, by any further inspiration, pointed, they were in continual exinay have been left, like other no- pectation of his taking upon himself tions derived from human sources, the government of the country and to be retained in the mind or dis- asserting its independence. One pissed, confirmed or weakened, ac- of his earliest disciples says, on cording to what he saw and heard of seeing him, " Thou art the Son of the circumstances of the life and God, Thou art the King of Israel.” conduct of Jesus, and the corre- The disciples who saw him on their spondence he observed between way to Emmaus on the day of his those circumstances and the repre- resurrection, said, in the course of sentations of the Messiah contained the conversation they had with him in the Prophecies.
before he discovered himself, after Now we are not informed that speaking of his crucifixion, “ But we there was much, if any, intercourse trusted it had been he which should kept up between our Saviour and have redeemed Israel.” Even after John the Baptist, after his baptism. his resurrection, and to the last moJohn therefore could be acquainted ment of his appearing upon earth, with but few circumstances of our his disciples had not abandoned the Saviour's life, and had therefore very idea of his assuming the secular goscanty means of forming an opinion vernment. Just before his ascension of the conformity of his actions we are told, Acts i. 6, “when they" with the representations of prophecy. (the apostles) “ therefore were come Some of the circumstances which together, they asked of him, saying, came within his immediate observa. Lord, wilt thou at this time restore tion, were no doubt of a nature to again the kingdom to Israel ?" Inlead to the well-grounded opinion deed, the notion of temporal power that they could belong to no other and authority was so strongly asthan the promised Messiah; and from sociated with the character of the these and other circumstances John Messiah in the popular ideas of the did infer that Jesus was the Messiah. Jews, that when Jesus took upon But there is no reason to suppose himself that character it was consithat John did not attach to the cha- dered as tantamount to an assumpracter of the Messiah the same ideas tion of the title and authority of as the rest of his countrymen- their King ; which may partly acnamely, that he was to be a temporal count for the violent opposition and prince, to assume the government of cruel persecution he met with from the country, and to deliver the Jews the governing authorities. from their enemies. This notion, of We may reasonably presume, , the temporal power of the Messiah therefore, that John, partaking of as their King, was so flattering to the this general persuasion of his counpride of the Jews, and so calculated trymen, and being led to believe to attract their imaginations, that it that Jesus was the promised Mes. may well be supposed to have been siah from the few circumstances of the most prominent idea in their his life that had come to his knowviews of the character of the Mes- ledge, would entertain a full exsiab, and all the other peculiarities pectation that Jesus was to accomascribed to him in the prophecies to plish in his own person the most
prominent to human apprehension, Messiah (setting aside any special and striking characteristic of the inspiration) must have been from Messiah, by putting himself at the prophecy. The only means of knowhead of the government, investing ing whether any particular person himself with temporal power and was the Messiah, must have been by authority, and restoring the inde. comparing the actions and circumpendence and glory of the Jewish stances of such person with the acnation. He might probably hope tions and circumstances attributed also, under such a dispensation, for to the Messiah in the prophecy. The -an amelioration of his own condition, belief, therefore, that such particular and protection and relief from his person was the Messiah, must have oppressors.
been stronger or weaker, according But being disappointed in this as the circumstances of his life, as expectation ; finding that Jesus took they arose one after another, correno steps towards investing himself sponded more or less with the prowith temporal power; that this sup- phecy, or with the expectations posed feature of the character of the founded upon the prophecy. The Messiah was still wanting in him ; few circumstances of the early life and that, so far from Jesus being in of Jesus, with which John was pera condition to afford him protection sonally acquainted, literally correor support, he was more than ever sponded, or were exactly consistent, exposed to the power of his perse. with the prophecies of the Messiah; cutors, who had recently consigned and upon these was founded his first him to prison; he might naturally belief that Jesus was the Messiah. begin to entertain some doubts, not His faith afterwards wavered, upon indeed that Jesus was a person of finding that Jesus did not fulfil the extraordinary character and attri- further expectations which he, as butes, and highly favoured and com- well as others, had erroneously in missioned of God, but that he was respect, at least, to the time of their the very Messiah predicted in the fulfilment) formed of the Messiah. prophecies. The object, therefore, And he reasonably sought to be of the message in question may well satisfied, whether, notwithstanding have been to satisfy these doubts. one main circumstance was yet
The mode which our blessed wanting to complete in his idea the Saviour took to satisfy the doubts character of the Messiah, Jesus was of John, is very remarkable. He the person who it was prophesied does not suddenly strike conviction should come, or whether they were on his mind; he does not pronounce to expect another person : himself with authority to be the
thou he that should come, or look Messiah : be merely desires the mes- we for another?" The answer Jesus sengers to tell John what they saw returns is not an authoritative de. and heard; and thus supplies him, by claration upon the subject, but a the natural means of human testi- simple reference to his own actions ; mony, with all the information which were of a nature so peculiar, which he wanted to enable him, so extraordinary, so plainly miracuwith the knowledge of the prophe. lous, and so exactly conformable to cies which he possessed, to deter- the representations contained in the mine whether Jesus was the pro- prophecy of the Messiah, as to leave mised Messiah or not. So that the no doubt on the mind of the Baptist evidence on which the faith of John that Jesus, and no other, was the rested was, as to the facts of the Messiah pointed out by the Scripcase, that same solid foundation tures as “ He that should come.” of unimpeachable human testimony If this be a true account of the open to all other persons.
message sent by John to our SaUpon the whole, the only know. viour, it gives occasion to the folledge John could have had of the lowing observations.