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The Sermon Bible on Luke 1 to John 3

The Sermon Bible on Luke 1 to John 3

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HONORABLE S. H. BLAKE, K.CST. LUKE I. TO ST. JOHN III.TORONTO WILLARD TRACT DEPOSITORY,CORNER YONGE AND TEMPERANCE STS.,TORONTO.INTRODUCTION.USEFUL Commentaries, on St. Luke, are those of Godetand of Farrar (" in the Cambridge Bible for Schools ").Foote s " Lectures on St. Luke " may be consulted withadvantage; also Mr. Burton s volume on St. Luke in the" Expositor s Bible." Maurice s " Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven" contains some good suggestions.THE SERMON BIBLE.ST. LUKE.REFERENCES: i. 1-4. E. White, Christian World Ptilpit, vol.xviii., p. 289; A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 41.i. 1-5. F. D. Maurice, Ihe Gos fid of the Kingdom, \>. i.Chap, i., vers. 3, 4." It seemed good to me also, having had perfectunderstanding of all things from the very first, to write unto theein order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know thecertainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."SCRIPTURE and the Authority of the Church.I. St. Luke tells Theophilus that it seemed good to him towrite in order an account of our Lord s life and death, thatTheophilus might know the certainty of those things in whichhe had been instructed ; and this, as a general rule, might welldescribe one great use of the Scripture to each of us : as individual members of Christ s Church, it enables us to know thecertainty of the things in which we have been instructed.II. Our individual faith, although grounded in the firstinstance on parental authority, yet rests afterwards on whollydifferent grounds ; namely, on the direct evidence in confirmation of it which is presented to our own minds. But withregard to those who are called the Fathers of the Church, it iscontended sometimes that we do receive the Scriptures, in theend, upon their authority; and it is argued that, if tjheir authority
is sufficient for so great a thing as this, it must be sufficient foreverything else; that if, in short, we believe the Scripturesfor their sake, then we ought also to believe other things whichthey may tell us, even though they are not to be found inScripture. In this argument there is the great fault that itmistakes the question at the outset. The authority of theFathers, as they are called, is never to any sound mind theonly reason for believing in the Scriptures. In truth, the internal evidence in favour of the authenticity of the Scripturesis that on which the mind can rest with far greater satisfactionthan on any external testimonies, however valuable. It hasbeen wonderfully ordered, that the books, generally speaking,VOL. VII. I2 ST. LUKE. [i. 5.are their own witness. When, therefore, we are told that, aswe believe the Scriptures themselves upon tradition, so weshould believe other things also, the answer is, that we do notbelieve the Scriptures either entirely or principally upon whatis called tradition ; but upon their own internal evidence, andthat the opinions of the early Christians, like those of othermen, may be very good on certain points, and to a certaindegree, without being good in all points and absolutely.T. ARNOLD, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 236.Chap, i., ver. 6.MAN S Extremity God s Opportunity.Reflect :I. On the low ebb to which the fortunes of the house of Israel were reduced at the period when St. John the Baptistwas miraculously born. The very language in which thesacred books are written, had long ceased to be a spoken language. The noble spirit of the ancient days had, in a greatmeasure, died out. The very nationality of the Jews had beenbroken up. Mixed races inhabited Galilee ; aliens dwelt in thecities of Samaria; Judea itself had become a conquered province.An Idumsean was king, and even he was but the viceroy of ahigher Gentile power. A Roman governor dwelt at Caesarea, andhad his law court in the capital. The descendants of Abraham were heard to declare : " We have no king but Caesar."II. The state of religion and morals. What a degradedpeople the Jews must have been, that the very ministers of religion should have deserved such reproaches as our Lordshowered down upon them in the twenty-third chapter of St.Matthew s Gospel ! Their shameful way of evading the lawof God even the law of nature by a system of quibblingtraditions ; their shameful violation of the law of marriage ;their neglect of the Fifth Commandment ; their hollowness aboutthe Fourth ; all that happened in the highest quarters in thematter of our Lord s betrayal, death, resurrection, showing suchan utter contempt for truth, justice, right ; you cannot read andweigh the story carefully without feeling that the race musthave been degraded and corrupt ; that, indeed, things had sunk to a miserably low ebb everywhere.III. Now it was at s\ich a time as this, that the message of the Angel Gabriel to Zacharias, as he officiated in the Templeat Jerusalem, conveyed the first tidings of the coming Gospel.When night was darkest the day began to dawn, and the firsti. I5-] ST. LUKE. 3
faint streak of light the harbinger and earnest of the glorythat was to follow was that message of the Angel. The lessonis to us a consolation, a help, and a warning. Be content toleave the future of thy Church, thy country, in the hand of God.In His own good time He will work work wondrously, butnot yet. The night is darkest before the springing of the day.The gathering clouds are meant to conceal the coming glory.Let the shadows, therefore, yet deepen apace, and be thoupatient.J. W. BURGON, Ninety-one Short Sermons, No. 60.REFERENCES: i. 6. Preacher s Monthly, vol. i., p. 40. i. 6-80.A. B. Bruce, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 14. i. 8-23. Ibid., p. 41.i. 10. Preacher s Monthly, vol. vii., p. 175.Chap, i., ver. 15." He shall be great in the sight of the Lord."I. WHAT makes people great in the sight of men ? Severalthings do this; but birth, money, and talents are the chief things which give this kind of greatness.II. What makes people great in the sight of God ? It isnot any of the things which lead to greatness in man s sight.A person may be born of the greatest king that ever lived, andbe as rich as Stephen Gerard, and have many talents, and yetbe never great at all in the sight of God. And then, on theother hand, a person may be born in a garret or a cellar, Andnever have any money to call his own, and no talent at all toto do anything that men call great, and yet may be really greatin the sight of the Lord. What made John the Baptist great ?And what will make others as great as he was ? The answeris Obedience. It was simply his obedience which led to allJohn s greatness. He did just what God wanted him to do.He did nothing else, and he did this all the time. And if weobey God, as John did, it will make us great in His sight too.All the greatness which people get in men s sight is little andempty; but it is vast, wonderful, substantial greatness whichthey get who become great in the sight of God.III. Why is it better to be great in the sight of the Lordthan in the sight of men ? We may answer the question bysaying that it is so for three reasons, (i) Greatness in God s sightis better than greatness in man s sight because it is more useful.Great men in God s sight are more useful than others by theirexample. Now the most useful thing that can be done to anybody is to make him a Christian. But there is nothing likethe influence of a Christian s example to help to make others4 ST. LUKE. [i. 17.Christians. (2) This greatness is more lasting than the other.Greatness in man s sight a greatness that connects itself with birth, or money, or talents merely will soon pass away ;but greatness in God s sight a greatness that connects itself with our being made good and holy will never pass away.(3) It is within the reach of all. This is not true of greatnessin the sight of men, but it is true of greatness in the sight of God. But there were three things in John s case that we mustremember if we want to succeed : (i) John began early ; (2)John had the Holy Spirit to help him ; (3) John gave up everything that was likely to hinder him from becoming great.R. NEWTON, Rills from the Fotmtam of Life, p. 71.REFERENCES: i. 15. J. Keble, Sermons for Saints Days, p. 257;J. H. Hancock, Christian IVorld Ptilpit, vol. xiii., p. 388 ; NewManual of Sunday School Addresses, p. 216

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