CHRIST OUR PATTER . BY THOMAS AR OLD, D.D.

Matthew, xvii. 19, 20. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not Ke cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief. It is now not much less than three hundred years ago that what is called the Reformation was brought about in England. A great deal of good was done by it, and a great deal of harm ; because what it destroyed was made up of evil and of good ; and men, in plucking up the tares, rooted up, also, much of the wheat along with them. But one good was done by the Reformation, for which we cannot be too thankful ; that is, it has made us understand that the sole authority for our faith is to be found in the Scriptures, and it has put the Scriptures, to speak generally, within the reach of all of us. or are we slow to confess

24 SERMO III. that this is a very great blessing ; it is for ever talked of as such, and written of as such, and I do not doubt, also, that it is felt to be such. But yet it is very plain that it is not felt to be a blessing nearly so much as it is called a blessing ; for if it were, our lives would be somewhat different from what they are now. Or perhaps it would be more true to say, that although we feel, generally, that it is a blessing to have the Scriptures, and to read them, as the Eunuch, in the Acts, sat in his chariot and read them, although he did not understand

them ; yet, from not always understanding how to read them aright, our hearts do not get the profit from them which they are capable of affording. From this it happens very often that faith does not, as it should do, come by our reading ; and because of want of faith, the evil spirits of our own hearts, and the hearts of others, are not cast out. For what Christ said in the text of the gift of faith, that without it the evil spirit who had afflicted the child with madness could not be cast out of him, is no less true of the grace of faith, that without it no man can cast out of himself, scarcely out of others, the evil spirits of covetousness, of lust, and of pride. ow, to say how the Scriptures may be used aright in all respects, would be a work far too long for the present occasion. If we consider how large a volume the Bible is, we must see at once that

SERMO III. 25 to give full directions for the right understanding of it is a thing not to be done briefly. But I will take one instance of what I mean, than which it would be impossible to find a better. Let us consider how we can use the Scriptures profitably in those parts which speak directly of the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. What St. Paul calls especially his gospel, or good tidings, may be declared, as he has declared it, in very few words. The simple truth, that Christ died for the sins of all men, and that by his rising again we also shall be raised, is easily told, and, as far as the words go, easily remembered. But I have heard it said, that, if in the food which

we eat we were to take out those parts in which the very essence of the nourishment consists, and live upon them only, they would not nourish us nearly as well as they do now. The fibres and substance in our meat must be joined with the finer and more nourishing parts, or else our bodies will not get their nourishment. So, if we take simply what we may call the most nourishing part of God's truth, the doctrine that Christ died for us, and rose again, and present this to our minds continually by itself, our souls will not be nourished by it. God deals with our spiritual food as with our natural food ; what is most nourishing is mixed up with that which in itself is less so, yet makes the nourishment of the other far greater. For

26 SERMO III. take the volume of the ew Testament into your hands — to speak of that only, — and look for all those passages which speak of Christ dying for our sins, and take them out from the rest of the book, and how large a portion of it is still left ! And yet shall we say that this large portion is of no use to us ; that this is but the shell, the other the kernel ; that these are but the beggarly elements, while the other is the fulness of knowledge ? If we do so put asunder what God has joined, we may gain the spirit of pride, or of folly, or of uncharitableness, but we shall not gain the unsearchable riches of God, which he has laid up in his Son, Christ Jesus. But if I have ventured to call one part of the ew Testament less nourishing than another, I trust none will think that it was spoken in irreverence. I used the language rather to meet the feelings of those who most exalt what they particularly call

the Gospel ; — namely, as I said before, the declaration, that we have eternal life through the death and rising again of Jesus. And so far we may grant to them, even while we dislike the habit of making such comparisons, that this truth is the great end and object of all the revelation of God. But it is a truth, which, spoken alone, and to unprepared souls, will never bring forth in them its proper fruits. There are two things very hard to our mortal

SERMO III. 27 nature, and yet most necessary to our happiness ; the one of these is, that we should be very much afraid of sin; the other that we should not be afraid of death. We know quite well, that we ought to be both the one and the other ; but this is not enough : we require to learn how we may become so, as well as to know that we ought to become so. ow it was for this end that Christ lived and died openly amongst us, and that the particulars of his life and death were recorded. He might have borne our nature as truly, and died for our sins as truly, had his life been passed away from the sight of men ; or had he, like Moses, resigned his spirit on the top of some lonely mountain into the hands of his heavenly Father. But how much of the best support of our souls should we have lost, had this been so! We are not only told briefly that he took our nature upon him, that he lived upon earth for more than thirty years : but we are made, in a manner, the witnesses of his birth, the companions of his ripened manhood : we may go about with him to the synagogue, through

the streets, into houses; we may sit down with him at the table, and journey with him in the roads ; we may stand by him amidst the assembled multitudes in Jerusalem, and go with him to the desert places, where he spent the night in prayer after the day had been spent in charity. or are

28 SERMO III. we told simply, as of his servant Moses, that he died in the mount according to the word of the Lord ; — but death, in all its character, is shown as assailing him. We may see how the image of it affected his mind when distant, and how it affected him when near. We see him, if I may so speak, on the most gradual death-bed of the gentlest disease, — when the mind, fully alive to the certainty of its fate, collects its faculties, undisturbed by pain, unclouded by the wanderings of weakness, to receive its awful change. This we witness in his conversation with his disciples on the evening on which he was betrayed ; but because he knew that few of the children of men die thus peacefully, but that the passage is mostly amidst pains and fears, many times amidst indifference and unkindness, sometimes amidst hatred and scorn, — it was his will that we should also see how he bore himself amidst all these. We see him forsaken ; we see him insulted ; we see him enduring the extremity of bodily pain ; we see him — and it is the divinest mercy of all — suffering the extremity of inward trouble, of desolateness, and fear. We see him in all these, and we see him triumph over them all ; and we hear him, when all were overpast, giving up his spirit into the hands of God, to show that, " in all things we, too, may be more than conquerors through him who loved us."

The book in which we may read this is in our

SERMO III. 29 hands, and we can use it when we will. It hardly matters what particular chapter of the Gospels we open, for Christ's life is in every part of it more or less, our pattern. Some may possibly be puzzled how this can be, when there are so many points of difference between him and us. For, not to speak of smaller differences, of time and place, and therefore of habits of living, is it not a great difference that Christ went about from place to place, with no other business than to instruct the people and to cure their sicknesses, while we, for the most part, have a fixed home of our own, and are not, and cannot be, engaged either in teaching or healing diseases, but have each of us our own regular business. It is so; and therefore Christ's example is so much the more needed. Is there one of us who might not apply to himself Christ's words : " I must work the work of Him who sent me while it is day : the night cometh when no man can work?" ow it is the principle here contained which is the great matter of example. There are many of us who perform one part of what is here said well enough ; many who work while it is day, because they know that the night is coming; many, in other words, who are not slothful or idle, but working industriously in their calling, and knowing that time once lost cannot be recalled. ow these persons should learn of Christ to fulfil his words altogether ; not only to

30 SERMO III.

" work while it is day," but to look upon their work as " the work of Him who sent them.'* For so it is, let its nature be what it will : the work of our calling, whatever it be, is the work of God ; and the words of Christ apply to whatever is the business of our lives, as well as to that especial work which was the particular business of his. But this we need to remember, and for this very purpose Christ's life is so useful to us. For we see that God was constantly in his thoughts ; that the desire of his life was to do God's will. He mixed with other men freely, but he never forgot whose he was, and whose work he had to do. But we do forget it constantly; we think that our work is our own work, and will bring with it its earthly fruit ; we rise up to it early, and we late take rest ; but it may be that, except a few short prayers in the morning, and a few more at evening, nothing has recalled us to the thought of our heavenly Master, no part of our work has been hallowed by being done in his name. And what is the consequence? This goes on day after day, and week after week, and our eyes and thoughts are fixed alike upon things visible and earthly. This gives the colour to our minds ; all our impressions come from the things around us ; the things of another world become utterly strange to us. ow things with which we are not familiar are slow in winning our belief; it does not

SERMO III. 31 follow that we should believe them to be false, but their very strangeness will not let us fully receive them and enter into them as true. Any wonderful story belonging to a subject which we have not very often thought about seems incre-

dible to us ; because we do not know what there is to make that which seems so wonderful agreeable in reality to truth and reason. And so it is, above all, with the truths concerning God and Christ. If we keep them generally out of our minds, our belief in them waxes fainter and fainter; we all know how vague and powerless is the fear of God's judgments to restrain us, when the temptation is strong to indulge in our own ways and desires. It is powerless, because it comes across our minds as a sort of stray thought, and finds nothing in our habitual views and notions ready to entertain and sympathize with it. Our hearts say with Pharaoh, " Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" We may well ask, for we, in fact, do not know him. Who is the Lord ? Try and think of him as a spirit, as one who has neither beginning nor end ; who is everywhere, yet with no bodily form. Think of him in this way, and can we find him out by searching ? ay, he is, and will be, for ever hidden ; they are but words with which we deceive ourselves, fancying that they give us real knowledge. But he who has studied God in Christ, who has learnt to feel towards him some-

32 SERMO III. what as Christ felt, to think of him as his Father, who loves him with an infinite love ; who has studied God in Christ in a yet higher sense ; that is, has learnt to love Christ for those divine perfections which his life exhibits, and for the infinite love shown to us in his death ; who thinks of Christ, as gone before him into the unknown world, and amidst every thing there unknown and incomprehensible, can yet fix his thoughts, and hopes, and affections, upon the one object whom he can conceive of, Jesus, the Son of man, " who

is not ashamed to call us brethren ;" such a man has learnt to love God, and so has learnt to know him ; to him God's judgment is not a vague and strange thought ; it represents to him the loss of what is the dearest hope of his life, — to be for ever with Jesus, who gave his own life for him, and, being glorified through Jesus, to be made able to know God as he is. Therefore it seems, to me, that the readiest way to have our faith so strengthened as that it may cast out the evil of our hearts, is to make ourselves fully acquainted with all the particulars of Christ's character and life and death. There we shall see perfect wisdom and perfect goodness presented to us in a form which the humblest can understand and love. Where is the child, however unable to comprehend all that Christ has done for him, who cannot be moved by that simple

SERMO III. 33 scene of Christ calling young children to him, and taking them up in his arms, and laying his hands upon them, and blessing them ? Where is the grown man, craving for some assured staff to lean on amidst the valley of the shadow of death, who may not find it in the story of the raising of Lazarus? Let him read it through, piece by piece, and bless God for the goodness which has left all those minute particulars recorded for us. There we may dwell deliberately on the full manifestation of divine power and love. We see, as it were, the whole process before our eyes ; death suffered to take his full course ; corruption to lay hold upon his prey : every well-known accompaniment of our own end is here : the mourning of our relations, the sorrow of our friends, our sickness, our death,

our burial. And in that calm power which, in his own good time, made the grave to give up its dead, in that voice which called into the darkness of the tomb, " Lazarus, come forth ;" have we not a most comforting warrant of what will also happen to us, when the same power shall destroy death for ever, and the same voice shall reach to the lowest depths of our grave also, and bid us come forth like Lazarus ? But this picture is not presented to us alone. He who had power over death and hell is shown to us as having no rest from daily labour ; as so surrounded by persons craving to be taught or VOL. III. D

34 SERMO III. healed, that he had no leisure so much as to eat ; yet still doing, unwearied, his Father's work, and withdrawing at night into a place apart, where he could commune with God more fully. He is shown to us, ever kind, ever patient, ever watchful for others, ever regardless of himself. May we not hope, if we learn, as we must do, thoroughly to love one so good, — may we not hope that we shall grow ourselves to be more like him ? May we not hope that when we are selfish, proud, unkind, indolent, heedless of God, the recollection of Christ may come upon our minds, and that we may fancy him saying to us, as he did to his sleeping disciples, " Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation : the spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak"? May we not hope that, when we are unforgiving, those words may sound in our ears, in which he stayed the anger of his disciples, when they would have called down fire on the Sa-

maritan village; or in which he prayed for those who had reviled him and crucified him ? May we not hope that when worldly cares are troubling us, or worldly prosperity encouraging us, our hearts may recall his soothing and warning voice ; that the very hairs of our head are all numbered ; that he who seeketh his life shall lose it; that most wretched was his condemnation who laid up treasure for himself, and was not rich toward God? So making his words, on every occasion, familiar

SERMO III. 35 to us ; so bringing before our minds his actions ; so imaging — for surely we may and should try to do so — -his very voice and look ; may we bring our souls into constant communion with Him. And then faith will grow with our love ; and in our confidence in Him whom we have learned to know so well and to love so dearly, shall we not cast out the evil spirit from our hearts, that we may be a lit habitation for him, and may be in him and he in us for ever ?

S2

3G OTE O SERMO III. (Page 35.) So imaging — -for surely we may and should try to do so — his very voice and look, fyc. — I have ventured in another place (Essay on the right Interpretation of the Scriptures, p. 392 and

note), to regret the disuse of the crucifix in Protestant countries ; and as the subject seems to me by no means unimportant in a practical point of view, I shall take this opportunity of recurring to it. 1 . It is manifest to every thinking person that the fact of the incarnation was a virtual repeal of the letter of the second commandment. For in the person of Jesus Christ, there was given us an image of God which we might and should represent to ourselves in our own minds ; and what our thoughts and minds may lawfully and profitably dwell upon, may clearly be no less lawfully and profitably presented to our bodily senses : if it be right and useful to think of Christ,- and by that very name we mean not the abstract notion of deity, but God made man, — the most effectual means of bringing him vividly present to our minds must be the best ; and this is best effected, as is proved by the common feeling of mankind with regard to portraits, by enabling ourselves in some sort actually to see him. At the same time all anthropomorphism, in the bad sense of the term, is barred by the constant language of the Scripture concerning God the Father. The man, Christ Jesus, represents to us not the Godhead as it is in itself, but all that we can profitably conceive of it : the Godhead in itself, we are told, is utterly invisible and incomprehensible ; and to attempt to conceive of it, or to image it to ourselves, were indeed a real violation of the second commandment. 2. The supposed evils of using the crucifix do not follow from the evils which have resulted from the image worship of

OTE OX SERMO III. 37 the Roman Catholics. By far the greater part of their image worship is superstitious and blamable, not from its offering a visible object to our devotions, but an object altogether false and unlawful. Destroy every image of the virgin and the saints, and the feelings entertained towards them are no less blamable : it is the notion formed of them in the mind which

is injurious; and it makes no sort of difference whether this notion be embodied in a visible shape or no. And, again, all the superstition connected with the wood of the true cross, or with the sacredness of any particular image of our Lord, is perfectlv distinct from the Christian use of the crucifix, and has arisen merely from a general ignorance of the Gospel. If our Lord himself were to return to earth, no Christian, I suppose, would refuse to worship him ; yet it would be a gross superstition to believe that his actual presence would of itself save us, or that to touch his garments would at once secure us from the judgment of God. ow what it were superstition to believe of himself, it is of course superstition to believe of his image ; but if his living presence impressed his words more deeply on our hearts, would it be superstition then to seek his company? and if his image, though in a less degree, produce the same effect, if it keep him in our remembrance, and recall our wandering thoughts to him, is it superstition to use such an aid ? 3. The world is ever present to us while Christ is absent. We need therefore all possible means to remind us of him whom visible things so tempt us to forget. Every one has felt the effect of a church in the most crowded parts of a large city ; there, much more than in a peaceful country landscape, we feel thankful for the sight of the spire or tower " whose silent finger points to heaven." But when the church is out of sight, what is there either in town or country to remind us of our heavenly calling? Is this consistent with Christian wisdom, knowing how prompt our senses are to lead us to evil,

38 OTE O SERMO III. to be so careless in making them minister to good ? The Bible Society, and other societies of the same kind, can have circulated the Scriptures to little purpose, if the sight of the cross and the crucifix would indeed minister to superstition rather than to godliness. Bat I believe that it would be far otherwise ; and that it is one great benefit arising from the efforts

of those societies, if we would but use it, that what is in itself a great help to holiness, would no longer, as in the days of the Reformation, be made an occasion of evil, because the true nature of the Gospel was not generally known. It will appear, from what has been said, that pictures or statues of our Lord are less required in a church than in any other place ; and for this evident reason, that by the very act of going to church, and by our employment while there, we are reminded of Christ without any external aid. It is in our own houses, and in public places, not in themselves devoted to a religious purpose, that such Christian memorials are most needed ; and though many would pass by them unmoved, yet there would be also many whom they would touch in some softer moment, and whose better thoughts and resolutions they would powerfully strengthen. or would it be a light matter that a mark of our Christian profession would thus be set visibly upon the whole land. Christianity should be mixed up with every part of our daily life ; but it has been the practice of Protestantism to banish all outward signs of it from every place but a church : and although the signs may exist without the reality, yet it is not easy for the reality to exist amongst a people generally, without being accompanied also by the outward sign.

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