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The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk ; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear ; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them ; and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me. — Matthew, xi., 5, 6. 1. The miracles are mentioned which were not parts of the Gospel, hut proof s of Christ's divine power, and consequently of the truth of his doctrine. Miracles are the o?ily kind of proof applicable, if free agency is respected, and, therefore, the most probable and credible of any. They properly ceased with Christ and his apostles, and so showed, by their cessation as well as by their performance, His divinity. They were all benevolent, evincing infinite goodness as well as power, and so won men's hearts to the doctrines of the Savior. 2. " The poor have the Gospel preached to them." This is a peronanent proof, and it is ranked with miracles. This care for the poor was divine. o other system was made for the masses, but for the learned — for the rich — for priests. The Father of all provides in the Gospel for all his family, *" Proverbs, i., 24-28
342 THE ADAPTATIO OF THE and cares especially for the greatest number, and the most needy. 3. It is implied that the Gospel is an antidote for the ills of the poor. This is seen in the fact that,
(1.) It prevents distressing poverty by the inculcation of industry — temperance — frugality. (2.) It guards against fraud and oppression by its precepts, and the enactment of the great lavv^ of reciprocity, '' Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" " Whatsoever ye w^ould that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (3.) It relieves poverty, by enjoining benevolence, charity, alms-giving ; by visits of condolence, and sympathy, and practical kindness ; by erecting and sustaining homes for the destitute, asylums, and hospitals. Let theorizing philanthropists try this method. Let them direct their efforts to the conversion of sinners, and thus will they lay the best and only foundation for progress. They will thus follow God's plan. 4. The Gospel blesses the common lot of life especially. Christ chose it as the most excellent way. He might as easily have been a monarch as a carpenter's son. All the inconveniences of common life become disciplinary — " work together for good" to Christians. They make the " weight of glory" greater. They form occasion for the cultivation and the exhibition of virtues that could not exist otherwise : patience — resignation — charity. These facts, if held in lively faith, would a thousand-fold counterbalance the evils of common life. 5. The Gospel is for the poor in its universality — in its freeness — in its conditions. Faith in Christ, which is alike easy to all, requires neither great knowledge, nor great intellect, nor religious education, nor righteousness. " Look unto me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth." " Behold the Lamb of God." 6. The Gospel speaks directly to the people, without inter-
GOSPEL TO THE POOR. 343
mediary agencies. Its proper object and function bring it directly into contact with individual minds. It appeals to personal consciousness, and convictions of duty, and obligation. The whole travail and inward history of a soul, obeying, receiving, resisting, or rejecting the Gospel, is made up of matters with which preaching, and ordinances, and Church have nothing to do. It is a struggle between divine truth and fallen nature, vailed from human observation. Men feel that it is an address, an appeal by the Gospel, to themselves. External agencies may have been instrumental in exciting reflection, but they are needs forgotten in the sequel, and all the soul is conscious of are claims inwardly felt, and its own doubts, and thoughts, and fears, and purposes in regard to them. Every man feels this. He knows he is handling the things of eternity — of God, and laying the foundations of his future habitation. If he resists, he is conscious that he does a diabolical and suicidal work — that he works out his own damnation. Unless under some deep delusion, he can not be made to think that the preacher, or the Church, or rites, or creeds, can do any thing in the special business that is in hand. They have been vehicles for bringing God's truth to liim, and no more. How he will treat it, what it shall do for him, himself must decide. 7. So of the divine agencies by which the careless are awakened, the penitent converted, and the believer sanctified. The Gospel brings them all home to the people — to the poor — to the individual. "God works in them." "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." His body becomes a " temple of the Holy Ghost." ot the clergy — not the Church specially — but individuals, are " led" — are " enlightened" — are " comforted" by the Spirit. All this great intercourse with the Almighty is to be carried on by the principal. He can not negotiate by embassadors — can not work through stewards and agents. Each individual stands apart from all others. God's Spirit is in him.
344 THE ADAPTATIO OF THJ
It has a distinct work to do in him. He has a separate destiny to settle. His own trembling heart has to say if it will war against God. " Choose you this day whom ye will serve." " Behold, I stand at the door and knock ; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him." God says to the individual, Behold, I am near you, " even in your heart." " Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord ; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."=* Thus does the Gospel make its distinct issue with each soul. Christ comes to each, and has his negotiations with him as truly as if all the universe beside were annihilated. 8. The Gospel adapts itself to the "poor" — to the common mind, in its manifestation of testimony. It puts its law in the mind, and writes it on the heart of its disciples. The witness of the Spirit is precisely of this kind of popular testimony, if I may so call it. God's Spirit bears witness with .man's. God speaks directly. Inferences, books, good logic, the pastor's opinion, are all superseded, in this sort of proof, by a direct divine manifestation ; and I can not see what less would do. It would be a sad thing to be left to uncertain deductions. The heart would sorrow and break, if it might not hear its absolution from God. The other kind of proof, inferential and experimental, recognizes the same great principle. When we appeal to the fruits of the Spirit, " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," we appeal to the people — to their consciousness. Of whom shall I inquire if I have peace and joy ? Of the pastor ? the presbytery ? the Church ? Shall I ask my neighbor if I love God with all my heart ? Whose testimony do I want to convince me that I believe — that Christ
is in me the hope of gloiy ? In the progress of religion, each man is to " deny himself, * Josh., xxiv., 15; Rev., iii., 20; Isaiah, i., 18.
GOSPEL TO THE POOR. 345
and take up his own cross, and follow Christ ;" and in the great day, every man shall be judged according to his works. " If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it."-* Infere7ices. 1 . The Gospel is preached to the poor— to the masses. It is made for them— it suits them. Is it not for the rich— for the cultivated— the intellectual ? ot as such. They must become as the poor— as little children— as fools. They must come down to the common platform. They must be saved just like so many plowmen or common day-laborers. They must feel themselves sinners— must repent— trust in Christ, like beggars— like publicans. Sometimes we hear men prate about "preaching that may do for common people, while it is good for nothing for the refined and the educated." This is a damning heresy. It is a ruinous delusion. All breathe the same air. All are of one blood. All die. There is precisely one Gospel for all ; and that is the Gospel that the poor have preached to them. The poor are the favored ones. They are not called up. The great are called down. They may dress, and feed, and ride, and live in ways of their own choosing ; but as to getting to heaven, there is only God's way— the way of the poor. They may fare sumptuously every day, but there is only one sort of Manna. 2. That is the Gospel which is effectually preached to the poor, and which converts the people. The result shows it. It has demonstration in its fruits. A great many things held
and preached may be above the common mind — intricate requiring logic and grasp of intellect to embrace them. They may be true— important, but they are not the Gospel— not its vital, central truths. Take them away, and the Gospel Mali remain. Add them, and you do not help the Gospel. That is preached to the poor. Common people can under* Prov., ix., 12. P2
346 THE ADAPTATIO OF THE GOSPEL, ETC. Stand it. This is a good test. All the rest is, at least, not essential. 3. There are hot controversies about the true Church. What constitutes it — what is essential to it — what vitiates it ? These may be important questions, but there are more important ones. It may be that there can not be a Church without a bishop, or that there can. There can be none without a Gospel, and a Gospel for the poor. Does a Church preach the Gospel to the poor — preach it effectively? Does it convert and sanctify the people ? Are its preaching, its forms, its doctrines adapted s,pecially to these results ? If not, we need not take the trouble of asking any more questions about it. It has missed the main matter. It does not do what Jesus did — what the apostles did. Is there a Church — a ministry — that converts, reforms, sanctifies the people ? Do the poor really learn to love Christ ? Do they live purely and die happy ? I hope that Church conforms to the ew Testament in its government and forms as far as may be. I trust it has nothing anti-Republican, or schismatic, or disorderly in its fundamental principles and policy. I wish its ministers may be men of the best training, and eloquent. I hope they worship in goodly temples, and all that ; but I can not think or talk gravely about these matters on the Sabbath. They preach a saving Gospel to the poor, and
that is enough. It is an apostolic Church. Christ is the corner-stone. The main thing is secured, thank God. 4. Our subject gives a test for all questions, doctrines, and usages. " Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." Such was the language of the Savior, when he had declared the proofs of his Messiahship. Such is now the language of the Gospel, as it rests its claims on its genius and fruits. Men stumble at religion, by looking too high or too deep for it. They will not see its divinity in its adaptation to godhke ends — its care for the race — its condescension to our low estate. Its glory, its majesty, are moral and spiritual. It cometh not with observation, but is mighty, through God, to convert the soul. It is preached to the poor. It is revealed unto babes. Its Manna falls on all the plain, about the tents of the people. One fountain only has been opened. That is for the poor. Yet it is free to all. *' Ho ! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters : buy wine and milk without money, and without price." " And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."*
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