" The same is my brother , and shier, and mother.'' — Matt, xil 50.

I HAVE frequently directed your attention, in a general way, to that endearment of feeling towards the Redeemer at which profane men and formalist pretenders are accustomed to mock — charging it with being weak and effeminate, and unworthy of a manly spirit. This charge I am wont to repel by a counter accusation of them, as lavishing similar terms of affection on objects frequently most unworthy, and in all cases immeasurably less worthy than is He who is the object of the Christian's admiration. We challenge them to a comparison. Let them tell whom they admire, and we will tell whom we admire ; so that we may see whose love is the worthier — which is the party that cherishes the affection better calculated to ennoble the souL For according to the object of a man's love will his spirit rise in dignity or sink in degradation. If the object be a mean one, his soul will contract to its small dimensions ; but if a great one, it will enlarge in its efforts to embrace it.

On the foundation of the text before us, I design to illustrate and enforce with more minuteness and particu-


larity. The passage represents our Lord as bearing to his disciples the relation of a kinsman in some of the nearest degrees. Before illustrating, however, the duties

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and consolations contained in the representation, I claim your attention for a few points of doctrinal importance.

Observe, in the first place, that Christ represents it as being a matter of great consequence that a man should be permitted to claim a kinsman's interest in Him. '' I will dignify him with a brother's name, and admit him to a brother's place by my side," is the expression of that patronizing attitude which He assumes. His auditors at the time He uttered the words were no doubt poor and


of humble station in the world ; but although the Soman Caesar had formed one of the company. He would have spoken in the same strain. And when the gospel is preached in its proper spirit at the present day, the address of its heralds to the proudest prince is, '' Thou mayest well felicitate thyself on the happiness and honour, that Jesus of Nazareth condescends to offer Himself to be a brother to thee." Whence is all this ? None of the prophets before Him ever took this high ground. We never find Moses, or Isaiah, or Daniel using it as a motive to serve God that, if a man were faithful, he (Moses, or Isaiah, or Daniel) would honour him by calling him a brother; and as little do we find the apostles imitating Christ in this respect. We demand of Socinians an explanation.

An eminent writer * observes that not on^y does Christ say of EQmself that He is meek and lowly — ^in taking credit for which to Himself we may remark,* by the way, there is something very singular — but the whole of the gospel narrative of his bearing and conduct impresses us with the same effect. And yet, on the Socinian principle, that He was a mere man, never was there one so proud and presumptuous. By the side of the Eternal

? Dr, Harris— in " The Great Teacher. "


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Father Himself He takes his stand and proclaims, ** Ye believe in God, believe also in me." And claiming a preference to the dearest human relatives, He says, '' He that loveth fiftther or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." And again, as in our text, the consideration by which He would induce men to do the will of his Father is, that He will reward them by being a brother to them. How great He must be who made such claims for Himself, and for whom such conduct was a gracious condescension ! Learn, therefore, brethren, another lesson of our Lord's divinity as being the Only Begotten Son of God. For one of such glory alone was it competent, without being chargeable with insufferable presumption,


to speak as Christ does of the honour and advantage which his kinsmanship confers.

Secondly, observe that, liberal as Christ appears in our text in lavishing on his disciples the relations of an endeared kinsmanship, yet it is done with a marked exception. He welcomes a faithful matron to regard herself as a mother to Him, but He gives no similar permission to a father, howsoever patriarchal. This cannot be explained on the principle that his reputed father Joseph does not appear to have been present, so that the reporter did not suggest the fatherly relation ; for neither did the reporter speak of any sister ; and yet when our Lord spiritualizes the incident, a sister's relationship finds a place. It was therefore with design that the father's relationship was excluded. And what was the design ? Evidently to protect the character of his divine incarnation. He permits, yea, welcomes, a devout matron to call herself by the name of his mother ; but not even in a figurative sense wiU He permit any man to call himself by the name of his Father. That honour He preserved entire for God,

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in respect of his human as well as his divine nature. The observation I regard one of much importance, as confirming the doctrines at once of our Lord's eternal Sonship and of his miraculous conception by the power of the Holy Ghost, so that according to the flesh He was the seed of the woman, having an earthly mother but no earthly father.

Thirdly, observe how little importance, comparatively* Christ attaches to carnal descent and connection. It is something, I admit, for a man to have been bom of a pious mother, and it is something for a woman to be the mother of a pious son. It smoothes the way to reconciliation with the divine government ; and after that reconciliation has been effected, strengthens and consolidates the favour. But of itself, and by itself, it is nothing ; and there must be something — even personal faith and weU-doing — ^before it be even of the little profit of which it is possessed.


Christ did not disesteem his mother; on the contrary. He set his disciples the example of being a most tender and dutiful son : but, as if in anticipation of the idolatry of Popish apostasy. He appears to have waited, in a manner, for opportimities to teach his disciples that she derived no very peculiar advantage from the circumstance of her being his earthly parent. For this was not the only occasion on which He spoke and acted, as represented in our text. " A certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast s^jjcked. But He said. Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it." If even that circumstance then, of being the mother of the world's Saviour, does of itself give Mary no prominence in the kingdom of God, and if she is blessed among women, according to the inspired testimony

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of Elizabeth, only " because she believed," how fallacious is the ground when any one among us may be taking comfort to himself in the midst of sin on account of the religion of his lineage ! If thou art a penitent returning to God, then is it part of a good prayer to remember Him of thy mother's piety, as when David prayed, " Turn unto me, and save the son of thine handmaid." But unless, thine be the penitent heart, thy mother's holiness will only double the amount of thy condemnation, as having perished in thy sin, in spite of her example and the remembrance of her virtue.

Fourthly, observe what is the condition on which Christ will acknowledge the kinsman's relation to any one. The condition is beautifully logical First, He Himself is God's Son : then if He see any man doing his Father's will with zeal — " That must be a son of my Father," He wiU say : " for who but a son would serve him thus ? and if he is a son, since I am a son too, he must be my brother." And again, as He looks, there is a youthful maiden — ^''Who could be so devoted to my Father," He says, " but a daughter ? She must, therefore, be my sister." And a third time — " Behold, there is a


matron I See how she waits on my Father's will; who else could do so but my mother ?" Brethren and sisters, look at it ; ponder that word, *' do " ; ponder that phrase, " Do my Father's wiU." There are some whom Christ may find speaking well of his Father, and entertaining certain honourable notions concerning Him, whom He yet does not observe doing — doing anything of his Father's will, but doing only their own wills, or the wills of their friends, or the will of the world. Such He can acknowledge as neither brother, nor sister, nor mother. That acknowledgment He will extend only to those who act

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by his Father, as He Himself acted ; as He acts even now, when seated on the throne itself. His oft-repeated


ascription of filial homage must continue to be, " To do Thy will, O Father, is My supreme delight."

Having thus directed your attention to what may be considered doctrinal in the passage, we are now prepared for the consideration of its sentiment and duty.

Reflect, then, how greq.t are both the folly and the sin of those who despise and reject this proffered kinsmanship of the Son of God. Think, first, of their folly. There is no man's happiness independent of a friend. We are constitutionally framed by God in such a manner that we have no satisfaction in depending on ourselves, and naturally and necessarily look out of ourselves for help, as well as for sympathetic companionship. This was man's state of mind even in innocency ; but much more is it now his condition in this perilous scene desolated by sin. A friendless man presents the heart with one of the most painful images of wretchedness ; and one of the best tests by which we may try a man of the state of his happiness is to ask him, " Who is thy friend ?''

Well, when a worldly man, even in the most favourable conditions, proceeds to recount all his tender friends, and his wise friends, and his wealthy friends, and his honourable friends, how miserable the comfort appears when he


has concluded the enumeration ! For many of his greatest wants not one of them can furnish a supply — against many of his greatest dangers none of them can furnish him with defence. To speak of nothing else, which of them will be of avail to him when assailed by death ? Of how small advantage though they should have assisted him in many minor difficulties before! How nearly worthless of the name of friends, if in this last great

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exigency they shall stand by and leave him to fight the unequal battle for himself! Oh for a Friend then to whom he might commit his spirit, and who, when his body falls, might receive that spirit to Himself, and convey it safely to immortal bliss ! Without a friend who


can do this for him, the man is friendless indeed. With all others he could dispense. Such a one as this is indispensable.

Now, Christ alone is qualified for the work ; and does not the folly amount to madness when any one shall reject His proflFered brotherhood? Hast thou no soul? If thou hast, what friend hast thou secured for it against thy dying hour, so that it be not lost and perish for ever? Hast thou found another who will do thee the service, seeing thou refusest the help of Christ? Who can that other be ? Ah I thy sin is greater than thy folly — it is thy sin which produces the folly ; it is because thy evil heart would rather have no friend at aU than one so holy as the Son of God. Well, be warned. It is impossible that his proffered brotherhood can be treated despitefuUy with impunity. God must avenge it as an insult of the mission of his Son ; and Christ Himself must avenge it in vindication of his honour. It is great guilt of thee to have violated the divine law ; but it is the consummation of sin to insult mercy. Here then is thine alternative: as Christ stands at thy door and knocks, to open and receive Him as thy Brother will be unspeakable salvation ; to persist in refusing Him admittance will be the doubling of thy woe for eternity.


Turning now to the consideration of the case of those who have accepted of the proffered friendship, I call on them to cherish it with much endearment and confiding expectation. The requirement is made for much more of

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such endearment and confidence than might be warrantable in the case of a benevolent stranger. Christ gives, and asks in return, the aflFection of a kinsman — one of our own blood and lineage, a member of the family. There are three classes of us ; first, those whom He salutes as brothers ; second, those whom He salutes as sisters ; and, third, the maternal class.

Of these classes, the first consists of those whom He


salutes as brothers, and there may be distinguished the child, the young man, the middle-aged man, and the old man. Let me express my trust that none of these different parties, since He is not ashamed to call them brethren, are ashamed to return Him the fraternal salutation; but rather that we are found contending with one another who has the strongest claim on his brotherly care and cherishing, so far as our circumstances make the claim strong on his sympathy and care. How interesting this holy debate might be made, till every one having pledged his case as the strongest, they agreed to compromise the matter by admitting that all were equal ! What a mistake it is ; what ignorance it evinces of the salvation of Christ, and insensibility to its need, to think that the brotherhood of the Son of God is a subject to be spoken of principally, at least, to a child ! I am sure I could make out as strong a case at least for men like myself who have attained to the manhood of their lives. A child ! Happy creature ! What are its anxieties, compared with ours, needing a brother's soothing word, assuring us of sympathy and help ? And yet how vain are such invidious comparisons! I think I hear the old man exclaiming, " What are your griefs to mine ? " And then the young man, " What are the temptations and perils of you both, requiring guidance and defence, compared with those by


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which I am beset and assailed ? " Again, therefore, let us all agree that we are equal in our need ; and rejoice that in Christ we have such a Brother, that his attention to one does not prevent his attention to another, nor exhaust his ability to help.

The second class consists of those whom He salutes as his sisters. There can be no question among those who have studied the genius of our faith that the brotherly endearment on the part of Christ is here peculiarly warm, warranting and calling for peculiar confidence on the part of those whom He distinguishes with his affection. On the common principle that a brother cherishes a sister with greater tenderness than he bestows on a brother, we


would be justified in making this representation. But there are other grounds for it. Wherever the curse has fallen heaviest, there is the Redeemer present with peculiar sympathy: and woman's was a two-fold curse, from having been the first to transgress. Accordingly, we find that the personal ministry of our Lord was characterized by the manner in which it honoured the weaker sex, and wherever his religion has gone through the earth, it has been eminently a woman's salvation.

We have already had occasion to remark that in the case of the salvation of our text He exceeded the suggestion of the incident: no sister was spoken of by the reporter as waiting on Him without, and yet when He spiritualizes the incident a sister finds a place in the benediction. Ah! I would that there were more danger of this being taken as flattery. There are miserable thousands whom it rather pains and distresses, if it do not excite their scorn, to be told that the Holy Jesus regards them with a brotherly affection especially tender. Let me express my trust that there are those

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present, whom the thought of it animates only to return Him a love of peculiar ardour. Sisters of Christ ! in proportion to his greater love of you, show yourselves at once sensible of it by your rejoicing in Him, and worthy of it by your devotion to his cause.

And yet, there is better than the sister's portion. "Whosoever doeth my Father's will" shall be "my mother." There is nothing that exceeds this ; yea, there is nothing that equals it in Christian salvation. The matron's lot is the heaviest for sorrow, but equally is it the richest for consolation. No man, howsoever patriarchal, as we have already remarked, may dare think of Christ as being a Son to him; but a faithful matron may, and take to herself all the comfort which the persuasion of his filial cherishing is calculated to impart. It requires, I am aware, strong faith to say, "Thou Son of God, thou art a son to me ; " and I have seldom found


any but matrons well stricken in years whose hearts rose to the height of its comprehension — ^those who are younger usually satisfying themselves with the brotherly relation. But why should not faith be always strong ? The youngest mother has such anxieties that she cannot weU dispense with any consolation which the Lord has provided.

Let us now consider what are the duties which flow from these various relationships, and

(1.) Let us emulate one another in the confidence with which we surrender ourselves to the protection and cherishing of his kinsman love. When troubled with a sense of guilt, let us rely on his intercession on our behalf with the government of his Father. Oh, the thought of it, to have a Brother, yea, for some of you to have a Son at the court of heaven as your advocate.

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and He so high in favour with the king ! How can you doubt that He will plead your cause with earnestness and success? And trust Him not for the pardon of your sin alone ; that is the fundamental blessing, indeed, but it is fundamental, implying that other blessings are superstructed on it. Trust Him with your unclean, perverse, and dull heart, that He may wash it, and rectify it, and animate it by his Spirit Trust Him with your life, that He may preserve it, so long as it is good for you to live. Trust Him with your character, that He may defend it from the poison of calumny ; with your business, that He may prosper it; with your love and friendship, that He may cherish it ; with your family, that He may cause it to flourish. Trust Him with your Church, that He may revive, establish, and honour it. As a patriot, trust Him with your country ; as a philanthropist^ trust Him with the world. Trust Him with all the desire and hope of your heart, that He will consummate them in the inheritance of his heavenly kingdom. Trust Him as He is your Brother. Trust Him by the token that He is your Son. Doubt other brothers and other sons if you


will — ^I know nothing of them — ^but I know Christ. Don't doubt Him. It hurts Him, — ^not only dishonours Him, but hurts his heart, seated on the throne of heaven though He be — when his kindred doubt Him and are suspicious of his affections. " I was vexed for Christ," said Bunyan, "when I thought how my ingratitude must pain Him.'*

(2.) Let us beware of being ashamed of our heavenly kinsman. He is not ashamed to call us brethren, when well He might, but notwithstanding all our poverty and meanness He acknowledges us before his Father and his angels. How wonderful that any of his professed saints

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should be ashaoned to acknowledge Him 1 It is not required of us that we go out to the street and proclaim to every passer-by that we glory in his name ; but to sit silent in company, without retiring, or without, in one way or another, signifying displeasure when his gospel or his saints are defamed; or, in fear of the mockery which resistance would occasion, to comply and unite in doing that which our conscience protests is contraiy to his law and pleasure — ^not only is such conduct most ungenerous to such a loving kinsman, but the guilty one should tremble for these words, ^' He that denieth me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God."

(3.) Let us take care that we do not discredit our heavenly kinsman in the estimation of the world by the unworthiness of our conduct. How ready we are to calculate from one brother^s character to that of another ; and how difficult it is to believe that other is noble and generous, if the one with whom we are acquainted is mean and selfish ; and, especially, if that other, as the elder, have had the charge of his training and education !

Alas, how Christ suffers in this way by the conduct of many of his professed brethren ! The world gets no lesson of his dignity as manifested in them. It gets the reverse : if they are proper examples of Christian discipleship,


their brother's training has produced only meanness and narrowness of mind ; yea, it is well if this be the worst But observe particularly here that, irrespectively of the moral qualities just referred to, an elder brother's character is very much affected by what is observed to be the condition of his brethren in respect of comfort. See then how a discontented, fretful, melancholy state of mind discredits our Lord, as if He were negligent of his brethren's welfare. And you discontented, always-

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complaining, never cheerful or happy mother, how yoa discredit your son! And the more that, for wise ends, his providence has arranged that yoa should spend your days in poverty, the more opportunity


have you for magnifying his love in the eyes of the world, when you show them how the persuasions of his love, and your confidence that He is conducting all things well, sustain your mind and make you cheerful amid all the straitness and pressure of ydur lot.

(4.) " If ye love me, keep my commandments." The idea of obedience to Christ belongs in its entire latitude to his relationship of King, exalted to that office by the decree of his Father. But it is to no inconsiderable extent that such obedience is demanded of us also by his brotherly relation. By natural law, the elder brother, as he shares largely with his father the protection and help of his younger brethren, so does he share largely the authority of regulating and controlling them. And when this is not the case, there is something wrong, either with the elder brother in respect of his unworthiness to command, or with the younger brethren and sisters, in respect of vicious resistance to a most lawful authority. And with regard to the other relation, I know of no case in the economy of human life in which obedience is more sweetly rendered than by a mother to a prudent, manly son.

(5.) Let ns consider one another — consider one another as the brethren, the sisters, and mothers of Christ. If we


consider one another only as we are of ourselves, and in our personal characters, then woe to us for the mutual contempt, and selfish offences, and discords, and want of forgiveness, and hot anger, and revenge which will ensue 1 But regarding one another in charity, notwithstanding our

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many deficiencies^ and even perversities, as the kinsfolk of Christ, then how easy it becomes to love, and to help, and forbear, and forgive ! When the hand is uplifted to smite and the Redeemer's voice is heard interposing, " That is a brother of mine," how quickly the intended inimical blow is changed into the outstretched hand of proflTered reconciliation ! And again, when the widow's petition is being turned away from, with harsh complaints of the


annoyance, how all is changed into respect, sympathy, and help, by that voice from heaven, " She is my mother !"

Finally, I warn you against the delusion of being satisfied with a sentimentalism, which is the product of mere fancy and nervous excitement ; I call upon you to beware of being deluded by the profession of a number of dogmatic, rational propositions, and a life of squared decencies and moralities. I call for a faith founded on as good reasons, but equally for a faith of warm feelings ; and, among other things, that each one of us try his or her heart if it feel any emotion of delight excited by the thought of Christ as a Brother.




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