« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
ficed at its unhallowed shrine. Blinded by it, we will not look at its emptiness, sting, and fleeting nature. How often have we refused to let "the glorious gospel" shine upon us, lest it should destroy our pleasures, interrupt our gayety, and check our mirth! And for pleasure we sell our souls! For this we purchase “outer darkness !”
It is no cause of wonder that the gospel is hid to the worldly. They desire not to see it, they use not the means. Unless you change your course, to you it will always be hidden. The time will come when God will reward you according to your ways!
THE COMMON PEOPLE HEARD HIM GLADLY.-Mark xii, 37.
"Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." Such was the expression of the apostle, and such has been the experience of the church in all ages. The common people are those, principally, who have believed. Why? Not because religion was not designed for all. Not because they are more easily deluded; the wise are as often deluded, and religion requires common sense, which is equally distributed among the high and low. Why then the fact? There are many reasons. Let us adduce the principal.
1. The difference between the two classes in regard to wealth.
The few only are rich, and their wealth has prevented their piety; for wealth is an idol which men are more prone to worship than other objects. It tends also to
make its possessors feel proud and independent; the luxuries which it procures remove them from many of the wants and miseries of common life, and hence they feel themselves to be above their fellows. Specially is this the case when wealth procures office, influence, and flattery, as it now does. If you doubt this, look into society for yourselves, or elevate a poor man suddenly to the pinnacle of wealth. Again, it leads men to love the world more; having all things around them pleasant, their affections become fastened to earth, and they think less of death and eternity. Wealth makes men poor in eternity, as it keeps them from God here. "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." The common people have not wealth as an idol, whatever else they may have. They realize their dependance every day upon their fellow-men, and are in the same circumstances with the great body of them; hence they are not so prone to pride and independence of feeling. They are rarely courted and flattered. Every thing is not in abundance around them, and the world is not so bright to them; they are obliged to live more like "strangers and pilgrims on the earth;" hence they go to God for happiness. Consider, moreover, that the gospel places all men on a level as spiritual beings, and requires the rich to feel as humble and dependant as the poor. It is therefore more repulsive to the former than to the latter. No wonder then at the fact.
II. The difference in regard to their amusements.
The common people cannot enter into the festivities of the rich, because of the expense; and further, there is a wall between them which must not be scaled. The balls and pleasure parties of the rich lead them to an inordinate attention to appearances. The person must be dressed in the newest fashion in order to be noticed and regarded; hence the time spent at the toilette. The con- .
versation must be just so refined in order to be esteemed. Now the effect of these things is to make men proud and vain, to cover up the heart, and remove it from simplicity. The spirit is neglected in the care which is bestowed on the body and mind. The common people do not expect. so much ostentation and refinement among themselves; hence there is not the same danger from the tempers which they tend to produce. Consider, too, that the amusements of the poor must be, on account of the cost, less frequent.
The reading of the rich and gay, especially of females, must be light, as novels, romances, &c., to prepare them, it is said, for company. Such reading produces mental dissipation, and unfits the mind for the study of the Bible and for sober reflection. The poor have neither the time nor the money to expend on these works. If we consider, too, that the gospel forbids the amusements to which we have alluded, this ostentation and vanity, and requires us to have an eye single to the glory of God, to come out from the world, and deny ourselves, we shall see more clearly still the reason of the fact.
III. The common people are not so prone to skepticism as the wise and great.
The wisdom of this world leads men to despise that of God. Men of learning leave too often the plain path of the gospel to theorize and speculate. Examples are abundant. The common people have not the time for this; they are governed more by plain common sense. Again, the rich and fashionable connect fashion with religion; they thus take away from the latter all its zeal and spirituality, till they make for themselves a system which requires little or no humility. The speculations of the wise unfit them for the exercise of simple faith in Christ, and the pride of the rich makes it hard to throw away self, and be saved by the righteousness of Christ. The
common people are not so much exposed to these dangers, and hence the fact.
How lamentable that the rich are thus against God; how forcible the proof that man has fallen! When viewed in the light of time, how discouraging to the minister! But in the light of eternity all are of equal value; the soul of the beggar as valuable as that of the prince. Let me be instrumental in saving a beggar's soul, and I will never complain.
IF ANY MAN AMONG YOU SEEMETH TO BE WISE IN THIS WORLD, T HIM BECOME A FOOL, THAT HE MAY BE WISE.-1 Cor. iii, 18.
NEVER has there been an age since the existence of the Christian church when this language was not appropriate. Men have not stood upon the same level with regard to learning, but some have been distinguished above others. Esteemed as wise, they have been elevated to high stations in society, and, from their power over men, have moulded the fate of empires. Generally, however, they have withheld their influence from Christianity. "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called." Why is this? And why the necessity of becoming fools in the view of earthly wisdom, if we would be wise in the sight of God? Because the wisdom of God in the redemption by Christ is foolishness with man, and the wisdom of man, in the rejection of the atonement, is foolishness with God. It' is not strange that the wisdom of man should be unlike that of God in its extent and perfection, since the moral distance between God and man is so great; but it is strange that it should be opposed to his, inasmuch as we are his creatures; nor can it be accounted for, except on
the ground of our depravity; this satisfactorily explains it. Do we wish for proof that the doctrine of the atonement is folly in human estimation, and that hence the sentiment of the text is true? This proof is scattered in profusion around us. Let us collect a little.
1. From the Jews. To them it was "a stumbling-block." They had been taught to believe in the advent of the Messiah; the time had been fixed, his appearance described; he came as predicted, but they rejected him. Why? Because he did not answer their ill-grounded expectations. In such a one it were folly to trust! So act the scattered tribes even now.
2. From the Gentiles. The most learned of them would not receive the gospel, and left it to win its way among the poor and illiterate. Why? That God had given his Son to be the Redeemer of the world-that that Son had appeared from among the Jews-under circumstances so humiliating and had died that they might live-was to them matter of ridicule. They could not fathom the But do you wisdom of God, and therefore derided it. say this proof is collected from past ages? Let us then come down to the present time.
3. Christianity numbers among its devoted friends many wise men at the present day, but not because it has softened its requisition. They became "fools for Christ's sake," as did Paul. Still the majority of the wise, in their pride, reject the religion of the gospel. Some, in their wisdom, endeavour to show us that there is no need of an atonement. Hence they magnify the goodness of man, and speak of his native purity. They seem to close their eyes to the holiness of God, to the blackness of the human heart, and to the fact that men in all ages have, by offering sacrifices of blood, shown their conviction that they were sinners. Others say it is unreasonable to suppose that an innocent being could make satisfaction for sin, and call