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NOTE ON SERMON XIII.

Ir has been my endeavour in this sermon, in imitation, as I think, of the manner adopted by the Scriptures themselves, to express fully the particular view of truth with which the text was concerned, without entering into such other views as might be necessary to guard against opposite errors. I have argued, that none but true Christians can have a fair expectation of eternal life; that to other men, it would be nothing unnatural if death were to be the close of all. I have spoken here of death as opposed to life, not as expressing a life of misery; and I have left the great consideration untouched, as not concerning my immediate object, that as reason tells us that none but true Christians can hope to live for ever, so we have cause to believe, from God's word, that all but true Christians will be miserable for ever. But I do not think that our natural reason would have ever enabled us to discover what Christ has revealed, that good left undone will be positively punished for all eternity, as well as evil done. The careless, and what we call harmless livers, cut off by reason from the hope of eternal happiness, are condemned by revelation to an eternity of positive misery. It is undoubtedly one of the peculiarities of revelation, that it threatens with the heaviest punishment not only committed evil, but omitted good. A better proof of this cannot be given, than by contrasting our Lord's warnings against riches, with the sentiments of one of the characters in Plato's Commonwealth, Cephalus the father of Lysias. Christ's words are known to every one, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven." Cephalus is represented as feeling comfort in his old age from the possession of wealth, because he was not tempted to the commission of those acts of fraud or violence which might be visited

Plato, de Republicâ, I. P. 331.

with punishment after death. Cephalus was glad to be rich, because his wealth saved him from sins of commission: our Lord denounces riches as dangerous, because they tempt to sins of omission. But this high view of the evil and danger of negative sin is, I think, peculiar to revelation; and though most reasonable, when judging of things from Christian premises, would not suggest itself to our natural reason, which has but very inadequate ideas of God's penal government.

SERMON XIV.

CONVERSION.

LUKE XXII. 31, 32.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

We have occasion to observe in many places of the New Testament, that our Lord Jesus Christ is made to stand in the place of all Christians, so that what happened to him is a sort of image, as well as a pledge and assurance of what will happen to his true servants. He suffered and died; and we can none of us expect to escape what our Master did not escape: he rose again, so surely implying by this, that they who are his should rise likewise, that St. Paul does not hesitate to argue, that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ risen: we are in a manner so

wrapped up with him, that if we are not to rise, he cannot possibly have risen: if he is risen, we shall most certainly rise also. But as our Lord himself is thus put in the place of his people, so also does it often happen with our Lord's first disciples. What is said to them, and of them, is said in very many cases to all, and of all: I do not mean only so far as regards general principles of life, or our common hopes as Christians; but even what may seem to belong to the apostles personally, as so many individual men, relates often to Christians of after times, standing towards one another, and towards their Lord, in the same relation as the apostles did then.

A remarkable instance of this is given in the words of the text. They were spoken to Peter of himself, and the other disciples then seated with him round the table of their Lord. They contain a warning, a comforting assurance, and a solemn charge. And wherever two or three Christians are gathered together to the very end of the world, this same warning, this same assurance, and this same charge, may be equally addressed to them also.

And first for the warning-" Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." We must

remember, that the word "you" is not used here in the sense of our common language, that is, to express a single person. Our Lord does not say that Satan had desired to have Peter only, but all the apostles; this is perfectly plain in the original, and, indeed, to an attentive reader, it is no less plain in the translation; for the translators never use the word "you" in rendering addresses made to a single person, but always the proper singular words, "thee" and "thou." Satan then had desired to have all the apostles, that he might sift them as wheat. The sense is expressed nearly in these words of our Lord, spoken on the same evening, as recorded by St. John; "Do ye now believe? Verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, yea is now come, when ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone." The hour was coming, when their faith was to be severely tried, when they were to be sifted as wheat, to see what in them was good corn, and what was chaff. For this seems the meaning of Christ's expression; "Satan hath desired to have you, as he desired of old to have Job given up to him, that he might try him to the utmost. And so he will now try you, for it is God's will that you should be tried, that so being found faithful under

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