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SERMON III.

CHRIST OUR PATTERN.

MATTHEW XVII. 19, 20.

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we 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. Nor are we slow to confess 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.

Now, 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 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 take the volume of the New 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 New 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 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.

Now 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

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