« ПредишнаНапред »
ard? would he countenance the present worldliness, and the dissipation of this city? would not he bear testimony against all ranks of people would not be cry aloud Except ye repent ye shall all perish? What would your conduct be as a church, if he himself were present teaching and commanding you? What would be your heavenly mindedness, strictness and punctuality in duty, and carefulness to tread wherever you observe the footsteps of your Lord? Such precisely ought to be your state now, for nothing did he give his disciples, which can be applied to you, that was not intended
Thus we have set before you the particulars of our Lord's charge to the Apostles; let us now see, in the second place, what encouragement he offered them for the fulfilment of it.
II. He might have concluded that they needed no encouragement. He might have said to one of thein, Now Peter, much has been forgiven thee; therefore, if thou lovest much thou wilt not hesitate to feed my sheep. Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love
He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. But not leaving it to their gratitude, he encourages them in a two-fold manner; by the declaration of his power, and the promise of his presence. AU
power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. To Christ in his divine character no power could be given, because all
is necessarily his, and has been so from eternity;
but in consequence of his undertaking to become the servant of the Father for our salvation, a conciliating language is used concerning him. He speaks of himself as inferior to the Father, and the glory to which he ascended, as the reward of his labors. Thus St. Paul speaks in Philippians chap. ii, that Christ took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Now when Christ thus spoke of that power which was given him as mediator, this was a stronger ground of encouragement than a mere declaration of divine power: for this signified, that as mediator and capable of receiving any. thing; he was the head and representative of his Church; and had received this power expressly for his Church. As he had died to purchase a Church to himself
, so he had power given him to order the whole system of things for the benefit of that Church. So that the revolutions of empires are only some of the inferior movements of the system whereby Christ is graciously working in providence the redemption of his elect.
How animating must this assurance have been to the Apostles! How cheerfully might they go forth to teach all nations, when they knew that the Lord whom they served was
Lord of all the sons of men! According to Daniel's prophecy there was given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him.
How suitable was our Lord's mandate! All power is given unto me; therefore, go, penetrate the recesses of the wilderness, and teach your degraded fellow-creatures. Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions. Fear not to enter the crowded cities of men, and preach the kingdom of God. They shall bring you before kings and rulers for my sake; but fear not; I will give you a mouth, and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. I send you as sheep among wolves; but fear not the power of earth and hell , for all things are delivered into my
hand. You shall be troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. And has not Christ in all ages, with a strong hand and a stretched-out arm fought for his Church, and brought it hitherto? How has he actually interfered for the deliverance of his servants! Why need we mention Peter, whom an angel, sent from the Lord, liberated when bound to two soldiers; or Paul, who was delivered from the persecuting malice of those Jews who bound themselves by a great oath to kill him? You yourselves, if you belong to Christ, will recollect numberless instances in which the Lord Jesus has interposed for your deliverance from strong temptations of Satan, and the opposition of enemies: instances which prove that all things are delivered into his hands; that he whom you serve is one who is mighty to save.
The other ground of encouragement is in the remaining words of the text: Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. This expression,, to the end of the world, shews that Christ was addressing not them only, but all who should hereafter believe on him through their word. Though you are divided into sects and parties, says Christ, I am with
all. I love you, though you have too little love one towards another. God signified his
God signified his presence with his Church of old by various external emblems; such as the pillar of cloud and fire, the Shechinah, the mercy-seat, &c. These visible representations are, of course, removed from the Christian Church according to its more spiritual institutions, but the name of the city is still Jehovah Shammoh: the Lord is there. Though Christ left us for awhile to carry on our salvation for us in heaven, yet he might say with St. Paul, Though I am absent in body, yet am I present with you in spirit. He walks in the midst of his seven golden candlesticks. He holds the stars in his right hand, and as easily as any one can lift up his hand to his eyes, and turn it in any direction so as to see all that is in it, so can the Lord examine and weigh the spirits of men.
Therefore let all the churches know, and let all of this church know, that Christ is he that searcheth the hearts, and trieth the reins of the children of men.
But he is with us likewise for good; fear not, for I am with thee. How marvellously did he shew himself in visible glory to Stephen, waiting to receive the soul of the holy martyr! Whenever Paul was in any great strait, immediately Christ was at hand. Fear not Paul: for thou must bear my name to the Gentiles; or, I have much people in this city; or, My grace is sufficient for thee. You will observe that Christ is a friend indeed; for when all others flee from us, he is then nearest to us. Thus St. Paul says, that when he came before Nero all men forsook him; but, adds he, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; and so we may generally say, in the words of the Psalmist, In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. His comforts are at hand when most they are needed: Lo! I am with you always. Earthly friends, like summerflies, flit round us in the sun-shine of prosperity, but who will be found to cheer our spirits in the cloudy and dark day but the Lord Jesus Christ! I am with you always; not only in health and prosperity to guard you from attachment to this world, but I am with
you struggle with adversity, poverty, sickness, persecution, temptations, trials of every kind. I am with you in life to guard you from danger; I am with you in death to give you the victory. Now what an encouragement must this he to the trembling disciples! They might be bold to