Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the earnest desire to forsake our evil ways, and in the hope, a sure and certain hope, that on us who acknowledge ourselves sinners, the Lord will show abundant mercy? We have a more painful knowledge than even the publican described by our Lord could possess of the danger of sin, and its great offensiveness in the eyes of our Maker; inasmuch as we know, which he could not, that to obtain pardon for the sins of the world, it was necessary that God Himself should give us His beloved Son to be offered as a bloody sacrifice. We have a more certain and blessed hope than this penitent publican enjoyed; inasmuch as that atonement, which he only knew through figures and prophecies, we have known and felt as a historical and spiritual certainty; so that not only by the blood of bulls and of goats, but by the pure and sinless blood of the blessed Jesus, we look to have our sins done away, and our pardon sealed, and a more blessed strength to be hereafter given us to the forsaking of every evil way, and the purifying of our conscience towards God.

Let us only not be wanting to ourselves; let us only seek His grace through its appointed channels, and bending low before His altar, and receiving with deep humility the pledges of His peace, let us renounce all hope but in Him alone, and cry out each of us in our hearts to Him who is ready to hear and to save, God be merciful to me a sinner!

SERMON IX.

THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

[Preached at Delhi, Jan. 2, 1825.]

ST. LUKE X. 36, 37.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

THE discourses which Christ delivered to the people in the form of parables, may be classed under three descriptions. Some of them are short and simple stories intended for our example only, or to explain His doctrine. Such is the parable of the unjust judge, which has no hidden meaning, and is merely introduced to illustrate the force of continued prayer. In some again, such as those where He likens the kingdom of Heaven to a marriage supper, a vineyard let out to husbandmen, and a sower scattering seed, He describes in obscure language, and under the form of an allegory, His own dealings with mankind, and the future fortunes of the Christian Church. Thirdly, there are some which partake of both these kinds; they contain an inward and doctrinal meaning, which refers to the

faith of Christians, and a practical lesson, if they are taken according to the letter, which is a guide and example to their lives. In both these ways the parable of the good Samaritan affords us valuable instruction. If taken according to the letter, it is a beautiful example of charity; and if we go further into its meaning, and see, as I shall presently explain, the Son of God represented by this benevolent traveller, we then are taught to derive our love for mankind from the love which Christ has shown to us, and His example is enforced by our gratitude.

One of the teachers of the law of Moses, the same order of men who are elsewhere called scribes, had endeavoured to ensnare our Saviour by the solemn question, " what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" How this question was to ensnare does not immediately appear; it might be to draw from Him something contrary to the law of Moses, or offensive to the prejudices of the people; it might be accompanied by an insulting tone or manner, as if "what are these mighty discoveries which prophets and kings have desired in vain ?" At all events, it was asked from motives of ill-will, and in the hope to injure Christ. Our Lord, in His answer, refers him to the passage in Deuteronomy which, from his office, he read publicly every Sabbath. "What is written in the law?" are His words, "How readest thou?" The lawyer replies,

to say,

1 St. Luke x. 19.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself. And He said unto him, thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live."

But though the scribe had answered right, there were reasons why our Lord's reference to this passage of Scripture was very unpleasing to him. Not only was it so wise and so true, and so conformable to the law of Moses, that no accusation or slander could be built on it, and all his malice and insult was retorted on his own head; but his conscience could not but inform him that he was openly condemned by his own law. How could he boast of loving his neighbour, who was even then laying snares for the life of Christ; who with the deepest malice and subtlety was asking a solemn question in the hope of ruining his teacher. He felt, it may well be, that his words had judged himself; and to escape this application of them, (as the Scripture says, "to justify himself,") he caught at the captious distinctions of the Jewish doctors, and demanded, "who is my neighbour?" Jesus, instead of answering as He might have done, "I, Jesus, whom thou persecutest," is contented with a milder method of instruction in the beautiful parable which follows, and which is too well known to need repetition.

The scenery and circumstances of the story

St. Luke x. 26-28.

2 Ver. 29.

were familiar to all who heard them, and were such as might happen daily. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is now, and always has been, dismal and dangerous. Is is through a deep and barren valley, without grass, or water, or inhabitants, except savage bands of robbers, whose cruelties were so frequent that the road was generally known by the name of the bloody way. Any Jew, therefore, who heard our Lord's discourse might have fallen, himself, into the peril which is here described, and the story, if we take it in its plainest sense, told them, more forcibly than ten thousand arguments, to do unto others as they would wish that others should act by them. But this was not the only, nor the main intention of the parable, which, as it applied to the lawyer, was to prove the claim which Christ had to his love and gratitude, and to show the total insufficiency of the law of Moses to rescue human nature from its miserable condition. The unfortunate plundered traveller is, then, a representative of all mankind. They, like him, have departed from Jerusalem, the city of God, His favour, or the light of His countenance; and set their face towards the pursuits and pleasures of this world, those temptations which are represented under the name of Jericho, a town which, as you will read in the book of Joshua, was accursed of God, and devoted to everlasting ruin'. And, like this traveller, by their

'Joshua vi. 17.

« PreviousContinue »