« FöregåendeFortsätt »
folly or vice? Is it any diminution of our Saviour's dignity, any impeachment of his perfect purity, or any imputation on his great public character, that in the roll of his ancestry after the flesh, we find the name of Rahab the harlot, and of her who had been the wife of Uriah, and that he was brought up under the roof, perhaps to the occupation, of an obscure craftsman? Virtue and vice are personal not hereditary, and nothing but vice is a just ground of shame. Shall I call myself a disciple of Jesus then, and think it a reproach to be called a carpenter's son, despised because I am a Galilean, lightly esteemed because my parents were poor and ignoble, because a paltry monosyllable introduces not my name ? Real worth ennobles itself independent of the breath of kings, it draws obscure progenitors into light, and leaves a fair and honourable inheritance to posterity—in a bright example, and a respectable name.
Once more, whatever may be our pretensions, or our want of pretension as citizens of this world, we have all equal right and encouragement to aspire after the title and the spirit, and the privileges of the sons of God. He whose generation cannot be declared, is not ashamed to call the humblest of you, brethren. The end of his coming into the world, of his humbling himself to death, of shedding his blood, was to make you “ kings and priests unto God and his Father.”' What he is by eternal generation, that he is making you by redemption, by the spirit of adoption, by the hope of glory to be revealed. "Support the honour of your heavenly Father's name, prove your relation, preserve unclouded your prospects. You are now in a state of depression, “in heaviness through manifold temptations,” your title lies dormant, your possession is at a distance, but “your life is hid with Christ in God, and when he shall appear, you shall appear with him in glory. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but when He shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." “ Fear not," then “ little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” “ Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a pecu. liar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
For thus saith the Lord of hosts. Yet once, it is a little
while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land ; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come : And I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts : And in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.-HAGGAI xi. 69.
HE great Lord of nature demonstrates his existence and divine perfection, in the original formation, and in the constant preservation of all things. “He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast.” He upholdeth all“ by the word of his power.” The continual support of the universe has accordingly, with the utmost propriety, been represented as creation every instant repeated. In a system which is all life and motion, power almighty, and attention unremitting, must ever be exerted to maintain life, to carry on mo. tion, to preserve harmony. Every being is subjected to the peculiar law of its own nature; and the great whole is governed by general laws. Unity, simplicity, multitude, variety, strike the eye of every attentive beholder ; every individual presents a little world apart, and the vast combination of individuals forms but one world, animated by one vital principle.
But Jehovah makes himself known to his intelligent creatures not only in the stated order and harmony of Vol. IV.
his works, but in the occasional and temporary interruption of that order, and in deviation from that harmony. The powers of earth and heaven are shaken ; the sun is turned into darkness, and the stars withdraw their light; the barrier which restrained the ocean is removed, the windows of heaven are opened, and the earth is overflowed. The rain that falls on Sodom becomes a fiery tide; the flame of Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace is rendered harmless air ; the hungry lion licks the prophet's feet. The glaring eccentric comet, the wandering planet, and the fixed star, all, all refer us to one original, to one moving, restraining, directing, supporting cause.
Neither, liowever, the regular observance, nor the occasional suspension of the laws of nature are mere wanton displays of power, to amuse the curious, to alarm the fearful, or to confound the proud. Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and every act of omnipotence have an important meaning and design. The end at which the Ruler of the world still aims, is the manifestation of his own glory in promoting the wisdom and happiness of his creatures.
The prophet, in the passage of the sacred volume which has now been read, is evidently referring to some signal display of the divine glory. We behold universal commotion raised and settled by the same power ; heaven and earth, the sea and the dry land, and all the kindreds of the nations shaken together. Universal attention is excited, universal expectation is raised, and that expectation is completely gratified, by the appear. ance of “ the desire of all nations ;” by the restoration of peace to a troubled world; by a lustre bestowed on the second temple which should eclipse the glory of the first. Now the expression, “ the glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts,” enables us to fix the period, and to discover the person here described.
Haggai lived and prophesied after the Babylonish captivity, and the immediate
object of his prophecy was to urge his restored countrymen to industry and perseverance, in the work of rebuilding the temple of the Lord. And as the most powerful and encouraging of all motives, he is commissioned to assure them, that the period fast approached when the fabric which they were then rearing should be invested with much greater honour, than that
of Solomon and all his glory ever possessed. But if this were not meant of temporal splendour merely, the fact contradicts it; for from Ezra we learn, that, in this respect, the former temple was far superiour to the latter; “ many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers who were ancient men that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice ;" so mortifying was the comparison. Our prophet himself holds the same language, ch. ii. 3. “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do you see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?" We must look therefore for a different kind of glory, to explain and confirm the prediction; and it is impossible to be at a loss about an interpretation, when we consider wherein the real glory of the second temple consisted. Not in being filled, and overlaid with silver and gold, for these are spoken of as comparatively vile and contemptible. “ The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts,” a claim exactly in the same spirit with that made in the fiftieth Psalm.“ Hear, 0 my people, and I will speak : 0 Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt-offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds : for, every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls,