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represents himself as an Almighty Sovereign, sitting on the throne of his glory, with all the inhabitants of the earth standing before him, to whom he distributes everlasting rewards and everlasting punishments, according to their deserts. * Well, then, might they say of him, “ that his word 6 was with power, and that he taught them 6. as one having authority, and not as the “ Scribes.” †
These, then, were the principal causes which gave such force and success to our Saviour's instruction, and compelled even his enemies to acknowledge, that “ never “ man spake as he spake.” The consequence was “ that all men sought him,” and all who heard him, and were not blinded by their prejudices, “ forsook their sins, and “ followed him.”[ It is evidently our duty to do the same; for the same causes which gave such efficacy to our Saviour's preaching, do in a great degree still subsist in the Gospel, and ought to produce the same * Matt. xxv. 31.
Matt. vii. 29. † Luke iv. 42. Mark i. 18.
effects. In one respect, indeed, we fall short of those who heard him. He is not personally present with us, nor has he “ taught in our streets." Here it must be owned the first disciples had some advantage over us. They who had the happiness to see and to hear him, whose senses were charmed, whose hearts were subdued by the venerable mildness of his look, the gracious majesty of his gestures, the awfully pleasing sound of his voice, to whom all he had said and done, with the very manner of his saying and doing it, was occurring every moment, and continually present in reality or in imagination ; these, undoubtedly, must be moved and affected to a degree of which we can hardly form any just conception. Yet still his words carry a divine power along with them, sufficient to convince every understanding, and to subdue every heart that is not hardened against conviction. We have still before our eyes, in the histories of the Evangelists, the sublime and heavenly doctrines which he delivered, the parables he uttered, the significant actions he made use of, the instructions and the reproofs he gave to sinners of every denomination, the triumphs he obtained over the most artful and insidious of his enemies, the unrivalled purity and perfection of his example, the divine authority and dignity with which he spoke, the awful punishments he denounced against those who rejected, and the eternal rewards he promised to those who received his words. These things still remain, and must for ever remain ; must for ever give irresistible force and energy to every word that is recorded as proceeding from the mouth of Christ, and must render it “ quick “ and powerful, and sharper than a two66 edged sword, piercing even to the divid6 ing asunder of soul and spirit.” * If eloquence such as this does not make a deep, and lasting, and vital impression upon our souls ; if we do not find it to be, indeed, the power of God unto salvation, we shall be left without excuse. Let us, then, in the language of our Church, most earnestly beseech Almighty God, that those sacred words which we have now, or at any other time, heard with our outward ears, may, through his grace, be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and praise of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
LUKE vii. 22.
THEN JESUS ANSWERING, SAID UNTO THEM, GO
YOUR WAY, AND TELL JOHN WHAT THINGS YE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD; HOW THAT THE BLIND SEE, THE LAME WALK, THE LEPERS ARE CLEANSED, THE DEAF HEAR, THE DEAD ARE RAISED, TO THE POOR THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED.
YOU will immediately recollect the occa
sion on which these words were spoken. They make a part of the answer which our Saviour gave to the two disciples whom John the Baptist sent to him, to ask whether he was the Great Deliverer that was to come, or they were to look for another. The whole passage is a remarkable one, and affords ample matter for observation; but the par
* Preached at the Yearly Meeting of the Charity Schools, in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, May 2. 1782.