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WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST ?
MATTHEW Xxü. 42.
“WHAT think ye of Christ ?” is a most momentous question. “What is He to me; what am I to him? Is he a dead fact in the annals of the past, or a living power and presence in my heart and conscience ?" This question is of such importance that Satan tries to keep us from entertaining or discussing it. Our own inclinations impel us to a distance from it. The natural man prefers a thousand questions—though of evanescent importance - to this. He is ready - most ready - to ask, “What do you think of the war? What do you think of the chances of victory? What do you think of the world? What do you think of politics? What is your opinion of such a ministry? What do you think of such a bill ?” These questions are readily discussed, and in their place they have their value; but if they conceal, supersede, or tempt us to dispose of this primary question, they become evils; they are wielded too successfully by Satan against the soul. Satan destroys souls less by teaching infidel maxims-more by turning the heart from the discussion or entertainment of vital and momentous questions. He has not the least objection to see the whole church
discussing questions of ecclesiastical polity, forms of discipline, if he can only keep us from entertaining this central inquiry, this vital question, “What do I think of Christ, and what does Christ think of me?"
It is the vital question. An error here is serious, if not fatal. You may be wrong in your views of church government, you may take a wrong side in state politics, you may fall into absurd notions about science, you may perpetuate many blunders on the interpretation of prophecy, you may prefer this form or that form of worship;-if, however, you go wrong upon any or all of these subjects, your ignorance or error has no lasting influence; it does not stretch beyond the grave; it cannot affect the safety and the ultimate happiness of the soul. If I lose a limb, I may live still healthy and happy; an injury to a finger may be painful, but it is not fatal; but if the lungs, the brain, or the heart be injured, the blow is deadly. An error in church discipline may be injurious, a mistake in this world's politics may lead to calamity; these, however, do not affect fatally that which is the man: but a false estimate of the central truth - that which is all and in all
- may affect the soul's eternal well-being, and stretch its disastrous and portentous shadow into the depths of everlasting ages.
What I think upon worldly matters is of no great consequence; what I think of the nature, the claims, the character of my Saviour is of vital and inexhaustible consequence.
Our blessed Lord plainly takes cognizance of thoughts. He does not say, “What have you said respecting Christ ?" or, “What have you done for him ?” but, “What do you think of Christ ?” Then
thoughts are important. When God judges of the character of a man he does not take the evidence that streams from his life, but he looks at the thoughts that circulate in his heart. A court of justice in this world can only judge of the man by what he has done or said, but the great God judges of you and me by what we
We can infer character only from its evidences, but He can pronounce upon character by a minute, accurate, and infallible inspection of the soul. Therefore, when God seeks to know what man is, he looks at what man thinks. The reason for this is obvious. Our thoughts, after all, are the truest evidences of what we are; and if our thoughts be sincere, right or wrong, they grow up into life and action. What is a deed ? A thought incarnate. What is a word ? A thought going from one heart and penetrating and lodging in another. Our acts are the embodiments of our thoughts, and outer life the illuminated dial that reveals the movements of inward, intellectual, and moral machinery. A man's deep thoughts will therefore write themselves upon his outer life; and upon the leaves of his every-day conduct they will be legible to all. Take care of your inmost thoughts, and you may leave your actions to take care of themselves. Take care of what goes on within, and you may leave to all contingencies what may appear without. thinketh," the Scripture says, “so is he." We may mistake the character of a man by his outer acts. There is not a deed the most equivocal on earth that has not in it modifying elements, which we may not be able to disentangle, but which God can appreciate and judge. Our inferences, therefore, of character from
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conduct are only approximations to that which is perfect; but God looks into the thoughts of the heart, he sees them afar off; thoughts looming in the distant horizon almost inappreciable by us, are all clearly seen, and their force accurately calculated, by Him who cannot err. Man asks, what you do—God inquires,. what you think.
Some, however, do not think at all upon this momentous subject; and if they were asked, “What do you think of Christ ?” their answer would probably be:-“ We do not think at all; we have never thought upon the subject.” I cannot conceive anything more monstrous than not to have thought on that subject which is the most vital and momentous of all. Ask the statesman, “Have you never thought on politics, or studied the science of government ?” he would be ashamed to say he never had. Ask the philosopher, “Are you acquainted with this science, or that discovery; have you studied this phenomenon or that?” and he would be ashamed to say, “ I have never entertained the subject at all.” It is singular enough that if you ask a man, “Have you any reason to believe that your soul will be saved, when the body, its outward case, is disintegrated and dissolved in the dust? Have you any reason to infer that Christ is your Saviour? Have you any reason to think that His precious blood has washed you from your sins ?” This would be the answer of many: “Oh, we have no time for that; business is so harassing, the world is so absorbing! And, besides, these are questions for theologians, not for laymen. We do not desire to entertain them-we cannot discuss them-we have no