Слике страница

a price so small, stricken with the enormous crime of losing it, wishes, but too late, to give every thing to recover it.

Ideas like these we never propose to you without reluctance. Motives of another kind should suffice for Christians. Learn the worth of your souls. Enter into the plan of your Creator, who created them capable of eternal felicity; and into that of your Redeemer, who died to enable you to arrive at it. Against all the deceitful promises, which the world, the flesh, and the devil use to seduce you, oppose these words of Jesus Christ, What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" May God inspire you with these noble sentiments! To him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.


Real Liberty.

JOHN viii. 36.

If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

My brethren, there were many mysteries in the Jewish feast of the Jubilee. It was a joyful festival to the whole nation: but none celebrated it with higher transports than slaves. No condition could be more deplorable than that of these unhappy people, and, notwithstanding the lenitives, that the Jewish jurisprudence mixed with their sufferings, their condition was always considered as the most miserable, to which men can be reduced. The jubilee day was a day of universal enfranchisement. All slaves, even they, who had refused to embrace the privileges of the sabbatical year, their wives, and their children were set at liberty.

Should I affirm, my brethren, that no slave among them had more interest in this festival than you have, perhaps you would exclaim against my proposition. Probably, you would say to me, as some of them said to Jesus Christ, We were never in bondage to any man. But undeceive yourselves. The jubilee was instituted not only to moderate the authority of

[blocks in formation]

masters, and to comfort slaves: but God had greater designs in appointing it. Hear the mystical design of it. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, Isa. lxi. 1, 2. Who speaks in this prophecy of Isaiah? Had not Jesus Christ answered this question in the synagogue at Nazareth, ye sheep of the chief shepherd and bishop of your souls! should ye not have known his voice?

Come, my brethren, come, behold to-day with what precise accuracy, or rather, with what pomp and majesty he hath fulfilled this prophecy, and broken your chains in pieces. Do not disdain to follow the reflections we are going to make on these words, which proceeded from his sacred mouth, "If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed." O may this language inspire us with the noble ambition of terminating our slavery! May slaves of prejudice, of passion, and of death, quit their shameful bonds, enjoy the acceptable year of the Lord, and partake of the glorious liberty of the children of God! Amen. Rom. viii. 21.

If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. In order to explain these words, it will be necessary to relate the occasion of them, and to explain, at least in part, the discourse, from which they are taken.

Jesus Christ spoke these words in the treasury, ver. 20. that is to say, in a court of the temple, which was called the woman's porch, because women were

allowed to enter it. This court was also called the treasury, because it contained thirteen tubes like trumpets for the reception of public contributions. Jesus Christ is supposed to allude to the form of these, when he says, When thou dost thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, Matt. vi. 2. Each of these tubes had a different inscription on it, according to the different contributions, for the reception of which they were placed, either charitable contributions for the relief of the poor, or votive for the discharge of a vow, or such as were prescribed by some particular law. In this court sat Jesus Christ observ

ing what each gave to the poor. In this place he absolved a woman caught in adultery, and confounded her accusers, whose great zeal against her was excited more by the barbarous desire of shedding the blood of the criminal, than by the horror of the crime. To punish those vices in others, of which the punisher is guilty, is a disposition equally opposite to benevolence and equity. It was a received opinion among the Jews, that the waters of jealousy had no effect on an adulterous wife, whose husband had been guilty of the same crime. Jesus Christ perhaps referred to this opinion, when he said to the Pharisees, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her, ver. 7.

I suppose this woman not to have been one of those who live in open adultery, who know not what it is to blush, who not only commit this crime, but even glory in it. I suppose her a penitent, and that sentiments of true repentance acquired her the protection of him, who came not to call the righteous, but

« ПретходнаНастави »