Page images
PDF
EPUB

a superstructure. It was in this light the Apostle viewed the Saviour: "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him; but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.'* That is, he saw the foundation of human redemption laid, and from that he looked forward to the completion of the work. Jehovah, as has already been noticed, has laid the foundation; consequently the great spiritual building will be completed by him. If it remained for man, there might be some uncertainty respecting the result. The work has not been retarded by all the storms and vicissitudes of the present world. All the attacks of insidious enemies, all the attempts of infidels, all the virulence of wicked men, have been unable to shake this everlasting foundation. Error, bigotry, hypocrisy, ignorance and persecution have all united their influence against the spiritual temple of God, but all in vain! The building rises higher and higher in the midst of all opposition. It will be completed. The cost has been counted. If necessary,

Jehovah can call the universe to his aid. No sect dares to deny that the foundation is laid. Why then insinuate doubts respecting the completion of the work? Let all then place confidence in God, and ultimately, he will bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.'

* Heb. ii. 8, 9.

XXXIII. FRIEND OF SINNERS.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a

man gluttonous, and a wine bibber, a Friend of publicans and sin. ners.'

Matt. xi. 19.

This title is found only in this instance, and in the parallel place, Luke vii. 34. It was given to him in proud contempt by the Pharisees. Our Lord seems to be drawing a contrast here between himself and John the Baptist. The former was faulted for his rigid and abstemious manner of life. The latter was equally careful in his manner of life, but associated more freely with men; particularly with that class called sinners, but whose morals were probably far better than those who thus styled them. But the wisdom of this world, ever true to itself, found fault with goodness and purity. It looks on everything purer than itself with suspicion and distrust. 'Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.'*

It appears that the term friend has different significations in the Scriptures. 1. One whom we love and esteem above others, to whom we impart our minds more familiarly than to others. Jonathan and David were a remarkable instance of this kind of friendship. 2. A favorite of a prince. 3. Jesus calls his apostles friends at the Last Supper. 'Henceforth I call you not servants, * * but I have called you friends, John xv. 15. He considers those who obey him as his friends. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you,' Ib. 14. 4. It is sometimes used as a mere appellative, and applied either to friend or foe; as the man who had not on the wedding garment is thus styled, Matt. xxi. 12; and Judas is thus called éven at the very moment of the betrayal of his Master, Ib. xxvi. 50. 5. This word is used in a very interesting manner in reference to Abraham. He is thus highly distinguished in three several instances, 2 Chron. xx. 7. Isa. xli. 8. James ii. 23. This term is applied to him because of his faith and obedience, and because God conversed with him, and revealed to him his secrets.

* Tit. i. 15.

This title presents a vast subject, and hence, owing to the limits to which we design to confine our remarks, we must take but a slight view of one of the loveliest traits in the character of the Son of God. His wisdom and his power seemed to merge into benevolence. His friendship was not of that kind which looks for great favors in return; for he befriended those who had nothing to impart but gratitude. This, it is true, to a generous mind, is more grateful than all the riches of earth.

Three views only will be taken of this subject.
I. The friendship of Jesus to his disciples.
II. To mourners.
III. To his enemies.

I. Friendship to the disciples. This was expressed and manifested in every possible form, particularly at the Last Supper. 'Let not your heart be troubled;

ye believe in God; believe also in me.' 'I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.' 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.' "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.' These are but specimens of the friendly spirit of Jesus. It was exhibited in all his intercourse with his disciples. Notwithstanding all their waywardness and prejudices, their Master's love never grew cold toward them. Many times, as the immense sacrifices they were to make presented themselves, they would shrink from the labor assigned them. At a certain time,

many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. Turning to the twelve, he said, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. A noble declaration! Although the apostles 'forsook him, and fled,' yet we find the love of Jesus still strikingly manifested, especially after his resurrection, a remarkable instance of which occurred on the shores of Tiberias. But we need not cite instances to illustrate the friendship of Jesus to the 'little flock. The reader will readily call to mind various scenes illustrative of this point.

II. Friendship of Jesus to mourners. If there be any one class in society that needs more tender treatment than others, mourners certainly constitute that class. Grief renders the mind peculiarly susceptible, and at first unnerves and unfits us for the duties and conflicts of life. When we look upon the lifeless features of our departed friends, and follow their mortal remains to the grave, and see them slowly and . silently deposited there, when we take the last farewell look, and with hurried footstep retire in deep anguish from the scene, we need the warm and thrilling consolations of friendship. At such times Jesus was always near. He was not to be found at the banquet-amidst the smiles of prosperity. He sought not the empty and vain pleasures of the gay and thoughtless. It was not at the tables of the rich that he was seen. No: he came to 'preach the gospel to the poor.' All reformers before him had sought the influence of the rich and prosperous; but the Friend of sinners went to the cottage of the poor, and there strengthened and consoled them amid the trials of life. But we must not dwell here. We will present a single instance illustrative of his friendship to the mourner, and that, too, one of the most affecting that presented itself during his pilgrimage of sorrow and affliction on earth. I allude to the funeral of the Youth of Nain. Death is always solemn, but peculiarly so when under such circumstances as there described. It was a young man; an only son; his mother, a widow. But Jesus was on his way in the divine employment of doing good. The world was too busily engaged to notice this afflictive scene. А few friends had met to mingle their sympathies : for few of our race are so obscure and forlorn, as not to have some one into whose heart they can breathe the tale of sorrow and find consolation. How precious is friendship! What would all the pleasures of earth be without others to share them with us! How painful would be our trials, if we had to bear them alone! God be praised for the sympathies of our nature !

« PreviousContinue »