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SERMON XIII.

ON THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.

St. Luke, iv. 32.

"And they were astonished at his doctrine ; for his word

was with power.”

What an imposing spectacle must it have been to the long-deluded inhabitants of Judea, when the Saviour, emerging from the sanctified waters of Jordan, announced the tidings of a new religion! Fifteen centuries had now completed their term, since the promulgation of the law. The Almighty had long since ceased to constitute man a medium of communication betwixt himself and his rebellious creatures. The gift of prophecy had not now been bestowed for above three hundred years, but upon the Saviour's forerunner. The degenerate descendants of the righteous Abraham were become the dupes of their ignorant or interested teachers, and, far from endeavouring to free themselves from the trammels of a very imperfect worship, encumbered as it then was with numerous and vexatious ceremonies, they raised their arrogant expositors of the Scriptures to equal authority with their great lawgiver, and submitted, as the oracle of their faith, to an insufficient law, corrupted by the ignorance and vanity of men, and obedience to which was an absolute bondage.

The original law of Moses, even in its most perfect state, was still but an incomplete dispensation; “ for what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” It was Christ Jesus who consummated that grand scheme of religion, which was dimly shadowed out in the Mosaic Scriptures, and only obscurely prefigured by the Prophets, but which, in its consummation, rendered clearly intelligible the shadows and types under which its principal objects had been indistinctly represented. It was the Redeemer of mankind who poured down upon us that most excellent gift of wisdom, which maketh wise unto salvation," for his word was with power."

It was, however, in the midst of that most humiliating servility of mind, which held, upon the mere credit of tradition, those doctrines then most favoured among the Jews, that Balaam's remarkable prophecy was fulfilled, which foretold,

that there should “come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre should rise out of Israel, and should smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Seth.” At this dark and stormy period arose the illustrious Gallilean, of humble and unimposing exterior, but who “spake as never man spake,” whose words diffused knowledge through the whole extent of Palestine,—“ for they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake,”—beyond which they soon spread, dissipating that gloom of ignorance that had so long gathered over the minds of men. “ For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” With all the simplicity of an ordinary man, the Saviour of the world had the dignity of a “teacher sent from God.” He exploded the idle and surreptitious memorials of the Jewish elders, and reformed, or rather perfected, the preliminary law. We behold a form of worship, perfectly novel, of a character the most simple and unimposing, which had nothing in it of pomp to arrest or prepossess the mind, prevailing over a system long and extensively established, to which habit had attached a stubborn reverence, and which the splendour of its forms had so associated with the prejudices of its votaries, as to render it dear to and inseparable from their pride. By the voice of this humble teacher, the gigantic frame of the Jewish ceremonial was shaken asunder, and though surrounded by enemies at once powerful and malignant, he was still heard with wonder and admiration. Conviction followed his words, and the multitude were dumb before him. “He was fairer than the children of men, grace was poured into his lips.” All were “ astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes."

If we should be asked what were the qualifications by which he produced these amazing effects, our text furnishes the reply—“ his word was with power." We must feel that a doctrine so truly excellent as that which Christ promulgated, could only require to be properly known, to be duly appreciated and received. To restore man to that primitive dignity, from which sin had degraded him; to oppose a pure and consistent worship to the false but dazzling solemnities of superstition and priesteraft; to combat vulgar but deeplyrooted prejudices, by the simple operation of unadorned and uncompromising truth, opposed to the allurements of disguised and flattering falsehood; to submit the boisterous passions of men to the control of an expedient, but, to the view of corrupt minds, repulsive morality; in short, to improve in general the fallen condition of mankind, was the especial design of the Saviour's teaching. It was "to bring the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, and from the power of Satan unto God.” The great truths which he announced, were delivered by him in a manner worthy of their importance. He did not entangle his doctrines in the meshes of a perplexing mysticism. They were not framed for none but philosophers to expound; no! they were addressed to the most illiterate as well as to the wisest of mankind, and were alike intelligible to all.

It is well worthy of observation, that single as the Saviour stood upon earth, possessing as he did a control over all the powers of nature, and to whom even angels had ministered, his humility was, nevertheless, a predominating trait of his most pure and perfect mind. It was no less remarkable as a character of his teaching, than his simplicity. He sought no captivating distinctions: he refused all the vain honours which his followers, in their enthusiastic admiration, would have conferred upon him, and that homage which naturally attends authority. The Saviour of mankind “had not where to lay his head;" he was often indebted to the charities of his friends for the necessaries of life; his temple was the mountain or the desert ; his pulpit, the plain green sward on which he sat. There, in the midst of an astonished but admiring auditory, he propounded the principles of that incomparable religion, which has since extended its blessings to the remotest regions of the habitable earth. Whether we behold his calm but honest indignation, in denouncing the hypocrisy of the

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