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fail, you ask and yet you have not; | ened-would you have the blessing

you find that although you ask you do not receive? Oh, how many of us are there, whose hearts, at this moment, must acknowledge, that though they pray-pray daily-yet seem to be no better for their prayers? And yet Jesus has positively said; "seek and it shall be given." Oh, let me put the question, why you find so little benefit from prayer? Is not the case this, that you do not seek with an earnest desire to receive the blessing; neither with a believing expectation that the blessing shall be given? Rely on it, as St. James tells us, we musk ask in faith or we ask in vain; it is useless to think, as he solemnly assures us, that without faith we shall receive anything of the Lord. Prayer offered in believing dependance on God's promises ever has been answered; but prayer offered without that belief, ever has been, and must be in vain.

which Christ promised, of faith, confered on you? oh, then, ask of GOD grace, that you, marking the promises of his holy word, may believe those promises. And when in prayer you supplicate of him the mercy you feel you need-mercy which he has pledged himself to grant—oh, seek grace that you may exhibit also that simple faith. Again, I admonish you that pray as often as you will, if you pray without earnest desire for the blessing-if you pray without honouring GOD by believing that the blessing he has promised shall be bestowed, you have yet prayed, and will still pray in vain. But if, on the other hand, you simply take God's word with the promises which that word contains, pleading these promises in earnest supplication, and then looking to him to accomplish what he has engaged to grant, surely, such a spirit of faith shall never pass unnoticed and unrewarded by a faithful GOD. Oh, my brethren, let me entreat of you, then, to go to that Saviour who is waiting to heal your souls of that deadly disease of which we have spoken-let me entreat you to go to that Almighty physician who is ready to receive those who come to him and seek his aid. He has promised to heal all such-he has promised to deliver their souls from everlasting perdition. Do you not desire that deliverance? Oh, then, believe his word; simply act upon the assurance which he has written for you in his word; be at ease and expect its fulfilment in yourselves, and you shall have reason to acknowledge that according to your faith so is it with you.—Amen.


The close of the narrative sets before us the reward which faith shall receive. As the nobleman was returning, his servants met him and their first and happy assurance was this Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him,

Thy son liveth:' and himself believed, and his whole house." So, indeed, they might, with such a wonderful proof of divine power before them.

Now, my brethren, would you enjoy the like blessing, yea a far more valuable blessing than he receivedwould you have your faith strength

A Sermon,



Luke, iv. 21.-" And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears."

In the last discourse we considered | He knew that the established forms the three striking incidents of the conversion of Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and the healing of the nobleman's son, as remarkable developements of our Lord's character preparatory to the opening of his public ministry.

We are this morning to consider the first sermon preached by our Lord. To do this, we must return to St. Luke's Gospel; in the fouth chapter of which, at the sixteenth verse we read, " And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day." As his custom was-it was no rare or accidental circumstance which led the Lord Jesus Christ to the house of prayer; it was his fixed and habitual custom, during the thirty years that he had resided as a private individual in the town of Nazareth.

How valuable an example is this with regard to our children, that we should early habituate them to the house and service of GOD! How satisfactory an answer to those who imagine there is as much devotion, as much piety, as much of what is well pleasing to GOD, in performing their devotions within their own dwelling house, as in frequenting the temple of the Lord! Surely, if ever man might have pleaded an exemption from these important duties, the man Jesus Christ might have done so!

of worship, which he then frequented, were about to pass away, and that the princes and teachers of the synagogue were to be blind, leaders of the blind. Taught as he was, by the pouring forth of the Spirit without measure on him, he little needed human instruction; and yet rather than omit a duty which the word of GOD, and the example of God's people in all ages had inculcated, his custom was to attend at the house of prayer every Sabbath-day.

On the present occasion, however, our Lord did not attend the synagogue as a mere hearer; but, for the first time, in his public capacity as a prophet sent from GOD. Let us then dwell awhile on this important point of our Lord's wonderful commission.

Behold the synagogue. The ground floor occupied by the aged, and learned, and all the men of Nazareth, who were of an age to attend the divine ordinances; and, therefore, many among them of those who had gone up year by year, with our Lord to the passover in Jerusalem, his equals in age and superiors in rank. Many who had constantly worshipped with him in the house of prayer, therefore, were very little prepared to be instructed by one whom they had probably thought in every respect inferior to themselves. The gallery, with its latticed front, concealing from

the view all the female part of the congregation. And in the centre of the building the priest, and those who read different portions of the word of GOD, every Sabbath-day, took their accustomed stand. A young man, known only to the assembled worshippers as the son of a humble mechanic in the town, steps forward, and requests that the word of GOD should be placed in his hands. Now the Jews had a law, that if any man came in the spirit of a prophet, and assumed the office of a teacher, he should always be permitted to preach; but then Sanhedrim was constituted the judge of his pretensions, and if not approved by them he did so at his own peril. This, then, must have been the ground on which our Lord presented himself to their notice. He was according to the Jewish law neither priest nor Levite; and, therefore, could not upon any other plea have presumed to fulfil the duties of an office, of which his own word expressly declares, no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of GOD:" an important consideration in the present day, when so many run who are not sent, and so many assume the ministerial functions whom the Lord hath not called.


Jesus, then, having stepped forward in the place occupied by the readers and preachers, "stood up for to read," says the Evangelist. "And there was delivered unto him the book of the Prophet Esaias," each of the prophets being in single volumes rolled up, as is still the custom with eastern manuscripts. Our Lord having taken the book, unrolled it till he came to the sixtyfirst chapter, containing a most distinct prophecy of the Messiah, when he thus began, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal

the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives;"-and then, according to a custom very common, we are told, in the synagogues of the Jews to explain spiritual things by spiritual, turns to another equally plain and acknowledged prophecy of the Messiah in the forty-second chapter, and adds from hence," and recovering of sight to the blind." He then returns to the sixty-first chapter, and continues" to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

How striking, how impressive an incident is this! To behold him who was himself the key of the Old Testament, that volume which was so closely shut till Christ had opened it, thus proclaim from that book his wonderful commission in the face of Israel! Well are the saints in heaven described as uniting in the song, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood."

Truly, brethren, it is at the present hour, as it was then, a sealed book to every one among us till Christ takes the book and opens the seals, and teaches us individually by the voice of his Spirit speaking to the heart, what he then taught these assembled worshippers in person. While observe, my poorer brethren, the remarkable prominency which the Lord gives to you in this opening sentence of his commission. “The Lord hath appointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor." Doubtless there were many wealthy men seated in that synagogue, and yet how does our Lord particularize the poor. From the very hour the Gospel was first preached, its adaptation to the poor man's heart was peculiarly visible. However others may erroneously doubt whether they are invited by the Saviour of the world, you cannot

day arrived, the blessed Jesus had
suffered ten fold more in the strange
and cruel mockery-the scourge of
the tongue - the unceasing ingrati-
tude, contempt and hatred which so
It must,
thickly marked his course.
then, have been a solemn and awful
pause, while the eyes of all in that
assembly were fastened on our Lord,
and while he was, in all probability,
employed in committing himself in
earnest secret prayer to his Heavenly
Father, ere he ventured to lay his
credentials, for the first time, before
his prejudiced and ignorant towns-


doubt. There is not a blessing, there is not a consolation which the Lord of life has to give, and which he came down on earth to bestow, that he does not-I will not say exclusively for you-but most prominently, most earnestly, most affectionately, in every passage of his Gospel proffer you. Oh, the poor man who is living without Christ is one of the most ungrateful as well as one of the most pitiable objects under heaven.

our own.

Having read these remarkable and appropriate passages our Lord rolled up the book, and gave it again to the servant of the synagogue, and sat down. Then, as we are told, "the eyes of all At length he broke silence with the them that were in the synagogue were few and emphatic words of the text, fastened on him." How trying a "This day is this scripture fulfilled I am he of whom the moment must this have been for the in your ears. meek and lowly Jesus! He was most prophet has spoken. The Spirit of fully a partaker in all the sinless in- the Lord is upon me; for he hath firmities of our nature, every feeling anointed me to preach deliverance to as acute, and even more acute than the captives, the recovering of sight To behold himself sur- to the blind, and healing to the brokenrounded by, perhaps, the most pre-hearted. I am, in fact, the Messiah judiced and most captious congregation that minister ever addressed-to know by his infinite foreknowlege, that his report would not be received, that his offers would be disregarded, that all which he could say would only add bitterness to their animosity; surely to him who "was tempted in all points like as we are, sin only excepted," it was a trying hour! The surprized look of credulity, the scarcely concealed smile of ridicule, the sneer of contempt, while the humble Jesus was rolling up the volume-sad emblems of the hearts among them closing up for ever against its blessed truths!-must have gone with acutest suffering to his tender heart. When we think of all that our beloved Master underwent for us, we are so apt to rest in imagination on the cross, the crown, and the spear; but, brethren, be assured, that long ere that dark and dreadful

The evangelist records of GOD." nothing more than the single commencing sentence of our Lord's discourse, in which he identifies himself with the preacher predicted by the prophet. That he spoke plainly and fully upon the striking portion of Scripture which he had read to them there can be no doubt; for we are told, "that they wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his How delightful would it mouth." have been for the church of the Redeemer if this first sermon of our Lord had been bequeathed to us--to have heard him preach deliverance, liberty, and life in his own language, and warmed with the feelings of his own affectionate and loving heart! And it was, perhaps, yet, brethren, witheld only in mercy; he who will not hear, and receive these invitations now, would not, as our Lord himself declares, have received them

"though one rose from the dead;" to give him a faithful report of the would most certainly have rejected issue of their embassy, and the result them, had he been sitting in the syn- of their endeavours. agogue of Nazareth, and had heard them preached by the Lord of life himself. For be assured that we can offer now, in substance, all that our Lord could offer then; that we can say, at this hour, as he then said. "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." Yes, wherever the cross of Christ is lifted up-wherever the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed, there does the Saviour offer all that he has, and all that he is, to every sinning soul desirous to seek, and willing to receive it.

Let me, then, ask, brethren, what report may we carry back to our master this day? It was my endeavour, when I last addressed you, to present the Saviour to every soul among you, as one from whom neither ignorance, nor misery, nor sin need keep you. I proved to you then, from his conduct, what I have this day demonstrated from his words, that the very purpose for which he came, was to free the captive, to enlighten the ignorant, and to heal the brokenhearted; and from these three abundant classes, sources so awfully pro

We say, then, to you, brethren, that in the person of Jesus of Naza-lific in this fallen world; can we carry


reth, we offer you this day one who is
both able and willing to open your
eyes, unloose your bonds, and comfort
your hearts.
This is, indeed, ex-
pressly our office as the Apostle in
the epistle to the Corinthians ex-
plains and magnifies that office when
he says,
"We are ambassadors for
Christ, as though GOD did beseech
you by us: we pray you in Christ's
stead to be reconciled to GOD."
When our Lord offered himself in the
synagogue of Nazareth he resembled
a king, addressing in person his re-
bellious subjects, and offering them
with his own lips, the terms of amnesty
and peace.
When we declare these
same truths from the pulpit, they are
just as real, just as invaluable, just as
heart influencing as they were then.
The difference is merely this, that the
king has for a time withdrawn in per-
son, and committed his message to
his ambassadors, who are to repeat
it, to urge it on your acceptance: nay,
even to entreat, and to beseech you
to hear and to receive it, as those
who themselves know, experiment-
ally, its inestimable value; and more
than this, as those who are compelled
to return to him who sent them, and

back nothing with us to our master?
Does the captive embrace his chains,
and prefer bondage to liberty-the
blind revel in his darkness, and des-
pise the proffered light--and even the
broken-hearted prefer any, and every
remedy to the love of the compas-
sionate Saviour? It remains, brethren,
with yourselves only to answer that
question. We can but propose the
message as we receive it; we may,
indeed, press it upon you as those who
will strive to force a blessing on
others in which they rejoice with joy
unspeakable themselves; we may pray
earnestly, that some poor sinning suf-
fering creature may be led to cast
himself at the feet of a tender and
compassionate GOD; more than this
we cannot; nay, more than this the
Lord Jesus Christ himself did not do
on that day when he thus unrolled
the book of salvation for the first
time in the synagogue of Nazareth.

Proceed we with the reception which our Lord encountered, before we speak of the reception of his servants We are told that the people were "astonished at the words of grace which proceeded out of his lips;" that is, not the grace of GoD, but at the

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