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SERMON VIII.

ON THE OFFENCE GIVEN BY THE GOSPEL OF

CHRIST.

LUKE vii. 23.

“And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me."

OFFENDED in the Lord Jesus Christ! Is it possible that any perishing, helpless sinner, could be offended with the blessed Saviour of sinners? Is it possible that he who is the joy of heaven should be an offence upon earth? that he who is the well-beloved of God should be hated and despised and rejected of men?

Alas! my dear brethren, it is more than possible: every day we see it: in every age of the church we read of it: in each of our own hearts we may experience it: the mind of fallen man is enmity against God, and against the holy religion of the incarnate Son of God. This, indeed, is not readily admitted; false and flattering descriptions of human nature ascribing to it much that is not only amiable but religious also, are more congenial to the pride of man's heart. It was once said by a

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heathen, (and many who call themselves Christians are ready to join him,) that if virtue could be shown to the world in all her loveliness and all her graces, every creature would be captivated by her beauty. We deny the deluding sentiment, and appeal to history for the support of our opinion. The experiment has been made. Virtue in her fairest form, holiness in her loveliest garb, the most tender benevolence and the most spotless purity were shown to the world in the person of Jesus of Nazareth; and instead of admiring and imitating him, instead of being captivated by his beauty, the prevailing and reiterated cry was, away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him. During the whole course of his ministry upon earth, he was a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” to those around him. Does he declare his divine nature, his eternal existence, his equality and unity with Almighty God the Father? they are offended, and cry out against him as a blasphemer, “because that he being a man, made himself God.”* Does he manifest his divine power, expelling with a word the evil spirits from those who were possessed ? They are offended, and ascribe the miraculous work to a satanic influence, saying, “ hé casteth out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.”+ Does he teach the insufficiency of John x. 30–33.

† Matt. xii. 24.

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human reason in spiritual things, the necessity of enlightening grace and the distinguishing mercy of his heavenly Father? they are of fended, and cry, say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil." * Does he, in the accomplishment of his purposes of mercy, associate with publicans and sinners? they are offended, murmuring against him and saying, "this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." Does he on the Sabbath-day stand forth in the synagogue, and command a poor crooked woman to be loosed from her infirmity? they are offended, and the ruler of the synagogue exclaims with indignation, "there are six days in which men ought to work; in them, therefore, come to be healed, and not on the Sabbath-day." Does he give sight to a man ‡ who had been born blind? they are offended, and betray the bitterness of their enmity, reviling the poor man, and saying, "thou art his disciple, but we are Moses' disciples: we know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is."§ Does he with divine wisdom speak as never man spake, insomuch that his own countrymen are astonished? they exclaim, "whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works?

* Luke x. 21, 22. John vi. 65; viii. 47, 48.

+ Luke xv. 1,

Luke xiii. 10-14.

2.

John ix. 28, 29.

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Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James and Joses and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him.'

It was, therefore, with a peculiar emphasis and a most important meaning that our Lord used the significant words of our text, in his reply to the disciples of John the Baptist.

“ The fame of Jesus was spread abroad throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about; and the disciples of John showed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?” John himself was already satisfied that Jesus was “he that should come,” as is evident from what he said the day after Jesus was baptized. “ John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him, and I knew him not; but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” +

Matt, xiji. 54-57.

+ John i. 32, 33, 34.

His object, therefore, in sending to make the inquiry seems to have been, that his disciples also should be convinced by Christ's reply, or perhaps to give still greater publicity to his divine Master's miracles. " When the men were come unto him, they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another? (And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues and evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.) Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard: how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.' It had been foretold in the ancient Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah, that in

“ the eyes of the blind should be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; that the lame man should leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb should sing.”* The performance of these works, therefore, by Jesus, should have afforded to every sincere inquirer, abundantly satisfactory proof of his being the Messiah. But it had been foretold also, that the Messiah would meet with a most unfavour

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