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poused the cause, and joined the train of our great Redeemer.
Soon after, our blessed Saviour met with one who had formerly been his disciple, and commanded him to disengage himself from worldly concerns, and to join in his train; but this person excused himself, under pretence of filial piety, and a desire to attend on, and administer relief, to his aged parents: Lord, said he, suffer me first to go and bury my father: but our great Redeemer replied, Let the dead bury their dead; but
go thou and preach the kingdom of God. Let those who are immersed in worldly affairs, follow the concerns of the world, but let those who have received the great truths of the gospel, and made a profession of our Redeemer's name, do every thing in their power to spread the glad tidings of salvation over the whole earth.
A third person proposed to follow our Lord, but desired liberty to return to his house, and take his leave of the family: but, though our Lord would not by any means discourage prudent care in the domestic aii fairs of life, yet he gave this person to understand, that the salvation of the soul was the principal concern, and required our first, and chief regard; and we should by no means, let the concerns of time and sense, have such an influence on our minds, as to make us lose sight of this great object. Great is the danger of coldness and declension in our spiritual affairs; for our Lord himself declared, in answer to this person's objection:
No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'
As our blessed Saviour's ministry was from this time till its final period, to be confined to Judea, and the countries beyond Jordan, it was necessary that some messengers should be sent to every town and village, to prepare his way; accordingly, he called his seventy disciples, and gave them proper instructions concern:
ing their behaviour, and the doctrines they were to preach. Having laid before them the particular duties of their mission, he sent them into different parts of the country, and ordered them to visit those particular cities, towns, or villages, where he intended himself to follow them, and preach the doctrine of the everlasting gospel to the inhabitants.
The reason which our great Redeemer assigned for sending these seventy disciples on this important mes. sage, was the same which he had before advanced for the mission of the twelve: The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few. And being never more to preach in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, the cities wherein he usually resided, and where he had so often delivered his heavenly discourses, and displayed his miraculous power, and divine benevolence, in many wondrous works, he was naturally led to reflect on the reception which himself and his doctrines had met with, from those wicked, impenitent cities. He was sensible of the terrible evils which would flow from rejecting the Son of God, and persisting in the obstinacy of unbelief, notwithstanding the mighty works, which they had seen, and all the opportunities which they had for instruction and improvement; and though he was grieved for their obstinacy and perverseness, he pronounced the following sentence against them: IVoe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For, if the mighly works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repenied; sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, at the day of judg. ment than for you. And thou, Capirnaum, which art exalled to heaven shall be thrust down to hell. To this our exalted Redeemer added, as a consideration which ought to administer comfort, and give encouragement to his disciples: lle that heareth you, heareth me; and He
, he triat despiseth you, despise!h me ; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
This kind and encouraging declaration, was particularly calculated to comfort and support the disciples he was now sending out, under the contempt and illusage they would meet with in executing the duties of their mission: they could not be ignorant, that the preaching of Christ himself had often been unsuccessful, and that he had been opposed, reviled, and des. pised; and therefore, they had no reason to conclude, that they should find a welcome reception, and be received, honoured, and esteemed: but it would, at the worst of times, afford them great consolation to reflect, that the eternal God was on their side, and, however they might be despised and rejected by men, they were sure to be received, honoured, and esteemed by their maker.
The seventy disciples, having received their commission, and instructions, and being by their Master invested with power of working miracles, they departed and preached according to the tenor of their commission, in the cities and villages of Judea and Petrea ; and after visiting several places, publishing the glad tidings of salvation, and working many miracles in confirmation of the truth, they returned to their Master with great joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us, through thy name.
From these expressions, it seems reasonable to con. clude, that the disciples, when they set out on this jour. ney, did not know that their power extended so far as to cast out devils, and they were, no doubt, pleasingly surprised, to find that the apostate spirits trembled at their Master's name. To this our great Redeemer replied, I beheld Satun, as lightning, fall from heaven: as much as to say, you need not be astonished at the subjection and dismay of the apostate spirits, their prince is fallen, I saw him fall as swift as lightning from heaven: I have triumphed over him, I came down from heaven, and was manifested in the flesh to destroy his works, and he knows I shall finally conquer hini and all his legions, and put them down forever,
Our Lord, then, for the further encouragement of his disciples, informed them, that he would enlarge their power, and increase their authority, not only over evil spirits, but over whatever in this world, had power to hurt or annoy them: Behold, said he, I give unto you power to tread on serpents, and scorpions, and over all the powers of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. At the same time our Lord was pleased to inform them, that these miraculous powers were the least part of their privilege, and the consequences attending them, not so much to be rejoiced in, as their title to the eternal reward, which he would bestow on all his faithful followers: Notwithstanding, said he, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, that your names are written in hearen.
Nor could the blessed JESUS reflect on the wisdom and goodness of the divine dispensations, and the particular care and tenderness, which the supreme Governor of the universe, manifests to the objects of his love, however mean and despised they may be in the eyes of the world, without feeling extraordinary joy; so that his benevolent heart overflowed with streams of gratitude and praise; “ I thank thee' said he, : O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.'
The disciples being returned from their tour, JESUS left Samaria, and journeying into Judea, he was met on the road by a certain lawyer, who, in the language of the New Testament, is a person whose employment is the expounding, and explaining the law of Moses. This
person was desirous to know whether the doctrines which Jesus advanced, were the same as the precepts of the law; and with this view, he asked our Redeemer what he must do to inherit eternal life. Such was the pride of this teacher of Israel, that it seems by
the sequel, that he asked this important question, to tempt, and not to be instructed: but, though our Lord well knew the secrets of his heart, he did not answer him with such a rebuke as he deserved, but in such a manner as to turn his base design, and sophistical evasions against himself : What, said he, is written in the law ? how readest thou? The Scribe answered, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
This reply our Lord received with approbation, and said to the lawyer, Thou hast answered right; this do and thou shalt live ; if thou art able to fulfil these great precepts of the law, thou mayest claim an interest in the divine favour, on the footing of the eternal rules of righteousness; and as a right to that happiness which is assigned to the keepers of the law: for on these two çommandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The lawyer now perceived himself taken in his own snare : his conscience could not acquit him of violating these great duties; he was at a loss and confounded, and knew not what to reply ; but, yet being willing to say something to justify himself, he inquired, and who is my neighbour ? A question very natural to be ask. ed by a bigotted Jew, whose narrow, selfish conceptions led him to despise all who were not the children of Abraham.
To correct the low littleness of such a private party spirit, to open and enlarge the heart to a more generous and noble way of thinking, to shew them the only foundation of true love, and the extensive relation which they and all mankind stood in to each other, our Lord delivered the following most beautiful and instructive parable :
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell amongst thieves, which stripped him of