« VorigeDoorgaan »
things that are written in the book of the law to do them :" clearly proving that the law was not given to save us, but, as St. Paul teaches, to be a standard to shew us that we are ruined sinners.* A law which could have given life could not be given to fallen man. Hence the Scripture by the law only concludes all men under sin.t Grace comes in, thanks be to God; but it meets man in death. He must confess himself dead, (therefore are we baptized,) and die too, if the law is ever to be fulfilled in him. Then this grace produces grace. Christ died for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. And then, if dying be the fulfilling of the law, we need not strive for life here, we need not take "eye for eye,” or “hate our enemies.” We may be content to suffer and die, and act in grace to all, knowing that if we lose all, the kingdom of heaven is yet ours. Will the law be broken thus, because we are
“not under,” but above it? Nay, thus only will it be fulfilled. I venture to
say that till men are content to die; till they see that “fulfilling all righteousness” is connected with our taking the place of dead and buried sinners; the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount will never be kept, however much they may be lauded, by us. Take that law, * Rom. iii. 20 and vii. 7. + Gal. iü. 21, 22. 11. John üi. 16. hoping to live by it, and it must be pared down. Take it to die by, as part and parcel of the story of the cross, and it is all clear.
Many other points might be adduced, growing out of what is special here: but with one other particular I must conclude. We noticed in this Gospel a special allusion to the Prophets. The expression, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet,” is peculiar to this Gospel. And yet the children of the kingdom knew not the Heir when He appeared. Though fulfilling their own Scriptures before them, He was a wonder to them. People in darkness saw light. He neither strove nor cried. The broken reed was not bruised, nor the smoking flax quenched. But so low was Israel fallen, that they knew not the day of their visitation. Like looked for like, and so they esteemed Him not. Had He come, like Barabbas, to strive for the restoration of the earthly kingdom, or had He sought to overthrow the existing rule of Herod, He should not have stood alone. But because His kingdom is heavenly, Israel care not for it. He may go whither He will : they want Him not. Such has been, such must be, the experience of the true heirs. They may in their lives fulfil the prophets, manifesting light, and grace, and righteousness. But if they will not fight for or against the outward
things of their day by other outward things, the children of the kingdom, born after the flesh, either cannot discern, or will not have them. Let the heirs be prepared for their lot, to be rejected even by Abraham's sons; for of Abraham's sons is it written, “They which are born after the flesh persecute those which are born after the Spirit.”* But the mocked ones have their reward. If the kingdom of earth is closed, the kingdom of heaven" is open to them.
In that day when the King now hidden shall be revealed to men, may we, now content to be hidden with Him, be partakers of His glory. They that suffer in the mystery of the kingdom shall rejoice in its revelation. Till that revelation, may we be in “the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” Amen.
* Gal. iv. 29.
ST. MARK, OR
THE SERVANT OF GOD.
"The second living creature was like unto a Calf.”—Rev. iv.7. “Much increase is by the strength of the Ox.”—Prov. xiv. 4.
“The second living creature was like unto an Ox." And the second Gospel reveals the Lord in that aspect of which the Ox is the appointed figure. He stands here patient Servant and Sacrifice for others, spending and being spent to serve the sons of men. The first glance indeed at this Gospel does not give us the same broad distinction, which meets us upon
face of the other three. A second look will prove that it has marks, which are in their way quite as conclusive and characteristic as the unmistakable distinctions of the other Gospels.* And though the peculiarities are I own minute, yet this is compensated for by the fact that they are very many, and meet us again and again in every page. The strokes may be faint, and the touches fine, but their very fineness shews a Master's hand, which without the exaggeration of caricature, by lines too minute to arrest the careless eye, can present a perfect picture. Of course the subject itself in the main is the same in all the Gospels; the Lord's life being the material of each narrative; but this only makes the distinctions more instructive: and though the disputer of this world may stumble, the humble imitator of God is richly taught.
* The fact that one sect of early heretics chose this Gospel in preference to the others, on account of its contents, proves that at that day something distinctive could be seen in it. “Qui Jesum separant a Christo, et impassibilem Christum, passum vero Jesum dicunt, id quod secundum Marcum est præferentes Evangelium. &c." Irenæus, adv. Hær. Lib. ü. c. 11.
I now proceed to these distinctions, which I may arrange as, first, the omissions, secondly, the additions, peculiar to this Gospel. From both we shall be able to note what is special and characteristic in the view of Christ here presented to us.
And here before I notice the omissions, I would observe how much may be gathered, not only from what is taught, but also from what is omitted, in certain parts of Holy Scripture. Even had no Apostle shewn us the significance of a slight omission, one with right thoughts of God might have anticipated that the whole form of a revelation from Him, and thus its omissions, could not be without reason. But,