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Jerusalem. The Samaritans were the deadly enemies of the Jews; and because Christ purposed to visit Jerusalem, that hated city, they declared that he should not pass through their village. What a fiend-like spirit! what an insult to Jesus! “Lord,” said James and John, “ wilt thou that we command fire to come down out of heaven and consume them, even as Elias did ?” The beloved disciple, it seems, was not by nature one of those soft and inoffensive spirits, who never wake up from a monotony of feeling; nor was he amiable merely from a want of force of character. Without doubt he had many a struggle with his temper. Christ found it necessary on this occasion to rebuke him, and told him he knew not what manner of spirit he was of. The power of self-discipline, by which so great a change was afterwards effected in his character, is itself a proof of a great mind—for, do we not oftentimes excuse persevering obstinacy or passion, by saying, The man has a weak mind? The power of selfdiscipline, although the duty of every one, is unusual to any great degree, except in the case of uncommon mental abilities. The wise man extolled this power above that of military prowess : “ Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit, than he that taketh a city.” The impression is too often made from the pulpit, that if men will only feel, with strength and fervor, they are eminent Christians. They accompany with this the belief, that Christ makes no account of intellect, or mental attainments, in his estimate of character. Because, without piety, these are useless, it is also inferred that they can add nothing to the value of a pious heart! It seems to be forgotten that Christ made the mind, both of man and angel, of throne, dominion, principality and power. In his own likeness made he it.
Can we suppose, then, that Christ is indifferent to that which is the glory of all his works? We cannot believe that He, the Author of all beauty, can love a soul whose powers are out of proportion, so much as one whose intellectual part is joined with moral qualities in a proper manner, and the whole warmed with high emotion, without which, indeed, no mind is of the highest order of greatness. To look upon one whose soul consists of nothing but emotion, cannot excite an equal pleasure. If, as we are told, in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," can he love an ignorant Christian so much as one who, with as good a heart, possesses intelligence, and is conformed to the
rules of right reason in all his mental actions ?
In the realms of pure intellect and of pure feeling, he doubtless is foremost amongst the ranks of the seraphim, whose powers of mind, enkindled by love, shed the greatest lustre upon
the heavenly hosts; for such an one most perfectly reflects the true character of the Godhead. We may depend upon it, then, that Christ loves intellect as really as he loves susceptibility to impression : or, in other words, intelligence is as great a requisite for a perfect character as emotion. While it is useless without piety, it gives piety a tenfold value. We would inquire, if it is not the duty of ministers to hold up this truth, with prominence, before men.
Are there not many Christians, and are they not the occasion of grief, whose piety consists in temporary fervors; whose zeal grows out of animal feeling, and is of necessity like morning clouds ? But would a Christian ensure the love of Christ? Add, then, to your virtue knowledge, and grow not only in grace, but in the knowledge of Christ. How many there are, who live on transient feelings—who make no regular and systematic efforts in the attainment of true knowledge—read no wise and holy books, and neglect, to a great degree, the book of God; but if a feeling occasionally floats into their mind, which makes them happy, they think that they are growing in grace! The neglect of true knowledge is the occasion of many of the difficulties in the church, which are ascribed to a want of piety. When excitements arise upon any subjects, in a church, those who have an unenlightened piety, (a strange, but frequent contradiction in terms,) and have not accustomed themselves to reflection, are oftentimes like the chaff, which the wind driveth away. Living out of themselves, and dependent, as they always have been, upon the popular feeling, they have no inward strength. Such an one is always wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason. How infatuated are they, in thinking that Christ will promote them to high places in his esteem, or make them “ rulers over
many cities ?”
But it may be said that we here set up as a condition of Christ's peculiar favor, something which a multitude of his followers cannot reach. We are referred to those whose inferior mental abilities render them incompetent to large attainments, or to correct mental discipline. We know that there are those to whom a sovereign God has given only one talent. But is the parable forgotten, in which several servants received each one pound, and when their Lord inquired how much they had gained, that one of them with his pound had gained ten, another two, while another had made no increase? Our reward will be proportioned to our improvement of that which is allotted us. The discipline of many, doubtless consists in their being intrusted with only one talent, and their humility exhibited in their willingness to improve one to the utmost, will entitle them to the peculiar favor of Christ. But if it still be urged that we make a distinction amongst the followers of Christ unfavorable to those who have been denied by their Creator the possession of superior powers, we admit that it is true; and while the fact of such difference must be seen and acknowledged by all, it can be referred only to the sovereignty of an All-wise God. For his pleasure we are and were created. The righteous will shine as the firmament, but amongst them many will be advanced to greater glory than others, while the inequality will not occasion envy or any kind of unhappiness, as here, because each glorified spirit will take as much pleasure in seeing another spirit above him, as if he were himself in that rank of glory. Said a good man, in the spirit of heaven,
“Give me a place at thy saint's feet,
Who sit above in brighter day.' -There comes, then, from the subject, a powerful appeal to every human being. God has intrusted you with a mind in whose structure he sees his own beautiful handiwork. Let it be your endeavor to improve it to the utmost, that your Lord at his coming may receive his own with usury. Beware of that disproportionate cultivation of the feelings to the neglect of the noble powers and faculties of your nature which is the result of indolence. The measure of your heavenly happiness is to depend upon your sanctified powers and attainments. Would not such a mind as that of Sir Isaac Newton, which was able to comprehend the whole material heavens, be qualified for greater pleasure at the future revelation of the wonders of the universe, than the soul of a common Christian? And if saved, would he not in consequence of his severe study, and his attainments in knowledge, be more eminent in heaven, provided that his love to God had been in proportion to his discoveries of His works? And yet how often is the mind of man addressed in a strain of depreciating and (we had almost said) canting reflections, upon the inferiority of mental attainments to piety, as if one part of our nature were to be rejected upon our becoming Christians, and piety and sanctification could be predicated only of the emotions ! How strong, yet how true is the expression of Dr. Young :
“ A Christian is the highest style of man.” and when Christianity developes all her power, it will be seen that the whole character of man will be wrought upon, and his sanctified intellect conjoined with a holy heart, and raised by discipline and cultivation, and by the love of Christ constraining hiin, will bring him to his original destinationbut a little lower than the angels. If it is ever proper to set the servant before his lord, as an object of admiration and imitation, let us study the character of the Evangelist John. Remember the proofs of his noble intellect, his subdued temper, his zeal, his constancy, his decision, and his affectionate heart. In him we have a pattern of Christian character upon which the Saviour bestowed his highest approbation. What honor did his Lord and Master confer upon this disciple ! He was selected as most worthy to receive and communicate the Revelation of the coming ages, of the great and dreadful day, of the heavenly world, its multitude, and their worship. Like the evening star, with which the sun leaves the brightness of his glory when he goes to rest, did he receive from his Saviour exceeding glory; and who can conceive of the soft yet brilliant lustre with which he now beautifies heaven! -Am I a Christian ? Am I a minister of Jesus ? Let me love and serve Christ as he did, and strive to improve the powers and faculties which he has given me, that I may be meet for an inheritance with this saint in light !
There is a beauty in the character of Jeremy Taylor, which has more than once recalled the moral image of "that disciple.” Some of the great men of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are men of towering and lofty intellects, whose presence awakens awe, but never stirs the gentle affections of the heart. Taylor on the contrary is like a vine, whose noble root threads up its strength into a thousand tendrils, and sends them through the trellis-work, and over the windows, to shade while it shares domestic love. You are never made to feel, while reading him, that you are an inferior being. His writings indeed abound in conceits, but he is not
conceited, and his frequent accumulation of learned references, and as some perhaps might find it in their hearts to call it, his pedantry, is amusing, rather than offensive. Indeed, the man who would not smile rather than frown at Taylor's parade of learning, we should think was one who would feel contempt rather than pleasure in looking upon the harmless pomp and show of his child's playhouse.
Jeremy Taylor was the son of a barber, and a lineal descendant of the famous Rowland Taylor, the martyr, in the time of James I. He was born in the year 1613, in Trinity parish, Cambridge. He was baptized by the name of Jeremiah, but his personal appearance and manners gained for him the more familiar and affectionate name of Jeremy. His father is said to have been "reasonably learned,” which may be accounted for in the fact that his profession in those days included the practice of surgery and medicine. We read in Don Quixote of the barber being sent for by the knight to let blood. Hence the modern barber's pole, a humble and rude imitation of the badge of Æsculapius, (the god of physicians, and himself physician to the Argonauts,) who is represented with a staff and a wreathed serpent. Of his father it is also said, that he “ solely grounded his children in grammar and the mathematics.” At thirteen years of age he entered Caius college as a sizar, or poor scholar. No record remains of his eminence at the university, or of his having received any literary distinction. Having been admitted to the degree of Master of Arts, he was employed by a man who was supplying the pulpit at St. Paul's cathedral, to preach for him for a short time. The beauty of his person, and withal his youthful appearance, increased without doubt by the venerable place in which he stood, attracted great notice, and his rich mellifluous style gained many admirers. He was soon after spoken of in high terms, to Laud, who sent for him that he might hear him preach, and then bestowed great praise upon his performance, but objected on account of his extreme youth, (he being only twenty years old,) to his preaching in London. In his most characteristic and happy manner, he humbly begged his Grace to pardon that fault, promising that if he lived he would amend it. Laud, however, thought that the indications of great talent in bim were such, that it would be better for him and for the world to pursue his studies. He was accordingly sent to All Souls college, Oxford. It is not our intention to follow him in the history of his