But the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
I. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST IS. There are many persons who are indifferent to the Saviour only because they do not know him - because he is to them nothing but a name.
1. Study the record of his earthly ministry, and you will find that his character and life possess a peerless interest. Few have really read and studied the four Gospels without feeling themselves brought into contact with a Being altogether unrivalled in human history for qualities of the spiritual nature, for profundity of moral teaching, for self-sacrificing benevolence. And many have, by such study, been brought under a spell for which no ordinary principles could account, and have felt, not only that no personage in human history can rank with Christ, but that none cart even be compared with him.
2. Ponder the character, the claims, the acknowledged work, of Christ, and you will be convinced of his Divine nature and authority. Men who judge of him by hearsay, or by their own preconceptions, may think of Jesus as of an ordinary man; but this is not the case with those who "come and see," who allow him to make his own impression upon their minds. Such are found exclaiming, with the officers, "Never man spake like this Man!" with the disciples, "What manner of Man is this!" with Peter, "Thou art the Christ!" with this very Nathanael, to whom the words of the text were addressed, "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel!" with the centurion at the Crucifixion, "Truly this was a righteous Man, this was the Son of God!"
II. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE.
1. This test - a very reasonable one - may be applied in individual cases. What did Christ effect for Saul of Tarsus? Did he not change him from a zealous and narrow formalist into a man whose name has become the synonym for spirituality of religion, for breadth and catholicity of doctrine, for grandeur of plan and of hope with regard to this ransomed humanity? Did he not find Augustine a wilful and pleasure-seeking young man, who almost broke a pious mother's heart? and did he not transform him into a penitent, a saint, a mighty theologian, a holy power in the realm of human thought? What did Christ do for Luther? He visited him when he was depressed and hopeless because of the conscience of sin, spoke to him the word of peace, called and strengthened him to become the Reformer of half Christendom, the founder of an epoch of light and liberty for mankind. Such instances, to be found in the annals of the illustrious and influential among men, might be multiplied. But it is not only over the great and famous that the Divine Jesus has exercised his power. Among the poorest, the meanest, the feeblest, nay, the vilest, he has proved himself to be the Friend of sinners and the Brother of man. There is no circle of society in any Christian land where evidences of this kind do not abound. You need not go far to see what the Lord Christ can do; this you may learn at your own doors, and every day.
2. But the educated and well informed have within their reach a wider range of proof. The history of Christendom is written in a vast, an open book - a book which the intelligent, and those capable of taking a wide survey of human affairs, are at liberty to read. Secular historians have traced the influence of Christianity upon society, upon the code of morals, upon slavery, upon war, upon the position of woman in society, upon the education of the young, upon the treatment of the poor, the sick, the afflicted. No doubt, exaggeration has often distinguished the treatment of these matters by Christian advocates. Yet, in all fairness and candour, it must be admitted that a contrast between unchristian and Christian society yields results immensely in favour of our religion. Christ has been the chief Benefactor of the human race, has done more than any beside to ameliorate and to improve the conditions and to brighten the prospects of mankind.
III. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST WILL DO FOR YOU. This is not a matter of speculation, but of practical moment and interest. It is well to form a just estimate of the character, the mission, the work, of the Son of God. But it is better to take the benefit which he offers to every believing hearer of his gospel.
1. See whether he can give you peace of conscience, by securing to you the pardon of sin, and acceptance with the God against whom you have sinned. This he professes to do; this multitudes will assure you he has done for them. If this is with you an urgent need, will it not be reasonable to put Christ to that test of experience to which he invites you?
2. See whether he can supply you with the highest law and the most sacred motive for the moral life. All human standards are imperfect, and no human principle is sufficient to ensure obedience. What no other can offer, the Saviour claims to impart, and it is reasonable to test his ability and his willingness to fulfil his promises.
3. See whether his fellowship and friendship can uphold and cheer you amidst the sorrows, temptations, and uncertainties of this earthly life. He says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Verify the assertion in your own experience. If he cannot supply this want, certain it is that none else can do so.
4. See whether the Lord Christ can vanquish death for you, and give you the assurance of a blessed immortality. Apart from him, the future is very dark; try his power to illumine that darkness with rays of heavenly light.
1. Defenders and promulgators of Christianity will do well to address to their fellow men the invitation Philip addressed to Nathanael. If they cannot always answer men's cavils and objections, and satisfy men's intellectual difficulties, they can bring men face to face with Christ himself, and leave the interview to produce its own effects. Let men be encouraged to come, to see, and to judge for themselves.
2. The undecided hearers of the gospel may well accept the challenge here given. Why should they shrink from it? It is an opportunity which should not be neglected, an invitation which should not he refused. - T.
There was a division...for these sayings.
I. Our Lord's SPEECH as a test of His character — "These are not the sayings of one possessed with a devil." Some one possibly smiles incredulously and asks — "Who can judge a man by his speech?" Napoleon the Great held that speech was made to conceal thoughts and purposes. But did he succeed in confining speech within these ignoble limits? For a time and in certain cases he doubtless did. But what of those peevish and angry utterances of his at St. Helena? As we read the story we are forced to exclaim, "Oh, man, thy speech bewrayeth thee!" That great actor was no longer able to conceal himself, when he fretted and fumed and swore in helpless pevishness. Watch a man's utterances through and through, and he cannot hide himself from you. He may at times flatter himself that he has succeeded in the attempt, but his speech so wronged and misused at length plays traitor with him in return, and reveals what manner of man he is. Speech, graciously given by God to man alone on earth, as a means by which he shall be able to express truth, will not suffer itself evermore to be made the degraded instrument of diplomacy and deceit. It will at times involuntarily start and assert itself. In the records of the best lives we find words uttered in haste, unpremeditated, or under great provocation, which needed an apology, since they revealed the weaker and less noble side of character. When did Christ utter such words? In speech He was never overtaken in a fault. His disciples often were, but He never. Again, see if there were immature words uttered at the outset of His ministry, which revealed the crudities of youth, or an imperfect estimate of that ministry to which He had committed His life. Was there ever anything said by Him which betrayed a wrong motive, or defective moral teaching? Have succeeding ages been able to find a flaw in His doctrine, or have they been able to add a single virtue to those which He taught men? Have any words lived like His, or living, exerted such a sanctifying, healing and ennobling influence over human lives? Let us refer to one or two features of His incomparable utterances. What does he say about God? No teacher of men can be silent on this great theme. He tells men many tender, loving things concerning God — that He clothes the lily, feeds the sparrow, numbers the hairs of our head, and, finally, "that He so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Has any teaching concerning God given such light and joy to human heart as this? Verily, "These are not the sayings of one possessed with a devil!" Again, what has He to say about man? By the graveside of our dearest and best ones can any assurance compare with His — "I am the Resurrection and the Life, he that believeth in Me shall never die"? "Because I live ye shall live also"? "Whence hath this man these things?" "These are not the words of one possessed with a devil." We consider —
II. Our Lord's DEEDS as tests of His character. "Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?" It is the prerogative of the devil to close men's eyes, not to open them. It is not so much the miracle of giving sight as the beneficent nature of it that stamps it as undiabolic. What was the tendency of our Lord's deeds? Precisely the same as His teaching. Did He not always go about doing good? There is a harmony of goodness and of benevolence in His works from the beginning to the close. Above all, is there anything for power and tenderness to compare with His Cross? And here we come to the root of the whole matter. Theology, history, and moral philosophy can all apply their tests; but no test can compare with Chat of our own experience. Our experience may fail to appeal powerfully to others, but nothing is so convincing to ourselves. Among our Lord's disciples are the noblest men and women whom the world has ever known, and they attribute all their blessings to Him.
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