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THE COMING OF CHRIST.
BY REV. A. P. PEABODY.
PRINTED FOB THE
American Sanitarian Association.
JAMES MUNHOE &, CO. 134 WASHINGTON STREET
Price 3 Cents.
Luke vii. 19.
There is, to my mind, something surpassingly grand and beautiful in this portion of sacred writ. It has a deep significance, and is as full of meaning to us at the present day, as it was to the Baptist. John, though he had foretold the Messiah's advent, had very low and imperfect notions of his kingdom. He supposed, that he would have come in outward pomp, in robes of power and state, at the head of conquering hosts. In the gloom of imprisonment, his faith in Jesus as the Messiah had grown dim. He asked for some surer token, some more resplendent sign, than had been given. He felt, that, if Jesus were indeed the promised Savior, he was dallying on his career, wasting golden moments, and ungratefully leaving his faithful precursor to the horrors of a dungeon and the peril of a violent death. John therefore sent two of his disciples, in the double hope, no doubt, of hearing somewhat that might confirm his own faith, and also of hastening the movements of Jesus towards victory and empire, if he were the true Messiah. Jesus makes no direct verbal reply; but acts an answer full of eloquence. Surrounded by the sick, and blind, and distracted, whom
the rumor of his wondrous cures had brought from all the country round about, he heals this wretched multitude in the presence of John's disciples, and then commands them to go and tell John what they had seen and heard, thus tacitly saving to his forerunner: "One has come, who lifts off men's burdens and rolls away their infirmities, who cures the evils and dispels the sorrows of mortality, who bids disease begone, and snatches the prey from the grave, who comforts the mourners, and proclaims glad news to the poor. Whom else, what more would you have? What seals of office could one bear more worthy of God, more manifest to man 1 Is not a healer of the griefs and ills of life he that should come ?—the very Messiah that was needed? Why then look for another? Why look for pomp and glitter, the sound of trumpet and the clash of arms, when love, which is holier and greater than these, has become incarnate, and is working its miracles among the lowly and desolate? Why look for another, when the poor and the outcast have found a sympathy and kindness unknown before, when man, as man, has had shed upon him those rays of compassionate fellow-feeling, for which ever since the creation he has been yearning in vain 1" The idea of this answer of our Savior is, that, wherever love is at work, there he, who should come, has come,— that in whatever company of believers, in whatever soul, there is love unfeigned and undefined, to those believers, to that soul are fulfilled the words of the herald angel to the shepherds,— " Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." I shall now endeavor to expand and illustrate this idea.
1. I would take with an infidel the same course, which Jesus took to revive John's faltering faith. I would first survey with ray unbelieving friend the institutions and customs of Paganism. I would show him those lands of darkness and of the shadow of death, where the wounds of humanity are left to bleed unrelieved and unpitied. I would take him from scene to scene of desolation and woe, over which brooded no angel of peace, and whispered no breathing of consolation. I would show him the victim of pestilence cast out by his own kindred, breathing his last alone and unthought of. I would show him the prisoner languishing in hopeless durance, — the poor man trodden in the dust, his home a kennel, his children slaves. I would take him to the new made grave and the house of death, and let him see how full of desolation and despair are the sorrows of bereavement, when not cheered by the dawning of a filial faith and a heavenly hope. And then I would lead the unbeliever through Christendom, and show him there a balm for all men's wounds. I would take him into the dungeons and pest-houses of the old world, and show him the Christian philanthropist thrusting himself into the very heart of peril, that he may carry the healing cup, the pledge of sympathy, the bread of life to those sick and in prison. I would bid him walk through the still streets, which have been swept by the swift pestilence, and there see, as the frequent corpse is borne forth, the sisters of charity and the ministers of the cross, women tenderly nurtured, men of commanding powers and gifts, hurrying undaunted from one death-bed to another, discharging at once the most menial and the most holy offices, breathing in contagion, exposing themselves to a thousand deaths, that they may soothe the last hours, and point to heaven the departing spirits of those, with whom a common nature is their only tie. I would Vol. xv.—No. 170. 1*