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THIS day the Church keeps in memory of St. Matthias. He.
was, it is most probably thought, one of the seventy disciples, and was a diligent attendant upon our Saviour all the time of His preaching. (Acts i. 21, 22.) After the death of Judas, he was, by lot, chosen into the number of the Apostles (v.26.) His first preaching was in Judæa; after which, it is said, he went to preach in Æthiopia the lesser, in the further part of Cappadocia : here he continued long, and, it is believed, was murdered by some of the barbarous people.
MATTHEW xi. 28.
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest. WHEREWITH shall I come before the Lord,
“ and bow myself before the high God;", was the language the Prophet Micah held to the Jews under the Law, when they felt themselves oppressed
• Chatelain. Not approving the sermon of Scattergood which appeared in the first Edition, I have substituted a translation from a French Protestant preacher, a preacher more to be admired for his good sense, piery, and zeal, than for striking thoughts and commanding elo. quence.
with remorse of conscience, and were desirous of
appeasing the wrath of an offended Deity. Such was che knowlege of the Jews that they could not persuade themselves, the justice of God would be satisfied by the blood of a few miserable victims; but they were not sufficiently enlightened to look higher, to pierce through the veil of the Law, and to discover the truth which was concealed under its shadows. They well knew that God could not be propitiated without a sacrifice-and this sacrifice they sought, but could no where find. “ Will the Lord,” they enquired, “ be " pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thou“ sands of rivers of oil ? shall I give my first-born for " my transgression, the fruit of my body, for the sin 66 of my soul ?"
Blessed be God, we, my brethren, are strangers to those doubts and perplexities to which the Jews were subject under the Law. The Gospel points out to us a means at once sure, prompt, and efficacious, calculated to obtain God's pardon of all our sins; to quiet the most alarmed consciences, with the assurance of comfort, and the promise of peace. It is the virtue of the death, of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, it is the infinite value of His blood which He offers for us all as a relief and cure of all our spiritual miseries : a cure which we can find in Him only. • Come unto me 6 all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give 65
I shall first shew who they are whom our Lord addresses. They are those who “ labor and are heavy “ laden.” . Secondly, The rest which He promises them. Lastly, What we are to do to obtain this rest.
Holy Jesus ! often have we gone to Thee, often have sought Thee in our distress and our afflictions, but too often with weariness and indifference. We this day, O Lord, return unto Thee, but we return to Thee with a new zeal, with an holy eagerness. Let us not go unto Thee in vain; but grant us to find with Thee the peace, the repose, the rest we seek, and which in mercy Thou offerest to us!
First, We are to consider who they are, whom our Lord calls to Him. They are those that “ labor and *are heavy laden.”
1. The words in the original are peculiarly expressive: they describe men fatigued, harrassed, exhausted by long and seyere toil; ready to faint through failure of strength and depression of spirits. Our Lord had here in view, first, the Jews, burthened with the yoke of the Law, overpowered with the multitude of Mosaic Ordinances.
In the words following the text, Christ speaks of His yoke as easy, contrasting it with those imposed by Moscs and by Tradition. Indeed the Law, accompanied with all its Levitical Ordinances, was to the Jews an oppressive and vexatious yoke, " which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear.” Ill-instructed by their teachers, they supposed they should be justified before God by the observance of the ordinances prescribed by Moses, and of the ceremonies enjoined by Tradition. In this deceitful hope they wearied themselves in fulfilling the whole Law; and all that they gained, by their fruitless exertions, was the conviction that their attempt was vain; and by consequence, that they could not, by these means, be justified before
God. This, it must be acknowleged, was a very discouraging situation. Now to them did our Lord address Himself in the text; because his Gospel was adapted to deliver them from the observance of those Legal Ceremonies, and to discover to them a more certain, a more easy way to “ make their peace with 6 God, and to find rest unto their souls." Our Saviour addresses Himself also to all sinners in general; but more especially to humble, repenting sinners, who feel their spiritual miseries, and who fervently pray to be delivered from them.
• Come unto me,” says our Saviour to guilty souls, 6 ye who labor and are heavy laden.” How clearly does this image express the miserable condition of sinners, when they become acquainted with themselves ! The path of vice appears flattering to those who walk in it, who abandon themselves to sin, and who never reflect on the melancholy consequences awaiting it. But different is it with a religious man who fears God, who believes His word, who has a love for Religion, and who is not familiarized with vice. What grief, what remorse, what anguish does such an one feel, who after having, grievously, offended God, opens his eyes on the precipice on which he stands ! Nothing is more melancholy than the state of such a man, nothing equals the misery of his soul. Sometimes it is the chagrin of having, carelessly, fallen into the snares of sin, notwithstanding the many and powerful reasons to dissuade from it, which covers him with shame and confusion. Sometimes it is the sorrow of having offended God, his heavenly Father, which upbraids and torments his conscience. Sometimes it is the dread that God will reject him, that He will not receive him within the arms
of His mercy, which fills him with alarm and horror. Sometimes it is the loss of his repose which he deplores ; the privation of those consolations which he received in prayer, in the congregation, in the Holy Communion. Sometimes it is the thought of death which may surprize him in that deplorable state; the impression of another life, of a Judgment, of Eternity. All these thoughts which present themselves by turns to his mind, " set themselves in array against him," and render his days miserable. O the uneasiness and apprehensions which sin, where it is felt, occasions in an heart that hopes for Salvation! Well might our Lord represent sinners of this description, as heavy laden with the burden of their offences ! And yet how much better is it to groan under this weight of sin, than to live unconcerned at the consciousness of offending God, as we see the worldly, the unjust, the covetous, the voluptuous do, who feel no alarm about their spiritual state, and no concern how they shall answer to God for their conduct. To sinners afflicted with the remembrance of their sins; to contrite and wounded spirits who severely reproach themselves with their transgressions, and who 6 hunger and thirst after “ righteousness”-these are they to whom the Blessed Jesus offers. rest from their labors and comfort in their sorrows. In His gracious Invitation, all sinners, it is true, are included. © All ye come unto 66 me, and be saved.” But He requires as an indispensable condition that they amend their lives ---that they feel the need they have of God's Grace-and that they become new creatures.
II. I shall now consider in the second place the rest which He promises to the sinner.