Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 2.djvu/29

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7
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.

the remission of sins was then first preached to sinners. The Son of Man had power upon earth to forgive sins (ix. 6.); and He had also power to retain them: He was empowered to gather the wheat into his garner, and to burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (iii. 12.). But when, as the Messenger of the Covenant, He came, in fulfilment of prophecy, to visit His temple, and to punish the priests who had corrupted the covenant, and been partial in the law. He came, at the same time, to "purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver," that they might "offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Let us bear this prophecy in mind when we turn to St. Matthew's Gospel, and let us see whether the long vista of God's dispensations in reference to his elder "church" and household, the covenant made with its ministers, the promises given to them, their unfaithfulness and corruption, will not throw a new light upon many passages of the Gospel, which seemed before dark and uninteresting. We might, for instance, put side by side the discourses of our blessed Lord with the Pharisees, and those which He held with His own disciples; we might see the one cavilling against the truth, and laying snares for Him who came to try and prove them, until at length He gave them over to their blindness, and denounced a fearful catalogue of woes upon their heads: we might watch the other, gradually weaned from prejudice and carnal-mindedness, instructed in "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," as they were able to learn them, until they were fit to be left alone in the world, with the Spirit of their departed Master to be with them to the end of their ministry, while they made disciples of all nations, and taught them to observe the things which He had commanded them. We should then trace, with no careless feeling, in the sixteenth chapter, the lines of the Christian Church. When we see the faithless Pharisees, leagued with their bitterest enemies, to tempt the Great Prophet of the Church; when we hear Him affectionately reproving His own disciples for their want of faith, and warning them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees; when we then hear the solemn question put to the twelve, and the bold and undoubting answer of St. Peter, we shall see a depth and fulness of meaning in our Saviour's blessing, which perhaps we never saw before, and feel that "blessed" indeed are