Summary: This Sermon is #14 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
Gifts no certain Evidence of Grace.
Luke x. 20
"In this rejoice not, that the Spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your Names are written in Heaven." ABUNDANT notice of Christ’s coming preceded that interesting’ event. "To him gave all the prophets witness."
NEITHER was his entrance here unattended. It was announced by an angelic choir; by a miraculous star; and by a band of eastern magi. The manger which contained him, was particularly pointed out to the shepherds, and his person designated by inspired Simon and Anna. Again,
WHEN entering on his ministry, witness was given for him, both from heaven, and on earth; from heaven by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost, which rested on him, and by a voice testifying that he was the Son in God; on earth by John, and soon after by the seventy: For these were sent to prepare his way, and introduce him to his work.
JOHN was sent before, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" --"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The seventy, to declare him then entering on his ministry--"The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you."--John did no miracles; but the seventy witnessed Christ’s truth, and their own by wonders wrought in his name. In the orders given to them at their mission, we find them only directed to heal the sick, as an evidence of Christ’s arrival, and their being sent of him; but by the report made at their return they appeared to have been empowered to cast out devils. They probably did all the mighty works done by the twelve, and by their Lord. Thus they prepared his way.
DOING miracles in Christ’s name would raise in those who witnessed it, a desire to see him of whom they spake, and whose power they displayed: And "they were sent two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself would come."
HAD they only proclaimed his arrival, some might have listened; but few would have "believed their report." Greater evidence than their word would have been demanded; as was afterwards of Christ--"What sign shewest thou, that we may believe thee?" Neither would the demand have been unreasonable. Special messages require special evidence; and it is always given to those who are sent of God.
EVERY deceiver may pretend to a divine mission; but we are forbidden to "believe every spirit, and commanded to try the spirits." The church at Ephesus is commended for having obeyed this command--"Thou hast tried them which say that they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."
OUR Savior speaking of the Jews’ rejection of him, aggravates their guilt, by a consideration or the plenitude of the evidence which had been given them of his truth. "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin--but now they have no cloak for their sin--they have both seen and hated both me and my Father." *
* John xv. 22-24. AT the return of the seventy they appear to have been elated with the exercise of the miraculous powers which had been delegated to them--"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
THEY had witnessed Christ’s miracles, but seem not to have wrought miracles themselves till now; and when they found themselves able to do the mighty works which they had admired in their Lord they were filled with joy. HAVING made their report, Christ enlarged their powers and promised them protection--"Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you." But to prevent them from setting an undue value on these distinctions, the caution in the text is subjoined--"_Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather, rejoice because your names are written in heaven_".
IN discussing the subject, we will, first _consider the caution or prohibition--In this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; then the command--But rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven_.
I. WE are to consider the caution, or prohibition--_In this rejoice not, &c_.
BUT why not? Was it not matter of joy that spirits, evil spirits were subject to them? That they were able to dislodge them from the bodies of men, by commanding them in Christ’s name? Certainly. This enabled them to answer the ends of their mission, which had been but very partially answered without it. Wherefore then the prohibition?
IT is rather the excess of their joy, than the joy itself which is here forbidden. They seem to have placed an undue value on this power; to have exalted it above it’s place, particularly as it concerned themselves. This was the first thing they mentioned at their return; nothing beside seems to have made so deep an impression upon them, or to have given them equal self importance.