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SEEMONS



HENRY MELVILL, B.D.,

SUNISTEE OF CAMDEN CHAPEL, CAMBERWELL, AND CHAPLAIN TO THE TOWEE OF LONDON ;
FORMEELT FELLOW AND TOTOR OF ST. PETKB's COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.



COMPRISING



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EDITED BY

EIGHT EEV. 0. P. M'lLVAINE, D. D.,

BISHOP OF THE PEOTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE DIOCESE OF OHIO.



IN TWO VOLUME



VOLUME II.



y I JT T B T B U S A N



I^to fork:

STANFORD AND SWORDS, 137, BROADWAY.
1853.




15991



CONTENTS OF VOLUME II



SERMONS ON CERTAIN OF THE LESS PROMINENT FACTS AND REFERENCES IN
SACRED STORY.— FIRST SERIES.



SERMON I.— THE FAITH OF .fOSEPH ON HIS DEATH-BED

SERMON H.— ANGELS AS REMEMBRANCERS

SERMON IH.— THE BURNING OF THE iVlAGICAL BOOKS

SERMON IV.— THE PARTING HYMN - . . -

SERMON V— CESAR'S HOUSEHOLD -

SERMON VI.— THE SLEEPLESS NK^HT

SERMON VII.— THE V^ELL OF BETHLEHEM

S*:RM0N VIII.— THE THIRST OF CHRIST -

SERMON IX.— THE SECOND DELIVERY OF THE LORD'S PRAYER

SERMON X.— PECULIARITIES IN THE MIRACLE IN THE COAST OF DECA-

POLIS

SERMON XT.— THE LATTER RAIN

SERMON XII.— THE LOWLY ERRAND

SERMON XIII.— NEHEMIAH BEFORE ARTAXERXES

SERMON XIV.— JABEZ



5
!5

i4
33
-ii

60
71
80

88
99
106
116
124



SECOND SERIES.

SERMON I.— THE YOUNG MAN IN THE LINEN CLOTH

SERMON IL— THE FIRE ON THE SHORE .

SERMON III— THE FINDING THE GUEST-CHAMBER

SERMON IV.— THE SPECTRE'S SERMON A TRUISM

SERMON v.— VARIOUS OPINIONS

SERMON VI.— THE MISREPRESENTATIONS OF EVE

SERMON VII.— SEEKING AFTER FINDING -

SERMON VIIL— THE BIRD'S NEST

SERMON IX.— ANGELS OUR GUARDIANS IN TRIFLES

SERMON X.— THE APPEARANCE OF FAILURE

SERMON XL— SIMON THE CYRENIAN

SERMON XII.— THE POWER OF THE EYE -

SERMON XIIL— PILATE'S WIFE

SERMON XIV.— THE EXAMINATION OF CAIN



139

147
156
164
174
183
191
201
209
217
225
235
245
256



SERMONS PREACHED ON PUBLIC OCCASIONS.

SERMON I.— THE GREATNESS OF BEING USEFUL

SERMON II.— CHRISTIANITY THE GUARDIAN OF HUMAN LIFE

SERMON HI— THE LEAST OF SERVICE TO THE GREATEST -

SERMON IV— THE BLESSING IN THE CURSE

SERMON v.— THE SHIPWRECK ...

SERMON VI.— ANGELS RE.IOICING IN THE GOSPEL

SERMON VII.— THE WORD IN SEASON

SERMON VIIL— CHURCH BUILDING -

SERMON IX.— THE FINAL TEST

SERMON X.— THE LOST SHEEP

SERMON XL— BROKEN CISTERNS -

SERMON XII.— THE MACEDONIAN PHANTOM

SERMON XIIL— EDUCATION . . - .



267
274
280
286
294
299
309
316
327
335
344
353
363



S E R M K S

ON CERTAIN OF THE

LESS PROMINENT FACTS AND REFERENCES IN SACRED STORY.



FIRST SERIES.



SERMON I



THE FAITH OF JOSEPH ON HIS DEATH-BED.



By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departinsr of the children of Israel, and gaye commandDeBt
concerning his bones." — Hebbews, xi. 22.



We have often occasion to point out
to you what a difference there is in the
standards by which God and men judge
the relative worth or importance of
things. In one great sense, indeed,
there cannot be to God any of those
distinctions which exist to ourselves ;
for, wondrously exalted as He is, things
must be equal in his sight, which differ
in ours in many respects and degrees.
It is undoubtedly to forget the immeas-
urable distance of the Creator from the
creature, to imagine that He who sitteth
in the heavens, swaying the universal
sceptre, regards as great, and as small,
just what are reckoned such in our
feeble computations. There ought to
be nothing clearer than this — if our great
and our small were great and small to
God, God would be little more than one
of ourselves, judging by the same mea-
sures, and therefore possessing only the
same faculties.

Yet, though the distinctions made by
God must not be thought the same with
those made by man, we are not to con-
clude that God admits no differences



where differences are supposed by our-
selves. We are evidently in error, if
we think that what is great to us must
be great to God, and that what is small
to us must be small to God : but it is
not necessary, in order to the avoiding
this error, that we should confound great
and small, or compute that in God'a
sight they must be actually the same.
They may not be the same ; they may
be widely separated : and yet none of
them may be great to God, none of
them small : whilst, moreover, the di-
vine estimate may be the reverse of the
human, great and small changing places,
so far as difference is allowed between
the two.

It is this latter fact on which we now
chiefly wish to fix your attention. Take,
for example, our sins. We deny that
there can be such a thing as a sin which
is small in God's sight ; forasmuch as
sin, from its very nature, must be of in-
finite guilt, because committed against
an infinite Being. But this is not say-
ino- that there are no degrees in sin, as
though God regarded all crimes as of



THE FAITH OP JOSEPH ON HIS DEATH-BED.



equal enormity. One sin may be great-
er than another in the Divine estimate,
as well as in the human ; and yet God
may account no sin small, however
ready we may be to think this or that
inconsiderable. And what we are dis-
posed to reckon trifling, may be pre-
cisely that to which God would attach
the greater criminality ; so that, as we
nave said, great and small may change
places, and where both God and man
admit a difference, you may have to re-
verse the judgment of the one to find
that of the other. Sins of the mind, for
instance, are ordinarily thought less of
than sins of the flesh ; pride incurs but
slight reproof, whilst sensuality is heav-
ily denounced. Yet the proud, perhaps,
offers a more direct insult to God, and
more invades his prei'ogative, than the
sensual; and thus his oflence may be
the more hateful of the two in the sight
of the Creator, whilst it receives, com-
paratively, no blame from the creature.
Accordingly, there is nothing of which
God speaks with greater loathing than
of pride : the proud man is represented
as the object of his special aversion.
•' God resisteth the proud." So that
whilst with ourselves he puts a differ-
ence between sins, he inverts our deci-
sion, and assigns the greater atrocious-
ness where we assign the less. Take,
again, covetousness and drunkenness :
these sins are neither thought by men,
nor represented in Scripture, as of equal
enormity. But which do men think the
worse ] The covetous man escapes
with scarce a censure ; the drunkard is
the object of scorn and reprobation. But
is this verdict ratified by the Bible ]
Nay, whilst the drunkard is unreserved-
ly told that his sin shall exclude him
from the kingdom of heaven, the covet-
ous man is identified with the idolater.
No one who remembers what idolatry is,
and how God denounces the worshipper
of images, will hesitate to admit that
such a representation places covetous-
ness at the very top of things offensive
to our Maker. How careful, then,
ought we to be as to what standards
we adopt, when we would estimate
the relative guiltiness of sins ! If
we must distinguish sin from sin —
though it were perhaps safer to con-
fine ourselves to the truth, that all sin
is infinitely heinous — let us take good
heed that we always go for our rule to



the Divine word, and not to humat
opinion.

And much the same may be said in
regard of duties, and of actions which
God may graciously be pleased to ap-
prove. It is not to be thought, that be-
cause no human action can deserve re-
ward from God, all actions performed
in his service must be of equal account.
With virtues, as with vices, God may
acknowledge gi'eat differences : He will
not overlook, as too small for notice, the
cup of cold water given in the name of
a disciple ; but he does not necessarily
put this act of benevolence on a level
with every other achievement of faith
and of love. Yet here we have the
same remark to make as with reference
to sins. The Divine decision will, in
many cases, be wholly different from the
human ; whilst actions are classified by
the one as well as by the other, the su-
periority may be assigned in a contrary
order. The act of righteousness, which
we should select as most worthy of
commendation, and most demonstrative
of piety of heart, may not be that on
which the Almighty would fix, when
signifying his approval of one of his
servants. It may rather be, that some
sacrifice which the world never knew,
some exertion which was limited to his
own home, and perhaps even his own
heart, has been the most approved thing
in the sight of the Lord, of all wrought
by one whose time, and substance, and
strength, have been wholly devoted to
the cause of religion. It may not be
when, like Paul, he is fighting " with
beasts at Ephesus ; " nor when, like
Stephen, he is laying down his life for
the truth, that a man of God does what
specially draws on him the smile of his
Maker. There may have been quiet and
unobserved moments, moments spent in
solitude and prayer, in which he has
fought what God accounted a harder
battle, and won a nobler victory. And
in the arrangements of his household, in
meeting some domestic trial, in subduing
some unruly passion, he may virtually
have displayed a stronger trust, and a
simpler preference of the promises of
the Most High, than when he has stood
forth as the champion and confessor,
amid all the excitement of a public scene,
and gained for himself a deathless renown.
" The Lord seeth not as man seeth :"
and mightily should it console those who



THE FAITH OF JOSEPH ON HIS PEATH-BED,



are not so circumstanced as to have great
opportunity of making efforts and sacri-
fices on belialfof Clirist and his cause,
that it is not necessarily the martyr
whose self-surrender is most accepted of
God, nor the missionary whose labors
and endurances are most held in remem-
brance ; but that the private christian, in
his struggles with himself, in his morti-
fication of his passions, in the manage-
ment of his family, in his patience under
daily troubles, in his meek longings for
a brighter world, may be yet dearer to
his Father in heaven, and be thought to
have shown more of faith, than many a
man who has entered boldly the desert of
heathenism with the cross in his hand, or
even ascended the scaffold to seal with
his blood his confession of Christ.

Now all these remarks on the different
standards by which God and man judge
actions, will be found to bear directly on
the words of our text. In this 11th
chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews,
St. Paul collects from the histories of
patriarchs, and other worthies, instances
and examples of the power of faith.
And the question, in reference to our
foregoing remarks, is whether he has fixed
upon those which we should have fixed
upon ourselves. Inspired as the Apostle
was, so that he must have been directed
to facts most worthy of commemoration,
we may not doubt that what he takes
to show the faith of any one of the
patriarchs, must be at least as strong an
instance as his history contains. And
if the instance selected by the Apostle
be not that which we should have
selected ourselves — if there be any other
which we should have decidedly pre-
ferred — it is evident that our judgment
differs from that of God ; so that we have
precisely the case on which we have
been speaking, the case in which what
man v/ould account best is not so ac-
counted by Him who readeth the heart.
But this, we suspect, is exactly what
may be alleged in regard of our text.
We give you the history of Joseph, a
history more than commonly eventful,
and which is narrated in Scripture with
special minuteness. We set you down
to the examining this history, in order
that you may take out of it the incident,
or the action, which shall most clearly
demonstrate that Joseph had faith in
God, and that this faith was a principle
of great energy and strength. Do you



think that you would make the same
selection as St. Paul makes in our text ?
passing over all the trials of Joseph;
all the afflictions which he bravely and
meekly endured; his confidence in his
interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams,
though on the truth of that interpreta-
tion depended his credit, and even his
life ; his eagerness to receive his father
and brethren into the land, though every
shepherd was " an abomination unto the
Egyptians," and they were but likely
to lower him in the general esteem —
passing over, we say, all this, and having
literally nothing to commemorate of
Joseph, save that when he was dying,
he " made mention of the departing
of the children of Israel, and gave
commandment concerning his bones."
Would this, we ask, have been the
fact on which an uninspired writer
would have fastened, when choosing
from the history of Joseph what might
best illustrate the Patriarch's faith
in God ] Hardly, we think, — and if not,
then you have a clear exemplification of
the truth on which we have endeavored
to insist, that the actions which seem to
men most conclusive, as evidences of
righteousness of character, may not,
after all, be those to which God would
attach most worth and importance.

It is one thing, however, to allow that
the selected proof is not that on which
we ourselves should have fixed, and quite
another to conclude, that when pointed
out, we cannot see its force. We may
believe that you all concur with us in
the opinion, thathad an uninspired writer
had to choose the best proof of faith
from the history of Joseph, he would
not have chosen that selected by St.
Paul. But, nevertheless, we may be
able to determine that the proof is a
strong proof: if we cannot show it to
be the strongest which the history fur-
nishes, we may at least ascertain that it
establishes the power of the principle
which it is quoted to illustrate. This
then it is which we must propose as our
object through the remainder of our dis-
course. We have already drawn one
valuable inference from the text, in that,
through showing that God and men do
not always judge alike in regard of
righteous acts, it teaches us that the
obscure individual, and the unnoticed
deed, may be more approved above
than the conspicuous leader, and the



8



THE FAITH OF JOSEPH ON HIS DEATH-BED.



dazzling performance. But we have
now to examine whether that for which
Joseph stands commemorated by St.
Paul, did not strikingly demonstrate his
faith. We put out of sight the surpris-
ing and varied occurrences of the patri-
arch's life ; and standing round his
death-bed, we will simply consider
whether he did not display extraordinary
faith, as we hear him make " mention
of the departing of the children of
Israel," and give " commandment con-
cerning his bones."

Now who amongst you is unaware of
the power which posterity has of attach-
ing men to earth 1 of the unwillingness
felt by those who have every gratification
within reach, to submit to any change,
or even to contemplate its possibility?
It is not necessary, in order to this con-
sciousness, that you should yourselves
abound in what the world has to offer,
for then there would be comparatively
few to whose feelings we might venture
to appeal. But you are all judges as
to the tendencies of our nature, when
acted on by certain causes and circum-
stances ; and you may all therefore de-
cide, from what you have experienced in
yourselves, whether, in proportion as
temporal advantages accumulate, man is
not disposed to settle himself below, and
to prefer the present to the future. If
I were looking out for strong proof of the
power of faith, of faith as dictating that
eternal and invisible things be preferred
to temporal and visible, I certainly should
not go to the hovel, whose wretched
inmate has scarce sufficient for subsist-
ence ; I should rather turn to the palace
where gorgeousness reigns, and all that
our nature can desire is lavishly spread.
It is not but that the inmate of the hovel
has a wide field for the exercise of
faith, a far wider, in some respects,
than the owner of the palace ; but in the
particular respect of a preference of the
future to the present, of a readiness to
give up the visible on the strength of a
promise of God, which refers to the
invisible, the trial of faith is evidently
with the man of abundance, rather than
with him whose whole life is a series of
struggles. The pauper may be said to
have nothing to leave ; there is nothing
in his portion which can come, even in
appearance, into competition with what is
promised by God ; whereas the noble has
to separate from all that is most attractive



in this lower creation, and to exchange a
felt good for an unseen and untried. And,
therefore, if we found the noble quite in-
different to what he had to abandon, so
possessed with a persuasion of the im-
measurably greater worth of invisible
things, that he was all eagerness to enter
on their enjoyment, we should say that
here had faith won one of the finest of
its triumphs, and that perhaps no where
could its display be more conspicuous
or convincing.

But it is something of this kind of
display which is furnished by the death-
bed of Joseph. We do not precisely
mean to speak of this death-bed, as
though it presented the same facts as
that of a Christian, who, with his eye
firmly fixed on the glories of heaven, is
almost impatient to break away from the
possessions of earth. Joseph lived when
there were yet but dim notices of a
world beyond the grave, and we may not
too confidently assume his acquaintance
with a state of everlasting happiness.
But there was every thing to make
Joseph desire the settling his children
and brethren pemanently in Egypt ; so
that he had somewhat of the same diffi-
culty to overcome in contemplating their
removal, as the man who has to resign
great present advantages, that he may
enter on those promised in another state
of being. The scene indeed soon
changed : there arose another king
" who knew not Joseph," and oppression
weighed down the children of Israel.
Had this change occurred before Joseph
died, there would have been compara-
tively nothing striking in his making
mention of the departure of his posterity,
and showing that it occupied his last
thoughts upon earth. It would then have
been quite natural that he should have
desired this departure, and pointed out,
with his dying breath, the promise which
ensured it, as the most precious of the
legacies which he had to bequeath.

But when Joseph died, he was at the
very summit of prosperity, scarcely
second to the monarch on the throne,
with a vast inheritance of honor and
wealth to transmit to his children. He
had, moreover, established his brethren
in the land ; so that he, who had been
brought into Egypt a captive and an
exile, saw himself at the head of a nu-
merous tribe, which seemed growing to
a power which scarce another could rival.



THE FAITH OF JOSEPH ON HIS DEATH-BED.



9



I know what, in such a case, would
have been the dictate of human policy
and ambition. I know what the dying
man would have said, had he known
nothing, or thought nothing, of the de-
clarations of God, in respect of his
family. He would have advised that
the colony so successfully planted, should
studiously avoid the uprooting itself from
so congenial a soil, and take all possible
pains to deepen and strengthen its hold.
He would have contrasted the mean
estate of his race, whilst they sojourned
in Canaan, with the wealth and greatness
acquired in Egypt, and have argued,
from the comparison, that the true wis-
dom would be to remain where they
■were, rather than to return to the home
of their fathers. You have only to think
of Joseph as having risen from the lowest
to the highest condition; as the founder,
to all appearance, of a mighty dynasty,
of a family possessed of almost regal
power; and you will readily admit that
the thoughts most likely to have occupied
his mind were thoughts of the future for-
tunes of his house, fortunes of which he
might augur well if his children continued
in Egypt, but which would be altogeth-
er perilled by their quitting that country.

And had there not been a higher
principle in Joseph than that of world-
ly policy or ambition ; had he been mere-
ly a leader who sought aggrandizement
and distinction for himself and his pos-
terity ; it is not credible that his dying
words would have been those which
were calculated to unsettle his tribe, and
to lead their thoughts from the land
where they were most likely to be great.
For Joseph might, at the least, have kept
silence in regard of the predicted change
of residence : if, with the consciousness
that God had spoken of a going back to
Canaan, he could not have distinctly
advised the settling in Egypt, yet whilst
there seemed so much to recommend
the remaining where they were, he might
have abstained from speaking to his
children of their being removed.

But Joseph was something more than
the founder of a powerful line ; and the
feelings which actuated him were not
those of policy and ambition. Joseph
■was a man who feared the Lord, and
with whom the word of the Most High
prevailed against all dictates of carnal
wisdom or desire. It was nothing to
Joseph that he had wonderfully attain-

VOL. U.



ed to lordship over Egypt, and that now,
in quitting the world, he seemed to
have that lordship to hand down to his
children. He knew that God had re-
vealed to his fathers a purpose of giv-
ing another land to them and to their
seed ; and that it was not in Egypt, fair
and fertile though it was, that he design-
ed to carry on the mysterious dispensa-
tion which should issue in the redemp-
tion of the world. And therefore were
Joseph's thoughts on Canaan rather
than on Egypt ; on Canaan, in which as
yet his family possessed nothing but a
burial-place, rather than on Egypt, where
already they were masters of houses
and lands. Oh, my brethren, before you
pronounce that there was no great trial
or display of faith, in Joseph's making
mention, under such circumstances, of
the departure of the Israelites, consider
the difficulty, experienced by yourselves,
in preferring what is future to what is
present, in giving up a good, of which
you have the possession, for another of
which you have only the promise. For
it was this which Joseph had to do: and
that, moreover, at the least in as great
a degree as it ever imposed upon us.
You know very well that you find it
hard to make up the mind to a separa-
tion from objects, sought perhaps with
eagerness, and obtained with difficulty ;
though you profess to believe, that on
passing away from earthly possessions,
you are to enter upon others a thousand-
fold more desirable. And you would
perhaps find it yet harder, to make dis-
tinct arrangements for the destruction
of the fabric which your whole life had
been occupied in perfecting, and which,
after long trial and struggle, seemed
complete in every part, just because
there was a saying, referring to a yet
lemote time, which seemed to pledge
God to the building up that fabric in
some remote place.

But this was exactly the task assign-
ed to Joseph on his death-bed ; and the
more you suppose that the patriarch
had but little knowledge af heaven and
its joys, the more surprising do you
make it, that he should have endanger-
ed, on the strength of the Divine word^
the temporal prosperity of his tribe;
For, where eternal sanctions were but
dimly revealed, temporal considerationa
must have had great weight ; and the
dying leader, who could hardly speafe
2



10



THE FAITH OF JOSEPH ON HIS DEATH-BED.



of afflictions as leading to glory, would
be strongly moved to the hiding afflic-
tions, to the leaving them, at least, to be
found out by experience. But Joseph
was too much penetrated by confidence
in the declaration of God, to allow of
his conferring with flesh and blood, or
being deterred by probable consequen-
ces. It is a fine, a noble scene, which
is brought before us by the simple re-
cord of the historian ; and I call upon
you to behold it, that you may learn
what faith can do against the promptings
of nature, the suggestions of suspicion,
and the dictates of pride. I know what
would be likely to be the uppermost
feelings in that expiring man, who,
amid all the insignia of authority and
wealth, is bidding farewell to brethren
and children. I know what he might
be expected to do and to say. His wast-
ed features might be lit up with a smile
of exultation, as he surveyed the tokens
of almost regal state ; and he might say



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