Luke 7:31

These "children sitting in the market-place" very well illustrate the perverse and contradictory of all generations. Many are they, here and everywhere, who will neither dance at the wedding nor mourn at the funeral, who will work neither along one line nor yet along its opposite, to whom all ways are objectionable because their own spirit is out of tune with everything. But the special folly which these children are brought forward to condemn is that of objecting to John because he was abstemious, and to Jesus because he participated in the good gifts of God. The right course to take is not that of objecting to both, but rather that of accepting and honouring both. We shall find, if we care to look for it -

I. CHRISTIAN ABSTEMIOUSNESS. John came "neither eating nor drinking." He acted, no doubt, under Divine direction in so doing. But John was not our exemplar. We are not called to follow John, but Christ; and Christ came eating and drinking. Is abstinence, then, a Christian course? It is so; it is justified by the language of our Lord and by that of his apostles. He said that there were some celibates "for the kingdom of heaven's sake" (Matthew 19:12). And he urged upon men that they should pluck out their right eye, or cut off their right hand, rather than perish in iniquity (Matthew 5:29, 30). His apostle wrote that men should neither eat meat nor drink wine, if by so doing they put a stumbling-block in the way of another (Romans 14:21). And it is certain that we are acting in a strictly and, indeed, an emphatically Christian spirit when we:

1. Abstain because indulgence would be perilous to ourselves. This may relate to food or drink, or to any kind of amusement or occupation, to anything of any kind in which we find ourselves under a strong temptation to excess if we once begin.

2. Abstain because our abstinence will make the path of virtue or piety more accessible to others. Anything we can do, any privation we may accept, any habit we may form, by which we help men upwards and Godwards, must be an essentially and radically Christian thing.

II. CHRISTIAN PARTICIPATION. "The Son of man came eating and drinking." He was no ascetic; he was present at the festivity; he accepted the invitation to the rich man's board; he did not choose the coarser garment because it was coarser, or the severer lodging because it was severer; he did not habitually and conscientiously decline the gifts of God in nature. He knew how to decline them when occasion called for it (see Luke 6:12; Luke 9:58), but he did not do so regularly and as a sacred duty. Surely it was well for the world that he acted thus; for, had he sanctioned asceticism, we should have been continually oscillating, or everywhere divided, between an unamiable severity on the one hand and a degrading self-indulgence on the other hand. The wise and the true course is that of a Christian participation; this is a partaking of the gifts of God and of the sweets and enjoyments of earth, which is:

1. Sanctified by devout gratitude; by a continual and wholesome mindfulness that every good gilt is from above, and calls for a grateful and reverent spirit.

2. Controlled by a wise moderation; so that nothing is indulged in which is in the smallest degree excessive; so that no injury of any kind is done to the spiritual nature.

3. Beautified by benevolence; the participation by ourselves being very closely and constantly accompanied by the remembrance of the wants of others. "Eat the fat and drink the sweet," but be careful to "send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared." - C.

Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation.
In the metaphor of the reed shaking in the wind, we traced that close observation of nature which enabled Christ to interpret so much of human life to man. In the similitude He uses here we trace His close observation of the ordinary aspects of human life, and the use which He made of them to interpret to men His own thoughts, and the times in which He lived. Every one knows from pictures, from descriptions, the general appearance of the market-place of an Eastern town. One may image the quiet figure of Christ moving through the throng, enjoying its humours, with now a gentle smile, and now an inexplicable sadness on His face, as if all things spoke to Him of far-off analogies. One sight He often saw — the children at play in the unoccupied spaces and corners of the markets. They had their games in and out among the serious doing of the place, and one of these games is often spoken of in Eastern tales. It is the acting of childish dramas which the children themselves invent. Often three or four exhibit their little talents for the rest, while now and then a bearded man or a veiled woman loiter by to watch the sport. Sometimes the invented story is sportive, sometimes sorrowful, and the acting of them is good or bad, according to the sympathy given to the children. One such scene, at least, remained vividly in His mind (and He uses it with astonishing force), when the little band of actors, having tried to win the favour of their comrades with tiny tragedy, and then with tiny comedy, failed in their hopes, and said, "We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept." In this slight scene Christ saw a picture of the religious state of Palestine. There was no moral depth in that society, no vital strength to carry out in a life the wavering feelings of repentance. At first they tried the Baptist, but they soon had enough of that resolute teaching. They turned away with indignation, and said, "He hath a devil." They were mourned unto, and they had not lamented. All the same, they could not get rid of the religious impulse in their hearts. It seemed that Christ required no ascetic life, that He did not wish them to separate themselves from the world. " This is the teacher for us," they said, and they sought Him out and followed Him. "We will dance to His piping," was their thought, "and possess a religion." But the result was a still more complete failure.

1. The religion of the Baptist had been too hard for them because of its stern morality. It demanded outward purity. "We shall be better off with Christ," they thought. And they found themselves worse off than before. It was bad enough to hear that the whole of the outward life had to be reformed; it was ten times worse to hear that the inward life had to be reformed.

2. The religion of the Baptist had been too hard for them because of its demand for self-sacrifice. And lo! Christ was ten times more severe on this point than John. They turned away in wrath, but the little grain of conscience that still remained made them bitter. To relieve their conscience, they turned to abuse and vilify Him who had shown them a vision they could not bear. If they could put Him in the wrong, they might put themselves in the right. "Behold, then, a gluttonous man," &c. They were piped unto, and they had not danced. There is much the same sort of thing among men now.

3. Another class of men turned from the Baptist to look at the religion of Christ — the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees. These drifted out to John in the wilderness; the wave of religious excitement had sent its tide even into their land-locked harbours; one wonders what took these models of piety to John. He could not understand it; his astonishment was frank enough. "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" When they found that John did not pay them snore attention than the rest, when they saw that he talked with the publican as he did with them, they turned back, saying, "He hath a devil." So the hypocrites among them thought they would hear what Christ had to say. He might do them more honour. He might recognize their proud position as leaders of religion. But alas! they were disappointed. I suppose no sharper or more indignant language was ever used by man against other men than the words with which Christ denounced them. As to the other class of Pharisees who were pious bigots, they found in Christ all that they had disliked in John multiplied tenfold. He would have nothing to do with them unless they came to Him and humbly confessed themselves sinners. Not among their ranks, but among unlearned fishermen and villagers He chose His special followers. He dined with the publicans; even at one of their houses He admitted the sinful woman to salvation. It was snore than could be borne. This was music no man could dance to. There are men of this sort at this time among us.

(Stowford A. Brooke, M. A.)

(To children.) The children of two thousand years ago were very like the children of to-day, even in their sports. Then, as now, when a number of children came together, and especially when they came together out of doors, they found it impossible to sit still or stand still. Whatever the game at which they played, there was pretty sure to be some mimicry in it, some quaint imitation or comic burlesque of what they had seen their elders do. Now it happened one day that the Lord Jesus, as He passed through the streets and bazaars of a Galilean town, came on a number of children who were thus employed. They played first at a wedding, and then at a funeral. And we cannot wonder that they chose these two ceremonies for imitation. For a Jewish wedding was then, as to this day an Eastern wedding is, a very gay spectacle, sure to seize the fancy of children. The bridegroom and the young men who accompanied him were tricked out in their best and brightest robes; and they went in public procession, with music and with perfumes floating in the air, to fetch the bride to her new home. For many days after the wedding open house was kept. There was much mirth and feasting. The friends of the wedded pair went, with trains of their kinsfolk and servants, to carry them their presents, or to pay calls of ceremony and congratulation. The whole town was alive with music and dancing and feasting; and in the streets gay companies were continually passing to and fro. That was thought a very poor marriage, the festivities of which were not kept up for at least a week. So, again, a Jewish funeral must have been a very striking and dramatic spectacle to children. The body was carried by on an open bier, so that all could see it. And not only did the kinsfolk and friends of the dead man follow him to the grave with the most extravagant expressions of grief; but they were foolish enough to hire professional mourners, who tore their hair, and beat their breasts, and raised a keen cry or wail. Now children who saw these sad processions constantly going about the streets could not fail to be impressed by the dramatic features of the scene, and were likely enough to imitate and burlesque it in their play. That was what the children whom Jesus watched had been doing. First they had said, "Let's play at marrying!" And then the more forward and lively children of the company began to march, and to move their fingers up and down as if they were stopping and unstopping the holes of a flute. One of them, no doubt, was chosen to personate the bridegroom, and others to stand for the " sons of the bridechamber," i.e., the young men who accompanied him; and off they started, as though to fetch the bride home, expecting that the rest of the children would follow, dancing and shouting, and pretending to carry torches. But those who should have filled this part declined to fill it. They were sulky, and would not play at this game. And so the cheerful children had to say to the sulky ones, "Why, what's the matter? We fluted to you, and you did not dance." Then they thought they would try another game. Perhaps the first was too lively. And so they say, "Let's play at burying I " And off they go like bearers of the bier, or like the hired mourners, walking with folded hands and downcast heads, but every now and then flinging up their heads, and howling, Oh, so dreadfully. But their companions won't play. This game does not suit them either. For, again, the first place is not assigned to them. And so, the livelier, the merry, good-tempered children have to turn upon them again, and say, "Whatever is the matter with you to-day? We wailed, and ye did not beat your breasts." Now if these children had known that Jesus was watching them; if, moreover, they had known how kind and good He was, do you think that any of them would have turned sulky and refused to play? It will do much to make you and those about you happy if you will learn to play in the right spirit. But this is not the only or the best lesson which Christ has made these children teach us. He told the men who were listening to Him that they were like those children in their treatment of John the Baptist and Himself. " The fault," He said, "is in you, not in the Baptist or the Son of Man." We are to show the very opposite spirit. Instead of hating the truth, and refusing to listen to it, wherever or however God speaks to us, we are to love the truth, and to welcome it, whatever the form or the tone it takes. Put yourselves to this test: "Am I really trying to do God's will and to love it, as Jesus did? Whether I work or play, do I try to show the kindly, unselfish, cheerful temper which He approves?"

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Explain the phrases, "children"; "market -place"; "piped unto you"; "mourned unto you." Learn —


II. IT IS RIGHT TO USE VARIOUS MEANS TO BRING MEN UNDER THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. Look at the difference between the ministry of Jesus and that of John.

III. IN THE USE OF THESE MEANS IT WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE EVERYBODY, John was a recluse, and they said he had a devil. Jesus came eating and drinking, and they said, "Behold a gluttonous man," &c.



(A. F, Barfield.)

This little picture of children's plays, which Jesus gives us, is an illustration of the illogical objections made against the truth, and shows us many things.

1. It shows us how uniform are the tendencies of human nature in all ages and times. Jesus, passing through the market of Nazareth, or Cana, saw the children playing their games, just as children play them now. The little Syrian boys and girls belonging to the great Semitic race, living eighteen hundred years ago, amid Asiatic customs and scenery, were just such little children as you and I saw playing on the common yesterday. They played games, imitating the customs of grown people; just as little children now play soldiers, play horse and driver, so they then played weddings and funerals.

2. It shows us Christ's habit of taking illustrations from everyday life. In His teachings there is nothing conventional, nothing formal. No fact in God's world is to Him common or unclean.

3. It also shows how much easier it is for good men, though differing in ideas, tastes, and methods, to agree in a mutual respect and sympathy, than for self-willed men to form any permanent union. No two were more unlike than Jesus and John; but they had a common aim. It was to do God's will; to make the world better. So they had a mutual respect for each other. There was a real union between them. John made the turning-point from the law to the gospel; his was the transition period, within sight of the gospel, yet with the terror of the law behind it. Such a transition period has continued in the Church down to our time. Perhaps the majority of Christians are now living, not under the dominion of law, nor yet in the kingdom of heaven, but in the dispensation of John the Baptist. But half-way convictions are not very satisfactory, and the remedy for this evil is to put both the law and the gospel in their right place. We cannot dispense with either, but we wish to distinguish between their sphere and their work.

(James Freeman Clarke.)

I. THE CONTRARIETY BETWEEN THE CONDUCT OF CHRIST AND THAT OF JOHN, AS DESCRIBED IN THE TEXT, WAS RENDERED NECESSARY BY THE DIFFERING STANDPOINTS AND MISSIONS OF EACH. These descriptions — "neither eating bread nor drinking wine," and "eating and drinking" — are particular features, put for general character and conduct. John's abstemiousness and austerity befitted him as the last prophet of the Old Dispensation. Christ had come to establish a new order of things, to substitute for the bondage of the law the liberty of the gospel, to insist on inward purity as of in. finitely greater importance than outward observance. Specifically his eating and drinking meant —

1. His oneness with humanity.

2. The sacredness of common life and occupations.

3. That the natural appetites are to be reasonably and legitimately satisfied, not trampled upon.

4. That religion has its social side.

5. That it is possible to be in the world while not of it.

II. THE PEOPLE, WITH THEIR LEADERS, NOT RECOGNIZING THAT THIS DIVERGENCE WAS FITTING AND NECESSARY, MISJUDGED BOTH CHRIST AND JOHN. The really austere life of John was a reproach to the pretended austerity of the Pharisees, whilst the immaculate purity of Him who could yet suffer His feet to be washed by the tears of the woman who was a sinner rebuked alike their uncharitableness and their hypocrisy. Hence, not being willing to repent at the call of John, or to humble themselves at the command of Christ, they must, to be consistent in their hypocrisy, condemn alike Christ and John-pronounce them to be either immoral in life, or endued with power from below. But the point in which they most pointedly warn us not to copy their example is here — that they formed their judgments upon grounds so insufficient. Learn the danger of hasty judgments —

1. As regards the person judged.

2. Others, who might be benefited by him.

3. Ourselves. Prejudices hide the truth.

III. THE TEXT SHOWS HOW EASY IT WAS FOR THE MEN OF CHRIST'S DAY, AS IT IS FOR US, TO FIND AN EXCUSE WHEN ONE IS WANTED. HOW did the Pharisees, feeling conscious that they were wrong, excuse themselves the trouble of putting themselves right? They adopted the plan which is said sometimes to be resorted to by legal pleaders: "If you have a weak case, blacken your opponent's counsel." How true a picture of the way in which men generally treat unpalatable truth! Note some of the flimsy grounds on which many reject Christianity, or refuse to make a Christian profession, e.g., difficulties in the Bible; inconsistency in professing Christians.

(J. R. Bailey.)

1. Poverty the common lot.

2. The happy endurance of poverty rare. The secret of its trust.

3. Besides these sweet virtues of resignation, trust and contentment, there is another which seems to me to become rarer and rarer — cheerfulness. Our age is not only perplexed but sad. There is not enough of enthusiasm and unselfishness left among us for hearty and wholesome laughter.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

Christian self-sacrifice is not asceticism. The idea of the essential badness of pleasure has been very commonly held and advocated by the propounders of ethical and religious systems. Even Plato says that every pleasure enjoyed is as a nail fastening the soul more securely in its dungeon; every pleasure given up a nail withdrawn, and hastens on the period of its release. Like many other views which find no warranty in the Christianity of Christ, it has had a considerable influence upon the Christianity of Christendom. The pillar saints, e.g. If pleasure were essentially sinful, Stylites was the wisest of men. This not the kind of self-denial which Christ requires from us. Serious and earnest as He was, no one can say that He was a harsh or gloomy ascetic. Think of Him at the marriage-festival. Think of His friendly visits to the family at Bethany. Think of Him at the great feast in Levi's house. Think of His final interview with the disciples on the shore of Tiberias, when He accosted them with the words, "Children, have ye any meat? " and then, leading the way to a fire, "with fish laid thereon and bread," said to them, "come and dine." Christ never bids us give up anything that is good, unless it would keep us from something that is better. "The Son of man came eating and drinking." Ay, the very Man of Sorrows refused to join in the irrational worship of pain.

(A. W. Momerie, M. A. , D. D.)

This title is in the New Testament significantly enough used, with one exception [Stephen], by Christ alone. It emphasizes the humanity of Him who bears it, but a humanity that accomplishes a Divine work, creates and controls a society which is so finely human because so entirely a realization of the thought or mind of God as to man. Schleiermacher rightly said: "Christ would not have adopted this title had He not been conscious of a complete participation in human nature. But His use of it would have been meaningless had He not had a right to it which other men could not possess." The Son of man is the bond between earth and heaven, belongs in an equal degree to both; He is the medium through which God reaches man and man reaches God. The title, so often and so emphatically used, enables us to see what Christ conceived Himself to be, and where He believed Himself to stand; He affirmed that He possessed our common human nature.

But He also affirmed His pre-eminence
Other persons had been, or were, sons of individual men, members of particular nations or families; but Jesus, as "the Son of man," was no man's son, but the child of humanity; belonged to no age, but to all ages; to no family or people, but to mankind. He is, as the Divine idea realized, universal and everlasting, an individual who is, in a sense, humanity.

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

In the Bible Christ is presented to us in many aspects — as a Judge, a Saviour, a Counsellor; as Brother, Prophet, Priest, and King. In this passage He stands forth in the light and garb of a Friend. I do not intend to analyse friendship, and enumerate its elements. I will only suggest one or two of the more prominent.


II. IMPARTIALITY. Not a friend only to the good.


IV. THE SPIRIT OF HELPFULNESS. Christ was the friend of those who were morally all wrong. It is to those whose lives have been a failure, whose natures, spiritually considered, are all in ruins, that Jesus comes in the spirit of friendly assistance.

(W. H. H. Murray.)

I. THE COMPANIONS OF THESE PERVERSE CHILDREN EMPLOYED VARIOUS MEANS TO CONQUER THEIR OBSTINACY AND PERSUADE THEM TO JOIN IN THEIR AMUSEMENTS. SO God has employed a great variety of means to persuade sinners to embrace the gospel. He has sent judgments to subdue, and mercies to melt them; arguments to convince, and motives to persuade them; threatenings to terrify, and invitations to allure them. In different parts of His Word He has exhibited Divine truth in every possible variety of form. In one place it is presented plainly to the mind in the form of doctrines; in another, it is couched under the veil of some instructive and striking parable; in a third, it is presented to us in a garb of types and shadows; in a fourth, it is illustrated by the most beautiful figures; and, in a fifth, exemplified in some well-drawn character, or interesting portion of history. Corresponding to these various means, and to the different modes of instruction adopted in His Word, are the various gifts and qualifications, with which He furnishes those who are sent as His ambassadors to men. As He knows the different tastes and dispositions of men, and the modes of address best adapted to convince and persuade them, He endues His messengers with a great diversity of gifts, so that by one or another of them, every class of hearers may be gratified.

II. Notwithstanding the different means employed with these perverse children, THEY WOULD NOT BE PREVAILED UPON TO COMPLY WITH THE WISHES OF THEIR COMPANIONS. We have piped unto you, say they, but ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, but ye have not lamented. Precisely similar is the conduct of impenitent sinners.

III. THE REASON WHY THESE PERVERSE CHILDREN COULD NOT BE PERSUADED TO COMPLY WITH THE WISHES OF "THEIR COMPANION" WAS, THAT THEY WERE OUT OF HUMOUR, OR FOR SOME OTHER REASON FELT INDISPOSED TO GRATIFY THEM. Similar is the reason, why sinners will not be persuaded to embrace the Gospel, by all the means which God employs for this purpose. They do not come to Christ for life, because they will not.

(E. Payson, D. D.)

I. OBSERVE GOD'S GRACIOUS DEALING WITH MAN. He useth all kind of means, sendeth men of several natures, austere John, and meek Christ. He turns Himself into all shapes to gain wretched man unto Him.

II. OBSERVE THE ORDER GOD USETH; FIRST JOHN, THEN CHRIST. John prepares the way, throwing down hills: "O ye generation of vipers" (Matthew 3:7). Oh, say they, this man is too harsh, I think he hath a devil. Then Christ comes with blessed: "Blessed are the poor, blessed are you that weep," &e. (Matthew 5:3, seq.). So He sent the law first, then the gospel; first He threatens, then promises.

III. OBSERVE THAT THE MANNER OF THEIR TEACHING IS DOUBLE, BY DOCTRINE AND LIFE, AND THESE AGREE, wherein observe it is good that life and doctrine should suit; for John's life was austere and retired, his doctrine was also tending to beat down the proud conceits of man. Christ came to all, conversed with all meekly and lovingly; and the reason of God's making use of men of severe dispositions is because of the different natures of men, whereof some can better relish one nature than another. Some love the hot and fiery nature, others delight in the meek spirit; and though there be diversity of gifts, yet they come from the same Spirit. Even as the diverse smells of flowers comes from the same influence, and the diverse sounds in the organs comes from the same breath, so doth the Spirit diffuse itself diversely, as it meets with diverse natures. Yet all tendeth to the perfecting of one work. And the papists shall never be able to prove their foolish austere vows of a solitary life, &c., to be preferred before communication and society, unless they will prove John better than Christ. And again, this should teach us to moderate our censures of the diverse natures and carriage of men, as knowing that God in wisdom hath appointed it for excellent use, and that all agree in the building up of the spiritual temple of the Church.


V. In the next place, observe, from the calumniation of the scribes, THAT REBELLION AND OPPOSITION AGAINST GOODNESS IS NEVER WITHOUT SHOW OF REASON; and men they will never go to hell, but they have reason for it. Austere John "hath a devil"; sociable Christ "is a wine-bibber." And the reason is, the pride of man, that will not be thought so foolish as to speak, or do anything without reason, and therefore when it is wanting they will feign one.

VI. For use therefore of this doctrine, LET US ACCOUNT IT NO STRANGE MATTER IF WE BE TRADUCED, DISGRACED, AND SCANDALISED, for it was Christ's and John's lot. Great slanders must be maintained from great men, such as them that sit in Moses's chair, the Pharisees and Scribes.

VII. LET US TAKE HEED WE TAKE NOT A THING IN THE WRONG SENSE AND OF VAIN PREJUDICE. Men are witty to lay stumbling-blocks in their own way to heaven. This preacher is too strict, that too mild; this too plain, that too poor. "But wisdom is justified of all her children" (ver. 35).

I. From the connection of these words with the former, by this word "but," we may observe, THAT IT IS THE LOT OF GOD'S TRUTH TO HAVE DIVERSE ENTERTAINMENTS IN THIS WORLD. Some will be children of wisdom, and justify it; others, as the Pharisees, will scandalise it. This is wisdom; and called so here by way of emphasis, showing it is the only excellent wisdom, which will further appear in these respects.

1. It doth arise from a higher beginning than all other wisdom whatever; for it comes from God's goodness and mercy.

2. The matter. It is a deep mystery. Christ, God-man; His nature, offices, and benefits.

3. It is more powerful than all other wisdom; for it transforms us. It makes us wise, and changes us from wicked, and makes us good.

4. It is better than the law, which was a killing letter. This gives life.

5. Furthermore, this wisdom is everlasting, and it is ancientest: intended before the world was. It is also inviolable. God will change the course of nature for His Church's sake; and sooner will He break covenant with the day and night than this covenant, which shall be for ever (Psalm 19:9).

6. The end of it is "to bring us home to God" (1 John 1:3).

1. From the doctrine we may observe, therefore, that those that follow the best rule, which is God's Word, and intend the best end, which is their own salvation, these are the most wise.

2. And, in the second place, let this persuade us to attend upon wisdom, be we who we will be, a publican, an extortioner, a persecuting Saul.

3. In the next place, observe the children of wisdom do justify it; that is, they receive it, approve it, defend it, maintain it.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

I. I design, in the first place, TO EXPLAIN THIS PASSAGE.


1. Let us consider it as a very unfavourable symptom of the state of our hearts, if we discover in ourselves a propensity to cavil at religion; and to impute blame to those persons, whether ministers of the gospel or individuals among the laity, who, by holiness of life and conversation, conspicuously demonstrate the power of faith.

2. If, through the influence of Divine grace, you have been brought to the love of religion, wonder not, nor be discouraged, when you hear the truths of the gospel slandered, or yourself made the theme of evil-speaking for their sake. Thus it always has been; and thus, until Christianity shall have established a more general dominion over the hearts of those who avow themselves her subjects, it always will be.

3. Justify wisdom, justify true religion, by manifesting yourselves to be her children.

4. If you thus justify wisdom, behold the hour approaches when before the assembled world wisdom shall justify you.

(T. Gisborne.)


1. Music hath its distinct notes, and that makes it melodious; so ministers should preach distinctly, not confusedly, for that makes no music. "If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare to the battle?" (1 Corinthians 14:8.)

2. He that would make sweet music, must not harp too much upon one string, or have only one distinct note. So a preacher that would, make right gospel-music, must not always preach upon one particular gospel truth.

3. It is a curious art to attain to the clear knowledge of music, and to be very skilful, or play well upon an instrument. So it is a most blessed spiritual art to know how to preach the gospel with all true spiritual wisdom; for as music is a mystery, so is the gospel a great mystery.

4. Some musicians make sweeter music than others, though all may have some skill in it; so some ministers make more sweet gospel music than others.

5. Music elevates the hearts of some people wonderfully; so the doctrine of the gospel tends to raise, nay, to ravish, the hearts of gracious persons.

6. But though music is sweet to some, others love it not, but cry, "Away with it, it makes our hearts sad."


(B. Keach.)

Nearly everybody has heard the story of the painter of olden time who exposed his picture to the public criticism, and put a paint-brush handy, that anybody might paint out any particular feature he did not approve. Of course, the stupid man soon found that everybody had some fault to find, and his picture was totally obliterated. Just as it was with that artist's picture, so it is with the life-work of the majority. Somebody will be pretty sure to take a crooked and distorted view of our characters and doings, however meritorious they may be. Some will do this wilfully and maliciously, others through misunderstanding.

Many an objector to Christianity in our day, if he said out what he really thinks, would say, "I disbelieve Christianity, because it does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil; it makes such serious demands, it sets up so high a standard, it implies that so much I say and do is a great mistake that I must away with it. I cannot do and be what it enjoins without doing violence to my inclinations, to my fixed habits of life and thought." This, before his conversion, was the ease with the great . Augustine tells us in his "Confessions" how completely he was enchained by his passions, and how, after he had become intellectually satisfied of the truth of the creed of the Christian Church, he was held back from conversion by the fear that he would have to give up so much to which he was attached.

(Dr. Talmage.)

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