A Glorious Reproach
James Smith, 1860
The way to be reproached sometimes, is simply to do one's duty. For there are people about us, who think that they have a right to judge for us, lord it over us, reproach and vilify us. The rights of man, like the rights of God, are very much misunderstood. Every man has a right to do what he believes God requires of him, and to be protected in doing so, if he does not injure his neighbor, or society at large. The Lord Jesus commanded his first disciples, to promulgate his doctrine, and to begin at Jerusalem; the priests and rulers of the people, determined that they should not, though they had no right to interfere. They therefore apprehended them, examined them, flogged them, charged them, and threatened them, before they let them go. Being let go, as good servants, they went directly to their work, and were then apprehended again, and in the way of reproach were told, "Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine!" Acts 5:28. A finer compliment could not have been paid them! They had just done what their Master bade them. They had done what we ought to do — that is, spread the doctrine of Christ everywhere.
Apostolic doctrine was pure and holy, and is clearly stated in the New Testament.
It respected MAN — what he is — a poor, lost, helpless, ruined sinner; and what he needs — a personal, powerful, present Savior.
It respected GOD — what he is — a spiritual, holy, just, and benevolent being; what he has said — in his law, and in his gospel; and what he has done — provided and presented — just the Savior which guilty man requires.
It especially respected JESUS, that he was the promised Messiah — the seed of David, the omnipotent, gentle, and kind-hearted Savior.
It respected EARTH, as cursed, doomed to fire, and destined to be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
It respected HEAVEN. too, as the home of God, the dwelling-place of Christ and his saints, the inheritance of all that believe on his name.
Precious doctrines these, just like their Author, they are holy, harmless, and undefiled. They must do good, they could do no evil.
In reference to these doctrines, we may observe, that the apostles adopted them, and they became their own. They experienced the power of them, and could therefore testify, "We speak what we know." They highly valued them — and would sacrifice ease, health, wealth, liberty, and life for them. They industriously spread them, for daily in the temple, and from house to house, they ceased not to teach, and to preach Jesus Christ. Beloved, here is our example, the doctrines of Christ, are clearly revealed to us in the gospel, and we should cordially embrace them, highly value them, seek to experience the power of them, and then to the extent of our power — we should spread them abroad, and make them known in every direction.
Look at the exclamation, "Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine." There was full evidence of the fact, for the multitude was following them, the mouths of the common people were full of the subject, the very children were crowding to their services, and the entire face of society was changing. Here is an example for us all, let us fill our villages, towns, cities, countries, and the world with the doctrine of Christ. Let us earn such commendation for fidelity and zeal, as primitive believers did, nor fear the consequences.
O what a reproof such a passage must be to many today. Look at their families and neighborhoods, look at their course and conduct — and say, how is the doctrine of Christ circulated by them! Let every one of us receive the exhortation suggested, and begin at once, at our own doors, in our own neighborhoods — let us begin with children, friends, and neighbors, and persevere until we hear the cry, "Behold, you have filled the world with your doctrine!"