Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

and saw the same hand fashioning them into grace and clothing them with glory, and asked men whether the providence that was thus about their path would not take care of them ? He watched the hair of youth losing its lustre

, and turning into the thin grey of age, and said that it was not beneath the eternal God to number the very hairs on his children's heads. The life of Jesus, too, was one ceaseless, silent utterance of his belief in perpetual providence. How often did he say, “My hour is not yet come”-a8 though the events of every moment of his career were ordained by almighty love. Did he not go through the world, whether men took up stones to stone him, or the people shouted hosannahs round his way, equally fearless, as though he were sublimely safe until his last work were done? In truth, those grand words of his, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; now I leave the world, and go unto the Father,” are only the expression of that profound faith in the perpetual presence of God, which not even the final cry of desertion could really tear from his soul.

Take that revelation, brethren, of the will of God in Christ-realize it as true of your life, and then mark the result. If every momeut, and every trifle of our history, are under the ceaseless providence of our Father, then where shall our thanksgiving end, or for what shall we refuse to be thankful ? If in what we call special providences we see only here and there an outflashing of that eternal love that has brooded over us from the cradle--guided and sheltered us in every trouble—and will be near us still when the shadows of death fall on our way-I say, if God thus ceaselessly arranges, and watches over our life, what man will dare to take one event God has sent him, and say, “ I cannot thank him for that”? Therefore, because that is Christ's revelation of God's will, it is possible to give thanks in everything.

(2) Christ showed also, that that perpetual providence is a discipline of human character. The great point to be marked, in looking at this side of Christ's revelation of God's will, is the special purpose for which he taught that providence was training man.

Now, it seems to me that all his teaching, as well as all his life, shows us this: that not getting more as our own, but being greater in our souls-not pleasure in the present, but that holiness which is eternal blessedness—not success here, but the attainment of "the image of the heavenly,” even failure and sorrow, is God's purpose in disciplining the life of man.

Does not the whole career of Jesus form one silent proclamation of these truths ! Was not the learning “ obedience by the things which he suffered" the end for which the Father's providence led the Divine Man through toil and failure, agony and death? Here there is a revelation of God's will. He would train men to a divine, Christ-like character, and therefore he works constantly. around their life. Again, accept that as true of ourselves, and then see its result

. We know not what we are, or what we need, to train us into barmony with God's will; how, then, can we tell what events in life are best for us? Are we not bound to believe that that far-seeing eye which sees to-day what we shall be eternally, sees also every trifle that we require as discipline? And if that bo true, is there any event of which we can say, “ I am not bound to be thankful here"! I believe that the more deeply any man is led to search into those dark * chambers of imagery” which lie in the human soul, the more profoundly he feels that he cannot understand by what discipline God will purge him from his idols, and therefore will accept trustfully the very darkest and strangest deal. ings of his Father. For there are idols in every man's heart which are almost concealed from himself: we see them only when the lightning.flash of some great sorrow lights up the inmost recesses of the temple of the soul; and who that ever experienced that insight into his hidden idolatry did not feel compelled to say in awe,

"God only knows what chastisement I need; I will accept all die

through

sends, for it is meant to make me pure and true”?. And if we firmly believed that our Father was ceaselessly training us in his image, we should learn "in werything to give thanks.”

(3) The discipline of life is explained by eternity alone. Such was the third great fact by which Christ revealed the will of God. You all know how the life of Jesus grandly revealed that truth. Take his life apart from the eternal glory which crowned it, and it seems only a failure and a mystery. A few brief years of thankless toil—a divine manhood scorned by a shallow and unholy people—the purest effort ever made to elevate man, closed in shame, desertion, and a cross-this is all you see of the life of Jesus if you regard it only from the side of time. But that life is explained by eternity. Through the apparent failure, and the dense agony, and the deep darkness of death, he rises to the everlasting realm ; and then we see how that strange, sad, earthly life had won the salvation of humanity, and crowned the suffering Son with the glory of the Father. Once

more, we see that this is a revelation of our life too. What that life means, eternity alone can tell. We know only this—that the Father who ordained for Christ his strange dark way, is leading us on a way that must be dark until death sball lift the veil. Once more, I say, take that to your hearts as true, and then who will refuse to give thanks even for the darker things that have saddened his career ? We know not what is the eternal glory. We know not what we need to prepare us for its splendour. We know only this, that the great multitude seen by the lonely apostle had all come out of great tribulation”-that the eyes with which they

gazed on the glory of the Lamb had been washed by the tears of human sorrow—that the voices with which they joined in the everlasting song had been trained by the quiver of anguish and the groans of woe—and that their white robes had been worn girt round their loins for many a year of earthly pilgrimage before they were loosened

in that heavenly city. Look at that picture, Christian brethren, and then in front

of that Eternal Light which shall explain your life and mine, tell me whether it be not possible to thank God in sorrow. Oh, verily! it is here in view of eternity that the question, "Is it possible to give thanks in everything?" finds its largest

you thank God for those who die young, with their hopes blighted, and their work undone P' Yes ; for who can tell me for what nobler ministries in greater worlds their brief life, with its disappointment and failure

, was training them while here? “ Can a man thank God for those most desolate of sufferers, who, crowned with the woe of widowhood, pass days and Figute of silent anguish on beds of unceasing pain P" I say emphatically, yes ; for there are heavenly

services which those disciplined spirits are being trained to fadfil

, and before whose "exceeding and eternal weight of glory" these years of tribulation shall dwindle to a point in memory fast vanishing away. Hence, then

, we repeat, if we firmly believed in Christ's revelation of God's will, wo should find it possible with Paul “ in everything to give thanks.” This brings

III. The way in which that thanksgiving is to be attained. For the practical question meets every earnest man,

How am I to bring that motive to bear upon my life ? I may believe that there is the ceaseless providence of the savenly Father training me for eternity; but how am I to realize it in life's

80 as to be able to give thanks then ?We can but glance at the answer to that question ere we close. Let us remember that this state of perpetual thanksgiving is not to be reached of a single resolution, or attained in a day by an outburst of excited feeling. We may say to ourselves most sincerely, " Henceforth I resolve to trust God in everything," and for the time we fancy that our strong feeling will never pass dway. But little vexations soon shake our trust; greater troubles break down

[graphic]

darker hours,

our resolution; the excited emotion on which we relied has declined, and we say in disappointment, "No man can be always thankful.” You cannot attain it in that way. It is not the creature of a resolution, nor the result of a few days' endeavour. It is the gradual result of a life of earnest fellowship with Göd. Let not that familiar phrase disguise froin you its meaning by its familiarity. We mean by it a life that in daily meditation realizes the presence of the Father-a life that by intense prayer feels the reality of a Father's love

-a life that comes at length to walk through the world with its toils and its temptations, under a deep sense of the all-surrounding, all-seeing God. Live

' that life, and gradually you will so realize the perpetual providence of God, that every year you will be more and more able

“ To thank him for all that is past,

And trust him for all that's to come." Live that life, and to your endeavours God will add his discipline, refining and perfecting your trust, until, under the touch of the eternal linger, your spirit becomes a harp tuned for eternal song,

But remember that that state will not be reached perfectly in this world. We see too dimly amid the mists and vapours of earth to be always trustful. There are sorrows befalling us here for which at first we can render no thanks giving, and our strongest efforts to submit leave us only sad and still. The sea of our life rolls too gloomily for mortal eyes to pierce its depths, or comprehend its strange, sad murmur. But wait awhile, and when it has become the " sea of glass mingled with fire before the throne of God and of the Lamb," we shall understand its mystery, and burst into immortal praise !

[ocr errors]

THE PARTING BENEDICTION.

BY THE REV. S. COX.

LUKE xxiv. 50--53. EVENTS have a strange consecrating with importunate desire to revisit the places power; they set apart and hallow the lo- in which their first joys and sorrows were calities in which they occur. The place in met, to round off their life by ending where which we have suffered any of the great they began. Very touching have been the sorrows of life, or rejoiced in any of its utterances of this desire, both in the old nobler prosperities, becomes to us a holy and the young. Their parting spirits hara place ; our thoughts revert to it with a often seemed detained by it, as though loving pertinacity, investing it with the they could not pass away until the wish sacredness or delightsomeness of the events were gratified, as though Death himself which happened to us there. Hence the must wait until they reached the bome; charm which attaches to the home of our while at other times the art magic of strong youth, the sacredness which attaches to desire has caused the familiar scenes to rise, our father's grave. Unconsciously we in- real and beautiful as of old, and pass before vest the early home with charms drawn their eyes, while they lay “a-dying" in from the dew and freshness of our youth, foreign lands. the parental grave with hues drawn from Now, it is one of the cardinal virtues of the love and sorrow of bereavement. the Lord Jesus Christ, one of his chiefesti

It is singular, too, that at the approach qualifications for the mediatorial work, that of death, when we stand on the threshold he was, and is, “ touched with a feeling of of the future world, when, therefore, if our infirmities," that he can and did enter ever, our thoughts might be supposed to rest into all the innocent humanities of our exclusively on what is before us, men not nature. He was no cold, unimpassioned, unfrequently look back on the earlier ex

In him were all the tenderperiences and scenes of their life, yearning nesses, preferences, and unsinful prejudices

abstract man.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of human love. He could like one man more than another-John was his bosom friend; one people more than anotherhe had not "come, save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;' one family more than another-for it was with a peculiar affection that he loved Martha, and Mary her sister, and Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. He could also like one place more than another; for when his last earthly day was come, he led his disciples up the slope of Olivet, as far as to Bethany." On this mountain he had often prayed ; of its two chief districts, Gethsemane and Bethany, the one was the scene of his passion, the other the home of his friends. From its side and summit he could look

down on the hill Calvary, where he was crucified, and on that regardless city which had led bim “ without the gate.” The places which had been hallowed by the most momentous and sacred events of his human life, in which he bad drank most deeply of the cup of his sorrows, and had divinest foretastes of "the joy set before him," all lay beneath his eye. His last - look fell on the slopes on which he had spent nights of prayer, the city in which he had lived his most laborious days, the house in which he had rested and been loved, the garden in which he had agonized, the hill on which he had died, the sepulchre in which he had slept. He rose from amidst the scenes which were consecrated to him by love and sorrow, by labour and by prayer. To the last a sbarer in our humanity, displaying to the last a human yearning and tenderness, his final, lingering look took in not only the friends who had " companied with him from the beginning," but also the places which had been ballowed to him by the events of his It is surely very pleasant, brethren, to kee in Christ what we feel in ourselves, to Dote these correspondences between his

For why has Christ become like us, save that we may become like him? Why has he partaken our human nature, save that we may be made the “partakers of his Divine nature"? Why has he taken our infirmities on him, sare that we may be “ filled with all the fulnesses of God? But we must not linger on this theme, pleasant and hopeful as it is. The directer teachings of the text claim our thoughts. Let us select two or three of them.

I. We may learn from it that Christ

leaves

US, not always in anger, but often in benediction. " And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." To be and to feel forsaken by Christ are two very different things, though we often confound them. He often leaves us when he does not forsake us. To mourn

an absent Christ may be a stronger proof of love and a better discipline of life than to rejoice in a present Christ. Do these paradoxes seem incredible to you? Do you ask for proof? Well, there is proof enough and to spare. That Christ's absence, or the sense of it, does not imply that he has forgotten, much less forsaken, those who love him, was the very lesson which he set himself to teach his disciples during the days that preceded his death,-it was the very lesson by teaching them which he strove to prepare them for his departure into heaven. How he taught them this lesson, by what a wise and loving discipline, is worthy of far deeper and more protracted study than we can give it here and now; it is one of the most beautiful features of his whole ministry: yet let me give you one or two specimens of it.

Only a few days before his crucifixion, he sends Peter away to the sea, bidding him cast in not a net but a hook; predicting that in the mouth of the very first fish that took the bait he should find the stater-not any coin, but a certain Roman coin of a defined value--which their exigences required. He does as he is bid, and finds it even as he was told. Peter is thus taught that the prescience and power of Christ are unrestrained ; that, present or absent, on the sea or the dry land, all elements and all the creatures of the elements, hearken to his voice and delight to do his will; he is thus taught that even when Christ is not present to his friends, even when he has left them, he is still with them, and with them to fulfil his word, albeit an endless array of contingencies seem to forbid its fulfilment.

Again, and within a few days, he sends two of his disciples to Bethphage to find an ass and a colt, and bring them unto him. He predicts the very objection the owners afterward made, and puts into his disciples? mouths words which even these owners were not able to understand. So, also, he sends other two to a place where three ways met to find a slave bearing a pitcher, and to follow him to an upper chamber furnished for the Passover. In both cases chances and contingencies seem needlessly

earthly career.

manhood and ours.

multiplied; the disciples bave to run the drawing and returning her hand, befo risk of suspicion, and of insult, and of suffer- she sends him forth to walk alone; so ti ing, as evil-doers. And yet in both we find Lord Jesus before he went up on big the traces of a most wise and loving dis- taught his disciples to use the wing cipline. Christ was about to leave them. faith, taught them to walk alone-tryir They were poor and mean men; they them, proving them, sending them awa might think themselves forgotten, over- suffering them to return—that when he wl looked. Christ teacbes them that even carried up into heaven and received out while absent from them be is yet with them, their sight they might be able to dispens directing their steps, providing for their with his visible presence, might know the welfare; that whether he has left them, or though he had left he had not

forsaken then sent them away from him, he is still pre- Alas! they did not profit by this pr sent with them, present to guide, defend, paratory discipline as they should has ble88. He teaches them that even when not done. When he was first taken awa there he knows what is transpiring at Betb. taken by death, they lost all hope, fo phage and Jerusalem; knows not only getting the lesson he had taught. Yet what Herod, and Pilate, and the chief was not wholly waated on them. Wb priests, and Pharisees, are doing, but also he was taken away the second time, carri of what is being done by the lowly and the up into heaven, they understood what enslaved ; that he can see and foresee the meant as, “while ire blessed them, he poor slave going with his pitcher to the parted from them." They did not lo fountain of the Three Ways, and the ass hope now; they knew that he had not fe and her colt standing at the door of the saken, albeit he had left thein, and so th caravanserai; that his prescience extends "returned to Jerusalem with great joy. even to the furnishing of an upper room; That discipline, brethren, was given that his power can touch the heart of the their sake; it is recorded for ours. Chi distant householder.

often seems to leave us, to go up fr Now, it is quite impossible, I think, to earth into an inaccessible heaven. To connect and consider these historic facts, brief season we feel that he is with without perceiving that they are part of that We rejoice in his nearness. Divine j wise and loving discipline of which I have flow from his presence.

The sweetnes spoken; without perceiving that Christ of an intimate fellowship are vouchsal was preparing his disciples for his de- He speaks to us, and his wor parture, teaching them that distance could awaken responses which echo songfu not separate from him or remove them be- through all the courts of our souls. yond the reach whether of his eye or his his “ Seek ye my face," we respond, hand. The obvious meaning of them was, face will we seek ;' to his “Give me th that as he could penetrate the depths of the heart,” “Our hearts are thine." The sea and guide its creatures at his will, so crifices of obedience are cheerfully also he would look down on them from the We sing and give praise. The indwel*** heights of heaven and direct them in all Christ, the shekinah of the heart, fills their ways; that as his eye was on the ioper temple of the soul with his g! slave by the well and in the upper chamber We gain insight; we grow in grace furnished for the Passover, so also his eye feel the powers and graces of the Di would be on them, poor and despised life unfolding themselves within us. though they were, and his band prepare a at the best, such seasons are of the brie table for them; that as from the mountain Very commonly they are succeeded " be touched the heart of the householder in times of comparative deadness and the city, and constrained their owners to haustion. The Christ seems to have a give up the ass and her colt in the village, drawn his presence.

" We weary 80 also when absent from them he would heavens with the inquest of our beseecl incline the hearts of men toward them and looks,” but no sign is given. We turn restrain the rage of their opponents. eyes inward to find the temple desert an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over the sacrifice consumed, the sacred her young, spreadeth abroad her wings," burned out, the shekinah iovisible. shows them the use of the pinion and we mourn and complain. We say makes them use it, driving them from the has left, has forsaken us. And yet yn nest that they may learn to fly; or, as a should we ? Adoring contemplation mother tries her child's strength, with- be only our occasional attitude. We

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66 As

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »