Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

for ever

wind in some such way as to come back gether in everlasting gladness. And this enrichingly upon himself. If God was consecration is wondrously complete. The worshipped by him, it was with a view to body has been yielded as a temple of the the heavenly issues of devotion ; if man Holy Ghost, pure and chaste for its heavenly Was blessed, it was with an eye to the eter- habitant; his heart has been yielded as a nal rewards of well-doing. But while up garden of the Lord, which, laved by the to this time “ To Paul to live was self," Spirit wind, might flow forth with all rich from the moment that the Saviour con- spices; his spirit has been yielded as a fronts him with that Divine eye which is as harp, which, touched by the Divine finger, a flame of fire, you see a wondrous change might discourse celestial melody. He has come over the whole spirit of the man. It ascended to the summit of Calvary as Elijah seeme as if, startled by the glory of that did that of Carmel, and there, in the prelight, the reins had dropped out of self's sence of all peoples, he has taken first all hands, and Christ, taking them

up,

his bodily powers, everything in his phyafterwards the control of all his being was

sical frame which could yield him energy or in the Saviour's hand. Recognising in sustain him in bis toil; and with these, as the Divine rebuke the demonstration of his with so many stones, he has reared an altar inability to guide himself, he commits for unto God. Then he has taken his heart, ever the guidance of his soul to Christ. with all its affections of contrition, love, Subdued and melted by the love which gratitude, trust, and devotion, and laid it crowns a long-suffering most marvellous upon the altar he has built, as his dearest with a forgiveness most free, he presents offering and God's most welcome sacrifice. his whole being a grateful sacrifice to And then he has taken all the glory of his Christ. Reading in the heaven-lit look of spirit, his genius, learning, his grasp of Jesus the engaging pattern of all human thought, his strength of will, his keenness goodness, he yields his soul to be trans- of perception, everything that invested bim formed into his likeness by the operation with such influence over men, and has of his Spirit's power. Feeling the worthi- poured these over the whole as a choice ness of all the Saviour's aims, he accepts libation-a great drink-offering of priceless them as his own, and now counts it his worth. And when all was thus prepared, highest glory to be a “worker together

and every part of his being inwrought into with the Lord.”

the matter of a sacrifice—then, in answer So that you see, piece by piece, the whole to his lowly prayer, the Spirit-fire of heaven principles of his life have been changed. has come down, and, like Elijah's fire, burned Formerly every motive came from within, up the altar-stones, as well as the sacrifice now from without and from above. For- that lay upon them, and licked up all that merly no course commended itself to his was poured forth about them, till, as you choice save in so far as it promised to fur- gaze, you behold his whole being wrapt in ther his own well-being, now no course one glory-flame of devotion unto Christ; commends itself to him save as it promises every feature of his character yielding some to further the cause of the Lord Jesus. jutting "spiry point” of devotion's fire Grateful devotion has displaced self-in- unto the Lord. terest altogether; Christ has got the place Aye, and you see more than Paul within

that glow. “One like unto the Son of man And you will mark exactly the nature of appears in the midst of that sacrificial furthis change. It does not spring from any nace; and the spirit of Christ and the spirit, mere alteration of his aim; it does not con- of Paul are welded together in the sacrificial sist in a change of the groove on which his heat. So that from that bour, "they twain affectious run. No; the change reaches are one." Paul, a living branch of Christ deeper than either of these. It consists the living stem; Paul, a living limb of Christ simply in this, that he has taken himself the living head; the same life-sap, the and merged his whole being in the Saviour. same life.blood, fructifying, vivifying both. He has taken his will, and sought to blend And this union is so absolute that from it with the will of Christ. He has taken that hour you cannot see Paul without his sin and nailed it to the cross of Christ.

seeing Christ

Henceforth He has taken all his powers and yielded heavenly presence gleams through his every them to be directed by Christ. He has act. So that it is not Paul that lives, but taken his heart's affections and entwined Christ that lives in him. It is not Paul them round the heart of Jesus, to grow to

that speaks, but the spirit of Christ that

of self.

[ocr errors]

as well.

a

moves bis utterance. It is not Paul that of labour, and void of all results. Take endures, but Christ's grace that is made suf- Christ from his death, and it gathers afresh cient in his weakness. It is not Paul that all the dismal hopelessness it had lost. hopes, but Christ, that is in him," the hope Take Christ from his heaven, and there is of glory.' He is so facile in Christ's hands nought in all the felicities of the better that it is the Saviour's will alone that world that can attract his bereaved spirit moulds his life. He is the clay on the

or soothe it into peace. potter's wheel, wrought by the potter's Brethren, when Christ thus besets him hand into the potter's device. So that behind and before, is the Alpha and Omega everything about him becomes impressed of his being, his inward life, his outward with the likeness, imbued with the spirit, Lord, do you not discern some propriety of the Saviour.

in his neglect of all the poorer words He has not ceased to be Paul,-has not which suffice to declare the degree of our lost any of the dignity of true freedom,- attachment to the Saviour, and some meanhas not become a mere machine in yielding ing in the grandly simple word he uses when, himself up to Divine control. Nay, nay, summing up his whole being, and, referring brethren, we never lose by yielding all to it to the Saviour, he declares that "To him Christ. For it is only when we “lose our to live is Christ" ? life” in Christ that we really keep it. When. Perhaps I have dwelt already too long on ever we lay our Isaacs-our dearest things, this first part of my theme, but yet I cannot outward wealth or spiritual powers-upon leave it without suggesting the inquiry, God's altar, we ever get them back again Why such a course as that which is here de with added blessings and in more certified scribed is so rare? Why is it that we know 80 possession. The bush may burn with all much of what it is to live self, and so little of the fervour and glow of a Divine presence,

what it is to live Christ? We know we canyet is no twig or leaflet of simple humanity not even be thorough men until our humaconsumed; everything glorified, whilenought nity attaches itself to the pure humanity that is truly human is destroyed.

of Jesus, to be ennobled by its fellowship. And so there is no loss of freedom in the We lie under the same obligations as rested Apostle. Yea, no life ever manifested more on Paul. The Father bends over us with intense individuality, more simple freedom the same infinite tenderness which kindled than his. None ever developed with a over him. We are the objects of the condemore unstrained naturalness than his. Yet scension, the work, the atonement, the love while this is the case-while, in a true of Jesus as much as he. We experience the sense of the words, no mere man had ever same wondrous regard from the Spirit of all more individuality than Paul-in another grace—for whose heart is strange to those sense, none had ever less. For more and tender influences of heaven which woo us more the spirit of Jesus becomes the domi- to contrition and to a consecrated life? We nating, formative principle of his life, till are surrounded by the same needs for the the Saviour seems to originate his every service such a life would render. Wby, purpose, and fill his every act. So that you then, are we not living so as that we may cannot find, from his first submission to the

say, “To us to live is Christ”? Wby is it Saviour to his last martyr-vietory, one im- that to us to live-even to us Cbristians portant word or act with which Christ has is so predominantly self ? Brethren, let not to do. Sift his life as you will, you this question linger with us all till it rouse cannot get Christ out of it. Take Christ a noble discontent with our unworthy lives, from his motive, and all his energy is gone. and we begin to respond more fervently and Take Christ from his speech, and he is lovingly to all the Divine obligations that dumb with silence. Take Christ from his invest our life, strength, and he is a Samson shorn of his II. But I have to add a few words on locks. Take Christ from his confidence be- The ground of the hope expressed in the fore God, and he is in despair. Take Christ second clause. Happily, the secret of it is from his own beart, and he is of all men not hard to find. It lies in the immediate most miserable. Take Christ from his fel- neighbourhood-even in that relationship low-men, as in them, or wishing to be in to Christ which we have just been studya them, and he loses at once much of the ing. For these two clauses are not thrown love, and more of the respect, and all the hope together merely because they form a wellwith which he had regarded them. Take balanced antithesis, or describe between Christ from his life, and it is a blank, void them, clearly but compactly, the story of

[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

his life and hope. No; the two are neces- itself with all its gloom, and with the grave sarily connected, the one growing out of for its throne-chamber, and all the powers the other. The tree of personal life in of corruption as its attendant ministers,

Christ Jesus bears twelve manner of fruits, mock him with the display of its seeming 2. and this is one of them, that “To die is omnipotence? Paul need not fear even gain."

this last great enemy, for he is a member Ah! and what a fruit is this! To have of Christ's body, and flesh, and bones, and the sternest, most painful, most humiliat- livingly linked to Him who brake death's ing, most terrible experience of our being, strongest bars and overthrew his old converted into gain; its sting removed, supremacy. And how can a limb be left itself transformed into a ministering angel, when the head ascends, or a “ bone be whose province it is to advance us in our broken ” of the conquering Christ? Thus bliss!

sharing the victory of Jesus over the last Brethren, is not such a hope worth experiences of earth, he will rise with the seeking? I need not tell you how rare impetus of his old devotion, and the attracit is; how few can suppress a timorous tion of the nearer presence of the Lord to anxiety about the closing experiences of meet him on high. The gates that threw life, and about its eternal issues; how wide ope their doors to let the King of many must and ought to fear the worst. Glory enter, will renew their welcome to You all know this well enough. But I his earnest follower. The throne has room rejoice to be able to tell how such anxiety enough to yield a seat near Him he loves.

was, in one case at least, altogether lost, One with Christ in his earthly travail, he i and how such fear was, from one soul at will be one with him in his heavenly least

, displaced by a hope full of immor- triumph as well. And then, “for ever tality. For, thank God, there is no mys- with the Lord,” his soul will settle in the tery about Paul's hope. It was not whis- peace of that blessed home, lost in beholdpered to bim when he was caught up into ing the ever-expanding future of glory that the third heaven. It was not instilled by attracts his gaze-lost still more in the some strange and exceptional working of eternal contemplation of those features of the Spirit of assurance. No; it simply the Redeemer's countenance, in whose exgrew up within him as the natural de- pression the infinite mysteries of the Divine velopment of conscious oneness with Jesus feelings are interpreted by blending with Christ. How could death, how could any. the gleam of simple human affections. thing harm him who was livingly one with Ah, brethren, this is the grand Gospel the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth ? hope--the “hope full of immortality" "Lovely and pleasant together in their the hope that alone can keep the soul in lives,” how could they be, by death or perfect peace, and fill it with a joy that anything else, divided > What was there passes understanding. This is the hope in all the contingencies of the eternal that Jesus brings into the midst of this future that could separate him from the dark world - the great blessing he gives love of Christ? What if hell rouse all its his followers, the great heritage of the storms of deadliest hate, and beat into Church in every age. Have we got it? Paul's little bark its waves of overwhelm- Have we set about getting it ? Oh, let us ing might, till it seemed impossible to ride not lightly esteem it, or deem it easily above the flood ? He need not fear, for gained! It is a wondrous thing that the Christ is "with him in the ship,"and though little heart of man can cherish a hope so for a while in his slumber He may permit high. Evidently such a hope can only them to spill their fury, yet will He rise to rest on some equally wondrous fact which bid them into peace, and to constrain them transpires in our present experience. And with a great calm to bear him safely to the I beg you to mark in Paul the natural and other side. What if the Jordan of death sufficient groundwork for this hope. When gather all the force of its swellings to dis- nothing else could bear the weight of such pute his passage and bar his entrance to a hope, the living union of himself with the better land ? This man need not fear, the Divine Christ - a union of mutual for be is in the company of the great High affection and mutual ingrowth into each Priest, whose feet will touch, and touching other-can easily, does properly, sustain a will divide, death’s deepest waves, and lead

hope like this. the way dry shod to the Canaan of ever- Brethren, have we a similarly buttressed lasting rest. And what if death enrobe foundation on which to build a hope ?

-5

We must not trust to flimsy feelings. We afresh the power of a hope of glory. W should not rest on remote experiences. of us will yield the Saviour a heart-hor If one with Christ—if he livingly incar- in which to live and reign? Who of nates himself afresh in us—then let us will thus respond to the Divine love, rejoice in anticipating the everlasting issues which we owe so much ? Oh, let us 1 of such a union. But if we are not united to do so. Let us all, brethren, offer the pray the Saviour, let us feel we have no right to

of a Paul-like man,- -“ Lord, take my heas cherish the anticipation of the slightest for I cannot give it thee : Lord, keep , bliss. And yet at the same time remem- heart, for I cannot keep it for thee." L ber that Christ longs to be united with us; us offer this prayer, and the entrance that he stands at the door and knocks, Jesus will be its grand amen; and fro desirous to be admitted to our heart; that this hour, kindling with the freshness he still lingers in our midst, desirous of the Divine inspiration, we shall be able finding some Bethlehem-Ephratah coul- some measure rightfully to say,—"To i little in its own esteem among the thou- to live is Christ, and to die is gain." sands around it-in which to be formed

Glasgow.

MARVELLOUS DISSOLVING VIEWS.

BY THE REV. JOHN COX.

we fee

Will the reader fix his eyes on the broad surface of one page of God's Ho Word, and there behold a series of dissolving views calculated to excite wonde nourish hope, and call forth loud praises to the God of salvation ?

The first object to be seen is a man of stern countenance, repulsive manner and harsh speech. He is engaged in a barbarous work, and he does it rig! willingly, even exceeding his commission. Two persons are in his hands, upo whose bare shoulders many heavy strokes have just fallen, and this man thrusting them with violence into the inner prison-into the worst cell of al where all was bad. See, he puts their feet in the stocks, in order that all th night long they may remain in torture. Having accomplished this cruel work he retires to his room, throws himself upon his bed, and is soon in a profoun sleep. This is the second view. After doing the work of the evil one, he lie down, and sleeps in security. Many, alas, everywhere, are doing the sam thing, though not exactly in the same way. As we look on that rugged cou tenance and burly form, over which slumber has spread its potent spell

, glad to think that he and such as he, must needs be thus quiet some part of the time; but feel sad to think what a hurricane such sleepers will raise aroun them when they awake. The sleep of this man is deep; the songs of those who he so cruelly treated are echoing through the prison; the cheerful melody, unusual in that dismal place, awakens all the wretched inmates, who wonde much what these ill-used Jews can have to sing about. But the sleeping jaile heeds them not. As we gaze at him we seem almost to hear his deep hear breathing

But hark! what crash is that? The ground shakes and quivers beneat our feet. Every door flies open, and many a pair of heavy fetters fa clanking from sore and weary limbs on the stony floors. The sleeper star now, and with one bound leaves his couch and rushes through the open door his chamber—that door which he had so strongly bolted before he lay dowi He reels on amidst the vibrations of the earth, finds every door opened, ever prisoner at liberty. He is horror-struck. A sense of his responsibility rushe over him ; his life is forfeited if the prisoners escape ; disgrace and death star him in the face; or perhaps he supposes that the released prisoners will ki him ; 80 he resolves to kill himself. See

him in this third view, rushing mad! to hell. In a moment he will slay himself, and his soul will be for ever lost His sword

is unsheathed, and he is summoning all his strength to bury it dee

[ocr errors]

see

[ocr errors]

it in his own heart. But he is stopped—a voice reaches him from the inner Ir prison, "Do thyself no harm : we are all here.' How did that mysterious, ill

used prisoner know what he was going to do amidst the darkness of that shaking prison? Surely God had told him. It may be that the alarmed man thought of this; and that the same God who spake to his servant was now speaking to his enemy.

Take another view of him, as trembling before God. "He called for a light, sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down." The iron-hearted man bows down like a reed before the terrors of God. And now behold him breathing out desires after salvation. WHAT Must I DO TO BE SAVED P" bursts forth in tremulous tones from his agonized heart. As if he had said, “I heard yesterday that the Pythoness said, "These men are the servants of the most high God, who shew unto us the way of salvation.' Osirs, show me that way.

What must I do? I am bewildered, despairing, and hopeless; yet I beseech you in mercy tell me what I must do to be saved !” How strange that this dullsouled pagan should thus utter words which thousands of hearts in all ages have felt and repeated! God's light was shining in hira, disclosing his guilt and misery, and so he gave utterance to the great thought of the human soul whenever brought into real contact with the holy God. Next

him listening to the Gospel. Yes ; look and learn how to hear God's .word, and how to treat his precious truth. O for many such hearers as this man was! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” was the immediate response to his inquiry. There was no hesitation, no limitation. Fully and freely was the good news proclaimed; and then, with tender

love and burning zeal, the messengers of Christ " spake unto him the word of the

Lord.” What was that word but that “God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them "ø As he listened, he ceased to tremble, and began to hope. " What !” said he, “will that God whom you worship, and whom I now feel to be Almighty, holy, and terrible in his wrath, WILL HE FORGIVE ME ? not impute my many trespasses, but bury all my fearful past out of sight, and wrap my guilty soul around in a robe of Divine righteousness ? Has God made that Saviour whom you preach to be sin for me, that I may be made the righteousness of God in him? Is this the way

of salvation and is it all for me?" "Even so," said the messengers of God; believe these facts about Jesus, trust in this wondrous person, rely on his atoning blood, you shall be saved.” And now let us take one more view of this man; behold him gazing on the

Oh! how glorious it appeared to him, how real, how precious ! a beacon-light shining over a stormy ocean, and then a safe harbour to his tempesttossed spirit. It is the power of God to him—he feels it; he looks, and is

Now there are no more dissolving views. This one object abides before the eye of the saved man. He must continue ever gazing on that cross. "Looking unto Jesus ” must be his life business now. As he still looks, what blessings and joys come around him! What a change takes place in his feelings, his character, and conduct!

"He rejoices, believing in God." That God before whom he trembled is his friend; he knows it, and he loves him now. “He joys in God through Jesus Christ, by whom he has received the atonement. Nor he alone; his family share his bliss. They, no doubt, all clung round him in his wild fright

agony. They stood by his side while he listened to God's word so lovingly presented. The same Almighty Spirit wrought in all, and now they are a happy family, gathered beneath

the shelter of the cross, singing under the shadow of the Almighty. And see, he that had nothing to do for his salvation, is doing much now he is saved.

See like the Eunuch, he professes the Lord in baptism who has saved him. The believing, rejoicing household are all baptized. They enlist

cross.

healed.

[ocr errors]

and

« AnteriorContinuar »