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tinually being exemplified. We must, there- is most majestic and noble in it. You fore, accept the explanation with which we cannot find a single noble word of faith or started, and hold that the simplest theory hope on which some traces of suffering are of this hope is that which accounts it the not discernible. So invariably indeed is résult of inspired suffering. Without the this the case, that the whole of the grander suffering, thought of such things as are here prophesies of the Bible might be instanced described could hardly have entered the pa- as examples of the tribulation origin of triarch's mind. Without the inspiration, hope. For it is not more true that holy the thought would have been an agitating men of God spake these “as they were wish rather than an assured expectation. moved by the Holy Ghost” than it is true But the inspiration blending itself with the that they spake them as they were moved sufforing, leads him by a way he knew not, by the stress of sufferings which beset to a pinnacle of exultant expectation. The them. An eventful present has always tears quickened his spiritual vision. His schooled the heart to discern a glorious wounds of grief were avenues by which the future. Thus, for instance, the songs which spirit of consolation entered his heart. best portray the Christ of Nazareth are When the seed of earthly hope fell to the not the sonnets in which the spouse in the ground and died, it began at once to ger. Song of Solomon describes her Royal Lord; minate with immortal expectations. The but the songs that describe the Saviour valley of Achor was a door of hope : and with the most vivid outline are the wails of through the valley of Baca he advanced grief that break forth from David in the from strength to strength. Thus, like the seasons of his deep distress--a 22nd or a great personal word of God himself, this 69th Psalm. The great line of prophets lesser word has the double parentage; it is whose names dignify the roll of Israel's bis. the birth of earthly travail and of heavenly tory do not rise when the nation is in the overshadowing. And the one great reason heyday of its supremacy and enjoying the why the patriarch surpaseed all other Old homage of surrounding powers, but only Testament prophets in the range and accu- when wars begin to desolate the land, and racy of his foresight, is simply that never when the convulsions that are abroad sorrow was like to his sorrow. Drinking make men feel that no earthly kingdom, deepest of Christ's cup of suffering, he was however well ordered, no land, however full even on earth so truly raised to sit high on of milk and honey, can meet all the desires Christ's throne, that from the sublime ele- of the human soul. It is in the midst of vation he could descry all the Divine pro- invasions that threaten the extinction of visions of consolation which the course of Judah as a nation, that Isaiah catches history would unfold and which the Divine from the sky his grand commission, “Com. plan was bringing about for the relief of a fort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your suffering world.
God”; and is enabled to foresee the Now, brethren, we might rest here; for brighter history yet in store for her, and many are the lessons of comfort which a
especially the coming of her Saviour King, single such instance of the connection be- the utterance of which conveys the comfort tween tribulation and hope affords. But I he proclaims. It is in the midst of mi. would remark, that satisfying and cheering series that move him to lamentation that as such lessons are, they are all made more Jeremiah wakes from a sleep that was satisfying and cheering still, when, enlarge sweet to bim to describe the tenor of the ing the list of sufferers, the invariable re- new and better Covenant, the Covenant gularity of this connection becomes more of Redemption, into which God will enter manifest ; for draw up a list of the illus- with the house of Israel. It is when trious sufferers of Scripture, and I think Ezekiel has hung his harp on the wiilow, you will hardly find one who was not con- and when, by the river of Chebar, he weeps spicuous for holy hope. Draw up a list of at the remembrance of Zion, sorrowing for those illustrious for their foresight of the the destruction of the holy and beautiful glory to be revealed, and I think you will house where his fathers worshipped, that not find one who was not conspicuous for his view is gradually lifted to behold the the suffering through which he passed. distant vision of Zion restored ; and of an.
My dear friends, ready as the world has other river, one of the water of life, which, ever been to complain of the slightest pres- rising from the threshold of the sanctuary, sure of suffering, it is a fact most palpable flowed forth, and, with over deepening bed that it is indebted to suffering for all that and ever widening banks, carried healing
and life to remotest lands. It was when sorrow in the ardent anticipation of sharing Daniel looked back to the dispersion of the the victory above. And, on a humbler kingdom of Israel, had shared the captivity scale, has not the experience of the Church of Judah, had beheld the overthrow of the witnessed in almost every age anticipations Chaldean dynasty of Babylon itself, that, as of heaven, almost prophetic in their certiif to refresh his troubled spirit, he is tude and clearness, attained in circum: enabled to foresee, and permitted to pre- stances of disease or grief? dict, the setting up of an everlasting king- Now, looking at such combinations, what dom that would be superior to all such shall we say ? Dare we deem them merely chance change," and would never be accidental? Shall we regard it as mere removed.”
chance that prophetic anticipations of bliss And not dwelling, on the minor pro- have so uniformly been attained when the phets, who yet would furnish examples of sufferer has been inspired? Or must we the same connection between tribulation not conclude that these are all so many and prophetic hope, is not this connection examples on an illustrious scale of the law, obrious also in the New Testament as well? thạt through tribulation we enter into the The spirit of prophecy was of course per- rest of prophetic hope, and that nothing so petually with Jesus. But when did it find raises the soul to a clear sense of its needs, utterance? He spoke not of the destinies and a clear perception of the Divine proof his kingdom, when, on the Mount of Beatitudes, he gave its laws ; nor on the of suffering when the Spirit of God works Mount of Transfiguration, when the glory with it? in which he appeared would have sanc- And if so, how ought we to dwell on a tioned his sublimest predictions of its his- fact like this, for oh! how much of com. tory. But be predicts the promulgation of fort is there in it! It sheds a soft radiance the Gospel through all the world, and his over the whole economy of suffering under return in glory, only when his soul begins which we grieve. It indicates that afilioto feel nigh at hand the consummation of tion is workiog more for the race than his griefs and pains, and to enter already misery ; that silently, but really, it is eduinto their agony. And who is it of the dis- cating it to refinement of hope and thought ciples that is inspired to prophesy, and and feeling. We are taught by this exam. when does the inspiration of Heaven rest ple to believe that the dispensation of pain on him ? It is not Paul in the extent of that besets the race is simply a great John his acquaintance with the past, nor Peter the Baptist sent to prepare Christ's way ; in that ardour of his that seemed to live in filling men's hearts with musing expectathe future, that is chosen to prophesy. tions of the coming Christ, developing the And it is not when the dew of youth is on longiogs which will appreciate and welcome the Church, and she sends forth her boughs that the Spirit of God broods over to the sea and her branches to the river, the chaos of conflicting, world-wide ills, that the Spirit finds the proper season for eliciting from them new creations, which revealing the future with his light;. but it God and man must both concur to prois when the persecutions of a Nero and nounce very good. Domitian without, and the heresies of false Are any of my readers sorely troubled ? brethren within, have distressed the Church, Brethren, study Job, who is the reprethat her soul begins to look away to the sentative sufferer of the race, and learn from glories yet in store for her.
in the isle that is called Patmos-lonesome and that in bis advanced age, and in his weary con- “ These severe afflictions finement, that the spirit of prophecy finds
Not from the ground arise ; a congenial home. He alone is enabled to But oftentimes celestial benedictions rise above all the constraints that men
Assume this dark disguise.' could impose, to lave his spirit in the free- He is leading you, by ways you know not, dom and glory of the better world; to to a pionacle of hope and clearest light, elicit a prophetic light that sheds its ra- which, save by the path of suffering, you diance over all time; and to catch and cannot reach ; to such results as will enable atter the far-off refrain of the triumphal you to understand the Saviour's strangest song of the redeemed, singing which, the benediction, “Blessed are the mourners.' Church has ever since forgot her state of Bụt our second subject of thought re
mains, viz., the objects of his hope. On this time does not permit us to dwell. I can only suggest outlines of thought for the reader to fill up.
And, first, you will observe, his hope does not rest on anything near, on any little experience which would happen in this life; but his view looks far away and dates its expectations from “the latter days." He expects to gaze on a manifested God, a God manifest in the flesh : 80 that he shall not have to cry, “Oh! that I knew where I might find him, that I might come at the place of his seat.” But, expecting to behold in open face the glory of the Lord, he anticipates that experience as the richest joy.
He anticipates also the manifested God as redeeming men; redeeming, not in the technical sense in which we use the word to-day (for allusion to the cross could hardly be supposed), but yet not in the miserably weak sense in which some have understood the word; but redeeming him and others from everything that mars their manhood, from sid, from the grave, from all weakness, from everything which would interfere with the full development and bliss of their being.
And in order to his participation of this bliss, he expects the perfect preservation of his personal identity and the perfect restoration of his being. In his flesh he is to see God, and to see him as the very Job he was that day; not changed into a spirit, or sublimated into an angel, but “for him. self," not as "another," not changed into another. He would see God.
I cannot dwell on the majesty of these expectations, but I would like that along with these you would compare the expectations that anotber sufferer, a companion in patience and in tribulation, formed ages afterwards. When the panorama of the future passes before John, what is it on which his eye finally rests ? John gazes unsat ed until he beholds the scene he describes thus :-“I heard a voice saying, Behold, the tabernacle of the Lord is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things are passed away.”
Brethren, need I stay to mark the identity of these two expectations ? Is it not
obvious that John merely describes what Job predicts P-that both look on intimate communion with a manifested God, and on the complete redemption of man from death, and all its cognate ills, as the only issues of life that can be reckoned worthy enough to be the final and enduring lot of man?
Now, there are lessons here which I can merely indicate. First : the coincidence of such illustrious sufferers in the object for which they hope shows very clearly that only such a serene result of all ” would satisfy the wants of man. Fellowship with the Lord Jesus; a resurrection victory over death; eternal embodied existence in a simple human scene; only such experiences can satisfy the soul ihat is made in the image of God, and whicb, although it knows not why it was made, yet “ Thinks it was not made to die,
Since God has made, and God is just." Brethren, think of this; nothing less will meet your wants; and anything less will leave you with an immortal hunger upon your soul. But the coincidence shows something
It goes far to prove the certainty of the hopes we cherish. How is it that these two men, speaking at an interval of 2,000 years, agree in cherisbing these hopes ? Can the noblest spirits of mankind be cherishing these hopes afresh in every age, and yet there be no great coming fact which will satisfy the glorious anticipations? It were a libel on the Maker of our spirits to believe he would constitute us so that we should hope only to be deceived. Nay, nay, dear friends. Every thought to which the wish is father is not false. These lights that irradiate the future are not sparks of our own kindling, but gleams that a Father's love flings over the scene to strengthen and gladden our fainting hearts. If it were that which is worst in man that forms these hopes, then they might be neglected; but when it is the best feelings of the best of men that anticipate such Divine condescension to level, such a complete restoration of our humanity, their "faith" should itself be “ evidence" strong enough to make us believe “the things that are unseen.'
Let us, then, brethren, afresh assured by the hopes that the Church has cherished in every age, look forward to the glory about to be revealed. Christ will appear in the glory of perfected humanity, and the re
deemed of men, sharing his victory over the
“ like him," because seeing him as he is, will “enter bis joy,” “ behold his glory," and so be “ever with the Lord.” Brethren, sball we “ behold the
King in his beauty, and the land that is afar off”? Sball one of us miss that glorious destiny, when, by the mercy of the Saviour, it is within the reach of every soul?
“ HOW LONG HAVE I TO LIVE?"
2 Sam. xix, 34.
BY THE REV. C. ELVEN. So exclaimed the good old patriot, Barzillai, when for his fideliiy to his royal master in the day of his calamity, David offered him a place at court, an honour which he declined in such expressive and pathetic words : “And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem ? I am this day fourscore years old : and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women! wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother.”
But we return to the question as appropriate to the commencement of another year, “ How long have I to live ? "
Our youthful readers will be likely to give the words a very different rendering to the textual one, and instead of using them in the form of interrogation as intimating the brevity of their lives, will employ them as a joyful affirmation. " How long I have to live before I attain to the age of Barzillai!” How many bappy birthdays I have yet to witness ! How many Christmas days with their happy gatherings, and how many New Years' days with their joyous greetings !
Oh! stay a moment while we ask you, whence this buoyant hope ? Have you really a lease for some sixty or seventy years to come? "Is it duly signed and sealed by Him in whose hands our life is, and who has appointed our bounds that we cannot pass ? If so, produce it. Alas ! you may not even boast yourself of to-morrow, for you “know not what a day or an hour way bring forth.” Permit us further to ask, Is old age itself desirable? Surely not, if you consider its accompanying infirmities as described by Barzillai, or even more affectingly by Solomon, as the days when “thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them;" when the toil of years will have enfeebled the arms and legs, so that “the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men bow themselves ; when the grinders shall cease because they are few," and sight being dim," they that look out of the windows be darkened;” when the strength of youth and manhood having passed away, "the grasshopper shall be a burden; when paralysis shall have loosened the silver cord and unstrung all the nerves; when failing memory shall indicate the breaking of that golden bowl, the seat of mind; when the pitcher and the wheel, the wondrous mechanism which convey the blood from and to the heart, shall also be broken, and that fountain itself no longer able to propel the vital current—"the dust shall return to the earth, and the spirit shall return unto God, who gave it.”
Surely then it is not to be desired by a Christian that he should, by attaining to extreme old age, outlive his usefulness, and become a burden to those around bim ; but rather, when ripe for heaven, should he not welcome the reaper that
comes to gather him into the heavenly garner, like a shock of corn in its season, and exclaim with Simeon, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation”?. For, as a quaint writer has said, “ Death is but the pulling down of an old house that a new one may be set up; or, as a clock that is grown rusty, is taken asunder by the maker': hand, disjointed wheel from wheel and pin from pin, not to be lost, but to be repolished and put together again. So death shall pull the clock of our life asunder, when it has struck the last stroke of time ; wheel from wheel, limb from limb, member from member, all to dust and pieces. But then the Omnipotent Maker takes it into his own hands and sets it together again at the resurrection, so that it shall go well in glory for ever ; bearing a part in those celestial chimes which the blessed angels sing in the temple above.'
If, then, it is not desirable for a Christian to live to a feeble old age, much less should the impenitent and unconverted desire it, when their only wish is to enjoy the pleasures of this world, and die with the cup of sensual gratification at their lips. Surely it is a daring proposal which they make to themselves to live on, year after year, without God, and to continue the indurating process till the heart becomes a moral petrefaction, harder than the nether millstone ; for such is the inevitable consequence of continuous godlessness. Or do they lay the flat, tering unction to their souls that it will be quite time when Death knocks at their door for them to knock at the door of Mercy ? It is painful to think how many have perished by indulging this vain hope, which may never be realized. It bad been better for them if they had never been born, or, being born, they had died in their infancy ; yea, the sinner of twenty years of age had better die even now than to live to fourscore years and then sink, with all that accumulated weight of guilt, to everlasting ruin. Millions of lost souls must now wish in vain they had known an earlier death !
Others may ask the question as if they desired to know the great secret, when they should die. Yet most of us should tremble to hear the answer. Or, as Mr. Foster puts it, “On supposition that the GREAT BOOK should be placed before you, with intimation that if you chose (being permitted) to open at such a page, you would read the year, the month, the day appointed for your entrance on another world, could you
forbear? Suppose you had opened the volume where you would have only just to raise the next leaf, would you touch its edge, and, deliberating, decide to leave unturned the portentous page on the other side ?” Well, some might dare to turn the leaf, and read the date to be inscribed on their own tombstone ; but it is most in accordance with our feelings to say, “ Lord, when thou wilt ---where thou wilt, and how thou wilt;” and not desiring with curious eyes to pry into the volume of the Divine decrees, we would rather say, as summing up all our desires,
“In thy fair book of life and grace,
O may I find my name
Beneath my Lord, the Lamb!" Permit us, then, for a moment, to vary the question ; and instead of asking, How long we have to live (a question which no creature, either man or angel, can answer), let the inquiry be, How can we best live so as to secure the great end of our being? Surely it is to prepare for the four last things—a happy death, a glorious resurrection, a right-hand place at the judgment-seat, and a blissful eternity.
If the message of Jeremiah to Hananiah, “This year thou shalt die,” were authoritatively announced to any one of our unconverted readers, what consternation it would produce : yet that decree may go forth concerning any one of us. It is manifestly, therefore, the part of true wisdom immediately to regard the revealed injunction, “ Prepare to meet thy God.” The present life in itself is