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complement -- there is a sense of deficiency stretching out almost impatiently towards the ideal which the Word reveals or suggests. It appears to be a hopeless task to attempt to trace any single course of thought in logical and orderly development. But we may recognise distinctly enough the general influence.
A moment's critical study of the language will be found convenient and useful. “ Statutes" is evidently a favourite term with the sacred poet. It of course stands primarily as the representative of that Word which is God's Revelation; in which the singer rejoices, and which is the subject of his praise. It carries with it therefore the original thought, and certain specific significations of its own. Properly, it is "that which is established or definite;" hence, "an appointed law." It is used in Deuteronomy along with “judgments,” to describe the system as given by Moses, under whom the Children of Israel were placed. It is employed to denote the Passover, upon which occasion it is rendered “ordinance.” It may then be taken in its broad sense as implying truth which is definite-truth which comes to us as Divine commands, and which is embodied in religious ordinances or means of grace.
“ The house of my pilgrimage" is, in one respect, a unique phrase. There is a kindred expression used in the books of Genesis and Exodus, and translated rightly in the margin, “ the land of sojournings.” This refers either to Canaan, where Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were wanderers and strangers, dwelling in tents, or to Egypt, where the descendants of Abraham were for a season detained. We find also “ the years of my sojournings” used by Jacob as a description of the course of human life. But here we have a new turn given to the phrase, and, instead of “years” or “land,” we read “the house of my sojournings." When an unusual and somewhat peculiar form of expression is thus selected, we are justified in looking for a peculiar shade of meaning; and we get that shade of meaning by comparing the language of Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians (v. 1, 2, and 4). On the basis of that language we say, "the house of our sojournings” is “ the house of this tabernacle ; described in the Epistle to the Philippians," the body of our humiliation,” in which, during our present state of probation and preparation, we temporarily reside.
It has been remarked that in this psalm there is “an epitome of all true religion as conceived by the best spirits of the time." I would apply the remark, slightly modified, to this verse, and say, " Here is an epitome of all true religion as realised in the experience of the best spirits of the time.” And I find in the words two lines of thought opened up before us, namely: I. True religion is an unsatisfied anticipation; II. True religion is a present joyous appropriation. “In the house of my sojournings ; " " Thy statutes have been my songs." Upon only one of these themes can we speak in the present discourse : the second shall be dealt with hereafter.
or, as it is
I. True religion is an unsatisfied anticipation.
1. It is an anticipation, for there comes out in the language, clearly enough, (a) the consciousness of an indwelling spiritual nature. There is a separation of "self" from the surrounding physical organisation. The “I,” which we can, dimly discern throughout the meditation, distinct from the affections imaged by the heart, distinct from the perceptions suggested by the eyes, distinct from the energies of will implied in the “ lifting up of the hands,” now in this climax stands out plain in its personality, a pilgrim-spirit, unto whom the body is only “ the house of sojourning." And mark you, the language utters not a mere theoretical doctrine about the song, but an inward realisation. Few are there who have attained to such an analysis of their natures as to be conscious of the substance which is manifesting itself in all the phenomena of existence. It requires minds in sympathy with one who could write Psa. cxix. for this, and our age is sweeping along too fast, and lives too much in the outward, to cherish such sympathy very deeply. The majority of men may formally believe in angel and spirit; but, if not actually the faith of Pharisees, it is a faith which is shallow and shadowy and unauthenticated; à suspicion, indeed, rather than a belief. And yet look at the effect produced by God's touch upon this man. Thy word,” he says, “hath quickened me; hath quickened ME." " The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” Like some magnet, it enters the encircling mass of perceptions, and thoughts, and feelings, and volitions, and, getting hold of the soul lying beneath, entangled and benumbed, it lifts it up and makes it thrill with a sense of its own reality. “Waked, as a man that is wakened out of sleep, the spirit arises from the dead, and is filled with a light in which it sees light, and becomes blessedly sensible of the fact that it is enshrined and enthroned in an organism which is "the house of its sojournings." And so (b) there is in the language a consciousness of the greatness of the spiritual nature. This is hinted at in the figure which speaks of the body as “a house of pilgrimage. The body is a marvellous structure; as a mere piece of mechanism it is “fearfully and wonderfully made." How unutterably magnificent must be the sense of its destiny and possibilities glimpsed by that which can look upon its relations to this structure as the relations of a tenant to his dwelling-place, as the relations of a tenant to an abode provided for him during a time of sojourning!
And the force of the figure is strengthened by this representation of the existing state as one of pilgrimage." The word of necessity includes the ideas of temporariness and incompleteness; and these ideas suggest, and indeed predict, something beyond, more lasting and more perfect. Whether there be any clear statement of the doctrinë of life and immortality in the Old Testament or not, here is a man who through one hundred and seventy-six verses breathes out songs
of communion with God, and sighings after a higher and more intimate fellowship: here is a man who speaks of his present existence as one of “pilgrimage," that is " sojournings.” Is it conceivable that there throbbed in his heart no conviction of an everlasting hereafter ? no hope of a future towards which these sojournings were to lead, and in which they were to find their end and compensation ? “Pilgrimage" described most fitly the condition of the patriarchs when they wandered in a land of strangers; but when the word is used in a new connection, ages after the land of Canaan has become the settled home of Abraham's seed, we are compelled to seek in it a deeper meaning. Without hesitation we discern in it an anticipation of “ the rest which remaineth for the people of God." Thank God that it is so, for herein is declared the aspect of every believer. He is begotten unto a lively hope, and “his hope entereth into that which is within the vail; the vain show in the midst of which he walks does not make him sick unto despair, because he “ looketh for a city which hath foundations." He sees promises afar off, and, being persuaded of them, declares plainly that he seeks a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Now are we the sons of God, and we know not what we shall be ; but we know we shall be like Him." There is anticipation.
2. But it is unsatisfied anticipation. There is an evident tone of something very like sadness which breaks upon us throughout. It is suggested by the word " pilgrimage,” and is implied in the very sentence which tells the joy. This must be to a certain extent the result of the awakening of the religious life. It is quite true, on the one hand, that they who drink up of the water which Christ gives shall never thirst : and yet it is equally true, on the other, that we who are in this tabernacle do groan, not because we are dissatisfied, “i for that we would be unclothed," but because we are unsatisfied, " for that we would be clothed upon.”
This comes out of our present state being one (according to the radical idea of the word " pilgrimage ") of location for the time amid scenes and persons that are strange. The pilgrim is not at home. And this is true of the believer. He is not at home, and he cannot feel at home. In some degree he is out of sympathy with his surroundings. He cannot settle down : he is living in a tent which at any moment he may be called to strike. Beyond are the many mansions, and the more vivid his faith is, the more will he think of these, and the stronger will be his pulse towards departing to be with Christ, which is far better."
And then there is “ the house ;” the sentence leaves it doubtful whether this house be that in which the sojournings take place, or the house which belongs to that state which is one of sojourning. Any. how this thought may be legitimately brought out, that it is a house connected with and adapted to the stage of imperfection. We would not depreciate the body. Most unfortunate is the rendering which stigmatises it as “our vile body." Nevertheless, it is “the body of our humiliation." It is a body which belongs and is suited to earth. It
.. my soul
is a sensuous body. Its faculties are adapted to bring the indwelling tenant into relation only with that which is visible and phenomenal. The windows opened in it have been opened earthward and downward, and not towards the skies ; or, at best, it has only one or two skylights which are very narrow and do not permit us to see much, Like the servant of Elisha, it can only behold the Syrians, and cannot discern' the celestial chariots and the heavenly horsemen. Hence there are inward pulsations which throb sometimes almost painfully for exit and expression. As the Psalmist says in a former part of his meditation, “ I am a pilgrim upon earth : breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy commandments.” The earthen vessel is strained by the upheavings of the essence which it imprisons. There are infirmities too, and sufferings, by which the tabernacle is much shaken. Its very exaltations generate a reaction, out of which springs the thorn which is the messenger of Satan unto buffeting. Not only is there want of sympathy between the spirit and the flesh to which in part that body belongs, but there is actual hostility.
Temptations everywhere annoy." There is a cross on which the old man must be crucified; there is a baptism. of trial unto death, wherewith it must be baptised, that, chastened and refined, it may become a spiritual body, raised in incorruption, a meet and everlasting habitation for the glorified Spirit. So that the very anticipation involved in being a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, full of the elements of joy unspeakable as it undoubtedly is, is also of necessity the unsatisfied longing which breathes in such language as this,
“Here in the body pent,
Absent from Him I roam
My thirsty spirit faints
To reach the land I love,
(To be continued.)
FOUR DAYS IN THE MINES.
FOR THE YOUNG,
I SUPPOSE none of you know of daylight or moonlight or starmuch about an iron mine. It is a light ever gets down there. The strange, dark, gloomy place. Iron iron is dug in these places, and the lies away down deep in the earth, only light the miners have is from and men dig holes hundreds of feet little lamps fastened in their caps. deep to get it. These holes are They put the iron ore in barrows, called shafts, and at the bottom and wheel it to the shafts. Then are large galleries leading in differ- it is put into big buckets, which are ent directions, and large rooms, tied to ropes, and a great wheel at too, all darker than the darkest the top hauls them up. The poor night you ever saw, for not a ray miners have pretty hard lives, and
sometimes little children spend somehow, but I suppose it's all most of their time down in the right. You must ask the teacher mines, hardly ever seeing the beau- about it, she can tell you." tiful sunshine. Indeed, if the chil. “And all about the probable son, dren who live in these comfortable she told us, too." þomes which are all about us could “What's that, my boy?” said only see how others live, I think papa. Little Sarah was older, and they would be more thankful. laughed at her brother's funny
When iron comes up from the mistake, but he went on. mines, it is mixed with stone, earth, “Oh, a boy that wanted half the and other things, and in that rough money, and then he went away off. shape is called iron ore. This is But soon his money was all gone, carried to the furnace where it is and he went and fed pigs, and he melted, and the iron comes out said, "There's lots of bread at home clean. Then it goes to great foun- and I'll go back,' and when he was dries, where it is made into stoves, a good piece off, his papa ran and kettles, pokers, and a great many kissed him, and gave him a gold other things you know of. The ring, and they then went to dinner red-hot iron is poured into the -oh my! such a dinner, papa, a moulds or shapes of the different whole calf.” things to be made. It is a beautiful But Sarah had understood better, thing to see, and ladies and children and told the pretty story well. often go to foundries to look on “And what's your text, my girl ? while the casting is done.
66. I will never leave thee, nor I have a little story to tell you forsake thee.' It's Jesus Christ of something which took place at says so, papa.” one of these mines. It is about a “Let's all remember it, then," he miner who had a wife and two said, gravely. little children. They were very Little Jimmy had found a small poor, but were happy, for they all bottle, which he had been playing loved each other, and tried to do with for two or three days. He what was right. Some good people would fill it with water which he had built a little church near them, called medicine, and everybody where they went every Sunday, had to take some ; now, he said, and the little ones went to Sunday. “Papa, I'm going to give you my school. There they learned many bottle of medicine, so when you go sweet and precious things, and their down the shafts you won't be sick. parents were wise enough to be You must take it two hours." thankful for these privileges. He slipped it into the little bag Neither of them could read, but his father used to carry his dinner they listened very earnestly to the in, when he went into the mine. word of the preacher, and the Lord Little children, have any of you sent His grace into their hearts to ever heard of the fire-damp? It is bless his words.
a kind of gas, which often gathers was your
text to-day, in the bottom of a mine. "If fire Jimmy?” the father said, as the touches it, it will explode or go off, children came from Sunday-school something like gunpowder. Then one day.
that part of the mine is filled with * Thy word is a lamp under my fire and hot air, which chokes to feet, and a light under my path. death any one who may be near, How can you have a lamp under and hundreds of poor miners have your feet, papa ? '
lost their lives in this way. There Well
, I don't know, I'm sure,” is nothing they dread so much as he said, “It does seem queer, the terrible fire-damps.