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Title: Old Wine and New - Occasional Discourses
Author: Cross, Joseph
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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OLD WINE AND NEW:


Occasional Discourses.


BY

THE REV. JOSEPH CROSS, D.D., LL.D.,

AUTHOR OF "EVANGEL," "KNIGHT-BANNERET," "COALS FROM THE ALTAR,"
"PAULINE CHARITY," AND "EDENS OF ITALY."



NEW YORK:

THOMAS WHITTAKER,

2 and 3 Bible House.

1884.



  Copyright, 1883,
  By JOSEPH CROSS.


  Franklin Press:
  RAND, AVERY, AND COMPANY,
  BOSTON.



DEDICATORY EPISTLE.


To THOMAS WHITTAKER, Esq., Publisher, New York.

My Dear Friend: In former times and other lands, when one
wrote a book, he inscribed the volume to some distinguished
personage--a bishop, a baron, a monarch, a magnate in the world of
letters--through whose name it might win its way to popular favor, and
achieve a success hardly to be hoped for from its own merit. Such
overshadowing oaks seemed necessary to shield from sun and storm the
tender undergrowth; and the dew that lay all night upon their branches
the breezy morning shook off in showers of diamonds upon the humbler
herbage at their roots. In an age pre-eminently of self-reliance and a
country characterized no less by personal than political independence,
authors have learned at length to walk alone, marching right into the
heart of the public with no patronage but that of the publisher; and if
a book have not the intrinsic qualities to bear the scorching beams and
freezing blasts of criticism, down it must go amidst the _débris_
of earth's abortive ambitions and ruined hopes. Not so much from
conscious need of help as from high esteem of the noblest personal
qualities, therefore, I beg leave upon this page to couple with my own
a worthier name. Two years ago, when I placed in your trusty hands the
manuscript of Knight-Banneret, I had the least possible idea
of the harvest which might grow from so humble a seed-grain cast into a
very questionable soil. The result was an encouraging disappointment;
and Evangel soon followed, enlarging the horizon of hope; and
Edens of Italy sent a refreshing aroma over all the landscape;
and Coals from the Altar kindled assuring beacon-fires for the
adventurer; and Pauline Charity, supported by Faith and Hope,
walked forth in queenly state. During the publication of these several
productions, so pleasant has been our intercourse--so great your
kindness, candor, courtesy, magnanimity, hospitality, and every other
social virtue--that I look back upon the period as one of the happiest
of my life; and now, at the close of the feast, hoping that our last
bout may be the best, I cordially invite you to share with me Old
Wine and New.

Yours till Paradise,
  JOSEPH CROSS

Nov. 1, 1883.



PREFACE.


Dear Reader: In the preface to Pauline Charity, did
not the writer promise thee that volume should be his last? Some months
later, however, at the bottom of the homiletical barrel, he found a few
old acquaintances, in threadbare and tattered guise, smiling
reproachfully out of the dust of an undeserved oblivion. He beckoned
them forth, gave them new garments, and bade them go to the printer.
And lo! here they are--twenty-two of them--in comely array, with
fresh-anointed locks, knocking modestly at thy door.

If any of the former groups from the same family were deemed worthy of
thy hospitality--if any of the twenty-two Evangelists
gladdened thy soul with good tidings--if any of the twenty-two
Knights-Banneret stimulated thy zeal in the holy conflict--if
any of the twenty white-hooded sisters of Charity warmed thy
heart with words of loving kindness--if any of the sixty seraphs,
winged with sunbeams, laid upon thy lips a Coal from the
Altar--if any of the twelve cherubs, fresh from the Edens of
Italy, led thee through pleasant paths to goodly palaces and
blooming arbors--turn not away unheard these twenty-two strangers, but
welcome them graciously to the fellowship of thy house, and perchance
the morrow's dawn may disclose the wings beneath their robes.

But if tempted to discard them as the vagrant offspring of a senile
vanity thrust out to seek their fortune in the world of letters, know
thou that such temptation is of the Father of lies. For not all of
these are thy patriarch's Benjamins--sons of his old age. The leader of
the band is his very Reuben--the beginning of his strength. Another is
his lion-bannered Judah, washing his garments in the blood of grapes.
In another may be recognized his long-lost Joseph, found at last in
Pharaoh's chariot. And several others, peradventure, more ancient than
thy father, though bearing neither gray beard nor wrinkled brow. And
the consciousness of a better ambition than vanity ever inspired
prompts their commission to the public, to speak a word in season to
him that is weary--to comfort the mourners in Zion, giving them beauty
for ashes, the oil of joy for weeping, the garment of praise for the
spirit of heaviness, and filling the vale of Bochim with songs in the
night. Nay, if the mixture of metaphors be not offensive to thy
fastidious rhetoric, these brethren are sent down into Egypt to procure
corn for thee and thy little ones, O Reader! that ye perish not in the
famine of the land.

"Go to! the tropical language is misleading. We open the door to thy
children, and find nothing but a hamper of Wine--twenty-two
bottles--some labelled Old, and others New."

As thou wilt, my gentle critic! Perhaps twenty-two jars of water only.
Yet healthfully clear, and sweet to the taste, it is hoped thou wilt
find the beverage; and if the Lord, present at the feast, but deign to
look at it, thou mayest wonder that the good wine has been kept till
now.

Of Edward Irving, when he died fifty years ago, a London editor wrote:
"He was the one man of our time who more than all others preached his
life and lived his sermons." To preach one's life were hardly
apostolical, though to live one's sermons might be greatly Christian.
At the former the author never aimed; of the latter there is little
danger of his being suspected. Yet this book is in some sort the record
of his personal history. For a farewell gift to the world, he long
contemplated an autobiography--had actually begun the work, written
more than a hundred pages, and sketched a promising outline of the
whole; when, in an hour of indigestion, becoming disgusted, he dropped
the enterprise, and made his manuscript a burnt offering to the
"blues." As a substitute for the failure, these discourses represent
him in the successive stages of his ministry, being arranged in the
chronological order of production and delivery, with dates and
occasions in footnotes--the only autobiography he could produce, the
only one doubtless to be desired. Should grace divine make it in any
measure effectual to the spiritual illumination of those who honor it
with a perusal, he will sing his _Nunc Dimittis_ with thankful
heart, and wait calmly for the day when every faithful worker "shall
have praise of God." Farewell.

J. C.

Feast of All Saints, 1883.



CONTENTS.


Discourse.

     I. Filial Hope. 1829
    II. Rest for the Weary. 1830
   III. My Beloved and Friend. 1833
    IV. Refuge in God. 1838
     V. Parental Discipline. 1840
    VI. Joy of the Law. 1842
   VII. Sojourning with God. 1858
  VIII. Building for Immortality. 1859
    IX. Wail of Bereavement. 1862
     X. Wisdom and Weapons. 1863
    XI. Love tested. 1866
   XII. Manifold Temptations. 1866
  XIII. Contest and Coronation. 1866
   XIV. Calvary Token. 1866
    XV. Heroism Triumphant. 1868
   XVI. Fraternal Forgiveness. 1869
  XVII. Christ with his Ministers. 1872
 XVIII. Kept from Evil. 1873
   XIX. Contending for the Faith. 1874
    XX. The Fruitless Fig-Tree. 1876
   XXI. Christian Contentment. 1883
  XXII. "Ye know the Grace." 1883



OLD WINE AND NEW.



I.

FILIAL HOPE.[1]

Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we
shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is.--1 John iii. 2.


"I am to depart, you to remain; but which shall have the happier lot,
who can tell?" So spake Socrates to his friends just before he drank
the fatal hemlock. In all the utterances of the ancient philosophy
there is no sadder word. The uncertainty of the hereafter, the
impenetrable gloom that shrouds the state of the departed, sets the
contemplative soul shivering with mortal dread. Like the expiring
Hobbes, more than two thousand years later, the grand old Athenian felt
himself "taking a leap in the dark." In his case, however, there was
more excuse than in that of the modern unbeliever. The dayspring from
on high had not yet visited mankind. The morning star was still below
the horizon. Four centuries must pass before the rising Sun of
righteousness could bring the perfect day. The Christ came, the true
Light of the world; and life and immortality, dawning from his manger,
culminated upon his sepulchre. Redeeming Love has revealed to us more
of God and man than all the sages of antiquity ever knew; and our
reviving and ascending Redeemer has shed a flood of radiance upon the
grave and whatever lies beyond. In the immortal Christ we have a
sufficient answer to the patriarch's question--"If a man die, shall he
live again?" In his mysteriously constituted personality taking our
nature into union with the Godhead, by his vicarious passion ransoming
that nature, and then rising with it from the dead and returning with
it to heaven, he assures all who believe in him of an actual alliance
with the living God and all the blissful immunities of life eternal.
And thus the apostle's statement becomes the best expression of our
filial hope in Christ: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it
doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall
appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."

The ground of our glorious hope as disciples of Christ is found in our
gracious state as sons of God. But is not this the relation of all men?
Originally it was, but is not now. By creation indeed "we all are his
offspring," but not by adoption and regeneration. Sin has cut off from
that original relation the whole progeny of Adam, and disinherited us
of all its rights and privileges. The paternal likeness is effaced from
the human soul. Alienated from the life of God, men have become
children of the wicked One. Only by restoring grace--"a new creation in
Christ Jesus"--can they regain what they have lost. To effect this,
came forth the Only Begotten from the bosom of the Father, and gave
himself upon the cross a ransom for the sinful race. Whosoever
believeth in him is saved, restored, forgiven, renewed after the image
of his Creator in righteousness and true holiness. Jesus himself
preached to Nicodemus the necessity of this new birth, and "born of
God" is the apostolic description of the mighty transformation. More
than any outward ordinance is here expressed--more than mere morality,
or reformation of life--a clean heart created, a right spirit renewed,
the inception of a higher life whereby the soul becomes partaker of the
Divine Nature. All this, through faith in Christ, by the power of the
Holy Ghost. Now there is reconciliation and amity with God--"an
everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure." More; there is
sympathy, and sweet communion, and joyful co-operation, and spiritual
assimilation, and oneness of will and desire, and free access to the
throne of grace in every time of need. "And because ye are sons, God
hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying--Abba,
Father." "And if children, then heirs--heirs of God, and joint-heirs
with Jesus Christ." And oh! what an inheritance awaits us in the
glorious manifestation of our Lord, when all his saints shall be
glorified together with him! For, "it doth not yet appear what we shall
be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for
we shall see him as he is."


Our sonship, you see, is the ground of our hope. Our hope, you will now
see, is worthy of our sonship.

At present, indeed, our glorious destiny is not apparent. By faith we
see it, dim and distant, as through the shepherds' glass; in hope we
wait for it with calm patience, or press toward it with strong desire;
but what it is--"the glory that shall be revealed in us"--we know not,
and cannot know, till mortality shall be swallowed up of life. It is
spiritual; we are carnal. It is heavenly; we are earthly. It is
infinite; we are finite. It is altogether divine: we are but human.
Some of God's artists, as St. Paul and St. John, have given us gorgeous
pictures of it, which we gaze at with shaded eyes; but while we study
them, we cannot help feeling that they fall far short of the copied
original. In our present state, what idea can we form of the condition
of the soul, and the mode of its subsistence, when dislodged from the
body? Nay, what idea can we form of the natural body developing into
the spiritual, and all its rudimental powers unfolding in their
perfection? Or, to speak more accurately and more scripturally, what
idea can we form of the resurrection body, awaking from its long sleep
in the dust, re-organized and re-invested--with new beauties, perhaps
new organs, new senses, new faculties, all glorious in immortality? And
the enfranchised intellect, who can guess the grandeur of its
destiny--what new provinces of thought, new discoveries of truth, new
revelations of science, new disclosures of the mysteries of nature and
of God? And the spirit--the ransomed and purified spirit--who can
imagine what perfection of love, what affluence of joy, what transports
of worship and of song, what society and fellowship with the saints in
light, it shall enjoy when it has entered its eternal rest? We know not
how the statue looks till we see it unveiled; and the whole creation,
as St. Paul writes to the Romans, is waiting for the unveiling of the
sons of God. Now they are his hidden ones--hidden in the shadow of his
wings, in the secret place of his tabernacle--their life hidden with
Christ in God--their character and true glory hidden from the
world--their ineffable destiny and reward hidden from themselves, till
their dear Lord shall appear, and they also shall appear with him in
glory. And well is it that our knowledge of the better world to come is
so obscure and imperfect--necessarily obscure and imperfect, because
God hath graciously revealed only what was essential to our salvation;
for if he had revealed all that he might have revealed--if we could
foresee and comprehend all that awaits us in the blessed everlasting
future--we might have been so dazed and delighted with the splendors of
the vision, as to be incapable of business, unfit for society, and
better out of the world than in it. Wisely, therefore, God hath veiled
the future, even from his saints. The oak is in the acorn, but we
cannot divine its form, and must await its manifestation in the tree.
Yet this we know, saith the apostle--and surely this ought to satisfy
our highest ambition of knowledge--"that when he shall appear, we shall
be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

Appear he certainly will. Let us not lose sight of this blessed hope.
It is his own promise to the disciples on the eve of his departure: "I
will come again, and receive you unto myself; and where I am, there ye
shall be also." And the angels of the ascension reiterate the assurance
to them, as they stand gazing after him from the Mount of Olives: "This
same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like
manner as ye have seen him go into heaven"--that is, visibly,
personally, gloriously, in the clouds, with the holy angels. And what
saith the apostle? "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;
and to them that look for him, he shall appear the second time, without
sin, unto salvation"--the second advent as real as the first, and as
manifest to human sight. To such statements no mystical or figurative
meaning can be given, without violence done to the language. Not in the
destruction of Jerusalem was the prediction fulfilled; nor has it since
been fulfilled, nor ever can be, in any revival or enlargement of the
Church; neither does Jesus come to his disciples at death, but through
death they pass to him. Come at length he will, however, and every eye
shall see him sitting upon the throne of his glory. The redemption of
our humanity by price pledges a further redemption by power, which
cannot be accomplished without his personal return to the ransomed
planet. "And we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is."

That likeness to our Lord must be both corporeal and spiritual. St.
Paul speaks of the whole Church as "waiting for the adoption--to wit,
the redemption of the body;" and elsewhere states that the Saviour for
whom we look "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like
unto his own glorious body"--spiritualizing the natural, sublimating
the material, endowing the physical organism with powers like his own,
and adorning the long-dishonored dust with the radiant beauty of
immortality. Yet more wonderful must be the change wrought upon the
intellectual and spiritual nature. To be like "God manifest in the
flesh"--what is it but to realize a mental development and maturity far
transcending all that the wisest ever attained to in this mortal state,
perpetual union of our redeemed humanity with the Divinity, and a
blissful process of assimilation going on forever? Christ is light
without darkness; and to be like him implies a clearness of
understanding and a certitude of truth free from all prejudice,
distortion, and blinding error. Christ is divine charity incarnate; and
to be like him is to love as he loved--with the ardor, the intensity,
the self-forgetfulness, which drew him to the manger and led him to the
cross. Christ is immaculate holiness made visible to men; and to be
like him is to be as spotless, as faultless, as free from iniquity,
perversity, hypocrisy, impurity, as He who could challenge the world
with the demand--"Which of you convinceth me of sin?" Christ is every
moral excellence combined and blended in human character; and to be
like him is to be subject to all those high principles and noble
impulses which give him infinite preeminence as a model to mankind, and
make him in angelic estimation "the fairest among ten thousand and
altogether lovely." Christ is the King whom God the Father hath exalted
above all powers and principalities even in heavenly places; and to be
like him is to reign with him, partners of his glory upon an
imperishable throne, when all the dominions of earth shall have passed
away as a forgotten dream. All this, and much beside that no human
imagination can conceive, is manifestly comprehended in the apostolic
statement, that "he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and
admired in all them that believe"--men and angels, the whole universe,
beholding in every disciple a perfect _facsimile_ of the glorified
Master. And thus the declaration is triumphantly verified: "We know
that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him
as he is."

Spirit is invisible. In his essence, we shall never see God. That men
might see him, he became incarnate in human flesh. Except in the person
of Jesus Christ, his creatures will never see him. But even Christ is
far away, gone back to heaven, and seen only by faith. Often, no doubt,
his disciples wish they could see him with their eyes of flesh; but
they never will till his promised personal return. With the apostle,
they are ever thinking and speaking of him whom, not having seen, they
love; in whom, though now they see him not, yet believing, they rejoice
with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But often, looking at him even
by faith through the disturbing and distorting media of prejudice and
passion, they make sad mistakes about him, about his complex nature,
his divine perfections, his human character, his former work in the
flesh, his present mediation with the Father, his spiritual relation to
the Church, his headship over the redeemed creation. We can appreciate
another only through his like within ourselves, our sympathy with his
moral qualities. Wanting such sympathy, vice never appreciates virtue,
the carnal never discerns the spiritual, the selfish never understands
the benevolent and disinterested. Failing to discover the true
substratum of character, they mistake motives, ridicule peculiarities,
and give no credit for qualities which they cannot perceive. Thus,
through the imperfection of our sympathy with the Saviour, or the utter
want of such sympathy, even when we regard him by faith, we see him not
as he is. Ask the world, "What think ye of Christ?" you will get a
great variety of answers. One will tell you he is a myth, a phantom, a
creation of genius, that never had a real historic existence. Another
will call him a pretender, an impostor, a false prophet, utterly
unworthy of human credit and confidence. Another pronounces him an
amiable enthusiast, and a very good man; but self-deceived as to his
mission and ministry, and not a teacher sent from God. Another deems
him a wise moralist, enunciating principles and precepts such as the
world never heard before; and in his life, an example of all that is
pure and excellent; but not essential and eternal God, nor a vicarious
sacrifice for human sin. But here is one who regards him as supremely
divine, and yet "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the
world;" and, by the nail-prints in his palms and the thorn-marks on his
brow, so shall he be recognized when he cometh in his kingdom, and the
nations of the quickened dead go marching to his throne. All mistakes
about him will thus be corrected; and those who have seen him only
through a glass darkly, shall see him face to face; and all who have
loved and honored him as their Saviour, and trusted in him as their
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, awaking in his
likeness from the dust, shall begin the antiphon which preludes the
eternal song: "This is our God! we have waited for him, and he will
save us! This is the Lord! we have waited for him, we will be glad and
rejoice in his salvation!" Oh that we all may then be found like him,
and see him as he is!



[1] The author's first sermon, preached at Pompey Hill, Onondaga
County, N.Y., on the sixteenth anniversary of his nativity, July 4,
1829--written afterwards, and often repeated during the fifty-four
years of his ministry--the thought here faithfully reproduced, the
language but little changed.



II.

REST FOR THE WEARY.[1]

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.--Matt. xi. 28.


A fine legend is related of St. Jerome. Many years he dwelt in
Bethlehem, the town of his dear Lord's nativity. Hard by was the cave,
formerly occupied as a stable, in which the blessed Babe was born. Here
the holy man spent many a night in prayer and meditation. During one of
these--waking or sleeping, we know not--he saw the divine Infant, a
vision of most radiant beauty. Overwhelmed with love and wonder, the
saint exclaimed: "What shall I give thee, sweet child? I will give thee
all my gold!" "Heaven and earth are mine," answered the lovely
apparition, "and I have need of nothing; but give thy gold to my poor
disciples, and I will accept it as given to myself." "Willingly, O
blessed Jesus! will I do this," replied the saint; "but something I
must give thee for thyself, or I shall die of sorrow!" "Give me, then,
thy sins," rejoined the Christ, "thy troubled conscience, thy burden of
condemnation!" "What wilt thou do with them, dear Jesus?" asked Jerome
in sweet amazement. "I will take them all upon myself," was the reply;
"gladly will I bear thy sins, quiet thy conscience, blot out thy
condemnation, and give thee my own eternal peace." Then began the holy
man to weep for joy, saying: "Ah, sweet Saviour! how hast thou touched
my heart! I thought thou wouldst have something good from me; but no,
thou wilt have only the evil! Take, then, what is mine, and grant me
what is thine; so am I helped to everlasting life!"


This, my dear brethren, is what Jesus, with unspeakable compassion,
offers to do for us all. He would have us bring the several burdens
under which we toil and faint, and lay them down at his feet. Pardon
for guilt he would give us, peace for trouble, assurance for doubt and
fear, and for all our fruitless agony divine repose. See how miserably
men mistake his gospel, when they regard it merely as a set of
doctrines to be believed, of duties to be performed, of ceremonies to
be observed, instead of a mercy to be received, a blessing to be
enjoyed, a salvation offered for our acceptance. It is indeed the
unspeakable gift of God, the sovereign remedy of all our ills; in
which, as rational and immortal beings, fallen in Adam, but redeemed by
Christ, we have an infinite interest. There is a tenderness in the
invitation, combined with a moral sublimity, demanding for its
utterance the melody of an angel's tongue, with the accompaniment of a
seraph's harp; and we ought to listen to the words of Jesus to-day with
a faith, a love, a joy, such as Simon, James and John never knew, nor
the pardoned sinner of Magdala, sitting in rapt wonder at the Master's
feet. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest."


How suitable was this address to those who first heard it, laboring and
heavy laden with the costly rites and burdensome observances of the
Levitical law! Those rites and observances required a large portion of
their time and a larger expenditure of money; yet of their real nature
and meaning the common people knew very little, and therefore felt them
to be a burden which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear.
Types and symbols they were of better things to come; but they could
not take away sin, nor quiet a troubled conscience, nor give any
assurance of the reconciliation and favor of Heaven. For this, God must
be manifested in human flesh, the Prince of peace must come and set up
his kingdom among men, by the blood of his sacrifice redeeming us from
the curse of the violated law, and securing an eternal salvation to all
them that obey him. Jesus here assures the Jews that he is what John
the Baptist has already proclaimed him--"the Lamb of God that taketh
away the sins of the world." It is as if he had said: "Come away from
your bloody altars and sacrificial fires. These are but the shadows, of
which I am the substance; the prophecies, of which I am the fulfilment.
In me they all find their meaning and their virtue, and by my mission
as the promised Saviour they are set aside forever. Come unto me, and I
will give you rest."


Some there were, no doubt, among the hearers of Jesus, who were
laboring and heavy laden with vain efforts to justify themselves by the
deeds of the law. The Jews imagined that by doing more than their duty
they could make God their debtor, and by extra acts of piety and mercy
insure their own salvation as a matter of sheer justice. And even among
Christians, who profess to take Christ as their only Saviour and his
merit as the only ground of their justification before God, are there
not many who are not altogether free from this Pharisaic leaven,
endeavoring by their moral virtues and perfect obedience to make amends
for the errors and delinquencies of the past? But creature merit is
absurd, sinful merit impossible, and "by the deeds of the law shall no
flesh be justified." The creature belongs to the Creator; and loving
the Creator with all his soul, and serving the Creator with all his
energies, and continuing that love and service without fault or failure
throughout all the immortal duration of his being, he merely renders to
God his own, and is still an unprofitable servant. But the sinner,
already in arrears of duty to the Creator, can never, by yielding to
God what is always due even from sinless creatures, satisfy the demands
of the law upon its transgressor; and without some other means and
method of pardon, which the divine wisdom alone can reveal, the old
debt remains uncancelled upon the books, and no power can avert the
penalty. Moreover, the sinner by his sin becomes incapable of offering
to God any true love or acceptable service without divine grace
prevening and co-operating to that end, so that no possible credit can
accrue to human virtue and obedience, but all the glory must redound to
God. Christ calls us away from all such futile hopes and fruitless
endeavors. "I am your Saviour," he saith; "by no other name can you be
saved; by no other medium can you come to the Father; through no merit
but mine can you obtain absolution from your guilt; through no
sacrifice or intercession but mine can you know that peace and purity
for which you have hitherto striven and struggled in vain; come unto
me, and I will give you rest."


And still another class, found in every large gathering of men and
women, especially wherever the dayspring from on high hath dawned,
there must have been among these hearers of the divine Preacher--those,
namely, who were laboring and heavy laden with the conscious burden of
their guilt. True it is, indeed, that such as are going on still in
their trespasses do not commonly feel their sins to be a burden. They
rejoice in them, and roll them as a sweet morsel under their tongues,
talking of them as if it were a fine thing to be foolish and an honor
to be infamous. But when the law of God is effectually brought home to
the understanding and the heart--when they see themselves in the light
of the divine holiness, and the whole inner man seems converted into
conscience--then they feel that sin "is an evil and exceeding bitter
thing," and cry out with the terrified Philippian, "What must I do to
be saved?" or exclaim with the awakened and illuminated Saul, "Oh!
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this
death?" or, smiting a guilty breast, pray with the publican of the
parable, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

                  "As writhes the gross
  Material part when in the furnace cast,
  So writhes the soul the victim of remorse!
  Remorse--a fire that on the verge of God's
  Commandment burns, and on the vitals feeds
  Of all who pass!"[2]

And remorse is accompanied with terror, and fearful apprehensions of
the wrath to come. Condemned already, the affrighted sinner sees a more
formidable sword than that of Damocles hanging over his head. Amidst
all his carnal pleasures and social enjoyments, he is like that prince
of Norway, who went to his wedding festival well knowing that it would
end in his execution; and at the altar, and in the gay procession, and
over the table loaded with luxuries, and through palatial halls strewed
with flowers and ringing with music and merriment, saw everywhere and
heard continually the preparations for the fatal hour. The agony of
such a situation how can we imagine? I once knew an awakened sinner who
described himself as enclosed in the centre of a granite mountain, no
room to move a muscle, no seam or crevice through which one ray of
light could reach him--picture of utter helplessness and absolute
despair! Ah! my brethren! He who made the granite may dissolve it, or
reduce the solid mountain to dust! And is there any guilt or misery
from which the Mighty to save cannot deliver the soul that trusts in
him? Your sin may be great, but his mercy is greater. Your enemies may
threaten, but has he not conquered them and nailed them to his cross?
To whom, then, will you apply for help, but to your divine and
all-sufficient Saviour? Go not to human philosophy,

  "Which leads to bewilder and dazzles to blind,"

but cannot satisfy the mind nor tranquillize the conscience. Go not to
the ritual law of Israel, which could never make the comers thereunto
perfect; nor to the blessed saints and martyrs, none of whom can avail
you as mediators between your sinful souls and God; nor depend upon
sacraments and sermons, for these can aid you only as they bring you
into spiritual contact with Christ, the light and life of the world.
Hear him calling--rise and obey the call--"Come unto me, all ye that
labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."


Rest is a pleasant word--how pleasant to the husbandman, toiling on
through the long summer day! how pleasant to the traveller, pressing
forward with his load to the end of his tedious journey! how pleasant
to the mariner, after tossing for weeks on stormy seas, stepping upon
his native shore and hasting away to his childhood's home! how pleasant
to the warrior, when, having won the last battle of his last campaign,
he returns with an honorable discharge to his mother's cottage among
the hills! Rest is what we all want, and what Jesus offers to the weary
and heavy laden soul. I saw a young lady bowed down with grief at the
memory of her sins; and when I spoke to her, she looked up with a smile
that made rainbows on her tears, and said: "O sir! I have had more
happiness weeping over my sins for the last half hour than I ever had
in sinning through all my life!" And if

  "The seeing eye, the feeling sense,
  The mystic joys of penitence,"

have in them so much sweetness for the soul, what shall we say of

  "The speechless awe that dares not move,
  And all the silent heaven of love!"

It is the rest of conscious pardon and satisfied desire; the rest of
faith, seeing the invisible and grasping the infinite; of hope,
reposing in the infallible promise and anticipating a blissful
immortality; of resignation, losing its own will in the will of God,
and leaving all things to the disposal of the divine wisdom and
goodness; of perfect confidence and trust, saying with St. Paul: "I
know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that, he is able to keep
that which I have committed unto him against that day." Christ is the
love of God incarnate in our nature; and where shall the loving John
find rest, but in the bosom of the Eternal Love? And, tossed by many a
tempest, or racked with keenest pain, why should not the weary and
heavy-laden disciple of the divine Man of sorrows sing like one of his
faithful servants whose flesh and spirit were being torn asunder by
anguish:--

  "Yet, gracious God, amid these storms of nature,
  Thine eyes behold a sweet and sacred calm
  Reign through the realm of conscience. All within
  Lies peaceful, all composed. 'Tis wondrous grace
  Keeps off thy terrors from this humble bosom,
  Though stained with sins and follies, yet serene
  In penitential peace and cheerful hope,
  Sprinkled and guarded with atoning blood.
  Thy vital smiles amid this desolation,
  Like heavenly sunbeams hid behind the clouds,
  Break out in happy moments. With bright radiance
  Cleaving the gloom, the fair celestial light
  Softens and gilds the horrors of the storm,
  And richest cordial to the heart conveys.
  Oh! glorious solace of immense distress!
  A conscience and a God! This is my rock
  Of firm support, my shield of sure defence
  Against infernal arrows. Rise, my soul!
  Put on thy courage! Here's the living spring
  Of joys divinely sweet and ever new--
  A peaceful conscience and a smiling Heaven!
  My God! permit a sinful worm to say,
  Thy Spirit knows I love thee. Worthless wretch!
  To dare to love a God! Yet grace requires,
  And grace accepts. Thou seest my laboring mind.
  Weak as my zeal is, yet my zeal is true;
  It bears the trying furnace. I am thine,
  By covenant secure. Incarnate Love
  Hath seized, and holds me in almighty arms.
  What can avail to shake me from my trust?
  Amidst the wreck of worlds and dying nature,
  I am the Lord's, and he forever mine!"[3]


Hear ye, then, the loving words of Jesus. The invitation is unlimited;
the grace is free for all. No sin is too great to be forgiven, no
burden too heavy to be removed, no power in earth or hell able to keep
you back from Christ. However dark your minds, however hard your
hearts, however dead your spirits, hear and answer: "I will arise and
go!"

  "Just as I am, without one plea,
  But that thy blood was shed for me,
  And that thou bidst me come to thee,
      O Lamb of God, I come!"

Lo! with outstretched arms he hastes to meet you, with tokens of
welcome and the kiss of peace.

  "Ready for you the angels wait,
  To triumph in your blest estate;
  Tuning their harps, they long to praise
  The wonders of redeeming grace."

All heaven, with expectant joy, awaits your coming. Come, and satisfy
the soul that travailed for you in Olivet! Come, and gladden the heart
that broke for you upon the cross! Come, and at the nail-pierced feet
find your eternal rest!



[1] Preached in Syracuse, N.Y., 1830; at Weston-super-Mare,
Somersetshire, Eng., 1857.]

[2] Pollok.

[3] Isaac Watts in his last illness.



III.

MY BELOVED AND FRIEND.[1]

This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of
Jerusalem!--Song of Sol. v. 16.


By the ablest interpreters and critics of Holy Scripture, the Song of
Solomon has generally been regarded as an epithalamium, or nuptial
canticle. But, like many other parts of the sacred volume, doubtless,
it has a mystical and secondary application, which is more important
than the literal and primary. The true Solomon is Christ, and the
Church is his beautiful Shulamite. In this chapter, the Bride sings the
glory of her divine Spouse, and our text concludes the description. But
what is thus true of the Church in her corporate capacity, is true also
of her individual members; and without its verification in their
personal experience, it could not be thoroughly verified in the organic
whole. Every regenerate and faithful soul may say of the heavenly
Bridegroom: "This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of
Jerusalem!"


Christ for a beloved--the Son of God for a friend! What nobler theme
could occupy our thoughts? what sublimer privilege invest the saints in
light?


So constituted is man, that love and friendship are necessary to his
happiness, almost essential to his existence. Accumulate in your
coffers the wealth of all kingdoms, and gather into your diadems the
glories of the greatest empires. Bid every continent, island and ocean
bring forth their hidden treasures, and pour the sparkling tribute at
your feet. Subsidize and appropriate whatever is precious in the solar
planets or magnificent in the stellar jewellery of heaven, and hold it
all by an immortal tenure. Yet, without at least one kindred spirit to
whom you might communicate your joy, one congenial soul from whom you
might claim sympathy in your sorrow, the loveless heart were still
unsatisfied--

  "The friendless master of the worlds were poor!"


Among the children of men, however, love and friendship, in one respect
or another, will always be found defective, liable to many
irregularities and interruptions, painful suspicions and sad
infirmities, which mar their beauty, tarnish their purity, and imbitter
their consolations, turning the ambrosia into wormwood and the nectar
into gall. Sometimes they are manifest only in words, and smiles, and
hollow courtesies, and other external tokens; while the heart is as
void of all true affection and confidence as the whitewashed sepulchre
is of life and beauty. Beginning with flattery, they often proceed by
hypocrisy, and end in betrayal. Or if there be sincerity in the outset,
it may prove as impotent as childhood, as changeful as autumn winds, or
as fleeting as the morning cloud. Or if not destroyed by some trivial
offence, or suffered to die of cold neglect, their ties are clipped at
length by the shears of fate, and no love or friendship is possible in
the everlasting banishment of the unblest.


But amidst all the sad uncertainties of human attachments, how pleasant
it is to know that "there is a Friend who sticketh closer than a
brother"--a Beloved whose affection is sincere, ardent, unchanging,
imperishable--who can neither deceive nor forsake those who have
entered into covenant with him--from whom death itself will not divide
us, but bring us to a nearer and sweeter fellowship with him than we
are capable now of imagining! Enoch walked with God till he was less
fit for earth than for heaven, and St. John leaned upon the heart of
Jesus till his own pulse beat in unison with the divine. Drawn into
this blissful communion, every true disciple becomes one spirit with
the Lord. Christ calls his servants friends, receives them into his
confidence, and reveals to them the secrets of his kingdom. Not ashamed
to own them now, he will confess them hereafter before his Father and
the holy angels. "They shall be mine," saith he, "in that day when I
make up my jewels." And the happy Bride, dwelling with ineffable
delight upon the perfections of her Spouse, and anticipating the
fulfilment of his promise when he cometh in his glory, concludes her
song of joy with the declaration--"This is my beloved, and this is my
friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."


What, then, are the conditions on which such intimacy of the soul with
Christ is to be established? Nothing is required but what is in the
very nature of things necessary. Prophet, Priest and King, he can take
into amicable alliance with him only such as respect and honor him in
these relations. The prophet cannot be the beloved and the friend of
those who refuse to hear his word; nor the priest, of those who reject
his sacrifice and intercession; nor the king, of those who are still in
arms against his gracious government. We must love him, if we would
have his love; we must show ourselves friendly, if we would enjoy his
friendship. Having died to redeem us, he ever lives to plead for us,
and by a thousand ambassadors he offers us his love and friendship;
but, no response on our part, no sympathy or co-operation, how can we
call him our beloved and our friend? "Can two walk together except they
be agreed?" There must be reconciliation and assimilation. We must
submit to Christ's authority, and co-operate with his mercy. We must
love what he loves, and hate what he hates. His friends must be our
friends, and his enemies our enemies. The world, the flesh, and the
devil, we must for his sake renounce; reckoning ourselves dead indeed
unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Does not
St. Paul tell us that as many as have been baptized into Christ have
put on Christ?[2] What does he mean? That in baptism we not only enter
into covenant with Christ, but also assume his character, and profess
our serious purpose to walk as he walked, conformed to his perfect
example, and governed by the same divine principles. As when one puts
on the peculiar habit of the Benedictines or the Franciscans, he
declares his intention to obey the rules and copy the life of St.
Benedict or St. Francis, the founders of those orders; so, in putting
on the Christian habit when you are baptized, you avow yourself the
disciple of Christ, and openly declare your death thenceforth to sin
and your new birth to righteousness. And without any thing in your
heart and life corresponding to such a reality, how can you say of
Jesus--"This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of
Jerusalem!"


But where there are no attractive qualities, there can be neither love
nor friendship. Something there must be to inspire affection and
confidence. In our divine Beloved resides every mental grace and every
moral virtue. Our heavenly Friend is "the fairest among ten thousand
and altogether lovely." Of the excellency of Christ all the charms of
nature afford but the faintest images, and poetry and eloquence falter
in the celebration of his praise. I ask your attention here to a few
particulars.

Jesus is always perfectly sincere. With him there are no shams, no mere
pretences, no unmeaning utterances of love or friendship. All is real,
all is most significant, and there are depths in his heart which no
line but God's can fathom.

And his ardor is equal to his sincerity. "Behold how he loved him!"
said the Jews when they saw him weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. "Behold
how he loveth them!" say the angels when they witness the far more
wonderful manifestations of his friendship for the saints. Let the
profane speak of Damon and Pythias, and the pious talk of David and
Jonathan; there is no other heart like that of Jesus Christ, no other
bond so strong as that which binds him to his disciples.

And his disinterestedness is commensurate with his ardor. In human
friendships we often detect some selfish end; Christ seeks not his own
glory or profit, but sacrifices himself for our salvation. No earthly
affection is greater than that which lays down life for a friend;
Christ died for us while we were yet enemies, upon the cross prayed for
those who nailed him there, and from the throne still offers eternal
life to those who are constantly crucifying him afresh and putting him
to open shame. And in all his gracious fellowship with those who love
him, it is their good he seeks, their honor he consults, their great
and endless comfort he wishes to secure.

And not less wonderful are his patience and forbearance toward them.
How meekly he endured the imperfections of the chosen twelve as long as
he remained with them in the flesh! How tenderly he bore their
misconceptions of his purpose, their misconstructions of his language,
their fierce and fiery tempers, their slowness of heart to believe! How
beautifully his patience carried him through all his life of suffering,
and sustained him in the bitter anguish of the cross! And since his
return to heaven, how often, and in how many ways, have his redeemed
people put his forbearance to the proof! Try any other friend as you
try Jesus, and see how long he will endure it. But our divine Beloved
will not faint nor be weary, till he have accomplished in us his work
of grace, and brought us in safety to his Father's house.

And who ever matched him in beneficence and bounty? "He is able," saith
the apostle, "to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think."
His ability is as large as his love, and that is immeasurable and
inconceivable. Other friends, loving us sincerely, may want power to
help us; he hath all power in heaven and earth. They may be far away in
the time of need; he saith--"Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end
of the world." As the vine gives its life to the branches, as the
shepherd gives his time and care to the sheep, as the monarch gives
riches and honors to his favorites, as the royal spouse gives himself
and all he has to his chosen bride, so gives Christ to his elect,
making them joint-heirs with himself to all that he inherits as the
only begotten Son of God--unspeakable grace now, eternal glory
hereafter! "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is
God's!"

And what confiding intimacy find we in this heavenly friendship! The
father, the brother, the husband, live in the same house, occupy the
same room, eat and drink at the same table, with their beloved; Christ
comes into our hearts, takes up his abode there, and feasts with us,
and we with him. "Shall I hide from Abraham," said Jehovah, "the thing
that I do?" "therefore Abraham was called the friend of God." "The
secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," saith the Psalmist,
"and he will show them his covenant." "Henceforth I call you not
servants," said Jesus to the twelve, "but I have called you friends,
for whatsoever I have received of my Father I have made known unto
you." "Eye hath not seen," writes St. Paul, "nor ear heard, neither
have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
for them that love him; but God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit;
for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." Every
true disciple, like Ignatius, carries the Crucified in his heart, and
knows and comprehends with all saints, the lengths and breadths and
depths and heights of the love that passeth knowledge, being filled
with the fulness of God.

And all this is unfailing and everlasting. Having loved his own who
were in the world, Christ loved them unto the end, loved them still
upon his cross, and ceased not to love them when he left them and
returned to the Father, but remembered his promise to pray for them,
and to send them another Comforter who should abide with them forever,
and finally to come again and receive them unto himself, that where he
is they might be also. Nearly nineteen centuries are past since he
ascended whence he came, and still the promise holds good, and the
lapse of ages has not diminished his affection, and to-day he loves his
friends as tenderly as when he talked so sweetly with the little flock
at the Last Supper and along the path to Olivet. Death, which dissolves
all other friendships, confirms this forever. "I have a desire to
depart," wrote the heroic Christian prisoner from Rome--"I have a
desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better." Not long
had the dear old man to wait. One morning--the 29th of June, A.D.
68--the door of his dungeon opened, St. Paul went forth, walked a mile
along the way to Ostia, with his hands bound behind him knelt down, the
sweep of a sword gleamed over him like the flash of an angel's wing,
and the servant was with his Lord!


Thus, dear brethren, we see the incomparable qualities of our Beloved,
the divine excellences of our Friend. Perfect wisdom is here, perfect
knowledge, perfect prudence, perfect justice, perfect purity, perfect
benevolence, perfect magnanimity, with immutability and
immortality--whatever is necessary to win and hold the heart--all
blending in the character of Christ. Is he not the very friend we need?
How, without him, can we bear to live or dare to die? What are riches,
culture, power, splendor, without his love? What can our poor human
friends do for us in the hour of death? What could worlds of such
friends do for us in the day of judgment? "In the name of the Lord is
strong confidence, and his children shall have a place of refuge." Flee
away, ye heavens! Dissolve, thou earth! and vanish! It is my Beloved
that cometh with his chariots! It is my Friend that sitteth upon the
throne!

Oh! my brethren! Christ Jesus loves to make new friends, though he
never abandons the old. Let us accept his gracious overtures, and join
ourselves unto the Lord in an everlasting covenant. The poorest and
vilest of us all would he take home to his heart, and love him freely
and forever. The most unworthy of all the human race would he gladly
introduce to the fellowship of saints and the innumerable company of
angels, and seat the pardoned sinner at his side upon the throne. Oh!
when I enter the metropolis, and hail the immortal millions of the
blood-washed, and kneel to kiss the nail-pierced feet of the King,
while all the harps and voices that have welcomed me go silent for his
gracious salutation, with what rapture, as I rise, shall I look round
upon the happy multitude and say--"This is my beloved, and this is my
friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!"



[1] Preached at a wedding festival, 1833.

[2] Gal. iii. 27.



IV.

REFUGE IN GOD.[1]

Be thou my strong rock, for a house of defence to save
me.--Ps. xxxi. 2.


On a superb arch in one of the halls of the Alhambra, the traveller
reads as he enters: "I seek my refuge in the Lord of the morning." The
sentiment is worthy of Holy Scripture, whence doubtless it was taken by
the writer of the Koran. More than two thousand years earlier than
Mohammed, Moses had said to the beloved tribes, just before he ascended
to his mountain death-bed: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and
underneath thee are the everlasting arms." And how often does King
David, environed with dangers and oppressed with sorrows, comfort
himself with the assurance of an almighty protection and support! "Thou
art my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in
whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my
high tower." "In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion;
in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up
upon a rock; and now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies that
are round about me." "Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong
tower from the enemy; I will abide in thy tabernacle forever, I will
trust in the covert of thy wings." "Thou art my hiding-place: thou wilt
preserve me from trouble; thou wilt compass me about with songs of
deliverance." And so in a hundred other passages of his psalms, and
notably in the words we have chosen as the basis of this discourse: "Be
thou my strong rock, for a house of defence to save me." In all such
utterances, there seems to be some reference to the Hebrew cities of
refuge, whither the manslayer fled from the avenger of blood, where he
remained unmolested till he could have an impartial hearing, and
whence, if found innocent of premeditated murder, he finally came forth
acquitted amidst the congratulations of his family and friends. Here is
the double idea of escape from persecution and security from
punishment; and with reference to both these, the psalmist seeks his
refuge in the Lord of the morning.


The first idea is refuge from persecution. David's persecutions were
varied, and violent, and long continued. How sadly he tells the story,
and pours out his melting soul in song! Deceitful and bloody men, full
of all subtlety and malignity, compassed him about like bees, like
strong bulls of Bashan, like a troop of lions from the desert. Daily
they imagined mischief against him, and consulted together to cast him
down from his excellency. They laid to his charge things which he knew
not. To the spoiling of his soul, they rewarded him evil for good. With
hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon him with their teeth.
As with a sword in his bones, they reproached him; saying continually,
"Where is now thy God?" In his adversity they openly rejoiced, and with
his misfortunes made themselves merry. They persecuted him whom God had
smitten, and talked to the grief of him whom the Most High had wounded.
With cruel hatred they hated him; yea, they tore him in pieces, and
ceased not.

With these woful complaints agree the recorded facts of his life. One
while we see him pursued like a partridge upon the mountains by the
royal army, with his royal father-in-law at its head; from whom he
escapes only by frequent flight, concealment in caverns, and weary
sojourn at the court of a pagan king. And later in life we behold him
driven from his throne, and chased from house and hold, by his own
insurgent son; while Shimmei comes forth to curse the weeping fugitive,
and cast stones at the Lord's anointed; and Ahithophel, his former
familiar friend and courtly _confidant_, with whom he has often
taken sweet counsel and walked in the house of God, lifts up the heel
against him, and basely goes over to the standard of the conspirators.

No wonder he exclaims, as with the sigh of a breaking heart: "Save me,
O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire,
where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the
floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying; my throat is dried; mine
eyes fail, while I wait for my God. They that hate me without cause are
more than the hairs of my head; they that would destroy me, being mine
enemies wrongfully, are mighty.... Thou hast known my reproach, and my
shame, and my dishonor. Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of
heaviness. And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and
for comforters, but I found none."[2] "I mourn in my complaint and make
a noise, because of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked;
for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. My heart is
sore pained within me, and the terrors of death are fallen upon me;
fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed
me. Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I flee away, and be
at rest; lo! then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness;
I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest."[3]

Vain wish, O disquieted and trembling soul! No wings, no distance, no
solitude, can save thee. Nearer at hand thou shalt find thy refuge,
even in the Lord of the morning. And well knows the persecuted king
where to look for succor and consolation. "O Lord, my God! in thee do I
put my trust. Save me from them that persecute me, and deliver me; lest
he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none
to deliver."[4] "Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, O thou that
savest by thy right hand them that put their trust in thee from those
who rise up against them! Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me
under the shadow of thy wing, from the wicked that oppress me, from my
deadly enemies who compass me about."[5] "Plead my cause, O Lord! with
them that strive with me; fight against them that fight against me.
Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help; draw out
also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me. Say
unto my soul, I am thy salvation."[6]

How expressive is all this of utter helplessness, and reliance upon the
living God! What fervent prayer is here! what faith in a personal power
and a special providence which no human agency can baffle or resist!
Proud mortals! talk no more of the strong will, the valiant arm, the
dauntless courage, and your own self-sufficiency! "Cursed is the man
that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." "Trust ye in the Lord
forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." What is the
strategy of generals and the prowess of armies, to him "who rideth upon
the heavens in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky"? Faith as a
grain of mustard-seed is better than all your military science, and the
prayer of the humblest peasant is mightier than embattled millions. The
prayer of faith divides the sea, cleaves the granite, marshals the
troops of the tempest, and makes the angels of God our allies. "When I
call upon thee, then shall mine enemies be put to flight; this I know,
for God is on my side." Such is David's confidence; such, my brethren,
be ours! Is not every attribute of Jehovah in league with the devout
believer, and all his infinite resources pledged to the support of his
servants? And without any doubt of a divine hearing or fear of ultimate
failure, every persecuted Christian may pray to the God of David: "Be
thou my strong rock, for a house of defence to save me."


The second idea is refuge from punishment. The chief element of David's
distress is a painful consciousness of guilt. It is conscience that
wrings the wormwood for him into every cup of sorrow. It is remorse for
past transgression that turns his tears into gall and makes his
persecutions intolerable. Pure and innocent, he might defy his enemies,
he might glory in tribulations. But he is forced to regard the wicked
as God's sword for the punishment of his sins; and in all his pleadings
we hear the voice of the penitent--sad confessions, bitter
self-reproaches, touching appeals to the mercy of Heaven. "Lord, what
wait I for? My hope is in thee. Deliver me from my transgressions; make
me not a reproach of the foolish.... Remove thy stroke away from me; I
am consumed by the blow of thy hand."[7] "Deliver me out of the mire,
and let me not sink. Let not the water-flood overflow me, neither let
the deep swallow me up. Hear me, O Lord! for thy loving-kindness is
good. Turn unto me, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies;
and hide not thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble. Hear me
speedily."[8]

A good man, we all know, may be surprised by temptation, and so fall
into grievous sin. Thus some of God's holiest servants have committed
enormous crimes. Not the single or occasional act, however, constitutes
character; but the habit of a man's life--his dominant impulse and
prevailing tendency. To judge St. Peter, for example, by the one
solitary instance of defection, were manifestly unfair; when his whole
course, up to that moment, and ever afterward, was marked by
uncompromising fidelity to the Master, with the most heroic daring and
enduring in his service. Far more just were it to estimate the man by
the tears which he wept when the reproving glance brought home the
guilt to his conscience, and by his subsequent earnest endeavors to
undo the evil he had done and honor the Saviour he had denied.

Apply this principle to the royal penitent. Who ever more truly loved
God, or more honestly sought to serve him? Was not holy obedience the
tenor and tendency of his life? If he erred in numbering the people--if
he took Uriah's wife to his bosom, and slew the husband to conceal the
crime--it was under the power of peculiar temptation, which we, having
never experienced, are quite incapable of estimating; and those
deplorable deeds are the only recorded exceptions--the manifest violent
contradictions--to a long life of singular piety, purity and
uprightness. And now, made sensible of his sin, mark you how bitterly
he grieves for it, and how earnestly he groans for its forgiveness:--

"Have mercy upon me, O God! according to thy loving-kindness; according
to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For
I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against
thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that
thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou
judgest.... Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I
shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the
bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God!
and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy
salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach
transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God! thou God of my salvation! and
my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness."[9]

What keen remorse and penitential shame are here! Was there ever a more
ingenuous confession, a more thorough contrition, a more profound
humility, or a more utter self-despair? The royal sinner seems to see
the sin in all its hideousness, and to hate it with unutterable hatred.
He seeks no subterfuge, attempts no extenuation; but charges the guilt
home, with all its aggravations, upon his own soul. Never can he
forgive his folly, nor weep tears, enough to express his sorrow for the
fault.

Would to Heaven we might all thus feel our guilt, and haste to the
shelter of the divine mercy! Sinners--great sinners--are we all. Is
there one of us that has not sinned more deeply than David ever did?
And, instead of being an exceptional act, our sin has been the habit of
our lives. Justice, with double-flaming sword, is hard upon our heels.
What shall we do, or whither turn, for safety? To thee, O Crucified
Love! we come; and, with broken hearts, cast ourselves down at thy
feet. All other saviours we renounce: all other merits we disclaim; all
other sacrifices we abjure. Thou of God art made unto us wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Perishing, we implore
thy mercy. Take us to the arms that were stretched upon the cross. Hide
us in the heart that was opened by the soldier's spear. When we faint
in the valley of the shadow of death, let us feel the assuring pressure
of the nail-pierced hand. When the heavens are flaming above and the
earth is dissolving beneath, "be thou our strong rock, for a house of
defence to save us"!



[1] Preached in Ithaca, N.Y., 1838.

[2] Ps. lxix. 1-4, 19, 20.

[3] Ps. lv. 2-8.

[4] Ps. vii. 1, 2.

[5] xvii. 7, 8.

[6] xxxv. 1-3.

[7] Ps. xxxvii, 7, 8, 10.

[8] Ps. lxix. 14-17.

[9] Ps. li. 1-4, 7-14.



V.

PARENTAL DISCIPLINE.[1]

His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.--1
Sam. iii. 13.


Few things in the Bible are more beautiful than the child-life of
Samuel. A gift of the loving God to a devout but sorrowful woman, his
mother gladly gave him back to the Giver, and he ministered before the
Lord in the sanctuary at Shiloh. At that time Eli was both high-priest
and magistrate in Israel. As a man of God, and to him much more than a
father, Samuel seems to have loved him very tenderly and honored him
very highly. To ease himself somewhat of his onerous duties, perhaps,
Eli had raised his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to the dignity of the
priesthood. In the exercise of their sacred trust, the young men had
committed great excesses and abuses. From all sides the fact came to
the ears of their father. Sweetly and gently he remonstrated with the
offenders, but neglected to hold them back with the strong hand of
parental authority. Probably from the first there had been some radical
defect in the moral discipline of the family. An amiable and indulgent
father, Eli had neglected the severer duty which his sacred office,
even more than his paternal relation, imposed upon him. To make him
sensible of his great delinquency, the guilt of his sons must be
brought home upon his hoary head.

  "Divinely called and strongly moved,
  A prophet from a child approved,"

Samuel is commissioned to announce to him the heavy tidings, that God
will judge his house forever, because "his sons made themselves vile,
and he restrained them not."

In the outset, we cannot help observing the difference between the sons
of Eli and his little ward. Samuel received his first lessons from the
lips of a godly mother in the quiet home at Ramah. From his earliest
consciousness he knew that he was to be a Nazarite, consecrated wholly
to the service of Jehovah. His special training afterward in the house
of the Lord was well adapted to fit him for the grand career before
him. The gross misconduct of some who ought to have set him the best
example must have wounded deeply his innocent heart, while it impressed
him strongly with the deadly evil of sin and the mischief resulting
inevitably from the relaxation of morals among the rulers of the people
and the ministers of religion. Growing up in daily contact with the
mysteries and symbols of the divine service, the sacred ritual which
was to Hophni and Phinehas merely an empty form was to him replete with
the spirit and power of holiness, elevating his thoughts, purifying his
feelings, and moulding his whole character to its noble design. The
names and things with which he was constantly occupied conformed him
gradually but unalterably to God's gracious purpose, and made him the
steadfast and uncompromising servant of the Most High--the man to
reprove, rebuke, exhort, instruct the people--to retrieve losses,
restore justice, reform abuses, assuage excitements, reduce chaos to
order, establish the schools of the prophets, and wield a controlling
power over the throne. Such a ministry required a character of steady
growth, and the personal influence of a consistent and holy life. None
of your modern revivals could ever have made a Samuel.

True it is, indeed, that some of God's most eminent servants--as St.
Paul and St. Augustine--were converted in manhood, after a wasted youth
of sin and crime; yet such instances are no real exceptions to the
rule, that God directs the training of his servants from childhood,
shaping his instruments by every act of his providence. St. Paul was
thoroughly educated in the rabbinical learning of his day, and well
acquainted with Greek literature and Greek philosophy, and so far
prepared for his Christian apostleship to both Jews and Gentiles; and
the logical and rhetorical studies of St. Augustine unconsciously made
him the great Christian dialectician that he was, while the sensual
indulgences of his earlier years intensified his knowledge both of the
power of sin and the efficacy of divine grace which he was to preach to
others. Generally, the Lord's most honored servants, like Samuel, have
been chosen from their childhood, and nourished up for their special
ministry under the hallowed influence of his truth and worship. Some of
them, it is true, were afterward for a while occupied in other
callings, before they went to their divinely appointed labor. Moses was
a shepherd in the very wilderness through which he was to lead the
Lord's beloved, and on the very mountain where he was to receive for
them a law from the lips of God. David also was a shepherd, and a
musician, and a warrior, and a fugitive, and an outcast from his
country; and by all these conditions and experiences was he trained for
his future pre-eminence, as the king of Israel, and the psalmist of the
sanctuary, and the man after God's own heart. And Chrysostom was a
lawyer, and Ambrose was a civilian and a prefect, and Cyprian was a
professor of rhetoric, before they entered upon their nobler life-work
for Christ and the Church. In all these cases, to which many others
might be added, God's good providence wisely ordered the discipline of
his servants, through knowledge, and sorrow, and conflict, and a great
variety of experiences, out of which were developed those characters
and qualities which were essential to their success in the high calling
for which they were designed. And so with the holy Baptist, chosen to
be the immediate harbinger of the Messiah; and the Galilæan fishermen,
whom he afterward ordained as his apostles; and Timothy, appointed the
first bishop of Ephesus; and Luther, the destined sword of Heaven to
Papal Rome. And so it was with Samuel, from his very birth consecrated
to God, growing up in the house of the Lord, becoming the prophet and
judge of his people, the invincible champion of truth and
righteousness; with such heroic energy maintaining the authority of the
divine law, rebuking iniquity in high places, withstanding the current
of the national degeneracy, and like an angel of God pronouncing the
doom of a fallen monarch, that "all Israel even from Dan to Beersheba
knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord."


To return to Eli and his sons. The father's fault seems to have been
too much indulgence, too much tenderness, perhaps too much timidity, to
restrain his consecrated lads from their wicked practices. The power he
had, but would not assert it. The father's authority in his family at
that age of the world was absolute and unquestionable. This fact leaves
Eli's conduct without excuse. He remonstrated with the offenders, but
far too feebly. Their crimes were of the very worst character, and
aggravated by their sacred profession and holy environments; yet he had
for them but a few soft and gentle words, scarcely strong enough to be
called a reproof, without any assertion of authority as father,
high-priest, or judge. One of our best biblical critics renders the
text: "His sons made themselves accursed, and he frowned not upon them."

But while we animadvert upon the guilty negligence of Eli, let no
parent plead the different customs of our day, the higher civilization
of the race, or the diminished degree of parental authority, as an
excuse for his own delinquency. Every father and mother are responsible
for the moral restraint of the children that God has given them, and
fearful beyond all estimate must be the consequences of disregarding
the duty. Such is the tendency of human nature to evil, that it begins
to show itself ordinarily at a very early period of life, and the
utmost care should be taken to check it in its first manifestations.
For this purpose it may be necessary to interpose the strength of the
parental will in curbing the will of the child. Those who are taught
from their infancy to submit their own will to the will of father or
mother are more likely in later life to yield themselves to the will of
God. The wise mother of the Wesleys has left on record these words for
our guidance in this important matter: "In order to form the mind of
the child, the first thing to be done is to conquer the will and bring
it into an obedient temper. This is the only strong and rational
foundation of a religious education, without which both precept and
example will be ineffectual. As self-will is the root of all sin and
misery, so whatever cherishes this in children insures their after
wretchedness and irreligion, and whatever checks and mortifies it
promotes their future happiness and piety." Who will presume to
question this statement? And if correct, is not Robert Hall's remark
equally true--that "indulgent parents are cruel to their children and
to posterity"?

But who can calculate the consequences? The fallow ground left unsown
is soon sown by the winds with every vagrant seed of evil. One sin
leads to another, the less generally to the greater; and by the
inception of a single wrong principle in childhood, the young man who
might have been a model of virtue becomes a curse to society, and the
young woman who ought to have proved a priceless jewel turns out a mere
package of dry goods if not something worse. True, these moral wrecks
may possibly be recovered by converting grace; but such cases are
extremely uncommon, and when they do occur they are regarded as
miracles of mercy; and often, alas! the effect is as evanescent as the
morning cloud and early dew. Generally, those who have grown up without
religious restraint go on still in their trespasses, living without God
and dying without hope.

"As in individuals, so in nations," writes the Rev. Charles Kingsley,
"unbridled indulgence of the passions must produce, and does produce,
frivolity, effeminacy, slavery to the appetite of the moment, a
brutalized and reckless temper, before which prudence, energy, national
feeling, any and every feeling which is not centred in self, perishes
utterly. The old French _noblesse_ gave a proof of this law which
will last as a warning beacon to the end of time.... It must be so. The
national life is grounded on the life of the family, is the development
of it; and where the root is corrupt, the tree must be corrupt also." A
fearful truth for the contemplation of Christian patriotism! Imagine an
utter indifference to the morals of the rising generation all at once
to prevail throughout the country, and all efforts for the spiritual
culture of the young suddenly to cease; would not the frightful ruin
rush over the land with the rapidity of an avalanche and the ubiquity
of a deluge, instant and everywhere, in your highways and your byways,
at your altars and your hearths, sweeping before it every thing pure
and lovely--every thing valuable to existence, precious to
recollection, or cheering in the visions of hope?


This side of the subject is not pleasing; let us look at the obverse.
No moral maxim is sounder than that of the royal sage: "Train up a
child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not
depart from it." The principles of virtue early implanted insure the
future saint and hero. A thoroughly good character impressed upon youth
cleaves to the man forever.

Exceptions, indeed, there may be--very saddening and disheartening
exceptions. It does sometimes happen that those who seem at least to
have been brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
subsequently decline from the way of wisdom and become vicious in their
lives. But such cases are too rare to affect the rule. And in these
instances, is it not likely that we are deceived often by appearances?
May not the religious culture have been radically defective in its
principle or culpably incomplete in its process? Was not the child
committed to incompetent hands, that marred the character they should
have made; or abandoned to the influence of an evil world, and exposed
to the contagion of bad example, before his virtuous principles were
sufficiently confirmed and fortified? An accurate knowledge of all the
facts would no doubt develop some capital defect in the education;
would show something essential omitted, or something of evil mingled
with the good, some base alloy blended with the pure metal, some infant
viper coiled unseen among the buddings and bloomings of spring.

But I have the confidence to affirm that apostasy from the principles
of a good Christian education very seldom occurs--so seldom, indeed,
that the instances might almost be pronounced anomalous. It is a maxim
attested by general if not universal experience, that upon the
qualities acquired in childhood depends the character of manhood and
old age. Childhood is the period of docility and impressibility, when
habits of thought and feeling are formed with the greatest facility;
and such habits, once formed, are extremely difficult to destroy; and
the good wrought in the soul at that tender age, growing with its
growth and strengthening with its strength, is almost invariably
retained to the latest hour of life.

Ordinarily, no doubt, we are guided more by habit than by reason. To
walk in the old way is much easier than to strike out a new. In this
respect, taste follows the same law as thought and action. If the child
has formed a taste for virtue, the potent law of habit insures its
perpetuity. The virtuous taste prompts to virtuous deeds, and the
virtuous deeds confirm the virtuous taste. Thus, by a reflex action,
virtue proves its own conservator. Daily the habit grows stronger and
the motive more efficacious. Daily the heart is more and more fortified
against the assaults of temptation. Daily the world loses something of
its fascination, its false maxims something of their plausibility, its
apologies and solicitations something of their persuasive power.

As with the body, so with the spirit. Habitual inaction enfeebles the
faculties, and renders their occasional operation inefficient and
fruitless. On the contrary, by habitual exercise one becomes capable of
performing with ease what were otherwise laborious and difficult, if
not quite impossible. Thus the young, accustomed to resist their evil
passions, will afterward keep them in due control without any very
strenuous struggle; and the seeds of a pure morality, sown in early
life, will strike their roots deep into the soil, and spring up in
perpetual blossom and fruitage. The person is thenceforth virtuous, not
without effort, but certainly with less effort than if he had never
accustomed himself to virtue. The habit of virtue has made virtue
amiable, and her service becomes a labor of love, her yoke easy and her
burden light.

In speaking thus of the power of habit, which has been called "a second
nature," I would not exclude from the process of education the agency
of divine grace, nor lose sight of it as a necessary factor to the best
results. Divine grace, indeed, has much to do with the formation of the
habit, and must co-operate with every agency employed in the work.
Without divine grace, there is nothing wise, nothing strong, nothing
holy; and after all the efforts of parents, pastors, teachers--however
great or however small the measure of success attained--we lift our
hands to Heaven and sing:--

  "Thou all our works in us hast wrought,
    Our good is all divine;
  The praise of every virtuous thought
    And righteous word is thine.

  From thee, through Jesus, we receive
    The power on thee to call;
  In whom we are, and move, and live--
    Our God, our all in all."


An infidel objected to sending his little daughter to the Sunday
school, "because," said he, "they learn things there which they never
forget." The infidel was a philosopher. Knowledge is indestructible.
The fact or the principle once acquired is never lost. The soul's past
thoughts, feelings, impressions, and operations, are its inalienable
property. They are engraven upon an imperishable tablet, and no power
can efface the record. Though some parts of our experience may be but
dimly and vaguely remembered, and much that we have learned may seem to
be irrevocably forgotten, yet the mind is in possession of a law which,
when brought into action, will completely restore the entire train of
its former phenomena. They are not dead, but sleeping; and we know not
what event at some future day may be the trump of their resurrection.
The seed that lies buried in the earth through the long and dreary
winter will germinate in spring-time and fructify in summer. Therefore
let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if
we faint not.

Christian parents! it is yours to begin at the cradle a work whose
blessed influence shall extend beyond the tomb. By the principles you
impart to your little ones, you insure the virtue and the Christianity
of generations to come; you kindle lights to burn amidst the world's
darkness when the faint glimmering of your own is gone; you adorn the
living temple of the Lord with pillars of strength and beauty which
shall challenge angelic admiration when all the colonnaded glories of
earth's capitals are calcined by the fires of doom. To such an
achievement, what are all the treasures of monarchs, and all the
splendors of empire, and all the applause of heroism, and all the
renown of authorship, and all the fascination of eloquence, and all the
entrancing power of song?

Who has any fear of God, any love of country, any affection for his
children, any regard for the welfare of posterity? By all these I
implore you, and by every other consideration that ought to move the
heart of man, awake to the work which Heaven enjoins and every instinct
of nature urges upon you! Your time, money, knowledge, influence--how
can they be better employed than in the Christian culture of the young
immortals committed to your care? In the beautiful form you cherish,
there is something far more beautiful--a jewel worth immeasurably more
than the casket which contains it--a spirit that must live and think
and feel when this planet shall have become a chaos, when out of that
chaos shall have arisen the new _cosmos_ over which Christ is to
rule in righteousness forever. Shall this precious thing perish through
your faithlessness to so sublime a trust? Shall harps be wanting in
heaven, and white-robed ministrants before the throne, through the
recreancy of any bearing the Christian name and honored with the title
of father or mother? What is reason's estimate of the parental
tenderness which provides so laboriously for the body, but totally
neglects the soul--which regards so sedulously the interests of time,
but utterly overlooks the concerns of eternity? To see your little ones
wandering unrestrained in the broad way to ruin, or trained for this
world only, as if there were not another beyond--oh! is it not enough
to make their guardian angels turn away their faces and weep beneath
their wings?

The Church is here to help you, but she requires your co-operation. The
Sunday school is here to second your endeavors, but little can that do
without your countenance and contribution. Men of Israel, help! Christ
calls upon you from his cross to help. Juvenile vice and blasphemy
through all your streets seem imploring you to help. Will you respond
to the appeal? The result may be a blessing to your own house. The
recollection will warm your heart amidst the chills of death. Sweet
little minstrels with crowns shall rehearse the story to you when the
cemetery and the sea are delivering up their dead. Not less, perhaps,
than the eloquent preacher in the great congregation, the humble
teacher of an infant-class may be shedding light into the dark places
of the earth--may be scattering flower-seeds and raindrops over the
face of the desert. Even more, it may be, than the consecrated minister
at the altar of God, the liberal contributor to this beneficent agency
is kindling a holy fire which shall burn when the stars have gone
out--is touching the strings of a harp that shall send its melodies
through eternity. O merciful God! when the seventh trump is sounding,
and the quickened dead are gathering before thy throne, let it not be
said of any in this assembly--"His sons made themselves vile, and he
restrained them not"!



[1] Preached at a Sunday-school convention, 1840.



VI.

JOY OF THE LAW.[1]

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried,
saying--If any man thirst, let him come unto me and
drink.--John vii. 37.


At three great annual festivals all the men of all the tribes of Israel
were required to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. One of these was
the Feast of Tabernacles, kept in commemoration of the sojourn of their
fathers in the wilderness, and as a special thanksgiving to God after
the ingathering of the autumnal harvest. Its duration was strictly
seven days, from the 15th to the 22d of the month Tisri; but it was
followed by a day of holy convocation, distinguished by sacrifices and
peculiar observances of its own, which was sometimes called the eighth
day. During the seven days the people dwelt in booths formed of the
branches of the palm, the pine, the olive, the myrtle, and other trees
of thick foliage; and these temporary huts lined every street of the
city, and covered all the surrounding hills. The public
burnt-offerings, and the private peace-offerings as well, were more
numerous than those of any other of the great national festivals. The
bullocks sacrificed were seventy; but besides these were offered every
day two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid for a sin-offering. The long
lines of booths everywhere, and the sacrificial solemnities and
processions, must have furnished a grand spectacle by day; and the
lamps, the torches, the music, the joyful gatherings in the
temple-courts, must have given a still more festive character to the
night. No other feast of the Hebrews was half so joyous as the Feast of
Tabernacles; and therefore it was eminently fitting that it should be
observed, as it was, with much more than its ordinary interest at the
dedication of Solomon's Temple, again by Ezra after the restoration of
the sacred structure, and a third time by Judas Maccabæus when he had
expelled the Syrians and re-established the true worship of Jehovah.

The seven days accomplished, the eighth was ushered in with the glad
sound of trumpets, summoning the multitudes to the holy convocation.
During the seven days they had offered sacrifices for the seventy
nations of the earth, as well as for themselves; the eighth was
Israel's own day, and the sacrifices offered were exclusively for the
people of the covenant, adding to the daily offerings already mentioned
a bullock, a ram, seven lambs, and a goat for a sin-offering. As soon
as the morning trumpets sounded, the booths were all dismantled, and
the thronging thousands from every quarter hastened to the temple. The
sacrifice was already on the altar, and the high-priest stood by in his
more than regal array, with his numerous white-robed ministers. A
priestly procession entered at the Water-gate, bringing water in a
golden vessel from the neighboring Pool of Siloam. Approaching the
altar, the bearer ascended the sacred slope, and delivered his burden
into the hands of the high-priest; while the trumpets sent forth a
joyous peal, to which the people responded with a shout that shook the
city. Part of the water, mingled with wine, was then poured into the
grooves of the altar around the morning sacrifice, and the rest was
distributed among the attendant priests, who drank it amidst the
grateful acclamations of the multitude; and finally the great choir,
chanting to every instrument of music, poured forth the song of
Isaiah--"With joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation!"
This was called "the Joy of the Law;" and there is a rabbinical proverb
to the effect, that he who has never witnessed it has never seen
rejoicing. It was intended as a commemoration of the miracle of the
smitten rock in Horeb, which the apostle tells us prefigured Christ;
and it must have been just after this grand solemnity, or in connection
with its impressive evening compline, that "Jesus stood and cried,
saying--If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink."


Here are four things full of instruction for us--the time, the speaker,
the manner, and the invitation. In these we shall find the very marrow
of the gospel, worth more to our souls than all the revelations of
science and all the speculations of philosophy. Let us give them
earnest and devout attention, and may God grant us the aid of his grace!

First, the time is to be noticed. "In the last day, that great day of
the feast"--when there was present a vast concourse of the people.
Three million have been counted in attendance at the Feast of
Tabernacles. What an audience, what an inspiration, for an orator! How
would Cicero have triumphed before such an assembly! Jesus needed no
such impulse. His mind was ever full of light, his heart overflowing
with love. He wanted but the opportunity to pour forth his divine
speech upon the people, and surely he never had a better than now. How
did his doctrine distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender
herb, and the showers upon the grass! Great lesson for his servants,
who ought to make their Master their model, and let no good occasion
slip for pouring the light of life into benighted souls!

"In the last day, that great day of the feast"--when they were occupied
with the most interesting observances of the national solemnity.
Another might have said: "They will not hear me; they are too much
absorbed to listen." Jesus was a better philosopher. Conscious of his
own power, he knew perfectly the hearts of men. Never could his hearers
recall the Joy of the Law, without recollecting the voice, the figure,
the beaming countenance, of the strange young rabbi from Galilee, who
stood forth in the midst of the great congregation, and dropped such
heavenly words into their hearts. "Who was he? What meant he? Could any
mere mortal have spoken so? Is the Messiah at length come? Let us seek
him again, and hear more from those marvellous lips!" Another grand
lesson for his servants, who ought to study to environ their teachings
with associations which cannot fail, with every happy hour, by every
happy memory, to recall the truths they have uttered and revive the
impressions produced by their preaching.

"In the last day, that great day of the feast"--when the pleasant
season was drawing to its close, and the people were ready to disperse
and return to their respective homes. The last words of a dear
departing friend linger long in the memory. The last utterances of a
dying father or mother cannot soon be effaced from the mind of the
child. The last sermon of a loved and honored pastor, before he leaves
us to feed another flock, may impress us more profoundly than any thing
he ever said to us before. The mere fact that it is the last time, that
we may never see that face again, never again hear that familiar voice,
brings home the truth with a vivid power, which can hardly fail to make
it effective, even with those who have hitherto heard with
indifference. Many who are now listening to our Lord will never listen
to him again. Before another Feast of Tabernacles they may be in their
graves, or he in heaven. To some present he may have preached many
sermons, but will never preach another. It is their last opportunity,
which seals up their account to the judgment. How must the thought have
wrought upon a mind like his! what earnestness given to every word!
what tenderness to every tone! Touching lesson again for us, my
brethren! who ought to preach every Lord's Day as if it were our last!
as if Death stood beside us saying--"Shoot thou God's arrows, and I
will shoot mine!" as if the peal of doom were already ringing in our
ears, and the graves around us delivering up their dead!


Next, the speaker is to be observed. It is Jesus, the Saviour, heralded
by prophets, escorted by angels, proclaimed by the Eternal Father with
an audible voice from heaven. A divine teacher, he comes to preach the
acceptable year of the Lord--an incarnation of the Father's love, to
unfold the secrets of the Father's heart to sinners, and make known the
purpose of his tender mercy in their salvation. Throughout Galilee, and
Judæa, and some of the neighboring provinces, he has already gone,
preaching the kingdom of heaven and calling the people to repentance.
He speaks as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Everywhere
miracles attest his mission, and demonstrate his doctrine. The wisdom
of his words is too much for the cunning sophistry of his enemies, and
an eloquence of sublime simplicity forces conviction upon unwilling
minds and takes the hearts of thousands captive. And now, in the
temple, on one of the most popular occasions of religious worship and
festivity, he is speaking to the people of things pertaining to their
eternal peace. Can any who hear him ever forget those gracious
utterances? "Happy souls!" methinks I hear you say, "happy souls, to
have listened to such a teacher! Could I have been there! Could I have
heard but once for half an hour! How eagerly would I have listened! how
gladly responded to his invitation!"

Alas, my friends! how our own hearts deceive us! Had we been present,
we should probably have done very much as most of the Jews did, and
some of us might have shown still greater blindness of mind or hardness
of heart. Have we not to-day the same gospel preached to us? Are not
those who occupy our pulpits the accredited ambassadors of Christ? Is
it not his word they speak, his claims they urge, his love they
proclaim, and his salvation they offer? And how receive we the message
and respond to the demand? With hearty faith, and grateful tears, and
earnest obedience? Nay, do not many of us despise our own mercy, and
reject the gracious counsel of God, not knowing the day of our
visitation? Even we who profess faith in Christ and call ourselves his
disciples--are we made wiser and better by the weekly recurrence of the
blessed opportunity? "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his
Son." Every gospel sermon delivered to us is a message from the throne
of heaven. It is as if Christ every Sunday morning descended afresh
from the Father, and stood before us in the pulpit, and stretched forth
to us the hands once nailed to the shameful cross; with many
amplifications and additional arguments repeating what he said in the
temple on "the last day--that great day of the feast." "See, then, that
ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused
him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away
from him that speaketh from heaven."


Thirdly, the manner is to be considered. "Jesus stood and cried." The
attitude is instructive. Jewish teachers generally sat. So did Jesus on
the Mount. Here he stands--stands ready to bestow--stands ready to
depart. Ready to bestow, he is ever standing--more ready to bestow than
we to receive. Delighting in mercy, he waits to be gracious. All the
day long he stretches out inviting hands to the perishing. All the
night he lingers with dew-sprinkled locks at the door. Now, if ever, is
the accepted time; now, if ever, the day of salvation. While Jesus
waits, there is hope for the worst. But he who stands may soon depart.
Mercy is limited by justice. Probation is bounded by destiny. If we
heed not its compassionate plea, even love must leave us, hopelessly
hardened in our sin. Jerusalem rejected her Messiah, and perished in
spite of his tears. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great
salvation?"

"Jesus stood and cried." This last word is suggestive. The orator much
in earnest speaks loudly. Demosthenes thundered from the _bema_.
Cicero's speech rang like a trumpet-call through the forum. One Hebrew
prophet in his commission is directed to cry aloud, spare not, lift up
his voice like a trumpet. Another, pre-announcing the Messianic mercy,
like one who has found a spring in the desert and shouts to his
comrades of the caravan, sends out his call upon the wind: "Ho! every
one that thirsteth! come ye to the waters!" Had Jesus desired to limit
his salvation to a few unconditionally elected favorites, would he not
have restricted the invitation? With such a policy, walking quietly
through the crowd, seeking out his elect here and there, calling them
privately in undertones to their peculiar privilege, would certainly
seem to have been in better keeping than an undiscriminating stentorian
cry from a conspicuous position to the multitude. But, intending the
mercy for all, he offers it to all. Does he mock them with an
invitation which is insincere? Oh! better we know the love divine! The
water of life is not the private property of a churl, streaming from a
statue in a little park, surrounded by a lofty granite wall, with an
iron gate locked against the public, while a few favored individuals,
as selfish as himself, are furnished each with a key; but an open
fountain in the field, without inclosure or obstruction, clearer than
the Clitumnus and more copious than the San Antonio, issuing like the
outlet of a subterranean ocean from the base of the everlasting hills;
while the Son of God, more glorious than the morn upon the mountains,
stands over it crying with voice that reaches every nation: "If any man
thirst, let him come unto me and drink!"


Finally, the invitation is to be regarded. Who here is not athirst?
Some thirst for riches, some for honors, some for pleasures, a few
perhaps--may grace enlarge the number--for the water of salvation. Gold
cannot satisfy the soul; the more we have, the more we crave. The world
has not enough of glory in its gift to fill the aching voids of
ambition; elevation evokes aspiration, and at the last summit the cry
is still "Excelsior!" One after another, all sensuous enjoyments pall
upon the taste; and fluttering like butterflies from flower to flower,
and sipping like honey-bees every sweet of field and forest, we learn
at length with a sated Solomon that all is vanity. The gilding of an
empty cup can never satisfy the thirsty soul. "We were made for God,"
says St. Augustine, "and our hearts are restless till they repose in
him." For God, even the living God, David thirsted long ago; and here,
incarnate in our nature, stands the Divine Object of his desire, crying
to the world: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink!"

But there is something, see you not? for the thirsty soul to do. Christ
cannot save us till we come. He is indeed, as St. Paul calls him, "the
Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe"--of all men,
because he has opened the fountain for all and invited all to the
fountain--especially of them that believe, because they accept the
invitation and come to him for supply. Whoever, whatever, wherever you
are--however great your obstructions, and however numerous and enormous
your sins--called, you may come; coming, you will receive; receiving,
you shall be satisfied forever. "Rivers of living water," Jesus offers
every believer in him. See the adaptation--"water"--to assuage your
thirst, to refresh the weary soul, to revive him who is fainting and
dying. Observe the quality--"living water"--not a stagnant pool, but a
salient spring, a fountain that never fails, a well of water within
springing up unto everlasting life. Behold the abundance--"rivers of
living water"--not one great stream, but many--an inexhaustible supply,
having its source in a shoreless and unfathomable sea--

  "Its streams the whole creation reach,
        So plenteous is the store;
  Enough for all, enough for each,
        Enough forevermore!"


But the coming is not all. Come and what? Come and see? Come and
explore? Come and investigate? Come and analyze the water, and discuss
its qualities, and speculate about its probable effects? Come and
praise the fountain, and commend it to others, and enjoy its cool
retreats, and admire its beautiful environs, and congratulate your
friends upon its conveniences, and applaud the benevolence that opened
it for the benefit of all? Nay, come and drink. Not all the water from
the smitten rock could save the Israelite that would not drink. Not all
the river of the water of life flowing through the City of God can
quench the thirst of the soul that declines it. Personally you must
appropriate the mercy. Personally you must experience its restoring
power. Salvation is not a theory, but a fact; not a speculation, but a
consciousness; not an ethical system to be reasoned out by superior
intellect, but a divine blessing to be taken into the believing heart.
It is a new life received from the Fountain-Life of the world. Gushing
from the throne of God and the Lamb, "clear as crystal," with a
copiousness and an energy which no dam can stay nor dike restrain, it
offers its refreshment to all, free as the air, the dew, the rain, or
the sunlight of heaven. Drink, and you shall never thirst again. Drink,
and find your immortality in the draught!



[1] Preached in Rochester, N.Y., 1842.



VII.

SOJOURNING WITH GOD.[1]

Ye are strangers and sojourners with me.--Lev. xxv. 23.


I have a dear friend to-day on the Atlantic. Four days ago, in New-York
Harbor, I accompanied him to the floating palace that bears him to
Europe; and put a book into his hand, which may furnish him some
entertainment on the voyage, and some service perhaps in the land of
art and beauty for which he is bound. Next Lord's Day he hopes to spend
in London; and thence, after a short pause, to proceed to Rome, where
he means to remain three months or more. A summer in that city is to an
American somewhat hazardous on the score of health, and the facilities
for seeing and exploring are far less favorable than they are in the
winter. Yet, as this is the only season he can command for the purpose,
he is willing to encounter the dangers and dispense with some of the
advantages, for the sake of a brief sojourn in the grand old metropolis
that dominated the world in the days of the Cæsars, and has since ruled
it with a rod of iron in the hands of the popes.

In "the historic city" he will meet with much to entertain a mind like
his--highly cultivated and richly stored with classic lore; and for all
that he wishes to accomplish, he will find his opportunity far too
brief. But he will not be at home there--a transient and unsettled
visitor. Every thing will be different from what he has been accustomed
to in his own country--government different--society different--manners
and customs different--churches and worship different--dress, diet and
language different--architecture, public institutions, general aspect
of the city, and natural scenery on all sides, quite different from any
thing he ever saw before. And while he daily encounters new objects of
absorbing interest--new wonders of art--new treasures of antiquity--new
illustrations and confirmations of history, and feels the charm of a
thousand beauties to which he has not been accustomed, the very
contrast will make him confess that he is a stranger and sojourner, and
think frequently of his home beyond the sunset, and sigh for the
fellowship of the dear hearts far over the western sea.

And should he go farther, and visit the ruined lands of the Nile--the
Jordan--the Euphrates, and wander over the silent wastes that once
smiled with golden harvests, glowed with gorgeous cities, and teemed
with tumultuous populations; everywhere--on the burning sands of the
desert--in the savage solitudes of the mountains--amidst the crumbling
memorials of ancient civilizations and religions--in the tent of the
Arab, the wayside encampment, and the comfortless caravansera--he will
constantly require the pledge of chieftains, the protection of princes,
the safe conduct of governments, and the covenanted friendship of the
rude nomadic tribes among whom he makes his temporary abode.


This is the idea of our text: "Ye are strangers and sojourners with
me." It is God speaking to his chosen people, about to take possession
of the promised land, instructing them concerning their polity and
conduct in their new home and relations. One of the specific directions
given them is, that they are not to sell the land forever, because it
belongs to him, and they are his wards--tenants at will, dwelling on
his domain, under his patronage and protection. For six years he leased
to them the land, so to say; but every seventh year he reclaimed it as
his own, and it was to be neither tilled nor sown; and after seven such
sabbatic years, in the fiftieth year, which was the year of Jubilee,
every thing reverted with a still more special emphasis to the divine
Proprietor; and the people were not permitted to reap or gather any
thing that grew of itself that year even from the unworked soil, but
were to subsist on the product of the former years laid up in store for
that purpose. All this to teach them that the domain was Jehovah's, and
they were only privileged occupants under him--that he was their
patron, protector, benefactor, while they were strangers and sojourners
with God.


In a general sense, these sacred words describe the condition of all
men. All live by sufferance on the Lord's estate, fed and sustained by
his bounty. Whether we recognize his rights and claims or not, all we
have belongs to him, and the continuance of every privilege depends
upon his will. You may revolt against his authority, and fret at what
you call fate; but his providence orders all, and death is only your
eviction from the trust and tenure you have abused. What is your life,
and what control has any man over his destiny? A shadow on the ground,
a vapor in the air, an arrow speeding to the mark, an eagle hasting to
the prey, a post hurrying past with despatches, a swift ship gliding
out of sight over the misty horizon--these are the Scripture emblems of
what we are. Every day is but a new stage in the pilgrim's
progress--every act and every pulse another step toward the tomb. The
frequent changes of fortune teach us that nothing here is certain but
uncertainty, nothing constant but inconstancy, nothing real but
unreality, nothing stable but instability. The loveliest spot we ever
found on earth is but a halting-place for the traveller--an oasis for
the caravan in the desert. The world itself, and all that it contains,
present only the successive scenes of a moving panorama; and our life
is the passage of a weaver's shuttle--a flying to and fro--a mere
coming and going--an entry and an exit. For we are strangers and
sojourners with God.


But what is in a general sense thus true of all, is in a special sense
true of the spiritual and heavenly-minded. As Abraham was a stranger
and a sojourner with the Canaanite and the Egyptian--as Jacob and his
sons were strangers and sojourners with Pharaoh, and the fugitive David
with the king of Gath--so all godly people acknowledge themselves
strangers and sojourners with God. This is the picture of the Christian
life that better than almost any other expresses the condition and
experiences of our Lord's faithful followers--not at home here--ever on
the move--living among aliens and enemies--subject to many privations
and occasional persecutions--every morning hearing afresh the summons,
"Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest"--practically
confessing, with patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs, "Here
we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." The world knew
not their Master, and knows not them. If they were of the world, the
world would love its own; because they are not of the world, but he has
chosen them out of the world, therefore the world hateth them. Wholly
of another character--another profession--another pursuit--aiming at
other ends, and cheered by other hopes--the carnal, selfish,
unbelieving world cannot possibly appreciate them, and they are
constantly misunderstood and misrepresented by the world. Regarding not
the things which are seen and temporal, but the things which are unseen
and eternal, they are often stigmatized as fools and denounced as
fanatics. Far distant from their home, and surrounded by those who have
no sympathy with them, they show their heavenly citizenship by heavenly
tempers, heavenly manners, heavenly conversation, all hallowed by the
spirit of holiness. So one of the Fathers in the second century
describes the Christians of his time:

"They occupy their own native land, but as pilgrims in it. They bear
all as citizens, and forbear all as foreigners. Every foreign land is
to them a fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. They are in the
flesh, but they walk not after the flesh. They live on earth, but they
are citizens of heaven. They die, but with death their true life
begins. Poor themselves, they make many rich; destitute, they have all
things in abundance; despised, they are glorified in contempt. In a
word--what the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world. The
soul inhabits the body, but is not derived from it; and Christians
dwell in the world, but are not of it. The immortal soul sojourns in a
mortal tent; and Christians inhabit a perishable house, while looking
for an imperishable in heaven."

To such heavenly-mindedness, my dear brethren, we all are called; and
without something of this spirit, whatever our professions and
formalities, we do but belie the name of Christian. "If ye then be
risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ
sitteth, on the right hand of God; set your affections on things above,
not on things on the earth; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with
Christ in God; when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we
also appear with him in glory."


Bowed down with many a burden and weary because of the way, how much is
there to cheer and comfort us in God's good word to his suffering
pilgrims--"Ye are strangers and sojourners with me"!

There is the idea of friendly recognition. As the nomad chief receives
the tourist into his tent, and assures him of his favor by the
"covenant of salt;" so God hath made with us an everlasting covenant of
grace, ordered in all things and sure; since which, he can never disown
us, never forsake us, never forget us, never cease to care for his own.

There is the idea of pleasant communion. As in the Arab tent, between
the sheik and his guest, there is a free interchange of thought and
feeling; so between God and the regenerate soul a sweet fellowship is
established, with perfect access and unreserved confidence. "The secret
of the Lord is with them that fear him," and his delight is in his
saints, who are the excellent of the earth.

There is the idea of needful refreshment. "Turn in and rest a little,"
saith the patriarch to the wayfarers; and then brings forth bread and
wine--the best that his store affords--to cheer their spirits and
revive their strength. God spreads a table for his people in the
wilderness. With angels' food he feeds them, and their cup runs over
with blessing. He gives them to eat of the hidden manna, and restores
their fainting souls with the new wine of the kingdom.

There is the idea of faithful protection. The Arab who has eaten with
you will answer for your safety with his own life, and so long as you
remain with him none of his tribe shall harm a hair of your head.
Believer in Jesus! do you not dwell in the secret place of the Most
High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty? Has he not shut you,
like Noah, into the ark of your salvation? Is not David's rock your
rock, your fortress, your high tower, and unfailing city of refuge?

There is the idea of infallible guidance. The Oriental host will not
permit his guest to set forth alone, but goes with him on every new
track, grasps his hand in every steep ascent, and holds him back from
the brink of every precipice. God said to Israel: "I will send my angel
before thy face, to lead thee in the way, and bring thee into the land
whither thou goest." Yea, he said more: "My presence shall go with
thee, and I will give thee rest." Both promises are ours, my brethren;
and something better than the pillar of cloud and fire, or the manifest
glory of the resident God upon the mercy-seat, marches in the van of
his pilgrim host through the wilderness, and will never leave us till
the last member of his redeemed Israel shall have passed clean over
Jordan!

There is the idea of a blessed destiny. Their divine Guide is leading
them "to a good land, that floweth with milk and honey"--"to a city of
habitation"--"a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is
God"--"a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens"--the
Father's house of "many mansions," where Christ is now as he promised
preparing a place for his people, and where they are at last to be with
him and behold his glory. Oh! with what a sweet and restful confidence
should we dismiss our groundless fears of the future, saying with the
psalmist--"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive
me to glory!" The pilgrim has a home; the weary has a resting-place;
the wanderer in the wilderness is a "fellow-citizen with the saints and
of the household of faith;" and often have we seen him in the evening
twilight, after a long day's march over stony mountain and sultry
plain, sitting at the door of the tent just pitched for the night, with
calm voice singing:

  "One sweetly solemn thought
  Comes to me o'er and o'er--
  I'm nearer to my home to-night
  Than e'er I was before--
  Nearer the bound of life,
  Where falls my burden down--
  Nearer to where I leave my cross,
  And where I take my crown!"

and with the next rising sun, like a giant refreshed with new wine,
joyfully resuming his journey, from the first eminence attained gazing
a moment through his glass at the distant glory of the gold-and-crystal
city, then bounding forward and making the mountains ring with the
strain:

  "There is my house and portion fair,
  My treasure and heart are there,
        And my abiding home;
  For me my elder brethren stay,
  And angels beckon me away,
        And Jesus bids me come!"


The saintly Monica, after many years of weeping at the nail-pierced
feet, has at length received the answer to her prayers in the
conversion of one dearer to her than life; and is now ready, with good
old Simeon, to depart in peace, having seen the salvation of the Lord:
"As for me, my son, nothing in this world hath longer any charm for me.
What I do here, or why I should remain, I know not. But one wish I had,
and that God has abundantly granted me. Bury me where thou wilt, for
nowhere am I far from God!"

Dark to some of you, O ye strangers and sojourners with God! may be the
valley of the shadow of death; but ye cannot perish there, for He whose
fellowship is immortality is still with you, and you shall soon be with
him as never before! Black and cold at your feet rolls the river of
terrors; but lift your eyes a little, and you see gleaming through the
mist the pearl-gates beyond! There "the Captain of the Lord's host" is
already preparing your escort!

          "Even now is at hand
          The angelical band--
          The convoy attends--
  An invincible troop of invisible friends!
          Ready winged for their flight
          To the regions of light,
          The horses are come--
  The chariots of Israel to carry us home!"



[1] Preached in Charleston, S.C., soon after a year's sojourn beyond
the sea, 1858.



VIII.

BUILDING FOR IMMORTALITY.[1]

So they built and prospered.--2 Chron. xiv. 7.


In the fairest of Italian cities stands the finest of terrestrial
structures--a campanile or bell-tower, twenty-five feet square, two
hundred and seventy-three feet high, built of white and colored marble
in alternate blocks, covered with a royal luxuriance of sculpture
framed in medallions, studded everywhere with the most beautiful
statuary disposed in Gothic niches, and finished from base to
battlement like a lady's cabinet inlaid with pearl and gold. It would
seem as if nothing more perfect in symmetry, more exquisite in
workmanship, or more magnificent in ornamentation, could possibly be
achieved by human genius. Pure as a lily born of dew and sunshine, the
approaching tourist sees it rising over the lofty roof of the Duomo,
like the pillar of cloud upon the tabernacle; and when he enters the
Piazza, and finds it standing apart in its majestic altitude, and
looking down upon the vestal loveliness of the Tuscan Santa Maria, he
can think only of the Angel of the Annunciation in the presence of the
Blessed Virgin. Whoever has gazed upon its grand proportions, and
studied the details of its exquisite execution, will feel no
astonishment at being told that such a structure could not now be built
in this country for less than fifty millions of our money; nor will he
wonder that Jarvis, in his "Art Hints," has pronounced it "the noblest
specimen of tower-architecture the world has to show;" that Charles the
Fifth declared it was "fit to be inclosed with crystal, and exhibited
only on holy-days;" and that the Florentines themselves, whenever they
would characterize any thing as extremely beautiful, say it is "as fine
as the Campanile."


Gentlemen, you have reared a nobler edifice! Nobler, not because more
costly, for your pecuniary outlay is as nothing in the comparison.
Nobler, not because the material is more precious, and the architecture
more perfect; for what is a pile of brick to such a miracle in marble?
or where is the American builder that would dream of competing with
Giotto? Nobler, not because there is a larger and richer-toned bell in
the gilded cupola, to summon the inmates to study and recitation, or to
morning and evening worship; for the great bell of the Campanile is one
of the grandest pieces of resonant metal ever cast; and its voice,
though soft as flute-tones at eventide coming over the water, is rich
and majestic as an angel's song. Far nobler, however, in its purpose
and utility; for that wonder of Italian architecture is the product of
Florentine pride and vanity in the days of a prosperous republic--a
less massive but more elegant Tower of Babel, expressing the ambition
of its builders; and though standing in the Cathedral Piazza, its chief
conceivable objects are mere show and sound; while the end and aim of
this edifice is the development of mind, the formation of character,
the creation of a loftier intellectual manhood, the reproduction of so
much of the lost image of God as may be evolved by the best media and
methods of human education.


The excellence of your structure, then, consists mainly in this--that
it is only a scaffold, with derricks, windlasses, and other apparatus
and implements, for building something immeasurably more excellent.
Here the thinking power is to be quickened, and the logical faculty is
to be awakened and invigorated. This is to be effected, not so much by
the knowledge acquired, as by the effort called out for its
acquisition. The teacher is to measure his success, not by the number
and variety of terms, rules, formulas and principles he has impressed
upon the memory, but by the amount of mental power and independence he
has imparted to his pupil. True, in educating the mind, knowledge of
some sort must be acquired; but the thoroughness of the education
depends no more upon the quantity of the acquisition, than the health
of the guest upon the abundance of the banquet. The mental food, as
well as the material, must be digested and assimilated. It follows that
those exercises which require close and consecutive thinking, thorough
analysis, clear discrimination and accurate definition, are best
adapted to develop the higher faculties of the mind. Mathematics,
metaphysics, dialectics and philology must form the granite basis of
your building, sustaining the solid tiers of rich and varied marbles.


Then comes the æsthetic culture. First the substantial, afterward the
ornamental--this is the natural order, to reverse which were to begin
building the tower at the top. The very idea of the ornamental supposes
something substantial to be ornamented. No man will attempt to polish
the sponge, or paint a picture on the vacant air, or rear a stone
cathedral on a sunset cloud. There is no lily-bloom without the
sustaining stalk, nor magnolia grandiflora without the sturdy and
stately tree. "Wood, hay, stubble," are not fit materials for jewelry;
but "gold, silver, precious stones," may be wrought into a thousand
forms of beauty, sparkling with myriad splendors. The solid marble
superstructure resting upon its deep foundations of granite, firm as
the seated hills, can scarcely be too finely finished or too
sumptuously adorned. Upon a thorough mental culture sit gracefully, and
quite at home, philosophy, history, poetry, eloquence, music,
painting--all in literature and the arts that can refine the taste,
refresh the heart, and lead the fancy captive. To the mind thus
disciplined and adorned, a pleasant path is opened to the broadest and
richest fields of intellectual inquiry, where it may range at will with
the freedom of an angel's wing, charmed with beauties such as Eden
never knew, thrilled with melodies such as the leaden ear of ignorance
never heard, rejoicing in a fellowship of wisdom worthy of the
enfranchised sons of God, and realizing the truth so finely expressed
by the greatest of German poets:--

    "Only through beauty's morning gate,
    Canst thou to knowledge penetrate;
    The mind, to face truth's higher glances,
    Must swim some time in beauty's trances;
    The heavenly harping of the muses,
  Whose sweetest trembling through thee rings,
    A higher life into thy soul infuses,
  And wings it upward to the soul of things."


But is there not something still better, which ought to be an element
in every process of human education? What is man? Merely an
intellectual animal? Nay, but he has a spirit within him allied to
angels and to God. The higher nature calls for culture no less than the
lower. To the development and discipline of the rational and æsthetic
faculties must be subjoined "the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Otherwise we educate only the inferior part of the man, and leave the
superior to chance and the Devil. Make scholars of your children, but
do not omit to make them Christians. Lead them to Parnassus, but let
them go by the way of Calvary. Conduct them to Olympus, but let them
carry the dew of Olivet upon their sandals. Make them drink deeply from
the wells of human wisdom, but deny them not the living water whereof
if one drink he shall never thirst again.

Why should a "wise master-builder" hesitate to connect religion with
science and literature in the edification and adornment of the soul?
Does not religion favor the most thorough mental discipline and
contribute to the harmonious development of all the spiritual powers?
Does not Christianity stimulate the mind to struggle against
difficulties, ennoble the struggle by investing it with the dignity of
a duty, and render the duty delightful by the hope of a heavenly
reward? "Knowledge is power;" but what knowledge is so mighty as that
which Christ brought from the bosom of the Father? Poetry and
philosophy have their charms; but what poetry is like that of the Holy
Spirit, and what philosophy like that of redeeming love? God's holy
evangel enlarges and strengthens the mind by bringing it into contact
with the sublimest truths, and making it familiar with the profoundest
mysteries. It rectifies our perverted reason, corrects our erroneous
estimates, silences the imperious clamour of the passions, and removes
the stern embargo which the corrupt heart lays upon the aspiring
intellect. It sings us the sweetest songs, preaches to us the purest
morality, and presents for our imitation the noblest examples of
beneficence and self-denial. Under its blessed influence the soul
expands to grasp the thought of God and receive the infinite riches of
his love.

And shall we wrong our sons and daughters by withholding from them this
noblest agency of the higher mental and spiritual culture--

  "The fountain-light of all our day,
  The master-light of all our seeing"--

and turn them over, with all their instinctive yearnings after the
true, the good, the pure, the divine, to the blind guidance of a
sceptical sciolism, and the bewildering vagaries of a rationalistic
infidelity? "No," to use the language of the late Canon Melville, "we
will not yield the culture of the understanding to earthly husbandmen;
there are heavenly ministers who water it with a choicer dew, and pour
upon it the beams of a brighter sun, and prune its branches with a
kinder and more skilful hand. We will not give up the reason to stand
always as a priestess at the altars of human philosophy; she hath a
more majestic temple to tread, and more beautiful robes to walk in, and
incense rarer and more fragrant to offer in golden censers. She does
well when boldly exploring God's visible works; she does better when
she submits to spiritual teaching, and sits with Mary at the Saviour's
feet."

Gentlemen, it is impossible to overstate the importance of religious
culture in the work of education. Every interest of time and eternity
urges it upon your attention. Your children are accountable and
immortal creatures. "Give them divine truth," says Channing, "and you
give them more than gems and gold; give them Christian principles, and
you give them more than thrones and diadems; imbue their hearts with a
love of virtue, and you enrich them more than by laying worlds at their
feet." Your doctrine may distil as the dew upon the grass, and as the
small rain upon the tender herb; but in some future emergency of life,
the silent influence shall assert itself in a might more irresistible
than the stormy elements when they go forth to the battles of God. If
the work be faithfully done, the impression produced shall not be that
of the sea-fowl on the sand, effaced by the first wave of the rising
tide; but the enduring grooves cut by the chariot-wheels of the King of
Trembling as he rides through the mountain ranges, and the footprints
of his fiery steeds left deep in the everlasting rocks.


Forward, then, with your noble endeavor! You are building for eternity.
You are rearing temples of living stones which shall survive all the
changes and chances of earth and time, and look sublimely down upon the
world's catastrophe. Up! up with your immortal campanile! It is
compacted of imperishable gems, cemented with gold from the mines of
God. No marble sculpture may adorn its niches and cornices; but angel
forms shall walk its battlements in robes of living glory. No hollow
metal may swing in its vaulted _loggie_, sending sweet echoes over
the distant hills, and charming the song-birds to silence along the
flowery Val d'Arno; but richer and holier melodies, ringing out from
its heavenly altitudes, shall mingle with the music of the spheres, and
swell the many-voiced harmony of the City of God!



[1] Preached at the opening of a new college edifice, 1859.



IX.

WAIL OF BEREAVEMENT.[1]

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of
God hath touched me.--Job xix. 21.


Nothing is more important, yet few things are more difficult, than the
proper control of our spirits in the time of trouble. There are two
extremes to be avoided; stoicism and despondency. Stoicism feels too
little; despondency, too much. The former hardens the heart; the latter
breaks down the spirit. The one is a want of sensibility; the other, a
lack of fortitude. This is an affected contempt of suffering; that, a
practical abandonment of hope. Midway between the two lies the path of
duty and happiness. St. Paul, quoting from King Solomon, warns us
against them both: "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the
Lord"--that is stoicism; "neither faint when thou art rebuked of
him"--that is despondency. Israel is charged with the former: "Thou
hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; they have made their
faces harder than a rock." Job fell into the latter: "Have pity upon
me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath
touched me."

No piece of history is more affecting than that of the perfect man of
Uz. For the trial of his fortitude and his fidelity, the Almighty
delivered him up, with certain restrictions, into the hand of Satan.
The Sabeans and the Chaldæans robbed him of his oxen, his asses, and
his camels, and slew his servants with the edge of the sword. Fire from
heaven consumed his flocks in the field, and all his children perished
together in a tempest. He was smitten "with sore boils from the sole of
his foot unto his crown; and he took him a potsherd to scrape himself
withal; and he sat down among the ashes." His wife, the last on earth
that ought to have been unkind to him, assailed him with bitter
mockery; saying, "Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and
die!" Three friends, more faithful than the rest, came from afar to see
and console him in his sufferings; and when they beheld the greatness
of his grief they sat down with him in speechless astonishment; and
surely that seven days' silence was better than any words of condolence
they could have spoken. But when "Job opened his mouth and cursed his
day," and related the sad story of all his troubles, they too became
his censors, charging him with hypocrisy, and secret wickedness, and
oppression of the poor and needy. These allegations stung him to the
heart. Oh! was it not enough that God had forsaken him; that Satan had
assailed him with all his weapons; that predatory bands had stripped
him of his possessions; that the elements of nature had conspired
against his prosperity; that his seven sons and three daughters had
been taken from him in one day; that his body had become a mass of
putrid disease, a loathsome living death; and that the wife of his
youth looked upon him no more with affection, but treated him with cold
indifference or haughty scorn? Must these wise and excellent men, the
last friends left to him, join the cruel mockery, and accuse the
upright of oppression, impiety, and every evil work? "The spirit of a
man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?" The
good man's heart is crushed; he is ready to give up all for lost; and
he pours forth his whole soul in this passionate appeal: "Have pity
upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath
touched me."


It is permitted us to complain under such afflictions, provided we do
not "charge God foolishly." There is no guilt in tears, if they are not
tears of despair. It is no crime to feel our loss. Insensibility is no
virtue--has no merit--wins no reward. Religion does not destroy nature,
but regulates it; does not remove sorrow, but sanctifies it; does not
cauterize the human heart, but enables us to "rejoice evermore," and
teaches us to "glory in tribulations also." Abraham mourned for Sarah;
Joseph mourned for Jacob; David mourned for Jonathan, and even for
wicked Absalom; "devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made
great lamentation over him;" and Jesus, the pattern "Man of sorrows,"
groaned in spirit, and wept at the grave of Lazarus. These
chastisements are intended for our improvement; but if they are not
felt, their end is not realized. If we have no sense of the stroke, how
shall we submit to the hand that smites us? If our hearts are seared
against all painful impressions, God is defeated in the purpose of his
providence, and the best means of our salvation prove ineffectual; for
he that is not sensible of his affliction will continue secure in his
sin. The loss of one who is very dear to us--a husband and father, upon
whom we depend so much for counsel, support, protection and
happiness--must inflict a very deep wound; and who shall forbid that
wound to bleed? None may say to the widow, "Weep not;" but He that can
also say to the dead, "Young man, arise." Grief must have vent, or it
will break the heart. Tears must flow, or they will fester in their
fountains. It is cruel to deny one the relief of mourning, when
mourning is so often its own relief. Sorrow calls for sympathy.
Compassion is better than counsel. It is a great alleviation, when we
can pour out our grief into another's bosom. Sympathy divides the
sorrow, and leaves but half the load. "Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ." This is what the troubled patriarch
longed for, but could not find. His kindred were estranged from him,
and all his inward friends abhorred him: his servants responded not to
his call, and the wife of his bosom regarded him as an alien. No wonder
that he exclaims, as if his heart were breaking, "Have pity upon me,
have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched
me."

But it is better to complain to God than to man. He will appreciate my
complaint He knoweth my heart. He seeth my sincerity. He pitieth me
with more than a father's pity. His word can still the storm and calm
the sea. His look can turn my darkness into light. He hath invited me
to call upon him in the day of trouble, adding, "I will deliver thee,
and thou shalt glorify me." He hath said, "Come unto me, all ye that
labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The apostle
saith, "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray." David saith, "I
cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I
make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I showed
before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then
thou knewest my path." There is a psalm--the CII.--on purpose for the
afflicted, and this is its title: "A prayer of the afflicted, when he
is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord." The
afflicted may complain; when he is overwhelmed he may complain even
unto the Lord; yea, he may pour out his complaint before him, as one
poureth out water; and here is an inspired formula of woe which he may
employ in the divine presence without fear of extravagance or
impropriety. Sorrow sometimes renders one speechless: "I am so
troubled," saith David, "that I cannot speak." Oh! what a relief when
we can empty our anguish into the ear and the heart of God! Such prayer
is not incompatible with perfect submission to the divine will. "I was
dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it;" dumb as it
respects murmuring, but not as it respects prayer, for the next words
are, "Remove thy stroke away from me; I am consumed by the blow of thy
hand." Jesus in Gethsemane exhibits a pattern of perfect submission
joined with fervent prayer. He "prayed earnestly," "in an agony," "with
strong crying and tears;" thrice prostrating himself upon the ground;
thrice imploring the Father, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from
me;" but as often adding, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be
done."


Oh! yes; you may complain, in the spirit of pious subordination; but
you ought to guard against the excess of sorrow. To grieve too much
were as great an evil as not to grieve at all. Where, then, is the
proper limit, and when does sorrow become excessive, and therefore
sinful? I answer:

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it renders you
unmindful of your remaining mercies. It might be much worse with you
than it is. You have forfeited all your comforts, yet God has withdrawn
but few of them. Are those that remain worth nothing to you because
others have been removed? Will you relish the less the fruit that is
left, because some of it was blighted by untimely frost? You should set
the higher value upon what you have, and enjoy the blessing with a
grateful heart.

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it causes you to
forget the grief of others. You are not the only sufferer in the world,
nor is there any thing very peculiar in your afflictions. Thousands
have experienced similar troubles, losses, bereavements. Some have
parted with more than husband and father--have lost all at once, and
are left to tread the dreary earth alone. You are doubtless acquainted
with many with whom you would not now exchange conditions. And can you
be so selfish as to forget all griefs but your own?

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it makes you
indifferent to the public welfare. Poor old Eli was less afflicted by
the death of his two sons than by the loss of the ark of the Lord,
because with that was so intimately connected the prosperity of his
people, the object dearest to his heart. A Spartan mother, who had five
sons in the battle, stood at the gate of the city when a messenger came
with tidings. "How prospers the fight?" she inquired. "Thy five sons
are slain," answered the messenger. "I did not ask after my sons,"
replied the patriotic woman, "but how prospers the fight?" "We have won
the day," said the other, "and Sparta is safe." "Then let us be
thankful to the gods," exclaimed the inquirer, "for our continued
freedom." Her private griefs were swallowed up in her concern for the
public good.

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it disqualifies
you for the duties of your position.

  "Nothing in nature, much less conscious being,
  Was e'er created solely for itself."

You live for others. Your friends have claims upon you. Your families
and fellow-citizens require your beneficent activities. You cannot cast
off this responsibility. It is written in your inmost nature. It is
interwoven with the very constitution of human society. Wherefore the
noble faculty of speech, the high prerogative of reason, the sweet flow
of domestic sympathies, and the congregation of men in communities,
with statutes and civil compacts, and distinctions of rank and office?
All these indicate your duty to the human brotherhood; and if you
grieve so as to unfit yourselves for that duty, you defeat the end of
the divine benevolence.

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it blinds you to
the grand purposes of Providence. Poor Job saith, "My soul is weary of
my life," and again and again he desireth the quiet shelter of the
grave. Yet do we find him piously inquiring into the reasons and final
causes of the Almighty's mysterious dealings with him: "I will say unto
God, Do not condemn me; show me wherefore thou contendest with me." We
are well assured that "affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither
doth trouble spring out of the ground." All things are under the
restraint and control of Infinite Wisdom and Love. In every pain you
suffer, whether appointed or permitted only, God is seeking your good.
It were a double loss, doubly aggravated, first to lose your friend,
and then to lose the benefit of the loss. Is not the loss of the former
sufficient, without adding to it, by your immoderate grief, the
infinitely greater loss of the latter?

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it refuses the
proffered consolations of friendship. When Jacob rent his robe, and put
sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned many days for Joseph, and all his
sons and daughters rose up to comfort him, he refused to be comforted,
saying, "I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning." "In Ramah
was a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel
weeping for her children, refuseth to be comforted because they are
not." To decline the needed consolation when it is offered, is
certainly a sin. There is some little excuse for the children of Israel
in Egypt, when Moses spake unto them of the promised deliverance, and
"they hearkened not unto him for anguish of spirit and for cruel
bondage." The dying Rachel would have called her son Benoni, "the son
of my sorrow," but that would have been too sad a remembrancer to Jacob
of his beloved wife, and he called him Benjamin, "the son of my right
hand."

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it will not accept
relief even from the hand of God. He hath assured you that his grace is
sufficient for you, and invited you to come to him for help in time of
need. Yea, he is a present help in trouble; and he saith, "I will never
leave thee nor forsake thee." To all who ask, he "giveth liberally, and
upbraideth not." And will you not ask and receive, that your joy may be
full? He hath not given you breath merely for sighs and groans, nor
articulate utterance for ungrateful complaints of his providence. He
hath afflicted you, perhaps, on purpose to draw you to himself; and
will you thus defeat the designs of his mercy? Will you turn your back
upon him when you need him most? Will you refuse to pray when prayer is
most necessary for you? To whom will you go for aid, if not to God?
Where will you find comfort, if not in his love? When will you seek the
throne of grace, if not in time of trouble? Oh! how sweet is it to say
with the psalmist, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy
comforts delight my soul."

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it preys upon your
health and endangers your constitution. Grief unreasonably indulged
soon devours the vigor of the physical system. This is an effectual
method of suicide, not less guilty than a resort to the knife, the
rope, the river, the pistol, or the poison. Some drink themselves to
death, and others grieve themselves to death; who shall pronounce the
former more criminal than the latter? Sorrow sometimes kills as
suddenly as a bullet or a poniard through the heart; and sometimes it
acts as a deadly potion, slow but sure. The food never nourishes, that
is always mingled with tears. When your grief is so great, that no
balmy airs, nor beautiful scenes, nor pleasant melodies, nor sympathies
of friendship, nor solacements of society, nor consolations of
religion, can soothe or refresh the soul, then your health is impaired,
your strength gradually wastes away, the world loses too soon the
benefit of your life, and you haste unsummoned to the judgment. This is
the sorrow of the world which worketh death.

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it sours and
imbitters the spirit against both God and man. This deplorable effect,
instead of the peaceable fruits of righteousness, is often produced by
affliction, when the providence is misinterpreted and perverted. Then
the heart murmurs against God; saying with David, "I have cleansed my
hands in vain;" or with Jeremiah, "My strength and hope are perished
from the Lord;" or with Jonah, "I do well to be angry, even unto
death." I have known persons indulge their grief to such a degree, that
they loved nothing, enjoyed nothing, took interest in nothing, cared
not for their nearest friends, grew indifferent to society, found no
relief in solitude, turned away from the house of God, spurned his holy
oracles, hated books, hated Nature, hated the very sunlight, neglected
their own persons, and spent life in a continual groan. This is
rebellion against Providence. "Why doth a living man complain, a man
for the punishment of his sin?" How much better to say, "I know, O
Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that in faithfulness thou hast
afflicted me!"

Your sorrow is excessive, and therefore sinful, when it continues so
long as to become the settled habitude of the soul. The time for
mourning has been limited by all wise nations, and the wisest have
generally made it shortest. The Egyptians, who knew not God, mourned
seventy days for Jacob; Joseph, his son, only forty-seven days. Israel
mourned thirty days for Aaron, and thirty days for Moses, but only
seven days for Saul. The inward sorrow, however, may last much longer
than the outward show. The formal ceremony is soon laid aside; while
the stricken heart carries its wound, still bleeding, to the grave. But
the first poignancy of grief should not be allowed to continue too
long, lest it produce the injurious effects of which I have already
spoken. When it is not only indulged, but cherished as a luxury, it
soon becomes sinful. When the mourner persists in nursing his woe, and
feeds it with melancholy reflections in silence and seclusion, heeding
neither the dissuasives of friendship nor the solacements of religion,
he despises his own mercy and injures his own soul. Remember your
departed friends with tenderness, but let your sorrow be subdued and
holy, and aid the healing art of Nature with the balm of grace to
shorten as much as may be the term of its continuance.


"But it is my best Friend that hath smitten me. It is the stroke of my
heavenly Father that hath wounded me. For God maketh my heart soft, and
the Almighty troubleth me. He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken
the crown from my head. He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am
gone; and my hope hath he removed like a tree. Have pity upon me, have
pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me."

Then it is a painful touch. It is grievous to be smitten by a friend,
and the stroke of the father breaks the heart of the child. Your
bereavement is indeed a fiery trial, a sword in the bones, a spear that
pierceth to the soul. I pity your sufferings, and wonder not at your
complaint.

But it is a common touch. "What son is he whom the father chasteneth
not?" Who hath not lost a friend? Who hath not sat in the shadow of the
tomb? Even the immaculate Saviour suffered in the flesh. "It pleased
the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief." And can you hope for
exemption?

And it is a righteous touch. The Creator is also the proprietor, and he
has an unquestionable right to resume what he hath loaned. All are his;
and shall he not do what he will with his own? Shall not the master of
the garden gather his own fruits, the commander of the army dispose of
his own men? What claim have you upon him for happiness? And how much
more misery do you deserve than you have ever suffered!

And it is a needful touch. The loving Father never inflicts a needless
stroke. Your delinquency calls for chastisement. Your forgetfulness of
eternity requires the stern admonitions of death. The creature that has
usurped the Creator's place must be removed. The heart that has grown
fast to the world must be torn away. The tree that has struck its roots
so deep into the soil must be loosened before it can be transplanted.

And it is a skilful touch. The musician is familiar with all the keys
and powers of his instrument. The physician is well acquainted with the
character of the disease and the qualities of the application. God's
understanding is infinite, and his wisdom is infallible. He knoweth
perfectly, when, and where, and how, and by what special means, most
effectually to touch the human heart.

  "Learn to lie passive in his hand,
  And trust his heavenly skill."


And it is a tender touch. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." "Like
as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear
him; for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." "A
bruised reed will he not break, and the smoking flax will he not
quench." The wound must be probed, but the surgeon will do it gently,
and soothe the pain with cordials. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor
grieve the children of men;" but "for your profit, that ye may be
partakers of his holiness." He correcteth his people with
loving-kindness,

  "Most merciful when most severe."


And oh! is it not a blessed touch? It is the touch of a sword, which
subdues the rebel will; the touch of a hammer, which breaks the stony
heart; the touch of a fire, which separates the dross from the gold;
the touch of a light, which illuminates the darkness within; the touch
of a key, which opens the royal palace to the king; the touch of a
fountain, which washes away sin and uncleanness; the touch of a
sceptre, which assures of the monarch's gracious acceptance; the touch
of a master, who asserts his claim and takes his property; the touch of
a Saviour, rescuing the soul which he hath ransomed with his blood; the
touch of a lapidary, polishing an immortal gem for Emmanuel's crown!
God's dealings are mysterious but merciful. "Clouds and darkness are
round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his
throne." He saith to us, as he once said to Simon, "What I do thou
knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."

  "A bruised reed he will not break;
    Affliction all his children feel;
  He smites them for his mercy's sake;
      He wounds to heal."

The Christian, like the Captain of his salvation, is made perfect
through sufferings. His present griefs are the pledges of future joys.
The gloomy night shall soon give place to an eternal day.

Such are the ways of God. And shall my ignorance impeach his perfect
knowledge, and my folly arraign his infinite wisdom, and my evil
complain of his transcendent goodness, and my weakness refuse the aid
of his almighty arm? "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore
will I hope in him." Strange were it indeed to hear one say: "Alas! I
am undone, for I have nothing left but God." But is not this
practically the language of the believer who sinks into a state of
despondency under providential bereavements? He that has God for his
portion could not be enriched by the bequest of a kingdom, by the
inheritance of a world. The heir of God is heir of all things.

Zeno, who lost his whole fortune in a shipwreck, afterwards declared
that it was the best voyage he ever made, because it led him to the
study of philosophy and virtue. Happy for you, my friends, if your
afflictions lead you to Christ! Happy, if, losing a friend, you find a
Saviour! Receive, I beseech you, this chastisement as a new proof of
your heavenly Father's love. Learn something from heathen Seneca, who
said he enjoyed his friends as one who was soon to lose them, and lost
them as if he had them still. Nay, learn rather from Him who bore your
griefs and carried your sorrows; who, with the burden of all our
accumulated woes pressing upon a sinless heart, exclaimed--"Father, not
my will, but thine, be done!" Thus shall your loss disclose to you the
pearl of great price, and enrich you with the imperishable wealth of
the kingdom of God!



[1] Preached at a funeral, 1862.



X.

WISDOM AND WEAPONS.[1]

Wisdom is better than weapons of war.--Eccles. ix. 18.


We glory in the excellence of our arms. We boast of our superiority in
this respect to the ancients. We attach great importance to such
advantages, and rely upon them for the success of our campaigns. It is
well. Let these things be properly estimated. But are we not in danger
of overlooking what is much more essential to our prosperity? Is there
nothing better than guns and bayonets? The royal Preacher gives the
preference to wisdom. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge, the pursuit
of worthy ends by proper means; and if we take the word in this its
ordinary sense, the truth of the text will be obvious to all. But in
the writings of King Solomon, as often in other parts of the Holy
Scriptures, wisdom has another and higher meaning--piety, practical
religion, conformity of heart and life to the law of God; and attaching
this signification to the term, who can question the statement of the
wisest of monarchs, "Wisdom is better than weapons of war"?


We will begin with some simple illustrations of this proposition in its
lower application to secular affairs, and thus prepare the way for more
copious discourse concerning its higher application to spiritual
matters. And may God mercifully grant me persuasive words, and you "a
wise and understanding heart"!


"Wisdom is better than weapons of war," because it gains its advantages
at less expense. Weapons of war are very costly, and millions of money
are required to insure their success. But wisdom wants no gold. "More
precious than rubies," it is "without money and without price."

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war," because it wins its victories
without sacrificing human life. Weapons of war strew the field with
mangled and ghastly corpses, and fill the land with widows and orphans
and broken hearts. But wisdom sheds no blood. Its tendency is to
preserve life, and not to destroy. It resorts to counsel instead of
appealing to the sword, and subdues its enemies without endangering its
friends.

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war," because it leaves no wrecks or
ruins as the landmarks of its progress. Weapons of war spread
desolation and destruction on all sides; and buildings burned, and
plantations devastated, and wealth scattered to the wind, everywhere
attest the evils of international contention. But wisdom wastes no
property. It accomplishes its beneficent purposes without injuring any
man's estate. It turns no fruitful field into a wilderness, and
disfigures the landscape with no smouldering heaps of demolished
habitations.

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war," because it gives no
encouragement to the malevolent and wicked passions. Weapons of war
produce hatred, contempt, revenge, a thirst for blood; converting men
into fiends, and rendering earth the counterpart of hell. But wisdom
makes no enemies. It conciliates. It attracts love, inspires
confidence, and binds communities and nations together in fraternal
amity. It breathes something of the spirit of Christ's evangel, and
echoes the angelic proclamation--"Peace on earth, good-will toward men."

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war," because its achievements are
always of a much more valuable character. Weapons of war may overcome
brute force, breaking the power of armies, subverting the thrones of
monarchs, and arresting the course of incipient revolutions; while the
mind remains unconvinced, the will unsubdued, and the heart still
strong in its enmity. But wisdom eradicates the principle of hostility.
It blasts the bitter fruit in the bud. It disarms enemies by making
them friends. It occupies the mind, subjugates the will, and leads
captive the heart. Therefore it is said, "He that winneth souls is
wise."


These illustrations of the text in its lower application must suffice.
Proceed we now to the higher. Wisdom is true religion, evangelical
godliness; and this, whatever view we take of it, will be found
superior to weapons of war.

We see its superiority in the excellence of its nature. Weapons are
material: wisdom is spiritual. Weapons are terrestrial; wisdom is
celestial. Weapons are worn upon the person: wisdom is seated in the
soul. Weapons are wielded by the warrior: wisdom controls its
possessor. Weapons are of earthly origin, human invention, Satanic
suggestion: wisdom, like "every good and perfect gift, is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights." It is a beam divine, by
which we see the invisible. It is the breath of God, inspiring a new
life, and imparting a new nature. It is an influence from the Infinite
Spirit, quickening the dead conscience, and purifying the polluted
heart. It is a gracious power, which subjugates, exterminates all that
is hostile to holiness within, "bringing every thought into captivity
to the obedience of Christ," and nerving every faculty to the conquest
of the mighty host of spiritual foes that "beleaguer the human soul."

We read its superiority in the importance of its objects. Weapons are
employed both for aggressive and for defensive purposes: so is wisdom,
but in a very different way. Are weapons used to gain freedom? So is
wisdom, but it is the freedom of the soul. To acquire riches? So is
wisdom, but they are the "durable riches of righteousness." To augment
power? So is wisdom, but it is power over the passions and the habits.
To repel invasion? So is wisdom, but it is the invasion of the Prince
of darkness. To expel enemies? So is wisdom, but they are the enemies
intrenched within us. To extend dominion? So is wisdom, but it is the
dominion of the world's Redeemer. To subjugate nations? So is wisdom,
but they are the nations fighting against God. To liberate captives? So
is wisdom, but they are the captives of sin and Satan. To gratify
revenge? So is wisdom, but it is revenge against the destroyers of our
race. To secure commendation? So is wisdom, but it is the commendation
of the Eternal Judge of quick and dead. To achieve glory and honor? So
is wisdom, but it is the glory of a heavenly inheritance and the honor
of an imperishable kingdom. These are objects worthy of angelic
enterprise, and illustrative of the transcendent excellence of wisdom.

We observe its superiority in the purity of its principles. Weapons
foster and encourage evil passions in the human heart, and stimulate
all its corrupt and vicious propensities; while wisdom eradicates them,
originates the opposite virtues, and cultivates in all their "beauty of
holiness" the gracious "fruits of the Spirit." On the one side we see
pride; on the other, humility. On the one side, contempt; on the other,
courteous respect. On the one side, distrust; on the other, ingenuous
confidence. On the one side, restless ambition; on the other, tranquil
contentment. On the one side, grasping avarice; on the other,
open-handed beneficence. On the one side, bitter emulation; on the
other, mutual aid and sympathy. On the one side, injustice and
oppression; on the other, due regard for the rights of all. On the one
side, deceit and wily treachery; on the other, unswerving truth and
uncompromising fidelity. On the one side, turbulence, confusion and
anarchy; on the other, the reign of divine law and angelic order. On
the one side, savage brutality and diabolical cruelty; on the other,
tears for all woes and help for all needs. On the one side, bitter and
implacable malignity; on the other, the spontaneous flow of brotherly
kindness and charity. On the one side, the desperate wrath and fury of
revenge; on the other, meekness, gentleness, oblivion of injuries, and
all the mind of Jesus. On the one side, an impious disregard of the
Almighty's government; on the other, a profound reverence for his holy
name, with an earnest desire to know and a settled purpose to do his
blessed will. On the one side, an exemplification of the spirit and
temper of hell; on the other, a practical illustration of those pure
affections and hallowed influences which make men resemble the angels,
and render our life "as the days of heaven upon earth." These are the
ennobling principles of wisdom.

We perceive its superiority in the grandeur of its alliances. Weapons
may secure an alliance with the governments of the world, with its
wealth and power, its learning and eloquence, its useful and decorative
arts, the glory of its monarchs, the policy of its statesmen, the
influence of its sages, and the splendid renown of its conquerors. But
wisdom boasts of loftier alliances with "the saints that are in the
earth, and the excellent in whom is all its delight;" "a holy nation, a
royal priesthood, a peculiar people;" the _élite_ of the universe,
the "sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty," "whose names are in the
book of life," whose robes of light, and harps of gold, and thrones of
power, and crowns of glory, and palms of victory, await them in the
city of "many mansions," the "house not made with hands, eternal, in
the heavens." It connects itself by invisible but indissoluble ties
with the redeemed denizens of the "city of God," the purest and noblest
men that ever lived and died, patriarchs and prophets, apostles and
martyrs, philanthropists and reformers, "the salt of the earth," and
"the light of the world,"

  "Doers of illimitable good,
  Gainers of inestimable glory."

It claims community with the cherubim and the seraphim, spirits of
light and love, the unshorn strength and unsullied purity of heaven. It
lays hold upon the throne of God, and establishes an everlasting
covenant with the Almighty, and interests the Ruler and Proprietor of
the universe in its cause. Such an alliance secures divine sympathy,
heavenly recognition, efficient co-operation, help for all needs,
succor in all troubles, defence against all dangers, deliverance from
all enemies, the triumphant success of all enterprises, and the
enjoyment of "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus." And with this magnificent endowment of privileges, unknown to
the hero of the battle-field, Wisdom, strong in her weakness, rich in
her poverty, happy in her misfortunes, tranquil amidst popular
commotions, and fearless of ten thousand foes, sits singing in the
house of her pilgrimage--

  "Not from the dust my joys or sorrows spring;
            Let all the baleful planets shed
            Their mingled curses round my head,
            Their mingled curses I despise,
            If but the great Eternal King
  Look through the clouds and bless me with his eyes."


We confess its superiority in the character of its achievements. With
arms men conquer inferiors or equals: through wisdom they overcome
beings vastly greater than themselves--greater in number, in nature, in
knowledge, in cunning, in courage, in energy, in endurance, in all the
facilities and resources of warfare, except such as are furnished by
the grace of God. With arms we vanquish human enemies: through wisdom,
superhuman. With arms we vanquish external enemies: through wisdom,
internal. With arms we vanquish visible enemies: through wisdom,
invisible. With arms we vanquish mortal enemies: through wisdom,
immortal. With arms we vanquish earthly enemies: through wisdom,
heavenly principalities and powers dethroned and doomed. With arms we
subdue provinces and subvert empires: through wisdom, overcome self,
and bring our own rebellious nature under the government of God; and he
who accomplishes this, saith Solomon, "is better than the mighty--than
he that taketh a city." Alexander is said to have conquered the world.
Vain boast! The world was not half conquered. But "he that is born of
God," St. John tells us, "overcometh the world; and this is the victory
that overcometh the world, even our faith." Faith is the theological
synonyme of wisdom. Faith is the foundation of all true religion.
Faith, wisdom, is real heroism. And it was through this the holy men of
old achieved their splendid triumphs and won their immortal honors. And
it is through this that the Christian still overcomes the world;
overcomes its spirit; its false philosophy; its evil customs and
fashions; its cunning strategy, and its open violence; the shallow
sophistry of its unbelief, and the affected valor of its impiety; the
fascination of its soft seductions and all the fury of its fierce
revenge. Faith, with Hope and Charity for its allies, sprinkled with
"the blood of the Lamb," and bold in "the word of its testimony," with
the eagle's eye and the lion's courage, goes forth to the holy
conflict; and all the missiles of malice, ridicule and infidelity--as
cannon-balls by cotton-bales--are effectually repelled by the meekness
and gentleness of its spirit; and the enemy at length succumbs to the
virtue that he finds invincible. This is real victory! This is the
sublime triumph of wisdom!

We behold its superiority in the measures and motives of its warfare.
Here is a perfect contrast. Arms triumph by physical force and energy:
wisdom prevails by the persuasiveness of truth, the gentleness of
charity, the beauty of holiness, and the spirit of the Lord. The
soldier seeks the aid of science and strategy: wisdom adheres to the
simplicity of the gospel, repudiating all art, concealment,
disingenuous trickery, such as false colors, masked batteries,
treacherous ambuscades, and challenges its enemies with an honest front
upon the open field. The military hero is cheered on by the voice of
popular applause: wisdom has no admiring multitudes, seeks no
encouragement from the world, but pursues its spiritual warfare in
silence and in secret,

  "All unnoticed and unknown,
  Loved and prized by God alone."

There is much in "the pomp and circumstance of glorious war" to
stimulate the combatants: wisdom has all the stern reality of the
conflict, without any of its inspiring accompaniments--the martial
strain, the glittering ranks, the floating banners, the roar of
artillery, the shout of charging squadrons, and the clash of resounding
steel. The mailed knight of the battle-field may gather strength from
emulation: wisdom knows no emulation but that of love and good
works--no fierce competition or contentious rivalry--striving only to
excel in kindness of heart, sweetness of temper, and the moral likeness
of the Son of God. You may be encouraged to the conflict by the hope of
gain: wisdom has no expectation of earthly profit--no spoils to be won,
no cities to be sacked, no mansions to be robbed, no bank-vaults to be
rifled; but it forsakes all to follow Christ, and is content to
practise his daily self-denial. You may look forward to worldly
distinctions and honors: wisdom seeks no promotion short of the kingdom
of heaven--no fame of heroism, no record in history, no celebration in
song, no decoration of stars and wreaths, no triumphal arches, nor
monumental pillars, nor statues in the temples of the gods. Nay, the
times have been when those noble heroes who through faith subdued
kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths
of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword,
out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to
flight the armies of the aliens, though the world was unworthy of them,
were deemed unworthy of the world; had trial of cruel mocking and
scourging, of bonds and imprisonments; were tortured, not accepting
deliverance; were tempted, stoned, burned, beheaded, crucified, sawn
asunder; wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, and concealed
themselves in dens and caves of the earth; being destitute, afflicted,
tormented. "But wisdom is justified of her children."

We discover its superiority in the certainty of its final success. Arms
may fail for want of discipline and skill: wisdom has drilled her
soldiers, teaching their hands to war and their fingers to fight. Arms
may fail for want of strength to wield them: wisdom girdeth us with
strength unto the battle; and nerved by her influence, the feeblest in
our ranks can run through a troop and leap over a wall. Arms may fail
for want of competent officers: wisdom rejoices in the "Captain of the
Lord's host," "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," with his eyes of flame,
his vesture dipped in blood, many crowns upon his head, and a sharp
two-edged sword proceeding out of his mouth, followed by the armies of
Heaven, going forth conquering and to conquer. Arms may fail for want
of sufficient defences: wisdom is environed with "a wall of fire," a
living circumvallation of seraphim and cherubim; and "the name of
Jehovah is a strong tower, into which the righteous runneth and is
safe." Arms may fail for want of timely re-enforcements: wisdom can
call to her aid at any moment "twelve legions of angels;" and, could we
see their splendid array, the mountain is continually aflame with the
artillery and cavalry of God. Arms may be rendered useless by the
overwhelming forces of the foe: wisdom leads "a great multitude that no
man can number;" any one of whom can chase a thousand, and two can put
ten thousand to flight; as Gideon, with his three hundred, routed and
destroyed the myriads of Midian. You may be unsuccessful in battle from
a variety of inevitable accidents: wisdom never breaks her blade, nor
bursts her musket, nor loses her bayonet, nor dismounts her artillery,
nor drops a chance match into the magazine; and her batteries can never
be stormed, nor her forces flanked, nor her trains captured, nor her
ammunition exhausted, nor her officers out-generalled and circumvented
by superior strategy. Your troops may lack the proper support of the
government: Jehovah has pledged all his infinite resources to the aid
of wisdom in "the good fight of faith;" and his word shall not fail
till heaven and earth pass away. Your hopes may perish upon the very
verge of victory: what soldier of wisdom ever left the field without
the spoils of a vanquished foe? "Yea, in all these things we are more
than conquerors through him that hath loved us." Success, therefore, is
certain. "The victory is the Lord's, and he giveth it to whomsoever it
pleaseth him." Let the enemy boast, and rage, and threaten! "Who hath
hardened himself against the Lord and prospered?" The sea shall drown
them; the earth shall devour them; the fire of heaven shall consume
them; the stars in their courses shall fight against them; or they
shall perish at the blast of an angel's breath under the very walls of
the city of God! However the line of battle may waver for a season,
however the fortunes of the field may vacillate between victory and
defeat, the word of God is sure, and wisdom shall triumph at the last.

We recognize its superiority in the ineffable glory of its issues.
"Lamentation and mourning and woe" follow the triumph of arms, and the
land bewails the unreturning brave: the victories of wisdom are
universal blessings, cheering the earth and gladdening the skies; and
wherever she prevails, the desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose;
and "the voice of salvation and praise is in the tabernacles of the
righteous, saying, The right hand of the Lord is exalted! the right
hand of the Lord doeth valiantly!" The warrior may win a splendid
spoil; and the capture of vast stores and precious treasures--the
acquisition of cities, kingdoms, continents--may reward his valor:
wisdom "winneth souls"--more costly than all the gems of Golconda, and
all the gold of California--the most magnificent structures ever
reared, and the most extensive empires ever formed. The victor may feel
a proud gratification in his success, but it is necessarily mingled
with much of unhappiness: the achievements of wisdom afford "fulness of
joy, and pleasures forevermore"--joy without any mixture of sorrow,
pleasures without any interval of pain. The commendation of superiors
and the applause of the multitude are often imbittered to the conqueror
by the envy of rivals and the malice of foes: but the "Well done, good
and faithful servant!" of the Eternal Judge shall be re-echoed by the
happy universe, and the saints and the seraphim shall compass you about
with songs of deliverance, and every detractive tongue shall be shut up
in the bottomless pit forever. History will record your heroism,
eloquence will emblazon your victory, and poetry will perpetuate your
praise; and the pencil, the chisel, the temple, the towering column and
triumphal arch, will transmit your fame to future generations: but the
Christian's memorial is in the New Jerusalem, "the new heavens and
earth wherein dwelleth righteousness"--"a new name, which no man
knoweth, save he that receiveth it"--a new creation, glowing with the
image of its Creator, over which the morning stars shall sing together,
and all the sons of God shall shout for joy. The renown of your heroic
deeds may fill the world and flourish over your grave: but wisdom shall
inherit "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." The brass
will tarnish, and the marble will moulder, and the voice of the orator
will go silent, and the minstrel shall sing no more in the sepulchre;
but wisdom's "praise is not of men, but of God;" "and they that be wise
shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many
to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Pharaoh perished; but
Moses is immortal. Ahab went down to the dust; but Elijah drove his
steeds of flame through the sapphire firmament. Saul fell in his blood
upon Gilboa; but the tuneful son of Jesse still leads the symphonies of
the church in the wilderness, while the cherubim and the seraphim
around the throne join in his choral hallelujahs. Egypt is a desert,
and Babylon is a heap of ruins, and Nineveh looks sadly up from her
ancient sepulchre by the Tigris, and the imperial Mother of Nations
sits in melancholy widowhood upon the bank of the "yellow Tiber;" but
Joseph, and Daniel, and the captive Tobit, and "Paul, the prisoner of
Jesus Christ," have found "a city of habitation," "whose builder and
maker is God"--

  "Where age hath no power o'er the fadeless frame,
  Where the eye is fire and the heart is flame!"

The Roman conqueror returned in triumph, with large display of spoils
and prisoners; and a magnificent array went forth to meet him, and the
populace rent the heavens with shouts of welcome, and the wall of the
city was torn down for his entrance, and splendid offerings sparkled at
his feet, and stately structures over-arched his head, and rich odors
perfumed the air, and sweet music enlivened the scene: oh! who shall
tell of wisdom's coronation in the metropolis of the universe--the
unnumbered millions of the ransomed, with palms and crowns and lutes,
amid the radiance of angelic beauty too bright for mortal eyes, singing
as the sound of many waters and mighty thunderings unto him that loved
them and washed them in his blood!


"Wisdom is better than weapons of war." Are you satisfied with the
proof? Then rally to the standard of wisdom, join her forces, fight her
battles, win her rewards, sing her transcendent glories, and share the
blissful immunities and emoluments of her victorious veterans forever!
Why do you hesitate? Are you afraid of the opinions or the speeches of
others? Oh! for shame! You have plenty of martial courage; where is
your moral courage? You can march up to the mouth of the cannon and
rush upon the point of the bayonet; why quail you at the scoff of the
infidel and the scorn of the blasphemer? Come out, come out, on the
side of truth and righteousness! Enrol yourselves with the saints,
under "the Captain of your salvation!" Defiant of earth and fearless of
hell, put on your arms, and away to the field, and take part in the
conflict, that you may have place in the coronation!

      "Soldier, go--but not to claim
  Mouldering spoils of earthborn treasure,
      Not to build a vaunting name,
  Not to dwell in tents of pleasure.
      Dream not that the way is smooth,
  Hope not that the thorns are roses,
      Turn no wishful eye of youth
  Where the sunny beam reposes.
      Thou hast sterner work to do--
      Hosts to cut thy passage through;
  Close behind the gulfs are burning--
  Forward! there is no returning.

      "Soldier, rest--but not for thee
  Spreads the world her downy pillow;
      On the rock thy couch must be,
  While around thee chafes the billow:
      Thine must be a watchful sleep,
  Wearier than another's waking;
      Such a charge as thou dost keep
  Brooks no moment of forsaking.
      Sleep as on the battle-field--
      Girded--grasping sword and shield:
  Those thou canst not name or number
  Steal upon thy broken slumber.

      "Soldier, rise--the war is done:
  Lo! the hosts of hell are flying!
      'Twas thy God the battle won;
  Jesus vanquished them by dying.
      Pass the stream--before thee lies
  All the conquered land of glory;
      Hark! what songs of rapture rise!
  These proclaim the victor's story.
      Soldier, lay thy weapons down,
      Quit the sword and take the crown;
  Triumph! all thy foes are banished,
  Death is slain, and earth has vanished!"



[1] Preached to soldiers in camp, 1863.



XI.

LOVE TESTED.[1]

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?--John xxi. 17.


Were the dear Lord to appear personally in our midst this morning,
addressing one after another by name, and putting the same question
thus pointedly to all, who would answer in the negative? Who would
frankly confess so base an ingratitude? Who of all this assembly would,
by the acknowledgment of so flagrant an impiety, write himself down
with the reprobate? However negligently or wickedly men live, few are
willing to admit that they are utterly wanting in love to him who loved
them to the death.

But is love to Christ indeed so common? With a few exceptions of
unbelief so blasphemous as to shock ordinary irreligion, are all men
truly his friends? Are they so taken with his teaching, so enamoured of
his virtue, so captivated by the beauty of his character, that they are
ready to forsake all to become his disciples, and prove the sincerity
of their attachment by the cheerful endurance of the severest
sufferings? Do they generally accord to him his claims, practically
observe his requirements, and devote all their energies to his service?
Do they so believe in him as the one only Mediator between God and man,
the one only name under heaven given among men by which they can be
saved, that they renounce all others and cling with the tenacity of a
death-grasp to his cross?

Let us ask ourselves the question. Let us enter solemnly into
conference with our own hearts. Let every one bring his consciousness,
his recollection, the facts of his life, to the test. "Do I truly love
the Lord Jesus? Will my love bear the ordeal of a faithful and
impartial scrutiny? Is my conduct, public and private, such as to put
the matter beyond all doubt and controversy? Should my crucified Friend
come visibly into the church, take me by the hand, look straight into
my eyes, and say, as he did to 'Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?'
could I answer as promptly, as honestly, as emphatically, as the
apostle did--'Lord, thou knowest that I love thee'!"

No superfluous or unprofitable inquiry is this, my dear brethren; but a
matter of infinite moment, addressing itself immediately to each
individual soul. Had Jesus deemed it a question of little consequence,
think you he would have put it thrice in so searching a manner to St.
Peter? Does not the repetition seem to imply a danger of mistake and
self-deception? Yet the question obviously supposes the apostle might
know with certainty whether he really loved or not. And if he, why not
we? I will not put it to your consciousness, in which any man may be
deceived; but the manifestation and fruits of love furnish certain
practical tests, quite easy of application and far less liable to
mistake; so that no soul, well instructed in the principles of
Christianity, need remain in ignorance of so vital a matter.

Here, however, before we proceed any farther, a word of explanation and
caution seems necessary. The passion of love, as we all know well
enough, is innate. We naturally love our friends and all that is
pleasing and attractive to us. But to this general rule love to Christ
Jesus is certainly an exception. So fallen and sinful are we, that we
cannot love that which is holy, perfect, divine, without the
enlightening and purifying Spirit of grace from above. So blinded is
our sight, so depraved and perverted our moral taste, that Christ is to
us as a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness, and there
is no beauty that we should desire him. His sublime purity we cannot
appreciate; his beauty of holiness we cannot endure. We must be
regenerate, quickened together with Christ, raised from a death in
trespasses and sins to a new life in righteousness. Possible it may be,
indeed, for the infant, consecrated to Christ in baptism, to "lead the
rest of his life according to this beginning;" from the very font,
daily increasing in God's Holy Spirit more and more, until he come to
Christ's everlasting kingdom. But if, as commonly happens, the fact
prove otherwise--if there has been a defection from baptismal
grace--there must be a return to the bond of the covenant, and a
renewal by the power of the Holy Ghost, or there can be no true love to
Christ. And those who now sincerely and supremely love him may know
precisely when and where the blessed restoration took place, and the
Sun of righteousness arose upon them with healing in his wings. And
others, not baptized in childhood, may have a vivid recollection of the
place and the moment in which they first discovered the light of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and the Redeemer began to be
unspeakably precious to their souls. Love to Christ, therefore, is not
natural, but supernatural--not the result of self-culture, but the
product of divine grace--a new and heavenly principle shed abroad in
the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost. The test of which let us now
apply; and may God help us to do so with honest and faithful heart!
"Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will think of him with pleasure. Love
produces tender thoughts of the beloved. You cannot cease to think of
them even when long absent. Can those who love the Saviour ever forget
him? Will not their meditation of him always be sweet? How is it with
you? Can you say with the psalmist--"The desire of our soul is unto thy
name, and to the remembrance of thee"? Do you think often of Jesus, and
dwell with delight upon his love? Do you meditate sweetly of him in the
night-watches? Is the thought of him ineffably pleasing and joyful to
your soul?


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will delight in communion with him.
Love finds its greatest happiness in the presence of the beloved. Long
absence is painful, and hopeless separation is intolerable. Every
opportunity of communion with Christ, therefore, the saints value as a
high privilege and seize with eager joy. The word in which he speaks to
them is their sweetest music; the closet in which they meet with him is
their highest Pisgah; the table at which he feeds them is the very
antepast of heaven. Is this your experience? Do you love to speak with
Christ in prayer? Do you joyfully listen to the messages of his grace,
and read with pleasure the epistles of his love? Do you feast with a
keen relish upon the heavenly manna and the new wine of the kingdom
which he provides for you in the

  "Rich banquet of his flesh and blood"?

Can you appeal to him in the language of the psalmist--"Lord, I have
loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor
dwelleth"? and when deprived of its privileges, do you exclaim with
him--"My soul longeth, yea even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God; when shall I come and
appear before him?"


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will constantly aim and study to please
him. With regard to any undecided course of action, you will not ask,
"How will this please others?" but, "How will it please Christ?" Him
whom your soul loveth, whatever the effect upon your neighbors, you
will never be willing to displease. You would rather offend every
friend you have on earth than the heavenly "Friend that sticketh closer
than a brother." "Ye are my friends," saith he, "if ye do whatsoever I
command you." And again he saith, "If any man love me, he will keep my
words." Hearty obedience is the best proof of love. If you truly love
him, your obedience will be prompt, earnest, constant, uniform,
unquestioning and uncompromising. Try yourselves, my brethren, by this
criterion. Is the word of Christ the supreme law of your life? In all
things, do you seek his pleasure, and rejoice to do his will? Are his
commandments grievous to you, or do you find his yoke easy and his
burden light? Do you esteem his service a hard bondage, or the blessed
freedom of the sons of God? Is it your meat and drink to do his will,
as it was his to do the will of his Father? He is now challenging your
affection, as Delilah challenged that of Samson: "How canst thou say, I
love thee, when thy heart is not with me?"


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will rejoice even in suffering for his
sake. What was it but love stronger than death to him who died for them
that made the apostles glory in tribulations, sing hymns of praise at
midnight in their dungeons, wear their chains and manacles more proudly
than princes ever wore their jewels, and welcome the scourge and the
cross which completed their conformity to the divine Man of sorrows?
And why did Ignatius chant so cheerfully among the lions, and Polycarp
pour forth his thanksgiving so joyfully as he stood unbound in the
flames? And why did so many Christians, in the early persecutions of
the Church, rush to the tribunal to confess their faith in Christ,
hastening to share the fiery coronation of their bishops and their
brethren? There is but one answer to these questions; and if you love
Christ as they loved him, you will be ready to make any sacrifice or
endure any suffering for his glory. Like Moses, who "esteemed the
reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt," you
will "choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Like the Hebrew captives in
Babylon, you will prefer the company of the king's lions to the society
of his courtiers, and the sevenfold heat of the Chaldæan furnace to the
perfumed breezes that regale the royal gardens. Hard sayings are these
to ears like yours? Have you no sympathy, then, with the Prince of
sufferers? Are you not ready to take up your cross, and follow him to
Calvary? If not, how can you say, "We love him because he first loved
us"?


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will love those who are the special
objects of his love. Love to him is one half of his religion; love to
his followers is the other half. The latter is the fruit of the former,
and the best evidence of its reality. "By this," saith our Saviour,
"shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to
another." And did he not pray for his little flock, that they might
love one another as he had loved them? And does not his most loving
apostle plainly tell us that this is the proof of our having passed
from death to life? And does not St. Paul assure us that it is "the
bond of perfectness" and "the fulfilling of the law"--more important
than faith, knowledge, miracles, the grandest eloquence, the largest
beneficence, and even martyrdom itself? How can you love Christ, and
not love Christians? If you love the Father, will you not love his
children? If you love the Master, will you not love his servants? Truly
loving your Monarch, can you fail to love your loyal fellow-subjects?
What proof give you, then, of your love to the brethren? Do you prefer
their society to that of the world? Do you delight to converse with
those who delight to converse with Christ and to converse with you
about him? Is it a great pleasure to you to do them kind offices,
supply their temporal needs, promote their spiritual well-being, and
cheer and comfort them in the manifold sorrows of life? Is their
interest as dear to you as your own, their reputation, and the
salvation of their souls? If not, how can it be said that you love them
as you love yourself? And, failing in this, where is the proof of your
love to him who laid down his life for us all?


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will sympathize with him in his grief
for those who love him not. Over the Jews who rejected him Jesus wept
upon Olivet, and for the Romans who crucified him he prayed upon his
cross. And when his loving heart broke beneath the burden of its
anguish, think you he ceased to grieve for a guilty and ungrateful
world? As he looks down from his mediatorial throne upon the multitudes
who everywhere spurn the gospel of his grace and seek death in the
error of their way--despising the riches of his goodness and
forbearance and longsuffering, treasuring up wrath against the day of
wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God--does he not
still weep and pray for the perishing neglecters of so great salvation,
and seek those who can weep and pray with him, in whose tears and
intercessions he can pour forth the full measure of his loving sorrow
for the undone? And, loving him, will you not respond to his
compassionate lamentations, feeling as he feels for the impenitent
ingrates who are despising their own mercy and trampling upon the
precious blood of their redemption? How is it with you, dear brethren?
Am I saying what sounds strange to you, if not absurd and preposterous?
Have you never wept for the wicked as Elisha did when he foresaw the
cruelties of Hazael, or as St. Paul did when he told his brethren of
the enemies of the cross of Christ? Have you never said with David--"I
beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; rivers of waters run down
mine eyes because they keep not thy law"? Tell me not that you love
Christ, while you have no sympathy with his love for sinners--no
self-sacrificing zeal to save them, pulling them out of the fire!


If you love the Lord Jesus, you will look for his glorious appearing
and long for his eternal fellowship. This was the one great gladdening
hope of the apostles and all the early Christians. Before his
departure, their dear Master had promised them that he would come
again, and receive them unto himself; and with perfect faith in his
word, they joyfully waited and watched for his return in the clouds of
heaven. And still the expectant bride is on the outlook for her absent
Lord; and often we hear her from behind the lattice of her
chamber-window calling--"Make haste, my Beloved! and be thou like the
young hart upon the mountains of spices!" What Christian soul does not
respond to the sweet words of Milton? "Come forth out of thy royal
chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth; put on the visible
robes of thy imperial majesty; take up that unlimited sceptre which thy
Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee; for now the voice of thy bride
calls thee, and all things sigh to be renewed!" What saint of Jesus
does not thrill to the eloquent strain of Edward Irving? "Blessed
consummation of this weary and sorrowful world! I give it welcome; I
hail its approach with joy; I wait its coming more than they that watch
for the morning! O my Lord, come away! hasten, with all thy congregated
ones! My soul desireth to see the King in his beauty, and the beautiful
ones he shall bring along with him!" Verily, "herein is our love made
perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as
he is so are we in this world." But were he this very day revealed from
heaven in flaming fire, should we take lute and timbrel and go forth to
welcome him to his ransomed world, or fly to the rocks and mountains to
hide from his presence and escape from his wrath? In a great earthquake
which shook a vast city, when the people said it was the day of
judgment and sought where they might take refuge from their Judge, a
certain poor man began to cry out--"Oh! is it so? is it so? Then
whither shall I go to meet my Lord? on what mountain shall I stand to
see my Saviour?" Oh! to greet the Redeemer in his glory--who that loves
him does not leap for joy at the expectation? "For the Lord himself
shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel
and the trump of God;" and the saints in their redeemed bodies "shall
be caught up in the clouds to meet him in the air, and so shall we ever
be with the Lord." Again the happy bride looks forth and cries--"The
voice of my Beloved! behold, he cometh, leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills!" And you, my dear brethren, if you truly love
your Saviour, so far from dreading him as your judge, will hail him as
your friend; when the sound of his chariot-wheels, heard from pole to
pole, shall gladden the graves of his beloved; and the voice of
rejoicing and praise, rising from the tabernacles of the righteous,
shall roll its thunder-chant through all the realms of joy!


Take, then, these _criteria_, and test your love to Christ. Surely
the result will be worth the examination. For what transcendent
importance, everywhere in Holy Scripture, is given to this divine
principle! and in all ages, especially all Christian ages, what fine
things have been said and sung of love! Not to recite the sublime
statements of St. John and the inspired raptures of St. Paul, with
which you are all familiar; the great bishop of Hippo calls it "that
sweet and sacred bond of the soul, having which the poorest is rich,
wanting which the richest is poor;" while the golden-mouthed orator of
Antioch declares it "the grandest mastery of the passions, and the
noblest freedom of the redeemed man." The prince of schoolmen, the
Angelical Doctor, writes: "Divine love surpasseth science, and is more
perfect than understanding; for we love more deeply than we know, and
love dwelleth in the heart, while knowledge remaineth without." The
greatest military chieftain of modern times remarked to his friend in
St. Helena: "I have conquered nations by the sword; Jesus Christ
overcame the world by love." A more heroic spirit--St. Catherine of
Sienna--says: "Love was the cord that bound the God-man to the cross;
the nails could not have held him there, had not love bound him fast."
The martyr-monk of Florence--Savonarola--cheering his fellow-sufferers
in the kingdom and patience of Jesus, assures them that love to the
dear Lord "plucks the sting of death and disinherits the grave," and
that he who thus conquers Satan in his final assault upon the soul "has
won the battle of life." And here is the noble testimony of Thomas à
Kempis: "Nothing is sweeter or purer than love; nothing is higher, or
broader, or fuller; nothing more pleasant, or more excellent, or more
heroic, in earth or heaven. Weary, it is not tired; oppressed, it is
not straitened; alarmed, it is not confounded; sleeping, it is ever
watchful; like a living flame and burning torch, forcing its way upward
and overcoming all things." Finally, Eloquence takes wing, and soars
with her sister Song; chanting in the strain of Sir Walter Scott--

  "Love rules the court, the camp, the grove;
  And men below, and saints above;
  For love is heaven, and heaven is love!"

or with Charles Wesley from his fire-chariot at the gates of pearl--

  "By faith we are come to our permanent home;
    By hope we the rapture improve;
  By love we still rise, and look down on the skies,
    For the heaven of heavens is love!"


In conclusion, let me repeat what I said in the outset. The question of
our Lord is a plain matter of fact, about which there need be no
uncertainty; and every one of us, with careful self-examination, may be
able to answer it at once. I have heard some honest Christians sing:

  "'Tis a point I long to know;
    Oft it causes anxious thought;
  Do I love the Lord or no?
    Am I his, or am I not?"

Discard that verse, my brethren! Its theology is worse than its poetry.
For a filial love, or a conjugal love, about which the wife or the
child is uncertain, you would not give a farthing. Do not the anxious
thought and the longing to know indicate at least some small degree of
love? Not loving at all, you would care nothing about it, you would be
quite indifferent to the question. Dim indeed the spark may be in your
bosom; but bless ye the Lord that it is not utterly gone out, and
answer his gracious inquiry with this better verse:

  "Lord, it is my chief complaint,
  That my love is still so faint;
  Yet I love thee, and adore;
  Oh for grace to love thee more!"

So praying, the breath of the Holy Spirit will soon blow the spark into
flame; and when the Master asks once more, "Lovest thou me?" with
bounding heart you will reply: "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou
knowest that I love thee!"



[1] Preached in London, Eng., 1866.



XII.

MANIFOLD TEMPTATIONS.[1]

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are
in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your
faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it
be tried with fire, may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the
appearing of Jesus Christ.--1 Pet. i. 6, 7.


Why is not the Christian life a perpetual joy? Why do so many sincere
Christians seem often melancholy and unhappy? The human heart is easily
moved, and very little is necessary to set it vibrating with pleasant
emotion. The voice of a happy child, the carol of a forest bird, the
beauty of an opening rose, the glory of a sunset sky, the coming of a
valued friend, the visitation of a vagrant dream, the recollection of a
peaceful hour, the wind that chases away the misty cloud, even a word
in season fitly spoken, may fill the soul with tranquil happiness or
raise it to an ecstasy of delight. Why, then, should not the believer
in Jesus rejoice evermore with joy unspeakable and full of glory? With
the glad tidings which the gospel brings us, the love of God in Christ
which it reveals, the assurance of redemption, the remission of sins,
the communion of saints, the ministry of angels, the visions of
paradise restored, the anticipated epiphany of our Lord in his glory,
the advent of the New Jerusalem in all its golden magnificence, the
restitution and renovation of this disordered _cosmos_, the
awakening of the body from its long sleep in the sepulchre, and the
life everlasting of the just in the many mansions of their Father's
house, why do we not make the valley of Baca ring with the prelude of
our eternal song? Strange, indeed, that all this should have so little
power to cheer, and gladden the people of God in the house of their
pilgrimage--that Christian enjoyment should seem in general so feeble
and so fleeting, when it ought to flow on with the constant strength
and increase of a great river to its repose in the amplitude of an
unsounded sea.

The apostle in the text solves for us the mystery. It is not that there
is nothing in Christianity to cheer and elevate the feelings. In the
great mercy of God, which hath begotten us again to a new and living
hope by the certain resurrection of our crucified Lord--in the prospect
of an imperishable inheritance reserved for us in heaven, and the
perfect assurance of our divine preservation till that inheritance
shall be revealed--we do indeed "greatly rejoice," exult with gladness,
leap with exuberant joy; though now for a little while, as necessary
for our spiritual discipline, we may be put to grief in "manifold
temptations." Faith we have in these glorious disclosures of Christ's
evangel, and that faith is genuine, efficient, sometimes quite
triumphant; but at present, perhaps, the gold is in the furnace,
enduring the test from which it shall soon come forth purified,
beautified, fit for the coronal of our expected King.


The word temptation sometimes means enticement, and sometimes trial. We
are tempted when we are enticed to evil, whether by Satan, or his
servants, or our own evil hearts; and we are tempted when our faith is
tried, when our virtue is tested, when our character is put to the
proof, whether by the malice of men or the providence of God.
Evidently, the term here is to be taken in the latter sense. The
temptations of which the apostle speaks are trials, such as those of
Job, Jacob, David, the holy prophets and martyrs, all in every age who
live godly in Christ Jesus. "Manifold temptations" are complicated
trials--trial within trial--one infolding another--one overlapping
another--many involved in one--all so interlaced and bound up together
that we cannot analyze them, cannot even trace the threads of the
tangled skein. The grief or "heaviness" which they produce does not
necessarily indicate a want of trust in God, or of submission to his
holy will. The firmest believer and most steadfast disciple may
sometimes, through outward affliction, walk in darkness and have no
light, even while he trusts in the name of the Lord and stays himself
upon his God. Christ never doubted his Father's love, nor feared the
issue of his mighty undertaking; yet when the hour and the power of
darkness came upon him, he "began to be sorrowful," "sore amazed," and
"very heavy." "Not my will, but thine, be done"--was the language of
his guiltless lips, when bowed in his baptism of blood beneath a burden
which might have crushed a world. So his suffering servants patiently
endure their tribulations, glorifying God in the midst of the fire, and
singing with the royal psalmist--"Why art thou cast down, O my soul!
and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall
yet praise him for the help of his countenance!"


Christianity offers us no exemption from the ills of life, but gives us
grace to bear them, and sanctifies all to our highest good. It is as
true now as in the days of David, "Many are the afflictions of the
righteous;" and after more than eighteen centuries, the apostolic
statement needs no qualification--"It is through much tribulation that
we must enter into the kingdom of heaven." The thwarted scheme; the
blighted hope; the ill-requited love; the frequent betrayal of
confidence; the falseness or fickleness of trusted friendship; the
cross of shame laid by another's hand upon the shoulder; the deep
anxiety about the future, which robs the present of more than half its
joys; the sudden failure of health, withering the bloom of youth, or
bringing down the strength of stalwart manhood; the moral defection of
one long loved and cherished, involving the irretrievable ruin of a
character as dear to you as your own; the death-couch where, day by day
and night by night, the mother fans the flickering spark of life in her
darling child; the dear mounds in the cemetery, where affection fondly
strews her memorial blossoms, and keeps them fresh and fragrant with
her tears; many a secret grief, too sacred for the stranger to meddle
with, and too tender to be breathed into the ear of the most familiar
friend; and more than all, Christ's virgin bride weeping in sackcloth
and ashes--a broken-hearted captive that cannot sing the Lord's song in
the land of the idolater and the oppressor;--these are some of the
fiery trials and manifold temptations by which a gracious Providence is
disciplining us for our better destiny. But the ordeal is as varied as
the shades of character and the aspects of human life. Now we have
fears within; anon we have fightings without; then deep calleth unto
deep at the noise of God's water-spouts, and all his waves and billows
are gone over us. But the Lord rideth in the tempest and sitteth upon
the flood; saying to the fiery steeds of the one and the angry waters
of the other--"Hitherto, but no farther!" No chance is here; all is
beneficent design and transcendent wisdom, restricting and controlling
the agencies of our providential discipline as our spiritual interests
may require. "Now," not always--"for a season," not forever--"if need
be," not without the ascertained--are the Lord's beloved subjected to
these terrible ordeals. The probation must precede the award. The shock
of battle comes before the victor's triumph. Be not disheartened, but
hold fast to your hope. The tide that is gone out will soon return. The
revolving wheel that has brought you so low will soon lift you on high.
But there is no rose without its thorn, nor dayspring unheralded by the
darkness. Our light afflictions are but for a moment. Like summer
showers they come and go, leaving the heaven brighter and the earth
more beautiful. Many a sore chastening, over which we have wept with a
sorrow almost inconsolable, has proved one of the greatest blessings
that God ever granted us in this vale of tears. What is needful for us,
he knows better than we. The refiner sits by his furnace; and the
hotter the fire, the shorter the process and the more thorough the
purification. The physician watches by his patient, with his hand upon
the pulse, observing every symptom, and thrilling to every throb of
pain. The trial cannot be too severe for his purpose, nor too long
continued for our good. God wants to see how much joy, how little
sorrow, he can mingle in our cup, with perfect safety to our spiritual
health, and a long series of experiments may be required for the
perfect solution of the problem. He is leading us through the great and
terrible wilderness to a city of habitation; and as we look back from
the hills of our goodly heritage upon the rough path of our pilgrimage,
the whole journey may seem to us as a dream when one awaketh. Not all
of the Christian's sufferings are the products of Christianity; many of
his bitterest griefs are altogether of his own creation; and yet there
is not an evil he endures, from which Christianity does not propose to
evolve good for him--not a dark cloud which it does not glorify with
its beams, nor a crown of thorns which it does not convert into a
jewelled diadem.


But while the burden is mercifully lightened, it is not at once
removed. The aim of our heavenly Father is not so much to take it away,
as to enable us so to bear it that it may become a blessing. Thus he
would test our faith, develop its strength, prove its reality and
efficiency. But why should faith be thus tested? why not rather the
whole Christian character? Because faith is the root of character; and
as is the root, so is the tree. The test of faith is practically the
test of character, and in this fact lies the obvious value of the test.
It is the law of the universe, and an essential factor in the process
of our salvation. Look at this mass of gold just brought from the mine.
How beautiful! how precious! But there are impurities in it. The true
metal must be disengaged from all baser substances. Cast it into the
crucible. "See! it is melted!" Yes, but not destroyed. "Is it not
welded to the alloy?" No; it is separated from it--purified--glorified!
So with our faith. Too precious to be purchased, even a single grain of
it, with all the gold-fields of the world, it must be purged of its
dross, and made easily distinguishable from the common counterfeits
which deceive mankind. God gives it to the furnace. Does it perish in
the process? Nay, it is as imperishable as Christ, and as enduring as
the soul. The ordeal proves its genuineness and develops its latent
lustre. The principle is universal, and everywhere manifest--evolved by
Nature, illustrated by Providence--testing laws, customs, institutions,
civilizations--awarding due honors to the wise, the pure, the brave,
the true-hearted--consigning the false, the foolish, the indolent, the
pusillanimous, to merited oblivion or infamy. Over the pearl-gates of
the city of God is inscribed: "Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life
which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Abraham's faith
was tried by fire in the Plain of Mamre and on the Mount Moriah. St.
Peter's faith was tried by fire in the garden, in the basilica, and at
the Saviour's cross. In Eden, the first Adam's innocence was tested to
our shame; in the wilderness of Judæa, the second Adam's obedience was
tested to our glory. Before the birth of humanity, angelic loyalty
passed through its ordeal in the heavenly places; and when the fulness
of the prophetic times was come, God made proof of his love to a fallen
race by a trial which shook the earth and rocked the thrones of hell.
"If these things are done in the green tree, what shall not be done in
the dry?" Every thing else tested, why not Christian character? For,
what is Christian character? Is it not a man's protest against sin, his
declaration of a new life in Christ, his assertion of a citizenship in
heaven and joint heirship with the Son of God? Surely, this is a matter
of sufficient moment to require a test, and no test can be too rigid
that brings out the blessed reality. Think not strange, then, of the
fiery ordeal. Providence is thus co-operating with grace for your
sanctification. Bruised by tribulation, the flowers of Christian virtue
give out more freely their fragrant odors; and the clusters of the vine
of God must be trodden in the wine-press before they yield the precious
juice which shall gladden the children of the kingdom. "When he hath
tried me," saith Job, "I shall come forth as gold." By trial faith is
transmuted into works, and by works faith shall be justified before the
assembled worlds. "The Egyptians, whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall
see no more forever." Courage, ye fearful saints! The clouds which are
gathering over you shall rain righteousness upon you; the lightning
that blinds you reveals the chariot of your King; the thunder that
terrifies you assures you of his love. Courage! His glorious epiphany
is at hand. Forth shall he come from the pavilions of the sky, with an
escort of many angels, and anthems that wake the echoes of eternity.
Then shall the tears of earth become the gems of heaven; and the
tuneful sorrows of every psalmist shall rise, thrilling, into choral
hallelujahs! And who will ever regret the "heaviness through manifold
temptations" which hath wrought in him a meetness for the bliss
immortal, or behold with aught but joy ineffable the precious gold of
his faith which was tried with fire, now "found unto praise and honor
and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ!"



[1] Preached at East Brent, Somersetshire, Eng., 1866.



XIII.

CONTEST AND CORONATION.[1]

I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the
faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not
to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.--2
Tim. iv. 6-8.


I go back eighteen centuries and a half into the past, and find myself
in a grand old Syrian city. About midday I ride out at a western gate
along a great highway looking toward a picturesque group of mountains.
Straight before me towers the white head of Hermon, like that of a
patriarch amidst his children. On my right and left are groves and
gardens and smiling villas, a paradise of verdure and beauty, as far as
the eye can reach. On this road marched Abraham two thousand years
before me, and Jacob returning from Padan-Aram, and Jonah going to
Nineveh, and all Israel in chains to Babylon. Enough, surely, in these
objects, to stir the dullest brain and kindle the coldest heart. Thus
occupied, my attention is suddenly arrested by a troop of horsemen
riding briskly toward the city. Their leader is a young man, of rather
low stature, with keen black eye, and stern and determined aspect. A
single look is sufficient to assure me that he is no common man, and
here on no common errand. It is the tiger of Tarsus, in fierce pursuit
of some of the lambs of the Good Shepherd. A few Christians from
Jerusalem, driven out by persecution, have come hither for refuge; and
Saul, with full authority, self-solicited, is on their track,
"breathing out threatening and slaughter." You know the rest. Blessed
be the lightning-stroke that consecrated what it smote, and made the
bold persecutor the bravest apostle of the Crucified!

Thirty years later, in the world's metropolis, I visit the Mammertine
Prison adjoining the Forum. Who is this, sitting on a block of
travertine, with a tablet on his knee, a stylus in his hand, and a
little ewer-shaped lamp at his side? As he looks up a moment from his
writing, I see something in his face that reminds me of the young
officer at the head of that vengeful expedition. He is indeed the same
man--the same, and yet another. Toil, hardship, privation,
imprisonment, and cruel treatment of all kinds, have wrought sad
changes in his physical frame. Bent, bald, almost blind, though not
more than sixty-five years old, I should hardly have recognized him
without a word from his warder. One of Nero's victims, he waits here
calmly for the hour of his release by the sword. Already doomed perhaps
by sentence of the tyrant--it is not certain--neither he nor his keeper
knows--he has undertaken another letter--most likely the last he will
ever write--to Timothy, his "dearly beloved son." Abounding with godly
counsel and encouragement to an intrepid and zealous young bishop, it
is full also of the most inspiring utterances of Christian faith and
hope. Among other incentives to diligence and fidelity, he adduces his
own experience and expectation, and these are his words of cheer: "I am
now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I
have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the
faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not
to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

Not all called to be ministers and martyrs of Christ, we are all called
to be his constant and uncompromising followers; and in the humblest
sphere of Christian discipleship there is demand for the utmost
activity and zeal, and in many cases for the heroic martyr-spirit
commended to the bishop and exemplified in the apostle. Let us see,
then, what instruction we can get from the text.


The first thing here to be noted is the apostle's calm contemplation of
his present position: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my
departure is at hand."

In a popular work of fiction two characters are taking final leave of
each other. The one is full of heart and hope; the other, deeply
dejected and despondent. "Farewell," is the last sad word of the
latter--"Farewell! your way leads upward to happiness; mine
downward--to happiness also." Such helpless resignation to the
inevitable, in one form or another, we may all have witnessed. Few
things are more common in human experience; and the dying, however much
they have loved life or dreaded death, yield themselves at last to what
cannot be averted or avoided. But in the apostle's language there is
something more than this stolid and sullen submission. There is
cheerful faith and buoyant hope--a conscious triumph over all the evils
of life and all the terrors of death.

I had a friend very ill. For three days his life hung in doubt with his
physician. When he began to recover, he said to me: "Death came and
looked me in the face; but, thank God! I could look him in the face
without fear." Here stands a man face to face with the last enemy in a
far more terrible form. To die as a public criminal at the hand of the
executioner is very different from lying down to sleep one's self into
another world--very different even from falling in the field fighting
for all that is dearest to the patriotic heart. Yet the apostle speaks
of his fate as calmly as if he were about only to set out on a journey
or embark for a voyage. The manner of his death he already knows. A
Roman citizen, he cannot be burned, strangled, or crucified, like some
of his brethren; and Nero, devil as he is, can do no worse than take
off his head and send him to his Saviour. He is ready to be offered as
a sacrifice--poured out as a libation; and the time of his
departure--the loosing of the hawser--the lifting of the anchor--is at
hand, when he shall sail out upon the ocean of eternity.

A good man, dying, said: "I am in the valley, and it is dark; I feel
the waters, and they are cold." Not so the apostle. All with him is
bright, hopeful, joyous. His last hours are the best of his life. It is
not a stoical indifference to suffering, nor a disgust with the world
that has misused him, nor a weariness of his holy work. Long since he
learned in every state to be content. Some years ago he was in a strait
betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, but willing
to remain a while in the flesh for the benefit of his brethren. For
him, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Living or dying, he is the
Lord's, and Christ is magnified in his flesh. At peace with heaven and
earth, what has he to fear from either? Knowing whom he has believed,
and confident that he is able to keep that which he has committed to
his custody, he is ready at the beck of the executioner to go forth
from his dungeon, and his last walk on the Ostian Way shall be the
triumphal march of the conqueror.


The second thing here to be noted is the apostle's pleasing review of
his accomplished career: "I have fought a good fight; I have finished
my course; I have kept the faith."

The reference is to the old Grecian games--the Olympian, the Isthmian,
the Nemean, and the Pythian. These festivals, we are informed,
originated with Pelops, were brought to perfection by Hercules and
Atreus, and restored by Iphitus when they had fallen into neglect. Very
popular they were, celebrated with great pomp and ceremony, and made
use of to mark memorable events and public eras--that of consuls at
Rome, of archons at Athens, of priestesses at Argos. From Greece they
passed to Italy; and were so much in vogue at the world's metropolis,
that an ancient author speaks of them as not less important to the
people than their bread. With these spectacles both St. Paul and his
beloved Timothy must have been well acquainted, and in the writings of
the former no metaphors are more frequent than those drawn from the
Grecian games.

"I have fought a good fight"--literally, striven a good strife, or
agonized a good agony. The reference is to the athletic contests of the
arena--wrestling, boxing, and fighting with swords. The apostle's life
had been a perpetual struggle and conflict. He says he has "fought with
beasts at Ephesus"--a metaphorical description doubtless of his fierce
encounter there with the enemies of Christianity. Wherever he went, he
met hosts of foes, marshalled under the banners of Jewish prejudice and
pagan superstition. And the world assailed him with all its enginery of
temptation and persecution; and the native corruption of his own heart
caused him many a sore conflict, though in all these things he was more
than conqueror through the victorious Captain of his salvation. As with
St. Paul, so with all Christians; baptized into a warfare with the
world, the flesh and the Devil; and signed with the sign of the cross
in token of this consecration as Christ's servants and soldiers to
their life's end. But this is "a good fight"--in a good cause, under a
good captain, with good arms, good allies, good comrades, good
supplies, good success, and good rewards--in all respects better than
the patriot's battle for freedom, the crusader's conflict for the holy
sepulchre, or any competition ever maintained in the arenas of Greece
and Rome.

"I have finished my course." The figure is changed. Seated with fifty
or sixty thousand spectators in the Circus Maximus, we are looking down
upon the _stadium_, where men stripped to the waist, with eyes
fixed upon the goal, are rushing along for the prize. There goes St.
Paul!

  "Swiftest and foremost of the race,
  He carries victory in his face,
    He triumphs while he runs!"

Forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forward to those
which are before, how eagerly he presses toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! With our apostle this is a
favorite illustration of the Christian life--its steady aim, its
strenuous action, its habitual self-denial, and patient endurance to
the end. "Know ye not," he writes to the Corinthians, "that they who
run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may
obtain.... They do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an
incorruptible." And in the Epistle to the Hebrews we read: "Seeing we
are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay
aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run
with patience the race that is set before us." So all Christians must
run, never pausing in their progress, nor for a moment relaxing their
energies, till from the goal they can look back and say--"I have
finished my course."

"I have kept the faith." Here seems to be a reference to the strict
rules and rigid discipline to be observed in both these methods of
competition. In the arena and on the _stadium_ every thing was
duly ordered and prescribed, nothing left to chance or choice, and he
that strove for the mastery was not crowned except he strove lawfully.
In the race, there must be no deviation from the line marked out for
the runner; in the combat, no unfairness nor violation of the rules. "I
therefore so run, not as uncertainly," saith the apostle; "so fight I,
not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it
into subjection, lest after having preached to others I myself should
be rejected." "Would you obtain a prize in the Olympic games?" said a
pagan philosopher. "A noble design! But consider the requirements and
the consequences. You must live by rule; you must eat when you are not
hungry; you must abstain from agreeable food; you must habituate
yourself to suffer cold and heat; in one word, you must surrender
yourself in all things to the guidance of a physician." "The just shall
live by his faith." Without adherence to this rule, there is no reward.
"The life which I live in the flesh," saith St. Paul, "I live by the
faith of the Son of God." It is faith that strengthens the Christian
_agonisti_ with might in the inner man. It is faith that unites
the soul to Christ, and overcomes the world. The shipwreck of faith is
the shipwreck also of a good conscience. Keep the faith, and it will
keep you. St. Paul kept it, and triumphed in martyrdom.


The third thing here to be noted is the apostle's joyful foresight of
his glorious coronation: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at
that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his
appearing."

The object of the apostle's hope is no garland of withering leaves or
fading flowers, such as honored the victor in the Grecian games; nor a
diadem of gems and gold, such as glorified imperial brows at Rome. He
had sowed righteousness, and righteousness he hoped to reap. He had
wrought righteousness, and righteousness was to be his reward. The
principle of the competition was the chief jewel of the expected crown.
The victor's award must show the character of the conflict. And what,
to such a prize, are all the splendors of royalty, with all the
magnificent pageantry and subsequent privileges of an Olympian triumph?
Imperishable, it is called "a crown of life," and "a crown of glory
that fadeth not away." In the Convent of Sant Onofrio, I have seen the
wreath intended for the living Tasso, but delayed too long, and placed
by the _fratti_ upon the brow of the dead; and, though very
carefully preserved, it was all sear, and crisp, and falling to decay;
but upon your heads, O ye righteous! shall your crowns flourish, when
this earth and these heavens are no more.

The judge who awarded the prize to the victor at the Grecian games
might decide unjustly, either through culpable partiality, or from
involuntary error; but "the Lord, the righteous judge," who is to
decide the fate of the Christian _agonisti_, is no respecter of
persons, and his perfect knowledge and infallible wisdom render
mistakes with him impossible. St. Paul's imperial judge was the very
incarnation of iniquity; but Christ "shall judge the world in
righteousness," and "reward every man according to his works."

The crown was not conferred as soon as the racer reached the goal or
the gladiator gave the fatal thrust, but was reserved till the contests
were all over and ended, and the claims of the several candidates were
carefully canvassed and adjudicated. So the "crown of righteousness" is
"laid up" to be given "at that day," when the Lord Jesus shall come to
be glorified in his saints. One says, "we must die first;" St. Paul
tells us we must rise first. Blessed, indeed, are the dead in Christ;
but their blessedness cannot be consummated till their Lord return from
heaven and they appear with him in glory.

And to whom, or how many, is the crown to be given? "To all them that
love his appearing." All the contestants shall then be collected, and
every victor crowned. Christ hath crowns enough for the whole assembly
of his saints, and the most illustrious of his apostles would not wish
to wear them all. The humblest and obscurest Christian shall have his
portion in the royal inheritance. There is only one condition--that we
"love his appearing." This was the chief mark of his first followers.
Through all their bitter conflicts, their hope clung to the Master's
promise. Have we such hope? Rejoice then, and be exceeding glad! Fight
on; stretch forward; hold fast your precious faith. In the crown that
glitters in the hand of your Judge, is there not sufficient indemnity
for all the agony of the conflict?

To this prospect, alas! there is an appalling contrast. Some are
fighting an evil fight, running a ruinous race, repudiating the only
faith that can save the soul. Think you by unrighteousness to win the
crown of righteousness? "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; whatsoever
a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Even in the Grecian contests,
the unsuccessful candidate found all his toil and struggle utterly
unprofitable at the end. And you who never enter the lists, who take no
part in the competition, who are mere spectators of the earnestness and
the agony of others--will you dare, when the Judge cometh, to stand
forth and claim the crown for which you have never striven? "Awake to
righteousness!" Condemned already, dead in trespasses and sins, aliens
from the Church and strangers to the covenant--what hope is there for
you, but in God's regenerating grace, a thorough change of heart and
life, a moral transformation of character which shall make you new
creatures in Christ Jesus? Not yet is it all too late. Come and offer
yourselves as candidates for the heavenly competition. Grace will
accept your late repentance, and you will have nothing to regret but
your long delay. We challenge you to the contest. All heaven awaits
your decision. How long halt you? It is high time you were determined.
Step forward, take your position, and struggle for the crown of
righteousness which the righteous Judge shall give that day to all who
love his appearing!



[1] Preached at Brighton, Eng., 1866.



XIV.

CALVARY TOKEN.[1]

As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's
death till he come.--1 Cor. xi. 26.


Between Chattanooga and Atlanta occurred some of the severest conflicts
of the American Civil War. For more than a hundred miles the fields are
covered with battle-scars, and every hill-top bears traces of
fortifications. Near one of the most memorable places may now be seen a
cemetery, where Northern and Southern soldiers, side by side, await the
resurrection. Visiting it a year after the struggle was over and ended,
I found an East-Tennessee farmer sitting by a grave at the head of
which he had just erected a handsome marble. To my question--"Was the
soldier lying here your son?" he answered: "No, sir; he was my
neighbor. I was drafted for the army; my family were all sick; I knew
not how to leave them; I was sadly perplexed and troubled. A young man
came to me, and said: 'You shall not go; I will go for you; I have no
family to care for.' Glad to remain with those who needed me so much, I
accepted his generous offer. He went, but never returned. I have
brought this stone more than a hundred miles, to set it at the head of
his grave. Look there, stranger!" I followed with my eyes the direction
of his finger, and read under the name of the noble dead: "He died for
me!" And we both bowed the head, and wept.

My dear brethren, there is One far nobler who died for you and me. With
a disinterestedness unparalleled in the annals of war, he took our
place in a fiercer conflict than was ever waged for freedom or for
empire. Fighting our battle, he fell; but falling, conquered all our
foes. Triumphant he rose from the dead, and ascended on high, leading
our captivity captive. At the right hand of the throne of God, in our
nature redeemed and glorified, "he ever liveth to make intercession for
us." All that we have or hope of good we owe to his dying love. But in
an upper chamber at Jerusalem, with a few chosen witnesses present,
just before he went forth to the final engagement, he instituted for us
a perpetual memorial of his unexampled charity. Taking bread, he
blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, saying: "Take, eat; this
is my body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me."
Then, taking the cup, he gave to them, saying: "Drink ye all of this;
for this is my blood of the new covenant, shed for you, and for many,
for the remission of sins; do this in remembrance of me." This
finished, he chanted part of the Great Hallel with the beloved twelve,
as if the victory were already won; then gave them his valedictory
address, and went out to die. And some twenty-four years later, the
great Apostle Paul, in a letter to the Christians of Corinth, having
narrated the facts just as they are recorded by the evangelists, adds
these solemn words for the benefit of his brethren in all subsequent
ages: "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the
Lord's death till he come."


Here, then, is the precious Calvary token bequeathed by the dear
Saviour to his redeemed Church. While we contemplate it, hear we not a
voice from the excellent glory bidding us take off the shoes from our
feet? Approaching the altar to gaze upon the great sacrificial
memorial, the ground we tread is holier than that on which Moses stood
before the bush that burned in Horeb. There is more of God seen here
than in all the fires of Sinai. There he made known his law; here he
reveals his love. There we read his will; here we behold his heart. No
other ordinance, even of the new and everlasting covenant, contains so
much of majesty, so much of mystery, so much of sanctity, and at the
same time so much of mercy, as the eucharistic feast; in which the
Messiah stands forth to our faith at once the sacrifice and the
sacrificer, in the same sacred solemnity instituting an everlasting
memorial and a perpetual priesthood.

To us, more than eighteen centuries after the fact, if we have any
right feeling and clear perception, the solemn transaction in the upper
room,

  "On that sad memorable night,"

must wear an aspect far more interesting than it wore at the moment
even to the apostles themselves. For we are able to view the matter
more deliberately and more dispassionately than they could, and with
many additional side-lights to aid our apprehension of the divine
truths involved. Certainly no act of the Saviour has laid his Church
under greater obligation, none has exhibited in more attractive colors
the relations he sustains to his redeemed people. Taking the bread and
the cup, does he not remind us of his having taken our flesh and blood?
Presenting them with solemn benediction to the Father, does he not
intimate to us the offering of his humanity to Heaven as a sacrifice
for our sins? Giving them to his disciples with the command to eat and
drink, does he not assure us that he is ours with all the infinite
benefits of his incarnation and atonement forever? Ordering the
apostles and their apostolical successors as his priests to do what
they have just seen him do as their Lord, does he not furnish us a
perpetual commemoration of his redeeming love, and a perpetual
demonstration of his quickening power, till his return in glorious
majesty from heaven to rule the world he ransomed with his blood?


Under both the Hebrew and the heathen rituals, the meat-offering and
the drink-offering were inseparable from every piacular sacrifice; and
without the conjunctive offering of bread and wine, it is difficult to
see how either Hebrew or heathen could have regarded the death of
Christ as an expiation for sin. As the death of a martyr, indeed, they
might well enough have taken it; but as a sacrifice for human
transgression, how could they have received it, unaccompanied by the
Holy Supper? Were the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ in
the physical sense maintained by the Church of Rome, their perpetual
presentation by personal intercession before the Father's throne would
be superfluous and even impossible, while the voluntary death of our
dear Lord upon the cross would be unnecessary and suicidal. Were they
the body and blood of Christ in the merely emblematical sense
maintained by the ultra-Protestant sects, they would constitute for us
no sufficient assurance of his ever-living mediation in heaven, nor to
God any effectual remembrancer of his suffering in the flesh for the
expiation of our guilt. Therefore those denominations who deny the
propitiatory character of his passion have little care or scruple about
the due observance of this most sacred festival--

  "Rich banquet of his flesh and blood."


"This do," said the divine Author of the institution, "in remembrance
of me"--strictly, "for my memorial;" not merely remembering
me--reminding yourselves and others of me; but memorializing God the
Father--reminding him of the self-presentation of his well-beloved Son
as an offering and a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor for our
salvation. In doing this, we do not repeat the once offered and forever
accepted propitiation for our guilt--a thing which, indeed, we cannot
do, and which no word of Holy Scripture warrants us in attempting; but
we present a spiritual memorial of that propitiation, setting forth in
the sight of God the perfect work and infinite merit of our personal
Redeemer; we present the consecrated bread and wine, and with them we
present ourselves and the whole catholic Church, to him who delivered
up his own Son for us all, and accepted that Son's unknown sorrows and
sufferings as a sufficient satisfaction for all human sin. This is the
essence of the eucharistic oblation, the anti-typical peace-offering,
the great sacrifice of the faithful. How unworthy are we of so sublime
a service! and how should we cleanse ourselves to appear with such a
gift at the portals of the heavenly sanctuary!


In the presence of the chosen twelve presenting to the Father the
meat-offering and drink-offering of the true Paschal Lamb, the
appointed High-Priest of our profession solemnly attested to heaven and
earth the sacrificial character of his ensuing sufferings, and pledged
himself to the speedy accomplishment of the great sin-offering once for
all. Enjoining upon his apostles the perpetual continuance of the same
ministration by an unfailing succession of consecrated men, he provided
the Church with a proof and the world with a token of the everlasting
endurance and efficacy of that sacrifice, once offered, often
commemorated, and eternally acceptable to God. Instituting a memorial
for all subsequent ages of the completeness and perpetuity of his
personal sacrifice, he instituted also the means of appropriating its
benefits; and the Christian meat-offering and drink-offering being so
intimately associated with the Christian sacrifice, the partaker in
faith of the one is partaker in fact of the other, truly eating the
flesh and drinking the blood of God's incarnate Son. Hear the Saviour's
memorable words in the Capernaum synagogue: "Verily, verily, I say unto
you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye
have no life in you; whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath
eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day; for my flesh is
meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed; he that eateth my flesh and
drinketh my blood dwelleth in me and I in him."

Hard sayings were these to some who heard them, and hard they still are
to all self-blinded unbelievers; but, as St. Augustine says, they are
hard only to the hardened, and incredible only to the incredulous. To
us who believe, though mysterious, they are very precious. We apprehend
their spiritual meaning, and rejoice in the privilege which they open
to our faith. Eating and drinking at the Lord's table, we become
partakers of his life, his holiness, and his immortality. Here we
participate with the Eternal Father in his joy over the accomplished
work of his Beloved Son, and with that Beloved Son himself in his joy
over the redeemed Church--his treasure and his bride; while heaven and
earth unite in the glad festival of faith--the hidden manna and the new
wine of the kingdom. And if the living Christ be thus in you, dear
brethren! what outward enemy is too strong for you--what duty too
arduous--what ordeal too severe? Away with your doubts and fears, O ye
faint-hearted disciples! Can you not trust him who, in the power of an
endless life, has established his throne in your hearts? With Christ,
all things are yours, and no agency of earth or hell can rob you of
your regal inheritance!


Contingent upon the sacrifice of the cross, and from that sacrifice
deriving all its meaning and its merit, the eucharistic sacrament
itself becomes relatively sacrificial. As beforehand there was a
continual sacrificial anticipation of Immanuel's atoning death, so
after the event is there a continual sacramental commemoration of the
accomplished purpose and prophecy. Both the Jewish passover which
foreshadowed the future fact, and the Christian eucharist which to-day
commemorates the fact historical, are sacrificial on the same principle
and by the same rule--their relation to the cross of Calvary which
gives them all their virtue and their value. The agony is over, and
Christ dieth no more; the atonement once made without the walls of
Jerusalem is still presented by our divine High-Priest before the
mercy-seat within the vail. To all who believe, it is efficacious
forever, needing no annual or even millennial repetition. But in the
eucharistic sacrament, with prayers and thanksgivings, we lift up the
reeking cross before the Eternal Father, and plead the sufferings of
his Well-Beloved for our salvation. We say to God: "Behold this broken
bread; it is the mangled flesh of thy Christ! Behold this purple cup;
it is the blood which he shed for our sins! Behold at thy right hand
our slaughtered Paschal Lamb, and for his sake have mercy upon us and
save us!"

Thus we say the holy eucharist is relatively sacrificial--sacrificial
from its inseparable connection with the Redeemer's sacrifice. But even
in this sense--the only one admissible to a true faith--the holy
eucharist could not be sacrificial, were not its ministers in a
corresponding sense sacerdotal. As the sacrament becomes relatively
sacrificial by representing the Saviour's sacrifice, so its ministers
become relatively sacerdotal by representing his person and functions.
Commencing in the paschal chamber an ever-during sacrifice by
ministering in person its accompanying meat-offering and
drink-offering, he commenced there also the order of an ever-during
priesthood by empowering his apostolic ministry to perpetuate that
meat-offering and drink-offering forever. And, conferring sacerdotal
functions upon the apostolic ministry, he conferred them upon that
ministry alone. If he did not intend to limit to the twelve and their
consecrated followers the power of consecrating and dispensing the
sacramental bread and wine, why were not the whole five hundred
brethren, or all the vast concourse of followers from Galilee, admitted
to the original celebration? The selection of the few proves the
exclusion of the many, and restricts the perpetual prerogative to the
ministry of apostolical succession.

The sacerdotal oblation being essential, the sacerdotal celebration is
equally essential. The priest must consecrate; the priest must
administer; or there is no divinely authorized memorial of the one
everlasting sacrifice. No such memorial, where is the recognized bond,
connecting the body on earth to its glorified Head in heaven? No such
bond, what becomes of the Church, and what assurance has she of an
eternal inheritance? That bond secure, the Church is invincible and
immortal; the city of God stands upon a rock which no shock of
colliding worlds can shake; all her happy people, instinct with the
life of their Lord, walking in white robes her streets of gold. And the
apostolic series of sacerdotal ministers continuing to the end of time,
the conjoined memorial of consecrated bread and wine shall still bind
the successive generations of the faithful to the sacrificial cross,
till he who for our great and endless comfort instituted the holy
mystery nearly two thousand years ago shall return with all his flaming
cohorts from the skies to take us to himself forever. "As often as ye
eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he
come."



[1] Preached at Porto Bello, Edinburgh, Scot., 1866. For much
of the thought contained in this discourse the author is indebted to
the Christology of the Old Testament, by the honored rector of
his childhood, the Rev. Joseph Stephenson, A.M., late of Lympsham,
Somersetshire, Eng.



XV.

HEROISM TRIUMPHANT.[1]

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,
and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every
place.--2 Cor. ii. 14.


The grandest of all human pageants was a Roman triumph. This honor was
conferred only upon the emperor or the general who had conquered a
province, or achieved some signal victory. The conqueror was arrayed in
rich purple robes, embroidered with flowers and figures of gold. His
buskins were adorned with pearls and costly gems, and a wreath of
laurel or a crown of gold was set upon his head. In one hand he held a
laurel branch, the emblem of victory; and in the other his truncheon,
the symbol of authority and power. He was borne in a magnificent
chariot, drawn generally by white horses, but sometimes by other
animals. Pompey had elephants; Mark Antony, lions; Heliogabalus,
tigers; Marcus Aurelius, reindeer. Musicians led the procession,
playing triumphal marches; and heralds, proclaiming the achievements of
the victorious hero. These were followed by young men, leading the
victims, with gilded horns and garlanded heads, intended for
sacrifice. Next came the wagons, loaded with the spoils and trophies of
the conquered foe; succeeded by the captured horses, camels, elephants,
and gayly decorated carriages; and after these, the captive kings,
queens, princes, and generals, loaded with chains. Then was seen the
triumphal chariot, outdoing all other magnificence; before which boys
swung censers and maidens strewed flowers; while the people, as it
passed, prostrated themselves and shouted, "_Io triumphe!_"
Immediately behind marched the sentries; and the procession was closed
by the priests and their attendants, with the various sacrificial
utensils, and a white ox destined for the chief victim. Entering the
city by the Porta Capaena, passing through the triumphal arch, and
proceeding along the Via Sacra, the splendid _cortége_ moved on
toward the Capitol; at the foot of which the captives divided, some led
to the Mammertine and Tullian dungeons on the right, while the others
went straight forward to the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus; the former
doomed to death, the latter made tributaries if not even allies of
imperial Rome. Meanwhile, the temples all being open, every altar
smoked with sacrificial fires, and clouds of incense filled the city
and sweetened all the air.


With such spectacles the Corinthians were not unacquainted. About two
hundred years before St. Paul wrote this epistle, Lucius Mummius, the
Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia; had destroyed Corinth, Chalcus
and Thebes; and, by order of the senate, had been honored with a
splendid triumph and the surname of Achaicus. Over the same people the
apostle now has a triumph, but it is a triumph of very different
character--a triumph in Christ by the power of the gospel, the glory of
which he ascribes to God alone. As in a Roman triumph the smoke of
altars and the odor of incense filled the city with a pleasant perfume,
so the name and the doctrine of Christ preached by him and his
colleagues pervaded Corinth and all the surrounding country--wherever
those holy men had labored--with odors as of Eden; and the apostles
appeared as triumphing in Christ over idols, demons, devils--over
ignorance, prejudice, scepticism, superstition, false philosophy, and
all the powers of darkness; yet appropriating no praise to themselves,
but attributing all to the wisdom and the mercy of God. Indeed, it is
God's triumph, not theirs. He has first triumphed over them, and is now
making them the partners of his triumph. Better expressing the sense of
the Greek original, Trench and Alford read, "leadeth us in triumph;"
and other eminent critics give us substantially the same rendering;
while Conybeare and Howson, in their admirable work on the "Life and
Epistles of St. Paul," thus translate the language of the text: "But
thanks be to God, who leads me on from place to place in the train of
his triumph, to celebrate his victory over the enemies of Christ; and
by me sends forth the knowledge of himself, a stream of fragrant
incense, throughout the world." A pretty free translation, it is true;
but embodying, no doubt, the precise meaning of the writer. "St. Paul
regarded himself," says Fausett, "as a signal trophy of God's
victorious power in Christ; his Almighty Conqueror leading him about
through all the cities of the Greek and Roman world, as an illustrious
example of his power at once to subdue and to save." The foe of Christ
was now the servant of Christ. Grace divine had subdued and disarmed
him. The rebel, the persecutor, the conspirator with hell, was brought
into subjection, and rejoiced in his burden as a blessing. As to be led
in triumph by man is miserable degradation, so to be led in triumph by
the Lord of hosts is highest honor and blessedness. Our only true
triumphs are God's triumphs over us. His defeats of us are our only
true victories. Near the gate of Damascus the lion is smitten into a
lamb by the hand of the Crucified; and in a short time the lamb has
become his bravest champion. Brought into willing obedience, he falls
into Christ's triumphal train, ascends into Christ's triumphal chariot;
and, in full sympathy with Christ, becomes the partner of his triumph.
Bengal writes--"who shows us in triumph"--that is, not only as
conquered by Christ, but as conquering with him. Our victory is the
fruit of his victory over us; and the open showing of that, so far from
being our shame, is our greatest glory. Therefore saith the
apostle--and it is the most heroic utterance of the prince of heroes:
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ; by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
And from this evangel of the crucifixion, which he lives to preach and
will die to defend, arises the fragrant odor with which he and his
companions are filling the world. As the approach of the triumphal
procession is made manifest by the sweet perfume scattered far and wide
by incense-bearers in the conqueror's train, so the heavenly Victor
makes use of his vanquished to herald the victories of his grace and
diffuse like fragrant odors the saving knowledge of his name. It is the
triumph of grace over sin, the triumph of truth over error, the triumph
of faith over unbelief, the triumph of divine love over human
selfishness. It is the right triumphing over the wrong, the pure
triumphing over the impure, the heavenly triumphing over the earthly,
the spiritual triumphing over the sensual, the eternal triumphing over
the temporal, the true religion triumphing over all superstition. It is
God by Christ triumphing in man, and man through Christ triumphing with
God; who leads us in triumph as his captives, shows us in triumph as
his trophies, and "maketh manifest by us the savor of his knowledge in
every place."


You see, my brethren, that the apostolic work was missionary work--that
the Church, as constituted by these heroic and holy men under the
leadership of their divine Lord, was a missionary society--the
primitive propaganda of the Christian faith. They were sent forth by
the Captain of their salvation to conquer the nations for Christ, and
gather captives from all countries into his triumphal procession. For
this work St. Paul was added to the original number, and from his
peculiar fitness by education and spiritual endowment became the most
successful of them all. And the constitution of the Church is still
unchanged; and our high calling in Christ Jesus has never been revoked;
and your bishops and clergy to-day are but heralds and incense-bearers
in the train of Immanuel's triumph; and every faithful communicant, and
every baptized believer, and every humble neophyte, are triumphing with
the heavenly Conqueror. Surely here is a demand for all our faith, for
all our zeal, for all our moral heroism; and for an embassy like ours,
"more than twelve legions of angels" might have been commissioned from
the skies. Alas! where sleep our energies? where slumber the holy fires
within our hearts? Calm and secure, here we sit in our Christian
assemblies. With something of the Spirit we pray, with something of the
Spirit we sing, and with much of the understanding we do both. With
reverent delight we hear the word of grace, and with unspeakable
gladness welcome its revelations of the unseen and the eternal. With
our best faculties we inquire into its meaning, seek elucidations of it
in ancient literature and modern criticism, and rejoice in its
accumulating confirmations from history and from science. We worship
with a comely ritual derived from the fathers, and celebrate the
sacramental mysteries of our redemption in words that have warmed the
hearts of martyrs. But while thus occupied, how little think we of the
millions around us who for the same mercies are constantly invoking
Heaven with the voice of all their sins and sorrows! For us, Christ
"hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by his
gospel;" they follow their friends to the burial, and mourn for them
without hope, no star gleaming over the grave, nor seraph beckoning out
of the darkness beyond; they lie down to die, but above the pallid day
no halo gathers, no seraph wings are hovering, no sweet familiar voices
inviting to an eternal fellowship of joy. Have we no loving compassions
for them, no desire to rescue and save their souls alive? Oh! look at
the heathen world, where Satan holds undisputed empire, and man has
never felt the power of Christian civilization. Look at the dark places
of the earth, full of the habitations of cruelty; where Belial reigns
supreme, and Moloch revels in fire and blood. Look at the countries
that languish under the curse of the Crescent, where sense misnamed
faith triumphs over reason, and strong delusion has quenched the last
beam of divine knowledge, and obscured every ray of intellectual truth.
Look at Jacob's heritage of milk, and honey, "destroyed by the
wickedness of them that dwell therein"--the most beautiful of lands,
the very garden of God, by ignorance and barbarism turned into a
sterile waste and delivered up to the tenantry of noisome and noxious
creatures. Look at the exiled children of Abraham, a vagabond race,
roaming everywhere, and nowhere finding rest; the curse of their
rejection branded on every brow, and reprobation written in every
feature of an unmistakable physiognomy; their synagogues little better
than Mohammedan mosques and pagan temples, their worship an empty and
abrogated ceremonial, and Mammon substituted for the Messiah. Look at
the villanous impostures of the Vatican, and the notorious corruptions
of faith and worship wherever the Roman mystagogue holds sway; the
habitual invocation of saints and martyrs; the adoration of images,
pictures, and relics; the monstrous abuses and manifold abominations of
the confessional; the doctrines of indulgence, purgatory, and human
merit; the blasphemous dogmas of papal supremacy and infallibility, and
the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin; with the legitimate
and lamentable fruits--an abject and atheistic priesthood, and a
thriftless and degraded people. Look at your own country, Christian
though it is called--your own city, highly as it is favored of heaven;
and see how far the masses lie from the living God; how his name is
profaned, his altars abandoned, while every place of amusement is
thronged with merry votaries of pleasure, and drunken men reel athwart
the path of church-going people, and the house of her whose steps take
hold on hell stands in the very shadow of the sanctuary, and libidinous
songs and blasphemous oaths form the horrible counterpart to your
sacred psalmody; on all sides temples of Bacchus and Beelzebub, with
scenes of revelry and riot, debauchery and blood, where dissipation
discards all disguise, impurity all shame, and impiety all fear. Look
at your Western States and Territories--fields demanding a hundred
missionaries where you have one; a numerous and constantly increasing
population scattered over a vast extent of country, with only here and
there a church and a school, like solitary torches a thousand miles
apart struggling to dispel the deeper than Egyptian darkness of half a
world; while Rome is rearing her temples and convents everywhere,
everywhere establishing her brotherhoods and sisterhoods, founding
orphan-asylums and educational institutes, exercising a powerful
influence over the development of the youthful mind, and poisoning the
wells whence the people are to draw the water of their salvation; and
heresy and schism are setting up their tabernacles, and agnostic
infidelity is travelling _pari passu_ with population, and myriads
of redeemed immortals are perishing for lack of knowledge. Look at your
fair and sunny South-land, lately devastated by contending armies;
churches in ashes, cities in ruins, fenceless plantations growing up to
forests; bishops and clergymen wofully impoverished, and forced to
resort to secular occupations for subsistence; earnest and anxious
spirits, shipwrecked in the collision of sectarian crafts, struggling
desperately in the dark waters of doubt, and longing to see the
life-boats of the Church upon the billows; four million slaves in a
state of semi-barbarism suddenly set at liberty like so many unfledged
cagelings turned out to the wintry tempest, amidst hawks, and owls, and
eagles, and every beast of prey; many of them already relapsing into
their ancestral superstitions, suspecting one another as wizards and
witches, practising hideous rites and abominable incantations,
worshipping some exceptionally ugly old hag as a new incarnation of the
Divinity, and dancing with demoniac noises over the graves of their
dead. No fancy pictures are these which I present, nor overwrought
descriptions of realities. Impossible were it to find language or
figures to exaggerate the wretchedness of humanity unrelieved by the
gracious revelations of God. In comparison of the moral ruin around us,
what was the late catastrophe of a hundred South-American cities,
whelming in a common destruction men, women and children to the number
of forty or fifty thousand? Should some pilgrim from a distant sphere,
traversing the ethereal space with wings of light, chance to cross the
orbit of our fallen planet, and cast a momentary glance down at our
condition, might he not hurry past with a shudder, suspecting that hell
had emptied itself upon earth, and the unhappy race had been given over
unredeemed to the dominion of the Devil?


But why dwell on this dismal theme? Oh! I could tell you of victories
demanding another David to sing them or another Isaiah to record them,
till every loving heart should leap for joy and exult in hope of
millennial triumph. But I would fain stir your compassion. I am feeling
for your purse-strings among your heart-strings. I want to play a tune
upon your spirits which shall echo in Colorado, and make music in New
Mexico, and reverberate from the heights of the Himalaya, and gladden
the hills round about Jerusalem. Can we survey the valley of vision,
and not prophesy to all the winds of God? Can we see millions of
immortal beings crushed by the dominion of Satan, and not cry amain to
the Prince of peace to come and unseat the great usurper, and establish
his own universal and everlasting empire? And how shall we pray
successfully, if we answer not our own prayers by pouring our offerings
into the Lord's treasury? How shall we arrest the long carnival of
crime, and error, and delusion, and infidelity, if we bestir not all
our Christian energies, occupying every available position, evoking
every beneficent agency of the Church, barricading with Bibles and
Prayer-Books the teeming way to ruin, and bridging with the blessed
cross the mouth of the flaming pit? Thus, my brethren! may we save
souls from death, and give new joy to benevolence in other worlds, and
gladden the heart that eighteen hundred years ago quivered for us upon
the point of the Roman spear, and fill the reverberant universe with
the shout of the apostle--"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth
us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge
by us in every place!"



[1] Preached at a missionary meeting in New York, 1868.



XVI.

FRATERNAL FORGIVENESS.[1]

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your
hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.--Matt.
xviii. 35.


When John Wesley was in Georgia, he was dining one day with Gov.
Oglethorpe. A negro waiter at the table committing a careless blunder,
the governor said to his guest: "See this good-for-nothing servant; he
is always doing wrong, though he knows that I never forgive." "Does
your Excellency never forgive?" replied Mr. Wesley; "then it is to be
hoped that your Excellency never does wrong." A beautiful reproof; and
the more effectual, no doubt, from its gentleness. Those who need
forgiveness for their own faults, certainly ought to forgive the faults
of others. "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven;" but "he shall have
judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy." This is the lesson
taught us in the gospel for the day,[2] which I shall endeavor to
unfold and apply. For moral elevation, the passage is very remarkable.
Found in some old Greek or Roman volume--in some parchment dug up from
Herculaneum or Pompeii--on some tablet or cylinder discovered amidst
the _débris_ of Nineveh or Babylon--it would have awakened the
wonder of the world, and men would never have been weary of praising
its transcendent charity.


The Jewish rabbis taught that a man might forgive an injury a second or
even a third time, but never a fourth. When St. Peter asked--"How oft
shall my brother trespass against me, and I forgive him? until seven
times?" he doubled the rabbinical measure of mercy, doubtless imagining
that he had reached the ultimate limit, and that his Divine Master even
could require no more. How must he and his brethren have been
astonished when Jesus answered: "I say not unto thee, Until seven
times; but, until seventy times seven!" What! four hundred and ninety
times? But Jesus puts a definite number for an indefinite. "Count not
your acts of clemency," he seems to say; "be your forgiveness of a
brother as free as the air you breathe or the light you enjoy--your
love as unlimited as the illimitable heaven above you." Then he puts
the matter strongly before them in a parable:

A certain king calls his servants--the collectors of his taxes and
revenues--to account. One of them is found frightfully in
arrears--owing his lord ten thousand talents--a debt which he can never
pay. The king orders the sale of the delinquent, with his family and
all his effects. Falling at the royal feet, he implores patience, and
promises the impossible. Touched with pity, the king forgives the debt.
But the forgiven goes to a fellow-servant who owes him the small sum of
a hundred pence, seizes him by the throat, and demands immediate
payment. The helpless debtor falls before him, and pleads with him as
he himself had lately pleaded with the king. The creditor, however, is
inexorable; and into prison the poor man must go till the debt is paid.
The sad matter is reported to the king, who recalls the subject of his
clemency, rebukes his cruelty, revokes his own act of forgiveness, and
delivers the unmerciful over to the tormentors till the last farthing
shall be paid. Finally, in application of the parable, the Divine
Teacher adds: "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you,
if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their
trespasses."

God's mercy to man, and man's unmercifulness to his fellow, are the two
principal things set forth in the parable. Let us look at them both,
and see how the former enhances the latter, and enforces the duty of
fraternal forgiveness.


To have any right appreciation of the master's mercy, we must know
something of the amount of the servant's debt. Ten thousand talents was
an enormous sum. The delinquent was a viceroy, and the amount he owed
was the revenue of a province. In those days large debts were not
uncommon. Julius Cæsar owed, beyond his assets, $1,425,000; Mark
Antony, $2,250,000; Curio, $3,375,000; Milo, $4,125,000. An Attic
talent was about $1,080; which, multiplied by 10,000, would make the
debt $10,800,000. But if the Jewish talent of silver is meant, it would
amount to $16,600,000; if the Jewish talent of gold, to $569,000,000.
Now let each talent stand for a sin--10,000 sins! Reduce the talents to
dollars, and take every dollar for a sin--569,000,000 sins! Reduce the
dollars to dimes, and let every dime represent a sin--5,690,000,000
sins! Reduce the dimes to cents, and let every cent be considered a
sin--56,900,000,000 sins! Perhaps, however, our dear Lord never
intended by the number of talents to intimate the number of our sins,
any more than by the seventy times seven he meant to say how often we
should forgive an offending brother. In each case the idea is that of
indefinite number, unlimited extent. But if the seventy times seven
means mercy without measure, what can the ten thousand talents denote
but guilt beyond all human calculation or imagination? Think you any
estimate of the number and enormity of our sins can be an exaggeration?
"Who can tell how oft he offendeth?" "My sins are more than the hairs
of my head, therefore my heart faileth me." "My sins are increased over
my head so that I am not able to look up." Far better and holier than
the best of us, my brethren, was the man who wrote these statements,
and left them for an everlasting testimony against those who are pure
in their own eyes. If David had such consciousness of sin, what must
our consciousness be if we knew ourselves as well? They are the
self-blinded, self-hardened, self-deceived, who fancy themselves
innocent and glory in their virtue. Even the great apostle called
himself "the chief of sinners," and declared that in himself dwelt "no
good thing." There is no danger, then, of extravagance in any estimate
of our sins of which our arithmetic is capable. So let us proceed a
little farther. Take our Lord's summary of the first table of the law:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Here is
required the surrender of the whole man as a living sacrifice to his
Divine Creator and Sovereign Proprietor. This is his unquestionable
claim upon every moment of our existence throughout its immortal
duration. A duty this which we cannot omit for a single second without
robbing God; and every minute that we neglect it, comprising sixty
seconds, we may be said to repeat the sacrilege sixty times; every
hour, 3,600 times; every day, 86,400 times; every year, 31,536,000
times; in twenty years, 630,720,000 times; and in forty years,
1,261,440,000 times. But these are sins of omission only, and that in
relation to a single phase of duty; add all the other instances, and we
must multiply the sum by multiplied millions. Then we must take our
positive sins--our violations of the divine law by thought, word and
deed--open sins and secret, public and private, personal and
social--sins defying all enumeration, and difficult even of
classification; and, adding all together, we must multiply the sum by
all our faculties, facilities and gracious incentives for doing God's
blessed will, and aggravate all by the innumerable mercies and
inestimable blessings which he has diffused over our lives as his
sunbeams over the earth. And its any thing short of infinite mercy
adequate to the forgiveness of such a debt?

For all this, however unwilling, we must give account to God; and how
terrible the array, when conscience shall summon forth from the secret
chambers of memory every sin of which we have been guilty, and every
evil act and every neglect of duty shall stand out distinct and clear
in the light of eternal judgment! How shall we meet the reckoning? In
all the eternity to come, what satisfaction can we offer for our
faults? Can we alter the facts, undo the deeds, repair the wrongs,
recall the time, or efface the record? Nay, the account remains
uncancelled, and the debt can never be paid. Soul and body, with all
the capabilities of both, the creature belongs to the Creator; and by
an original and perpetual obligation, perfect love and blameless
obedience are his constant duty. Beyond this he can never go. Even
though he commit no sin, neglect no duty, he can offer to the Creator
no service whatever that is not justly required of him as a creature.
By his utmost efforts forever, he simply renders to God what is his
indisputable due. How, then, can the transgressor hope to pay the new
and additional debt which he has incurred by innumerable crimes? Before
he can do a single meritorious act, even his original obligation to God
as his creature must be cancelled; but to cancel that is more than the
Creator himself can do, the obligation being inseparable from the
relation. As to human merit, therefore, the case is hopeless. What,
then, is to be done? Sell the debtor, with his wife and children? Such
procedure on the part of the creditor was allowed by ancient law. But
in what slave-mart of the universe shall God sell the sinner? Who will
want him but Satan? and Satan has him already, self-sold, and bound by
indefeasible indenture. Nay, by this part of the parable our Lord
presents justice as ministering to mercy. The menace of punishment
opens the way for pardon, and the hopeless condition of the debtor
enhances the clemency of the king. See the poor wretch, prostrate at
the royal feet, imploring a little indulgence, and promising what is
utterly beyond his power. So, on a bed of sickness, stung by conscience
and confronted by doom, often has the most incorrigible transgressor
vowed reparation for a vicious life, only to augment his guilt by
disregarding the vow on the return of health and strength. But if the
sinner cannot pay, God can forgive. If neither saints nor angels can
wrest the culprit from the grasp of justice, yet Heaven has found a
ransom to save his soul from the pit. Jesus interposes with "a price
all price beyond;" the debt is overpaid in the blood of the cross;
through the compassion of the King the debtor is released from his
bonds; and the angels tune their harps to sing "the blessedness of the
man whose unrighteousness is forgiven and whose sin is covered!"


So far the parable illustrates God's mercy to man; what remains is a
sad picture of man's too frequent unmercifulness to his brother, and
the just punishment of his cruelty visited upon the delinquent. Here
are five points worthy of our attention; which, duly considered, may
serve to impress upon our minds the duty of fraternal forgiveness.

First, we have the two creditors, with their respective claims. The
king represents God in his relation to man; the first servant
represents man in his relation to mankind. God has his supreme claims,
as creator and sovereign lord, upon the love, worship and obedience of
the whole human race; while man has his subordinate claims, as an equal
and a brother, upon the justice, the kindness, the sympathy and the
charity of all other men--sometimes, as patron and official superior,
upon the reverence, submission and loyal service of a particular part
of them.

Then, we have the two debtors, with the different amounts of debt. Both
are servants, holding a like relation to the king. Both are in arrears,
the one to the king, the other to his fellow-servant. Ought not a
common bond and a common condition to produce in them mutual kindness
and sympathy? But how great the disparity of their debts! ten thousand
talents, and a hundred pence--the latter less than a millionth part of
the former--if the gold talent is intended, less than a hundred
millionth. Surely if the king could forgive the greater, it were a
small matter with his servant to forgive the less. In comparison of our
sins against God, what are our brother's sins against us? "As the small
dust of the balance, lighter than vanity itself."

Next, we have the two arrests, with the opposite methods of their
making. Calmly and kindly, in his accustomed way, worthy of his royal
dignity, and just as he treated others, the king calls his servant to
account. This proceeding was to be expected, and involves neither
harshness nor severity. But when the man is found so culpably in
arrears with nothing to pay--a case which could not happen without
great dishonesty and wickedness--the king orders, as he has legal right
to do, the sale of the culprit, with his family and effects, to satisfy
some small part of the royal claim against him. Now mark the very
different conduct of the criminal. No sooner is he released than he
goes out--not staying a moment to express his gratitude or admire the
mercy shown him--finds the man who owes him fifteen dollars: and, with
a violence unprovoked and inexcusable, lays hands on him, takes him by
the throat, and exclaims, "Pay me that thou owest!" Could there be a
more unlovely contrast to the conduct of the king? Such is the
difference between God's dealing with guilty men and man's dealing with
his delinquent brother; the former all mildness and forbearance, the
latter all harshness and severity.

Again, we have the two pleas, with their contrary receptions by the
creditors. The two pleas are identical; the two receptions, quite
opposite. The first servant falls down before the king, saying, "Have
patience with me, and I will pay thee all;" so falls down the second
servant before the first, with the very same words upon his lips. Not
forgiveness, but merciful indulgence, is what each debtor craves of his
creditor; and full payment is what each promises. The payment of a
hundred _denarii_ seems quite practicable, and not at all
improbable; but the payment of ten thousand talents is beyond all power
except that of royalty itself. Yet the wretched impossibility moves the
royal heart to compassion; while the feasible and probable meets with
stern and cruel refusal from the servile defaulter--all mercy on the
one side, all implacability on the other. If, when overwhelmed with
conscious guilt, you smote upon your breast and implored the divine
mercy, your penitential tears moved the compassion of Heaven, how can
you now harden your heart against the like plea of an offending
brother? Even if he offer no plea, can you be utterly indifferent to
his grief? Is this the spirit of Him who prayed for those who were
nailing him to the cross? Perhaps your brother's heart is almost
breaking, while he is too proud to apologize. A kind word, a look of
love, might melt him into tears at your feet. Oh! give him that word,
that look! It will restore to your arms a brother--to your heart a
peace like that of heaven.

Finally, we have the two issues, with their consequences in impressive
contrast. Great as his debt is, the king's debtor is released and
forgiven; but the servant's debtor, owing so small a sum, is cast into
prison till he shall pay the debt. But how shall he pay it in prison?
Nay, it is not to secure payment that he is incarcerated, so much as to
gratify the malignity of a wicked and revengeful heart. After so great
a mercy shown to himself, the creditor cannot show the smallest mercy
to his fellow-servant. And there the poor man must lie, in a private
dungeon, amidst filth and darkness, his creditor his jailor, no
comforts nor supplies but what are furnished him by friends without, no
hope of deliverance till death comes to his release. Such is the
contrast between God's dealing with man, and man's dealing with his
brother. He compassionately forgives; we cruelly proceed to punish. Or
if we pretend to forgive, how different is our forgiveness from his!
God forgives gladly; we reluctantly. God forgives promptly; we after
long delay. God forgives completely; we but partially and imperfectly.
God forgives from the heart; we only with outward formalities. God
forgives very tenderly; we with indifference or contempt. God forgives
and forgets the crime; we cherish the bitter memory for many years. God
forgives and takes the pardoned sinner to his heart; we thrust him away
from our presence and our fellowship forever. God forgives so lovingly
that he is said to delight in mercy and rejoice over the pardoned; we
with such coldness, such hatred, such haughty disdain, that to meet the
object of our clemency in heaven would spoil our joy!

That the cruel severity of the servile creditor should touch the hearts
of his fellow-servants with sorrow is no matter of wonder. Stern and
inexorable as were the laws of the age, no man without grief or anger
could witness such inhumanity. In our day the case would have convoked
an indignation meeting, if not a mob; with denunciatory resolutions, if
not the prompt application of the code of Judge Lynch. The better
method, however, is chosen; and the sad matter is prudently reported to
the king. The king recalls the late object of his amazing clemency, in
a dignified but very pointed speech remonstrates with him, and then
delivers him to the tormentors till he shall pay the last farthing of
the debt once forgiven. A righteous but terrible punishment! A state
criminal, he goes to the public prison, the royal dungeons--perhaps,
like the Mammertine and Tullian at Rome, three stories under ground.
The debtor's prison, however, was ordinarily in the house of the
creditor--often in his cellar; where the prisoner was kept in chains,
subject to the creditor's will, to be tortured or slain as he chose.
Slaves were there on purpose to torment him, and make his life as
wretched as possible. They scourged him, beat him with rods, racked him
with engines, pulled out his teeth, plucked out his nails, burned out
his eyes, cut off his nose and ears, tore and mangled his flesh with
hooks and pincers--to make him disclose his hidden treasures, to induce
his friends to pay his debt for him, or simply to gratify a diabolical
spirit of revenge. That all this has its counterpart in God's
retribution upon the implacable, though almost too terrible for our
faith, is the plain teaching of the parable. Men and angels rise up in
remonstrance with Heaven against the unforgiving. And when the divine
Heart-searcher calls him to judgment, what answer can he make to the
dread animadversions of the angry king? Dare he now pray, as he often
did on earth, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors!" Will he
lift up his voice and sing, as he used to do in the church,

  "That mercy I to others show,
  That mercy show to me!"

It was a mockery then; he will not repeat it now. Speechless as the
unrobed intruder at the marriage feast, he stands trembling before his
Judge. Angels of justice, take him away! Let us not see his anguish,
nor hear his lamentation! Showing no mercy, he has lost all claim upon
mercy. Conscience his eternal tormentor, any spot in the universe may
be his dungeon of despair. Ask him now the question he has often asked
with a sneer--"Is there a hell, and where is it?" He lays his hand upon
his heart and answers--"There is, and it is here!" Angels of justice,
take him away!

"So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your
hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."



[1] Preached in St. John's, Buffalo, N.Y., 1869.

[2] Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity.



XVII.

CHRIST WITH HIS MINISTERS.[1]

Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the
world.--Matt. xxviii. 20.


The agony of redemption is accomplished. The lately crucified and
buried is alive forevermore. Forty days he has walked the earth in his
resurrection body, instructing and comforting his disciples. The time
is come for his return to the Father. He must enter into heaven itself,
now to appear in the presence of God for us. If he go not away, the
Comforter will not come--the baptism of fire and power will not descend
upon the Church. But before his departure, he renews the commission of
his apostles: "All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth; go
ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe
all things, whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you
alway, even unto the end of the world."

Ye publicans and fishermen, what an embassy! How vast the field! How
grand the work! How glorious the promise! Heaven never gave a sublimer
commission; man never went forth under a mightier sanction, or on a
nobler errand. To utter the words which were syllabled in thunder from
out the flames of Sinai, to publish the love that was written in blood
upon the cleft rocks of Calvary, to administer the sacramental
mysteries of the new and everlasting covenant, to negotiate a perpetual
amnesty with this revolted and ruined province of Jehovah's empire, to
convert perishing souls from sin to righteousness and build them up in
the blessed faith that saves,--this is to do what for ages has occupied
the purest spirits and loftiest intellects of our race, and enlisted
the interest and the energies of seraphim and cherubim, and furnished
constant employment for all the agencies of the infinite goodness and
wisdom and power. How poor in the comparison are all earthly
diplomacies and royal ministries! Thrones, triumphs, the homage of the
living world, and the praise of a thousand generations to come,--what
were these to the office and dignity of Heaven's ambassador! How should
the Christian minister tremble beneath the burden that weighs down the
angel's wing, or rejoice to bear the tidings sung by celestial voices
over the hills of Bethlehem! And who were sufficient for these things,
but for the Master's promise appended to the command--"Lo, I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world!"

"Lord, it is enough. With such assurance, we will go. With such
assistance, we will preach. With such encouragement, we will baptize.
With so mighty a patronage, we will summon the nations to thy feet. If
thou be with us, we shall fear nothing, we can do all things. If thou
aid and defend us, no enemy is invincible, no achievement is
impracticable. In court or camp, in palace or prison, in temple or
forum, in city or desert, to Jews or Gentiles, princes or peasants,
scholars or rustics, sages or savages, we will gladly set forth thy
claims and offer thy salvation." So might the apostles have answered
their ascending Lord; and so, in effect, they did answer him. They went
forth everywhere, and preached the kingdom of the Crucified. Mighty in
spirit, they conferred not with flesh and blood. Strong in faith and
hope, they consulted neither present appearances nor future
probabilities. Constrained by the love of Christ, they hastened, with
his message of grace, from city to city, from province to province,
from nation to nation. Nothing retards them; nothing intimidates them.
The word of the Lord is as fire shut up in their bones, and they are
weary with forbearing. They must speak, or they will die; and though
they die, they will speak. They cry aloud, and spare not. In the
dungeons they lift up their voices, and in the tempests of the sea they
are not silent. Before awful councils and sceptred rulers they bear
witness to the precious truth. Under the crimson scourge and on the
cruel rack they steadfastly maintain their testimony. Death only can
effectually interdict their prophesying: and even in the agonies of
death, ere yet the organs of speech are paralyzed, they offer Christ's
salvation to their murderers, tenderly beseech those who are mocking
their tortures, and bless with loving words the lips that are cursing
them out of the world. And with what effect, let the early triumphs of
the gospel testify; idols abolished; temples abandoned; cities
converted; churches planted everywhere; whole provinces embracing the
faith of Jesus; monarchs upon their thrones trembling before manacled
preachers; Christianity spreading, even during the lifetime of the
apostles, as far northward as Scythia, southward as Ethiopia, eastward
as Parthia and India, westward as Gaul, Spain, and the British Isles;
and a little later, assuming the imperial purple, and lifting the
Labarum, glorified with the cross, as the signal of salvation to the
nations; and all this, because Christ hath said, and so far hath
fulfilled the saying,--"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world."


But the promise is ours. It extends through all time. It can never be
obsolete, while Christ hath an ordained servant upon earth. Who talks
of change? Who says the apostolic office, with its high prerogatives
and awful responsibilities, was intended only for a season, and has
long since passed away? Who sneers and scoffs at the claim of the Holy
Catholic Church to this sublime descent on the part of her chief
pastors, and the consequent connection of the whole body of her clergy,
through a regular series of ordinations, with the blessed men first
commissioned by our divine Lord to go forth and disciple all nations?
And hath the Master abandoned those who are obeying the mandate and
perpetuating the sacred succession? Hath the Word forever settled in
heaven come utterly to naught, and the Rock dissolved on which the
Church was founded, and the gates of hell prevailed against her? True,
the direct inspiration is withdrawn, and the miraculous endowments are
no more; but these are not essential to the apostolate, and were not
intended to be permanent; being only the needful authentication of a
new revelation from heaven, and therefore discontinued as soon as the
Christian faith was once well established among men. The work of the
ministry, however, is the same, and its divine sanctions are the same,
and its three orders are the perpetual ordinance of Jesus Christ. Ay,
and its conflicts are the same, and its succors and consolations in all
its sorrows and sufferings are the same, and the faithful servant is
still as much as ever the object of his Master's loving care. Whoever
else may abandon him, the glorified Man of sorrows saith, "I will never
leave thee nor forsake thee." Wherever he goes, Christ attends him.
Wherever he labors, Christ sustains him. Wherever he preaches the
gospel or administers the sacraments, he has the express authority and
assured blessing of their heavenly Author. As the Lord stood by St.
Paul, and strengthened him, when all men forsook him; so will he stand
by his ministers in every time of trial, and strengthen them for every
duty and every danger. Trusting in his might, they will never be left
to their own weakness. Depending upon his counsel, they will never be
abandoned to their own poor expedients. Weary and faint, his arm will
support them. Doubtful and perplexed, his wisdom will direct them.
Destitute and afflicted, his bounty will relieve them. Persecuted and
calumniated, his providence will vindicate them. Faithful to their
sacred functions, all their teachings will be clothed with a divine
power, and every priestly act will be hallowed with a heavenly unction.
O my brethren! beside all your baptismal fonts to-day, at all your
altars, and in all your pulpits, stands he of the wounded hands, the
mangled feet, the thorn-pierced brow, and the ever-open side,
saying,--"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world!"


And do we not need such assurance? What is the end and aim of the
gospel ministry? To undo the work of the Devil; to turn men from
darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; to reconcile
them to the law of holiness, and bring their rebellious thoughts into
captivity to the obedience of Christ; to draw them against the stream
of their carnal inclinations and worldly ambitions and interests; to
make them love what they naturally hate, and hate what they naturally
love; to graft the degenerate plant of a strange vine into a new and
heavenly stock, that, nourished by its life, it may bring forth the
wholesome fruits of righteousness; to assure the penitent of the divine
pardon, and feed the faithful with the bread that cometh down from
heaven; to perfect the saints in that precious knowledge, and edify the
Church in that holy faith, which are the sources of all spiritual
excellence and the earnests of eternal life; in short, to subvert the
seat of the great usurper, and build upon its wreck the imperishable
throne of the Prince of peace, and give back into the hand of him whose
right it is the sceptre of a ruined world restored. Are these
achievements to be wrought without the Master's presence? Are these
victories to be won without the Captain of our salvation? What saith
the holy apostle? "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any
thing, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath
made us able ministers of the New Testament, even of the Spirit that
giveth life." Christ with us is at once the guaranty and the glory of
our success. If the word proves powerful to save the hearer, it is
because Christ is with the preacher. If the water conveys regenerating
grace to the infant, it is because Christ is with the baptizer. If the
consecrated bread and wine impart spiritual comfort and nourishment to
the faithful, it is because Christ is with the celebrant. If the
appointed absolution and benediction give peaceful assurance of pardon
and heavenly succor to the penitent believer, it is because Christ is
with the officiating priest. If Christ were not with him, all his
learning, his logic and eloquence, were but a sounding brass or a
tinkling cymbal. If Christ were not with him, all his sublime
sacerdotal functions, though instituted and ordained by Christ himself,
were as powerless upon the spirits of men as the moonbeams upon the
frozen sea. If Christ were not with him, the blind eye would not be
opened, the dead conscience would not be quickened, the rebel against
God would not be subdued, the lost wanderer from the fold would not be
restored, the moral leper would still remain festering in his fatal
impurity. Oh! who could undertake the work of the ministry, with the
least hope of winning souls, awakening sinners, edifying the body of
Christ, or accomplishing effectually any of the objects of his divine
commission, without the infallible promise--"Lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world!"


Moreover, it is important, in the work of human salvation, that the
excellency of the power should be of God, and not of us, that no flesh
may glory in his presence. When Joab had captured the city of Rabbah,
he sent for King David to come and claim the honor of the achievement.
When Garibaldi had conquered the Two Sicilies, he sent for Victor
Emmanuel to come and take possession of the united kingdom. And Christ
must have the credit of his servants' success in the good fight of
faith. The warfare is ours; the crown belongs to him who giveth us the
victory. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give the
praise, for thy loving mercy and for thy truth's sake." But if we could
accomplish aught without his aid, the honor would be ours, and not the
Master's; and there would be no justice nor reason in the command, "He
that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." Therefore the Divine Wisdom
hath ordered that all our success shall depend upon the divine
blessing; and to this end, Christ is ever present with those whom he
hath commissioned, helping them mightily with his Holy Spirit. All the
power of the gospel to convert the soul, all the power of the
sacraments to purify the heart, all the efficiency of Christ's
ambassadors in establishing and fortifying the Church, is attributable
to this unction of the Holy One. Was it not the angel in the waters of
Bethesda, that gave them their healing virtue? Was it not Jehovah in
the waters of the Jordan, that cured the leprosy of Naaman the Syrian?
And what is it but the gracious presence of Christ in the preached word
and the administered ordinance, that renders them effectual to the
salvation of those who believe? Is it not as true to-day, as it was
when he said it, nearly nineteen centuries ago, "Without me ye can do
nothing"? Without Christ, what were our knowledge but ignorance, our
wisdom but folly, our eloquence but noise? what our profession but an
imposture, our ritual but a solemn farce, and all our zeal but painted
fire? It is God that "always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and
maketh manifest by us the savor of his knowledge in every place." He
who girds us with the sword must nerve the arm that wields it. Now and
forever, "We see the Lamb in his own light," and shine only by the
reflection of his glory. The ministry, in its three orders, with all
their spiritual endowments, is the gift of Christ to the Church; and
through these his chosen representatives, though he is ascended on
high, he still hath his tabernacle with men, and dwelleth manifestly
among them; and millions of saints, throughout the earth and throughout
the ages, united in one body, inspired by one Spirit, saved through one
calling, sealed with one baptism, professing one faith, cherishing one
hope, obeying one Lord, and adoring one God and Father of all, are
built up in him, a spiritual house, a temple of living stones, whose
foundations are deeper than the earth, and whose towers are lost in the
empyrean. This great truth, so humiliating to the pride of man, and so
glorifying to the grace of God--this great truth, that all depends upon
Christ, let us keep constantly in view; listening for the Master's feet
behind his messengers, and looking for the Master's blessing in all
their ministrations; ever inviting his presence, and never forgetting
his promise--"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."


And to you, my dear brother, who are now to be set apart to the
functions of the Christian priesthood, the Redeemer's assurance hath a
special significance. Here we are, seeking the lost sheep in the
wilderness, rescuing the shipwrecked from the devouring waves, plucking
with fear the perishing out of the fire. To this blessed end we have
devoted all our studies and directed all our labors. This is the
glorious aim to which we have consecrated the flower of youth and the
ripe fruit of manhood. How consoling and encouraging the Master's
promise of his constant presence! Here is the answer to every anxious
question. Here is the solution of every painful doubt. Christ is with
us; therefore our priesthood involves the gift of a heavenly power.
Christ is with us; therefore our gospel is vital truth, instinct with a
quickening spirit. Christ is with us; therefore our sacraments are not
mere naked signs, but divine mysteries, infolding the grace of life.
Christ is with us; therefore the Holy Catholic Church is not a ghastly
corpse, but a living body, composed of living members, united to a
living Head. Christ is with us; therefore let us not weary in our
blessed work, nor faint under the burden and heat of the day; but look
cheerfully forward to the result, and lighten the toil of tillage with
the hope of harvest. Trials are inevitable. The work of the ministry is
no holiday amusement. He that follows Christ must know the fellowship
of his suffering. He that preaches the glad tidings must be partaker of
the afflictions of the gospel. He that cultivates Immanuel's land must
expect often to plough the rock and gather his sheaves from the naked
granite. You have embarked in a voyage which is to be contested with
pirates as well as tornadoes; and if you would save the treasure, you
must be ready to scuttle the ship, though you go down with it. You have
set out in a campaign which requires that you should burn the bridges
behind you, and brave the iron storm of battle, and march through the
bristling forest of bayonets, and wrestle unto the death with the
powers and principalities of other worlds. But gird up your loins like
a man, in the strength of the Lord of hosts. Stand firmly for the truth
as it is in Jesus. Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to
the saints. Hold no parley with expediency. Be independent as a
prophet, and intrepid as an angel, though gentle as Jesus Christ. Let
all men see that you fear nothing but God, hate nothing but sin, and
seek nothing but souls. Call things honestly by their right names, and
never show yourself ashamed of the Church and her teaching. Let every
sermon be an echo of the ancient catholic symbols, a melodious voice in
the mighty anthem that comes ringing down the ages. Be faithful to your
flock in parochial visitation, with godly counsel and timely prayer.
Let the sound of your footsteps on the stairs be music to the widow and
orphans in the garret, the light of your countenance sunshine in the
dismal basement, and your presence a benediction at the bed of death.
Take heed to yourself, and suffer not your spirit to be chafed and
soured by adverse criticism or unfriendly speech. Allow nothing to
hinder the regularity of your private devotions, or rob you of your
daily communion with Christ. Come always from your closet to the
chancel and the pulpit, filled with your Master's charity, and fired
with your Master's zeal. Then shall you come to your people "in the
fulness of the blessing of the gospel of peace," verifying by every
message and every ministration the Master's precious words--"Lo! I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world."


O my brethren! what a glorious investiture is the gospel ministry!
Whereunto shall I liken it, or with what comparison shall it be
compared? Is there a glory in science? Ours is the knowledge of the
unknown God. Is there a glory in letters? Ours is the living lore of
the immortals. Is there a glory in poetry? Ours is the burden of the
angelic antiphons. Is there a glory in eloquence? Ours is the sweet
persuasiveness of a heavenly inspiration. Is there a glory in heroism?
We bear the banners of the Lord in the good fight of faith. Is there a
glory in royalty? We share the sceptre and the diadem with the Prince
of the kings of the earth. Is there a glory in philanthropy? We preach
the incarnate love of heaven, born in a cave, cradled in a manger,
baptized with blood in Olivet, and enthroned over a ransomed universe
upon the cross. Is there a glory in the æsthetic arts? But where are
the forms and colors to rival those with which we are adorning the new
Jerusalem? and what are the finest bronzes and marbles to the living
statuary with which we are peopling her palaces? and who shall ever
speak of purple robes and jewelled crowns, that has once beheld the
immortal beauty of the humblest saint in heaven? "The glory of the
terrestrial is one, and the glory of the celestial is another;" and the
Platos and Homers, the Tullys and Virgils, the Shakspeares and Goethes,
the Bacons and Humboldts, the Raphaels and Angelos, the Cæsars and
Napoleons, the Washingtons and Wellingtons, with whose fame the earth
is ringing, drawn into comparison with the men of the pulpit and the
altar, have no glory by reason of the glory which excelleth; and I
would rather be a priest of Christ, with the apostolic seal and
signature to my commission, than wear all the laurels ever won by
genius, and enjoy all the triumphs that ever rewarded valor, and sit
secure in peerless enthronement over a vassal world! Faithful unto
death, nobler functions await us, and loftier ministrations in a temple
not made with hands. Who shall tell the privileges of a celestial
priesthood? Who shall sing the raptures of an eternal eucharist?
Already we enjoy the earnest. We have learned something of the ritual,
and are practising the prelude of the anthem. We stand at the gate, and
catch bright glimpses of the inner glory, and hear the ravishing
minstrelsy of the host, and inhale the perfume from the golden altar.
Soon the portal shall open, and we shall be summoned to enter; and the
white-vested elders shall advance to meet us, with greetings of
gladdest welcome; and visions of beauty, such as mortal eyes were never
blessed withal, shall smite the sense with sweet bewilderment; and
voices of wondrous melody, with the accompaniment of many harps, shall
be heard chanting through the corridors--"Come in, ye blessed of the
Lord! come in!" and of all our blissful fellowships in the everlasting
home of the faithful, our happy intercourse with the best and purest
that ever lived and died, and our long-desired re-union, realized at
length, with those we have loved and lost, this shall be the crown--to
be with Him in his glory world without end, who made good his promise
to be with us in our ministry "unto the end of the world!"



[1] Preached at the ordination to the priesthood of the Rev. Robert A.
Holland, in St. George's Church, St. Louis, 1872.



XVIII.

KEPT FROM EVIL.[1]

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that
thou shouldest keep them from the evil.--John xvii. 15.


So pleaded the departing Shepherd for the little flock he was leaving.
Though the petition primarily respected the apostles and first
believers, there is no impropriety in extending its application to
their successors down to the end of time. We, too, are in the world and
exposed to evil; we, too, are incapable of self-protection, and
dependent upon the merciful guardianship of Heaven; and Christ invokes
the Father's love for our preservation as for theirs: "I pray not that
thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep
them from the evil."


How often does it happen that the Christian pilgrim, weary of the way
and worn out with sorrow, or longing for a higher sphere and a holier
companionship, exclaims with Job, "I loathe it, I would not live
alway;" or cries out with David, "O that I had wings like a dove! for
then would I fly away and be at rest;" or responds in the depths of his
heart to the sentiment of St. Paul, "We that are in this tabernacle do
groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed
upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." And who shall
blame this longing for rest, this sighing for home, this desire of a
better country? Who would not quit the scene of toil and strife and
danger for the regions of eternal blessedness and peace? Who that has
any perception of spiritual good, any appreciation of moral excellence,
any sympathy with the pure and the true, does not prefer heaven to
earth? The desire, however, should be tempered with submission, and the
Christian should await with patience his heavenly Father's will. God
has much for his saints to do here below. They are lights in the
darkness, living springs in the desert, Bethesda fountains for the
perishing. They are the Noahs, the Josephs, the Daniels of the world:
yea the Abrahams, in whom all the families of the earth are to be
blessed. They are witnesses of Christ, proofs of his redeeming love,
specimens of his renewing power, and pledges of his final victory. They
must remain a while to win sinners from the error of their way and save
souls from death. They must remain a while to adorn and strengthen the
Church, to comfort their fellow-Christians, and relieve surrounding
misery. They must remain a while to glorify the Author and Finisher of
their faith, to weaken the kingdom of Satan, thwart his malicious
design, mortify his pride, and hasten his fall. They must remain a
while to exercise and improve their own virtues and graces by works of
piety and charity, that so they may perfect their moral likeness to
their Lord, and secure for themselves a loftier station and a brighter
portion among the saints in light. The world itself, indeed, exists for
their sake, and through their influence with God on its behalf: and if
all the saints had been taken away with their ascending Saviour, "we
should have been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah." All which if we
duly consider, we cannot fail to perceive the wisdom and goodness of
the Master's request for his disciples, "I pray not that thou shouldest
take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the
evil."


Now, what is "the evil" from which Christ would have his people
kept?--Sorrow? No: "blessed are they that mourn." Poverty? No: "blessed
are ye poor." Persecution? No: "blessed are the persecuted."
Temptation? No: "blessed is the man that endureth temptation." All
these and all other "afflictions of the righteous" are turned into
benefits and beatitudes by the wondrous alchemy of redeeming love.
Over-ruled by divine providence and sanctified by divine Grace, they
are the occasions and instruments of a salutary discipline, working
together for good to those who love God, calling into exercise the
holiest feelings and highest faculties of the regenerate soul, and
perfecting the believer for his "far more exceeding and eternal weight
of glory." None of these, therefore, is the evil from which Christ
would have his disciples kept. What is it then? for he manifestly has
some specific evil in view. It is sin, the great moral evil; or Satan,
the dread personal evil; or both, for sin and Satan are inseparable.
These only can rob you of your peace, comfort, confidence, purity,
spiritual strength, communion with God, and joyful hope of immortality;
and from these effectually preserved, no earthly affliction or
misfortune, no malice or might of wicked men, can work you any possible
harm, or dim by a single ray one star of your celestial diadem. From
these, therefore,--from the power of sin and the delusions of
Satan--Christ would have his followers kept; and from these to guard
them, he prayed so fervently to his Father in heaven. Two of the chief
forms of the evil he deprecates in their behalf are heresy and schism,
with the uncharitableness which they always engender, and in which they
often originate. He prays that they may be one in him, as he is one
with the Father--united by one faith, cemented by one love,
incorporated in one body--that thus all mankind may be effectually
convinced of the truth and excellence of his gospel. And oh! how
important must that be, for which the Redeemer prays! There is nothing
else important in the comparison. It is not important that we should be
rich: the poor are to possess the kingdom. It is not important that we
should be mighty: God hath chosen the feeble for his agents. It is not
important that we should be distinguished: he hath promised to crown
the lowly with everlasting honors. It is not important that we should
be comfortable: "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the
morning." But oh! it is important, beyond the power of tongue to tell
or heart to conceive, that we should be preserved pure and holy amidst
surrounding depravity and pollution, that we should ever maintain "the
unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." Let us, then, join our
petition to that of the great Redeemer, and watch against the
deceitfulness of sin, and guard against the wiles and works of Satan,
and co-operate with the grace of God to effect our own salvation, and
never forget that preservation from evil is better than translation to
paradise! He who hath redeemed us would not have us again captured. He
who hath purified us would not have us again polluted. He who hath
restored our title to the kingdom would not have us again disinherited.
He who hath wrought in us an incipient preparation for his glory would
not have us again disqualified for our destiny. He who hath given his
life for our ransom, his flesh and blood for our nourishment, and all
his eternal fulness for the endowment of our immortality, can never be
indifferent to the spiritual wants and welfare of those who have been
baptized into his death; and the request which he breathed so sweetly
for his disciples while he was yet with them on earth, he has been
repeating for all his people ever since he returned to heaven, "I pray
not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou
shouldest keep them from the evil."


Trusting in him who thus pleads for his disciples, and seconding his
gracious intercession with our own supplications, what have we to fear?
Shall Jesus pray in vain for his redeemed? Shall he fail those who have
committed their all to his advocacy? Will not the Father hear the
petitions offered in the name of the Son with whom he is ever well
pleased? Coming boldly through his merit and mediation to the throne of
grace, shall we not certainly obtain mercy and find grace to help in
time of need? Will God leave to the lion and the wolf the sheep for
whom the divine Shepherd cares so lovingly and pleads so earnestly?
"Fear not, little flock! it is your Father's good pleasure to give you
the kingdom." And "if God be for us, who can be against us?" What evil
agency or influence shall harm those who "dwell in the secret place of
the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty?" Are not the
redeemed of his dear Son his jewels, his _segulla_, his peculiar
treasure? Will he not hide them in the hollow of his hand, and guard
them as the apple of his eye? "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of
God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It
is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at
the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or
persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is
written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as
sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than
conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things
present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is
in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Such is St. Paul's confidence, and such
should be ours. But such confidence requires our hearty co-operation
with Him who is always praying for our preservation from evil. We must
steadfastly resist all temptations to sin. We must stand firmly and
fight bravely against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. We must
avail ourselves constantly of all the helps which the Church offers us
in her services and her sacraments. God's grace is for those who ask it
earnestly and use it faithfully. It is not in the power of Omnipotence
to save from sin and Satan those who endeavor not to save themselves.
You must be workers together with God, my dear brethren; and then all
his attributes and resources are pledged to your success, and neither
earth nor hell can do you any harm. Suffer, then, the word of
exhortation, and forget not that the kingdom is taken by force and held
by continual struggle. Especially important are these counsels and
cautions to you who have just ratified your covenant with God in
confirmation. Your rector assures me he never knew a more pleasant task
than that which he enjoyed in preparing you for the hands of the
bishop. As you sat before him in the lecture-room, he felt it a sweet
privilege to talk to you so freely of Christian duty and
responsibility. And when a new name was added to the list of
candidates, he said in his heart--"Here is another gem for my Master's
crown, another guest for his table, another chorister for his choir!"
and he passed the new-comer over into the hands which were spiked for
him to the cross, and his faith heard the angels rejoicing over one
more sinner that repented. And many a time, no doubt, returning from
the lecture to the privacy of his chamber, he knelt and commended you
all, with tears of love and joy, to him who gathereth the lambs with
his arms and carrieth them in his bosom. And often, during that sweet
Lenten season, I know, he wrestled for you with the angel of the
covenant through the livelong night, and ceased not till the blessing
came upon the wings of the morning. Shall all his labor be lost upon
you? Shall the fruit be blasted in the bud? Shall Satan and his
servants triumph over the grace of God? Shall souls over which seraphs
have sung hallelujahs excite the mirth and mockery of fiends by their
fall? "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation." Observe daily
your closet devotions. Never deny your Saviour by forsaking the holy
eucharist. Cleave to your Church whatever may be her fortunes. Let no
uncharitableness in the family drive you from your Mother's bosom. Let
no wound that bleeds in your own breast imbitter you against any of her
children. Oh! how painful it is, to see people who are angry at others
wreaking their revenge upon themselves! out of malice to their brethren
murdering their own immortal souls! spurning the bread of life and the
wine of the kingdom because they have a quarrel with the hand that
offers them! refusing to take another step toward heaven, and plunging
incontinently back toward the gulf of hell, because they have conceived
a dislike to some person who was travelling in their company! "If
angels weep, it is at such a sight!" Oh! do ye not so, beloved! Hold
fast whereunto ye have attained. Let no man take your crown. Most
heartily "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is
able to build you up, and to save your souls, and to give you
inheritance with them that are sanctified through faith in Christ
Jesus." And in all my petitions for you at "the throne of the heavenly
Grace," I repeat the loving words of "the chief Shepherd" for his
little flock--"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the
world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."



[1] Preached, immediately after a confirmation, at a parochial mission,
Illinois, 1873.



XIX.

CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH.[1]

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common
salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that
ye should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the
saints.--Jude 3.


And if such exhortation were needful then, when prophecy and miracles
and the gift of tongues were still in the Church, authenticating the
mission of the apostles, confirming the doctrines which they taught,
and commending the common salvation to all who heard them; much more
now, when all these signs and wonders have long since disappeared, and
those holy men of God have been for eighteen centuries enjoying their
repose in Paradise--now, when the predicted perilous times of the last
days are come, and heresies and schisms everywhere abound, and human
reason is exalted above divine revelation, and religion is denuded of
all that is supernatural, and Omnipotence is subjected to the laws of
science, and answers to prayer are pronounced impossible, and Christ is
robbed of his essential glory, and man is become his own redeemer, and
every article of the ancient creeds is called in question, and the
authority of the Church in matters of faith is scoffed at as an
exploded absurdity, and the old dogmatic formulas of Christian theology
are consigned to oblivion and the bats, and every one's private
judgment is worth more to him than the decisions of all the
[oe]cumenical councils, and there are not wanting those in every
community who deem it wiser to make a religion for themselves than to
accept that which has been given to them from heaven. Surely, now, if
ever, might some faithful and uncompromising servant of Jesus Christ,
inditing an epistle to his Christian brethren, assert the necessity of
exhorting them to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the
saints.


What, then, is this faith? and why and how must we contend for it?
These questions allow me to answer.


As you all probably know, the word faith is used in different senses.
Suffice it at present to say, there is a subjective faith, and there is
an objective faith. The former is the act and habit of believing, which
characterizes the Christian life; the latter is the divine truth
believed, comprehending the whole body of Christian doctrine. When it
is said we are justified by faith, we are saved by faith, we walk by
faith, we live by faith, it is manifestly the habitual act of Christian
believing that is intended--of relying upon Christ and trusting in him,
as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; when St.
Paul speaks of holding the mystery of the faith, exhorts the
Corinthians to stand fast in the faith, encourages Timothy to fight the
good fight of faith, testifies of himself that he has kept the faith,
it is evidently the system of Christian truth that he refers to--the
doctrine that Christ came to reveal, sent his servants to proclaim, and
established his Church on earth to maintain. This objective faith,
being at once for all time and for all people authoritatively delivered
to the saints--in the primitive creeds by apostolic tradition, in the
Christian Scriptures by inspiration of God--admits of no alteration or
addition, and needs none to adapt it to the ever-changing circumstances
of men. What it was eighteen hundred years ago it is to-day; and what
it is to-day it will be eighteen hundred years to come. Mutation is the
law of all things earthly; but heavenly truth is immutable and eternal.
Science is progressive, developing gradually by the slow process of
induction; but the faith was delivered all at once, during the lifetime
of our Lord on earth and the ministry of his inspired apostles, and can
never be made more perfect than it was in the beginning. There are no
new revelations in religion, no new discoveries of Christian truth. We
must take the gospel as it comes to us, without attempting to improve
or presuming to mutilate the system. The Church, in her militant
probation, may pass through many successive phases; but the faith, like
its divine Author, is "the same yesterday and to-day and forever." And
for this Christians are called to contend--not for progress, not for
science, not for freedom, not for glory, not for life itself; but for
what is more precious than any or all of these--"the faith once
delivered to the saints."


"Earnestly contend?" Whence this necessity? What more at variance with
the prevalent ideas of the day? Who dreams now of warfare in the cause
of Christian truth? Is not Christianity pre-eminently the religion of
peace and love? Must we reject and oppose, as unsound or heretical,
every thing that does not happen to fall within the limits of our own
particular belief? May not every man hold his own opinion without
assailing that of another man? Is not the gospel platform broad enough
to afford room for all? Earnestly contend? "This is a hard saying; who
can hear it?" I answer: there is one faith delivered, not many faiths;
there is one system of divine truth revealed, not many systems. That
one faith, that one system, whatever it is, we are required to adopt
and maintain, to keep as we would keep a treasure, to guard as we would
guard the crown-jewels of our King, to fight for as we would fight for
what is dearer to us than life, and devote ourselves with the zeal of
martyrs to its propagation among those who are ignorant of the
blessing. The apostles knew nothing of compromise in matters of faith,
and they bequeathed an unfinished warfare to their followers; who
maintained the cause heroically, among sages and savages, in temples
and dungeons, before thrones and tribunals, on the rack and amid the
flames. All this, we know, is the very opposite of the popular
sentiment of the age. Few among us seem to have any conception of a
Christian's duty to defend the truth as it is in Jesus "to the last of
their blood and their breath," battling and dying for a creed. The
spear and the shield of the warrior are laid aside, and the trumpet no
longer sounds for the battle, because peace is deemed more precious
than purity, and controversy is more deprecated than false doctrine,
and a man's belief is regarded as having nothing to do with his conduct
and his character. But the apostles knew that the Church held a trust
which involved inevitable warfare, and would turn the world into a
battle-ground. This trust they transmitted, through their successors,
from generation to generation, to us; and we are signed with the sign
of the cross in baptism, as a token of our consecration to "the good
fight of faith." The struggle may be strenuous as that of the wrestler
in the arena, or fierce as that of the hero in the marshalled host; but
this is every man's duty, to maintain the faith against all assailants,
and strive to win for it a home in every human heart. Do men light a
candle to put it under a bushel or a bed? Does the sun refuse to shine
lest he should offend the bat or blind the owl? And shall the Christian
conceal his faith or suppress his convictions to please those who hate
the light because their deeds are evil? Nay, let him proclaim it boldly
and defend it bravely, like a knight-banneret in the army of the Lord
of hosts; and, whatever the cost, let him urge its claims with becoming
zeal upon all whom his voice can reach. To neglect this is not charity,
but apathy; not humility, but lukewarmness; not liberality of opinion,
but infidelity to Christ. "The Lord hath spoken; who can but prophesy?"
Christ hath commanded us to proselyte all nations; shall we be recreant
to our responsibility? What value do we set upon the faith which we are
not willing to defend--which we attempt not to teach to the world?
Where is his love for man, or his loyalty to Christ, who says nothing,
does nothing, gives nothing, for the diffusion of this heavenly light?
His creed may be right, but his life is wrong. He may have a Christian
head, but he has no Christian heart. He entertains the faith as a
guest, but he does not fight for it as a prize.


Here, then, is the lesson of the text: our duty, the duty of all
Christians, to contend earnestly for the dogmatic faith of the Church.
Amid the deluge of ignorance and error and sin, this is the only ark of
safety. Amid the mighty conflict of human speculations and
philosophies, this is the only evangel of hope. From the beginning the
faith has ever had its enemies and assailants. Wherever angels lodge,
the Sodomites will batter at the door. All along through the ages, the
saints have had to fight for the one faith, and they must fight for it
to the end. Oh! not of peaceful homes, and tranquil communities, and
brethren dwelling together in unity, do the words of the apostle
breathe; but of divided tongues, and imbittered spirits, and the
tenderest relations of life bristling around us like the iron front of
battle; and as one who rides along the line of his marshalled host, he
shouts to us across the centuries, and bids us earnestly contend for
the faith. All those sublime verities for which "the noble army of
martyrs" bled, are committed to the vigilance and championship not only
of the clergy, but of each baptized believer. Some are to vindicate
them by argument; all by practical exhibitions of their regenerating
power. Who does not kindle at the thought of being associated in such a
struggle with St. Paul and St. John, with Ignatius and Polycarp, with
Athanasius and Augustine--men whose names yet thrill the hearts of
millions? Now let us have done with concessions. Away with truce and
armistice. The faith is worth the conflict. None can afford to be
neutral. We must all fight or perish. Look practically, then, at the
solemn necessity before you. "Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of
decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision."
Arise, my brethren, armed with the whole armor of God, and go forth to
battle! Remember that the saints of all ages are with you; that the
victor Lamb is the captain of your host; that the weapons of your
warfare are mighty through God; that your guerdon is an unfading crown
of glory, and your destined home a house eternal in the heavens! Go and
contend for the faith, as those contended who now sleep in Jesus! Go
and battle valiantly under his banner, who hath promised you a seat in
his throne!



[1] Preached at a convocation, Illinois, 1874.



XX.

THE FRUITLESS FIG-TREE.[1]

How soon is the fig-tree withered away!--Matt. xxi. 20.


Next Friday we follow our Saviour to the cross. The last few days
before his death are crowded with some of the most significant acts of
his ministry. One of these we are now called to contemplate--the
withering of the fruitless fig-tree by his word. To-day being the
anniversary of that event, it is appropriately chosen as the theme of
our discourse. Like all the other miracles of our Lord, this is a
parable in action. The fruitless tree represents the Jewish people, and
its fate foreshadows their terrible doom. In this interpretation we are
warranted by a parable of the divine Teacher uttered a few days
earlier--that of the barren fig-tree in the vineyard, for which the
vine-dresser intercedes with the proprietor and obtains a further
probation. The apostles, who had heard the parable and now saw the
miracle, could scarcely fail to connect the one with the other, and to
refer both to the infidelity and fearful punishment of the chosen
people, as they exclaimed--"How soon is the fig-tree withered away!"

Fifteen hundred years before, God had brought a goodly shoot out of
Egypt, and planted it in a very fruitful hill, and hedged it about with
wondrous providences, and watered it with constant dews and seasonable
rains, and enriched the soil around it with a thousand gracious
appliances, and waited on it patiently with a careful and diligent
husbandry. And it sent down its roots deep into the earth, and threw up
its leafy branches high toward heaven, and gave good promise of
abundant fruit. Then he sent his prophets to prune it, and stir the
soil around it, and watch over it night and day. And the wild beast
that gnawed its bark was pierced by the arrow of the Almighty, and the
hand that raised an axe against it fell smitten by the lightning of
heaven. But, instead of producing figs, it wasted its luxuriant life in
leaves. Then came the Proprietor in person, hungering for the fruit of
his labor; and, finding none, he tarried and toiled with it three
years, and watered with frequent tears its deceitful foliage. But all
was in vain, and he was forced at last to pronounce its doom, and leave
it blasted and decaying upon its fruitful hill.

Let us drop the figure. Never before the incarnation was there another
people so highly favored as the Hebrews. God chose them for his own,
and established his covenant with them, and talked with them from
heaven, and dwelt in their midst upon the mercy-seat, and led them
forty years with a pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness, and
smote every enemy that rose up against them, and exterminated mighty
nations to make room for them in Canaan, and brought them into the
goodly land which he had promised to their fathers--a land flowing with
milk and honey, which he gave them for a perpetual inheritance. But how
often they forgot his covenant, and forsook his ordinances, and turned
aside after other gods, and provoked him to anger with their
inventions! Then he hewed them by the prophets and chastised them by
the heathen, but they would not return from their evil ways. He
permitted their cities to be sacked, their young men to be slain in
battle, their virgins to be carried away captive, and their kings to
serve in chains at the tables of the uncircumcised. When they returned
to him with weeping and supplication, he returned to them with
loving-kindness and tender mercies. "Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a
pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember
him still. Therefore my heart is troubled for him. I will surely have
mercy upon him, saith the Lord."

But after all, when Christ came, he found only fruitless foliage upon
his long-cherished fig-tree. Mint, anise, and cummin were scrupulously
tithed; but the weightier matters of the law--judgment, mercy and
faith--were altogether neglected and forgotten. The phylacteries were
large, the prayers were loud and long, the chief seats in the synagogue
were always occupied, and no poor man in vain stretched forth his hand
for alms; but the religion of the Jew ran all to superstitious
observances and ostentatious formalities, divine precepts were
sacrificed to human traditions, a nation of hypocrites could not
produce the fruits of righteousness; and, given up at last to the
grossest self-delusion, they rejected their King and crucified the Lord
of glory. How graciously he had labored! how anxiously he had watched
and waited! and yet there was no grateful return for all his arduous
toil and loving care. But is he willing to cut down the worthless tree,
or blast it with his curse? See! he is crossing the ridge of Olivet on
his way to Jerusalem, riding in triumph amidst the acclamations of the
multitude who have witnessed his miracles and confessed his
Messiahship, his path carpeted with their garments and covered with
branches of the palm. Reaching the brow of the hill, he looks down upon
the beautiful city, lying like a jewelled crown before him. He thinks
of all his labor for her children, and all their base ingratitude and
suicidal unbelief. He knows that those who are now shouting him on his
way with hosannahs will soon be clamoring for his crucifixion and
mocking around his cross. Full well he knows that the chosen race will
shortly have filled up the measure of their guilt, and wrath will come
upon them to the uttermost. And as the vision of their ruin rises upon
the eye of his spirit, with the long ages of unparalleled tribulation
and despair which must succeed the catastrophe of the beloved city, he
weeps as only Infinite Compassion can weep, and laments as only an
incarnate God can lament:--"Oh that thou hadst known, even thou, at
least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! but now
they are hid from thine eyes; for the days shall come upon thee, when
thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and shall keep thee in on
every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children
within thee, and shall not leave in thee one stone upon another,
because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." In about sixty
years all is fulfilled--the temple burned, the streets heaped with the
dead, the plough driven over the ruins, and the hopeless remnant of a
reprobate race scattered in isolated exile over the face of the earth.
The curse has fallen, and "how soon is the fig-tree withered away!"


And we, my brethren--shall we not take warning from the fate of the
unfaithful people? "Dried up from the roots," the old Jewish tree has
been torn from the soil and cast into the fire; and we--alien shoots
from without the enclosure--have been transplanted into the vineyard of
the Lord. Disinherited and undone, the murderers of God's Messiah are
strangers and fugitives to-day over the face of the planet; but we have
succeeded to their inheritance, glorified with new revelations of grace
and truth. Baptized into a better covenant, with a better Mediator than
Moses, we rejoice in the mercies and immunities of a better theocracy
than Israel ever knew. In the midst of our camp Jehovah has pitched his
tabernacle; and by the more glorious ministration of the Spirit,
through the word and sacraments of an everlasting testament, he is
seeking to make us fruitful in righteousness and true holiness. Brought
nigh to God by adoption and regeneration, we become heirs of his
kingdom and joint-heirs with his first-born--partakers of his life and
expectants of his immortality. And now we have enjoyed another season
of merciful visitation, and the daily services of Lent have been like
vernal sun and shower to the fig-tree. Have we borne fruit, or only
leaves? Has our penitential humiliation been real and effectual, or
only feigned and perfunctory? Have these thirty-six days in the holy
mount deepened our communion with God and intensified our love of
holiness? Are we purer and wiser than we were on
Ash-Wednesday--stronger to resist evil and do good--more like Christ in
meekness and charity and self-denial? Be assured, my dear brethren,
that your privileges bring with them a fearful responsibility. If you
have received the grace of God in vain, your Lent has been a curse, and
not a blessing; and the mercies by which you have failed to profit have
enhanced unspeakably your condemnation. "He that knoweth his master's
will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes;" and "he
that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be
destroyed, and that without remedy." Ah! how many of us have no heart
for the service of God--no pleasure in that which enraptures the
seraphim! Conscience impels them one way, but inclination draws them
more powerfully the other; and duty is constantly sacrificed to carnal
gratifications, worldly interests, and vain ambitions. They fear God,
but love him not; and though they cannot sin without a tremor, the
tremor is not strong enough to repress the sin. Generally at church,
they do all they can to support the public worship and encourage the
heart of the clergy; but here ends their all of duty, their all of
practical religion, their all of gratitude for the unspeakable love of
Christ--mere foliage without any satisfying fruit.

And what can the end be but a blasting malediction from the Master?
Long, indeed, may he continue his merciful efforts to make such
Christians fruitful; but when his grace is habitually rejected or
perverted--when his Holy Spirit is forced to strive in vain with an
obdurate heart and a will obstinately set on evil--he will withhold his
favors, or grant them less frequently and in inferior measure.
Meanwhile sins multiply, bad habits grow stronger, the roots of vice
strike deeper, and its branches grow broader and higher; till at length
comes the hot wind from the desert, beneath which every green thing
becomes crisp and sear. Christ rejected, there remaineth no more
sacrifice for sin, and he who has lived in impenitence dies in despair.
Oh! when conscience presents the long catalogue of uncancelled crimes,
and only a few moments of wasted life remain, what can the dying sinner
do? When his broken vows, abused mercies, and neglected opportunities,
through all the corridors of memory come trooping up like the vengeful
ghosts of the murdered, whither will he fly for refuge? Or the advent
of the last enemy may be a sudden surprise, unexpected as the crash of
a ship under full sail upon some sunken rock; launching the poor soul,
all unprovided, with a shudder and a shriek into an unsounded sea. Or
if a little space be given the delinquent, yet through the violence of
his disorder the mind may be quite incapable of a rational repentance,
drifting like the wrecked mariner upon a spar at the mercy of wind and
wave. But in whatever form and with whatever circumstances Death may
come, he comes ever to the impenitent as an avenger--avenger of God's
neglected mercy--avenger of Christ's insulted love; and a fearful thing
it is--fearful beyond all power of language to express--to die without
hope in Christ and unreconciled to God. Oh! to be forced out at
midnight, amidst howling tempests and roaring billows--no compass to
guide nor star to cheer--on the eternal voyage! Beware, then, beloved,
lest that come upon you which our blessed Lord foretold of those who
rejected his mission: "Ye shall die in your sins, and where I am ye
cannot come."

With only two exceptions, Christ's recorded miracles are all works of
mercy, wrought for the relief of suffering and the consolation of
sorrow; and even these exceptions, which may be called miracles of
judgment--performed, the one upon irrational animals, and the other on
an insensible tree--show the aversion of his tender heart to severity
and vengeance. He is long-suffering, unwilling that any should perish,
desiring that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the
truth. He smites only where he cannot cure. As long as there is any
hope of reformation, he spares the unthankful and the evil; and never,
till all possibility of salvation is past, does he visit the
incorrigible with punishment. Justice must have its claim as well as
mercy; and, mercy rejected, justice must avenge. The terribleness of
the retribution makes nothing against its righteousness; and though it
send a tremor through all the worlds of God, the obstinate transgressor
shall not go unpunished. Very terrible indeed it is, and imagination
staggers beneath the apprehension of the wrath of the Lamb; but
terrible also was the deluge, and the fate of Sodom, and the slaughter
of the Egyptian first-born, and the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host,
and the end of Korah and his mutinous company, and the destruction of
seventy thousand Israelites at a stroke, and the death of a hundred and
eighty-five thousand Assyrians in a single night, and the sudden
catastrophe of Nineveh and Babylon with all their pomp and their power,
and the wrath which fell in its manifold final infliction upon the
chosen people when the day of their merciful visitation was over and
ended; but the terribleness of the vengeance did not stay the avenging
hand of Justice, when Mercy, with broken heart, retired and left the
guilty to their fate. And the dawn of the last day will be terrible,
and the coming of the Son of man will be terrible, and the destruction
of the Antichrist will be terrible, and the conflagration of the
universe will be terrible, and terrible beyond all precedent the
punishment of reprobate impenitence when the Lord Jesus with his holy
angels shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire! The tree may long
lift its green boughs to the sun and toss its gay blossoms to the
breeze; but when the Master comes for fruit and finds nothing but a
deceitful promise, smitten with his curse it shall quickly wither away.

Let us make haste to avert the vengeance. In this our gracious
day--this clement mediatorial hour--let us invoke the Holy Spirit to
aid us in bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. Think not that the
work will be easier in coming years, when passion is weakened, and
temptation is lessened, and coercive grace comes to conquer the rebel
will and reclaim the alien heart. Alas! by every hour's delay you are
riveting the fetters of evil habit, and multiplying and consolidating
the barriers to your salvation; and the special grace for which you
wait will never come till God shall revise his evangel and Christ
change the whole economy of his kingdom. Now is your time for
conversion, and a better moment will never occur between this and
eternity. Hark! it is the voice of the Master: "Cut it down! why
cumbereth it the ground?" Hark! it is the voice of the Vine-dresser:
"Lord! let it alone till another Lent! I will renew my efforts; I will
redouble my endeavors; I will try some new expedients; peradventure
next year will reward thy forbearance with the long-expected fruit!"
Oh! prayer of crucified compassion! shall it not be answered? Oh!
prophecy of ill-requited mercy! shall it not be fulfilled? Beloved, it
is for you to say. God hath spoken, and uttered all his heart.
Henceforth all depends upon yourselves. Answer your Saviour's prayer,
fulfil your Saviour's prophecy, and so avert the judgment of
unfruitfulness; or else prepare for the unutterable alternative--your
Saviour's blighting curse!



[1] Preached at a parochial mission in Memphis, Tenn., 1876.



XXI.

CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT.[1]

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be
content.--Phil. iv. 11.


An instance of the moral sublime, which none can fail to admire, and
all should endeavor to emulate. What an ornament of the gospel is such
a spirit! What a commendation of Christianity is such a testimony! No
human philosophy, no stoical indifference, no diligence of
self-discipline, ever elevated the soul of man to so serene and pure an
atmosphere--nothing but that religion which the Son of God brought with
him from heaven to earth, the tendency and design of which is to raise
its human subjects from earth to heaven. "I have learned, in whatsoever
state I am, therewith to be content."


Contentment is satisfaction with one's lot or condition. The word
conveys the idea of fulness and sufficiency. It is opposed to envy,
which is displeased with the prosperity of others. It is opposed to
ambition, which is not satisfied with equality, but aspires to
superiority. It is opposed to avarice, which grasps all it can reach,
keeps all it obtains, and "sayeth not it is enough." It is opposed to
anxiety, which is always taking needless thought for the morrow,
saying, "What shall we eat? what shall we drink? and wherewithal shall
we be clothed?" It is opposed to murmuring and repining, which is an
ungrateful distrust of God, an unjust arraignment of his providence, an
impious impeachment of his wisdom and goodness, a presumptuous spirit
of rebellion against his righteous government.

St. Paul's statement seems to express complete and perfect
satisfaction. In the highest sense this is applicable only to Jehovah,
who is El Shaddai, God All-sufficient. But in a lower sense it is true,
to a greater or less degree, of all good men. They have no sufficiency
in themselves, but their sufficiency is of God. Of his fulness they
have all received--the unsearchable riches of Christ. With the fatness
of his house they are abundantly satisfied, and he makes them drink
from the river of his pleasures. This is the only satisfying portion of
the soul. Without this, men may be indifferent--may be jovial and
reckless; but these are not contentment--are perhaps the very opposites
of contentment; indifference, the sullen obstinacy of a perverse and
rebellious will, as far from contentment as it is from submission;
jovial recklessness, the effort of a restless heart to throw off its
burden of care and trouble--the revolt of the whole man against
Providence and against conscience. But when Divine Love brings us to
its banqueting-house, and God becomes our shield and exceeding great
reward, then the fluctuating soul returns to its native rest, like
Naphthali satisfied with favor and full with the blessing of the Lord.


When the apostle says--"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content," no one can imagine that he refers to his
former state of sin; for of that he constantly speaks in terms of
strong regret, and as long as he lived he never ceased to sorrow for
the evil he had done. Nor are we to suppose that he means to express
his full satisfaction with his present state of grace; for he is always
hungering and thirsting after the fulness of God; and no Christian can
be fully satisfied with his spiritual attainments till he awakes in the
likeness of his Lord.

If there can be any doubt of the apostle's meaning, the verses
immediately following may solve it: "I know both how to be abased and
how to abound; everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed both to
be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer need; I can do all
things through Christ which strengtheneth me." These several conditions
he had tested by experience; and found himself able, by the grace of
God, to maintain a calm and unperturbed spirit amidst all their trying
vicissitudes: thoroughly assured that all were ordered or overruled by
Infinite Wisdom and Love, and must therefore work together for his good.

In another place he says: "Most gladly will I glory in mine
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; therefore I
take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in
persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak,
then am I strong." To be content in success and prosperity, were easy
enough; but to be content in trials such as these, immeasurably
surpasses the power of the unsanctified human heart. The apostle,
however, bore his tribulations, not merely with patient submission and
quiet fortitude, but even with exultation; rejoicing evermore; in every
thing giving thanks; counting the heaviest cross his greatest blessing;
with all his heart glorying in the fellowship of his Saviour's
suffering; willing to live or die, because in life or death God would
be magnified in his body; and when the alternative presents itself in
imminent prospect, perplexed only as to which he ought to prefer: "I am
in a strait betwixt two; having a desire to depart and be with Christ,
which is far better; nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more
needful for you; and having this confidence, I know that I shall abide
and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith, that
your rejoicing may be more abundant by my coming to you again." What
heroic resignation is here! what disinterested charity! what
transcendent sublimity of hope!


And how had the apostle attained to such experience? In what school,
from what teacher, had he learned so great a lesson? Certainly not from
nature, nor from any human system of morality. Ever since man went
forth from the blessed garden, he has been a restless and unhappy
creature, always seeking repose for his spirit in some inferior good,
and ever disappointed in the end. Contentment is a lesson to be
learned, and to be learned only, in the school of Christ. There St.
Paul learned it, not at the feet of Gamaliel. There he learned it,
under the tuition of Providence, aided by the Holy Spirit of grace, by
a long and painful course of discipline--by hunger and thirst, cold and
nakedness, desertion and persecution, shipwreck and dungeon, scourging
and stoning, a life of perpetual conflict, and the frequent menace of
death.

So others have learned it. And what a blessed lesson it is, well
learned! Aaron, when his sons were smitten, "held his peace." And Eli,
when informed of coming judgments, said: "It is the Lord; let him do
what seemeth him good." And Job, bereft of every earthly comfort,
exclaimed: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the
name of the Lord." And David, trained in every school of affliction, is
ever singing of the loving-kindness of the Lord, and extolling the
excellence of his mercy which endureth forever. Such contentment as
these instances exemplify, nothing can produce but the grace of God in
co-operation with his providence, the one purifying and the other
disciplining the heart. But when we learn to draw water from the wells
of salvation, we shall imbibe contentment with the draught. Believing
in Christ as our Saviour, we shall confide in God as our Father. All
made right within, all will be right without. An Almighty Friend in
heaven--"a very present help in trouble," we have no real cause for
anxious thought or disquieting fear. Faith overcomes all apprehension
of evil, and enables every saint to sing with the psalmist--"The Lord
is my portion, Faith my soul, therefore will I hope in him;" and to say
with the apostle--"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith
to be content."


Brethren, let us aspire to this apostolic experience. In this grace,
why should we not equal St. Paul? Is it not the high calling of every
Christian? And what reason for discontent have we, that this noble hero
had not? Our present state, like his, is God's appointment, and only
for a season; and the discipline of sorrow and conflict may be no less
needful for us than it was for him, and the result no less a blessing.

How much worldly good is necessary for any of us? how much wealth,
honor, happiness? Most of our wants are artificial and unreal. We
create them, or imagine them, and then complain that they are not
supplied. Our first needs--our only absolute needs--are food and
raiment; and having these, we are divinely counselled to be content.
And many have been content with much less of them than we possess, and
no health for their enjoyment--have been content without either
sufficient food or comfortable raiment, and for years scarcely an hour
of exemption from pain--content in great poverty and utter destitution,
on the bed of sickness, in the gloom of the dungeon, under the
foreshadow of martyrdom--consoling themselves with the assurance that
God hath chosen the poor of this world, the afflicted, the persecuted,
rich in faith, and heirs, of his heavenly kingdom.

And to be content--is it not, after all, the best way to be well
supplied? "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all
these things shall be added unto you." Will not the Good Shepherd
provide for his confiding sheep? Will not he who clothes the lilies and
feeds the sparrows regard your necessities, O ye of little faith? Can
you not trust the bounty of your King, the affection of your Father?
"Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you." Jacob asked food
and raiment, and God gave him also abundant flocks and herds. Solomon
prayed for a wise and understanding heart, and received in addition
great riches and honor. With the divine love you are rich, whatever
else you lack; without it poor, whatever else you possess.

And what avails your discontent? What can it bring you but present
trouble and future regret? Why disquiet yourselves in vain? Can all
your anxiety change the color of a hair, or add a moment to your little
all of life? Does not God know what is best for you, and will he alter
his wise and gracious economy to gratify your foolish and capricious
desires? What claim have you on him? What service have you ever done
him? What benefit has he ever received from your virtue? Nay, you are
sharers of a thousand blessings, not one of which have you merited.
Rightly estimating yourselves, instead of murmuring against God, you
would be ready to say with the pilgrim patriarch: "I am not worthy of
the least of all the mercy and truth which thou hast shown unto thy
servant."

But discontent is ingratitude. Recently redeemed from the iron furnace,
shall the children of Israel complain of their hard fare in the
wilderness, spurn the manna, clamor for flesh, and talk of the fish
they freely ate in Egypt, of the cucumbers and the melons, the leeks,
the onions, and the garlics? Let them remember the toils of the
brick-kiln, the voice of the oppressor, the scourge of the task-master,
and all the burdens which there imbittered their lives. And you, have
you not infinitely more ground for gratitude than for grumbling? God's
mercies, fresh every morning and new every evening, crowd the day and
crown the night. One single gift hath he bestowed--one unspeakable
gift--the channel through which all others flow--worth more than a
solar system to every child of Adam. Redeemed by the blood of Christ,
every moment becomes an inestimable mercy; nay, every breath becomes a
thousand mercies; nay, every pulse metes out incalculable mercies by
the million; and while we receive them, what deserve we but reprobation
and ruin infinite? Add to these the many great and exceeding precious
promises with which the Bible overflows, all pointing to an
incorruptible inheritance reserved for you in heaven; and tell me, have
you no cause to be content?

All things ours--God with all his communicable fulness--Christ with all
his riches of grace and glory--heaven with all its clustering honors
and immunities--who will not say: "Return unto thy rest, O my soul! for
the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee"? Ye who now like Lazarus
have your evil things on earth, will you not hereafter with Lazarus be
comforted in Abraham's bosom? Oh! what is poverty to you who are to
inherit all things--heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ?
What are toil and pain, reproach and persecution, the utter prostration
of health, the loss of every living friend, and the burial of all you
ever loved below, to you who look for your Lord's return from heaven,
the renovation of the world, the redemption of the body, the immortal
fellowship of the just, and the termination of all the sad vicissitudes
of time in the blissful calm of eternal content?

And those of you who are trying to content yourselves with these
fleeting vanities! know ye not that your treasures will decay, your
glories wither, and all the delights of sense perish with the world?
What will you do when the ground dissolves beneath you, and the
atmosphere around you becomes flame? A surer trust we proffer you, and
a nobler felicity. Come and feed your famishing souls with the hidden
manna of God, and slake your spirit's thirst from the fountain of
living waters. Here, in the love of God--here, in the blood of
Christ--here, in the assurance of pardon--here, resting upon the Rock
of ages--here, anchored in a sure and steadfast hope--you shall learn
at last the tranquil blessedness of true content!



[1] Preached at Seneca Falls, N.Y., Aug. 12, 1883--the last actual
pulpit-utterance of the author.



XXII.

"YE KNOW THE GRACE."[1]

Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich,
yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be
rich.--2 Cor. viii. 9.


To the rich, commonly, what is more terrible than poverty? So great,
sometimes, their dread of it, that they seek to avoid or avert it by
measures the most dishonorable and even the most desperate. Rather than
be poor, many will practise the worst hypocrisies or commit the
greatest crimes. For thirty pieces of silver, more than one Judas has
sold his Saviour to the murderers and his own soul to Satan; and to
escape the possible condition of Lazarus at his gate, many a Dives has
slain himself in his palace. Horrified at such insanity, we scarcely
wonder at the fear from which it springs. The noblest spirits quake at
the thought of want, and a prospective reverse of fortune is enough to
make the bravest quail.

Yet are there cases on record in which men and women, for some worthy
principle, have cheerfully welcomed absolute privation, or patiently
endured the destitution of all things. The fear of God, the love of
truth, devotion to duty, domestic affection, patriotic sentiment,
disinterested philanthropy--have not some of these again and again led
the dwellers in palaces to the hovel and the hermitage, substituting
for the downy couch a pallet of straw, for the purple and fine linen a
suit of sack-cloth, and for the daily sumptuous banquet a crust of
bread and a cup of water? While we recognize in such cases only a
conscientious service rendered to God or a life of superior charity to
his rational and immortal creatures, we can but admire and honor the
noble principle that thus renounces the conveniences and advantages of
high birth and ample fortune for the lowest conditions of civilized
humanity. The impulse is divine; the spirit is that of Christ. Some
become poor through misfortune, some through improvidence, some through
criminal indulgence, these through stanch adherence to duty. If they
had not relinquished their riches, they must have repudiated the
authority of conscience and let go their hold on virtue. Poverty has
saved its thousands, where wealth has ruined its tens of thousands.

Here we are reminded of One who was originally rich beyond all human
conception, but became poorer than the poorest that ever trod the
earth--not because he desired the change, nor because he could not help
it, nor because it was his bounden duty, nor because a superior bade
him, nor because the perishing implored him, but because he loved us
with an infinite love--beyond all imagination of men or angels.

  "'Twas mercy moved his heavenly mind,
        And pity brought him down."


First, then, we must think of the poverty of Christ as the
manifestation of his grace. What was it but purest goodness, gratuitous
favor, unmerited compassion, that moved him to forsake his glory and
become the brother of worms and the Man of sorrows? What saw he in this
revolted province of his boundless empire, that he should come to seek
and save the self-destroyed? Among all the myriads of Adam's children,
what one quality was there worthy of his love? Who solicited his aid,
or repented of his own sin? What obligation pressed or necessity
impelled the Saviour? Had he remained indifferent to our helpless woes
in the heavenly mansions, who could have impeached one of his
perfections? Had he smitten this guilty planet from its orbit, and sent
it staggering among the stars--a reprobate world--a warning to the
universe of the ruin wrought by sin--might not the minstrelsy of heaven
have chanted over its catastrophe--"Just and true are thy ways, thou
King of saints!" Perfectly he foreknew all that awaited him in his
mission of mercy; yet with what divine alacrity did he vacate his
throne, leave the bosom of his Father, and retire from the adoring host
of heaven--as if a loftier throne, a more loving bosom, and a worthier
concourse of worshippers, were ready to greet him in the world to which
he came!

  "O love that passeth knowledge! words are vain!
  Language is lost in wonder so divine!"


Secondly, we must consider the poverty of Christ in contrast with his
previous riches. How much we commiserate the poor who have seen better
days! His better days what human art shall depict or finite mind
conceive? Lift up your thoughts to the glorious state of the Eternal
Son in the bosom of God the Father. As yet the worlds are not; no star
reflects his smile, nor seraph chants his praise; but, possessed of
every divine excellence in the most transcendent degree, he has within
himself an infinite source of happiness. Now he arises to the work of
creation, and myriads of self-luminous suns, each with his retinue of
rejoicing planets, begin their eternal march around his throne. All are
his, created by him and for him; and all their countless billions of
rational and immortal beings own him as their supreme Lord, and adore
him as the sole giver of every good and perfect gift. Down from all
this glory he descended into one of the poorest provinces of his
illimitable realm, assuming the frail and suffering nature of its
fallen people,

  "And God with God was man with men."

Having a body and a soul like ours, he was liable to all our
temptations and infirmities; and suffering--the just for the
unjust--that he might bring us to God, he became poorer than the
poorest of those whom by his poverty he sought to redeem. Surely, had
he so chosen, with all the pomp and splendor of royal state he might
have made his advent; but see! he comes as the first-born of an obscure
family--a stable his birthplace--a manger his cradle; through all the
years of his youth, subject to his parents, and toiling at Joseph's
side with the carpenter's saw and plane; and when at the age of thirty
he enters upon his Messianic mission, having no home but such as a poor
fisherman can offer him at Capernaum; often hungering and thirsting
over the fields and fountains of his own creation, everywhere hated for
his love and persecuted for his purity; and at last basely betrayed
into the hands of his enemies, abandoned and denied by his disciples,
falsely accused of blasphemy, and cruelly condemned to the cross; while
the powers of hell, in all their might and their malice, co-operate
with the murderers of the Lord's Anointed; and the loving Father,
laying on him the iniquities of us all, withdraws from the scene of
infamous horrors, and leaves the immaculate victim to die alone in the
darkness.

  "O Lamb of God! was ever pain--
    Was ever love--like thine?"


Thirdly, we must contemplate the poverty of Christ in relation to the
enrichment of his people. For our sake it was--for our benefit--as our
substitute--he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.
"What are a million of human lives," said the great Napoleon, "to the
scheme of a man like me?" Infinitely more sublime was the scheme of
Jesus Christ, sacrificing no human interest to his own ambition, but
enriching all his followers with the durable riches of righteousness.
Benevolence, not ambition, was the grand impulse of his action. To save
mankind from sin and Satan--to quicken dead souls with the power of an
endless life--he came forth from the Father, sojourned in voluntary
exile among rebels, and joyfully laid down his life for their
redemption. How much the apostles write of "the riches of his grace"!
How sweetly they assure us that he "hath chosen the poor of this world,
rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them
that love him"! He became poorer than we, to make us as rich as
himself--joint-heirs with him to an inheritance incorruptible,
undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved for us in heaven. Already,
indeed, the believer is rich in faith, rich in love, rich in peace,
rich in joy, and rich in hope; but when the dear Lord shall return to
consummate in glory the salvation thus begun by grace, the saints shall
enter with him the everlasting kingdom, satisfied with his likeness and
radiant with his joy. Rejoice then, O my brother! in the unsearchable
riches of Christ. Is the culprit enriched by pardon on the scaffold? So
Christ hath pardoned thee. Is the exile enriched by the edict that
calls him home? So Christ hath recalled the banished. Is the leper
enriched by the cure of his foul disease? So Christ cleanses the soul
that comes to him. Is the disinherited enriched by the restoration of
his lost estate? Jesus has bought back for us our forfeited
possessions, and made them ours by an everlasting covenant. Is the
prisoner enriched by the power that gives him freedom? If the Son makes
us free, we are free indeed, and hell cannot enslave the ransomed soul.
Is the alien child enriched by adoption into the royal household,
making him heir to the crown? Brought nigh by redeeming blood, I become
interested in all that belongs to my Lord, and whatever he receives
from the Father I am to share with him in the kingdom of his glory. His
voluntary poverty in my behalf makes him my Brother and associates me
with him upon the throne. Taking my earthly station, he raises me to
his heavenly honors. Bearing my manifold infirmities, he assures me of
a share in his infinite blessedness. Emptying himself of his glory for
me, he fills me with all the fulness of God! Thus we know the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ--not, indeed, in all the amplitude of its
extension, nor in all the plenitude of its comprehension; but
adequately to our necessity as sinners, and adequately to our duty and
privilege as Christians--we know it, and rejoice in it with unspeakable
joy. What returns shall we make, or how express our gratitude? Shall we
be like him who, having promised Mercury part of his nuts, ate the
kernels himself, and gave the god the shells? Shall we not imitate the
Macedonian churches, that first gave their own selves to the Lord, and
then sent their liberal collections to the poor saints at Jerusalem?
When we have given ourselves, what else can we withhold from him who
gave all his wealth to enrich us, and has enriched us most by giving us
himself?

  "The mite my willing hand can give,
    At Jesus' feet I lay;
  His grace the tribute will receive,
    And Heaven at large repay."



[1] Written in the last days of September, 1883, but never preached.



THE REV. DR. JOSEPH CROSS'S WORKS.


+_KNIGHT BANNERET._+ Sermons. By the Rev. Joseph
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  Vol. I., Advent to Ascension.
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+_OLD WINE AND NEW_+. Occasional discourses. By the Rev.
Joseph Cross, D.D., LL.D. 1 vol. 12mo, cloth.

_Just Issued._

Copies mailed postpaid on receipt of price.


THOMAS WHITTAKER, Publisher,
  2 and 3 Bible House, New York.



By JOSEPH CROSS, D.D., LL.D.


KNIGHT-BANNERET: Sermons. 12mo, cloth,                $1.50

EVANGEL: Sermons for Parochial Missions.
  12mo, cloth                                          1.50

EDENS OF ITALY. Profusely illustrated. 4to,
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Tree calf                                             12.00
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  to Ascension. Volume II., from Ascension to Advent.
  12mo, cloth, each                                    1.50

PAULINE CHARITY: Discourses on the
  Thirteenth Chapter of Saint Paul's First
  Epistle to the Corinthians. 12mo, cloth              1.50

OLD WINE AND NEW: Occasional Discourses.
  12mo, cloth                                          1.50


THOMAS WHITTAKER,

_PUBLISHER_,

2 AND 3 BIBLE HOUSE......NEW YORK.



[Transcriber's note: Italicized text is indicated with _underscores_,
bold text with +plus+ signs.  The oe-ligature character is shown as
"[oe]".





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