« הקודםהמשך »
example, if your life be pure and gentle, it bears all day long a clear-toned witness for your Lord.
This, then, is to do all in His name ;-to do all for His sake, in His sight, and in witness for His person and His kingdom. But who can hear it without trembling? If this be our calling, what must be our judgment ? Our election is fearful and blessed : to live for His name in Whose blood alone we can wash our sins, our prayers, and our repentance.
Let us try, as best we may, to lay this great truth to heart, by dwelling on some direct and practical inferences from it, bearing upon our daily life. It shows us, then:
1. First, that sin in a Christian is a plain denial of Christ. It denies His name more emphatically than to say, “I know not the Man.” In early times, when the Church was under heathen persecution, Christians were required by the enemies of Christ to deliver up their sacred vessels, the paten and the chalice of the holy Eucharist, and the volumes of Holy Scripture. By giving up these consecrated trusts, they might make an easy purchase of life; and more than this, they were led to the lighted altars of Pagan worship, and if they would so much as cast a grain of incense upon the glowing embers, they were set free. But these light acts were pregnant with an intense meaning. They were implicit denials of the name of Christ, constructive treason against the kingdom of the Son of God. His true servants rather died than deny Him by so much as this silent homage to the kingdom of darkness, by the slightest ambiguous motion of hands or lips. Such is our probation now. The least acts of sin are louder than the loudest recital of the faith. One such act drowns ail our confessions and creeds. They make themselves heard above all our specious and weak words of religious intention. One sin of sensuality, pride, falsehood, or malignity, deliberately conceived, consciously put in act, is an overt and high rebellion.
For what is it but to take the side of antichrist, .n the warfare between heaven and earth—to swell the powers of darkness, and to lift up our weapons among the banners of the evil one? Sometimes the greatest secret treachery is found under a religious cloak, as in schism for spurious charity and lax indul. gence of other men's sins. But howsoever concealed, it is only an illusion of Satan. Sometimes it is by a temper contrary to this. Insubordination, uncharitableness, a bitter spirit, selfish insensibility of the spiritual dangers of those for whom Christ died; these again are so many denials of His
What will it avail at that day to say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name: and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works?" “ We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets.
But He shall say, I tell you I know you not.” ?
2. And another truth following from the last is, that worldliness is a suppressed contradiction and secret betrayal of Christ. "He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world.” : “ The friendship of the world is enmity with God.”' We “cannot serve two masters;" we cannot be a link between two spiritual opposites. There is no neutrality between the world and God. God is the eternal fountain of truth, purity, and peace. The world without God is false, impure, and turbulent; a mighty heaving confusion of fallen spirits wrestling with each other and with God. As such the world is in eternal opposition to Him. It can only be reconciled by passing out of itself into His kingdom; by receiving the laws of truth and obedience, of holiness and order, that is, in ceasing to be the world, and being taken up into the will of God. Besides the grosser kinds of sensual
i St. Matt. vii. 22.
2 St. Luke xii. 26, 27. 4 James iv. 4.
and spiritual evil, this world has a multitude of refined and subtil powers of enmity against the Divine will. There is, besides the lust of the flesh, also the lust of the eyes; the vain-glory, pomp, glitter, ostentation, of ease, luxury, and self-pleasing; and there is, moreover, the pride of life, th stately self-worship, the fastidious self-contemplation of intellectual or secular men. And with this comes also a throng of less elevated sins,-levity, love of pleasure; full fare, a thirst for money, a hunger for popularity, and its debasing successes. These things steal away the heart, and make men false to their Heavenly Master. Their obedience becomes habitually double, vain-glorious, self-advancing; or heartless, hollow, and reluctant. If they do not by express acts betray Him, it is either because they are not tempted, or because they would lose in the scale of the world's esteem or in their own. Surely there must be something highly incensing to our Heavenly Master in such earthly hearts, all fair outside. but eaten out by the world even to the core.
3. Let us, then, learn further, that obedience in His name, for His sake, and in His sight, is the only obedience which is steadfast and persevering. It is the only obedience that is sincere. No other obedience springs from the heart. a principle not to be swayed by custom or reputation, or by the maxims and eyes of men. It is always the same, in every place, season, and state. All other motives change with our outward circumstances, with the judgments, tone, wishes, suggestions of those about us. But this is internal, selfsupported and unchangeable. And as it never changes, so it is ever gaining strength, ever advancing, uniting the whole power of the mind in one aim and force, binding all the affections of the heart about the conscience and the will, ever growing in self-command, in the pure happiness of conscious sincerity, and in the sensitive discernment of a tender conscience.
In such a character all the complex motives of daily life are sanctified. The one governing purpose, that is, to do all in the name of Christ, consecrates them all. The healthy play of all pure and natural affection is not crossed, but perfected by the control of a higher principle. God has made man's heart manifold in its thoughts and emotions; and for all these He has ordained a manifold counterpart in the scheme of perfect obedience. No doubt, when Solomon saw the Temple of God rising in silence and beauty, a multitude of thoughts stirred within him. The stately shafts and polished corners, the sculptured chapiters, and elaborate grace of the house, which was "exceeding magnifical," filled his eye and soul with forms of beauty, and suggestions of more than visible perfection. There was a pure and hallowed pleasure distinct from the one presiding consciousness that all this was for the dwelling of the Most High God. So in all the sphere of our life. In our homes and relative affections, in our lawful use of God's good creatures, in our honest labors, in our temperate ease, in all works of mercy and devotion; though a complex multitude of thoughts and emotions work upon us, it is but the various movement of one manifold and mysterious nature, created in the image of Him Who, though manifold, is One. All these motives are pure in His sight, and all accepted of Him for Christ's sake, in whose name our highest and governing purposes are all conceived. There is no discord so long as they are subordinate. As all harmony, however intricate, has some one tone high and dominant, by which all are united in a perfect strain. And this chief aim, if not always consciously before us, yet may be always habitual in our minds. The presence of Christ may be our ruling motive, even when the thought of His presence is, for a time, suspended. We do not cease to be affected by the will of a friend, though we be not always looking upon him. Sometimes the very depth and
and see :
fulness of our habitual feeling makes us less conscious of its detailed and momentary action. Like the power of sight and hearing, we do not reflect upon them while we hear or like the fondest affections, which are seldom uttered, so taken for granted as to be passed by in silence, never transgressed, though never abstracted from the thoughts and words which flow from them all day long.
This, then, is our law of life in this confused and perilous world. It will be good to try ourselves daily by this rule. The first thing in the morning, offer all your intentions and all the works of the day to God. During the day, renew this intention by intervals of prayer, or by momentary aspirations. Before you begin any new work, ask, “Am I doing this for His name? Can I do this in His sight ? Will He accept this as done for His sake? Can I ask His blessing upon it?
Can I offer it up to Him?" If you are met by difficulties, renew the consciousness for Whom you are at work. If tempted to impatience or to anger, or to resentment, say this holy Name in secret to yourself. If you suffer, call to mind, “ This I suffer for Him who suffered all for me. This is my cross for His sake, the shadow of His cross for mine." Be it sickness, pain, anguish, anxiety, sorrow, solitude, it is all one ; we may join it to His sorrows and to the darkness of His Cross. In this you will find consolation, strength, guidance, ever fresh and
This will keep your feet in all your ways, be they never so slippery, be they never so strait. His Name, through faith in His Name, shall hold you up. In a little while, where will be all the things that we are fretting about? Where will be honors, wealth, power, ambition, high place, science, learning, pleasures, and refinement ? Where will be home and its soft cares, its keen anxieties, its tender affections, its blinding attachments? Where will all these be, when the sign of the Son of man shall be seen in heaven?