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not yet grasping in its fullness, that God had now broken down the middle wall of partition, and that henceforth, to Jew and Gentile alike, the glad tidings of the Gospel should be preachedSt. Mark, I say, not yet fully understanding and accepting this, as the Apostles did, refuses to go into Gentile countries to preach the Gospel in them, but will labour for the salvation of his own people only. By and bye, however, this blindness has passed away, this prejudice is no more
He has learnt that of a truth there is henceforth no difference in the sight of God between Jew and Gentile, that to Him both are alike. And so, now it is that his old stern master can say of him, “He is profitable to me “ for the ministry.” There is still the same earnestness of purpose, the same readiness for work, as of old, but more light, and knowledge, and gentleness, and love therewith.
The prejudices of the Evangelist and his conduct in consequence, had once been a source of contention between Paul and Barnabas ; but now he is held up, and that, too, by the one then most agrieved, as a very pattern to the servants of God, as “profitable for the ministry.”
He had ever been an earnest man; we cannot
doubt it. For when Paul rejected him, Barnabas took him. And now, the great Apostle in the closing days of his ministry, earnestly desires his presence with him.
III.--Here then, dear brethren, is a very simple and useful lesson for us. It is this,-the earnest mind, though for a time warped by strong prejudices, will at length by God's mercy be blessed with greater light and knowledge.
Nay, we see the very same kind of thing true in S. Paul himself. Though he had been a cruel and bitter persecutor of God's people, yet having “lived in all good conscience before God,” he at length “obtained mercy." He had erred “ignorantly, in unbelief.”
And now let us bring this matter home to ourselves. Are ne not apt to be filled with deep prejudices ? Are not our views too often very narrow ? Are not our predilections sometimes very unreasoning ? No doubt they are. Can we, however, dare believe that we are, at least, downright sincere in what we hold, and earnest in what we profess? Can we think of ourselves, that certainly we are consistent in our views ? Do we know that we are ready to make sacrifices for them? The blind prejudices of S. Mark, consistently held as they were, cost him something. It must have been a bitter moment his leaving the apostles, when he departed from them from Pamphylia. He cannot have left S. Paul without many a sharp pang ? Sincere and earnest then he was, we cannot doubt it.
I do not say, (God forbid,) that it matters not what a man holds, so long as he is sincere. But I do say this, that with the example of S. Mark before us, we may be sure that where there are sincerity and earnestness, there God, in His own good time and in His own blessed way, will give more and clearer light, and fuller and higher knowledge.
Aye, and specially valuable, at such a time as this, is the thought that God's blessing certainly does rest upon those who are earnest and sincere, even though of imperfect knowledge and but feeble in faith. In these days of much uncertainty, doubt, and unbelief, O what a comfort it must be to many a poor unsettled soul, to many a questioning spirit, to many a troubled mind, to be able thus to think, “Ah, though I can“not see this quite as I could wish, though I fear “my knowledge is all imperfect, though I know “that my faith is indeed most feeble, yet O GOD,
Thou, Who knowest all things, knowest that I “ earnestly desire fuller understanding, and sin“cerely long for greater faith. ‘Lord I believe, “help thou mine unbelief.'"
Whatever then be our imperfections, whatever our blinded notions, whatever our uncharitable opinions, (od grant that at least they may be held in all true earnestness and perfect sincerity! Many enough there are steeped, like S. Mark, in deep, strong prejudices. Oh would that there were more like him of strict consistency, of enduring faith, of burning zeal! More, who could justly exclaim with his great Master, “Our rejoicing is. “this, the testimony of our conscience, that in 6 simplicity and godly sincerity...... by the grace “ of Gud, we have had our conversation in the 66 world.”
I do not think that S. Philip, when he said these words, half knew the fulness of truth they contained. They are wonderful words. They express the yearning desire of all peoples from age to age, the cry of the heathen, the striving of the wise and prudent in the dark Pagan world. All, if they had any thought beyond the present life, if they ever thought about how the world was made, why they were called into being, for what future they were reserved, all I say felt in their hearts a yearning, “Shew us the Father.”
They wandered from the right way, because they had no guide ; they groped in darkness,