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our happy Christian estate, the possession of the gift rests with ourselves since God has promised the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Nor does this lead us to rest on inward feeling to the disparagement or neglect of outward means of grace; for it is in the use of His instrumental means that God gives a gracious reply to the prayer of faith.
Let us make a special effort to day for the securing of this grace. Let our Christmas joy go on into a more decided effort after that which will make Christ visible to us. Strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man, we may have Him really dwelling in our hearts by faith. Let us thus feel how our festival gladness is based on no vague and sentimental recognition of historical mercy, but arises from the coming into the world of One Who is all in all” to us at this very hour.
If we may but attain to this, we shall assign to the unbelief and false teachings, which are now so boldly prominent, no more than their proper importance. We shall grieve for men’s alienation from the Source of Life and Hope ; but the opinion of the day, even if it seem to be seducing many, cannot change Him on Whom ou
souls are resting. If Christianity be merely a human scheme, the expression of man's devout thought, it may be shifting and uncertain ; but if we see Him Who is “the same yesterday, and “to-day, and for ever" not merely as its original Founder, but as its present Life and Substance, nothing can disturb us. Popular thought of the age cannot dethrone Him. The standard of right and wrong cannot vary : our rule of life remains unaltered. The important matter is not, as some timid believers seem to imagine, what we men think of Christ, but what Christ thinks of us. The Church, if she be of Him, depends not on the fluctuating opinions of her nominal members, but may pursue her calm course in His name, secure if she only keep true to her Divine Head.
And as to our inner life. The vision which supported S. Stephen will support us. True, we are not likely to be called, as he was, to literal martyrdom, although actual martyrdoms have occurred, and men have died in foreign lands, within the knowledge and recollection of some of us, rather than deny the Lord Jesus. To many of us, however, the choice of death in preference to life purchased on the conditions of spoken blasphemy against Him would be comparatively easy. We could not shape our lips to deny Him in set terms. Many a man who now rejects or practically insults his Saviour would confess Him at the stake. But ours is even a harder trial, because it is a life-long one. We might do the great thing under the better impulse of the moment, but, oh! for the daily self-denial, the daily carefulness and love, the daily reference of thought and word and deed to the will of the Lord! Yet if, by the Holy Spirit's grace, we could once really see Him,—see Him looking down upon us from Heaven, watching us, caring for us, interceding in our behalf, yes and standing at the door, knocking patiently for us to open our hearts to Him ; longing to come to us and make us truly His own; to lead us in the safe and holy way! Such vision would make us new creatures—we could endure, seeing Him Who is invisible to the outer world. Tempted as we are to sin, ready to abandon more earnest effort, easily made weary and faint in our minds, drawn aside by evil influences, the sight of Jesus would be all in all to us. Let us humbly seek it as the grand gift of the Holy Ghost. Pray that Heaven may be opened to your spiritual gaze, and your Lord revealed to you as He is actually at the right hand of God. Pray that you may recognise Him as One to Whom you can speak, as One Who really hears you, as One to Whom you may have recourse in every difficulty, and Who rejoices to give to you Himself when you come to Him with a sufficient faith to grasp Him. Only obtain that you may see the Christ of Christmas with the eye of S. Stephen, and you will not be far from S. Stephen's resolution in life, or from His peace in death. “Thou shalt walk in thy way safely : and thy “foot shall not stumble; when thou liest down " thou shalt not be afraid : yea thou shalt lie
THE BELOVED DISCIPLE.
(S. JOHN THE APOSTLE.)
BY REV. A. CAZENOVE,
(licar of S. Mark's, Reigate.)
S. MATT, Iv. 21, 22. “And going from thence, He saw other two brethren, James tho son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them, and they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him."
THERE is indeed an interest in the life of all our Lord's apostles, but of these three stand out from the group of twelve, a circle within a circle, possessing an interest above the rest. These three are S. Peter, S. James, and S. John. They were especially chosen by our Lord to be the witnesses of those greater scenes in His human life around which the lesser events are grouped. Such were the transfiguration, and the agony in the garden of Gethsemane.
Of these three I propose to speak now only of S. John. He is the apostle who seems above all others to attract the highest and the warmest interest.
The history of Christian art attests this. Go