Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

far greater than the enjoyment which the world gives,

-though careless worldly minds will not believe such a doctrine, ridicule the notion of it, because they never have tasted it, and think it a mere matter of words, which religious persons feel it decent and proper to use, and to try to believe themselves, and to get others to believe, but which no one really feels. This is what they think; but our Saviour said to His disciples, “ Ye now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” ...“ Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” And St. Paul says, “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him ?.” And thus the doctrine of the Cross, as containing in it the view of Christ's redemption, as well as of Christ's sufferings, wounds us indeed, but so wounds as to heal also.

And thus, too, all that is bright and beautiful, even in the surface of this world, though it has no substance, and may not suitably be enjoyed for its own sake, yet is a figure and promise of that true joy which issues out of the Atonement.

It is a

1 John xvi. 22. xiv. 27. 1 Cor. ii. 9. 14.

promise beforehand of what is to be: it is a shadow, raising hope because the substance is to follow, but not to be rashly taken instead of the substance. And it is God's usual mode of dealing with us, in mercy to send the shadow before the substance, that we may take comfort in what is to be, before it comes. Thus our Lord before His passion rode into Jerusalem in triumph, with the multitudes crying Hosanna, and strawing His road with palm branches and their garments. This was but a vain and hollow pageant, nor did our Lord take pleasure in it. It was a shadow which stayed not, but flitted away.

It could not be more than a shadow, for the passion had not been undergone by which His true triumph was wrought out. He could not enter into His glory before He had first suffered. He could not take pleasure in this semblance of it, knowing that it was unreal. Yet that first shadowy triumph was the omen and presage of the true victory to come, when He had overcome the sharpness of death. And we commemorate this figurative triumph on the last Sunday in Lent, to cheer us in the sorrow of the week that follows, and to remind us of the true joy which comes with Easter-Day.

And so, too, as regards this world, with all its enjoyments, yet its disappointments. Let us not trust it; let us not give our hearts to it; let us not begin with it. Let us begin with faith ; let us begin with Christ; let us begin with His Cross and the humiliation to which it leads. Let us first be drawn to Him who is lifted up, that so He may, with Himself, freely give us all things. Let us “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and then all those things of this world “will be added to us.” They alone are able truly to enjoy this world, who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it. They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learned not to abuse it; they alone inherit it, who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.

SERMON

VIII.

DIFFICULTY OF REALIZING SACRED PRIVILEGES.

Psalm cxviii. 24. “ This is the Day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and

be glad in it."

It is always very difficult to realize any great joy or great sorrow. We cannot realize it by wishing to do so. What brings joys and sorrows of this world home to us, is their circumstances and accompaniments. When a friend dies, we cannot believe him taken from us at first ;-we cannot believe ourselves to be in any new place when we are just come to it. When we are told a thing, we assent to it, we do not doubt it, but we do not feel it to be true, we do not understand it as a fact which must take up a position or station in our thoughts, and must be acted from and acted towards, must be dealt with as existing : that is, we do not realize it. This seems partly the reason why, when Almighty God reveals Himself in Scripture to this man or that, he, on the other hand, asks for some sign whereby he shall know that God has spoken. Doubtless sinful infirmity sometimes mixed itself up in such questions, as in the case of Zacharias, who being a Priest in the Temple, the very dwelling-place of the Living God, where, if any where, Angels were present, where, if any where, God would speak, ought to have needed nothing whereby to realize to himself God's power, God's superintending eye, God's faithfulness towards the house of Israel and its priests. Under the same feeling, though blamelessly, Gideon asked for the miracle upon the fleece. He could not bring himself to believe that he was to be what God's Angel had declared. What? he, the least of his father's house, and his family poor in Manasseh, how could he understand that he was to be the great champion of Israel against the Midianites? Not that he doubted it, for God had said it; but he could not feel, think, speak, act as if it were true. If he attempted to do so, it was in an unreal way, and he spoke and acted unnaturally and on a theory, on a view of things which he had mastered one minute and which was gone the next. The special favour of God towards him, according to the words, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour!!” seemed like a dream, and confused him. So he said, “ If now so it be, certain consequences flow from it; if God is with me, it is the God of miracles who is with me, who can change the creature as He will;

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »