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possessed of spiritual strength and resources com. mensurate with their gigantic undertaking, and such as insure success. The very announcement of his new ideas by the prophet excites the bitterness and hatred of thousands led to the old state of things. When he daringly proceeds to carry out his ideas into practice, to demolish the sacred strongholds of popular error and prejudice, he finds himself surrounded by an everwhelming host of infuriated men, desperately resolved, primarily for self-defence, but subsequently for mere malice's sake, to put down the dashing innovator. Frowns and threats, revil. ing and slander, excommunication and privation, coercion and torture, and even brutal attempts on life-all means are employed to accomplish this object. But opposition, however violent and deadly, cannot intimidate or overpower the mind of a hero : it rather aggravates his holy zeal a hundredfold, Mindful more of his mission than life, he offers & bold front to the assaults of his enemies, and in the face of the direst persecution establishes his kingdom, and plants the banner of the divine idea he respresents. Hundreds, overpowered by his influence, acknowledge his sovereignty and vow allegiance, while thousands are made unconscious captives, though professing disloyalty. Thus outwardly and secretly the new reform idea spreads, till it reaches the heart of the nation, and gradually leavens the entire society. Often it happens that the prophet's life is sacrificed by his persecutors. This, far from arguing anything like weakness in him, shows, on the contrary, his remarkable moral heroism, which shrank not, but braved death itself for the sake of truth. The mighty influence of such heroism proves mightier far in death than in life, for the blood of a martyr always achieves more glorious and extensire
conquests than the most brilliant exploits he performed in his lifetime.
But this power, it must be remembered, is not his own; it is God's power that upholds him in his struggles and trials. It is his steady and deroted reliance upon the Almighty arm that enables him to bear down the most formidable opposition, vanquish emperors and sovereigns, and establish mastery over nations and generations. He himself feels that, if he is bereft of divine succour, and left to his own limited resources, he would at once sink under the weight of his trials. His heart faints and falters, trembles and shudders as he looks upon the past sea of difficulties on which his frail bark floats, and the rising and roaring surges which every moment beat against it ; and with childlike humility and trust he looks up steadily to that Almighty Protector who summoned him to the perilous enterprise, and who alone can help him to steer safely on. A prophet, though strony, is always humble : confident of divine help, he is ever diffident about his own powers. He is then only successful when he fights in God's strength, not his own. His manliness is proportionate to his childlike simplicity.
The first chapter of Jeremiah, in the Old Testament, contains a beautiful passage which describes figuratively the action of God's spirit on prophets. Jeremiah says :
i. Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
"Then said I, Ab, Lord God I behold, I cannot speak : for I am a child,
“But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child ; for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
6. Be not afraid of their faces : for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
" For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.”
The first verse evidently sets forth the important truth I have already enunciated, that a great man is never made great, he is born great. He receives his commission and ordination from God Himself, and is sent by Him into the world for the benefit of nations. Though divinely ordained, however, he feels he has no ability to fulfil the great mission with which he is entrusted : he has no wisdom, no power ; he is ignorant and weak, he is helpless as a child. The Lord, however, assures him of His protection and guidance, vouchsafes to him adequate strength and courage, and makes him “a defenced city and an iron pillar" in the midst of opposition. Hence victory ever flies round the prophet's banners, for, with divine aid, he encounters human opposition.
History, bears ample testimony to the extraordinary moral courage and heroism of prophets and great men, and the vast influence they exercise on the destinies of nations. The mighty Luther shook Europe to its foundations by his vigorous and fearless protests against the errors of Popery. No amount of opposition intimidated him ; his adamantine will knew not how to bend. When, stretching forth his right hand he consigned the Pope's bull to the flames, he only gave proof of that holy fire of enthusiasm in his own mind which was to burn up the impurities of the age. While proceeding to Worms to defend himself publicly, and give an explanation of his doctrines, he refused to adopt the
measures of safety recommended by his friends, saying,~“ Were there as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the housetops, still I would go." Methinks the whole land trembled under his manly strides as he boldly went on. All Europe, yea the world, anxiously looked forward to the great day which was to decide the destiny of Christianity, and with throbbing hearts awaited its issues. None knew what was to come out of all that commotion of the age. Emperors and princes and potentates met together on the appointed day, and amidst the assembled representatives of Europe's wealth, rank, and power, Luther stood undaunted as an apostle of freedom, and nobly asserted and vindicated his doctrines, and concluded by saying : “I cannot and will not retract, for we must never act contrary to our conscience. I have done : God help me !" Though many and redoubtable were his enemies, and deep-rooted and sacred the errors which he combated, his cause at last triumphed, and with it the sinking pulse of Europe revived. Yes, there
a revival of a radical and comprehensive characterà revival of the soul as well as the intellect, and even of industry in varied forms of activity. Society was altogether reorganized on a new basis, and a new life was infused into its organism. Imagine the depth and extent of Luther's influence. Wherever there are Protestant nations or individuals, there his spirit is manifest in glory ;
and all the fruits which the world has reaped from the Reformation are directly or indirectly the fruits of his labours. What Luther did on a large scale in Europe, John Knox accomplished on a small scale in Scotland. His power of mind was immense, as his stupendous deeds will testify. Even when a galley-slave, he contemptuously
remarked with reference to a painting of the Virgin- it is a " pented bredd, fitter for swimming than for being worshipped." Ever since, his enthusiasm in the cause of religious reformation was formidable, and he suffered no obstacle to stand in the way of his mission. Single-handed he fought, and he not only succeeded in planting the banners of the Reformation among his countrymen, but he also made the Scotch nation. He found Scotland enveloped in darkness, Popery, and dissension ; he it was who enlightened, civilized, and regenerated it. Looking at the Scotch before his time, we find only a number of scattered tribes and clans united by no common interest, led away by proud and turbulent leaders into ceaseless intestine quarrels and feuds to gratify their ambition, no middle class to adjust the relations between the common people and their rulers, and keep them in equilibrium ; in short, we find only confusion, discord, and barbarism. But to-day they are a noble people, a nation with an independent and a distinct national church and literature. And if you trace this glorious change to its source, you will find it due to the stern-minded reformer Knox. Turn we now to the East for similar illustrations of the power of great men. History tells us that when Mahomet entered on his iconoclastic mission, he was all fire ; nothing could damp or quench his pious ardour. He was desperate even to fanaticism. If the sun stood on his right hand, said he, and the moon on his left, ordering him to hold his peace, he could not obey. And his success in establishing Monotheism amidst the dense mass of ignorance and idolatry which prevailed at the time was really amazing. Behold millions owning subjection to the crescent in various parts of the world, and offering