« AnteriorContinuar »
6 Don't you
tervals of lunacy he asks for you, was full. Here was the being to sir.” And as the man spoke we whom, a few hours before, I had stood beside the bed of the boy, owed my life-a poor, slight, un
The sufferer did not lie in his protected child-lying before me, hammock, as it was hung in the with death already written on his very midst of the crew, and the brow, and yet I had never sought close air around it was so stifling him out after the conflict. How that he had been carried under the bitterly my heart reproached me open hatchway, and laid there in a at that hour! They noticed my little open space of about four feet agitation, and his old friend, the square. From the sound of the seaman that held his head, said, ripples I judged the vessel was in sadly, motion, while the clear calm blue “ Poor little Dick-you'll never sky, seen through the opening over- see the shore you have wished for head, and dotted with myriads of so long. But there'll be more than stars, betokened that the fog had one, when your log's out” — he broken away. How calm it smiled spoke with emotion—“to mourn down on the wan face of the dying over you.” boy! Occasionally a light current Suddenly the little fellow opened of wind-oh, how deliciously cool his eyes, and looked vacantly in that pent-up hold!-eddied down around. the hatchway and lifted the dark “Has he come yet?” he asked, chesnut locks of the sufferer, as, in a low voice. “Why don't he with his head reposing on the lap come?” of an old veteran, he lay in an "I am here," said I, taking the unquiet slumber. His shirt collar little fellow's hand. was unbuttoned, and his childish know me, Dick ?" bosom, as white as that of a girl, He smiled faintly in my face. was open and exposed. He breathed He then said, quick and heavily. The wound, of " You have been kind to me, sir which he was dying, had been in- -kinder than most people are to a tensely painful, but within the last poor orphan boy. I have no way half-hour had somewhat lulled, to show my gratitude, unless you though even now his thin fingers will take the Bible you will find in tightly grasped the bed-clothes, as my trunk. It's a small offering, I if he suffered the greatest agony. know, but it's all I have."
A battle-stained and grey-haired I burst into tears. seaman stood beside him, holding “ Doctor, I am dying, ain't I?” a dull lantern in his hand, and said the little fellow, " for my sight gazing sorrowfully down upon the grows dim. God bless you, Mr. sufferer. The surgeon knelt with Danforth.” his finger on the boy's pulse. As I “Can I do nothing for you, approached they all looked up. The Dick?” said I. “You saved my veteran who held him shook his life : I would coin my blood to buy head, and would have spoken, but yours.' the tears gathered too chokingly in “I have nothing to ask-I don't
want to live-only, if it's possible, The surgeon said, “He is going let me be buried by my mother; fast, poor little fellow. Do you see you will find the name of the place this ?” As he spoke he lifted up and all about it in a rich gold locket, which had lain "Anything, everything, my poor upon the boy's breast. " He has lad," I answered, chokingly. seen better days."
The little fellow smiled faintlyI could not answer, for my heart it was like an angel's smile-but
he did not answer.
His eyes were sweet faces smiling on me from fixed on the stars flickering in that among them. Hark! is that patch of blue sky overhead. music?” And, lifting his finger,
"It's a long, long way to the he seemed listening for a moment. stars up there; but there are bright He fell back, and the old veteran angels among them. Mother used burst into tears. The child was to say that I would meet her there. dead! Did he indeed hear angels' How near they come, and I see voices ?
VISIONS AND VOICES FROM THE HOUSE OF
BY THE REV. R. H. ROBERTS, B.A.
III. PAUL AT EPHESUS.
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptised? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve." --Acts xix. 1-7.
THERE is one thing about Paul's ministry which we may profitably take notice of, namely, that he looked carefully after his disciples. There is a tendency in many men to undervalue, or at least to overlook this. We are all of us indeed (let us confess it) more careful about gaining fresh converts than we are about building up those converts upon their most holy faith--more eager about bringing in lost sheep than we are about feeding the sheep that have been already brought into the fold. But whilst Paul was a very earnest evangelist, as you know, he never forgot to be a teacher. Whilst he sought to turn sinners from the errors of their ways, he also sought to feed the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost had made him an overseer. We have a striking example of this in the former chapter. Ephesus wants him badly. The Jews there had prayed him to spend some time with them wben he was on a passing visit, and so an open door seemed to be set before him. This was declined, with the promise to come again upon his return from Jerusalem. He is under that promise now.
But there are Churches which want confirming, and not a step forward does he move until that is done. Ere he enters upon new fields he will secure the positions already occupied. Sinners in Ephesus need to be saved; but saints in Phrygia and Galatia need to be strengthened. And he must strengthen these ere he can advance
to the work of saving those. The same wise policy is indicated in the narrative which we have chosen as our subject. First of all he seeks out disciples, and having found disciples, he gives himself to the deepening and unfolding of their spiritual life. There are many lessons to be learned here.
I. Let us in the first place endeavour to understand the spiritual position of these people.
1. Let it be remembered that they were disciples; that is, in some sense believers in Jesus Christian converts. This is implied in the very use of the term, which was almost if not quite as much a technical name as Christians” amongst ourselves. It is implied moreover in the question of Paul. “ Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ?" can only have one interpretation. Nor is it contradicted by their reply that they were baptised into John's baptism, for John's baptism implied faith in a coming Messiah, and in Jesus of Nazareth as that Messiah. And it is hardly possible that any one could have preached Jesus as the Messiah without making mention of His death and resurrection. To this extent I think we are perfectly safe in saying there must have been acceptance of Jesus Christ.
2. The apostle Paul however speedily discovers that there is something wrong or defective in their discipleship, and he proceeds at once to inquire into the very root of the matter, applying to them this test question, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? ” or rather, according to the true meaning of the language, “ Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed ? " That is, the gift of the Holy Ghost not only follows faith in the order of time, but is joined with and made to depend upon faith in the order of sequence. “ Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed ?” Their reply is very extraordinary : “ We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Now here again we are bound to make a slight change in the translation. They could not have known anything about the Old Testament without knowing that the Holy Ghost was. Even if they had not heard of what took place at the baptism of Jesus by John (which is most improbable), is it conceivable that they knew nothing of the prayer of David, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me;" or nothing of the promise spoken by Joel, “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh”? Their answer, however, was to this effect : “We did not hear whether the Holy Ghost is;" that is, “Nothing was said about the Holy Ghost. It formed no part of the preaching to which we listened ; it was not a question upon which our teacher gave us any information. So far from having received, we have not even been advertised that the gift is accessible.”
3. Their position seems then to have been something like this: They knew Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, they knew Him as a miracleworker, they knew Him as One who had died and risen from the dead, and perhaps also as One who had gone up into heaven. They accepted Him as a Teacher sent from God, as a Revealer of Jehovah,
as the coming King for whom they were to look, and under the shadow of whose throne they were to abide. But He had not been preached to them as the Saviour—as more than a teacher sent from God, as the Son of God, “baptising in the Holy Ghost and in fire."
4. But some one may ask how is it possible for souls occupying this position to be denominated disciples at all? How can they be deemed the subjects of conversion of any kind or in any degree? (1) It should be borne in mind that the operations of the Holy Ghost are not necessarily bounded by the limits of our consciousness. There may be motions of the Spirit upon the face of the great deep, and the entrance of the principle of light into the heart of chaos, ere ever the sun has been set in the firmament to divide the light from the darkness, and be a sign to rule the day. (2) This being granted, we note that these twelve disciples were, so far as their knowledge and consequent faith went, perfectly genuine. They did not know much, but what they knew they accepted with all their heart and all their mind. Indeed, something like this had been the position of the apostles themselves once. Peter and James and John were believers in Jesus before the day of Pentecost. They received the Lord's Supper, and before Christ's death, they were saved men, although the “Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” The woman with the issue of blood came to Jesus and touched the hem of His garment. Her faith was very superstitious, very imperfect, but it was sincere, and there went virtue out of Christ and it entered into her, and she was made whole of her disease, and stood up a saved woman.
And so it was with these Christians. Their faith was very confused as to its object_" They saw men as trees walking”. but then it was faith in which there was heart. And I tell you what it is, brethren, it is better to be a good shilling than a bad sovereign; and I would rather take my chance before the judgment-seat of Christ as a disciple who has only been baptised with John's baptism, but who is living up to his profession according to his light, than I would be a disciple who by profession has been baptised into Christ's death, and who, having all knowledge, is yet wading through a set of externalities which have no sort of heart-sympathy with the passion of the cross. (3) And then observe, in extension of this same thought, how ingenuous and simple they are, and how ready they are to receive new light, and to act immediately as soon as duty is revealed. There is really something almost childlike in their answer.
You surely must know how difficult it is to confess ignorance, and how rather than do this we take refuge in a cloud of words. But there is no attempt at this sort of thing amongst these disciples. With the utmost frankness they acknowledge their darkness, and with the utmost docility they submit to be led into a higher profession through a second baptism at the apostle's hands. This is the very core and essence of faith, to receive just what God reveals to you-little, if it be little, more if it be more, and to square your life according to the
proportions of your creed. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and hid in his garden; which when it is sown is the least of all seeds.” “And if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed.” My brethren, there is a side of blessed and Divine promise in these words, “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.” The greatest is engermed in the smallest. There is a profound, an inspired mysticism in this language : “ Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
II. The change effected by the ministry of Paul : “ And having heard,” &c.
1. The first thing he did was to proclaim to them truth in its fulness. Truth is the instrument and basis of all spiritual changes and developments in us, and the truth which Paul employed is suggested in this expression, “They were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. We do not suppose that all he said to them is written here, but the substance of it is gathered up into this: a divine Jesus,” a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. Yes, that central doctrine of the göspel is the key with which the Holy Spirit opens the door of our hearts and gains an entrance into our whole natures. And this fuller truth having been put to them and accepted, apparently they undergo a second baptism. This has been, I know, questioned, but without sufficient reason, and against the natural meaning of the language. The state of the case seems to be something like this : the ordinance of baptism is the symbol of a circle of doctrine in which the divine Christ, the Lord Jesus, is the centre. By submission to baptism you take upon you the badge of discipleship, that is, belief in that circle of truth. But manifestly if it be another centre, it must be another circle. If one believes in a perfect Man, the son of Joseph and Mary, chosen and anointed by God, and is baptised into that, his baptism becomes essentially a different thing from the rite in the case of him who is baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. The former may be a good man, he may get to heaven in some fashion, “saved as by fire,” but evidently the two stand altogether upon a different plane, they belong to radically different Churches, they cannot take their place under one banner and sign of fellowship, their baptisms mean altogether different things; and if ever the disciple who believes only in a Man, comes to believe One who is God manifest in flesh, then I say he must enter into the external brotherhood, by the initiatory rite which is on the level and in the line of his radically changed and different belief. To me it seems the most natural thing in the world that, “having heard, they should be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus,”
2. “And Paul having laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost," &c.
(1) They spake with tongues. There are very few greater