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But it may be asked, Is faith in Christ to go for nothing then? Is the plea of trusting in the Lord Jesus not to make a difference in a man's standing? Is not the imputed righteousness of Christ the ample robe which is to cover all personal defects and moral blemishes ? Are we wrong in singing,
"Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay,
From sin's tremendous curse and shame" ? Certainly there is clear and unchallengeable ground for the belief that all who trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ shall be free from condemnation. We have our Lord's own words : " Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.” The doctrine of justification implies acquittal at the throne of judgment, full and cordial reception on the part of God, for the sake of what Christ has done ; for a justification that will not meet my need, then, must be pronounced a mere temporary shift and utterly worthless. The sacrifice of Christ relied on does deliver us from condemnation, and the justification which rests on His finished work will stand the test of judgment; yea, “it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth ? "
But ought it not, just at this point, to be borne in mind, that the claim to the possession of the faith which justifies, is itself to be tested and proved by an appeal to works—the fruits of faith in the life and conduct ? No one is allowed to consider the question of his personal Christianity conclusively settled by the simple avowal that he has faith, and therefore he is free from condemnation ; for faith itself is put into the crucible, and the question is, Is it faith ? faith which works by love and purifies the heart, producing the fruits of righteousness? The Apostle James deals particularly with this aspect of faith,
i Faith if it hath not works is dead, being alone ; yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my
works.' This is the divine test of faith ; and if we are to apply it now, in order to discover the real character of our faith, we need not be surprised if in the last judgment the same principle is to be the standard according to which the divine decision will be given. If a man says now, claiming for himself Christian standing and reputation, “I am a believer in Christ,”. I think both Paul and James furnish us with the answer, which without confirming or denying the statement would lead the man on to this further principle, by which he ought to test his confession of faith : “ The proof of that must be shown in the life of welldoing and righteousness." It is surely reasonable that the profession of faith should at last be pronounced genuine or false, according to the same test by which we are to try ourselves. We shall be tried by no new standard, but by the old familiar one which we are taught to apply
when he says,
faith by my
to ourselves now;
“for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Throughout our Lord's teaching, great emphasis is placed by Him on doing the will of God. He guards us against a mero empty profession, a word-faith. How searching are those words at the conclusion of the sermon on the mount, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The wise man is he who heareth these sayings and doeth them; the foolish man is he who heareth and doeth them not. It seems as if His words were pointedly directed against those who were building up themselves in fancied privilege and exemption from the universal principle of a recompense according to works.
The teaching of the Apostles is one with our Lord's. John says, "He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” The test of character is conduct. Paul tells us, too, that the end of faith is personal righteousness, “ that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.?? And when he speaks of those who enjoy freedom from condemnation,
careful in his description to introduce an expression qualifying and explaining the phrase, * in Christ Jesus.” « There is therefore now no condemnation, to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” “In Christ Jesus” there is no condemnation; but in the case of all truly in Christ, this new and high standing is associated with a new and holy aim in life; walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
We rejoice in the forgiving mercy of our gracious God, that the believer's sins are completely blotted out, There was a judgment of his sins in the death of Christ, a condemnation of them in the sufferings of the sinner's substitute. “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." And yet, “ We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Those "in Christ Jesus?? who have walked in the Spirit, and endeavoured to be well pleasing to Him; who, even amidst much infirmity and with hard struggle, have striven to be righteous, they shall be made manifest in their true character as children of the light, loving the light, and desiring to abide in it for ever. Those who said by word and profession they were in Christ Jesus, but lived according to the flesh—who had a name to live but were dead, the form of godliness while denying the power-they too shall be made manifest. Loving the darkness rather than the light, their portion shall be shame and confusion. The judgment shall determine, in open manifestation, a man's position on the right hand or the left hand of the Judge; shall determine, too, his standing among the saved, his rank and reward among the servants of the King.
The Master of the household will reckon with His servants. It is this we Christians are in danger of forgetting. He will give to every
man according as his work shall be. We have no right to suppose there will be a level of equality among those standing on the safe ground of salvation through faith in Christ, as regards the recompense of the reward; for it shall be according to the deeds done in the body, and there is not equality in them either as regards kind or degree, motive or measure. “He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully." We shall reap what we have sown, and the reaping shall be in proportion to the sowing. And more than that, within the circle of salvation it is possible to suffer loss. “If any man's work abide which he hath bailt thereupon, he shall receive a reward ; if any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by
The man saved, yet suffering loss! A startling distinction too often forgotten. The man saved, because he is on the true foundation: suffering loss, because his works, the wood, hay, stubble, cannot stand the fire which is to try every man's work of what sort it is. His work, that might have been a blessing to many, a joy to himself, a glorifying of God, burned as so much rubbish. “He shall suffer loss ; " loss truly: loss of labour misdirected, loss of time and talent misspent, loss of abiding fruits of righteousness that might have been gathered, loss of highest rewards that might have been attained. “He shall suffer loss ;” and will there not be sense of loss, and with that a sense of regret and self-reproach ? Are we bound to suppress such a thought as inconsistent with the idea of heaven and the bliss of salvation, or as detracting from the glory of God's grace? Is there anything that should blunt the keen edge of Paul's words? Is there anything that should be allowed to arrest and smother the salutary thought they naturally suggest, that though there can be no sin clinging to the man, yet he is a poorer man, in having a narrower capacity for heaven's joy -a smaller measure of heaven's blessedness ?
Too many Christians satisfy themselves with the lowest view it is possible to hold ; “Well, if I'm saved that will content me; let those who may get the prize, I shall be well pleased if I but get into heaven." Alas, they do not see that their loving Lord appeals to the highest and noblest motives, even the love they bear to Him and the desire they ought to cherish to gain His approval ; that He has left abundant room for the free play of Christian willinghood and zeal and activity, and has given ample scope for the outgoing of holy ambition and loving self-denial.
May we, in view of that judgment-seat of Christ, seek to be found in Him, to apply to ourselves the tests of God's Word now, which shall surely be applied to us then! May we remember that the day will declarè our works, and that we ourselves shall be openly manifested! May we be animated with the love of God, the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of being well pleasing to our blessed Lord, so that the deeds done in the body, the common deeds of every-day life, may be such as will lead Him to say to the door, “Well done, good and faithful servant !"
I have spoken of believers at the judgment-seat of Christ, and to them chiefly. There is another side to the subject, and another class who shall be dealt with besides. “If judgment first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of Christ ? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ?
TRIMMING THE LIGHT, LITTLE DAVIE was shipwrecked Davie had never been a strong when a baby, and a lighthouse- child. When he was nine years keeper had saved him in the storm. old he became very pale, and his Now he was ten years old, and hands grew thin. The veins looked lived on a barren rock with his very blue in his temples, a bright dear old friend and another old colour came and went in his cheeks, man, who cooked their food and and a strange light shone in his washed their clothes, and trimmed eyes. the light sometimes.
The light-keeper looked in his Davie had never been at school, sweet face and trembled. He wrap but between his two friends he ped him up in his own heavy seahad learned to read. He had coat, and took him to the wisest heard a great many stories of land doctor on the mainland many and sea from visitors to the rock. times, and bought delicate fruits
He was a happy child, delighting and costly medicines for him. All in the beautiful clouds, the dashing the comfort he got from the doctor spray and the bright birds that was, “ Be careful of the boy, and flitted by the tower. He played make him as happy as you can.” on the rocks, out of whose crevices Whenever the old man wentaway grew a few wild flowers and mosses. in his boat, he always gave tender He sang and whistled, and flung charges to his associate to “look his little flags and kites from the out well for Davie.” high windows, and pitied "poor One afternoon, when he was gone little fellows that had to live down off for supplies, there arose a wild flat on the ground, with no lovely storm, which beat in such fury sea all around them."
around the rocks that he could The old light-keeper had taught not approach the lighthouse. The little Davie to see God in both the two watchers saw him make the sunshine and the storm, and to love attempt, and then put back again His Son Jesus Christ.
and again till he gave up the trial, Often in calm evenings, the skip- and returned to the shore. pers who sailed by saw a tiny form But had he known that his helper on the battlement of rocks, and was now ill, he would not have heard a faint voice singing. slept as soundly as he did on his
The frail little Davie, who had
had such tender nursing from both or some other sweet child's hymn; men, now did his best to relieve his and they would say,“ The old man suffering friend. He bathed his is more than paid for the care he forehead, and gave him the simple takes of that boy; for he keeps him medicines he himself had taken ; in music now, and makes him but the poor man soon became un. young again.”
conscious, and the child was left
alone amid the roaring and dash And God did help him; and he ing of the waves. Shadows began sat all night watching the heavy to fall, and he thought of the storm- breathing of poor
Peter. That was tossed sailors on the coast.
all he could do for him. When He was very weak, but there was the storm abated, and the grey only one thing to be done. He dawn began to steal over the water, must ascend that long circular the light-keeper moored his boat to stairway, and light the lamp in the the rock, and clambered up to the tower! It seemed at first impos- house to find his helper in the grasp sible, but he resolved to try. He of death, and the poor child watchdid try, and after a few moments ing beside him. scores of troubled hearts were When Davie saw his friend, he cheered by that light streaming threw himself almost fainting in over the water and dancing on the his arms, saying, “ I have done all tops of a hundred billows. But no I could ! I lighted the lamp in the sailor knew of the beating heart tower, and watched by poor Peter.” and the trembling limbs it had Very soon a few friends bore cost the poor faithful child. Peter in the boat to his grave on the
Davie bad asked God's help in distant hillside burying-ground; doing this; and when it was done, and before a month had passed he folded his white hands and said, away, the same boat and the same “Now please, dear Lord, to help friends bore the frail little flower me down again, and to do some of the wreck to the same lonely thing for poor good Peter; and spot. when he and I go up to you, send Davie's little work, in which he some one to help dear Uncle John; was so faithful, was ended; and and please to show me my mother who shall say that he did not meet there-it will be so sweet to have a above the mother for whom his mother like the boys I read about lonely little heart had so often in tlio books."
BY THE REV. H. C. LEONARD, M.A. Next to the Gospels, there is no more important part of the sacred Scriptures than the Epistles of the New Testament. These so-called “ letters ” are of various kinds, and naturally fall into four classes. Four of them, the Epistles of Peter, James, and Jude, may be called national Epistles, addressed as they are to the Christians amongst the twelve scattered tribes of Israel. Two, the First Epistle of St. John and the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, are addressed to groups of Christian Churches. Eight letters of St. Paul are written to separate Churches; and to this class (not to the first) must be be added the anonymous “Epistle to the Hebrews (xiii. 23). The remaining six are addressed to individuals—three of them to private Christians, and three to those fellow-labourers of the great Apostle of the Gentiles to whom was delegated much of his apostolic authority,