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logy of the New Testament, and that some very wonderful and expressive words by habit go through our minds without leaving any impression.
Let as dwell for a moment on this "joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Have we ever felt this or anything like this? Have we observed in the course of our acquaintance any person who felt it ?
Yet the apostle seems to speak of it as a matter of course in the experience of those he was addressing. They were poor, they were despised, they were even “ in heaviness” through manifold trials, but for all that he is certain that they are rejoicing in Christ with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
We can fancy in Ephesus, or Corinth, or Philippi, some poor workman going about the streets in a very shabby cloak, yet with a heart so joyful, so full of gladness, that he pities every one he meets that they cannot feel so, too. When he sees the chariots of the rich go rushing by, when he sees all the glitter and jewellery of fashion, all the hurry of buying, selling, and trading, all the fever, fret, care, and worry of pursuit and success, he feels : “ O poor, sorrowful men ! why must I be so happy, and you have so little joy? Why must I carry in my heart this great secret of peace and hope, and not be able to give it to you ?” “I would to God,” says Paul to Agrippa, " that both thou and all who hear me, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”
How strange that speech must have sounded from the threadbare missionary standing before Festus, and Agrippa, and Bernice, in all their pomp, with the chief captains and principal men of the city standing round!
There he stood, to speak for his life, traduced, accused, calumniated by his own brethren, who, as Festus said, had been crying out to him daily that he ought not to live any longer, and he, standing among them, pities, and wishes they were only as well off as he is. His enthusiasm, his joy in Christ, his earnest telling of the story of the time when Christ found him, affected his noble auditors. Festus, the Roman, cried out : “ Paul, thou art beside thyself: much learning hath made thee mad.” But Agrippa, the Jew, said : “ Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian;" and then the heart of Paul throbbed out towards him and towards them all with the pity of a superior nature : Oh, would to God you were as I, all of you." He would share with them the riches of his inheritance. He does not want to keep such a treasure to himself.
And now a thousand years or more have passed, and these poor persecuted yet joyful men, who were scattered here and there throughout all Asia, have got that inheritance which St. Peter told them was reserved in heaven for them. The temples have perished. The shrines of gods and goddesses have passed away, only heaps of ruin tell the magnificence of Greece; but this inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, unfading, has been in the hands of these Christians for
more than a thousand years. They have seen the Christ whom not seeing they loved, and if only in believing they rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory, what has been the joy of dwelling for ever with the Lord ?
And if we look in modern society for the men of joy-men who carry within them the secret of unalterable peace—where shall we find them? Are these people who go burdened, anxious, and troubled about many things—these people whose life is worn thin with anxieties, and whose hair grows gray with care—the successors to the heavenly inheritance that St. Peter told of ? Are these the men who rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory? Have they the secret of the peace of God that passeth all understanding? Is it possible to rise above care, and fear, and sorrow, and every earthly loss, and rejoice in the Lord always ? If it is, is it not worth a life's study to get this gift ?
In a recent journey the writer met in a distant city one whom she had years before parted from a gay young girl. Since then the young girl had mourned her husband—a colonel in the army, who was shot through the heart in battle ; a beloved daughter shortly after had died of consumption ; and the mother wore the weeds of mourning. But a peculiar expression of calmness and serenity was in her face, and every word she spoke was full of peace and thankfulness. She was at rest in God; her heart had no struggles ; she had no complaints. All, she said, had been ordered in kindness; all was right, and bright, and cheerful. God had been so kind, so near, so dear, that He had wiped away all tears from her eyes.
If all Christians had like precious faith, would it not be a testimony of the reality of religion worth volumes of controversy ?
The only argument that sceptics cannot answer is the living Christian.
• SINGING WITH THE SPIRIT." We are favoured with all kinds of singing : quartette, solo, congregational; good, bad, and indifferent. But there is another kind of singing which the Scriptures call singing with the spirit and with the understanding also. And this kind, we are afraid, is rather a stranger in our churches.
It involves two things : paying enough attention to what we sing to take in its meaning; and further, feeling what we express. We sing,
“Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do."
And does one out of a thousand realise in the least the meaning of what he is singing ? Does he understand that the words mean that he puts his life, his acts, his property, his houses and lands, his time,
his abilities, all at the disposal of God, renouncing henceforth all of them, holding them henceforth solely as a steward for God, and using them for his service ? Does he understand this? And does he mean it?
“Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee;
That raiseth me." In singing this, do we understand its meaning, and do we from the heart mean it? Do we really so eagerly desire to be nearer to God that a cross will be welcome so as it makes us nearer to him? After the hymn has been sung, there comes to the singer a failure, & fire, a fall in stocks, the sickness of a child, his own sickness, or some greater sorrow than any of these. This is the cross by which God would raise the believer so that he may be nearer to God. And now perchance he realises that he did not know, and still less did he feel and mean, what he was singing.
Deny thyself and take thy cross
Is the Redeemer's great command.” How often we hear somebody singing these tremendous words, some one who lives all his life (or her life) in luxury, who has never known an act of genuine Christian self-denial !
The late Dr. Bailey, once said to us, “ Before I was converted, I often used to close my lips and keep silent when they were singing some hymns, as for example,
“I'm not ashamed to own my Lord.' I could not sing it. I knew that I was ashamed to own him." We were once present when, after the singing of the hymn,
“ I love to tell the story," a brother rose and said, “Do we love to tell the story? How often do we tell it? How many times have you told it this week, how many times have I told it?' It well to put these questions to ourselves. It is well to sing good words. But it is also well to fill them up with meaning, with spirit, with heart. It is not well to have the words be a comely form, within which the shrivelled soul gives forth a ghastly rattling
“IT IS BROTHER SMYTH !" THOSE who separate religion We once knew a preacher, whom from business are no doubt greatly we will call “ Brother Smyth," who in the wrong: on the other hand was a grocer in one of our cities, some have a way of connecting but who was accustomed to go out business with religion that is not on Sundays and preach the gospel quite desirable.
as well as he was able in the
school-houses in the surrounding anywhere else, because “it is country. He went without salary Brother Smyth.” There are persons or reward, often paying his own who go to “ Brother Smyth travelling expenses, and never al- business, and expect him to favour lowing any one to give him any- them and cheat other folks to make thing more than the bare railway- it up; and then if he declines to do fare he spent in going to and fro. it, and treats them fairly as he does Numbers were converted under his others, they are down on Brother preaching, and hence he came to Smyth.” have quite a circle of acquaintances Sometimes “ Brother Smyth" is in the country around, and natur- foreman or overseer for others. As ally some of them in coming to such he is bound to protect the town would call and see him. honest interests of his employers, This caused some one to suggest and deal fairly by each and all his that though “Robert Smyth” got employés. But just here some nothing for preaching, yet it brought slack and shiftless saint expects to customers to his shop, and hence get more money than another man that with all his disinterestedness, does for the same amount and he still had “an eye to the main quality of work, because “it is chance.” “Brother Smyth " heard Brother Smyth.” He expects his of the talk, and his reply was as absences to be overlooked, his follows:
botch-work to be accepted, hie idle“I do not want any of my hear- ness to be unreproved, because it ers to come here to trade with me. is Brother Smyth.” And if “Brother Because, you see, if they have any. Smyth” refuses to cheat his emthing to sell, butter, cheese, or ployer, and wrong the mass of the provisions, they all expect me to pay workmen for his benefit, why then them a halfpenny a pound more than “ Brother Smyth” has to take itany one else in town will, because he is unjust, unfair, unreasonable, “it is Brother Smyth ;' and then if unfeeling, and no one knows what they want to buy a pound of tea, else, because “it is Brother Smyth.” coffee, sugar, or anything else, they Is it not about time to let“ Brother expect me to sell it a little cheaper Smyth " alone ? If he is a saint he than they can buy it anywhere else, is yet in a world of sinners, and as because it is Brother Smyth ;'and a rule they have not yet come to if I do business with them as I do the conclusion that ordinary sinners with other persons-on honest should be cheated for the sake of business principles—then they will favouring gimlet-sized saints. They go away and tell folks how I have may see the point by-and-by, but cheated" them, and make a great they do not now. So “ Brother fuss about it. No, I do not want Smyth” has to buy his butter as any of the people who come to hear cheaply as sinners buys theirs, or mě preach, to come and trade at they will undersell him; he must my shop.”
sell his goods as cheaply as sinners There are other branches of do, or the saints will leave him and business where the same principle trade with the sinners; and if he is carried out. There are mechanics undersells his neighbours he must who are expected to do work make less profit, or never pay for cheaper because “it is Brother his goods. He must pay as much Smyth,” and because they belong as others do for his work, all things to the same Church or society. considered, or his employés will There are employés who do less do better elsewhere, and he must work, get more pay, and expect get his work done at about the more privileges than they could get ) market price, or else his goods will
cost more than his neighbours', and for that, he can easily show his then he cannot sell them, and must appreciation of your merits. But suspend or fail. Hence we suggest do let the man live, and do not that “ Brother Smyth” be left to think that the gospel is ordained to mind his own business. If he wants afford men facilities for“ cheeking" a fair profit on his goods, pay it; if their way through the world, and he asks too much, buy elsewhere. imposing upon the good nature of If he considers you a good customer every Christian neighbour and and wishes to sell to you cheaper business man they know, because it than he does to a man who buys happens to be “ Brother Smyth." but little and never wants to pay
Jesus loved."-John xiii. 23.
Nestle in the Saviour's breast,
O’er thy head doth dark clouds lower,