Изображения страниц

to do that. But if the object be that men should not only accept with their understandings the truth concerning Christ's office and nature, but that their hearts should go out to Him, and that they should rest their sinful souls upon Him as the Son of God and the Christ, then there is no other way to accomplish that, but by the history of His life and the manifestation of His heart. If the object were simply to make us know about Christ, we do not need a Book like this; but if the object is to lead us to put our faith in Him, then we must have what we have here, the infinitely touching and tender Figure of Jesus Christ Himself, set before us in all its sweetness and beauty as He lived and moved and died for us.

And so, dear friends, let me put one last word here about this part of my subject. If this be the purpose of Scripture, then let us learn on the one hand the wretched insufficiency of a mere orthodox creed, and let us learn on the other hand the equal insufficiency of a mere creedless emotion.

If the purpose of Scripture, in these Gospels, and all its parts, is that we should believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,' that purpose is not accomplished when we simply yield our understanding to that truth and accept it as a great many people do. That was much more the fault of the last generation than of this, though many of us may still make the mistake of supposing that we are Christians because we idly assent to-or, at least, do not deny, and so fancy that we accept-Christian truth. But, as Luther says in one of his rough figures, Human nature is like a drunken peasant; if you put him up on the horse on the one side, he is sure to tumble down on the other.' And so the reaction from the heartless, unpractical

orthodoxy of half a century ago has come with a vengeance to-day, when everybody is saying, 'Oh! give me a Christianity without dogma!' Well, I say that too, about a great many of the metaphysical subtleties which have been called Doctrinal Christianity. But this doctrine of the nature and office of Jesus Christ cannot be given up, and the Christianity which Christ and His Apostles taught be retained. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Do you trust your soul to Him in these characters? If you do, I think we can shake hands. If you do not, Scripture has failed to do its work on you, and you have not reached the point which all God's lavish revelation has been expended on the world that you and all men might attain.

III. Now, lastly, notice the ultimate purpose of the whole.

Scripture is not given to us merely to make us know something about God in Christ, nor only in order that we may have faith in the Christ thus revealed to us, but for a further end-great, glorious, but, blessed be His Name! not distant-namely, that we may have life in His name.' Life' is deep, mystical, inexplicable by any other words than itself. It includes pardon, holiness, well-being, immortality, Heaven; but it is more than they all.

This life comes into our dead hearts and quickens them by union with God. That which is joined to God lives. Each being according to its nature, is, on condition of the divine power acting upon it. This bit of wood upon which I put my hand, and the hand which I put upon it, would equally crumble into nothingness if they were separated from God.

You can separate your wills and your spiritual nature

from Him, and thus separated you are 'dead in trespasses and in sins.'

And, o brother! the message comes to you: there is life in that great Christ, ‘in His name'; that is to say, in that revealed character of His by which He is made known to us as the Christ and the Son of God.

Union with Him in His Sonship will bring life into dead hearts. He is the true Prometheus' who has come from Heaven with 'fire,' the fire of the divine Life in the ‘reed' of His humanity, and He imparts it to us all if we will. He lays Himself upon us, as the prophet laid himself on the little child in the upper chamber; and lip to lip, and beating heart to dead heart, He touches our death, and it is quickened into life.

The condition on which that great Name will bring to us life is simply our faith. Do you believe in Him, and trust yourself to Him, as He who came to fulfil all that prophet, priest, and king, sacrifice, altar, and Temple of old times prophesied and looked for? Do you trust in Him as the Son of God who comes down to earth that we in Him might find the immortal life which He is ready to give ? If you do, then, dear brethren! the end that God has in view in all His revelation, that Christ had in view in His bitter Passion, has been accomplished for you. If you do not it has not. You may admire Him, you may think loftily of Him, you may be ready to call Him by many great and appreciative names, but Oh! unless you have learned to see in Him the divine Saviour of your souls, you have not seen what God means you to see.

But if you have, then all other questions about this Book, important as they are in their places, may settle themselves as they will; you have got the kernel, the thing that it was meant to bring you. Many an erudite VOL. III.


scholar, who has studied the Bible all his life, has missed the purpose for which it was given; and many a poor old woman in her garret has found it. It is not meant to wrangle over, it is not meant to be read as an interesting product of the religious consciousness, it is not to be admired as all that remains of the literature of a nation that had a genius for religion; but it is to be taken as being God's great Word to the world, the record of the revelation that He has given us in His Son. The Eternal Word is the theme of all the written word. Have you made the jewel which is brought us in that casket your own? Is Jesus to you the Son of the living God, believing on whom you share His life, and become 'sons of God' by Him? Can you take on to your thankful lips that triumphant and rapturous confession of the doubting Thomas,—the flag flying on the completed roof-tree of this Gospel— My Lord and my God'? If you can, you will receive the blessing which Christ then promised to all of us standing beyond the limits of that little group, who have not seen and yet have believed'-even that eternal life which flows into our dead spirits from the Christ, the Son of God, who is the Light of the world, and the Life of men.


“There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples.'-JOHN xxi. 2.

This chapter, containing the infinitely significant and pathetic account of our Lord's appearance to these disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, is evidently an appendix to the Gospel of John. The design of that Gospel is

complete with the previous chapter, and there is a formal close, as of the whole book, at the end thereof. But whilst obviously an appendix, this chapter is as obviously the work of the same hand as wrote the Gospel. There are many minute points of identity between the style of it and of the rest of the work, so that there can be no difficulty or doubt as to whence it came. This enumeration of these seven disciples, regarded as being the work of John himself, seems to me to be significant, and to contain a good many lessons. And I desire to turn to these now.

I. First of all, the fact that they were together is significant.

How did they come to hold together? How had they not yielded to the temptation to seek safety by flight, which would have been the natural course after the death of their Leader on a charge of treason against the Roman power? The process of disintegration had begun, and we see it going on in the conduct of the disciples before the Resurrection. The 'Shepherd was smitten,' and, as a matter of course, the sheep' began to scatter. And yet here we find them back in Galilee, in their old haunts, and not trying to escape by separation, which would have been the first step suggested to ordinary men in an ordinary state of things. But where everybody knew them, and they knew everybody, and everybody knew them to be disciples of Jesus Christ, thither they go, and hold together as if they had still a living centre and a uniting bond. How did that come about? The fact that after Christ's death there was a group of men united together simply and solely as disciples, and exhibiting their unity as disciples conspicuously, in the face of the men that knew them best, this forms a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »