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Our criterion has the advantage of being founded upon the nature of things. It is not a temporary device, but has its justification in the moral character of Jesus Christ--in His perfect holiness, and rests upon the first confession of Christian faith. But however excellent it may be in principle, and valuable in its application, we do not pretend that it removes all difficulties as if by magic. Between the scientific domain in which the Son of Mary does not pose as a Master, and the religious domain with which His Divine testimony is connected, there is an inter. vening space, difficult to define, a vague borderland in which the two spheres touch and may seem to conflict-I say seem, for science, like theology, is subject to error and change. Those who approve of our moral criterion will not always be agreed on these border questions. But this is of little consequence. These questions are confined within the narrow space which separates the plain from the mountain, the visible from the invisible, and are not calculated to unsettle faith. If theologians were unanimous in accepting as Divine all the teaching of Christ, which is outside the province of scientists, they would not be far from realizing the prayer of the Apostle—“till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. iv. 13).
SUNDAY IN CHURCH,
THE MORNING LESSONS.
IN CHRIST JESUS. Who are in Christ Jesus.-Rom. viii. 1. SIMPLER words than these we could not wish to have ; but they hold much meaning. They so frequently recur in the writings of the Apostle that they well deserve attention. See chap. xvi. 7 ; 2 Cor. v. 17, xii. 2 ; Gal. i. 22 ; Phil. iii. 9. To be " in Christ" evidently means more than bearing His name, or being one of His professed disciples, or the subject of Christian rites, or being familiar with His doctrine and with His will. may be all this, and yet not be “a man in Christ." We may lay claim to this description when
1. WE CORDIALLY ACCEPT HIM FOR ALL THAT HE CLAIMS TO BE TO US. 1. He offers and claims to be our Divine Saviour-that One who “gave Himself for us ” and “died for our sins," “in whom we have redemption through His blood.” To be “in Christ Jesus" is to be trusting, resting, abiding in Him as such, hiding in the Rock of our Salvation, “not having our own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of
Christ.” Thus believing in Him we have the
an hiding place from the wind, a covert from
If we are in Him and abide in Him,
then He will " abide in us (John xv. 4). Our Lord's prayer was that His disciples might be “in Him ” and that He might be “in them."(John xvii. 21, 23). His promise to those who loved and obeyed Him was that the Paraclete should “abide with them for ever (John xiv. 16). And Paul here assumes that those who are “ in Christ Jesus" will walk "after the Spirit” (ver. 4); that they will “mind the things of the Spirit" (ver. 5); that the Spirit of God "dwells in them” (ver. 9): for, he argues, if the Spirit of Christ be not possessed by a man, “he is none of His " (ver. 10). And when our hearts are the home of the Spirit of God, we have (1) spritual freedom ;
“the law of the Spirit of life makes us free,” &c. (ver. 2); and “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. iii. 17). The spirit of adoption excludes the spirit of bondage (ver. 15). (2) Spiritual strength. The “law is weak” (ver. 3), but “strengthened with all might in the inner man,” and “walking after the Spirit,” we are strong to fulfil the righteousness of the law (ver. 4). (3) Life in its deepest and fullest sense ; for “to be spiritually. minded is life," is life indeed, life in God and with God, and like God's own holy and blessed life ; and (4) Peace (see ver. 6). We must sce to it that III. WE MAINTAIN THIS SPIRITUAL ATTI
This intimate personal union with Christ is not to be temporary ; it does not give place to that which is higher and better. It is the last resting place and heritage of our soul ; it is our “exceeding great reward.” We must “abide in Him”:1. That our life may be sustained (John xv. 6). 2. That we may bring forth much fruit (John xv. 4, 8). 3. That we may be ready for the hour of death. We want that when we die we shall “sleep in Jesus” (see 1 Thess. iv. 13, 14). 4. That we may be prepared for the day of judgment; that we may then “be found in Him " (Phil. iii. 9); that we may then “not be ashamed before Him at His coming"(1 John ii. 28). If we would maintain this spiritual attitude toward our Saviour, let us (1) cultivate the habit of continual fellowship with Him, of walking day by day, hour by hour, with Him ; (2) have, and keep fixed times of communion with Him; (3) be found regularly at His house and at His table ; (4) daily renew our self-surrender unto Him ; (5) range ourselves boldly on His side ; and (6) work heartily in His cause.
THE VISION OF GOD.
I saw the Lord.--Isa. vi. 1. No truth is more familiar than that God cannot be seen hy mortal eye. "No man hath seen God at any time.” He is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible.” But God has so manifested Himself that we may say without impropriety or mistake that we have seen Him. He did soI. OCCASIONALLY, BEFORE THE CHRISTIAN
We have illustrations of this in the case of the burning bush (Exod. iii.), of Moses on the mountof God (Exod. xxxiv.), of Micaiah, the Hebrew prophet (1 Kings xxii.), and in that before us in the text. In such experiences, each one of which may have been unlike the others, a very special privilege was granted to these men ; so special and peculiar that they felt, and had a right to feel, that they stood in the very near presence of the High and Holy One Himself.
II. PERMANENTLY, IN THE TEMPLE. The religion of the people of Israel differed from that of the surrounding nations in that there was not to be found in their sacred places any image or statue or visible representation of God. If any such were found it was a marked violation of law, a distinct apostasy. Only one visible indication of the Divine presence was permitted, and that was as immaterial as it could be, and was only beheld by one man once in the year-the Shechinah in the holy of holies. Once a year the high priest might use the words of our text; for when he entered with the veil, on the great day of atonement, he stood in the presence of mani. fested Deity.
III. ONCE FOR ALL IN THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST. All previous historical mani. festations were lost in the presence of the Son of God. Then the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” When Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," Jesus said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Jesus Christ was Divine : He had in Himself the consciousness of being one with the Father (John X. 30). In Him “dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead.” And He manifested the Divine so that those who saw Him did in truth see God : as they witnessed His life and His work they saw nothing less than-1. Divine power, including control
TUDE TO THE END.
over the body and the spirit of man, over the elements of nature, over disease and death itself. 2. Divine wisdom, reaching to all those truths that concern the nature and the will of God, and also the character and the life and destiny of man. 3. Divine purity, shown in an absolutely blameless life. 4. Divine love, shining forth in tender, practical sympathy with men in all their sufferings and sorrows; showing itself in compassion for men in their spiritual destitution (Mark vi. 34); culminating in the agony of the garden and the death upon the cross-the willingly-offered sacrifice for the sins of the world. Well might the Master say that His disciples were privileged beyond kings and prophets, for as they walked with Him they “saw the Lord,” and heard His words, and enjoyed His friendship.
We ask, What is the way in which we now can “see the Lord”? And our answer is this: there is a very true and important sense in which we can see God in nature, in history, in the outworkings of His Providence before our eyes, in the human conscience and human spirit.
But the way in which to seek His face is by acquainting oursel with and uniting ourselves to Jesus Christ, His Son. We must approach Him as (1) the Great Teacher, and still learn of Him as we still sit at His feet; as (2) the one true Exemplar, and, following His steps, grow toward His likeness ; as (3) the Divine Lord and Master, and yield ourselves to His holy and happy service ; as (4) the Almighty Saviour ; and, as before our eyes the once crucified One is conspicuously set forth (Gal. iii. 1), put our trust in Him and receive His abounding mercy. If we thus “ see the Lord,” we shall have far greater reason for gratitude than if we were the favoured subjects of such a special privilege as Isaiah ; for to see God in Christ, not in transient miraculous vision but in sustained spiritual beholding, is to have eternal life itself.
“ the father of his people"! Yet Joshua proved to be the very man for the hour ; he not only held the people of God together, but he led them into the land of promise, and lived to see them equitably distributed and happily settled there; he not only held them to the worship of Jehovah, but He bound them to His service in stronger bonds. How came he to succeed when it seemed so likely he would fail ? 1. Because--looking at the human side of the question—(1) he did not foolishly try to reproduce his master and leader, to be a second Moses, but wisely strove to be his true self, and to do the particular work which God gave him to do ; and (2) he entered upon and carried out his work in a spirit of complete devotedness to it; he lived to accomplish the one thing with which he was charged. Because-looking at the Divine side of itGod was with him, encouraging and sustaining him. God made him great. He magnified him in the sense of the text, i.e., He raised him in the estimation of the people so that he received as much honour from them as even Moses enjoyed. God also magnified Joshua by making him strong, worthy, even great in himself. God held such close intercourse with him, so guided and disciplined him, so influenced and inspired him, that Joshua became a thoroughly true, loyalhearted servant, a godly man living a faithful consecrated life. Without the latter there would have been something unreal about the former. For there is
I. A GREATNESS WE MUST DECLINE. 1. We may not seek to be made great by appearing better or wiser than we are.
Is there a more pitiful figure in all Scripture than that of Saul entreating Samuel to “honour him before the elders” when he knew that God had rejected him ? (1 Sam. xv. 30) To seem great when we are small, or wise when we are ignorant, or strong when we are weak, this is both delusive and dangerous ; it rests on a false foundation, and it conducts to spiritual loss, if not to death. 2. We may not wish to occupy a position greater than that which we can honourably fill. Saul was a great man in nothing but his stature, and his elevation to the throne was disastrous to himself. No wise man will seek to be magnified by being placed in a sphere which is beyond his measure. But there is
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
BEING MADE GREAT.
This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses so will I be with thee.JOSHUA iii, 7. and iv. 14. It was a great undertaking to follow Moses. Who should come after the disinterested patriot, after the leader and legislator, after
II. A GREATNESS TO BE COVETED AND ATTAINED, How should we care to be
magnified ? We should aspire to the two me great.” By our gentleness, by our patience, elements of greatness which God gave to by our untiring love, by our winning goodness Joshua, though in us they take a different we may make great in the sight of God those form. 1. Honour or esteem. We may well dis- who are still far off from truth and righteouspense with the obsequious or the ceremonious, but we cannot be indifferent to the respectful. Homage we can do without, but the esteem of SECOND SUNDAY AFTER the wise and good we crave and should secure.
TRINITY. 2. Influence. Such power as Joshua wielded
GOING UP TO THE BATTLE. few of us can exercise : but influence is open to us all. In the home in which we live,
SERMON TO THE YOUNG. in the school in which we teach or learn, Hath not the Lord God of Israel comin the sphere of daily activity, in the social manded, Go and draw toward Mount Tabor. circle, and in the Church of Christ, we
And Barak said, If thou wilt go with can all be exerting influence : we can be such
me, then I will go. .. And she (Deborah) and can live such lives that we shall be con
said, I will surely go with thee.—JUDGES iv.
6-9. tinually restraining from the evil, and impelling toward the right and the true course. And
We are apt to look upon the battles recorded how will God magnify us? (1) By building
in this Book of Judges as engagements of no up in us a strong Christian character. In that
great consequence. But if it was important
in the interests of civilization and of religion strange experience through which God caused Joshua and Israel to pass (chap. iii.), both he
that Persia should not crush Greece, that and the priests were disciplined in faith,
Carthage should not annihilate Rome, that in obedience, and in steadfastness. For to
Spain should not annex Holland and England, enter the river Jordan, and especially to remain
so was it important in a very high degree that in its bed while all the people passed over, was
Canaan should not conquer and extinguish both illustration and confirmation of these
Israel. These struggles, therefore, may have graces of the soul. By the privileges of the
had no slight bearing even on the future of Gospel and by the outworkings of His Provi.
We may be interested in them, as dence God is building us up in these, and in
we are (more deeply) interested in the great
battles of our own time and land. But whatother, attributes of character, and is thus "making us great” and strong in His sight.
ever romance, genius, heroism may be found
on the battlefield, let us rather concern our(2) By closely associating Himself with us.
selves withJoshua was magnified in the sight of Israel in that thenceforth he was known to be a man
I. THE NOBLER WARFARE THAT IS OPEN who had God upon his side, to be one who
There is a long and hard camcould lean on God's strength and be sustained. paign being fought out before our eyes. God magnifies His servant now by causing There are two great forces in the field that him to be regarded by all who know him as have been opposing one another, and that will one who walks with God, with whom God oppose until one or the other is utterly dedwells, on whose tide the Holy One, the feated : one is the force which makes for truth, Almighty One is ranged. Thus He fulfils His righteousness, well-being ; and the other is the word, “them that honour Me I will honour.” force which makes for evil, unrighteousness, There is
ruin. There are three great divisions in each III. A GREATNESS WE CAN EXTEND OR
army : on the one side are philanthropy, 1. We magnify God when we adore
virtue, and godliness in all their forms ; on Him and celebrate His greatness and His
the other, are crime, vice, and ungodliness in faithfulness. 2. We magnify Christ when we
all their forms. On the one side or the other commend Him and His Gospel by lip and by
each one of us is serving, bringing to it the life : when we constrain others to know and strength of his spirit, the influence of his life. feel the pricelessness of His love, the excellency II. God's SUMMONS
THE of His service, the greatness of His promises SIDE OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. "Hath (See Phil. i. 20). 3. We make our brethren not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, great, in the best sense, when we lead them Go,” &c. As Barak was charged by Jehovah into the path of heavenly wisdom. “Thy Himself to go up to the battle, so does our gentleness,” said the Psalmist, “hath made God summon us all to enter upon this holier
TO US ALL.
warfare. He, the Divine Father of our spirits Barak may have been right in requiring and Lord of our lives, made us what we are Deborah's presence; that may have been in order that we might be like Himself, living essential to success. But when Christ calls us His life, and doing His work, making the to serve in His cause, we may not make conmost and best of our powers. With the ditions. We may not reply, Lord, I will “hearing ear" we may hear Him say, “Go, follow Thee, but—" or "Lord, I will follow bear your witness, strike your stroke, do all Thee, when—": we must say, simply and that lies within you to make this world better- absolutely, “I will follow Thee."
But we to dispel its darkness, to assuage its sorrow, have to consider the fact that we are influenced to uproot its evil, to carry light and help and by one another. Too often for evil: when we healing to the children of men.” The Saviour are tempted to go somewhere or to do someof our souls comes to us, as He once went to thing, to form some habit or enter on some Matthew, and with commanding authority course which is questionable, which, if left to He says, Follow Me, the Leader and our own judgment and conscience, we should Commander of the people, the great Captain decline, we may address our neighbour in the of salvation ; fight under My banner, serve in terms of the text; we may allow his concurMy ranks ; along with Mo help the ignorant rence to decide us. And yet we ought to to know, the enslaved to become free, the know that his companionship cannot make sinful to be reconciled, the dying to lay hold our action wiser, or better, or safer by the on eternal life.
smallest fraction. But often we can influence III. THE HUMAN INSTRUMENTS OF THE one another for good. One almost persuaded DIVINE CALL. Barak was summoned by a to yield to the claims of God, to accept the woman, by the prophetess and patriot, invitations of Jesus Christ ; or one almost perDeborah. God calls us in many ways to His suaded to avow the faith and love that are in service. It may be by some strong word of his heart, and thus to honour his Lord while Scripture; or it may be by some decisive order- he gladdens his best friends; or one almost ing of our life in His holy Providence; but, persuaded to enter some open sphere of Christian oftenest, it is by some human voice. It is the usefulness may come to us and say, “If you will gentle persuasion of the mother, or the go, I will go"; then let us be a Deborah to guiding voice of the father, or the counsel of this Barak, let us give the needed word of the teacher, or the appeal of the preacher, or encouragement, let us reply, “Surely I will it may be the winning voice of the little child go with you.” Are there not those prepared that leads to higher paths and nobler life. It for decision, for confession, for service, who is not often in the strange and startling will band themselves together in a holy vision, but in the every-day privilege and the covenant and say, “We will move forward, common influence of the home and the school we will strengthen one another's hands in and the sanctuary that the Lord our God calls God, we will go up to the battle, we will us to go up to the nobler strife.
serve the King.'” IV. OUR INFLUENCE UPON ONE ANOTHER. “If thou wilt go with me, I will go,” &c.
WILLIAM CLARKSON, B.A.
THE INTERNATIONAL LESSON.
THE FIERY FURNACE.
Dan. iii, 13-25. I. The conduct of these young men shows, first, that true manliness is found in those who dare to do right, and to be true in the face of difficulty and danger ; in those who have moral convictions and stand by them.
The whole world admires and honours men