Page images
PDF
EPUB

escape temptation, nor suicides, near relatives of monks, who flee from the world to escape its trials. We are to act under the inspiration that belongs to the Christian, and according to the prescriptions of the word of God. “Is any afflicted ? let him pray. Is any merry ? let him sing psalms.” Our partial calamity may have universal good as its issue, and in our case the suffering of a night may break into joy in the morning. We must not infer from our suffering that God is hostile to us. Having accepted Him as our Father in Christ, we ought to look at all that betides us in the light of this relationship. Our reasoning should be not “all things are against me, and therefore God hates me, but God, my Father, loves me, therefore all things, whether they seem so or not, are working together for good to me.' Thus the shadows will dissolve in sunshine, and the dim taper of earth will give way to a star in

the sky

Our starting-point in all our estimates should be the Fatherhood of God. Thus we shall. see God is with us, our refuge and retreat, and His Spirit will witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

We ought never to forget that this life is not our home, but the road to it. The tempest that beats on the ship does not sweep away the haven. The length of the road does not lessen the certainty of our home, nor is the poverty of a wayside inn the measure of the happiness of home. There is no

journey without inconvenience, no road without ruts, no voyage without a gale. Let us not lose heart because of a passing gale.

“ Know well, my soul, God's hand controls

Whate'er thou fearest;
Round Him in calmest music rolls

Whate'er thou hearest;
And that cloud which now before thee

Lies dark in view,
Shall, with beams of light from the inner glory,

Be stricken through.” There is nothing penal in the severest infliction on the Christian. Jesus exhausted the curse of every penal and retributive element, and turned it into a paternal and purifying ministry.

The sword of the Judge is displaced by the rod of the Father. What seems to us a hostile is really a friendly element. The hostility is seeming, the affection is real. God is polishing his gems, not punishing his children ; that sore visitation is the breaking up of the house that intercepted our vision of heaven in order to let in the light that leads us to the Lamb; that bereavement is meant to lift our hearts upward. “No tribulation for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterwards it worketh out the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.”

The severest trials in a Christian’s life serve as signatures of his relation to God. They are the marks of sonship, tokens of acceptance, proofs to us that we are on the right road to heaven.

Go with the stream, and all is easy, but the cataract and destruction are at the end. Breast the stream, and you

will be fatigued and weary, but you are safe. No man takes a step in the right direction without starting at every foot-fall innumerable elements of resistance, but the resistance is your evidence you are on the right road. Reproach will hang over you a cloud; Satan will strive to mislead; the world will oppose; but we shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Suffering is the livery of the cross, the baptism of Christ, the heritage of all that love Him. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. Our present afflictions will make our future joy taste sweeter and the everlasting rest more welcome.

It is the victim of protracted disease who feels restored health so delightful. It is the long-tossed sailor on the stormy sea who hails most joyously the shores of his native land. The infant sleeps sweetest after crying. In our worst affliction we “We are going home.” If there be a cross on our heart, there is a Bible in our hand, the solution of it. Our life is serious, but not sad. It is neither cloistral, nor sepulchral, nor ascetic, but righteousness, peace, and joy on earth, and its end is our exodus into everlasting rest. The past is not against us. It lifts its hands, and opens its lips, and showers down benedictions. The present is not against us. It may be the morning beauty of childhood, or the noontide glory of youth, or the clear day of manhood, or the

an still say,

darkling twilight of age ; but it is ours to bless us, because it is God's to direct it. The future is not against us, for the Lord of yesterday and to-day is the Lord of to-morrow also.

We may go down into its depth, leaning on the rod and staff of our Shepherd, doing all the good we can, and bearing patiently all the afflictions we meet, and only sorry His chariot-wheels tarry so long. Banishing all fear, let us do the work and run the race assigned us, in gratitude and love to Him who infinitely deserves as He truly desires our loyalty and love.

Noble deeds are done only under the inspiration of love, not from any sense of merit or pursuit of reward. Antipater of Macedon, on being presented with a work on human happiness, replied, “I have no time to study happiness.” Those deeds that waken the world's delight and live on its tongue are never done for a price; they stand clear of all calculation of reward. The moment history can say, “ He did it for reward,” that moment she strikes off his name from the catalogue of the wise and good. The patriotism that faces enmity and hate, the martyrdom that suffers and is silent, the liberality that gives and grieves it has no more to give, all the noblest magnanimities of Christendom, spring from incalculable and uncalculating love.

375

THE BLESSED HOPE.

We have been considering subjects more or less solemn: some of them may create forebodings and depression of mind; but they should not, for unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall ” (Mal. iv. 2). This promise is addressed to believers fainting under outward oppressions, and beginning to despond; fearing God's promises had failed, or that man's wickedness had grown strong. True, these feared, that is, worshipped the Lord, and spake of His name, and God took notice of them, and registered what they spake in His book of remembrance; but it is no less true that they were also depressed and needed such a comforting assurance-more promise than prophecy—as that to them that fear God's name, in spite of the clouds that darken the canopy, or the blackness and darkness lying on their horizon, shall emerge the Sun of righteousness—the subject of many promises——the blessed hope: and so this grey dawn will become

« PreviousContinue »