Page images
PDF
EPUB

were in prison, the doors are opened, and we go forth. We were in chains, and we are translated by His touch into the glorious freedom of the sons of God. We were slaves in a dark, deep, and solitary dungeon ; His glorious light has shone into it, and we are no longer slaves—we cast aside our chains, and go forth with the spirit of adoption, saying, “ Abba, Father," serving God, not as slaves a master, but as sons a father whom they love.

What a glorious Being, who heals our diseases, strikes off our chains, makes us grow in grace and in likeness to Him! And how privileged are we, that we have not, like patriarchs and prophets, to wait and long for Him: He has already come! And how blessed the hope, that this Sun, who is now shining upon us horizontally, in consequence of which we have many a dark and long shadow, will one day rise higher, and shine vertically from his noonday throne, and then there will be no shadow, as there will be no cloud. That which is provisional will have gone ; that which is perfect will have come: and it will be perfect day.

387

THE VICTORY.

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” -Rev. ii. 10.

In almost every address made to each of the seven Churches of Asia conflict is assumed to be their normal condition here ; but victory the result. 6 To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.” “ He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." “ To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” Every address implying conflict, and every promise having set in it the pledge of victory

The present life of every Christian is a battle. There is no peace on earth ; but there is the earnest of it in heaven. It must be a sad world into which the Saviour came, and was constrained to

say, come not to send peace on the earth, but a sword.” We shall get rid of war only when we get rid of sin. When the root is extirpated, the bitter apples of Sodom and Gomorrah will disappear. If there be war in this world in the sense referred to, there is also

" I am

war in a yet higher sense between every Christian as a soldier in the great army and the enemies that have been from the beginning, and will continue even to the end. If there be warfare, there must of course be two sides. Let us define the two hosts and their respective weapons. Christ is the Captain of our faith ; all true Christians constitute “One army of the living God.” Our facings differ, our regiments have different names, our camps may be two or they may be twenty ; but we constitute one solid mass of true Christian soldiers, of one heart, loving the Saviour above all in heaven or on earth; while the various churches and chapels of Christendom are but the recruiting stations for the great army, the sacramental host of heaven. Our articles of warfare are in the Bible ; our weapons are not those frail and feeble things-sword and cannon and rifle; they are not carnal, therefore they are mighty; our banner, bequeathed through a thousand years and more, has Calvary for its central compartment; and many a hard-fought field, from the days that the martyrs bled till now, emblazoned on it. The union of this army is duty, and unity of heart is their strength. Because our queen's army has many regiments, many facings, various costumes, it is not on that account a disunited, internally antagonistic, and therefore a suicidal force ; on the contrary, under each varied uniform there beats one loyal heart to queen and country, and the external variety only throws up more magnificently the united heart that beats below

In our

it. So should it be in the Christian army ; our union is the highest possible expediency; and whilst there is so much sin to be extirpated, so much good to be done, of all melancholy spectacles themost melancholy is that of Christians devouring each other, not because each has a different Saviour, but each under the one Saviour belongs to a different regiment of the same great army. It is this variety which is necessary to unity. The union of all the stars is necessary to shed down the light that declares the glory of God, and showeth forth His handiwork. The light that covers the earth with its beautiful mantle is a composite substance. The ocean of air that fans us is a compound substance. The rainbow's unity is made up of all the tints and colours of nature. army is the sombre Rifle, the magnificent Guard, the picturesque and not less heroic Highlander, the splendid cavalry; but their variety of costume is perfectly consistent with their unity of feeling; and instead of diluting that unity of feeling, it is, if possible, augmented, strengthened, and sustained by it. Should not Christians, then, drawing a lesson from this, cease to use weapons that are meant for foes in fratricidal quarrels? Heaven has no such thing as absolute uniformity; there are cherubim and seraphim, there are angels and archangels; and yet there is unity in heaven. The truth is, the idea of a uniform Church is the crotchet of the Vatican; the idea of a united Church with variety of discipline is the conception of heaven. The Pope would Romanize

the world, and make it all one uniform spectacle ; the great Saviour defines his Church as united in feelings, convictions, and essentials; but with all the variety that circumstance, and country, and incident, and, if you like, accident, may possibly create. If I look to the stars in the sky, there are stars of first, second, third, eleventh, twelfth magnitude; one star differing from another star in glory ; yet all the stars gravitate around the common centre, and diffuse in harmony their common light. If I look at the flowers on the earth, God might have made every flower blue, or red, or every flower a rose, or have given to every flower one perfume; but He has lavished infinite wisdom and resources on the varied tints and varying perfume of all the flowers that beautify the garden and the field. God might have made every man's face to be as completely the facsimile of another man's face, as if all had been cast, like molten metal, in one common mould; but He has not done If I wanted to see the most striking proof of the infinite resources of Deity, I should quote as its best evidence “the human face divine." Every face has certain essential features; and yet there are no two faces alike. We cannot say what constitutes the variety, unless it be that wondrous light that illuminates the outward mechanism from within the soul; whose fugitive lights and shadows, feelings, sympathies, hopes, and fears, give to the human face infinite variety, proving at once the resources of God and the unity of the family to which we belong.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »