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upon us, and meets us whenever we look up. It is the little rift in our loyalty: it is, as St. Paul calls it, the "little leaven," endangering the whole lump. And where it is, peace cannot be in its truth and wholeness. God's merciful warnings hinder peace.
And yet, Easter was meant to bring us peace,peace of conscience, peace in the depths of heart and will. And Easter confronts, with its tremendous and majestic certainties, our poor little make-believes. How do they look, those ugly, pertinacious, mean disobediences, next to our Lord's victory, next to Christian truth and hope? Can we be the same persons, who exult with kindled souls in the one, and palter fitfully with the other? Cannot we use the sincerity of our faith, our devotion, our rejoicing loyalty, to beat down these despicable treacheries of our lower nature?
Easter calls to newness of life. Easter calls to just those efforts which we need to make to reach "the conscience as the noonday clear." Easter calls to purge out the old leaven. Easter calls our feet into the ways of "sincerity and truth;" into the "ways of peace."-May its blessed work be fulfilled in us. May we so walk now before that King of Glory, whose triumph we rejoice in, that He may be with us when we die, with His parting blessing "Peace be unto you: that He may meet us, when we shall die no more, with the greeting which made the disciples glad on the first Easter morning, " Peace be unto you."
THE POWER OF THE ASCENSION ON THE LIVES OF MEN
"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."-2 CORINTHIANS iv. 18.
THIS contrast, in what we have to do with here, fills, so to speak, the atmosphere of Ascension Day. day long the voice pursues us, "Lift up your hearts;" "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens," ascended "that He might fill all things;" "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth; "Your life is hid with Christ in God; "The things which are seen are temporal-for the time, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
This great contrast is part of the necessary condition of our human being, if there is any religious truth in the world. The things that are seen, that are now, are indeed of the deepest interest, most precious and most eventful, of far reaching, incalculable. influence. Duty, and faith, and love, and goodness, and justice, and mercy, have to do with the things. that are now, the things that are seen who can measure their greatness, their value? But when all
that has been said, realised most amply, felt most keenly, still it remains true that man was made for a life, for a sphere, even greater than the greatest we can know here; that all that is seen is but for a time; that the things that are not seen are eternal.
And Christ our Master went up on high out of our sight to draw our hearts after Him, to make us feel that, in spite of all veils and shadows now, in spite of all interests and all duties now, the end and goal for which we live and think and will is beyond all that we can ever know here—to make us feel it, to make us imagine it. Know indeed we do, and we bless His name for what He has shown us: but we know, we can know, only in part; we know as those who are encompassed by inscrutable, unfathomable nature, and between whom and the unseen hangs the curtain of death-death, silent, final, without answer. We know as those who have known the mystery of the Incarnation, and have seen the dawn. of Easter, and who "look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come:" and yet that is little to what we shall know when we know even as we are known. But this at least is part of our knowledge, that what we are here is but a little fragment of what we were made for; and that Christ is gone up to the throne of God to warrant us in going up there too, in heart and mind continually, in hope, in rejoicing, in wonder, in adoration; in the persuasion that though He is there, He is yet also here, always with us even to the end of the world.
And to Him we owe our supreme loyalty, and duty, and devotion, and boundless trust, as to our Lord and our God. The love of Him, the union in affection and will with Him—that is what we profess; that, when it is in reality and truth, is Christian religion.
The world is full of other religions: I do not mean here of other professions and forms of religion, the varieties of belief and worship and religious custom, which divide the world, Christian and non-Christian. I mean religion in the sense of what a man's heart owns to as most mighty and most irresistible in all things round him; what he bows down to and sincerely worships in the secret sanctuary of desire and will; what he holds highest and most precious, most excellent and most Divine in what he knows and thinks of, most worthy his homage, his labour, his interest, the spending his life for. That is truly a man's religion the object of which fills and holds captive his soul and heart and mind, in which he trusts above all things, which imposes on him reverence and awe, which above all things he longs for and hopes for. It is that which possesses and fascinates all that is most real in the man's self; that which in his real self he is devoted to, of all things within his range and all the things among which he may choose. "Covetousness," says the apostle," which is idolatry,"—worship of an idol, which stands between the soul and God, making itself the soul's real god, appropriating all faculties and all movements of thought and will which belong
to God. Such religions there are among us, active, energetic, consistent religions, which place something before the soul which is short of our Lord and God, and which in their sincerity and reality put to shame the dulness of Christian faith, and the slackness of Christian devotion. Their objects are things in the world: some of them bad and hateful; some of them the gifts, the creations of God Himself, but which are made to take His place, and are thought of, and prized, and extolled, as if He was not. We sometimes wonder what to us instructed, reasonable Christians, who cannot conceive ourselves, even in imagination, bowing down to a graven image,what can be any longer the meaning and lesson of the Second Commandment, "Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them.” What is the use of repeating it? Can we even imagine the temptation to do so? But are there no other things, the idols of refined and civilised men, no other "likenesses" than were known in old time, "of things that are in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth," to which worship is done, subtle, profound, and absorbing,idols which occupy the place of God, or perhaps profess to represent Him,-idols which meet us at every turn, and which need and justify the reiterated command, "Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them."
1. For instance, God is all-powerful, almighty, and we worship Him who is the Maker and Ruler of all