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to mean little more than to go to church and partake of the sacrament. There may be during the entire six days an absolute arrest of all manifest thought of God, and the man may be in no degree distinguished from the veriest worldling. He may be selfish and sensual, a tyrant in his homecircle, and a sharper in the market-place-seemingly given up to worldliness through the entire secular week of business or pleasure. But now comes the Sabbath, and, lo! as if the archangel's trump had sounded, there is seen a sudden resurrection of his buried Christianity. Now he goes up to the sanctuary. The man's religion is a poor copy of the Hebrews' at Mount Sinai, seemingly worshipping Jehovah so long as the lightnings blaze and the mountain rocks; but just so soon as the thunders cease and the grand sensation is over, crying even with an increased idolatry, “Now, then, Aaron, bring out the calf !” And this, and just this, is what the text earnestly rebukes. Practical Christianity is no sanctuary sensation, no Sabbath-day service. It is the conscientious discharge of all duty with a desire therein to honour Jehovah. It makes the whole world a temple, and the whole life a priesthood.
2. The universality of the religious principle. The apostle speaks of actions not only secular and social, but seemingly trivial and insignificant, as to be done religiously, eating and drinking unto the glory of God.” The taste of our times is for great things in religion. As the summer tourist hurries carelessly by all the tamer beauties of the landscape, and can experience no rapture save on the height of some majestic mountain, or in the spray of some stupendous waterfall, so the modern pietist feels no ecstasies of godliness except when breathing an atmosphere elevated into the Alpine height of sentiment, or surcharged with electricity. Nothing less than a powerful revival, a crowd gaping at the explosion of sensational gunpowder, the billowy heave and swell of some intense and universal excitement, seems to him a season or sphere wherein God can be honoured.
Now, against this disposition to regard only great things as acceptable unto God, our text launches its exhortation, and its fine practical wisdom will appear if you consider in connection a few common-sense thoughts.
That human life made up of little things and trivial occurrences. As in nature there is but one Mount Blanc, and one Niagara, and one Yosemite, so in grace there occur but few great crises like the Reformation, wherein a man can heave like an earthquake, and flash as a thunderbolt for the divine glory; so that in the mass and in the main, if we do anything for God, it must be in the little, common, ever-recurring things of our daily life.
That though one might occasionally do some great thing for God, yet this neglect to honour Him in these small things would destroy all the influence for good of these grander achievements. It was a wonderfully wise metaphor of Solomon—that of the ointment. Cut its vase, if you will, out of crystal or alabaster, and distil its perfumes from Sheba's rarest gums and Sharon's loveliest roses, and yet one dead fly in its limpid olive will decompose into a pestilent odour its most exquisite aroma; and so, verily, doth a little, a very little, destroy the moral power of a man that is in reputation for wisdom. Let a man be as ardent as Peter, or as eloquent as Paul, or as fervently loving as John, nevertheless, if he make manifest in his common life that he is vain, or proud, or selfish, or extravagant in his statements, or given to slander in his conversation, or to levity in his deportment, or be an unkind man in his household, or overreaching and tricky in his business, or simply unreliable and unstable in any sphere of life, then it will be as the dead fly of Solomon-the savour of his godliness is an offence—a spot he has become in the feasts of charity, a dead-weight on the sinews of the Church. This want of a small grace is ofttimes
more than a counterpoise for the momentum of a great grace.
The towers and battlements of religious profession are manfully guarded and kept, but the sentinel sleeps at the sally-port, and the enemy enters, and Zion is yielded, and God's honour despised.
That the absence of these small graces of Christianity does not merely weaken the influence, but destroys positively the very essence of the great graces. So dependent are all Christian principles one upon another, that they cannot even exist separately. Christian character is not a conglomerate of heterogeneous excellences, but a composite of all, in beautiful crystal, under the affinities of a gracious chemistry. Cardinal virtues, in their separation and overgrowth, are simply monstrous, and may be brutal. Let a man be all patience without courage, and he becomes more a sheep than a saint; let him be all courage without gentleness, and he is simply a tiger. Zeal without knowledge is a devouring fire in a harvest-field; and even love without labour is a scorching sirocco on the tropic seas, withering the strength of the becalmed mariner. And therefore it is that Paul, when speaking of all Christian graces, calls them not separately the fruits of the Spirit, but all together a fruit of the Spirit. So that if the small are not mingled with the great, you can no more have any true Christian fruit than you can have a true peach without its sugar, or a true apple without its acid.
That even in regard of His own actions God is more sensibly glorified in small things than in great things. Indeed, strictly speaking, God's great things are only an aggregate of little things. Mount Blanc is but a masonry of sand-grains; Niagara only a multiplication of rain-drops. And apart from this thought, it is from God's least splendid operations we learn most of His glory; and even to a simply philosophic mind more wonderful does He seem when feathering the insect's wing than when upholding in their stupendous travel the great orbs of astronomy. The arguments whereon theology rests as a system are drawn with more confidence from God's little than from God's great works. And thus the efforts of the unbeliever is to seduce trustful faith abroad from its divinely-appointed scholarship of the fowl of the air and the lily of the field, that it may be overborne as it considers the heavens the work of God's fingers. And even Atheism is less staggered at the truth that the firmament is crowded with immense worlds, than that a water-drop teems with sentient inhabitants.
How altogether arbitrary and often false are our reckonings of what are really the great and what the small in human achievements. Philosophically speaking, great actions are such only as produce great results; and shortsighted as we all are in respect to life's issues, we can never exactly know when we are doing great things and when we are doing small. Our daily lives are spent amid an economy of instrumentalities, whose sweep is outward through the universe and onward through eternity, Every secret thought plays along the immense telegraph ; every small deed affects the tremendous mechanism.
How, without any reference to these results, but only self-considered, it requires and manifests a higher style of piety, and a more intense consecration to God's service, to do well the small thing than to do well the great. Naainan, the Syrian, found it immeasurably easier to bear his banner in triumph over mighty cities than to go down in childlike obedience to the cool waters of Jordan.
Why, even martyrdom itself, under the impulse of a grand heroism, is among the easiest of all things; and if the days of persecution should
come again, I have no question that Christian heroism would kindle again—to rush exulting into the flames, and perish nobly for Jesus. It would require less piety to do this great and splendid thing for God than to subdue every selfish and carnal thought; to love an insolent and provoking enemy; to return gentle words for malicious slander; to bear a rival's success without envy, and to cherish even that heavenly yet homely charity which Paul himself ranks above martyrdom, that envieth not and vaunteth not, but hopeth all things and endureth all things, and whose crowning glory is that it is not easily provoked and doth not behave itself unseemly. And, practically, Paul found it easier to combat Ephesian beasts than to bear his thorn in the flesh; and Simon Peter, whose delight was to plunge into stormy seas for Christ, and to flash his sword in the face of the Roman soldiers for Christ; yet poor Peter could neither keep his temper nor govern his tongue. The pages of martyrology abound with histories of men and women who, under strong excitements, could brave death triumphantly, and yet who could not maintain domestic proprieties under small daily provocations—who, indeed, found it positively easier, in the face of admiring multitudes, to be eaten of wild beasts in the amphitheatre than, by the quiet boards of their humble habitations, “ to eat and drink to the glory of God.”
The importance of these smaller things in religion, inasmuch as they perhaps most abound in the spheres of our pleasures or recreations. Eating and drinking” are not usually classed with labours and duties; and in selecting them as occasions for honouring God the apostle carries this religious principle into the whole sphere of social and secular enjoyments. Most of all in this direction does the Church of Christ need enlightenment. The old Puritan and the new Pharisee alike need to be taught that, as indicated by the almost gross and altogether animal pleasures of eating and drinking, the sphere of simple earthly enjoyments is one in which we may especially glorify God. "If we may eat and drink to God's glory, then as certainly we may gather bright flowers and listen to singing birds ; we may go abroad on summer excursions over rolling seas and athwart sunny landscapes; we may share all the common pleasure of domestic and social circles; we may gratify all taste of art, and literature, and science'; we may bless the eye with all shapes and colours of beauty, and the ear with all combinations of music; we may do ten thousand things—nay, we may positively do all things which, while they neither violate a divine law nor infringe any human interest, do give us new heart and strength for our own great life-work. Away for evermore with this foul self-righteousness, which thinks of our own earthly sufferings as any part of expiation for sin. God wants His children, even on earth, to be happy. He delights more in their songs than in their sorrows, and is better pleased when they approach Him wearing bright raiment and garlands of flowers, than when tortured with sackcloth of hair and a crown of thorns.
This is Paul's rule of life, that not merely in special emergencies and on great occasions we are to work for God's glory, but that, carrying our religion into all the minutiæ of the street and parlour, the counting-room and the workshop, we are to live ever as if earth were a great temple, and life a great priesthood, the altar ever aflame, and the censer ever swinging; and knowing that if we adorn the doctrine of Christ in anything, it must be positively in all things; and if we honour Jehovah at all, it must be by doing life's little things with an eye single to His glory, we must be ever busy at our blessed work, “ eating and drinking to the glory of God.”
What a blessed world this would become under the full play of so heavenly a principle! What a prodigious power it would give to the Gospel in the eyes of gainsaying men, if, instead of this mere Pharisaisin of sanctuaries and sacraments, it was seen to inspire its disciples with all the practical graces of undeviating truth, and magnanimous honour, and public spirit, and beneficence, and brotherly kindness, and charity; if, instead of rendering its professor a sectarian zealot or a doctrinal bigot, it pervaded with a matchless beauty the whole field of the secular and social, and it made him a trustful mechanic, or a fair-dealing merchant, or a faithful public officer, a kind father and a loving husband, a conscientious politician and a comprehensive patriot, a Christian gentleman and an honest
How it would vindicate Christianity from the suspicion of the world that it is, after all, only a drivelling fanaticism, or, at the most, a scheming hypocrisy, and send it forth to win triumphs over the philosophic intellect of the times, were it seen to work what God ever meant it should work, the regeneration of our nature in all its nobler qualities, pervading with its higher, heavenly life all the world's arts, and science, and commerce, and literature, and jurisprudence, and politics, and governments. Not satisfied when it had made its disciple merely a keeper of Sabhaths and a partaker of sacraments, but as well a diligent welldoer in “all that is pure, and honest, and lovely, and of good report.” How it would win to its embrace a great multitude of our beloved youth, if instead of walking among men forlorn and forbidding, as a wrathful soldier with a sword, or a weary pilgrim with a burden, its feet ever bounded, and its eyes sparkled, and its voice sang in the heavenly inspiration of peace, and blessedness, and love. How it would make eartă beautiful almost
as heaven, and there would be a Paradise in the street, and the workshop, and the social circle, and the household, by board and hearth.
If we were honouring God in all things, ever mindful of His presence, and grateful for His favours, and obedient to His precepts, and spent our strength to God, sleeping to God and waking to God, living to God and dying to God-how this marred and blighted footstool of Jehovah would assume at once new beauty; yea, resume almost its old primeval glory, and the old prophetic visions would be seemingly realized, the whole landscape flashing with divine lustre, the sea roaring, and the hills leaping, and the floods lifting up their voices, and trees of the field clapping their hands, and the mountains and plains breaking forth into singing, and the very tabernacle of God be visibly with men—if man, redeemed man, trod the landscape ever as a child and heir of God's love and kingdom, going joyously home to heaven; how it would bring back to our lost race the grace and glory of redeemed immortals; if we could only feel that amid life's little cares and common secular labours we were working not merely for the daily bread of our beloved ones, but that when plying tools in the workshop, or trading on the exchange, or selling goods to a customer, or administering medicine to the sick, or pleading for a charity, or busy in the thousand activities of the home and the household, we were, nevertheless, all like angels, glorifying God in the face of the universe, quarrying immortal stones for Jehovah's temple, polishing the jewels for Jehovah's diadem, rearing platform and pavilion for Jehovah's coronation—"doing all we do to the glory of God.'
C. WADSWORTH, D.D.
The Runner Hindered.
GALATIANS V. 7.
Ye did run well ; who did hinder you ?” The apostle, it appears, was disappointed with the Galatians. The bright hopes he had of them at the beginning of their Christian career were not realized. A tone of regret and reproach on account of this runs through the whole of this epistle, and the course of his argument is. every now and then broken by some word of remonstrance, in which there is the characteristic blending of severity and tenderness. Look, e.g., at the third verse of chapter iii. : “Are ye so foolish ? having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?” There is reference here to the strange inclination they showed as a church to go back to the “yoke of bondage,”—to what the apostle calls “ the weak and beggarly elements of the law.” This was a retrograde movement. The proper order is from the flesh to the spirit; from carnality of thought and aim to high spirituality ; from a formal and symbolic worship to a “worship in spirit and in truth"; from literal obedience to set rules and maxims to the obedience that springs from the spontaneous movement of the inner life. That was the true order. But they were reversing it. Having begun with the spirituality of the Gospel, they were thinking to perfect themselves with the materiality and literality of the Law. Look, again, at the fifteenth verse of the fourth chapter: "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. This refers to the ardour of feeling they had formerly manifested, and especially to their grateful devotion to him as their teacher, and even father in Christ.
temptation in the flesh,” (“thorn in the flesh ") was probably some painful affection of the eyes. But, instead of their
despising ,” him for it, they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if they could, so great was their love to him. But now their feeling is altogether different. It is as if he had become their “enemy.” They cannot bear his faithful rebukes. The truth from his lips is bitterness to them. And he mourns over this—not so much on mere personal grounds, as affecting himself, but as indicative of an unhappy change in their moral relation to the cause which is 80 unspeakably dear to his heart. “It is good,” he says, "to be zealously affected always in a good cause,”—in other words, the service of Christ demands a continuous enthusiasm of religious feeling : no mere impulsive action, no mere spasmodic zeal. There is kind of fervour that flames up under extraordinary excitement, but soon dies down again when the exciting cause is removed. It is but as the flicker of the candle that sinks quickly into the smouldering wick, with its unsavoury fumes. It is the mere effervescence that passes off, and leaves a residue vapid, and dull, and tasteless. What the "good cause of Christ demands from us, however, is not a fitful, short-lived fervour like this, but a steady and continuous force of holy zeal.
And now look at the text:—“Ye did run well ; who did hinder The image here, so familiar to all readers of the epistles of St. Paul, is that of men running a race, but who, by some unfriendly influence, have been checked--arrested in their course. The word translated “hinder, has been used of the cutting across or breaking up of a road to prevent men passing that way. So it was with those Galatians, as if some perverting influence, some false “persuasion,” had traversed their path, cut across it, and so arrested their steps—hindered” their heavenward way,