Obrazy na stronie

which are peculiar to Christianity. than this, and is fitted for more Holiness requires virtue as one of than this. He was meant to be its ingredients, for no man can be true, but truthfulness is not the holy without being virtuous. But measure of his capacity. He was virtue, on the contrary, is often meant to be pure, but even purity found, temporarily and in indivi- does not accomplish the whole law duals, dissociated from holiness. of his being. All these he must be,

There is a spontaneous flowering but he must be more than these. and fruitage of divine love divinely He must rise above this legal virtue enkindled in the heart, fastening of Jews and Pharisees to that first upon God, and then flowing spiritual condition which is the out in rich beneficence to all that express product of repentance, belongs to God. The whole life is

prayer, and faith :

-“God hath a heavenly and heavenward life- called us to holiness.” a life of communion with God in

Holiness, is that attribute Christ, “a life hid with Christ in which is the crown of all the culGod.” A certain fragrance hangs ture of humanity, for it carries the about such a spirit, which tells soul up nearest to the everlasting that its habitual walk is in celestial Fountain of wisdom, power, goodfields. We detect that odour ness, from whence it came. It among no earthly flowers. A enters in only where repentance certain spiritual radiance is seen opens


and spiritual renewin its face, as in the face of al puts the heart into wholesome Moses descending from the relations with the Divine Will. It Mount, which announces, not that is the peculiar gift for which the the tables of the Law are in its world stands indebted to revelahands, but that it comes from com- tion, and it is multiplied just in muning face to face with God proportion as the heart is formed Himself.

into the likeness of Christ's. It is It must be so. " It is an offence the summit of manhood, but no against the eternal Spirit to con- less the grace of

God. It is found what certainly may be a achieved by effort, because your mere mixture of prudence, self- free will must use the means that esteem, worldly sagacity, natural secure it; and it is equally the benevolence, or refined Epicurean- benignant inspiration of that ism, or even moral innocence, with Father who hears our every patient that spiritual affection which is as petition.” real, and as positive, and as prac- II. HOW IT IS THAT ONLY THROUGH tical as any of them, diviner than

HOLINESS AND BY HOLINESS WE any, and which comes only by

CAN SEE THE LORD ? devout communion with the Spirit, God-given, through

His Son, The inquiry touches the force of creating a new life.” But it is

this word can. Holiness is not not only an offence against man. simply an arbitrary condition of It rests upon a theory of man and seeing the Lord, but a moral and of man's life which makes him a spiritual necessity in order to see creature only of earth and of time, Him. ignores all his higher spiritual The too common idea is that God relations and capacities, and teaches receives and rejects men not so us that we say the best possible of much in accordance with the actual him when, standing by his grave, moral and spiritual condition of we can declare he was not a liar, their spirits as by the fulfilment he was not a thief, he was not an or non-fulfilment by them of ceradulterer, he was not inhuman. tain conditions of salvation seSurely, man was meant for more parate from their moral selves. A



good man is admitted to heaven finest character? Is it every one not because, being justified and who realizes that the beauty of a saved by faith in Jesus Christ, he true, pure soul is more beautiful is also by that faith made morally than any other loveliness what“ meet for the inheritance of the ever? Are the world's heroes God's saints in light,” but by a simply heroes ? The fact is, that to aparbitrary decree based upon the preciate truth thoroughly we must exhibition of that faith. A bad ourselves be true; to realize the man is excluded from heaven not

beauty of purity we must ourselves because he is morally unfit for be pure; to comprehend the heart heaven, and would be incapable of of love our own hearts must be entering into its occupations and filled with love. This law holds pleasures, even if admitted there, universally ; it is part of the inbut simply because God is angry

tellectual and moral constitution with him, and wishes to bring of mankind. down vindictive punishment upon And now carry up this law and his head. But this is not the apply it to the contemplation of God, doctrine, or the whole doctrine, and do you not see that it lands us of Scripture on this point.

in the very doctrine of our text? If The doctrine rests, after all, upon

we would see the Lord we must be one of the simplest laws of our holy, because He is the Infinite nature, and grows out of it. Our Holiness, and without holiness no perceptions depend upon man can see Him. A defiled soul, capacities to perceive, and the an untrue soul, an unloving soul, extent of our capacities to per

cannot see God, cannot realize ceive depends upon the degree of Him, cannot, though it stand imtheir cultivation. It holds true mediately in the unutterable glory everywhere and of all men, and in before the uncurtained throne, apevery department of our nature,

preciate His goodness. from the lowest to the highest.

III. WHAT IS IT TO Take, first, that of mere sentiment,

LORD”? or taste, or art. How often is it that there is precisely the same Evidently, it is no mere vision landscape to any two men ? Are of the senses which is here intended. the ranges of Jura or the Alps the All shall see Him in this way. His same mountains to the boor who visible glory shall blaze forth upon pastures his flocks on their lower all eyes ; to the joy of some, to the slopes and to the cultivated travel- confusion and ruin of others. The ler who lingers almost worshipping meaning here is a deeper one than amid their heights ? Or compare this. It is to the moral and spiritual the same man with himself at

apprehension of the beauty and dedifferent stages of his culture. sirableness of the Divine attributes What thoughtful student does that the text refers. It is to this not find his taste becoming “ seeing the King in His beauty continually

the old that our argument applies. Our pleasures ceasing to satisfy him, happiness will consist in, and dewhile yet he detects subtler beau- pend upon, our capacity for this. ties and keener delights, or richer To this end, so great and glorious, suggestiveness everywhere, which all our moral education here is are all undiscovered and undis- directed. “To know even as we coverable by the common eye ?

are known

sums up and measures And this law, to ascend to a still our happiness and our perfection. higher level, holds in regard to Observe the truth we are considermoral beauty. Is it every one who ing in regard to one or two of the appreciates, or can appreciate, the great attributes of God.




[ocr errors]




upon God.

And, first, His justice. Nothing or less degree are not pure ? Say is more certain than that we can- what we please, God is not, in this not always, at present, see the respect, altogether lovely” in our beauty of what we must believe eyes. He only becomes so in the to be the constant, unvarying degree in which we are made more justice of God. How often, in- and more like Him. deed, as we look out bewildered Or test the law by applying upon the moral tangle of the the love of God. Does the purest of world, or

ourselves are God's saints on earth feel that he seized in the grasp of a remorseless at all realizes the “ length and providence breaking, or seeming breadth, and height and depth of to break, through all moral dis- the love of God in Christ” to him tinctions of right or wrong, do we as he shall realize it when, with cry out against God's justice, or heart and brain cleansed and made even perhaps deny it altogether! whole, he shall be enabled to comNay, it reaches farther and deeper prehend“ the exceeding sinfulness than this, for this may be simply of sin," and the amazing power the result of ignorance; and it is and condescension of that love conceivable at least that a change through which it was made possible of position and a larger field of that “mercy and truth could meet view might be sufficient to vindi- together, righteousness and peace cate in our eyes “the ways of God could kiss each other”? to man.

But when we feel our- We often speak of “the beauty selves to be guilty, or know our of holiness.” The beauty of holiown to be guilty, are we able to ness is the beauty of God, and is rejoice in the divine justice and to created in our souls by looking praise God in the fires ? This is

That beauty is both one of the most knotty points in the heritage and the present priall our spiritual experience-one of vilege of our spirits. And it is a real the most puzzling problems in re- and, so to speak, tangible beauty. gard to the future life. If we are Gazing on the beauty of God, ever to see God at all, we shall be we become beautiful ourselves. enabled to acquiesce in the justice How it glorifies the roughest of all His works and ways.

We features ! It may not, perhaps, be are never here so transformed and

seen in the glare of pleasure and our wills lost in the Divine Will prosperity, but, like a steady flame, that we can see as God sees, and so it comes out, as darkness of sufferjudge as God judges. How many ing or sorrow, like night, curtains à servant of Christ, truly recog- the hour. W. RUDDER, D.D. nized among men as even saintly in character and life, has been enabled amid bitter trials and sorrows

Epistles of Christ. to humble himself beneath the

2 CORINTHIANS iii. 3. mighty hand of God, and to con- Forasmuch as ye are manifestly defess to our incredulous ears that in clared to be the epistle of Christ ministered all these things God is simply just? by us, written not with ink, but with the

Apply this same law to the purity Spirit of the living God; not in tables of of God. How many can appre

stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.' ciate that purity as revealed in In the early Church, when one His holy law? Do we not feel went from place to place, it was that, while we confess the abstract customary to secure commendatory “beauty of holiness," there is a letters to the brethren vouching for natural repulsion between us and his character. It would seem that it, so that, after all, we find our St. Paul brought no such letters to happiness in things that in greater the Corinthians, and some availed to many:

themselves of this fact to attack life, in the broad and legible charhim. His reply is that he needs no acters of action. such letters of commendation, He has written where all may either to them or from them. They read. The Bible is a sealed book are themselves his epistles, known

But men must read the and read of all men. But it occurs heart-epistles, life-letters, which to the apostle that these Corinthi- Christ has written in the renewed ans are epistles in a higher sense character of His redeemed and than mere letters of commendation

regenerate children. for him. They are epistles of Christ Or what will you do with the

ministered by us, written not with infidel who saturates his mind with ink, but with the Spirit of the the blasphemous sophistries of living God; not in tables of stone, Hume, Voltaire, and Ingersoll ? but in fleshly tables of the heart.” Will you put into his hands the Our subject, then, is :

masterly defences of Leslie, Paley,

and Butler? Christ has written more CHRISTIANS COMMENDATORY EPIS

potently than they. He has writTLES OF CHRIST TO THE WORLD.

ten His apologetics in life, demonWhen we turn over the leaves of strated the purity of His principles the New Testament we will find in action, and conspicuously disthere the inspired writings of those played His power in results. , He who sat at the feet of Jesus-epistles has penned the confutation of formulating Christian doctrine and heresy on all the pages of history edifying Christian life. When we and in all the annals of the strugrecur to the dispensation of Moses, gles and triumphs of life. He has we find a body of laws, graven at written it broadly on the face of first by the finger of God on tables nations and imprinted it on the of stone, and preserved for long brow of empires. Thrones have ages as God's letter on law to voiced it; edicts have proclaimed humanity; but in the dispensation it; laws have declared it. Civilof Christ we find in the custody of

ization is one of its trumpetthe Church no such memorial, hal- tongued witnesses; the arts and lowed by divine association ; we sciences give clamorous testimony. have no writing traced by His pen, Individual lives, blossoming like no marble tablet consecrated by flowers of beauty in desolate places, His touch.

lives uplifted, transformed, conWhen we look to see what defen- secrated, by the powers of the sive or apologetic treatises have Cross and by the energies of the been written in behalf of this Gospel, are eloquent advocates, Church, we find the names of many unimpeachable witnesses, illustrious authors, graceful rheto- swerable arguments. ricians, and skilled logicians, who These

the evidences of have done good service in behalf of Christianity, written in the lives our common mother; but the great of men; and until all traces of Head of the Church, the Originator the matchless power of the Cross of this religion, has given the world are obliterated, Christ is not withno elaborate defence of the Church

out witness among the sons of men. He instituted or of the doctrines Let there be one; that one is a He promulgated.

letter of Christ Jesus to the world, All this He has left to His fol- wherein is contained a masterly, lowers. He Himself has written all-sufficient, triumphant refutation upon a more enduring material of every form of heresy that ever than either paper, parchment, brass, raged upon the earth. or stone. He has written upon the We have a twofold application human heart, in the volumes of of this subject : First, as regards







the Christian in whom Christ fettered, confined in dreary dungeon writes; and, second, as regards where no light comes, or freshness, the world to whom Christ writes. or fragrant odour, or hint of anyI. THE OVERWHELMING AND CRUSH

thing that hath life. In some it ING RESPONSIBILITY.

reads vice--sad story of tumultuous

passions, unbridled lust, temptation Ruskin says: “Is this, then, all the book I have got to read about

triumphant, nobleness of nature God in ? Yes, truly so.

corrupted and defiled, the last

No other book, or fragment of book, than

vestiges of purity swept away in that, will you ever find : no velvet- reeking floods of foul iniquity, the bound missal, nor frankincensed

serene star of virtue gone down manuscript; nothing hieroglyphic

darkly in clouds of sin. nor cuneiform; papyrus and pyra

Such are some of the life-letters,

and in how few, alas! may the mid are alike silent on this matter; nothing in clouds above or in the

world read regeneration, new-born earth beneath. That flesh-bound

impulses toward the realities of volume is the only revelation

things, souls germinant and springthat is, that was, or that can be.

ing up in newness of life, flowering In that is the image of God painted;

in exquisite graces and fructifying

in rich fruit of outward act. in that is the law of God written; in that is the promise of God re

III. WHAT IS THERE IN OUR LIFEvealed.” He does not deny the

CHRIST'S revelation of God contained in the WRITING ? Scriptures; but there is none other Doubtless in

of these so perfect, so beautiful, so valuable, epistles the tracing is dim and so convincing as the Christ-power scarcely discernible; in some blotin human lives. In you there is, ted with many a fault and blurred or ought to be, such resplendent with many a failing: and I say image of your Lord as when face better these than that a man should answereth to face in water. Reason

say he will not despoil the tablets as you will, strive frantically if you of his heart with tentative effort, please to divest yourself of this and so have nothing to show the responsibility, still, with rigorous

world but negative blankness. But scrutiny, the world will judge your is the writing dim, undecipherable?

What is there that is not of Christ's II. EPISTLE, IN SOME SORT, MUST


IV. THE HONOUR WHICH IS PUT Epistle of Jesus Christ, engrossed

UPON CHRISTIANS. and illuminated manuscript of If I were a block of stone, and righteousness or glaring scroll of had I consciousness, I should be sin. No more important inquiry happy if Christ did grave on me a than this: “What does the world single letter; think, then, what read in me?"

great glory may be yours when In some it reads self-righteous beneath the transforming influences Pharisaism, unlovely, despicable, of the Holy Ghost you shall be contemptible. In some it reads made God-like, Christ formed in hypocrisy, which clear-sighted

you, your frail body favourite eyes can see through as if it were temple of triune divinity. Such no more palpable substance than and so great are the powers of the fluffiness of gauze. In some it reads Gospel that magic marvels of transcold, callous unconcern, statuesque, formation appear everywhere as petrified, unresponsive; eye kindling resultants of its energies, and I to no beauty, ear attuned to no would rather be such a marvel than harmony; soul—if soul there be- be the crowned king of consoli

Lord by you.


« PoprzedniaDalej »