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Bearing Witness to the
So inseparable is the conTruth.
nection between the witness of
Jesus and other Divine truths that 1 Cor. i. 6-8.
they stand or fall together. It is “Even as the testimony of Christ was because of the Divine power which con firmed in you,” fic.
is in the truth, that we are ready THERE are here three facts to to say that, if it were crushed down which special attention must be to the earth it must rise up again. called.
The power of God is with it and
so it cannot die. I. THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS.
When John, in his exile, began When He was brought face to to see the revelations of God as face with Pilate in the judgment they passed in awful and silent ball, the interrogatory was,
grandeur before his vision, he deor not Jesus had any mission, clared that Jesus was the faithful and if so, what it was—what was witness; that He was the prince of its nature and extent.
the kings of the earth; that He equivocal response of the Son of had loved us and washed us froin God was, that He had a kingdom, our sins in His own blood. Whether, not of this world, and the conse- therefore, we view Him in the quence of necessity followed that
prophecy which was past or the He must be a King. His was the wonderful transactions which swept kingdom of truth; His throne was around Him and over Him in such a throne of light and glory; and rapid succession while on this earth, the weapons of His warfare were or in the revelation which He made not carnal but spiritual. He came of Himself to His servants in the into the world, that He might bear last book of the New Testament, witness to the truth. The Pha- still it is the same stirring and imrisees brought against Him the pressive light and force of a witness charge that He was witnessing for for the truth. Himself. The response of Jesus II. Jesus having given His evidence was not a denial of the facts, but for truth in words of wisdom, in a reaffirmation of the same decla- works demonstrative of His Diration with which He had first vine and superhuman power, in entered
upon His great mission, His obedience to the Divine will that He should be the light of the and His sufferingeven unto death, world and bear witness to the truth. IT NOW REMAINS FOR EVERY BEThis, then, is the great mission LIEVER TO CONFIRM THAT WITof the Son of God, that He should be witness.
Salvation to a lost world was to The world does not believe in the come through His obedience and Son of God. The Pharisees told suffering. The demands of the law Him to His face that His witness were to be fully met in this way, was not true. He, on the other and He was to make salvation the hand, when He had laid claim to free gift of God to the sinner. The being the witness for the truth, revelation of God in the Divine | speaking as never man spake, workWord was the truth of God for the ing with the mighty power of God redemption of those who should in signs and wonders and miracles, believe upon His Son. All truth turns round upon His disciples and centered in Him; all else must followers and says unto them: “Ye give way before Him. The conflict shall be my witnesses.” The idea was one between light and dark
here evidently is that Jesus, having ness. Light was the emblem of once deposed, they must stand truth; darkness the emblem of forth to confirm Him before the
NESS TO THE WORLD IN HIS LIFE
BY WORDS AND DEEDS.
world. He is, so to speak, as a and scourged, and forbidden to witness in court, and the main wit- preach any more in His name,
The world is against Him; they heartily rejoiced that God had the effort is to break Him down considered them worthy to suffer upon His word and when He claims
for His name. Paul is a prisoner to be the king of the truth. His in Rome, the imperial capital of word has been spoken, and nowHis the world, and from there writes people are standing as one great that second letter to Timothy, exarmy of witnesses before the world, horting him not to be ashamed of and both by word and deed they the testimony of Christ, but rather are rendering their evidence ; it is to be a partaker of the afflictions passing silently to the jury and the of the Gospel, according to the verdict is rapidly being made up,
power of God.
Now, why all either for or against the Son of God. this? Why this necessity for the In this way His battles are being children of God to do and to suffer fought, and all over the wide and and to bear all these things ? varied field of action the victory is Simply because it is enjoined of being either lost or won by the God as a means to an end. fidelity, stability and consistency The world pays a special tribute of the witnesses, or their lack in any
to Christian ethics when it says, or all of these. The victory of Your creed is a good one, but your truth is not coercive but persuasive. life is not up to it. Eloquence is a
Men must receive Him. This great gift and a mighty power, but they will do when they see His the sermon will avail little if he disciples working uprightly and who preaches it is not a man godly corroborating in their lives the in his life. We may print religious witness He made for the truth. literature and scatter it over the This corroborating witness of the land till, falling like autumn leaves, Church is borne in these ways: we it drops at every man's door. But do for God, or we bear for Him, or the world will not read books—it we suffer for Him. The child of God is too busy, too restless, too eager; finds it a pleasant thing to do for but, it will read you, and it will God, and perhaps this is the easiest receive or reject the claims of the part of our Christian life. It is more religion of Christ in proportion as it difficult to stand still in the darkness finds in everyday work, everydaylife, of the mysterious providences by the record which believers are there which God sometimes surrounds us making, the witness they are giving. and bear it all, and patiently wait,
III. JESUS WILL BE FAITHFUL TO trusting Him for His grace, knowing that however dark the cloud may
HIS PEOPLE IN THE VICTORY,
THE REWARD, AND be He will certainly cause His face
WHICH HE HAS RESERVED FOR to shine upon us again, that we may be saved. But the most difficult thing by far is for us to suffer for God is faithful. Here we have God. The Christianity of this age that inseparable connection beis sadly behind that of the primitive tween cause and effect. To him ages in this respect. And yet it is that holdsout faithful to the end, this a secret power of growth in grace faithful witness, Jesus Christ, has which adds new lustre and beauty promised a crown of life. The to the Church in every age in triumph of truth shall be for the which she is called upon to develop children of truth. The King of it in her children. When John Truth shall rule over them; all and Peter had been cast into their enemies and His enemies shall prison because of their witnessing be conquered and subdued. When for Christ, and then brought out evil passes away darkness shall pass
away with it, and all things shall be lit up with the glory of God. The fact that Jesus shall make sure this confirmatory evidence in the hearts of His people is perfectly manifest from those promises and assurances which He gave to the Church, and through the Church to all believers, when He declared He would be with them to the end. The Church of God must move through the world bearing its glorious testimony and preserving its marked individuality, as the Gulf Stream moves in its majestic flow through the great ocean of waters.
The light of this witness must rise upon the moral darkness and drive it away from the souls of men as the sun mounts in the eastern sky, throwing its bright beams over
mountain tops to light up valley and plain. Spiritual light is the great disinfectant in the moral world, as natural light is in the physical world. The one is the light of the sun; the other is the more glorious light of the Son of God as He shines forth through His Church. And we are that Church, and our hearts are the great shining reflectors throwing that light along the track of the world which is walking in dark
This would be a sad pilgrimage and a miserable life if we did not know that when Jesus comes He will confirm the faith we have in Him. This He has promised, that all who bear witness to His truth shall be blameless in the day of His coming.
R. K. SMOOT, D.D.
Themes for Week-night Services.
No Continuing City.
us, has brought its testimony to
the truth that " we have here no HEBREWS xüi. 14.
continuing city.” Riches! Some “ Here we have no continuing city,
in the past seasons may have been but we seek one to come.”
gladdened by their unexpected
presence; but many more have THE in-gathering of Harvest seen them pass from their hands marks the close of the great year with sad eyes and aching hearts. of Providence. While we cannot Friends never continue in one stay. but feel most gratefully the un- They grow dearer to us with the deserved kindness of the heavenly passing on of years, or they fade Father, and realize how rich and into the distance of indifference or full the year has been of blessing, forgetfulness. On the ocean of the reflection can hardly fail to be life some are thrown together by forced upon us that man
momentary currents; they dance continueth in one stay!” The
by each other pleasantly in the changes of the seasons are not sunshine; and then they are swept more inevitable than the changes apart by a rough wind or a sudden which are continually passing upon eddy, never to meet again, until in ourselves. Mentally and spiritu- the other life, there shall be no ally we are always changing for more sea.” Even upon our homes, better or for worse; growing riper sometimes lighted with rich sunin mind or purer in heart; or else shine, the shadow too often comes, more earthly, more insensible to
and the rooms grow dark, and the truth and spiritual things; but, in leafless vine rustles in the chill the circumstances which affect most winds of winter. materially the peace and happiness Life outside is sad enough of our lives, the past, to many of through changes.
But there is
also brightness for the darkened of riches, of fame, of human love, home. God's way in the Sanc- of every thing that can afford a tuary is one of rest, and
and present satisfaction; but, like hope for the wearied spirit. The Venice, and Amsterdam, and St. Father never meant His children to Petersburg, they have only a pile be made gloomy and down-hearted ! foundation and are liable to fall by the fact “ that man never con- | into ruins. Sudden disappointtinueth in one stay.' There is ment heaves the earth beneath them, something sobering about the re- and they sink into the yawning flection that we are getting on in chasm. Death at last sweeps over years; even Christian faith does
them in a flood of fire, and, like the not pretend that it can always ! cities buried under the ashes of reproduce the miracle of Genesa- Vesuvius, their very names reth and say to the current of soon forgotten. human events, Peace, be still !” But not so with that City which But it does something better than we seek for in the near hereafter. this—it tells how the peace of the That is a city of which the apostle spirit can be secured amid the in
says, in another place, that it cessant changes of the world. It “ hath foundations”; its glory brings home to the heart the can be dimmed by no breath of alternative “but we seek one to passing years ; secure and strong, come.” Change, ceaseless and in- its homes shall stand through the evitable, is our present portion, , age of ages; the only change, but there is changelessness for us advance from glory to glory. Is in the future.
not this a hope too precious to be How full of blessing that change- true ? Can it be possible that lessness will be. With the idea of God's hand shall still this evera city we associate the idea of revolving wheel of human insubstantial strength, unbounded stability? Is there, indeed, somewealth, a regular government by where in the misty future, a safe wise laws wisely administered, and and happy haven where the stormmaterial splendour. The metro- vexed ship shall furl its sail and polis is always the symbol of con- rest in quiet upon waveless waters ? centrated power. Its capacity to He, whose present will has placed meet the varied wants of humanity; us amid incessant change, has its ceaseless energies;. its great determined that this change shall moral influences ; its wealth and not follow us into eternity. The grandeur are universally accepted
hand which has as a true exponent of national heaven's mighty dome as the roof, greatness.
and laid the broad earth for the If this be true of such cities as floor, of man's dwelling-house of man builds, only to see them perish to-day, and on the shifting clouds at the touch of time, what shall of heaven and the bosom of the we say of that City which the earth written the inevitable law of believer seeks for, “whose Builder decay and change, “this too shall and Maker is God”? What ideas
pass away.”—that same Almighty of stability and grandeur, of mar- hand hath built up the golden vellous activity, of complete and battlements of the Celestial City perfect satisfaction, are awakened -the home of the indestructible by the thought of that eternal and unchangeable--and they bear Metropolis of the the Redeemer's the glorious promise,
the same Kingdom, which holds the throne yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” of the Creator, and of which the In that Heavenly City, all that Lamb is the light and glory ? can give the most restless spirit a Men build cities for themselves divine repose has been laid
the believer. Hunger and thirst, and disease, and bitter tears find no entrance within the gates of pearl ; no night brings a shadow upon the changeless sunshine which flows out from the presence of the Lamb; no disappointments harass the mind, and farewell is a word forgotten. Only a growing peace, a more rapturous delight, a closer drawing to the Father and Redeemer, a dearer love for precious friends and brethren.
This is God's lesson to us in the rolling on of seasons, the failure of present hopes, the sad and dreadful changes which most must meet in the pilgrimage of life. The emptying of the earthly home is but the better furnishing of the heavenly ; the loss of this world's wealth a divine pledge of eternal riches stored up for us in eternity. In all this there is opened to the tired spirit a fountain of such rest and peace as anticipates the calmness of the eternal rest in the bosom of God.
No strong faith, no unsullied purity of character, no God-likeness comes from contentinent with the things of the present. The world's sunlight cannot keep out always the shadow from the heart. Harvest Home may be associated with laugh and song, but reflection sometimes
to the most thoughtless spirit, and we know that so much of life as it has measured has slipped away. To seek a coming City, with real, intense desire, is the secret of a saintly spirit ! Earth's joys grow dim; but, after enduring the burden of infirmities, and sorrow, and pain, and the whole discipline of existence here, the golden gates at last open, and the soul finds a changeless peace! Have
we sought the City to come ? Have we made eternal things the supreme object of our desire, and by that been chastened in prosperous days and kept cheerful through darker ones, and in all
close to the presence of Almighty God ? If so, there is nothing really sad in the serious thoughts to which the hour would call us ; the dying of one year can be only the birth of another, glowing with a happier light than the past, because nearer to the eternal sun. But, if not; if the backward look of the soul should only bring more vividly before the conscience the real truth that we have been heedless of the city yet to come, let me urge you by the mercies and the terrors of the Lord, by the uncertainty of life and the nearness of Christ's Judgment, to begin at once to “ make the calling and election sure. Resolve, God helping you, that your search hereafter shall be for no such rest and joy as sin, or even human things at their best, can offer you, but such a life of faithful Christian service as shall lead you to the gates of the Celestial City
Through the eager gaze of the spirit after the heavenly Jerusalem, even now a strange peace comes over us for our endless comfort. Perfect repose is the gift of the Father to His children as they come home to His arms of love in the upper City ; but, even here, “ great is the peace of His children!” The best and greatest blessing which can be brought to you here is this peace which is born of faith in the gracious purposes of the Almighty Love. And when the last great change shall transform heaven and earth into the eternal home of the redeemed, may we find the gates of pearl open for our entrance; our eyes look upon the glory of the Great White Throne; our ears be filled with the perfect melody of the celestial choirs; our whole being be perfectly satisfied with the changeless glories of that “City whose Builder and Maker is God."
F. E. LAWRENCE, D.D.