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EDITED BY THE REV. W. HOPE DAVISON. CONTENTS OF THE SEPTEMBER NUMBER
Living Words of Great Preachers.
To the Glory of God. C. Wadsworth. D.D.
Topitał Outlines for the Month.
SUNDAYS AFTER TRINITY-THIRTEENTH TO SIXTEENTH.
Giving and Getting. N. L. Frothingham. D.D.
Themes for Weck Night Services .
No Continuing City. F. E. Lawrence, D.D.
Critical Notes on Difficult Texts.
Isaiah xxvii. 8. ... Isaiah xxviii. 10 Proverbs ix, 7
183 183 183
Isaiah xxvi. 19
Life Lessons in the Arts of the Apostles.
Che Children's Service
The Best Home. Benjamin D. Thomas
Phoenician Influence on the Israelites. Professor 7. L. Porter, D.D., LL.D.
No effort will be spared to maintain the high character of the Magazine, and to adapt it for immediate us in the Preacher's Library. The aim of the Editor will be, as hitherto, to supply suggestive Thoughts : Thinkers–Useful Topics for Preachers and Speakers-Living Seeds which may grow and fructify in to minds and hearts of busy and overburdened men who are set for the proclamation and defence of the Gospel
The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON says “it is first-rate: the best of its class. Such a monthly visitor, must com to lone preachers in rural places as a boon and a blessing.".
“For help direct and indirect, "whether for the Pulpit or Lecture Room, there is no publication to compared with the Preacher's Monthly.”—Theological Quarterly.
". Hard-worked preachers, those often giving out, and with but little opportunity for taking in, will find til serial most helpful. The editor knows what sort of aid such workers want, and provides it liberally as judiciously.”--Christian Age.
“In its several departments it is admirably sustained, presenting much, not only in the way of stimule and practical aid to preachers and others engaged in conducting religious services, and also much in the nature of fresh spiritual instruction to general readers. Altogether, Preachers' Monthly forms an admirabi sixpence-worth." --Aberdeen Daily Free Press.
Of all Booksellers, or of the Publishers, LONDON: BEMROSE & SONS, 23, OLD, BAILEY, E.C. To whom all communications for the Editor and Books for Review
should be addressed.
STUDIES FOR THE PULPIT.
Living Words of Great Preachers.
The Lover of the Good.
Titus i. 9.
“A lover of good men.” The highest affection of which man is capable is the love of God. All religion and all virtue are summed up in the love of God and the love of man. We are apt to forget the energy with which Moses and the Prophets inculcated and commended the love of God upon the Jewish people. “ With all thy soul, and all thy heart, and all thy strength, and all thy mind.” We feel as we read such language, that it can express no transient experiences, but can be suitable only to the permanent principle of religion, and that all revelation and mani. festation of God must be with a view to this attainment.
The great difficulty in the realization of this affection has always been the invisibility of God. A spiritual and infinite being can of course have no parts in any material sense, and no passions as we understand the term. He cannot in His whole being, be visibly or locally revealed, so that men might say “He is altogether here; and not at all there.” He is everywhere. He is always. But this is to us mystery and hindrance. For we are limited in time and in space. We are here and not there. We are now, but unlike God, we do not inhabit to-morrow till to-morrow comes. How then can the finite grasp the Infinite ? How can man see God so as to love Him with heart and soul and strength and mind? Job was a great and deep thinker, as well as a devout man, and he says, forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot behold Him.” In these early times especially, men were in this difficulty-the eternal difficulty of perceiving a spiritual being—and yet they were forbidden, in the strongest and most authoritative way, to make any visible or material similitude to help them. It would indeed have been no help, but only a further hindrance. The divine answer to all such questionings, the divine solution of this problem was Jesus Christ. God in the person of His Son is made flesh, and dwells among us ; and illuminated eyes, and waiting hearts have seen His glory—“the glory as of
Vol. I., OCTOBER, 1884.
the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” But strangely, as some would say, Jesus Christ does not come among men to stay. He comes that He may go. He appears that He may vanish—and soon again, the world is without any similitude of God. There is not even a poor picture left among men, on which they can look with reverent regard. It is as if God had expressly arranged it in His providence, that Jesus Christ should leave nothing in this world but His moral resemblance in His people ; nothing but the memory of His divine life; and that God judged it better for men to see permanently no physical similitude-better that He who came to save the world, should leave it in visible presence, when His work was done.
It comes to this, that the visible thing, the most like God in this world is “a good man." This is Christ. He tells us, again and again, to see Himself in His followers. He tells us to find, and relieve, and nourish Himself in His poor.
But who are "good men ?" How must we distinguish them from others who are not good ? We cannot answer these questions with any exactness, the forms and aspects of individual goodness being happily very various. Yet, on the other hand, it is not difficult to fix on certain qualities and attributes which are characteristic of goodness in every man. There are certain things which belong to goodness in this world, and which cannot well be separated from it. Such things as these :
1. A good man is always deeply sensible of the opposite of goodness, of moral evil in himself and in the world around him. A good man does not always feel himself to be good-very much the reverse indeed, in some states of his consciousness. The inner cry of his heart often is, “O wretched man that I am," “When I would do good, evil is present with me!” It is present, but not allowed; hated rather, mourned over, repented of, put away in purpose. The goodness of the man is shewn in this internal preference-a preference of which, in the first instance, only the man himself is conscious, but which is certain to become apparent to others. For, be sure of this, that what we most deeply regard in our own hearts, cannot be permanently hidden from others. Exactly so it is with regard to evil in the world around him, that is, the evil that is in other men. A good man cannot look upon evil with favour or allowance; the instinct that is within him will put him in a moment in moral opposition to the evil that is in the world. Goodness has a quality in it of moral integrity, which is not capable of being silenced, bribed, worn down, or carried away. On all moral questions, within his knowledge, conscience is supreme. Conscience says, with Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me, God !" The worldly sentiment and conduct in such a matter is very different. The world's way is a way of universal conciliation, and compliance, and apology. Virtue and goodness are regarded there as relative terms, and are not held to possess essential unchanging substance. Circumstances alter not only cases, but principles. Temptations, if they are very strong, modify even the moral laws; and men say, we can do no other.” What is convenient, or what is possible, is put in the place of what is right. But the good man stand firm and true to his perceptions. These may not always be in exact accord with the perfect truth. His conscience may need enlightenment, but to accept its dictates, and carry out its mandates, and stand by its testimony, that is essential. He who is thus faithful is, so far, a good man.
2. A good man, while standing in direct moral opposition to evil, will, at the same time, be pitiful and compassionate towards the subjects of it. He will be like God in this. God hates evil. God pities those who are caught in its toils, and who suffer its penalties, and are loaded with its curse. He pities them and comes to save them.
3. A good man is humble, modest, moderate in his own esteem. He has the sense of his frailty, of his sin, and all the limitations of his nature, and the sorrows and troubles of this earthly life, to keep him humble. A proud man is foolish, in the deepest sense, and ignorant. For there is nothing in real fact to justify his pride. It is a baseless, senseless thing, of which a really good man must be ashamed. Few points of practical goodness are more commended in Scripture than humility, and nothing is more unsparingly condemned there than pride. God regards pride and the proud with a sentiment of peculiar aversion. He rolls against pride the thunders of His providence, and smites it with the lightnings of heaven. He represents Himself as coming in His own person against the proud, who defy His authority, and challenge His throne.
“ He resisteth the proud”-sets Himself in battle-array against them—"but giveth grace to the lowly.” Grace is easily given-can only be given to the receptive, to the expectant, who will receive it as grace, and thank the Giver. We can see how necessary, and how beautiful a part of goodness is humility, since it opens the whole nature to God, the One who is good.
4. A good man is one who does good. As the righteous man is one who doeth righteousness; as the merciful man is one who “sheweth mercy," and the generous man one who gives at some self-sacrifice; so in a larger sense, the good man is one who does good, as he has opportunity, at his own cost, with some intelligent purpose for the benefit of his fellow-men ; who does good from a grateful sense of the great goodness of God to him ; does good from a real love of the action, and a love of the people to whom he does it; -who, in one word, is like God Himself, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not
_“ who sends His rain on the just, and on the unjust.” A good man is one, in short, who has the active and passive virtues more or less in exercise. They are not in perfect exercise; some of them may be scarcely in sight at all, but he is inclined to all virtue, and set, in the temper of his mind, against all evil. He is true, upright, faithful; humble, generous, hopeful; ready for such service as he can render-a follower and servant of Jesus Christ, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; a child of his Father in Heaven.
5. There is on the whole, not much difficulty in distinguishing such a from a man who is not good—who is not true, who is not faithful; who is not generous, nor humble, nor helpful ; who has no likeness to Christ, who is not morally a child of God. The difficulty is greater when we come to compare this real Christian goodness with some of the more promising types of natural amiability. We do not call such goodness counterfeit, that would be a hard word to apply to some men, who although not religious, are in no sense hypocritical. Happily, for our present purpose, we do not need to distinguish too minutely. We are not judges of the inner character of men. It would not be true teaching to say of such men, who are not religious, but who have many excellent qualities; who are in fact in the ordinary sense, good men, that they are to be avoided; and it would be very ineffectual teaching. We instinctively like them for what is good in them, and we trust them, and cannot help it,
and we ought not to try to do otherwise. When there comes before me a bright, sunny, help-giving, hope-inspiring man, who has a song for the happy, and a sigh for the sad, and a gift for the needy; a hand for the burden, and an eye for the task; how do I regard him ? I may tell him, if opportunity serves, that natural virtue is precarious and superficial, and that it behoves him, as it does all of us, to put no trust in our own goodness before God, and to seek the mercy and the forgiveness which we all so deeply need, and the deeper rooting which grace will give to the virtues and beauty of natural character-all this I am to tell him if I can; but I must love him for what he is. Some men are made to be loved. They are so kind, so bright, so helpful, so full of sympathy, and they carry all this, somehow, so much in their temper, and in the whole habit of their life, and even often on their very countenances, that they make their way at once, wherever they wish to be. These men do not stand and knock at the doors of human hearts; the doors fly open at their coming, and they walk into the inner rooms. And we, in bidding them welcome—what are we doing but fulfilling the injunction of the Apostle, and proving ourselves “ lovers of good men”? Good they are to us, on the grounds on which we receive them. We are not the judges of what lies deep within. After all, some of them may be good and true in the deepest and most essential sense; many of them may be good up to the point of their knowledge—"He that doeth righteousness is righteous." He that doeth good is good; and without any fear we may be “ lovers of " such good men.
6. If we love good men, we shall observe them thoughtfully, we shall look at their spirit and character, their aims and their purposes in life. Love will soon die, love of any kind, unless it be fed by thought, and kindled anew by remembrance. “ Therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan.” “When I remember these things”—the privileges and joys of bygone days—"I pour out my soul in me;" in distress and apprehension, lest they should never be renewed, and yet in fervent hope that they may; that I shall again ascend the hill of Zion, and sing at her feasts, among the bands of the faithful and the good.
7. If we love good men, we shall associate with them. They will be our hearts' aristocracy, the very uppermost circle of life to us, our joy and crown." By such association we shall get social and spiritual advantages that could not otherwise come to us. What do men expect when they press forward towards certain places in life? They expect to get some acknowledged standing; to get opportunity of promotion ; to get introduction to the great; to see the best manners, and the most refined behaviour; to be in short, within a kind of charmed circle, where it will be pleasure even more than advantage to move. Such expectations may or may not be realized in the higher society of the world, but in association with good men, the excellent of the earth, we shall assuredly find a truer advancement and benefits higher far, because they are spiritual. We thus enter the truly charmed circle, in which the charm is grace; in which the manners are virtues; in which the air is peace; in which there is no advancement, but by merit; and in which merit seems advancement without fail. The associates are all worthy in that fellowship, and there are there sometimes unseen visitors, honorary members, as we may say, called “angels,” who keep the ways open to the higher spheres; who bring down waftings of the celestial fragrance, and notes of the celestial music to cast