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ship sees the last boat-full disengage itself, and folds his arms to go down into the majesty of darkness, crushed, but not subdued.
Such and greater far was the strength and majesty of the Savior's solitariness. It was not the trial of the lonely hermit. There is a certain gentle and pleasing melancholy in the life which is lived alone. But there are the forms of nature to speak to him; and he has not the positive opposition of mankind, if he has the absence of actual sympathy. It is a solemn thing, doubtless, to be apart from men, and to feel eternity rushing by like an arrowy river. But the solitude of Christ was the solitude of a crowd. In that single human bosom dwelt the thought which was to be the germ of the world's life, a thought un. shared, misunderstood, or rejected. Can you not feel the grandeur of those words, when the Man, reposing on His solitary strength, felt the last shadow of perfect isolation pass across His soul :-“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Next, learn from these words self-reliance. "Ye shall leave me alone.” Alone, then, the Son of Man was content to be. He threw Himself on His own solitary thought: did not go down to meet the world; but waited, tho it might be for ages, till the world should come round to Him. He appealed to the future, did not aim at seeming consistent, left His contradictions unexplained : I came from the
Father: I leave the world, and go to the Father. “Now," said they, “Thou speakest no proverb”; that is enigma. But many a hard and enigmatical saying before He had spoken, and He left them all. A thread runs through all true acts, stringing them together into one harmonious chain: but it is not for the Son of God to be anxious to prove their consistency with each other.
This is self-reliance, to repose calmly on the thought which is deepest in our bosoms, and be unmoved if the world will not accept it yet. To live on your own convictions against the world, is to overcome the world—to believe that what is truest in you is true for all: to abide by that, and not be over-anxious to be heard or understood, or sympathized with, certain that at last all must acknowledge the same, and that, while you stand firm, the world will come round to you, that is independence. It is not difficult to get away into retirement, and there live upon your own convictions; nor is it difficult to mix with men, and follow their convictions; but to enter into the world, and there live out firmly and fearlessly according to your own conscience that is Christian greatness.
There is a cowardice in this age which is not Christian. We shrink from the consequences of truth. We look round and cling dependently. We ask what men will think; what others will say; whether they will stare in astonishment. Perhaps they will; but he who is calculating that will accomplish nothing in this life. The Father-the Father which is with us and in us—what does He think? God's work can not be done without a spirit of independence. A man has got some way in the Christian life when he has learned to say humbly, and yet majestically, “I dare to be alone.
Lastly, remark the humility of this loneli. ness. Had the Son of Man simply said, I can be alone, He would have said no more than any proud, self-relying man can say; but when He added, “because the Father is with me, that independence assumed another character, and self-reliance became only another form of reliance upon God. Distinguish between genuine and spurious humility. There is a false humility which says, “It is my own poor thought, and I must not trust it. I must distrust my own reason and judgment, because they are my own. I must not accept the dictates of my own conscience; for is it not my own, and is not trust in self the great fault of our fallen nature?”
Very well. Now, remember something else. There is a Spirit which beareth witness in our spirits; there is a God who “is not far from any one of us"; there is a Light which lighteth every man which cometh into the world." Do not be unnaturally humble. The thought of your own mind perchance is the thought of God. To refuse to follow that may be to disown God. To take the judgment and conscience of other men to live by, where is the humility of that? From whence did their conscience and judgment come? Was the fountain from which they drew exhausted for you? If they refused like you to rely on their own conscience, and you rely upon it, how are you sure that it is more the mind of God than your own which you have refused to hear?
Look at it in another way. The charm of the words of great men-those grand sayings which are recognized as true as soon as heard -is this, that you recognize them as wisdom which passed across your own mind. You feel that they are your own thoughts come back
would not at once admit them: “All that floated across me before, only I could not say it, and did not feel confident enough to assert it, or had not conviction enough to put into words.” Yes, God spoke to you what He did to them: only they believed it, said it, trusted the Word within them, and you did not. Be sure that often when you say, “It is only my own poor thought, and I am alone,” the real correcting thought is this, "Alone, but the Father is with me,"—therefore I can live by that lonely conviction.
There is no danger in this, whatever timid minds may think-no danger of mistake, if the character be a true one. For we are not
in uncertainty in this matter. It has been given us to know our base from our noble hours: to distinguish between the voice which is from above, and that which speaks from below, out of the abyss of our animal and selfish nature. Samuel could distinguish between the impulse quite a human onewhich would have made him select Eliab out of Jesse's sons, and the deeper judgment by which “the Lord said, Look not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature, for I have refused him.” Doubtless deep truth of character is required for this: for the whispering voices get mixed together, and we dare not abide by our own thoughts, because we think them our own, and not God's: and this because we only now and then endeavor to know in earnest. It is only given to the habitually true to know the difference. He knew it, because all His blessed life long He could say, "My judgment is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
The practical result and inference of all this is a very simple, but a very deep one: the deepest of existence. Let life be a life of faith. Do not go timorously about, inquiring what others think, and what others believe, and what others say. It seems the easiest, it is the most difficult thing in life to do this. Believe in God. God is near you.
Throw yourself fearlessly upon Him. Trembling mortal, there