Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

vigor of mind and body, your power of enjoyment, or your experience of kindness, or your principles of judgment, or your instincts of affection? Who took away from you that friend for whom you are now mourning—that parent, that brother, that sister, that wife, that child? Yes, we may forget it, or we may fret under it, but in the hands of a providence we all are; we are utterly powerless in that grasp: and whether we will believe it or no, that power is a voice too-a call from God without, even as conscience is His voice and His call within.

Once more, God calls from above also-in revelation. My friend, believest thou the Scriptures? I know that thou believest.

? Your presence here seems to say that you do. And yet in this multitude how many must there be who do not in their hearts believe! Let me rather say, who do not in their lives believe; for in your hearts I think you

do: : sure I am that there are some parts of the Bible which you cannot read and disbelieve; of course you may leave them unread, that is always possible easier than to read them—but I do not think you can read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, for example, in the Old Testament, and I do not think you can read one chapter of St. John's Gospel in the New Testament, and shut the book, saying, "There is nothing in it." I suspect that is why we so often leave the Bible

unread—just because we believe it; we feel, when we do read it, that it is God's voice, and we do not want to hear that voice. The Bible is more its own witness than we like oftentimes to admit

"Who that has felt its glance of dread

Thrill through his heart's remotest cells,
About his path, about his bed,

Can doubt what spirit in it dwells?”

[ocr errors]

:

God speaks; and speaks to us to each of us and to all of us; and speaks, chiefly in three ways—in conscience, in providence, in revelation, and now, fourthly, what is His call? How is it here briefly exprest! It might have been put, it is put in the Bible, in different forms but how is it here exprest? “The Lord called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” This is a call, first, to attention. As tho God had said, Listen to Me. That is the first step in all religion. What we want first is a spirit of attention. It is the great art of our enemy to keep our thoughts off religion. That is the meaning of the overwhelming cares of life. The devil would occupy our whole time and thoughts with something which is not, and has nothing (as he persuades us) to do with God. That is the meaning of the excessive amusements of life. The cares of life are not enough to engross the attention of all men always; and therefore the enemy provides something which shall alternate with them for some men, and take the place of them for others. It is this art which God, in His mercy, in His long-suffering, in His desire that we should not perish, has to counteract by His divine skill. He takes a man aside now and then, from time to time_blest be His name for it!-and makes him listen. He interposes by some chastisement, some sickness, some bereavement, and constrains him to hearken to what He, the Lord God, has to say concerning him and to him. This is the first point gained. Behold, he listens! better still, Behold, he prayeth! It is a call, next, to the recognition of God's being, and of our responsibility to Him. “Where art thou?" It is as if He had said, I am, and thou art Mine. As if He has said, I have a right to know about thee, and thou canst not evade Me. As if He had said, I am about, now, to enter into judgment with thee: give an account of thy stewardship. Yes, my brethren, it is an awful moment, when a man first becomes distinctly conscious that God is, and is something to him. He may have talked of God before: he may have fancied that he knew all about Him: he may even have prayed before, and confest himself before, and asked grace and help before: but now, for the first time, he sees how much more there is in all this than he has yet dreamed of; and the only words which he can find at all to express his new feeling, are those of the patriarch of old

[ocr errors]

-"I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

It is a call, once more, and yet more particularly, to reflect upon our place or our position. I know not how else to express the force of the inquiry, “Where art thou?” It may be read literally-of place. May not some one of those here assembled have been, ere now, perhaps often, perhaps quite recently, in some place in which the question, “Where art thou?" would have had a startling and condemning sound !-some place where he was sinning? some place where he had gone to sin ? some place where he would not for the world have been seen by any human eye, and where he gladly forgot that there was yet one eye which did see him! Oh, if God stood this night upon earth, and called aloud to the "Adam" of this generation to the men and women who form now the sum of the living human creation; if He should call them suddenly from the east and from the west to avow exactly where they were, and to come forth from that place as they were, without an instant allowed them to cover up and disguise themselves; oh, what a revelation would it be of action and of character! Oh, who might abide the scrutiny of that question ? Oh, who could stand when that inquirer appeared? But, even if the literal local question could be well answered, there would remain yet another behind applicable to all men. “Where art thou ?” is an inquiry as to position no less than place. It says, “What is thy present place as a man with a soul, as an immortal being! What is thy present standing, thy present state? Art thou safe? Art thou happy! Art thou useful? Art thou doing the work I gave thee to do? Is it well with thee in the present? Is it well with thee in the future? Say not, I can not answer, I know not. I have taught thee how to judge of thyself; now therefore advise, and see what answer thou wilt return to Him that made

thee."

My brethren, I propose, in the last place, that we all answer this question. It is a very serious thing to do; and it is what no man can do for his brother. Each one of us has one secret place, one sanctuary within the veil, into which, not even once a year, not even in the character of a high priest, can earthly foot ever enter. Yet in that secret place shines forth the light of God's presence; a light never put out altogether in any man, so far at least as its disclosing and revealing character is concerned, until sin and perverseness have done their perfect work, and the awful words are at length fulfilled, "If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” At present, we will humbly hope, that this last ruin has not been wrought in any

6

« PoprzedniaDalej »