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With what perfect and entire confidingness did Jesus commit Himself to his Heavenly Father's guidance! He loved to call Him, "My Father!" There was music in that name, which enabled Him to face the most trying hour, and to drink the most bitter cup. The scoffing taunt arose at the scene of crucifixion: "He trusted in G.o.d that He would deliver Him, let Him deliver Him!" It failed to shake, for one moment, His unswerving confidence, even when the sensible tokens of the Divine presence were withdrawn; the realized consciousness of G.o.d's abiding love sustained Him still: "My G.o.d! my G.o.d!"
How many a perplexity should we save ourselves by thus implicitly "committing ourselves," as He did, to G.o.d! In seasons of darkness and trouble--when our way is shut up with thorns, to lift the confiding eye of faith to Him, and say, "I am oppressed, undertake for me!" How blessed to feel that He directs all that befalls us; that no contingencies can frustrate His plans; that the way he leads us is not only _a_ "right way," but, with all its briers and thorns--_its_ tears and trials--it is _the_ right way!
The result of such an habitual staying ourselves on the Lord will be a deep, abiding _peace_; any ripple will only be on the surface--no more.
It is the _bosom_ of the ocean alone which the storm ruffles; all beneath is a serene, settled calm. So "Thou wilt keep him, oh G.o.d, in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on _Thee_!"
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." I shall be content alike with what He appoints or withholds. I _can not_ wrong that love with one shadow of suspicion! I have His own plighted promise of unchanging faithfulness, that "all things work together for good to them that love Him!" Often there are earthly sorrows hard to bear;--the unkind accusation, when it was least merited or expected; the estrangement of tried and trusted friends, the failure of cherished hopes, favorite schemes broken up, plans of usefulness demolished, the gourd breeding its own worm and withering. "Commit thy cause and thy way to G.o.d!" We little know what tenderness there is in the blast of the rough wind; what "needs be" are folded under the wings of the storm! "All is well,"
because _all_ is from _Him_. "Events are G.o.d's," says Rutherford; "let Him sit at His own helm, that moderateth all."
Christian! look back on your checkered path. How wondrously has He threaded you through the mazy way--disappointing your fears, realizing your hopes! Are evils looming through the mists of the future? Do not antic.i.p.ate the trials of to-morrow, to aggravate those of to-day. Leave the morrow with Him, who has promised, by "casting all your care on Him, to care for you." No affliction will be sent greater than you can bear.
His voice will be heard stealing from the bosom of the threatening cloud, "Be still, and know that I am G.o.d!"
"_My Father!_" With such a word, you can stretch out your neck for any yoke; as with Israel of old, He will make those very waves that may now be so threatening, a fenced wall on every side! "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." "In _all_ thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths!"
"ARM YOURSELVES LIKEWISE WITH THE SAME MIND."
LOVE OF UNITY.
"That they all may be one."--John, xvii. 21.
Surely there is nothing for which Christian churches have such cause to hang their harps on the willows, as the extent to which the s.h.i.+bboleth of party is heard in the camp of the faithful--sectarianism rearing its "untempered walls" within the Temple gates!
How different "the mind of Jesus!" Sent "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," He was never found disowning "_other_ sheep not of that fold." "Them also will I bring," was an a.s.sertion continually ill.u.s.trated by His deeds. Take one example: The woman of Samaria revealed what, alas! is too common in the world--a total absence of all real religion, along with an ardent zeal for her sect. She was living in open sin; yet she was all alive to the nice distinction between a Jew and a Samaritan--between Mount Gerizim and Mount Zion: "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?" Did Jesus sanction or reciprocate her sectarianism?--did He leave her bigotry unrebuked? Hear His reply--"If thou knewest the gift of G.o.d, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of _Him_, and _He_ would have given thee!" _He_ would have allowed no such narrow-minded exclusiveness to have interfered with the interchange of kindly civilities with a stranger. Nay, He would have given thee, better than all, the "living water" which "springeth up to everlasting life!"
How sad, that when the enemy is "coming in like a flood"--the ranks of Popery and infidelity linked in fatal and formidable confederacy--that the soldiers of Christ are forced to meet the a.s.sault with standards soiled and mutilated by internal feuds! "Uniformity" there _may_ not be, but "unity," in the true sense of the word, there _ought_ to be. We may be clad in different livery, but let us stand side by side, and rank by rank, fighting the battles of our Lord. We may be different branches of the seven golden candlesticks, varying and diversified in outward form and workmans.h.i.+p; but let us combine in "showing forth the praises of Him" who recognizes, as the one true "churchmans.h.i.+p," fidelity in s.h.i.+ning for His glory "as lights in the world." How can we read the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians, and then think of our divisions? "How miserable," says Edward Bickersteth, "would an hospital be, if each patient were to be so offended with his neighbor's disease, as to differ with him on account of it, instead of trying to alleviate it!"
Ah! if we had more real communion with our Saviour, should we not have more real communion with one another? If Christians would dip their arrows more in "the balm of Gilead," would there not be fewer wounds in the body of Christ? "How that word '_toleration_' is used amongst us,"
said one who drank deeper than most, of his Master's spirit--"how we _tolerate_ one another--Dissenters _tolerate_ Churchmen, and Churchmen _tolerate_ Dissenters! Oh! hateful word! TOLERATE one for whom _Jesus_ died! _Tolerate_ one whom He bears upon His heart! _Tolerate_ a temple of the living G.o.d! Oh! there ought to be _that_ in the word which should make us feel _ashamed_ before G.o.d!"
"ARM YOURSELVES LIKEWISE WITH THE SAME MIND."
NOT OF THE WORLD.
"I am not of the world."--John, xvii. 14.
In one sense it was _not_ so. Jesus did not seek to maintain His holiness intact and unspotted by avoiding contact with the world. He mingled familiarly in its busy crowds. He frowned on none of its innocent enjoyments; He fostered, by His example, no love of seclusion; He gave no warrant or encouragement to mortified pride, or disappointed hopes, to rush from its duties; yet, with all this, what a halo of heavenliness encircled His pathway through it! "I am from above," was breathed in His every look, and word, and action, from the time when He lay in the slumbers of guileless infancy in His Bethlehem cradle, until He said, "I leave the world, and go to my Father!" He had moved uncontaminated through its varied scenes, like the sunbeam, which, whatever it touches, remains as unsullied, as when it issues from its great fountain.
But though Himself in His sinless nature "unconquerable" by temptation--immutably secure from the world's malignant influences, it is all worthy of note, as an example to us, that He never unnecessarily braved these. He knew the seducing spell that same world would exercise on His people, of whom, with touching sympathy, He says, "_These_ are in the world!" He knew the _many_ who would be involved and ensnared in its subtle wors.h.i.+p, who, "minding earthly things, would seek to slake their thirst at polluted streams!"
Reader! the great problem you have to solve, Jesus has solved for you--to be "_in_ the world, and yet not _of_ it." To abandon it, would be a dereliction of duty. It would be servants deserting their work; soldiers flying from the battle-field. _Live_ in it, that while you live, the world, may feel the better for you. _Die_, that _when_ you die, the world, the _Church_, may feel your loss, and cherish your example! On its cares and duties, its trusts and responsibilities, its employments and enjoyments, inscribe the motto, "The world pa.s.seth away!" Beware of every thing in it that would tend to deaden spirituality of heart; unfitting the mind for serious thought, lowering the standard of Christian duty, and inducing a perilous conformity to its false manners, habits, tastes, and principles. As the best antidote to the love of the world, let the inner _vacuum_ of the heart be filled with the love of G.o.d. Seek to feel the n.o.bility of your regenerated nature; that you have a n.o.bler heritage to care for than the transitory glories which encircle "an indivisible point, a fugitive atom." How can I mix with the potsherds of the earth? Once, "I lay among the pots;"
now, I am "like a dove, whose wings are covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold!" "Stranger--pilgrim--sojourner" "my _citizens.h.i.+p_ is in heaven!" Why covet tinsel honors and glories? Why be solicitous about the smiles of that which knew not (nay, which frowned on) its Lord? "Paul calls it," says an old writer, "_schema_ (a mathematical figure), which is a mere _notion_, and nothing in substance."--(_Thomas Brooks._)
Live above its corroding cares and anxieties; remembering the description Jesus gives of His own true people; "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world!"
"ARM YOURSELVES LIKEWISE WITH THE SAME MIND."
CALMNESS IN DEATH.
"Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit."--Luke, xxiii. 46.
In the death of Jesus, there were elements of fearfulness, which the believer can know nothing of. It was with Him the execution of a penal sentence. The sins of an elect world were bearing him down! The very voice of His G.o.d was giving the tremendous summons, "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd!" Yet His was a death of _peace_, nay, of _triumph_!
Ere He closed His eyes, light broke through the curtains of thick darkness. In the calm composure of filial confidence He breathed away His soul--"Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!" What was the secret of such tranquillity? This is His own key to it--"I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do."
Reader! will it be so with _you_ at a dying hour? will _your_ "work" be done? Have you already fled to Jesus? Are you reposing in Him as your only Saviour, and following Him as your only pattern? Then--let death overtake you when it may--you will have nothing to do _but to die_! The grave will be irradiated with His presence and smile. He will be standing there as He did by His own tomb of old, pointing to yours, tenanted with angel forms, nay, Himself as the "Precursor," showing you "_the path of life!_" There can be no true peace till the fear of death be conquered by the sense of sin forgiven, through "the blood of the Cross." "Not till then," as one has it, "will you be able to be a quiet spectator of the open grave at the bottom of the hill which you are soon to descend." "The sting of death is _sin_, but thanks be to G.o.d who giveth us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ!"
Seek now to live in the enjoyment of greater filial nearness to your covenant G.o.d; and thus, when the hour of departure _does_ come, you will be able, without irreverence, to take the very words of your dying Lord, and make them your own--"FATHER! into Thy hands I commend my spirit."
FATHER! It is going HOME! the heart of the child leaping at the thought of the paternal roof, and the paternal welcome! "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine!"
It is said of Archbishop Leighton, that he "was always happiest when, from the shaking of the prison-doors, he was led to hope that some of those brisk blasts would throw them open, and give him the release he coveted." Christian! can you dread _that_ which your Saviour has already vanquished? _Death!_ It is as the angel to Peter, breaking the dungeon-doors, and leading to open day; it is going to the world of your birthright, and leaving the one of your exile; "it is the soldier at night-fall, lying down in his tent in peace, waiting the morning to receive his laurels." Oh! to be ever living in a state of holy preparation! the mental eye gazing on the vista-view of an opening Heaven! feeling that _every moment_ is bringing us nearer and nearer that happy _Home_! soon to be within reach of the Heavenly threshold, in sight of the Throne! soon to be bending in adoring rapture with the Church triumphant--bathing in floods of infinite glory--"LIKE HIM,"--"seeing HIM _as He is_," and that _for Ever and Ever_!
"AND EVERY MAN THAT HATH THIS HOPE IN HIM PURIFIETH HIMSELF, EVEN AS HE IS PURE!"