Page images

branch that lies withering in their shade. But sympathy pervades the body and its members. Touch my finger roughly, and the whole body feels it; wound this foot, and the pang, thrilling through my frame, shoots upward to the head; let the heart, or the head, or even a tooth ache, and all the system suffers disorder. With what tenderness is a diseased member touched ! What anxious efforts do we make to save a limb! With what slow reluctance have I seen a wasted patient, after months or even long years of suffering, consent to the last remedy, the surgeon's knife! What holy lessons of love, charity, sympathy, does Christ therefore teach us by the figure of my text! We have differences; but do these form any reason why we should not love each other, give and forgive, bear and forbear, suffer and sympathise, one with another; and agreeing to differ, walk together as far as we are agreed? Let us keep " the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” These differences are like our dark cold shadows, that, little at noon, grow larger as night approaches, assuming a gigantic size when the sun creeps along the horizon of a winter sky, or hangs low at his rise or setting. Sun of Righteousness ! rise higher and higher over us, till in thy light and love the church enjoys the full blaze of thy meridian beams, and these shadows all but vanish! For this blessed end, God of love, pour out thy Spirit more affluently on the churches ! Then shall the brethren dwell together in unity, and the world say, as it said in the days of old, See how these Christians love one another!



He is the head of the body, the Church.-COLOSSIANS I. 18.


OD “is not the author of confusion.” So in the

beginning he established a harmony on earth as perfect as that of heaven. Nothing was out of tune, nor was there a jarring note in all creation. But how many and great discordances have the devil and sin introduced ? Can any man, who looks abroad on the world, shut his eyes to the fact that much is out of order, that many things are out of joint, and that we do not always find, to use a common saying, the right man in the right place? Sceptres fall from the strong grasp of great men into feeble hands. The sweat of labour stands on begrimed and dusty brows that are fitted to wear a coronet or a

He ploughs the rugged soil, who has a hand to guide the helm of church or state. Men sit in the pews, that have piety and talents to adorn the pulpit. Money flows in on those who, unlike the lake that gives as it gets, have no generous outgoings that correspond to their income; like water in foul stagnation, or wasted on a bed of sand, what is lost to others is no true gain to them. Poverty, on the other hand, though not the



curse, is the cross of many a liberal soul. Many people in the world have the power to bless others, but are eaten up by their own wretched selfishness; while others have the will to do good, but lack the power. So many things are discordant, so different from what they should be, and but for sin had been, that religion only can reconcile a man to the world, and enable him, from circumstances which embitter and exasperate the spirit of the ungodly, to draw lessons of faith and patience. Yielding neither to envy nor to covetousness, a good man bows to the will of Providence. Using no violence to set wrong things right, he waits the advent of a better world, having " learned, in whatsoever state he is, therewith to be content.”

Among other anomalies, we see that the moral and physical properties of men are often out of keeping. I have found a kind, gentle, and most loving heart under a rough exterior, reminding me of the milk and meat stored up within the cocoa-nut's dry, hard, husky shell. On the other hand, look at Absalom! What winning manners, what grace and beauty, how much of all that in form and features pleases the eye and ministers to the pride of life, are united in that man to the greatest moral baseness! as if God would show us in how little esteem he holds what he threw away on so bad a man ; as if he intended to rebuke the silly vanity which worships at a mirror, and feeds on charms that shall feed the worms of the grave. Nor is his the only case where a fair form has lodged a foul heart, and crimes of treachery and murder have stained the hands of beauty.

Again, we often see that the mental does not correspond with the corporeal development. The finest genius has not seldom been enshrined in a poor crazy casket; or in a coarse one, like a pearl within its rough sea-shell. Little men have done mighty things. The boldest daring has been united with a puny presence ; and how did that great emperor, who in our days aspiredto be another Alexander, illustrate the poet's words,

"The mighty soul how small a body holds."

of men.

On the other hand it was, at least in some respects, a weak head that stood on the broad shoulders of Samson ! Whom the Philistines could not subdue, a woman conquered, binding with her charms one whom they could not bind with their chains. He fell before the influence that in Solomon's case made the wisest the most foolish

God says, In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; yet see how Samson walks straight in, snared by a cunning transparent to all eyes but his own, Enslaved by animal passions, asleep in Delilah's traitorous lap, a fettered captive in the hands of the Philistines, there he lies, a great lion in the hunter's net; reminding us, by way of contrast, of the words, “ Wisdom is better than strength; wisdom is better than weapons of war.”

An example also of discordancy, but with mind towering aloft over matter, what a noble contrast does Paul present to Samson! There is nothing in the outward man to attract the gazer's eye. According to ancient tradition, he was a poor, mean-looking figure. His presence, said his enemies, is weak, and his speech contemptible. But put his parchments before him, put a pen in his hand, and, higher than the bird ever flew from whose wing it dropped, he soars away into a heaven of thought, or, coming down with an eagle's swoop, descends further than any man before or since into the deepest depths of gospel mysteries. Or, give him liberty of speech ; place him on Mars' Hill to expound his despised faith, or let him stand on his defence at the bar of kings, like a lion at bay. Indifference gives place to interest, contempt changes into admiration, the audience is hushed, and, amid breathless silence, he sways the multitude with a master's hand, his puny form seeming to rise to a giant's stature. He seizes error, and rends it as Samson rent the lion; he lays these arms of his on the colossal pillars of Time's oldest superstitions, shakes the hoary fabric, and pulls it down into the dust, burying gods and goddesses in one common ruin.

The casket affords no test by which to estimate the value of the jewel. The boards and binding of a book suggest no idea of the brilliant thoughts that are scattered, like stars, over its pages. So, in this discordant state, you cannot judge the inner by the outer man, the head or the heart by the body which they rule and animate. That observation applies to the most sacred things. The church of Christ herself presents the greatest of anomalies. And it would do our Lord the greatest injustice, if, overlooking that fact, we were to judge the head by its body, and argue from what Christians are, what Christ himself must be.

« PreviousContinue »