« PreviousContinue »
foaming crest, and throw itself thundering on the trembling shore, did you ever fancy that you could stay its course, and hurl it back into the depths of ocean? Did you ever stand beneath the leaden, lowering cloud, and mark the lightning's leap, as it shot and flashed, dazzling, athwart the gloom, and think that you could grasp the bolt and change its path? Still more foolish and vain his thought, who fancies that he can arrest or turn aside the purposes of God, saying, What is the Almighty that we should serve him? Let us break his bands in sunder, and cast away his cords from us. Break his bands asunder! How he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh! Poor, beguiled, benighted sinner, do you suppose, that in the full swing and unbridled license of your passions you are serving yourself, are your own free master? Be assured that it is not otherwise with you than it was with Pilate, and the chief priests, and the Jews, and Judas also. Unconscious of the high hand that controlled their movements, these enemies of God were gathered together to do that which, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, was appointed to be done.
Do you, for instance, injure a godly man? God is using you to train up his child in the grace of patience. Do you defraud him? God is using you to detach his heart from the world, and to loosen the roots that bind his affections to the earth. Do you deceive him? God is using you to teach him not to put his trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. Do you wound his feelings? You are a knife in God's hand to let the sap flow more freely in a bark-bound tree, or to prune its branches that it may bring forth more fruit. Messenger of Satan! dost thou buffet an apostle? God uses thee to keep him humble, and to
teach him to wear his honors meekly. Oppressor of the church! dost thou cast an apostle into prison ? God uses thee, thy dungeon, and thy chains, to show how he will answer prayer, and bring his people eventually out of their sorest troubles,—saving, as he saved Peter, at the very uttermost. King of Egypt! with thy guards around thee, flattered by thy supple courtiers, backed by thy boastful magicians, with thy haughty looks art thou thwarting God, and, in hardening thy heart and refusing to let Israel go, promoting and securing thine own ambitious, selfish, grasping ends? Fool! what a mistake! In very deed, said the Lord by Moses, for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. Pharaoh's obstinacy affords the occasion, of which God makes use, to turn a great kingdom into a stage whereon to display the majesty of his power. What must have been the surprise, what the rage, what the mortification of that imperious tyrant, to find himself, after all that he and his bleeding country had suffered, but a mere tool in the hands of the Hebrew's God! God took a revenue of glory out of him, as he will sooner or later do out of all his enemies.
No man liveth for himself. There is a sense in which that is universally true. And the most bold and God-hating sinners may rest assured that when the complicated machine of providence has done its work, and the secret purposes of God are fully completed, and things old and worn out are replaced by a new heaven and a new earth, then it shall be seen how the Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Oh that men would turn now and seek his mercy--his gracious, muchneeded, freely-offered, all-sufficient, soul-saving mercy. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way. Why, when God is willing to forgive and forget, why, when he has sent his Son to seek you, and sends his Spirit to plead with you, why should you per ish? Reject salvation, and you must perish. For, though unbelievers and the wicked are after a fashion serving God, it is as the rod which a kind father reluctantly uses to chasten his son, and which, when it has answered its purpose, he breaks in two, and casts into the fire.
IV. Since Christ hath made all things for himself his people are emphatically called to consecrate themselves, and their all, to his glory.
To this duty you are called, by the obligations of both a natural and spiritual creation ; by your descent from the first, and also from the second Adam. To live, to watch, to work, to suffer, and to sacrifice both for Him who, loving us, spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, and for Him also who, loving us, washed us from our sins in his own blood, is our plain bounden duty ; let me rather say, for duty is a cold word, should be our daily and supreme delight. I do not say that it is plain sailing to heaven. I do not say but that the duty we owe to Christ may and shall expose us to what the world accounts and what flesh and blood feel, to be pain ? Be it so! What pains Jesus endured, what sacrifices he submitted to for us!
Besides, how should it make us take suffering joyfully to think that it is those who are crucified with him on earth that shall be crowned with him in heaven. None else. They win in this game that lose. They live in this warfare that die. If we be dead with
him, we shall also live with him ; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him. He that loseth his life shall find it.
Surely, if there be such things as true, tender, sacred, eternal obligations, they bind those who, to speak the plain truth, but for Christ had been suffering hell's intolerable torment, had never even hoped to set foot in heaven. What owest thou thy Lord? You cannot tell that. Therefore be your money millions or mites, be your talents ten or two, be your hearts young and green, or seared and withered, lay them at a Saviour's feet. Let his glory be your glorious aim! Raised far above the common objects and base pursuits of the world, this is an end worth living for. A life such as that, elevating and ennobling the humblest lot, shall command the regards, and fix on a man the gaze of angels. Lofty ends give dignity to the lowest offices. It is, for instance, an honest, but you would not call it an honorable occupation, to pull an oar; yet if that oar dips in a yeasty sea to impel the life-boat over mountain waves and through roaring breakers, he who has stripped for the venture, and, breaking away from weeping wife and praying mother and clinging children, has bravely thrown himself into the boat to pull for yonder wreck, and pluck his drowning brothers from the jaws of death, presents, as from time to time we catch a glimpse of him on the crest of the foaming billow, a spectacle of grandeur which would withdraw our eyes from the presence even of a queen, surrounded with all the blaze and glittering pomp of royalty.
Take another illustration, drawn from yet humbler life. Some years ago, on a winter morning, two children were found frozen to death. They were sisters. The elder child had the younger seated in her lap, closely folded within her lifeless arms. She had
stripped her own thinly-clad form to protect its feebler life, and, to warm the icy fingers, had tenderly placed its little hands in her own bosom ; and pitying men and weeping women did stand and gaze on the two dead creatures, as, with glassy eyes and stiffened forms, they reclined upon the snow wreath—the days of their wandering and mourning ended, and heaven's own pure snow no purer than that true sister's love. They were orphans; houseless, homeless beggars. But not on that account, had I been there to gaze on that touching group, would I have shed one tear the less, or felt the less deeply, that it was a display of true love, and of human nature in its least fallen aspect, which deserved to be embalmed in poetry, and sculptured in costliest marble.
Yes; and however humble the Christian's walk, or mean his occupation, it matters not. He who lives for the glory of God, has an end in view which lends dignity to the man and to his life. Bring common iron into proper contact with the magnet, it will borrow the strange attractive virtue, and itself become magnetic. The merest crystal fragment, that has been flung out into the field and trampled on the ground, shines like a diamond when sunbeams stoop to kiss it. And who has not seen the dullest rain-cloud, when it turned its weeping face to the sun, change into glory, and, in the bow that spans it, present to the eyes of age and infancy, alike of the philosopher who studies, and of the simple joyous child who runs to catch it, the most brilliant and beautiful phenomenon in nature? Thus, from what they look at and come in contact with, common things acquire uncommon glory.
Live, then,“ looking unto Jesus,” live for nothing less and nothing lower than God's glory; and these