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trembling, timid one bear herself? Hand to hand, Christian met his enemy in the valley, and so smote Apollyon with the sword of the Spirit, that he spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away; yet where that bold believer was in deep waters, and all but perished, this daughter of many fears found the river shallow. She beheld the opposite shore all lined with shining angels, and passed with a song from earth to heaven. The sun, who has struggled through clouds all day long, often breaks forth into golden splendor at his setting ; and not seldom, also, have the hopes that never brightened life broken forth to gild the departing hour. The fears that hung over the journey have vanished at its close. The voice, that never spoke with confidence before, has raised the shout of victory in “the valley of the shadow of death.” To the wonder of men and the glory of God, the tongue of the dumb has been unloosed—what gracious things they have said and the blind have got their sight—what views of heaven they have had 1 and he, who seemed all his life but a babe in Christ, has started up, like a giant and a strong man armed, to grapple with the last enemy. Standing in the light of life's declining day—with Satan, and the world, and the flesh, and Death himself beneath his feet, he spends his last breath in the triumphant shout, “O death, where is thy sting 2 O grave, where is thy victory 2” “Thanks be to God, which giveth me the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ.” And thus God fulfils the promise, “It shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.”
INSIDE those iron gratings that protect the ancient regalia of our kingdom, vulgar curiosity sees nothing but a display of jewels. Its stupid eyes are dazzled by the gems that stud the crown, and sword, and sceptre. The unreflecting multitude fix their thoughts and waste their admiration on these. They go away to talk of their beauty, perhaps to covet their possession ; nor do they estimate the value of the crown but by the price which its pearls, and rubies, and diamonds, might fetch in the market.
The eye of a patriot, gazing thoughtfully in on these relics of former days, is all but blind to what attracts the gaping crowd. His admiration is reserved for other and nobler objects. He looks with deep and meditative interest on that rim of gold, not for its intrinsic value, but because it once encircled the brow of Scotland's greatest king-the hero of her independence, Robert the Bruce. His fancy may for a moment turn to the festive scenes in yonder deserted palace, when that crown flashed amid a gay throng of princes, and nobles, and knights, and statesmen, and lords, and ladies, all now mouldered into dust; but she soon wings her flight to the worthier and more stirring spectacles which history has associated with these symbols of power. She sees a nation up in arms for its independence, and watches with kindling eye the varying fortunes of the fight. It rages around these insignia. Now, she hears the shout of Bannockburn ; and now, the long wail of Flodden. The events of centuries, passed in weary war, roll by before her. The red flames burst from lonely fortalice and busy town ; the smiling vale, with its happy homesteads, lies desolate; scaffolds reek with the blood of patriots; courage grapples with despair; beaten men on freedom's bloody field renew the fight; and, as the long, hard struggle closes, the kingdom stands up like one of its own rugged mountains, the storms that expended their violence on its head, have left it ravaged, and seamed, and shattered, but not moved from its place. It is the interests that were at stake, the fight for liberty, the good blood shed, the hard struggles endured for its possession ; it is these, not the jewels, which in a patriot's eye make that a costly crown—a relic of the olden time, worthy of a nation's pride and jealous preservation. Regarded in some such light, estimated by the sufferings endured for it, how great the value of that crown which Jesus wears l What a kingdom that which cost God his Son, and cost that Son his life It is to that kingdom that we have now to direct your attention ; and for this purpose, let us consider—
I. The importance which Christ himself attaches to his kingly claims.
There are crowns worn by living monarchs, of which it would be difficult to estimate the value. The price paid for their jewels is the least part of it. They cost thousands of lives, and rivers of human blood ; yet in
his esteem, and surely in ours also, Christ's crown outweighs them all. He gave his life for it; and alone, of all monarchs, he was crowned at his coronation by the hands of Death. Others cease to be kings when they die. By dying he became a king. He laid his head in the dust that he might become “head over all ;” he entered his kingdom through the gates of the grave, and ascended the throne of the universe by the steps of a cross. The connection between our Lord's sufferings and kingly claims marks some of the most touching scenes of his history. In what character did his people reject him 2 It was as a king; they cried “We will not have this man to reign over us.” In what guise did the soldiers ridicule and revile him 2 It was as a king ; “they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head.” For what crime was he crucified ? It was because he claimed to be a king. The noble character of the sufferer shone through the meanest circumstances of his death, and was read in the inscription that stood above his dying head, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” His royal claims have been lightly thought of, and often trampled beneath the heavy foot of power. Men have dared to treat them with scorn. Yet he, who is surely the best judge of their importance and value, has himself taught us a very different lesson ; and in proof of that, let us now turn to two separate occasions on which our Lord refused to abate one iota of these claims—maintaining them under circumstances of the strongest temptation to do otherwise. Turn your eye on that desert, where, Heaven and Hell watching the issue at a distance, alone and with
out attendants, the two mightiest potentates that ever met on earth, meet—not for conference, but for conflict. Knowing that he has another now to deal with than a guileless woman—the beautiful but fragile vessel his cursed hand shattered in Eden—Satan enters the lists, armed with his deepest craft. He knows that Jesus stands before him, a poor man ; who, though aspiring to universal empire, has neither friend nor follower, neither fame nor rank. Never was deeper poverty He presents himself before us in its most touching aspect—he has neither a morsel of bread to eat, nor a bed to lie on. Ever suiting the temptation to the tempted, and, like a skillful general, assaulting the citadel on what he judges to be its weakest side, Satan comes to Jesus with no bribe for passions so low as avarice, or lust, or ease, or self-indulgence. He addresses that love of power, which was his own perdition, and is the infirmity of loftiest minds. Tacitly acknowledging, by the magnificence of the temptation, how great is the virtue of him whom he tempts, he offers him the prize of universal empire. By some phantasm of diabolical power, he presents a panoramic view of “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them ;” and when he thinks the spell has wrought, and that he has roused the dormant passion to its highest pitch, he turns round to Jesus, saying, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” He shall, and shall for ever, be king, if he will for once yield up his claims, and receive the kingdom at Satan's hand. No ; neither from such hands, nor on such conditions, will our Lord receive the sceptre. He stands firm upon his own right to it ; and, rather than yield that up, is ready to endure the cross and despise the shame. He turns with holy Scorn