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of knowledge. The first use that is commonly made of advancing youth and increasing years, and powers of doing good or evil, is that which was made by the Prodigal Son, who took the portion of goods belonging to him and went into a far country and wasted his substance in riotous living; and as the youth begins, so often the man continues. For one prodigal who returns to his Father's house, how many remain at a distance, go further off and further, strangers to Him, and unreconciled and unrepenlrng enemies to God through wicked works, and are at last aliens from Him because they are wedded to this world, its pursuits, its pleasures, or even its cares.
What, then, is here of the image of God? If we are asked whose is this likeness, what answer must we return? "His likeness ye are whose children ye are, whether ye be of sin unto Satan or of righteousness unto God." Brethren, it is not needful for me to remind you how this change came—it is not needful to tell you what you know already, that the enemy hath done this. He persuaded man first to disbelieve God, and then to disobey him; and God in his justice took away his likeness from those so unworthy of it, and the brightness became faded in the image which he had made. Still in his wrath God remembered mercy, his loving kindness he hath not utterly taken away; he still loved the world which he hath made, and prepared a plan for recovering it unto himself.
The image of God which sin hath defaced, Jesus Christ engaged to restore. For this very purpose he took upon him our nature, and was made flesh that he might restore man back to the God whom he had offended. Thus he does restore all who receive him, and believe in his name. As St. John expressly says, "To as many as receive him gives he power to become the sons of God," to bear to the end his
likeness and his image; and he reestablishes the church in the likeness of their fathers. So St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that this was the effect of the Gospel on those converted to the faith as it is in Jesus, "That they put off the old man which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts, which is the likeness of Satan, and that they be renewed in the spirit of their minds; and that they put on the new man, who, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness." To the Colossians he also says, "Ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed'in knowledge after the image of Him that created him;" "renewed in knowledge of God and righteousness, renewed after the image of Him that created him." And what that new man is, and how the change of nature is manifested is shown by St. Paul in the fourth of Phillipians, where the church and those that believe in Christ Jesus and walk after the Spirit, are described. These are they who "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Let us for a moment turn away our minds from the things that are without. Here, in the house of God, let us forget, or strive to forget, the evil thoughts, and thefts, and adulteries, and excesses, and blasphemies, which abound; and let us suppose that men, instead of walking after their lusts and unhallowed desires, were to be seeking whatsoever things were true, honest, just, pure, and lovely, should we not then appear once more to behold the image of God in the world?
When we contemplate the wicked yielding to the corruption of his nature, restraining no desire, subduing no appetite, and neither fearing God nor regarding man, when we contemplate him for the sake of his own pleasure or advantage (and what day is there when those who are concerned with men have not an opportunity of seeing this) when we contemplate him not scrupling to risk the soul or ruin the fortune of his neighbour; yea, when we even contemplate the ignorance which knows nothing beyond itself and the ground it treads upon, that thinks upon nothing but what strikes upon its outward senses, we cannot say with truth, hardly can we say without blasphemy, that we see the image of God. There are no traces of such a likeness. But when we behold another, like in form but different in all other things, nay, when we behold— for such wonders are sometimes permitted to be seen—when we behold the same individual renewed in knowledge and righteousness, raised beyond things below, having learnt to see with the eye of faith Him that is invisible; having learnt to seek, through the power of faith, a kingdom which is to come, eternal in the heavens, aspiring after that holiness which befits an heir of immortality, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; then we have indeed some glimpse of the divine image, we perceive that verily there is a spirit in man, and the Almighty hath given him understanding, hath made him in His own form. It is not, indeed, at best, a pure and perfect image, far, very far from it; but still the likeness is there, the lineaments remain, and we can look on to the time when it may be made perfect, and take its place in the presence of its Author.
Brethren, I have set before you two different images, the image of God broken and defaced—the image of God renewed and restored. What works the change, that one should thus differ from another? The Spirit of God,
the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, can alone quicken the souls of men unto new life, and transform them by the renewing of their minds, that they may behold the beautiful pattern of holiness, and imitate the likeness of God their Saviour. I showed before that those are so transformed and made the sons of God who receive Jesus Christ and believe on his name. Wegonofurtherthanthe same passage to learn, that as many as do receive him and believe in his name are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Is it]then to be supposed that we can do nothing towards this? That grieved as we must be to see men living unworthy of their high nature, and unworthy of their high calling, we can do nothing but lament it? No; God forbid that I should deceive you by such vain reasoning. It is the work of the Spirit, but the Spirit works by means, and we are to use the means. It is the gift of the Spirit; but that gift may be attained, and we must labour to attain it. We cannot, indeed, always trace the course of the Holy Ghost; we cannot always perceive why he departs from one and remains with another, for those have been alike dedicated to Him in infancy; we cannot always say where the spark lay hid, why it has been apparently extinguished when it has been kindled into flame: we hardly guess aright of things that are on earth—how can we unravel heavenly things?
But of all the means discernible by man, that from which the blessing of spiritual light may most justly be expected, that which it is found most usually to follow, is Christian instruction, Christian education, and nurture in the admonition of the Lord. If Adam had retained the Divine image, and sin had not disfigured it, we may suppose, that his children would have grown up naturally in the love and
practice of those things which constitute likeness to God; bat man has disfigured the image, and therefore, man naturally grows up after the likeness of their fallen parent Adam, not of their all-perfect Creator. They must be brought to a form which by nature they have not, through such means as we are capable of employing. For this reason the Israelites were ordered to teach the commandments to the young, and to train up a child in the way he should go, that when he is old he may not depart from it; to give to all that knowledge which St. Paul mentions as having especially belonged to Timothy, that he had known the Scriptures from his youth. And for this reason all persons are exhorted in the sacred writings—" to add to their faith knowledge"—"to get wisdom, that is the principal thing"—" to search the Scriptures"—" to use all diligence, that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of God, and of Christ Jesus whom he hath sent, and not remain children in understanding."
That these means may fail we do not deny, we know that such is the corruption of the heart exposed to the temptations of the world, that the child does not always walk in the way he has been formed, but all those features of meekness, and temperance, and honesty, and godliness, which we have endeavoured to imprint on him, are sometimes obliterated and lost. But it is not commonly so, it is not often so. The Spirit usually blesses the labours and the prayers of the Christian parent, and the Christian teacher, and the Christian minister, and allows the fruit of their pains to grow up unto an harvest. Even if it prove where Christian instruction is given, as it proves where corn is sown, that all does not spring up, and that some which does spring up, fails of coming to perfection, still we plough in hope.
and sow in hope, both in the field of nature and of grace. Where no com is sown there can be no harvest.
These are the principles on which I ask you to give to the institution which interests us to-day. It is that you may restore the likeness of God in man, to restore that image in which he was created, but which has been lost and ruined by the effects of sin. There is in Scripture a promise of a time when they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest." O, that that time were come, that we even might witness the accomplishment of such a prophecy! but it is for us so far as in us lies to realize it. God has a right to the love, the fear, the allegiance of his creatures; but how shall they love Him whom they have never known, or fear Him of whom they have never heard, or obey Him whose laws are strange to them? And how should they know, or hear, or learn without a teacher? When by instruction in the ways of righteousness we bring a sinner from Satan to God, when by inculcating the faith of Christ we train a child in God's service and preserve him from Satan and sin, then are we instruments in restoring a soul to that likeness in which it waa created, to the image which it was designed to bear. Was it not so, for instance, with those Corinthians of whom St. Paul writes—" Some of you were adulterers, and thieves, and drunkards, and revilers, and extortioners." I need not ask what image they bear now? We too often find among those surrounded by Christian light, many who still remain in heathen darkness. They were of their father the devil, and the works of their father they did; but now the Apostle proceeds—" but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of
our God." Their Christian teachers had brought them to conformity with their Maker's likeness, had enlightened them that they should look beyond things seen, had purified their moral nature that they should study whatever things were honourable and just and pure and lovely, and of good report. This teaching had given light to their souls, had begotten them again to the lively hope of the Gospel, had hidden under the robe of Christ's righteousness the multitude of their sins, and reinstated them in the favour of their Creator.
Go then, my brethen, and do likewise. Lay up for yourselves this crown of rejoicing against the great day, and this you may do in the most sure and satisfactory manner by keeping that soul in the service of Christ which has been covenanted and dedicated to him in infancy. It is well to reclaim the wandering; and happy those who are privileged to do so; but it is far better to keep them from wandering. It is well to bring back those who have erred from the way of truth to the knowledge of Him who will lead them to life and happiness. But how far more blessed is it that they should never leave Him to whom baptism has bound them? The prodigal who returns is
blessed, but how much happier he of whom it is said, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine?" And such if they do not throw away their birthright, such may be the case with those children whom you see before you this morning—for whom I seek your interest. For them you do what you can, when you take them from the dangers by which they are surrounded, and give to them a careful Christian education. You cannot alter the nature of this fallen world, which abounds with temptation, but you do what is in your power, if, before they are involved in temptation, you teach them to resist it—if, before they have yielded to the corruption of their nature, you teach them that it must be renewed—you do what you can, if, before they are led astray by the artifices of Satan, you acqaint them with One who is mighty to save, and by whom it is expressly declared, "that it is not the will of his heavenly Father that one of these little ones should perish." Take, therefore, a part in this good work, and remember who it is that says, "inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. R. HALL,
Joshua, xxiv. 15.—" And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve, whither the gods which your fathert served, that were on the other ride of the Amoritet in whose land ye dwell: but at for me and my house, wc will serve the Lord''
This verse forms part of that address which Joshua presented to the tribes of Israel after he had assembled them at Schechem. Joshua was one of the
most eminent types of the Lord Jesus Christ to be found in the Old Testament. It was his peculiar office and distinction to conduct the sacred tribes to the load of rest and of promise. Although Moses brought them forth out of the land of Egypt and led them through the wilderness, yet he was not permitted to complete the work which he first introduced, it failed in his hands in consequence of his misconduct; and the great honour of settling the tribes of Israel, after a successful series of wars in the land of Canaan, was allotted to Joshua. In this respect he bears a great resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ, who accomplished for us what the law could never effect: he brings us into that land of promise, and makes us possessors of that eternal inheritance which was forfeited by our transgressions. The name that was given to Joshua was given to him for a similar reason as that which is assigned for its being afterwards given to our Saviour. Joshua was placed under Moses, and the qualities he displayed in that situation marked him for his future elevation. Before he had the honour of conducting the tribes to the sacred land—before he became the ruler of spiritual Israel he submitted himself to the very law which he himself afterwards administered. And Jesus Christ in like manner was first put under the law. It was because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity—because in his state of humiliation, when he appeared as a servant executing the will of his heavenly Father, he displayed those qualities which exalted him above his fellows, that God gave him the oil of gladness above them.
But it is our business to consider, more particularly, the glorious resolution to which Joshua here arrived. After having laid before Israel the reasons why they should adhere to his service and his worship, he makes the noble declaration contained in the words first read." And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this
day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lo*d."
There are several observations which arise out of the occasion of these words to which I shall First direct your attention. In the Second place, I shall give a brief illustration of what is included in serving the Lord. And Thirdly, Refer to the reason why we should come to the resolution expressed by Joshua on the present occasion— why we should resolve, that we and our houses will serve the Lord.
It is too frequently found that persons in elevated stations, or persons. engaged in active secular service, imagine those things a sufficient reason for the neglect of personal piety, and still more of any zealous attempts to promote its general influence. Now we see in Joshua a person of the greatest activity and enterprise, and who had the secular interests of a great nation to uphold, but, instead of neglecting religion he makes it his first concern; and when he meets the satribes, to whom he directs his address, he proposes no new law, explains none, lays down no new maxim of government, but keeps his attention entirely on promoting the fear of God, and enforcing on the people the service of the Most High. Here he affords a most noble example to all who call themselves Christians—who exercise the authority they do exercise under Him, who is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and before whose judgment seat they must shortly appear.
He calls the tribes together at Shechem, a place distinguished before by some very remarkable events. It was the first place at which the Divine Being manifested his favour to them after they arrived in the land of Ca