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wisdom means the loss of nearest kindred, of dearest friends, of brightest prospects. 4. Attainment of the loftier heights of wisdom is the result of patient effort, of sacred thought, of fervent prayer, of self-sacrifice. For we can only see God with the pure heart (Matt. v. 8). Only love understands love ; nothing but spiritual excellency will appreciate spiritual beauty. “Only the good discern the good.”
III. THE SUPREME WORTH OF WISDOM. As the Queen of Sheba was well rewarded for her toils and hier expenditure by the wisdom of Solomon she brought home in her heart, so shall we find ourselves well recompenser for all that we expend in the heavenly wisdom we treasure in our soul. For wisdom is the one priceless thing, the incomparable gooil. To know God as He is to be known by us, to understand the will of God as that is to be understood by us in Jesus Christ, this is --- 1. To wear the crown of our humanity (Jer. ix. 24). 2. To possess our great security ; for under His guidance our life cannot be a mistake, and under His guardianship we cannot be brought to shame. 3. To have entered upon our real inheritance ; for to know Him is eternal life (John xvii. 3). Whatever we expend in the pursuit of Divine wisdom is nothing to the excellency to which we attain, or to the blessedness which we
of our nature and the uplifting of our life. For with that we know
I. WHAT TO THINK OF THE Divine NATURE. We have Christ's great illuminating word that “God is a Spirit," and that He must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Learning of Him who alone could reveal God to us (see John i. 18) we know that God is a living One; the Divine Will, the holy, wise, pure, supreme Intelligence, to whom we are most closely related.
II. How God FEELS TOWARD EACH ONE OF HIS CHILDREN. 1. That He does not despair of His unreconciled children, but is seeking them, is longing to restore them, is making known to them the way of return. 2. That He delights in His reconciled children with a Father's joy ; that He is accepting their filial service; that He is working for their highest well-being by a wise, parental disci. pline (John xvi. 1-8). III. THE WAY TO HIS FAVOUR AND His
That this is not by ceremony or by profession, but by a right spirit, by the spirit of humility (Matt. v. 3 ; Jer. xiv. 11, xv. 21); by the spirit of trustfulness (Matt. xviii, 3 ; John iii. 15, 16, 18, 36; Acts xxvi. 18); by the spirit of consccration (Luke xiv. 33.)
IV. THE NOBILITY OF OUR OWX NATURE, and the consequent possibilities of human life. Learning of Christ we know that we are not “animated dust," but are the sons and daughters of God, very dear to Him, to whom He comes and in whom He dwells, living His life, engaging constantly in His service. Neither in ourselves nor in our daily duties need there be anything that is mean or small; for ve may be what we are and do all that we do, like Him and unto Him.
V. WHAT IS THE HOPE OF OUR RACE. That we are not doomed to go down to spiritual destruction, but are to rise to goodness and worth. The Gospel of salvation is to be preached in every land, and a once-crucified Saviour is to draw all mankind unto Himself (Mark xvi. 15; John xii. 32.)
VI. OUR OWN Whether a man, when he dies, will live again (Job xiv. 14) depends entirely on the will of his Creator. God alone can determine that, and He alone can tell us that. We may well listen with intense eagerness to hear what Jesus Christ, the Truth and the Wisdom of God, has to say to us here. And we know the mind of Christ herein. It is that “all who
TENTH SUNDAY AFTER
TRINITY THE MIND OF CHRIST. But we have the mind of Christ. -1 Cor. ii. 16. This sentence is a correcting, a relieving, even a satisfying one. Without the fact which is here expressed all would be unsatisfactory because essentially insufficient. We could not and should not have known the mind of God if we had not received the mind of Christ. Neither in the depth of our own human spirit, nor in the length and breadth of the outer world, nor in the range of human history, can we “understand and know God.” Long, dark centuries of unrewarded search and consequently) of grievous and fatal ignorance too painfully prove that this is so. “The world by (the exercise of its own) wisdomi knew not God.” But-redeeming thought, most blessed alternative !--"we have the mind of Christ'; and having that, we are possessed of all that we really need for the ennoblement
curse in the home into which we are born ? Shall we make a wise use of our educational advantages, or shall we fritter them away? Shall we aildress ourselves seriously to the business of life and succeed, or shall we be negligent and incapable, and therefore move along the lower levels of our life? Shall we choose the few friendships that will attach us to wisdom and piety, or shall we, like Ahab, give our heart away to one that fascinates, that allures, that ruins? We do well to ask ourselves these serious questions before it is too late. But there is an alternative that is greater than any of these. A little way on in the path of life, when thoughtfulness wakens within 115, when we begin to look in and on and up, in childhool, or in yonth, or perhaps in early young manhood, we ask, each one for himself, What am I going to make of myself and to do with my life? How am I going to spend my powers and my opportunities? Shall I live for this worlıl only, or for this world and the nort? Shall I slight this immortal spirit God has madle me to be, or shall I recognize and realize its priceless value? Shall I pass on heedless of a Divine Father's claim, of a Divine Saviour's offer, of the Divine Spirit's quickening touch, or shall I respond and obey? Shall I leave it to others to tight the great battle for truth and righteousness, or shall I take my share in that glorious campaign ?" Then we often find
II. DISTRACTION WITHIN THE KINGDOM. Within this spiritual realm are opposing forces which contend with one another, and there is deep unsettlement, harassing and restless indecision. 1. Conscience insists that we ought to live unto Him from whom we came, in whom we have our being, to whom we owe everything we have and are ; that we ought to listen, attentively and eagerly, when the Divine Teacher speaks to us; but inclination or passion urges us to live for enjoyment, or for possession, or for advancement. 2. The heavenly voices and the best human voices summon is to consecrate our powers to duty and lioly service ; while the lower voices of uworthy friendship plead with us to walk with them in patlıs of vanity and sin. 3. Prudence, wisdom, exhorts us to seek God while He may be found (Isa. lv. 6), to respond to His claim while the mind is open, while the heart is tender, while the will is ready to submit, while the way is clear ; but the evil and deadly spirit of procrastina
are in their graves shall come forth"; it is that " in the Father's house are many man. sions"; it is that we shall be with Him where He is, and behold His glory.
Having the mind of Christ on these subjects of rital interest to us, we may be content until admission to another world will be the accession of clearer light and fuller know'. lerige (1 Cor. xiii. 12). Meanwhile let us walk in the light that comes from the Sun of righteousness. Having access to the mind of (hrist-1. There is nothing to keep any one of us from the possession of the friendship of Goul, and from the peace and joy which come with His loving favour. 2. We have all that we need in order to grow daily into the like. ness of God. 3. We ought not only to be familiar with the thought, but penetrated with the spirit of Christ, -the spirit of reverence, of obedience, of love, of practical kindness. ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER
TRINITY. THE GREAT ALTERNATIVE. How long halt ye between two opinions ?1 kings xviii. 21. In the supreme matter of sacred conviction and religious Worship Israel was in a dis. tracted state. Under the commanding influence of his strong-willed wife, Ahab hari not only established idolatry, but was actively suppressing the true religion. But Divine truth is not easily extirpated, and there had arisen a champion who was “a host in himself,” the fearless, uncompromising Tish bite. Swayed by opposite forces, driven hither and thither, the people of Israel were unsettled, were profoundly disturbed. Secret conviction drew them in one direction, policy in another; pure piety made its claim upon their worthier sentiments, while sensuous attractions made their appeal to the unworthier instincts and passions of the people. Elijah summoned this great convention at Carmel, and he made a powerful challenge to the multitude to come forth from that miserable indecision, and to decide once for all in whose service they would live. “If the Lord be God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow Himn.” Within the small but sacred kingdom of the individual soul there has to 1. faceil I. THE
ALTERNATIVE, Many important alternatives, on which great issues hang, soon present themselves to us as we go on our way. Shall we be a blessing or a
tion suggests that there is abundance of time, will not recur. Delay is death, in part if not and that the door is always open into the indeed altogether ; for (4) it is perilous in a kingdom of God. Thus opposing forces very high degree. Duty seems less imperative contend within the soul, and there is dis- and service less inviting the longer it is traction and spiritual unrest. Can there be neglected. And (5) it is miserable. There is any doubt what is
no man more dissatisfied with himself than he III. THE ONE WISE COURSE. Why halt who is painfully conscious that he is bound to and hesitate ? 1. Indecision is (1) unmanly : be pursuing one path and is actually taking we have our mental faculties that we may another. Indecision is unrest; it is unhappiconclude and act. A man should know his ness; it is the arch enemy of all peace and mind and use his strength. It is (2) guilty: joy. Decision, on the other hand, is an God has a right to require immediate obedi. act that is worthy of our manhood ; it makes
Jesus Christ has a right to instant us right with God ; it is the condition and acceptance and the service of a whole life. the source of usefulness and fruitfulness ; it We have no right to keep Him waiting. places us within the confines of God's own (3) It is wasteful : for while we are halting kingdom ; it is the aight road to lasting and choosing life is passing; and with the blessedness. "O God, my heart is fixed, my passage of our life there are left behind us heart is fixed ; I will sing and give praise.” opportunities that are unemployed and that
WILLIAM CLARKSON, B.A.
SUNDAY IN SCHOOL.
THE INTERNATIONAL LESSON.
THE APOSTLES' CONFIDENCE IN GOD. and courage, and find them incorporated in Acts iv. 19-31.
the lesson text. This confidence was based The suggestions and the truths which may be gathered from the lesson of to-day are many The Omnipotence of God, which was (1) a and varied, for example-
fundamental element of their religious faith. The vanity of combinations and conspiracies The Mosaic economy had taught them this. against God as affirmed in Scripture and illus- The history of their own people, which they trated in history.
still cherished, and the memories of which The beneficent character of the Gospel of were dear to them, was full of illustrious Jesus Christ.
evidences of the power and glory of Jehovah. The necessity and value of mutual sympathy. They had not changed in becoming followers The power of united and believing prayer as
of Christ this fundamental faith in the God of taught in the New Testament.
their childhood and of their earlier manhood. The care of God over His own.
This element of their religious faith was But the Sunday School authorities in their further buttressed by (2) the convincing events selection of this passage have suggested as our
of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension theme the Apostles' Confidence in God, as
of Jesus Christ. illustrated in the incident of their imprison- The Facts were then, as they should be ment and trial. The disciples had in a now, the unanswerable factors in the propagameasure been prepared for trouble by the tion of the Gospel. When they beheld “the pre-announcement of Christ: "If they have man which was healed standing with them, persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” they could say nothing against it." But now it was in sight, and under threat of (3) In addition, the Holy Ghost witHIN pains and penalties they were charged to keep them enabled them to make forceful and silence. But, like the three Hebrew children persuasive the truth they advocated. It of Daniel's day, they needed no time for is true they were neither skilled in arms considering the question. We find no hint nor trained in schools ; they had neither or shadow that indicates on their part any wcalth nor social position, but God was with wavering of purpose.
them, and they were invincible. Pentecost We look for the grounds of this confidence had made them all-powerful.
Let us emulate their dauntless courage, ing ignorantly and foolishly. "Be sure your touch the sources, as they did, of supernal
sin will find you out.” power, make regnant in our lives the prin
(2) It is useless to bring half of self to
God in consecration. ciples they enunciated, and then the world
(3) The wheat and the tares ever grow will be at our feet as it was at theirs, and we
together in the earthly Church.-(G. C. shall go forth, as did the apocalyptic rider, on Osgood.) the white horse, "conquering and to con
THE APOSTLES PERSECUTED. quer."-(John D. Pickles.)
ACTS v. 25-41.
I. The arrest by the Council. The arrest
of Peter and his brother Apostles took place The question may be asked, Was not this at the instigation of the Council before whom punishment of Ananias and Sapphira too
they were brought. It was the intent of the
rulers to make the new doctrine odious by severe? No time was given for repentance ;
making its teachers criminals. Thus reasoned no opportunity was offered for them to con- the rulers. Moreover, they believed that sider their transgression, and to cry unto God truth confined behind bars and stone walls for pardon.
could not be very dangerous. But how little We may find answer to this inquiry, I
they understood the nature of truth! There
is a vitality in ideas utterly beyond the think, in the following suggestions-
power of man to conceive. When once they 1. Their sin was aggravated one. are fully grasped by and instilled into the * Thou hast not lied into men, but unto mind they becomeliving, permanent influences. God," were Peter's words to Ananias. The The teachings were safely lodged in men's peculiar enormity of their sin consisted in its
hearts outsiile the prison, and not confined
within the prison being committed against the Holy Ghost.
The rulers also made the mistake of supposThey knew of the Pentecostal gift. And now ing that they could prevent the growth of they come with a definitely settled purpose the Gospel by the power of authority. “Did to deceive the Spirit of God in the persons of
not we straitly command you that ye should Goul's chosen ones, thinking Him to be such a
not teach in this Name?” They had no one as themselves. Dr. Lightfoot supposes
doubt as to their power to suppress it. But
hunian authority takes no account of the that Ananias was not an ordinary believer, intense enthusiasm which truth inspires in but a minister, and one that had received the men who believe it, and the degree of selfgift of the Holy Ghost with the hundred and sacrifice which it can evoke. twenty. Yet he dared thus by dissembling You can never be sure that your authority to belie and shame that gist.
has stopped up all loopholes of escape. You 2. It was a deliberate sin. It was not can never be sure that your authority can committed as the result of a sudden tempta- inspire fear enough to terrify the advocate of tion ; but these two had consulted together it into silence. about it, and had entered into a mutual II. Peter's reply to the Council. Here agreement to work this deception upon the was another instance in which Christ's words Apostles and the Church. It was cold blooded were to come true, for He had said some time in every respect. There was apparently no previously, “But when they shall deliver you necessity laid upon them by outward circum- up, be not anxious how or what ye shall stances. Ananias shows himself to have been speak : for it shall be given you in that hour by deliberate choice a hypocrite.
what ye shall speak” (Matt. x. 19). 3. Sin must have become the settled pur- Peter, in his reply, admitted the truth of the pose of their lives. God does not pronounce charges. The Apostles had indeed refused to condemnation unto death for an initial sin or recognize the authority of the Council, because for a series of sins. It is only when the soul they recognized a higher authority. “ We becomes saturated with sin, when there is no ought to obey God rather than men. longer hope of the man's bearing fruit unto Peter, liowever, goes still farther. Not righteousness, that God casts him off. It satisfied with merely answering their charges, must have been a crisis in their inner lives he assuines the aggressive by re-attiming the marking the determination of their souls--a doctrines he had been teaching the people, crisis not apparent to men, but open and plain and boldly sets forth the claims of Christ. to the eye of God.
There is no shadow of a spirit of compromise 4. The severity of this punishment may in his words. Peter makes the startling have been due in a measure to the conditions announcement that Christ was a Prince. surrounding the Church at that early period. “ Him hath God exalted .
to be a The Church was in its infancy.
Prince.” Peter, nevertheless, unflinchingly We may further learn from this lesson declared the new truth, that salvation was
(1) That those who presume upon security not in a system, but in a man. and impunity in any sinful course are reckon
There was more step necessary to
complete Peter's argument, which was that 2. Stephen was spiritually enlightened. he and his fellow Apostles had irrevocably “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, committed themselves to these truths. “We looked up steadfastly into heaven." We may are His witnesses of these things.' Thus the not all have the privilege of Stephen to look reply of Peter's threw the necessity of action into heaven in this life, but the Holy Spirit upon the Council.
furnishes enlightening power. Spiritual III. The release by the Council. They breadth of vision follows. That creates conbegan in Bluster and ended in ignominious fidence. Moses endured, seeing Him who is deleat. Gamaliel, the master mind among invisible; and the angel of God revealed himthein, rises to state his position, having first, self unto Paul, saying,
“Fear not. however, secured a temporary removal of the Here was the basis of Stephen's confidence. Apostles. In private session he pleads for Facts of the invisible world were newly imcaution, his fundamental ground being that presserl upon him. We see things here from they cannot decide upon the merits of the a short range. Hence mystery and perplexity case. They cannot tell yet whether this new arise. He is sustained by a higlier power, and movement is of God or of man. If it be of looks with joy to the end. God, ye cannot overthrow it; if it be of man, 3. He possessed a forgiving spirit. "Lord, it will come to an end of itself.
lay not this sin to their charge. They had hail two markel instances in their is without a parallel outside of Biblical history own history of the schemes of men coming to and its influence. Confucius, Isocrates, Seneca, au untimely end-namely, those of Theudas and other Gentile writers hinted at the Golden and Judas.
Rule in a partial or negative form. But prayThis incident in the history of the early ing for one's enemies has thus far been disChurch clearly shows two or three things covered only in the Bible and in the line of which it is well to note.
its influence. The cross first brings it to view. Aul one is that ideas cannot be suppresseil II. Stephen's Witnessing to the Truth. by persecuting their advocates ; and yet the 1. He witnessed that God's presence and world is very slow in learning this lesson. favour were not limited to any set place. To shut Peter in jail is no answer to the doc- Stephen taught that God's presence was trine he taught, that salvation is of Christ. not limited to a favoured few. This was one Fanatic, dreamer, bigot, heretic, are names link in the chain which drew away Christians freely hurled against individuals who are doing from Jewish rites. what they can for their feilow-men.
The disciples loved the Temple. Who these titles have no more power to prevent could blame them? Here Jesus gave some of thought or action than a thistledown can His choicest revelations. But lingering amid keep back the tides. The personal equation the incense and smoking sacrifices too long in persecution makes it the infernal thing it is.
they may bind these practices, only belonging Another thing to be remarked is that perse- to the past, on the new society, and fetter its cution serves the hated truth a cool turn by future course. They were providentially causing it to be clearly stated before the public. thrust out into new tields, as we may be, by If you will consider the causes that called
apparent disasters, to secure in the end the forth four of Peter's sermons, you will find best results. that it was the opposition or doubt of unbe. 2. Stephen bore witness that Christ had lievers.-( Edward Sampson Trad.)
been elevated to glory and power. “I see the
heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYR.
on the right hand of God." Stephen was the Arts vii. 54.60, viii. 1-4.
first to bear witness to the fact of seeing I. The Man. The forin of his name would Christ after His ascension. Paul and John iwlicate that he was a Hellenist; that is, a were granted such visions later (Acts ix. Jew born among the Gentiles, speaking the 3, 4; 1 Cor. ix. 1; Rev. i. 12-17). Perhaps Greek language. His name also signities a such witnessing was needed to encourage the
early Church. It made invisible things 1. He was
versed in the Scriptures. appear as a positive reality. It also confirmeri “When they heard these things, they were Stephen's teaching. Christ had taught that cult to the heart." Cranmer and Ridley spiritual worship anywhere was pleasing, to learned the New Testament by heart. They the Father. It woulul follow that a peculiar privi. also saw its truths in relation to present lege hall been granted to Stephen. Any rabbi duties of life. This was the case of the first might have coveted it. The glory of God Christian martyr. He exposed the false view had appeareil to him as well as to Abraham of the Jews toward the Temple and the law. and to Moses. If his face had shone like
- They were cut to the heart," or, literally, that of an angel, his words now had a heavenly they were sawn asunder in their hearts. It
support. was not one staggering blow which did the 3. Stephen bure witness that Jesuis receives work. The truth, laden with rebukes, was His people after death. He did not forinally gradually making its way through their affirm this fact, but prayed to Jesus to receive liearts. The personal application completed his spirit; or, in bold literalness, "Take my the work.
spirit by the hand."--(J. H. Allen.)