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regard the future as standing in vivid contrast with the present. Rather should we look upon the future life as the continuation and consummation of the present. What we are is the prophecy of what we shall become ; what we have is the earnest of what we shall possess. Instead of disparaging the estate to which we have succeeded “ in Christ Jesus," we should cherish the loftiest idea of it in our minds. The language of our Lord Himself and that of His Apostles authorize and indeed require us to do so :
see John xiv. 17, 23, 26; xv. 14, 15, xvii. 21; 1 Cor. ii. 9; Eph. i. 3; Rev. i. 6. In the text the Apostle calls upon his converts in Galatia to rise to the height of their heritage in the Gospel of Christ; they
no longer slaves but sons, and they should act and live (as such. We consider then
much to his personal intelligence. This was the condition of the Israelite under the law. The multitudinous commandments and prohibitions, with the consequent mechanical obedience, were a yoke they were not able to bear.” This rested as a heavy burden on their heart and on their life. It was not spiritual freedom but bondage ; it was not sonship but bond-service. These forms of Christianity in which all worship and all obedience are made subject to commandment and regulation, in which the question how and when and where God shall be served are all determined by a directory, are a pitiful return to the bondage from which Jesus Christ came to free us ; they are a deliberate putting on again of the yoke from which He came to relieve us.
II. THE SERVICE OF SONSHIP TO WHICH HE CALLS us. We do not, as Christian men, shrink from the word “service”; nor do we desire to escape from the thing itself. Only it must be Christian service ; it must be such service as we render in Christ and for Him. We understand the willingness, nay, the joy and pride with which Paul constantly wrote himself, “the servant of Jesus Christ." We can not only say, but sing,
1. THE SERVITUDE FROM WHICH CHRIST DELIVERS US, This is great and manifold. 1. That of error and of the evils which accompany it. The Galatians, “not knowing God, were in bondage to them which are no gods." And to be enslaved by falsity of thought and by all the corrupt practices to which that mentally leads down is a bondage indeed ; witness all the evil imaginations and abominations of idolatry in every age and in every land. 2. That of vice. We know well that " to whom
yield ourselves bondservants to obey, his servants (and in the case of sin, his slaves, we are whom we obey." Rom. vi. 16. There is no such abject and pitiable slave anywhere to be found as the victim of drunkenness, or impurity, or narcotism ; he is “held in the cords of his sins." To escape from them is to be free indeed. 3. That of dread. There are those “who through fear of death are all their life subject to bondage.” And it is not only the dread of death and of judgment which enslaves, but a servile fear of God, that shrinking of soul which makes men wish they could escape the eye and the hand of the Omnipresent. 4. That of literal obedience. The slave does those particular things which his master requires of him; he is fenced round by a number of prohibitions, and he is compelled to do precisely the definite duties, to rigorously obey the specific orders he has received from his superior. He breathes the atmosphere of constraint. He is sur. rounded on every hand by an iron law ; very little is left to his spontaneous devotion, not
“Oh; give me a diviner name;
Call me Thy servant, Lord !
Rank earnestly implored ;
Of Thy true servants, Lord ?” But then it is not the service of cast-iron commandment on the one hand and of servile submission on the other. It is the utterance of a Heavenly Father's, of a Divine Saviour's, will on the one hand, and it is the eager elastic response of affection on the other. And the service of love is not servitude or slavery at all. It is sonship, with all which that includes. 1. It is being “at home" with God. For that privilege in all its ful. ness we await the hour of transition ; but we anticipate it now. This is not to us “the enemy's country,” it is rather a sanctuary filled with the presence of God, it is a home where our Father dwells, and where we are always with Him. 2. It is life animated by love, and therefore filled with freedom. The love which filial children have to their wise and kind father is the inspiration of duty, the motive-power of all obedience.
And where love is there is liberty. There is no consciousness of constraint on the part of the
faithful husband, of the loving parent, of the dutiful son or daughter, as he or she labours or waits in all the services of the home : nor is there any sense of enforcement in him who is the “child of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (ch. iii. 26) as he seeks to please God in everything he is and does, as he strives to honour Christ and to cause Him to be magnified in the world. 3. It is the scene and sphere of peace and joy. The home of the holy family is the place of abiding peace and of happiness which is not disturbed by the turmoil of outer life. In the hearts of the children of God is a peace which no
favouring circumstances can either impart or maintain ; in their hearts is a joy which excels and outlasts the pleasures of time and sense, as the spiritual and the eternal excel the temporal and the transitory.
1. Suffer no false teachers, no specious representations, no sensuous inducements to lead you back from sonship into servitude. (ch. v. i.) 2. Realize and rejoice in the high estate to which Christ has raised you, and turn to good account the prerogative with which, in Him, you are invested.
SUNDAY IN SCHOOL.
THE INTERNATIONAL LESSON.
PHILIP PREACHING AT SAMARIA. them.” In all the world there was probably, Acts viii. 5-25.
at that moment, no city whose conditions
were more unfavourable to Christian effort. The early Christians were not disposed to leave The people were half heathen at the best. ReJerusalem. They had been counselled to jecting all of the Scriptures except the five abide in Jerusalem until they were endued books of Moses, they were addicted to all with power from on high ; but Pentecost had manner of superstitious observances. Just come and gone and still they tarried. Per- now they were under the spell of a certain haps they were in a measure constrained by necromancer, known to us as Simon Magus, their lingering prejudice against the gathering who called himself “The Great Power of in of the Gentiles. The martyrdom of Stephen God.” Under these circumstances a prudent was the stirring up of the nest. The infatuated evangelist might have thought best to pass Jews who wrought that murderous deed may on to more congenial soil. But Philip was not have fondly hoped that it would prove the prudent in that wise. He followed the lead death-blow of the little Christian Church. of Providence, the only safe plan. For “he But God maketh the wrath of men to praise that observeth the wind shall not sow; and Him. Thus it is written, “The disciples that he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap" were scattered abroad went everywhere preach. (Eccles. xi. 4). ing the word.” The Church perforce begins her aggressive march. Providence made them
II. His coming is followed by a revival. all missionaries. The Apostles alone remained Some men are a curse to the cities they live in Jerusalem, which became henceforth " in ; others are a blessing. At once he set centre not of concentration, but of radiation.” about two things :
I. Philip, the evangelist, comes to Samaria. 1. “He preached Christ.” It is noteworthy hinong those who fled from Jerusalem at this how often we come upon this and similar exjuncture was Philip, one of the seven deacons. pressions in the Scriptures : "preaching the He was a man full of the Holy Ghost and word," "preaching the gospel," "preaching power, and with a special fitness for evange- the Lord Jesus," "preaching peace by Jesus listic work. On reaching the city of Samaria Christ." Nothing is said about fine essay he began at once to "preach Christ unto work in the pulpit or about profound scientific
and philosophical disquisitions. No truth a subordinate place.
Where the mind of was presented which did not emanate from Jesus prevails there is neither clash nor Christ as a sunbeam from the sun. The mis. jealousy. There are diversities of gifts, but sion of a minister is to preach the Gospel ; and the same Spirit. the Gospel is the good tidings that Jesus
A hundreil philosophers bending all IV. Simon the Magian is unmasked and their efforts for a hundred years upon a single put to shame. This Simon was the first heretic sinner would fail to save him, but one faith
in the Christian Church, the tirst to claim its ful herald of the old-fashioned Gospel of the fellowship while out of sympathy with its Cross can stir a whole city to its depths.
fundamental truths. His mistakes were many Philip was only a deacon, an evangelist; there
and grievous. were many wiser men in Samaria ; but, alas ! 1. He began with an unscrupulous ambithe truth as it is in Jesus had not set their tion. No sooner had Peter and John begun hearts on fire. So he had the advantage of to confer the gifts of spiritual power by the them all. “And the people with one accord laying on of hands than Simon saw that his gave heed unto those things which he spake.” own juggleries were cast into the shade. All
that he perceived were the outward phenom2. And they were all the readier to listen
ena; the inward grace did not occur toʻhim. to him by reason of the miracles which he
2. He was guilty, thus, of utter insincerity. wrought in the name of Jesus. “For un
His pious airs and phrases, while he worclean spirits came out of many that were
shipped with the Christians, were all makepossessed ; and many taken with palsies and
believe. His heart was wholly unchanged ; that were lame were healed ; and there was
he was still an unregenerate sinner, in the great joy in that city.” The very best evidence of the truth of Christ's Gospel is in its
gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. influence upon the community. Take a map
3. He was grievously mistaken as to the of the world and mark off the countries where purchasing power of money.
He thought happiness and prosperity prevail in largest that money could do anything. His mind measure, and in every instance they are the was so utterly sordid that he was as honest as countries that acknowledge Jesus as the
he could be in proffering coin for the sovereign Christ. The Gospel, wherever it goes, proves
gifts of God. There are men in our times its divineness by working miracles of benefi
who seem to have a like contidence in filthy cence. And the Christian proves the truth
lucre. Their very souls grow yellow as they of his message by showing what it has done bow before their wretched golden god. They for his own heart and conscience, and by dis
subsidize all things to personal gain. Friendpensing of its virtues to all around him. ship, beneficence, patriotism, and piety are of
So one man turned Samaria upside down. value only, as they can be made to serve their Before the people knew, probably before he
selfish ends. himself realized it, they were in the midst of 4. He was a blasphemer. He should have a great revival.
been appalled at the mere thought of tamper
ing with the influence of the Divine Spirit; III. Peter and John come to his relief. No but “ fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” better could have been selected than these two God was nothing to him, and sacred things whom we so often find in each other's com- were of value only to grind at his mill. pany-Peter the Man of Rock, and John the It is well that Peter and John had the Son of Thunder. We may imagine the delight courage to unmask this miserable impostor. with which the faithful, overworked evan. There is no telling what harm he might have gelist welcomed them.
done otherwise in the early Church. As it is, These Apostles came, moreover, not only to he vanishes from our sight cringing under a preach Christ to the Samaritans, but to con- terrific warning and whining for an interfer upon the Christian workers the charismata, cession which, had it been offered, would have or gifts of the Holy Ghost.
seemed to him only another of the Apostles' On the arrival of these Apostles the work masterly conjurations. Farewell to him ! went forward with renewed energy, but Philip
And may no disciple of his ever again pollute was less conspicuous. No doubt he recognized the pure atmosphere of the Church of God ! their superior fitness, and was content to take (D. J. Burrell, D.D.)
PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN. indeed, would have been the questions, Why
limit the sphere of my ministry by taking Acts vifi. 26-40.
this unfrequented way? Here I am in the Your attention is invited to the consideration populous city, multitudes are being stirred of four important features in the lesson : with the Gospel message, converts coming I. God's Providential Direction in Individual
every day. Because of this there is great joy Life. “And the angel of the Lord spake unto
in the city. Why, then, must I be sidePhilip." This meeting of Philip and the
tracked ? why leave the city appointment to Ethiopian was not the result of mere accident
take the country charge ? That was the voice or chance. A species of pre-established
of expediency, and we will always find crouch. harmony existed between these two souls
ing somewhere in the near neighbourhood of before they were conscious of each other's
that voice the cowardly tempter. And thus existence in this world. An angel messenger
the tempter speaks : A long desert journey on gives the directions by which they were to be
foot, a lone pilgrim, prowling wild beasts, brought together.
night coming on, and no shelter ! Philip, Frequently we speak of accidents determining
there is danger ahead, “lions are in the way." a man's destiny, forgetting that in the vocabu
Besides, if you reach Gaza, and it is revealed lary of God there is no such word as chance.
to you that there is your new field of work, It seemed a mere chance that Moses was dis
consider what difficulties and dangers await covered by Pharaoh's daughter. “But Eternal
you. Gaza is hardened in crime, bitter in its choice that chance did guide."
rebellion against God. It is one of the most
ancient cities of the world. Joshua could not A dusty pilgrim overtaken on a desert road by the chamberlain of a Pagan queen, that is
subdue it. It was assigned to Judah, but even all the world's wise ones see in this incident of
that warlike tribe could not retain its possesour lesson ; but in this chance meeting there
sion. Yet to have yielded to his fears, to have is the hidden fire of a Divine purpose.
doubted the Divine wisdom, would have been Behind all life's varying scenes—its joys,
to have lost the opportunity of meeting the its sorrows, its social positions and its political
man for whose conversion Philip was the ambitions, its individual cares, its national
divinely appointed instrument: “Only the crises—there is the guiding hand of God.
willing and obedient shall eat of the good of
the land." What comfort to short-sighted, burdenbearing pilgrims, to think that God's angels
We have heard inspiring sermons on that are ministering spirits marshalled under King
word “Come ” of the Gospel, and truly it is a Jesus to guard and defend us against the
blessed word, inviting weary hearts to the assaults of our great adversary, the devil, who
sweet asylum of rest found in Jesus Christ, is continually striving for our destruction.
But, as believers in the cross of Christ, have
we realized the blessed privilege of that other II. The Willing and Obedient Servant. great word of the Gospel, that small yet Notice the nature of the directions given by mighty word, “Go”? “Go out into the the angel, and what was involved in obedience highways and hedges, and compel them to thereto. Verse 26 gives us the text of the
“Go, work to-day in my vineyard." angel's commission to Philip. In a sense It was the inspiration of that great word Philip is to proceed under sealed orders. The that moved Philip to obedience. We dare directions are simple in terms as far as they not leave this thought of loving obedience to go. Go to a certain road. Yet in a sense they the commands of God without emphasizing are vague and indefinite. Sixty miles of desert another fact in this connection, namely, that highway, with the haughty, wicked city of in proportion as we obey present revelations of Gaza at the southern terminus, was a command God's will, future and fuller revelations will seriously requiring some more definite state- appear. Philip had plainly revealed to him ments as to what duty was to be met, and the direction he was to take, "Arise, and go where the field of future work was to be found. toward the south, unto the way that .... is The angel had revealed to Philip just enough desert.” This command was sufficient for to indicate some of the difficulties in the way. prompt action at that bour. Philip had To ordinary human nature such directions capital enough at that moment to go right to would make rooun for two or three questions of work for God in the new field. When the hour a very practical character just here. Natural, of opportunity came for other work than
walking a desert highway, verse 29 informs us that another revelation was given. Philip is on the journey, he is overtaken by the chariot of the Ethiopian ; " Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." This higher revelation was given to Philip through obedience to the former revelation. God always furnishes revelations of duty in instalments according to the necessities of the hour and the measure of our faith. The way at first may seem dark. The commands of God may seem foolish to the demands of expediency. Human reason may stagger and fall and refuse to go farther. But to the eye of faith the “ inventory of the universe is in heaven.” He will reveal place and method when the hour of opportunity strikes.
III. A Bible-reading Traveller. How seldom do we see the Word of God in the hands of travellers to-day! If you want to be conspicuous and regarded as a little “cranky," take your Bible and read it on the railroad train.
This Bible-reading traveller offered Philip a better chance to preach the Gospel to him than the average hearer furnishes the preachers of to-day. He was prepared for the message. It is a significant statement in the lesson that Philip “opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." The eunuch had come from a period of profound meditation on the Word of God to hear the Gospel sermon. Philip had not to con. tend with a hearer who had come from the perusal of the Sunday newspaper to hear the sermon. Many times have we heard the casual remarks dropped from the lips of the careless hearer as he retired from church : "The preacher did not strike me to-day.” "He did not reach my need." "I don't think he prepared that sermon with his usual care." Dear friend, what about your preparation as a hearer by an hour's thought on the Word of God, or a few moments' earnest meditation on the interests of your soul before you heard that sermon! You come from the wild clamour of the stock-exchange ; you come from the cankering cares of the business week; and expect the man in the pulpit to banish all this influence in the short hour of service, and feed you with the “ bread of life," without one moment's preparation by earnest prayer or devout reading.
Again, this Bible-reading traveller had some difficulties in the way of his receiving
the truth as it is in Jesus, He had his doubts, as we all have. But he did not make an idol of his doubts and set it up as an object of worship.
Almost in the same breath whereby the Ethiopian expressed his donbt he uttered the words of his confession of faith, “I believe that Jesus Christ" is the Son of God, and that moment the recording angel wrote his name in the Book of Life.
IV. The Rejoicing Christian. Our Bible story ends well. The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. Philip had been the instrument of converting the eunuch to Christ, not to the preacher. The soul that truly finds Christ does not backslide when the evangelist goes away, or when the minister changes his appointment. He is in possession of the Divine Comforter as Companion. The man has entered a life of trust whose elements are joy and peace in the Holy Ghost.–(E. M. Taylor.)
LORD'S SUPPER PROFANED,
1 Cor. xi. 20-34,
"THE most sacred of Christian ordinances had been allowed to degenerate into a bacchanalian revel not easily to be distinguished from a Greek drinking party.” Such was the evil condition against which St. Paul turned the indignant, yet singularly calm and moderate, protest of the verses before us. Let us seek for the special lessons which his words contain.
I. By class distinctions the Lord's table is profaned.
In the Church at Corinth there were divisions, strifes, heresies. It was uppermost in the minds of those who gathered at the table that others upon whom they looked belonged to one faction or another, and were rich or poor. The question of privilege was before all minds. Of such Christians gathering in such a spirit it was said, “When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord's supper.” They had no intention to celebrate the Lord's supper. When they came to the table of the rich, they learned that not their riches but themselves were the objects of His interest. Life's distinctions should be left behind. In the spirit of perfect brotherhood men should