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TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY our behaviour which are irremovable, and AFTER TRINITY.
must be accepted as an inevitable detraction THE ETERNAL SAVIOUR.
from our worth and influence. But by what Wherefore also He is able to save to the
right do we accept these as permanent and uttermost them that draw near unto God incurable? With an ever-living Saviour, a through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make helpful High Priest, "ever living to make intercession for them.--HEB. vii. 25.
intercession,” able to save His people to the HAPPILY we are not dependent on this or any uttermost from all their sin and shortcoming, other single passage of Scripture for our we ought to be striving for and expecting belief in the doctrine that Christ's power to a full deliverance, a complete salvation, save is practically unlimited. We are not thorough sanctity of spirit and excellency certain that the word rendered " to the utter- of life. We have no leave to settle down most” has more than a temporal significance. into a complacent tolerance of any evil Probably it has. But if the text does not thing in temper or in spirit, in speech or positively affirm, it supports and suggests the in conduct. truth, left beyond all doubt elsewhere, that III. WILL CONTINUE THROUGH ALL GENEthe power of Christ to save
RATIONS. Many systems have had a brief I. Is UNCONDITIONED BY THE CHARACTER day of power and have passed away. They
However complicated or have had adventitious or spasmodic advan. aggravated that may be, no fear or doubt
tages, and have done great things for a little neel be entertained for a moment. Men may, while. Then testing time has come, and and they sometimes do, think that their sin is they have waned and disappeared. Jesus unpardonable, or that their true manhood Christ has not lost one jot or tittle of His cannot be restored, that no human or Divine power to heal and save. Where His truth power can raise and renew them. But Scrip- has been corrupted it has been enfeeblel, ture and experience alike prove that they are as we can well understand it must be ; but wrong. There is no depth of iniquity to where it has been cleansed of its accretions which man can descend from which the power and has been presented in its purity, it has of Christ cannot lift him up. There are no proved “the power of God unto salvation.” crimes against heaven and earth which the This it is proving now. At home and abroad mercy of God in Jesus Christ will not cover. it is found to be the one sovereign power that He saves to the uttermost.
transforms the base, that uplifts the deII. EXTENDS THROUGH THE
graded, that arouses the sluggish, that calls OUR HUMAN LIFE. We may have to change the worldly to the service of God, that makes priests or pastors, and we may be troubled by the selfish to be concerned for the welfare of the fact. We have not to change one Saviour their kind, that comforts the sorrowful, that for another. The thought is too familiar to cheers the lonely, that gives peace in strife affect us, but it is a very precious truth that and hope in death. It shows no signs of age, all our life through we have to do with an no symptoms of decay. There is nothing unchanging Lord and Friend. It means, 1. ready to supply its place. Eighteen centuries That Christ is ours through all the successive of physical research and philosophic inquiry periods of our life, each one of which has its have not provided any substitute for Christian own dangers and difficulties, and demands truth. It is Christ alone who can speak to special grace and power. Of Him do we all us with authority upon God, upon sin, upon receive “grace upon grace," one kindness after human life, upon the future ; it is He alone another, varying according to the stage we that can give rest to heavy-laden souls. Christ have reached and to the peculiar need of the is proving to be the Eternal Saviour to whom passing hour (see John i. 16). 2. That in any mankind in every age can turn with trustful great sorrow or emergency that may overtake and thankful heart. To whom, if not to us we are sure to have our Divine Friend to Him, shall we go? He only has the words whom we can resort, and on whose sympathy of eternal life on His lips, and the gift of and succour we can rely. 3. That in the eternal life in His hand. great, continuous work of spiritual cul. But if we would find we must seek. It is ture we may count on His help. We are in "they who draw near to God through Him" some serious danger of supposing that there that are saved. We must-1. Gladly and are faults in our character and blemishes in gratefully receive the great truth of God's
Fatherhood as taught by Jesus Christ ; 2. Contidently approach our Heavenly Father through His mediation ; 3. Eagerly accept the grace of God unto eternal life for His sake.
trust our woril absolutely. So do we "render
We can hardly conceive of Divine service without this element of praise ; and this seems to our thought the best and truest Christian form of the sacrifice of the lips. To adore the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the majesty of God ; to celebrate His faithfulness and truth ; to bless Hiin for His bounty, and His patience, and His watchful love ; to magnify the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in sacred song-how excellent is this ! How certain it is that the Church will always be able to say, “Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion." Unitedly, intelligently, heartily, spiritually, should we render this most pleasant, most acceptable sacritice.
IV. THE SACRIFICE OF PRAYER. indeed be truly said that it is not necessary that the lips should be opened in order that prayer be offered, that there is often the truest prayer where no sound is heard. Sacred history and our consciousness attest this. Yet the lips have a service to render and a sacrifice to offer here. By utterance of our thought we help ourselves to pray ; for expression kindles, sustains, directs devotion. And by uttering our thought we help others to pray. When we enable other hearts to draw near to God, to give Hiin thanks, to ask for His help anı! blessing, to plead for the prosperity of the cause of Christ-then do we render to our brethren a very valuable service, and to Him, to our God, a true and acceptable sacrifice. It is a “gift” that should be cultivateil, especially by the young, for its possession anal exercise greatly enhance the usefulness of a Christian life.
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER
HOSEA xiv. 2. By “taking with us words,” in speech or in sacred song, we can render to God the calves, i.l., the sacrifice, of our lips. The gift of speech is one that we sometimes speak of as distinguishing us from the animal creation ; but its very commonness, and the constancy with which we use it, make us less sensible of it, and therefore less grateful for it than we should be. Not only with the tougne, but for it, should we “bless God” (James iii. 9). But it may be well first to remember that there is
I. THE SACRIFICE OF SILENCE. It is a great thing to know how to serve our Lord and our neighbour by keeping the lips closed. Το withlold the biting sarcasm
or the keen retort which would inflict on a human spirit a deep and rankling wound ; to keep back the pleasantry which might amuse a company, but which might grieve God by its irreverence or its inconsiderateness ; to restrain the reply which rises to the lips when provoked by stupidity, or carelessness, or ill-will ; to refrain from repeated condemnation of children or servants, because we do much more harm than good by perpetual scolding ; to be silent when we are tempted to speak, but when the closed mouth is wiser and kinder than the uttered word ;-this is a true and acceptable “sacrifice of the lips.”
II. THE SACRIFICE OF TRUTHFULNESS. We are bound to truthfulness by the express commandment of God and by the claims of our fellow-men (Eph. iv. 25). We render this sacrifice, not merely by refusing to stoop to downright, deliberate falsehood, but by avoiding the utterance which is fitted to convey a false impression ; by avoiding the evil and pernicious habit of exaggeration and caricature-a habit very easily caught, but only with great difficulty conquered ; by that strong, abiding, working conviction of the sacredness of truth which constrains our neighbours to feel that they can take and
AND CONFESSION. Here we are very near the exaet thought of the prophet. Hosea bids Israel to return in penitence to God, to “take words” of humble acknowledgment on its tongue, and so render the calves of the lips. One before him had said, “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Humility is the gateway that opens into the kingdom of Christ (see Matt. v. 3). When with deep and true penitence of spirit we take with us words, words of Scripture, or those of the hymns we sing in service, or those which our own hearts prompt us to use, and when we seek God's mercy in Jesus Christ, we then offer an
acceptable sacrifice, and “ with the mouth brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus confession is made into salvation."
Christ,” i.e., they might confidently expect the VI. THE SACRIFICE OF HELPFULNESS. By largest and richest blessings which the mani. the timely, thoughtful, helpful word, we may festation of the grace of Christ was fitted to render service to man and sacrifice to God. bring with it. We may strive and we may 1. The word of warning. To him who is look for the greatest good, the fullest proclearly moving down the slope at the end of sperity in connection with tho Gospel, but at which is wrong and ruin, to her who is the same time we must cherish and exercise evidently losing the faith and love she once spiritual sobriety. had, we may address the admonitory word and I. IN THE
OF CHRISTIAN seck to save from the evil which impends. DOCTRINE. 1. The Church at Thessalonica 2. The word of comfort. To one who is in had a strong hold on the doctrine of the difficulty, or disappointment, or anxiety, or second coming of Christ. “The coming of bereavement, or loneliness, we may speak the the Lord draweth nigh," was its watch word, word which will bring a smile to the counten. its prevailing thought. It had a right to ance, a light to the path, a hope to the heart. anticipate the hour when there would be 3. The word of encouragement. To our neigh- another manifestation of its Lord. But it bour whose mind is turning to the truth, fell into insobriety of thought and of conduct whose soul is seeking God, we may utter the in this matter. Its members thought that woril of enlightenment and spiritual guidance as Jesus Christ might appear among them at which may help him to find the Saviour he is any hour, they need not concern themselves seeking, and the rest and joy which are to be with the ordinary duties of life, with profound in Hin. 4. The word of challenge. vision for its bodily necessities, and they To those in the same house, school, class, or
began to be “
disorderly.” They had to be shop, we may go and say, Let us move forward rebuked by the Apostle Paul 2 Thess. iii.), together to religious decision, or to an open and summoned to be sober in doctrine and in confession of Christ, or to some good work of deed. 2. The Church at Corinth had an Christian service, or to some greater generosity unusual share of “gists,” particularly of the in His cause ; let us unite to serve God and “gift of tongues." The members of that our neighbours as we have never done yet. Church had a perfect right to make the most Thus by timely and helpful words shall we of its possession. But they were bound to "render the calves of our lips.”
hold their special powers in subordination to
the great ends of glorifying Christ and of ADVENT SUNDAY.
edifying one another, This they did not SPIRITUAL SOBRIETY. do ; they were not taking a sober view of the Be sober.-1 PETER i. 13.
subject, and hail to be corrected (1 Cor. xiv.). This injunction may refer inferentially to 3. It is a distinct Christian doctrine that the practice of temperance as commonly un- we must be "separate” from the world ; derstood, but its significance and scope are that while in it, we are not to be of it. much deeper and wider than that. Writing But the hermits of the earlier time and of the surpassing excellence of that great the monks and nuns and the ascetics of salvation of which prophets nad prophesied, a later and of the present time, fell into into which angels desired to look, which had sad insobriety when they sought to retire been really made known by the Spirit of God altogether from the engagements and rela(ver. 12), Peter urges his readers to " gird tionships of human life. Painful facts have up the loins of their mind," i.l., to call superabundantly proved that we cannot de. forth all their spiritual resources that they cline what our Heavenly Father offers us may understand and appreciate it; he then without doing ourselves harm rather than bids them “be sober," i.e., exercise in this good. One the other hand, proof abounds great matter a sound judgment, command on every side that in accepting the joys themselves, not be led to harmful extremes, and filling the spheres which open to us in or give way to illusions that would disappoint the providence of God we may
" walk holily, them, but maintain a manly, intelligent, righteously, and blamelessly,” and adorn the healthful self-restraint. Doing this, they doctrine of our Saviour in all things. It might “set their hope perfectly (to the fullest is the sober view of separateness from the possible limit) on the grace that was being world which is the right, wise, Christian THE INTERNATIONAL LESSON.
4. That “we are justified by faith” reception into our minds of the thoughts of is according to Scripture. By faith in Jesus God, of much fellowship with Jesus Christ, of Christ we have access to the grace of God; the wise use of all forms of Christian privi. believing on Him we have eternal life. But lege, of active work in the field of sacred when men say, as they have said, that when usefulness, of the lighter and also the severer we have once believed and been restored to discipline of the Lord of our life, of the wise the favour of God we cannot forfeit His Father of our spirit. That is the “sober " friendship by any folly, or even by any sin, view, strongly substantiated by Scripture, they fall into the gravest spiritual insobriety; constantly confirmed by the experience of the they push certain statements to an extreme, good. and they fall into dangerous, even destructive,
II. IN THE REGULATION OF CHRISTIAN 5. We are sanctified by the Spirit of God. When we have returned unto God and been received by Him, there remains much
III. IN THE NOURISHMENT OF CHRISTIAN
CHARACTER. in us that has to be removed from us, there
There is a kind of spiritual is much absent from us that has to be gained
sustenance which is pleasant “to the flesh," by us. We are not "complete in Him."
but which is dangerous, if not delusive ; it is The process of spiritual completion is the
that of perpetual religious excitement; the work of the Divine Spirit. But when it is
reading of those books and the hearing of maintained, as it has been, that if we only give
those sermons which make an almost unour hearts to Him and invite His entrance
broken appeal to the imagination. This and make entire surrender of ourselves, we
cannot be said to be taking milk (1 Cor. iii. 2), may be instantaneously lifted up to the
but drinking champagne. If we would build full height of holiness, then the mistake is
up a robust and fruitful Christian character made of not "being sober” in thought and in
we must eat the “strong meat” of Divine belief. Christian maturity is a growth ; it is
truth, which informs the inind, which enlarges the gradual upbuilding of ourselves on our
the view, which braces the will, which sus. holy faith ; it is the result of a strenuous
tains and strengthens the soul. There is struggle ; it is the consummation of a wise
much occasion here for attention to the and true Christian course ; it is the blessed
A postolic admonition--be sober. consequence of daily prayer, of the continual
William CLARKSON, B.A.
PETER DELIVERED FROM PRISON. fidelity as you view it in the light of Lot's Acts xii. 5.
fickleness. It is by comparison that character CHARACTER is revealed in its own light. It reveals itself. We never tire of setting men is self-interpreting. If you would appreciate of different epochs, experiences, abilities, and the size of the United States, you take some temperaments over against each other that State with which you are familiar, like we may gain a truer conception of the charMassachusetts, and lay it down again and acter of each by comparison. Sherman, the again upon the map, and by your comparison general, and Porter, the admiral, are each correct your estimate. If you would know reveal in the other's light. Lincoln is the preciousness of a jewel, you place it by the better known because of Washington. We side of another more or less resplendent, that shall know Peter better if at the outset we in this presence it may reveal itself. If you think of him and of Herod, who, at the time would know a man, you put him by the side of our text, had such cruel designs upon his of another man : his character is displayed in life. its strength or in its weakness by its oppo- Herod was born in a palace, was cradled in sition to or conformity with another character. the lap of royalty, schooled in the diplomacy You get a
new impression of Abraham's and sycophancy of a corrupt court, rose to
be himself a king over all Palestine with one strength of his kingdom are impotent. From unbridled ambition in his soul, namely, to the palace emanated proclamations, which by please. What was a life like that of James willing subjects were executed. From the or Peter if by its death he could win the prayer-meeting in the house of Mary there were approval of his courtiers ?
petitions which the angel of the Lord was Peter, on the other hand, was born in a honoured in executing. The unobserved fisherman's home, and enjoyed the comforts power of life is just as real as that which of a simple life. He struggled with the manifests itself. Until occasion call it forth, passion to please as he came to manhood. we little suspect its presence.
I. We have for our first thought the man- O Christian ! the strongest power in the pleasing or God-pleasing type of life. Will
world is yours.
Shorn, you may be, of you be Herod or Peter?
earthly strength, there still abides within Jeremiah would not temper his prophetic your reach a power which you can summon, utterances to meet the wishes of the fickle which you can invoke to the fulfilment of the monarch, and with cords was let down into
purposes of God. the dungeon in which there was no water, but III. The conquest of the impossible. Men mire.
bind shackles, station guards, lock doors, and Daniel would not close the window toward proudly defy deliverance. God sends His Jerusalem, and therefore was carried to the angel, shackles are unloosed, guards disden of lions.
comfited, locks picked. And so, almost indefinitely, illustrations No man has a commission to despair if might be multiplied of those whose pathway guarded by the angel of the Lord. In ways has led them through the prison in the pur- undreamed of, by methods unsuspected, that suit of the determined purpose of their lives. angel will work the works of God. Oh, for a Ask them, one and all, for their testimony- living, glowing consciousness of God's ability Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel—“Have you found to secure His own interests and to care for His a worthy comfort, an adequate satisfaction, own children! The conquest of the impossiblu an abiding joy in your life pursuit ?” and with is God's prerogative, for “with God all things one voice they will answer “Yes." Pleasing are possible." It remains for us to notice :-is not the supreme duty of life. One has no IV. Unrecognized answers to prayer. Is business to make himself obnoxious ; pleasing prayer a form ? Do we look for the answer ? has its part to play, but it is not a principal If it comes, is it to us an assurance or an part. “Better, a thousand times better, be astonishment ? The great surprise of many a Peter in his prison than Herod in his palace. Christian life to-day would be, I believe, the Better be a man without a country here and beholding of the prayers which had been sure of a kingdom there, than in this life to granted, and, in the answering attire, were get one's good things and to enter a pauper unrecoguized. into the life beyond."
Elijah wanted to know if his prayers were II. The second thing which impresses us in answered, and so after he had prayed on this narrative is the presence of unobserved
Carmel he sent his servant to the highest spur power. What we see is not power, but the to look toward the sea. * Nothing," said the exhibition, the manifestation, the illustration servant. More prayer from Elijah. “Nothing," of power. The thing itself is hidden in the again replies the servant. Another petition in visible laboratories of God, where it is manu- from the prophet, and so on for seven times, factured. One would have said that Herod and then a cloud out of the sea-small, the had the power. He had the prison with its size of a man's hand-and then black heavens, walls of cold, grey stone, and its gates of iron. clouds, wind, and a great rain. He ha the four quaternions of soldiers. He but half of the Christian privilege : to watch had the sentence of death signed and sealed. for the answer is the other half.-(Nehemiah The apparent power was with Herod, but Boynton.) there was a stronger than the apparent power. A little company in the upper chamber all
THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES, unknown, save possibly to Rhoda, hiding,
ACTS xiii. 1-13. perhaps in fear, from the cruelty of the pur- In the past few years we have often been suing Herod, are manipulating the levers of invited to read new books of history with very power against which the king and all the suggestive titles, such as “ The Making of
To pray is