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FELLOWSHIP

WE

SHOULD SEEK.

that are spoken to us,” but act upon them, love and their earnest prayers ; (3) commen. accept Jesus Christ as our own Saviour and dation to God there and then. For there can Lord, and yield ourselves to Him and to His be no doubt that this Christian fellowship was holy service.

literally an adieu, that more than one of that

company led the others in prayer for the FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. guidance, the protection, the inspiration, and CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.

the blessing of God on behalf of their beloved

friend and teacher. But what isAfter the uproar was ceased Paul called

II. The CHRISTIAN unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed. : : And there accompanied

If Paul with all his spiritual him into Asia Sopater of Berea, &c. strength felt the need and the worth of Acts xx. 1, 4.

human affection and Christian friendship, THERE was so much of the spiritual and the much more may we.

Doubtless God could sacrificial about the character and the life of enable us to dispense with it, but this is His Paul, that we gladly dwell upon those touches chosen way of working for us and within us. that were human in his history. He leaned The interest, the sympathy, the love, the so much on his Divine Master's strength, and kindness of a true human heart is not only was so absorbed in His cause, that we carefully the type, but the channel of His own goodness note the occasions when he availed himself of and faithfulness. We need not, therefore, the friendship of his kind. He was not in- claim or wish to be able to do without it. different to the recognition of him granted by We should seek it, for it is His will that we the “pillars” of the Church (Gal. ii. 9). should avail ourselves of it. We should find His “spirit was refreshed” by the coming of it in some Christian Church or society with Stephanas and his companions (1 Cor. xvi. which we can connect ourselves. From the 17, 18). He felt indebted to Onesiphorus, members of such a community we have a inasmuch as that disciple was “not ashamed right to look for-1. Cordial recognition of our of his chain in Rome, and ministered in many faith in Jesus Christ, and our attachment to things to him at Ephesus” (1 Tim. ii. 16, 17). Him and His cause; 2. Patience and help The desertion of Demas and of other disciples in our upward struggle, in our spiritual distressed him (2 Tim. iv. 10, 16). The coming endeavour after excellency of character and of the brethren to meet him when on his way blamelessness of life ; 3. Sympathy in our to the trial at Rome cheered his heart (Acts difficulties, our sorrows, our defeats ; 4. Co. xxviii. 15). We do not wonder, then, that we operation in Christian work. Of those who read of this instance of fraternal affection. It accompanied Paul into Asia (ver. 4) we know is worth while to consider

but little, but it was not a little thing that I. WHAT CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP MEANT they did accompany him, and render that

It was natural and wise that great Apostle valued co-operation in his after the storm through wh they had just missionary work Alone we can effect but passed (chap. xix.), and before Paul's de.

small things;

accompanied" and sustained parture from Ephesus, there should be a con- by the fellowship and service of others we can ference and a demonstration of brotherly accomplish much. But if we have a strong love. 1. In view of what had just happened, sense of our claim upon others for their friend. it meant (1) sympathy with those who had ship, it behoves us to weigh well what isrun the greatest risks and suffered the severest III. THE CHRISTIAN injuries ; (2) congratulation that in such

It is, we know, more deadly peril no life had been taken; (3) common blessed to give than to receive. And this thanksgiving to God that He had brought blessedness is not confined to one sphere, it them out of that tumult without loss, and extends to all. It is true of Christian fellowespecially that He had preserved one invaluable ship. We should be dissatisfied with ourlife; perhaps (4) satisfaction and encourage- selves unless we are extending to all whom we ment in the fact that the idolaters by their can reach the sympathy and the succour of a very resentment bore witness to the progress true brotherliness. 1. We should be approach. of the truth. 2. In view of the Apostolic able by all. Instead of repelling by our attifuture, it meant (1) a deep interest in the work tude, we should invite men to approach and to to which Paul was about to address himself ; address us. If it is worth while to cultivate (2) promise to follow him with their watchful the manner which is appreciated in the

AT THIS HOUR.

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FELLOWSHIP

WE

SHOULD

OFFER.

means

COMPREHENSIVENESS

OF

OUR

market and in the drawing-room, should we honour Him, or the consecration of heart and not count it to be a part of our Christian life to His service. It does not necessarily education to secure the bearing which becomes include an absolute and unfailing integrity, an us in the Church of Christ ? 2. We should be undeviating and blameless conformity to His responsive. We may meet the advances of law; for this is the attainment of a long our brethren with a rigid formality, with a Christian life or the fruition of that life in the frigid politeness ; we may meet them, if we heavenly kingdom ; but it does include an will be like our Lord, with warm and genial

honest and earnest endeavour to know and do cordiality. 3. We should seek and find those and bear the holy will of God. Conscious who need us- -(1) The sick and the suffering

rectitude towards man ins-(1) Perfect who need the alleviation of a friendly visit. honesty in all business transactions. (2) The (2) The lonely who crave nothing so much as discharge of those grave obligations which human intercourse, and to whom the exchange belong to the family relationship. (3) True of the simple commonplaces is a real enjoy. neighbourliness in spirit, in bearing, in be. ment. (3) The sorrowful and the troubled, to haviour. (4) Sincere patriotism. (5) Cherish. whom genuine sympathy, apart from any wise ing the sympathy and showing the kindness words we may be able to utter, is precious which are due to the ignorant, the down. beyond all price.

trodden, the destitute, 'the sad and the

suffering, of the children of men. We cannot SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.

have a conscience void of offence unless we OUR GREAT POSSESSION.

not only shun those courses and actions

which positively injure and distress, but also Having hope toward God .... that there

do those things and sustain those relations shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust. Herein do I also exercise myself to

which righteousness and mercy require at our have a conscience void of offence toward God

hands. This statement of duty implies— and toward men alway.--Acts xxiv. 15, 16. II. THE THERE are many things it is good to have--a RESPONSIBILITY : always,” or in everysubstantial provision for our necessities or thing. It is obvious that there can be nothing (what is better) a good opening for remunera- too great for conscience to be concerned in it. tive work; a large stock of health, strength,

But there can also be nothing too small. The spirit; intellectual power and a thorough

realm of conscience includes the entire surface education ; kind kindred and “troops of

of human life as well as the full depth of friends." But there is one thing which it is human nature. It extends to every simple far better to have than any or all of these ; it

action, to every "idle word.” It goes down may be considered

to the hidden thoughts and the untold feelings I. OUR GREAT POSSESSION : and that is "a

that find their way into the secret chambers good conscience" (chap. xxiii. 1),

of our soul. All that is within us, all that science void of offence toward God and toward proceeds from us, comes into its court and inen." Without this, all other things are

receives its verdict. unstable and seriously incomplete. Without III. ITS WORTHINESS OF EARNEST AND this, human life is a long way below its true PATIENT EFFORT. Herein “do I exercise level, and the human spirit is destitute of its myself.” “I make it the continual care and real strength and its chief glory.

study of my life.” That we fail to become This " conscience void of offence" means what God is expecting us to be ; that we more than a sense of security or of sufficiency; habitually do or say some things which He for that may be wholly false, and the man does not approve ; that we fall short of the who is comforting his heart with a delusion is just expectations of those we serve; that we to be pitied beyond all others. It means wound or irritate those with whom we come conscious rectitude, being right and feeling that into daily contact—these things are not to be we are right with our God and with our dismissed with a complacent shrug ; they ar

are neighbour. Conscious rectitude toward God not to be excused by a light-hearted reference means-1. Being forgiven by Him, and being to our constitutional weaknesses. If we are restored to His favour. It means, therefore, regularly grieving God, or constantly offending 2. The cordial acceptance of Jesus Christ as our neighbour, that ought seriously to trouble our Lord and Saviour (John iii. 15, 16, vi. 39). our spirit. We ought not to be able to endure And it includes—3. Living to serve and it; we ought to give ourselves earnestly to

“& con

IT.

the removal of that defect in our character, great strait.” He may have spent many, that blemish in our conduct. If we would not many, anxious hours over the difficulty. tolerate any error in the keeping of our 2. His choice was more devout in form than accounts, or any obvious stain on our gar- in substance ; for, had he chosen defeat in ment, or injury to our furniture, how much war, he would still have been" in the hand less should we permit any palpable fault or of God.” His victorious and pursuing enemies failure in our character, in ourselves ? Το could not have carried their triumph one step have a clear conscience, to be living a life farther than God consented. 3. It is highly of real loyalty to Jesus Christ and of faith- probable that, after the choice was made, fulness toward all around us -- this is an David was doubtful of its wisdom. These end for which we should willingly take any “Chronicles " leave much to our imagination, trouble, or give any time, or make any sacri- and we may well believe that when the King fice that may be required. Daily, hourly knew that seventy thousand of his subjects “exercise,” the strenuous and persevering had died, and saw that Jerusalem was threatendeavour of the soul, is well spent in such ened, he changed his mind and wished he had a cause, in the interests of our thorough chosen otherwise ; probably he thought that, spiritual integrity.

if he had done so, he might have suffered IV. A STRONG INDUCEMENT TO PURSUE more, but his people less (see ver. 17). We A clear conscience is a possession which,

may considerof itself, is simply priceless. But Paul I. THE ELEMENT OF CHOICE IN THE EVILS suggests to us that, “on this account,” we OF LIFE. Two things are open to us here. should pursue it, viz., that “there shall be 1. One relates to the measure of trouble we a resurrection both of the just and unjust." experience. By healthy habits, by obedience Soon we shall appear before our Lord and to the laws of our spiritual and our physical Judge. Soon all those worldly considerations

nature, by keeping within the lines of wisdom which affect us so much now will be of abso.

and virtue, by commending ourselves to the lutely no importance. Soon it will be every- approval of man and also of God, we may thing to have lived aright, in the enjoyment materially reduce the measure of evil which of God's good pleasure and in the loving and otherwise we should endure. 2. The other holy service of our race. Soon we shall want relates to the kind of trouble we are called to to appear before the Searcher of hearts with face. It is often left to our choice to decide a spirit cleansed of all that is impure, and whether we will meet the dangers, the difficlothed upon with all that is worthy in His culties, the temptations, the trials of our sight. In view of the fact that life is swiftly condition in life, or those of the opposite passing into the shadows, and that the day of condition-whether those of ignorance or account is approaching, let us diligently and of learning, of loneliness or of society, of devoutly seek to attain to all purity of heart obscurity or of conspicuousness and responand all uprightness of deed before God and sibility. It may be timidity or cowardice

that inclines us to the one, and high-minded SUNDAY IN SCHOOL.

courage that incites us to the other ; or it may SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER be modesty and wisdom that urge us to the TRINITY

one, and nothing better than an unhallowed THE CHOICE OF TROUBLES. ambition, or even an exaggerated sense of imAnd David said unto God, I am in a great

portance, that allures to the other. It behoves strait ; let me fall now into the hand of the

us, as we stand in front of the future, with Lord, for very great are His mercies : and let our path in life before us, very earnestly me not fall into the hand of man.-1 CHRON, to seek the guidance of God, that we may xxi. 13.

choose that course, the perils of which we Who is there that has not wished that God may face with hope, the evils of which we would give him the choice of the evils which shall endure with calmness and fortitude. he had to suffer; and who is there that would II. THE WORKING OF THE DIVINE HAND not have been seriously embarrassed if that

The measure and the nature of wish had been fulfilled! But, it may be said, our troubles is uncertain. That they will the text does not support that view. Does it come is as certain as anything can be. No not? 1. David was very much troubled when good fortune," no sagacity, no caution will the time for decision came: he was “in a exclude them from the experience of life.

man.

IN THEM.

1. Our preference in regard to their form. Like David, we prefer to feel ourselves in the hand of God rather than in the hand of men. We feel that our burden is heavier when it is due to human carelessness, and heavier still when due to human heartlessness and malignity. The severest aggravation of trouble is where the evil that has been wrought is the work of some near relative or some familiar friend, or some old colleague from whom we had a right to expect quite opposite treatment (see Ps. lv. 12-14). We feel that if we are to have suffering or sorrow we should much prefer the unaccountable sickness, or the unavoidable loss, or the inevitable bereavement which we can refer at once to the ordinary will of God. 2. The truth we recognize when we consider it. As we think on this subject we realize that all trouble is ultimately of God. (1) Much of it is penal, the just consequence of ill-doing, the outcome of those laws which originate in Divine holiness. (2) Much of it is disciplinary ; it is the pruning, the refining process of Him who is seeking spiritual fruit ; it is the ordering of the wise and faithful Father of spirits (Heb.

THE INTERNATIONAL LESSON.

THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST.

Acts i. 1-12. It will be interesting to note the reasons why Jesus did not ascend into heaven immediately after His resurrection from the dead, but remained forty days longer on earth. First : He wished His disciples to know beyond all peradventure that He was not dead, but living, and alive for evermore. To this end “He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs.” Whatever His disciples may have thought of Him previously, they must henceforth know Him as the conqueror of death and hell. As to His Divine character and work, they could no longer cherish a shadow of doubt. Second : He desired to teach His disciples some things which hitherto they had been unable to receive. In particular, He wanted them to understand about His kingdom, to which they had previously attached all sorts of carnal notions. So it is written, “He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Third : during these forty days He

xii. 1-12). (3) All of it is permissive. If the sparrow does not fall without the Divine permission, how much less does the obedient son or daughter suffer grief or pass through troublous times or go down to death without the sanction of the present and watchful Lord. So that, whatever comes and whencesoever it comes, we are free to think and say, “Thy will be done, Lord"; the trial never comes to us when we are not “in the hand of the Lord." 3. The attitude we should assume toward it. Even when we have to reproach ourselves, or even when we are obliged to condemn our neighbours or our ancestors as the immediate authors of our trouble, we may and we should accept it as that which comes in the providence of God. (1) We should bow subinissively to. His will who (to say the least) suffers us to be tried as we are. (2) We should seek from Him the sustaining strength which will empower us to bear all things unrepiningly and even cheerfully. (3) We should have an open mind to perceive, and an open heart to welcome the practical lessons which our heavenly Father is desiring to teach us.

WILLIAM CLARKSON, B.A.

planned the campaign which is to result in the conquest of all nations to the glory of His name. We cannot place too strong an emphasis on the parting injunctions here: delivered to the disciples—and to us—by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I. “He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait.” This was not an easy thing for them to do. Flushed with the memory of the glorious things which the Master had been revealing to them, they were doubtless in a mood to go everywhere proclaiming His kingdom. But return to Jerusalem, said He, “and wait.” There were good reasons for this. requirement. 1. It was proper that Jerusalem should be geographically the point of departure for the new order of things. “Sal. vation is of the Jews." "Go ye everywhere, beginning at Jerusalem.” Here is the metro. polis of redemption (Micah iv. 2). It begins, in Jerusalem, the capital of Jewry, and proceeds to Rome, the capital of the world. 2. The disciples needed a season of mutual con

ference and prayer. To hasten to their work fitfully and each for himself would be to court despondency and failure. 3. They were to "wait” for a special preparation. They were not yet ready for their work. It pays to be well prepared for anything, most of all for the work of the kingdom of Christ.

II, Our Lord in this last interview with His disciples gave them, with renewed emphasis, the glorious promise of the Holy Ghost. This was

the promise of the Father" (John xiv. 16; also xv. 26). The man who imagines that he can set about the affairs of the king. dom of righteousness in strength of his own will make a lamentable failure of it. Let him tarry at Jerusalem until he has received the promise of the Father. When the fire descends upon him, and he is endued with power from on high, nothing will seem impossible to him.

III. In this last conference of Jesus with His disciples He disclosed to them the plan of future operations. Had the attention of a passer-by been directed to the six-score or thereabouts who were gathered on Olivet on this occasion with the remark that these few working people--this feeble folk like the conies -were being organized for universal conquest, he would have pronounced it the wildest scheme that was ever heard of. Jesus not only gave the disciples to understand that He Himself was, through the influence of His ever-present Spirit, to take charge of the propaganda, but He issued clear and specific directions as to how it should be carried on.

First: for reasons already noted, they were to make Jerusalem their starting-point. Second :

: they were to wait for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This was to mark their initiation into the dispensation of the Spirit, or new order of things. Third :

: they were to proceed in their work with a clear understanding of the fact that their only power was from God.

Fourth: the followers of Christ were to be "witnesses unto Him." Words in due season, spoken from the pulpit or anywhere else, are like apples of gold shining through the meshes of a silver basket; but a Christlike life is like a lighthouse on a rocky coast : multitudes are saved by it. All lives, indeed, are testimonies ; every man on earth is lending his influence in behalf of truth or falsehood, for Christ or against Him. Character will out. Our creed is the thing we live by.

Fifth : this witnessing must be universal. ** Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in

Jerusalem and in all Judæa and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Observe, the disciples are not made responsible for the conversion of the world, but only for its evangelization. They are to see that the story of redemption is told everywhere ; and God Himself will do the rest.

IV. Then cometh the end. “ He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” The consummation of the Divine plan for the deliverance of our sinful race is to be signalized by the second coming of Christ. 1. When? “It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has put in His own power.” This ought to be enough. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. The appointed time is a state secret, and we cannot guess within a thousand years of it. 2. How? “In like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” In like manner His re-coming is to be a real personal advent. 3. What then? It behoves us to watch. Not to watch as do certain wiseacres, who lean indolently out of their windows with eyes towards the east, but as the Lord's faithful workmen, who have much to do and know that the husbandman may return at any moment. “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven ?"—(D. J. Burrell, D.D.)

THE DESCENT OF THE SPIRIT.

Acts ii. 1.12. We note five features in the gift of power which the exalted Lord sent upon His waiting Church.

1. The gift was supernatural. A supernatural factor was present. The mighty wind rushing down from heaven was the outward token of a personal energy immeasurably greater than any which belongs to man, an energy coming down from God to man. The luminous flame about their foreheads, like the Shekinah above the mercy-seat, unmistakable sign of the supernatural presence of the living God.

The supernatural force began at once to work within them. The incoming Spirit intensified and illuminated their perceptions, as an increase of oxygen brightens the flame of the lime-light. Peter's address, which immediately follows, shows how the Spirit clarified their mental vision. They understood the Gospel now as never before. At last they could appreciate the necessity and glory of the death, resurrection, and ascension of

was

an

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