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would not have been here. How many of your contemporaries have died! The companions of your childhood, the friends of your youth, the associates or rivals of your manhood, have gone down to the grave, but you are here still! Another year has passed away, each moment of which has been the last to some of your fellow mortals, but you get live. Why? Why this forbearance and long suffering in your case? Why are you spared, whilst thousands have perished? “ Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God!"
The suggestions here offered are but å few out of the multitude which would be appropriate to the season and to the text. The “ earnest desire and prayer" of the writer, for himself and his readers, is, that all, being saved, may be found steadfastly working for God, in humble dependence on his grace; and that this New Year may be marked by renewed earnestness in the cause of the best of all Masters, in the best of all services, and for the most glorious of all rewards. Success may not be immediate, but it will be certain. God will not be unmindful of the work of faith and labour of love, nor suffer it to pass unblessed.
“Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Learn to labour, and to wait.” “ Be ye steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
FAITHFUL IN LITTLE, FAITHFUL IN MUCH.
BY THE REV. A. M'LAREN, B.A. “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust alao in much."-Luke xvi. 10.
WHATEVER difficulties may pertain to , ing habitations." How to do it is another the interpretation of the parable of which matter ; but the point of the parable is this saying is the close (and they are great), this : Earthly possessions, that a unrightthe general scope of it can scarcely be mis- | eous mammon” that tempts us, we may so taken. It is that parable of the dishonest use as to make them occasions for the steward, who squandered his lord's sub largest spiritual blessings to come down stance, and then, when about to be put upon us, and helps to us in the Divine out of the stewardship, made friends for life. Christ gathers these thoughts tohimself by the crafty use of it. Christ gether in the three statements,"He that takes that illustration- lifts it up, as it is faithful in that which is least, is faithful were, into the higher region of Christian also in much ;" He that is faithful in the life, in such a fashion as that all the grosser unrighteous mammon, will have committed parts of it drop off; and he proposes the to his trust the true riches; and, He that example of the man who so used worldly is faithful in the administration of these goods which were his master's (as all our earthly goods, which at the best are not earthly goods are) as to secure for himself his, will get for his possession and his joy everlasting friends and immortal helps. the true inheritance which indeed is his And, says Christ, “I say unto you”-put own. I do not wish to dwell now upon ting aside the dishonesty, which we do not that contrast which Christ draws here transfer into the spiritual region—"I say between earthly possessions and spiritual unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the riches. All earthly things come under the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when 1. category of " that which is least." Everyye fail, they may receive you into everlast. | thing that a man has, is the lesser ; that which a man is, is the greater. "A man's l. measuring the magnitude of our life by the life consisteth not in the abundance of apparent consequences of our deeds-oh! things which he possesseth ;" and the it is the very ruin of all true strength, largest resources, the mightiest wealth, the and of all true obedience too. Nothing is loftiest position, are all massed together great, nothing is small, except according as in that one class, “that which is least.” On the reason for which I do it is lofty, bethe other hand, the possessions that belong cause it is obedience to God; or is lowly to the spirit-love, faith, obedience, joy in and mean, because it is pleasure to myself. the Lord-these are the things which are Everything that a man can do is great and "the greatest.” So much, then, for the awful. The spirit that is in him makes all original and proper use of the saying be the beatings of that soul, all the workings fore us; but (as is true in regard to all of that nature, terrible with the light of Christ's words) they are like the precious immortality, splendid and awful with the stone which the Book of Proverbs speaks irradiation of immortal consequences. If about-whichever way you turn them, light / I have a soul that lives for ever, and can comes out from them ;—and this saying of pour that immortal being into every deed the text is a very wide principle, which that I do, what can be little to the making applies to a great many other things be of which there goes the force of a soul that sides the stewardship of earthly goods. can know God, and the power of a spirit “He that is faithful in that which is that must abide for evermore? Nothing is least, is faithful also in much," is a de small that a spirit can do. Nothing is claration that TRUE FIDELITY TAKES NO small which can be done from a mighty ACCOUNT OF THE APPARENT MAGNITUDE motive. The least action of life can be as OF THE ACTIONS IN WHICH IT IS EM surely and as perfectly done from the PLOYED ; is a declaration that TRUE FT loftiest purpose and from the loftiest DELITY IN THE SMALLEST THINGS IS reason, as the highest and the noblest. HARDER THAN FIDELITY IN THE GREATEST; Faithfulness measures acts as God measures and is a declaration that FAITHFULNESS IN them. True conscientiousness deals with THY LITTLE SPHERE WILL FIT THEE FOR, our duties as God deals with them. Duty AND THEREFORE WILL SECURE THY POS is duty, conscience is conscience, right is SESSING, A LARGER AND NOBLER SPHERE right, and wrong is wrong, whatever sized IN GOD'S OWN GOOD TIME. “He that is type they be printed in. “Large" or faithful in the least, is faithful also in "small” are not words for the vocabulary much :" therefore, all fidelity is one; there of conscience. It knows only two wordsfore, the smallest includes the greatest; right and wrong. And, just as the quality therefore, the smallest prepares for the of life may be as perfect in the minutest greatest.
animalculæ, of which there may be millions Now let me just ask you to look, for a in a cubic inch, and generations may die in moment or two, at these three considera- 1 an hour-just as perfect in the smallest intions that I have thus laid before you. sect as in “behemoth, biggest born of First, from the highest point of view. TRUE earth;" so righteousness may be as comFAITHFULNESS KNOWS NO DISTINCTION pletely embodied, as perfectly set forth, as BETWEEN GREAT AND SMALL DUTIES. fully operative, in the tiniest action that I From the highest point of view-that is, can do, as in the largest that an immortal from God's point of view to him, nothing spirit can be set to perform. The circle is great, nothing small, as we measure it. that is in a gnat's eye is as true a circle as The worth and the quality of an action the circle that holds within its sweep all does not depend on the quantity of an, the stars ; and the sphere that a dewdrop action; the largeness of the consequences makes is as perfect a sphere as that which of anything that we do, is no measure of we call the world. And so with regard to the true greatness and true value of it. So right and wrong, duty, fidelity, conscience, it is in regard to God himself, and his ---as my text says, there is no question of own workings and doings : to him, for his big or little in its law. All daties are loftiness, there is nothing high ; to him, the same which are done from the same for his gentleness, there is nothing low: he motive; all acts which are not so done are as gladly stands by the sick bed and binds alike sins. This thought, my brethren, up the broken-hearted, as he “telleth the binds together in a very terrible unity all number of the stars." All that vulgar acts of transgression, and in a very error into which we are ever falling the 1 blessed oneness all acts of obedi-n.ce The Bible says, a man that breaks at the stake. Faithfulness is one in every one point of God's law, breaks it all.' region; large or small is nothing to its “ If thou do no murder, yet if thou sovereign eye. “He that receiveth a procommit adultery, thou art a transgressor " fit in the name of a prophet shall receive --of the single commandment ? No: thou a prophet's reward,” because, though not art a transgressor “of the whole law !” gifted with the prophet's tongue, he has the Like some of those creeping weeds that lie prophet's spirit, and does his small act of underground, and put up a little leaf here, hospitality from the very same prophet. and another one there, and you dig down, impulse, which in another, who is more fancying that their roots are short, but loftily endowed, leads to burning words and you find that they go creeping and tortuous mighty deeds. For all duty is one: and the below the surface, and the whole soil is full petty distinctions of great and small dwinof them,-80 all sin holds on by one root. dle all away into nothing at the sight of “ He that is unjust in the least" is unjust, that one supreme word, " This is the will - and there's an end of it! Therefore, of the Lord," and, “Whatsoever ye do, do seeing that he is an unjust man, he will be it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto unjust in “the much” when it serves his | men !". purpose and he gets the chance !
And is not this principle a thought that And, on the other hand, this thought should send us about our daily life with a binds together in a blessed oneness all acts thankfulness and a power to which we are of obedience to God's merciful will, all acts all strangers at present? Why is it that of loyal submission to Christ's command Christian people so constantly break down ing love. They, too, belong to one com in the minutiæ of obedience and in the little mon root. They, too, are members of one things of their ordinary doing, but because clustered whole. Every part of them in we have got hold of that notion that smal} heres in all the rest. Righteousness in all things are smaller than great ones, and that its members, Christian duty in all its parts, great actions need mightier motives and is one whole ; and the poor woman that larger faith than the small? Oh! it irrasits quietly in her garret, and works away diates all our days with lofty beauty, and there, patient and unknown and poverty. it makes them all hallowed, divine, transstricken, at the small tasks and monoto cendent, when we feel that quality, and not nous trivialities of her daily life, is doing quantity, is the thing to be looked at. the same thing as Paul when he stands up | Faithfulness is faithfulness, howsoever it be before Cæsar, or as the martyr when he dies 1 set forth!
(To be continued.)
CHRIST OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
BY THE REV. J. H. HINTON, M.A. "Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us .... righteousness.”—1 Cor. i. 30. WITHour troubling the reader with the connection of this passage, important and interesting as it is, we will beg him to direct his undiverted thoughts to the great subject which the text presents to him. Here is one grand aspect of God's interposition of mercy for a ruined world. In his infinite grace and wisdom, “ Christ Jesus is made unto us righteousness.”
With this passage before us, our first business will be to ascertain the meaning of it. In what sense is Christ made to us righteousness! He is a teacher of righteousness, say some, and this is true; he was an example of righteousness, say others, and this also is true; but neither of these apart, nor both of them together, will satisfy the language employed. For Christ to be made righteous. ness to us is surely more than his being our teacher and example.
In order to see our way a little further into this subject, it should be observed that the word righteousness is used in two senses ; sometimes to denote a moral righteousness, and sometimes a legal righteousness. These two phrases relate respectively to two systems of things, from which they emanate. There is a system of essential right, of right determined by an absolute and unchangeable rule, which is to be found in the nature of God, and conformity to this rule is moral righteousness; there is also a system of prescribed right, of right expressed in commandments, embodied in law, and enforced by retributive sanctions, and obedience to this law is legal righteousness. It is for us, then, to ascertain in which of these senses the word righteousness is used in the passage before us.
It is held by some that the Apostle here refers to moral righteousness; 80 that, when Christ is said to be our righteousness, the meaning is that he is to us, in some way, the source of holiness. There is, however, an argument close at hand to show that this cannot be so. The whole verse reads thus—“ Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Now the word “sanctification” must of necessity be understood of moral righteousness; and, as one cannot impute a mere tautology to the Apostle, no meaning remains for the word “ righteousness” but that of legal righteousness.
Now, since Christ is made to us legal righteousness, it evidently follows that we are placed under a system of administration to which legal righteousness belongs; and, in order to appreciate, or even to understand, the privilege thus expressed, it will be necessary to pay some attention to the character and bearing of that system itself.
1. We are, then, placed by the Sovereign will of our Maker under a system of law. A law is expressly given by him to us in the words—" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself," (Matt. xxxvii. 39); and in the Epistle to the Romans, ii. 6--16, the Apostle Paul tells us that God “ will render to every man according to his deeds,” “in the day when he shall judge the secrets of men.”
2. Now, under a system of law, the necessary and only condition of well-being is obedience, or righteousness. This follows inevitably from the principle laid down, that God “will render to every man according to his deeds.” According to the Apostle in another place (Rom. vi. 23), “ The wages of sin is death." Regularly administered, a law knows nothing of overlooking offences, or of forgiving them. It maintains and protects the social position of those who obey it, and of none besides. Under a system of law, therefore, righteousness is, as I have said, the necessary and only condition of well-being.
3. In point of fact, however, our well-being under the law of God is already forfeited by our manifold transgressions. We have in a thousand instances broken it, and as violators of it we are under its curse; a curse whics constitutes the most awful element of our misery, and from which it is our musi urgent interest to escape. But can we escape ? As we have just seen, the only possible condition of our well-being is our righteousness ; yes, let us repeat it, in some way or other we must possess righteousness, or we are lost!
4. Is this possible, however? And, if it be possible, in what method can it be effected ?
To these questions we must in the first instance answer frankly, that in our own persons it is absolutely impossible. We are sinners, and we never can undo our many deeds of transgression, or any one of them. If ou, being righteous is possible at all, it must be in the person of another.
“The person of another !" my reader, perhaps, exclaims, and adds, “Surely tilac can never be.” So by many it has been thought, and two apparently foreible objections to the idea have been adduced, at both of which we must briefly glance.
On the one hand we are told that it is impossible we should be righteous in the person of another, because actions cannot be transferred. In the nature of things, it is said, our sins always must be our own, and the righteousness of another must always be his. Now we admit this to be perfectly true, and we should feel the bearing of it against us if we held that actions, whether evil or good, were transferred. We have nothing to do, however, with any such notion. What we are dealing with is not actions, but the consequences of actions--the punishment of sin, and the reward of obedience. Now, although actions cannot be transferred, it is quite manifest that the consequences of actions may. If one commits a robbery, and is sentenced to transportation for it, although another cannot commit the robbery, he may undergo the transportation. In like manner, although our sins never can become actually Christ's, nor his obedience ours, he may bear the desert of our iniquities, and we may enjoy the reward of his obedience. This objection, therefore, that actions cannot be transferred, does not apply.
Then, on the other hand, we are told that God, as a righteous governor, is required to deal with every man for his own transgressions, and cannot, by the essential principles of his government, be allowed to put another in the transgressor's stead. But we are not sure that this, however plausible, is true ; and, at any rate, we cannot admit it without examination. We are liable to get contracted potions on this point, perhaps, from our habit of contemplating the position of an earthly judge, who certainly has necessarily to deal with the actual law-breaker, and with no one besides ; but it should be recollected that an earthly judge possesses only a delegated authority, and is by it strictly bound to administer the law as it is put into his hands, while the sovereign in whose name he acts possesses a certain discretionary power, and is able to some extent to over-ride the proceedings of the judge, as in the familiar case of a royal pardon. Now, in our case, God is at the same time judge and sovereign; and, within certain limits, he can modify the administration of his own law.
That which it is necessary for him to maintain is not the strict bearing of his law on the actual transgressors of it, but the honour of the law itself, and the unblemished character of his government. If consistently with these any merciful modification of legal process should be found possible, it is quite competent to him to permit it.
5. The question is thus reduced from one of possibility to one of wisdom. The introduction of another person into the judicial proceedings, one to be dealt with in the place of, and as a substitute for, the actual transgressor, need not be refused if suitable conditions can be arranged; that is to say, if, on the one hand, an apt and adequate substitute can be found, and if, on the other, a mode of rendering his suretyship available can be hit upon, which shall include the germ of a renovated character.
The question is, no doubt, a difficult and profound one ; but, treating it hypothetically, it is not absolutely impracticable.
One can see, for example, some of the principal qualifications which a substitute in this case must possess. In the first place, he must be a man; a being of the same nature as the transgressor, a member of the race which has sinned-only so can he be a fitting representative of them. In the next place, he must be a man free from the moral taint which attaches to the race; one of human kind, yet not a descendant of Adam ; a member of the race thrown into it from some external source. In the third place, he must be a man, as of innocent nature, so of holy life, and in all practical obedience unblamable—not himself a sinner. And in the fourth place, he must be more than man; having some super-human dignity attached to his nature, which shall give to his obedience unto death a meritorious and expiatory character far higher than could belong to that of a mere man ; inasmuch as he will stand in the stead, not only of many men, but