Page images
PDF
EPUB

and recognizes His exalted place in the universe, and this is no small step Godward-no small step in the matter of our eternal salvation.

Again, one of the most noteworthy features of His life and ministry when on earth, “yesterday," was the way in which He invited to Himself the fallen—sometimes the utterly fallen. “I am not,” He says,

come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." It was because of this that He so frequently drew upon himself the contempt and ill-will of the professors of religion in His day. “This man,” they objected, “receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” “He is gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner." "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him, for she is a sinner.” Again, consider how very startling is some of His teaching on this matter: “Verily, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of God over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons who need pentance.” Again, consider what a world of forgiving and restoring love is wrapped up in His parable of the Prodigal Son, and still more in the parable of the Two Debtors, the one owing five hundred pence and the other fifty, and the greater debtor, i. e., the greater sinner, loving most because forgiven most. For my own part, I cannot imagine this parable of the Master in the mouth of that servant of Christ who was especially raised up to assert the freeness of God's grace.

no re

I mean St. Paul. The words of the Master seem to me to go far beyond any words of the servant, in the assertion of free, forgiving, reconciling love. The one are the words of one who but proclaims pardon, the other the words of one who bestows it Himself.

Now in this, blessed be God, He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” He regards the heart-broken publican, and the impure, who loathe and abominate their impurity, now as He did when He was on earth. He regards not only doctrinal self-righteousness, but all self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction, with the same dislike now as then.

Under a creed vauntingly orthodox about reliance on His death and merits, His searching eye can discern the smirk of self-complacency-the secret, “God, I thank Thee that I am not in the dark, as this

man is.”

And yet, though no servant of His has treated sinners so tenderly as He did when He was amongst us as "yesterday," though no servant has invited outcasts so lovingly to return, yet no servant of His has identified himself so thoroughly as He has with the righteous severity of God. None who behold His picture, as set forth in the Gospels, can think for one moment that He allows, or winks at, or ignores the sin which He is so desirous to forgive and cleanse away. No word of any servant of God can come near to His for severity. Think of what He says about the “plucking out of the right eye,” the “worm that dieth not, the fire that can never be quenched.”

Oh, picture to yourselves what inexpressible seriousness must have overawed all that heard Him when He said, “I say unto you, my friends, fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do, but I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear Him who, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear Him." And as He was then, so He is now, and so He will be at the last day, when He makes the final separation between the sheep and the goats—the wicked and the good—those who live for others, and those who live for themselves.

In the Gospels we have the portrait of Him with Whom, as Mediator, we have now to do in all our approaches to God.

We see there, as in a glass, the Advocate, the Mystical Head, the Future Judge in Whom we are called upon to trust, and through Whom we are to pray, and Whose nature we are to partake of, and Whose very life we are to have within us.

We see Him, know Him, for in the days of His Flesh He spake, and did, and felt, and

We see,

suffered what we read of there, and the text tells us that He is the same now as ever, and that He will be for ever the same. to our infinite consolation, that His Divine Allsufficiency does not make Him look with stoical indifference on any of the evils which are the lot of His fellows. He tells us plainly that we must take up our cross, and yet all through His life He was going about bearing, or lightening, or removing the crosses of others.

We have to come to God through, we have to do, both for time and for eternity, with, One Who obeyed His earthly parents; Who had a mother, and kinsfolk with whom He lived and worked.

We have to do with One Who had the noblest of human blood in his veins, the blood of Jesse, David, Hezekiah, Josiah, and the highest career in the Universe before Him, Who yet, for thirty years, was One with His toiling brethren in humble obscurity.

We have to do with One Who taught the soul its wisest lessons, and yet spent much of His days in going from place to place, healing the bodies of His brethren.

We have to do with One Who had compassion on the multitudes in the wilderness, and felt for the abashed bridegroom at the marriage, when the wine ran short, and took notice of the disreputable publican who climbed

up the tree to see Him.

We have to do with One Who eat and drank with outcasts, asked for water from the Samaritan alien, and commended the pouring out of the costly perfume upon His feet.

We have to do with One Who, in His own person, tasted the bitterest dregs of the cup of human misery : persecution for righteousness' sake, denial by one friend, betrayal by another, desertion by all.

He is set forth so that we should have to do with Him daily in the asking of His intercession, and the relying upon His Mediatorship. Oh, my friends, have we each one of us this communication open betwixt Him and us ? Him, Who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and us who fade as the leaves; whose lives pass away as a vapour ; who know not what a day or an hour may bring forth ; who have daily to ask forgiveness; and who, when we have done all, are wretchedly unprofitable servants; but who, notwithstanding all this, can be now, not only His servants, but His friends—members of His body, partakers of His nature, washed in His Blood, sanctified by His word and Spirit, and inheritors of the wondrous promise, “Where I am, there shall My servant be.”

NOTE.- In this sermon I have reproduced much the same argument, and in the latter part many of the same words, as in a former work. (Emmanuel, Chap. v.)

« PreviousContinue »