Page images


us, to give up our all and follow Christ. When we see men laying up riches in abundance for their children, we may reasonably say that they are laying up a great deal of temptation for them, which few perhaps will be able to withstand.

But do we really require riches, to show God true service?-(No, teacher.) Certainly not.

Were the disciples rich men ?-(No.) Right; most of them were fishermen: but they, who had little and could not afford to lose it, left their all for Christ. Did Jesus promise to reward them for it ?' Compare, with ver. 28–31, Matt. xix. 27-30.

What is the meaning of the promise in ver. 30, he shail have a present and a future reward ? It does not mean literally, does it, that we shall have an hundred-fold of houses, brethren, sisters, mothers ?—(Oh no, teacher.) Certainly not; but we shall have that which will compensate us for the loss of them,

God's grace.

Are God's children generally rich ?No; the reverse (Rom. ii. 3 ; 2 Cor. iv, 17, 18; 1 Pet. iv. 15, 16). But God has promised to give His children all things needful in this world ; and we know that “godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is as well as of that which is to come.”

What rebuke to pride accompanies the promise in ver. 31 ?—It is as though Christ had said, even to Peter himself, " Though you have been first in following Me, though your future reward shall be great, still there may be some whose reward will be greater; for ‘many that are first shall be last, and the last


Matthew xxviii. 16-20. DEAR children, our blessed Saviour left a great work for His people to accomplish for Him, when He told them to is teach” or “ make disciples ofall nations. It is a work that can only be carried on by relyin the promise which accompanied the order for its performance, “ Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world."

Who were the first missionaries ?Matt. X. 1-7. These were chiefly sent to the Jews; the Gospel was first to be preached to them. But did not Christ command the Gospel to be sent to the Gentiles also ? In our lesson, ver. 19, all nations” are expressly mentioned. Refer to Mark xvi. 15; Luke xxiv. 47; Acts ii. 38, 39.

What is the present number of the earth's inhabitants ?-It would be difficult to say exactly ; but one estimate gives the number as one thousand millions, and of these five hundred or six hundred millions are heathen, and one hundred millions are Mohammedans. Now suppose when the cholera was so fatal amongst us, you had been told of some certain remedy for it, and you saw your neighbours dying around you, and yet you made no attempt to relieve them. Suppose you were to have said, “ It is too much trouble, and it will expose me to danger if I go and tell them of this remedy; they must perish.” How vile and selfish such conduct would appear ! Well, if you do not help to send the Gospel of salvation to those who have it not, this is but a picture of your conduct.

Be sure the heathen are in danger of eternal death. (Rom ii. 12; iii. 9–19.) We know the remedy, the certain cure, of which they are ignorant. (Acts xvi. 31; Rom. iii. 21, 22; x. 13-15.)

What motive should constrain us to send this good news ?-Our love to Jesus (2 Cor. v. 14, 15). If we really value the Saviour ourselves, we must desire that others should know Him too (Mark v. 19, 20; John i. 40–42, 45, 46; Àcts ix. 17–22).


[blocks in formation]

How can we help in missionary work ? -By praying for God's blessing on those who go forth to preach to the heathen, that there may be more labourers (Luke X. 2), and that their work may have God's blessing (2 Cor. iii. ; Eph. vi. 19; Col. iv. 3). By denying ourselves that we may have money to give, to enable missionaries to be sent out (Hag. ii. 8; Mark xii. 41-44 ; 2 Cor. viii. 2–5,12).

What are the encouragements to missionary work ?-Dan. xii. 3; Jas. v. 19, 20; Matt. v. 19; Isa. ly. 10, 11; Hab. ii. 14.

Remember also, dear children, if you are thinking of sending the Gospel to others, and yet are careless about your own soul, it is as if you were dying of cholera, and refused to take the remedy which you are sure will do others good. Or, to illustrate it in another way, I may say you are like the carpenters who helped Noah to build the ark, and yet perished in the flood, because, while they provided a means of safety for others, they did not use it for themselves (Cant. i. 6; 1 Cor. ix. 27).




33, 39): so Jesus at once set before John iii. 1-21.

him what he and all men need, before

they can belong to His kingdom. To what class amongst the Jews did And what is needful ? this man of whom we here read belong? How did Jesus mark the great imWhat did he know of Jesus when he portance of what He was teaching ?first came to Him ?

By three times repeating the words Besides witnessing the miracles Jesus “Verily, verily." had worked in Jerusalem (see ii. 23), By his birth of Jewish parents, Nicowhat, as a Pharisee, had Nicodemus demus inherited the privileges of a heard of Christ ?-See i. 24–27. What Jew; and so each of us is born into proves his faith at this time to have the station to which our earthly parents been very weak ?—(His coming by belong; but, even be that birth ever 80 night.)

high, it belongs only to earth; " that Did our Lord reprove him for his which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and want of faith? What character does before our souls can be fit for heaven Isaiah give of Christ, which is exempli- they must have a new birth, a heavenly fied by His gracious receiving of this parentage. timid man ?-Isa. xlii. 3.

Did Nicodemus understand our Lord's Did Nicodemus continue fearful ?- words as implying a great change ?No, he soon confessed Christ before Yes; but he only understood them in & the council of the Sanhedrim (vii. 50, carnal sense : then Jesus condescended 51), and afterwards came forward in to explain His meaning. In ver. 5 He deeds of love, even when apostles for- tells Nicodemus of whom we must be sook their Master and fled (xix. 39). born again, viz., of the Spirit, and gives

Did Jesus answer Nicodemus accord- an emblem, or outward sign, by which ing to the words he addressed to Him ? he might understand what is the Spirit's --No, Nicodemus had asked no ques- work; the heart of man must be tion; the Lord's reply was rather in thoroughly cleansed and purified by the accordance with the thoughts He read Spiri as the body is by water. in his heart. He knew that the Jews To what did our Lord compare the generally, and especially the Pharisees, working of the Spirit on the soul of prided themselves upon being Abraham's man ?-Ver. 8. children, and, as such, thought them- Why is the wind so fit an emblem of selves entitled to a place in the Mes- the Holy Spirit ?–Man has no power siah's kingdom (Matt. iii. 9; John viii. over it; and when it blows, though we

feel its effects, we know not where its breath first began; but its presence cannot be denied, it fulfils God's word (Ps. cxlviii. 8), and its work is manifested (Cant. iv. 16). So is it with the workings of the Spirit: sometimes God's Spirit is like the strong "north wind,” breaking down all that rises against it in our hearts; or, again, like the gentle “south wind,” winning us to Himself by loving-kindness and tender mercies; but in whatever way it works, “pleasant fruits” will mark its course, fruits such as the Lord of the garden will own to be His. In St. John's epistle we are told many of the marks by which each is known who is born of God: he “ believes that Jesus is the Christ” (1 John v. 1), “ doth not commit sin" (iii. 9), “ overcometh the world” (v. 4), “keepeth himself from the wicked one

(v. 18), “ loves the brethren ” (iii. 14, iv. 7), “ doeth righteousness

” (ii. 29). Is this being born again, without which Christ declares no man can enter the kingdom of heaven, spoken of under any other terms in Scripture, which show us how complete the change must be? It is called being “a new creatare” (Gal. vi. 15); "passing from death unto life” (Rom. vi, 13; 1 John iii. 14); a resurrection (Eph. ii. 5, 6; Col. ii. 12). God's word is very plain on this all-important subject; let us honestly try ourselves by it.

How did Nicodemus show that he did not yet understand these first spiritual truths ?-Ver. 9. Did Jesus rebuke him for his ignorance ?-Ver. 10. Yes, the Lord, who had suffered his weakness of faith because in that matter he had probably acted up to the light he had received, now rebukes him for his ignorance of that which he might have learnt. Had Nicodemus then opportunity of learning from the Old Testament the same truth Jesus now taught ? -Ps. li. 10; Ezek. xviii. 31 ; xxxvi. 25–27.

How was it he was so slow to receive Christ's teaching ?-1 Cor. ii. 14.

What claim did our Lord make of being the fittest of all teachers to explain heavenly truths? Where did He

mean He had seen what He spoke of ? -John viii. 38. Of what 66

earthly things” had He spoken to Nicodemus ?-Christ seems to allude to the new birth which must take place in us here on earth, if we would hereafter go to heaven, and which He had just illustrated by the earthly figures of water and wind. Of what “heavenly things” did He go on to speak ?_Of God's love, of His own coming down as man to die for sinful men; the Lord also showed Nicodemus that He was

more than merely “a teacher come from God," that He was now in His Divine nature still in heaven (end of ver. 13).

To what event in Old Testament history does Christ compare His own death? -Ver. 14. In what respects did Christ's sacrifice of Himself resemble the lifting up of the brazen serpent ?The Israelites were dying from the bite of deadly serpents, man was dying from the effects of sin; the brazen serpent was lifted up, Christ was lifted up on the cross; the brazen serpent was made in the form of the very thing that caused their death, Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was counted sin for us ; the brazen serpent had no poison, Christ had no sin; the Israelites lived when they looked up to the serpent in the wilderness, we may live by looking in faith to Jesus Christ. Surely never can we see sin so hateful as when we look at Christ dying on the cross; guiltless though He was, the imputed guilt of our sins cost the precious life of God's own Son.

What was it which moved God to save us at so great a price ?—Ver. 16 : “God so loved the world;" His love is great beyond any measure by which we may calculate. We can only exclaim with St. John (1 John iii. 1), “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us !.”

In what way are the benefits of Christ's death made our own ?- Three times did Jesus affirm to Nicodemus the precious truth that he that believeth shall not perish (ver. 15, 16, 18). Our Lord added nothing to this: he that in simple faith clings to the Saviour hath

life, and he that does not so believe in tuousness. What is presumption in & Him must perish; faith is the grasp of religious sense ?—Confidence, without a a drowning man on the hand stretched promise or command to rest on. To out to save him.

doubt, where God has spoken, is to preHow will the reality of faith be sume to “make Him a liar." shown ?-1 John iii. 3 ; Jas. ii. 14, 22, Let us examine—I. The Scripture 26.

warrant for assurance; II. Its threefold Jesus plainly declared that God loved connection with respect to the underthe world, and sent His Son that the standing, to faith, and to hope. world through Him might be saved; and I. Scripture warrant, full and diversiwith equal plainness He tells us why fied; only a few passages must be reall are not saved. What reason does ferred to. Turn to 1 John V. 13. He give ?—Ver. 19. What is then the Throughout this epistle, different tests cause of any being condemned ?-Our are given for this very purpose, that fellow-creatures may not detect the evil, we may know. Compare chap. iii. 2, our outward behaviour may be compara- 14, 18, 19, 24; iv. 13. Look also at tively free from sin; but if, when Christ's 2 Pet. i. 10, 11. Examples: Job xix. love is set before us, we turn from that 25; Rom. viii. 38, 39; Ps. xxiii. 4; light as from a test we fear, the Lord's 2 Tim. i. 12; iv. 7, 8, 18. own words assure us that He sees evil in II. We find in the New Testament our deeds, and knows that we love the the privilege of assurance connected darkness of our own hearts and deeds with the understanding (Col. ii. 2); rather than the clear shining of His with faith (Heb. x. 22); and with hope truth, which would discover or reprove (Heb. vi. 11). Let us take these in them. Oh, think what a solemn truth order, and see their distinct meaning we have set before us here: God is and relative connection. willing to save us; Christ was willing 1. The full assurance of understandto die for us; He offers us salvation ; ing.-On what is the understanding and if we do not accept it, we are left to be exercised ? There must be entire without excuse, our condemnation must submission to the supreme authority of be on our own heads.

Scripture, and then a thorough repose To whom was this precious teaching upon the revelation God has given of of our Lord first addressed ?- Nico- Himself in His word. Why has God demus, though “a master of Israel,” gifted us with powers of mind? Cerhad come to Jesus Christ a very igno- tainly that they may be used. And, rant man, not knowing even the first although the fall has brought about the spiritual truths; but his coming to the state we read of in Eph. iv. 17, 18 and light of Christ's teaching proved that 1 Cor. ii. 14, yet we must remember the the truth was beginning to work in his Spirit is promised to Christ (Isa. xi. 2) heart ; he continued to walk in it, till " the Spirit of wisdom and underat last his deeds of faith and love in standing,” and through Him to us. honour of his crucified Saviour abun- See also 1 Cor. ii. 12. What duty then dantly manifested that they

devolves upon us ? To use our underwrought in God.” *

standing in dependence on God's SpiCHARLOTTE ELIZABETH. rit, to obtain a clear view of the truths

and doctrines of the Bible, how they are related to each other and insepara

bly connected. Many never attain & ASSURANCE.

full assurance, from mental indolence. ASSURANCE — what is meant by the They do not set themselves to compreterm? To what is it opposed ? Some- hend God's plan for man's salvation. times it is thought to mean presump

" An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” * This is an excellent lesson for senior classes. We would point to the manner in which it is worked out as an example worthy of the attention of teachers. "i Charlotte Elizabeth has our best thanks.




2. The full assurance of faith (Heb. 1. 22).—When the understanding has apprehended, caught hold of a truth, what is the work of faith? To rest the heart upon it. To what has the assurance of faith special reference ? Heb. x. 19-22; Eph. iii. 12; 2 Tim. i. 12. Mark the expression in this last

6 whom”-not what-" I have believed." The assurance of faith involves the renunciation of self in every form, and (Heb. xii. 2) looking unto Jesus till He alone is seen as the ground of our acceptance with God. Refer to Eph. i. 6. Let us keep in mind that “ faith is the gift of God." We cannot command it, or earn it, or force it; but we can ask for it, and plead the promise John xiv. 13, 14. Let it not be said of us,“ ye have not because ye ask not; " or, "ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss."

3. The full assurance of hope (Heb. vi

. 11). Its privilege, how linked with the understanding and with faith. God's revelation of Himself in Christa just God and a Saviour”-apprehended by the understanding, and grasped by faith, is “the substance of," that which stands under, “ things hoped for.” Take two or three of the objects of hope: 1 Thess. y. 8; Gal. y. 5; Tit. iii. 5, ii. 13; Rom. v. 2. And then think of the joy of having an assurance of hope. But it is only in the path of holiness that this blessing can be enjoyed. “Its brightness is dimmed, its freshness fades, its life withers in the very breath of an unholy world.” Compare 2 Pet. i. 10, 11; Heb. vi. 10-12; iii. 6, 14; 1 John i. 7 ; iii. 21, 24.

the consciousness of possessing what is nevertheless possessed. So an infant may be heir to an estate, while he is totally unconscious of it: yet that does not affect the reality of the relation. But to be satisfied with less is to throw doubt upon all. “Give diligence," then, "to make your calling and election sure."

Seek to be able to say“Yes, He is mine, and nought of earthly

things, Not all the charms of pleasure, pomp, and

power, The fame of heroes or the wealth of kings, Should tempt me to forego His love an

hour. Go, worthless world,' I cry, 'with all that's

thine ; Go-I my Saviour's am, and He is mine.'” The Holy Spirit's work in Christian assurance may form the subject of a future lesson.



James i. The writer of this epistle was James, the son of Alphæus, the kinsman of our Lord, who was numbered among the twelve apostles (Matt. x. 2, 3). He chiefly resided at Jerusalem. This letter is thought to have been written with the special design of counteracting the errors of those who represented the religion of Christ as consisting in theory, and did not pay due regard to practical holiness. Therefore James insists most largely on the fruits of faith, love, and patience, giving various warnings, reproofs, and encouragements.

Ver. 1-18. The writer gives a short account of himself as a servant of God and of the Redeemer of men, addressing himself first to the twelve tribes which were still in existence, but scattered abroad, and greeting them with cordial affection, particularly those who were called by grace. To these he says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into a variety of temptations,” or trials, for the sake of the true religion. Let patience have its perfect work, or operation, SO as to bring you into teachable, meek, and humble state of mind, that your Christian character

If we

Let us then resolve never to be satisfied till we can say, I know whom I have believed." This knowledge is given to the believer by the Divine Spirit, creating in the heart a clear assurance and confidence in the Redeemer. would be happy, holy, useful, we must not rest till we can adopt the language as our own, “ My beloved is mine, and I am His.” Yet, lest any should be discouraged, we must bear in mind that in

constitutional infirmity, and in others weakness of faith, hinders




« PreviousContinue »