« AnteriorContinuar »
that He may wash away the daily stains which soil our souls, as we tread on through the difficult path of life, so full of stumbling-blocks to the unwise, of pit-falls to the unwary.Christ knows your need. He is ever ready. He will make you pure and white. You must learn to be like Him. He will show you how ;-take His holy word for your guide; in it you will see not only what He would have you be, but how you may become such as he desires. Take those chapters of the beloved Apostle John, which tell of all the words of Jesus on the last evening He spent with His disciples.* From them you
my faith so small, that often I thought I had none; but Christ upheld me all the while. One, by one, those things that hindered me went from me, I know not how; and now that I am dying I have no fear. Christ is still with me. I feel no want. He has done all things for me; and I seem to know that I am "complete in Him." How bright is the testimony to the living power of union with Christ! All that had been observed of this woman was, that though sickly in body, and often depressed in mind, she had been regular in her attendance at Church and at the Sacrament. Her inner mind, no one knew but her Lord; and He imparted of his own life to her soul.
It is now some years since I heard a statement that filled me at the time with wonder, from one whom I knew to be a bright light in the Church—a true and zealous minister of God, whose life had been spent in preaching the word in season, and out of season. His labours had been greatly blessed in spreading the knowledge of the truth, and in bringing the bright light of the Gospel into places that had been darkened by superstition and error; but these labours had ruined his health, and the heat of the climates, into which they had carried him, had even affected his mind. "What I have suffered," he said, no man can tell. I have been on the verge of insanity. Many, and many a time, I have been tempted to destroy myself; but, the feeling of God in Christ, never forsook me. He stood by me and restrained my hand, and still I live to do His work."
What preserved him? Was it not a living union with Christ? He is gone to his rest. He died in the Lord, and in the Lord he lives. "Because I live," saith the Lord, "he shall live also."
And now I have a sadder tale to tell, of one whose sorrowful experience shows how grievous a thing it is, never to have been brought into union with Christ. "I have never been baptized, but I have been registered, and it is all one," was
*The xiiith to the xixth.
will learn what is that spirit of love that is the life of the soul, and which flows into all hearts united with their Lord, even as the sap of the vine-tree flows into all its branches and enables them to bring forth fruit. St. John is so eager to repeat each word of Christ that he does not stop to tell of the appointment of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. That had been described in the three other Gospels; and by the time he wrote, it was regularly established in the Church. It needed no new
the answer made to his employer, by a young man whose family were anabaptists. No argument could convince him, that the need for registration, and the need for baptism, were as widely different as this world was different from the kingdom of Heaven-that as his birth had been registered by his parents, in obedience to the laws of man, which they dared not disobey; so must he, by baptism, if he wished to be a Christian, be as it were, registered a subject of the kingdom of God; otherwise, that he was not entitled to its privileges; in fact, that without baptism he was not, and could not be a Christian. There was no convincing him of this.
His employer did not choose to part with him for such a cause; therefore, he remained for some years in the same place, sharing in its different religious advantages. He heard the Gospel preached, but it seemed to pass over him unheeded. Books likely to reach his heart were given him. He was spoken to again and again. At length signs of feeling began to show themselves in him; but, alas! there was no other sign of life. Though quite young, and possessed apparently of unusual health and strength, he became drooping, and depressed. A deep sense of sin fell upon him, and the only cure seemed to him an impossibility. He was—he is, as one dying with thirst, with a river flowing near which yet he cannot reach. He is still unbaptized; for he cannot make up his mind to present himself for baptism. Christ died for sinners; therefore, he died for him but in vain are the words spoken-" This is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me." "This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which was shed for you." He is not able to accept the invitation. He dares not approach the Table of the Lord, for he feels that he is not one of his disciples. He has given up all employment, and want stares him in the face; but nothing will rouse him. He passes his life in a deep gloom. Oh how plainly is here seen the want of a living union with Christ. He is like a branch that has no root, fading and fainting in the noon-day heat. May God in mercy yet graft him in. Once become a branch of the true vine, he might yet bring forth fruit to the glory of God. Read xvth chapter of St. John, and you will see that without union with Christ there can be no life of the soul; and, therefore, there can be no fruit unto God.
account of its beginning; but the teaching of Christ needed to be recalled; for very soon there arose strifes and divisions in the Church, and to heal these wounds in the body of Christ,* by reviving the one Spirit, that should unite in one all the members of His Church, was the purpose for which St. John wrote his Gospel.
O my Saviour, Life of my soul, in thee I live, out of thee I die. Blessed be thy name for that simple and holy rite which thou hast enjoined to all who love thee, even the blessed Sacrament of thy broken body and shed blood. Let no false fears keep back the soul that longs for union with thee; let no false peace lull into fatal slumber those who would live without thee. The body without food must die; the soul without thee must perish; for thou only art the source of life. To thee I come, not trusting in things of mine own, for by no preparation of mine can I be made fit to present myself among thy disciples at thy table; but trusting that thou thyself hast washed away my sin, I come to the Sacrament of thy Supper, in simple obedience to thy commands, in earnest love to thee, my Saviour crucified for me, in longing hope of thy return. "Just as I am, O Lamb of God, to thee I come." Draw me in this thy holy communion into closer union with thee. Life of my soul, possess me so entirely, that thought, word, and deed may emanate from thee, so shall I be able to bring forth fruit to thy glory.
For Christ's sake, my God, accept me, thy sinful but believing child. Amen.
* 1 Corinthians xi. 18, 19; xii. 12—15.
JOHN XIII. 33-37. MATTHEW XXVI. LUKE XXII. MARK XIV.
All that Jesus had yet to say to His disciples must now be spoken. His Father's glory in their salvation filled His soul with holy joy. He thought not of His own sufferings, now so near at hand, but He felt for His disciples. He knew the dismay, the grief, the disappointment, that must fall upon them even in a few hours, and this last night He would speak to them such words as would be a comfort and a guidance to them when they were able to remember them. They would by and by see that all had been appointed and arranged by Himself, and that the darkness that was about to gather round them, would certainly be followed by the rising of a new hope, a better light, that like the morning would shine upon the world, clearing away the mists of sin and superstition. He said
JOHN xiii. 33-35. "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me; and, as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go ye cannot come; so now I say unto you. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another : as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," was the old law given by God, through Moses, and the Lord Jesus in his parable of the good Samaritan, had shown that all mankind were neighbours.
He had moreover taught that we were to show our brotherly love for all men, by doing unto them whatsoever we would have them do unto ourselves, but now He gives a new commandment,
the keeping of which from this time was to be a sign of His religion. To His own immediate disciples He commanded this, "As I have loved you, that ye also love one another," adding, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
They knew how He had loved them, a few hours more would shew them, that it was not only as himself, but far better than himself, inasmuch as He laid down His life for them, and this love of His which would become the life of their souls was to bind them together.
Over and above the one tie that should unite into one community of brotherly-kindness, all the sons of Adam, there must now be the new tie of holy kindred in Christ. All who love the Saviour must love one another. They cannot help it-the love which comes from Him, warms their hearts and draws them into a family bond still closer than that of brothers.
This is the sign by which true Christians may be known from the rest of the world. They need no forms of introduction, no acquaintanceship to become friends. It is nothing that they may be of different ranks in life, of different countries, that they may not even understand each other's tongues. There is a language of the heart-a oneness of love-of interest, of common hopes and common difficulties, that binds them all together. Each sees in the other the object of Christ's tender love; and hope is brightened, and faith strengthened by each new discovery of a brother or a sister in Christ. By this sign, said our Lord, "shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another; therefore, where any cause divides in heart those who call themselves the followers of Christ, by that sign shall it be known that they are not yet His disciples.*
* Those who really are His, will love each other as Christ loved them-that is, with a self-denying love; therefore, it is plain that those who will not, in their angry disputes, yield one inch of their own will, for the sake of each other, cannot be His disciples. Most true are St. Paul's words written long