« AnteriorContinuar »
found the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty !” May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done! Then in His. mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last !
INVISIBLE PRESENCE OF CHRIST.*
LUKE xvii. 20, 21.-" The kingdom of God cometh not with obser
vation; neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
What our Lord announced came to pass. The Kingdom of God came; it filled the world; it took possession of
* The four following Sermons, on the safety of continuance in our communion, are not addressed, 1, either to those who happily are without doubts on the subject, 2, or to those who have no right to be in doubt about it. Doubts are often the punishment of existing neglect of duty. Persons who make no efforts after strictness of life, who do not live by rule, who do not attempt to know themselves, to correct their faults, to keep out of temptation, to resist evil, and to deny their wills, must not be surprised if they are unsettled and restless, and have no encouragement to seek an intellectual remedy for difficulties which may be assigned to grave moral deficiencies. That there are such persons, the author makes no question at all; though he is bound to add, that he is not alluding to any with whom he is personally acquainted, though of most of these more might fairly be required of course, than they have hitherto effected. On the other hand, where persons are in no perplexity on the subject, the discussion contained in these Sermons may be, for that very reason, simply of a disturbing character, and should be read with the caution exercised in opening the work of a Christian Apologist, who is obliged to state painful objections, or to make extreme admissions, in the process of refuting his opponents.
the high places of the earth; but it came without obserration. All other kingdoms which have come, have sounded a trumpet before them, and have challenged attention. They have come out with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield. They have been the ravenous beast from the north, the swift eagle, or the swarming locusts. “A fire devoured before them, and behind them a flame burned. The appearance of them has been as the appearance of horsemen, and as horsemen so did they run; . . . and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle."* Such has been the coming of earthly power; and a Day will be, when that also will have a fulfilment, and find its antitype in the history of heaven; for when our Lord comes again, He too will come with a shout, “with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God.”' This will be with observation; so will He end, but so did He not begin, His Church upon earth; for it had been foretold, “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets; a bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory.”+
And that noiseless, unostentatious coming was rendered still more secret, because, in spite of His own assurances, men would not believe that it would be secret. The Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven. They would not believe He could come, unless He came with a show; they looked out for a temporal prince, with a sword of flesh; and thus, through the unbelief of men, He was “as a thief in the night,” and He was come and in possession before they well understood that He was coming.
“The kingdom of God,” says the Divine Speaker, “ cometh not with observation ; neither shall they say, Lo here ! or, Lo there ! for the kingdom of God is within you.” He tells us why He was not observed; it was that He came, not as the world cometh, not by an influence from without, but by an inward power; not subduing the outward man through the senses, but touching the secret heart. Kingdoms of this world spread in space and time; they begin from a point, and they travel onwards, and range around. Their course may be traced : first they secure this territory, then they coropass that. Of course the Kingdom of Christ also, as being in this world, has an outward shape like this world, though it be not of this world ; and, as viewed with the eyes of this world, it has an aspect of growth and development like other kingdoms; but after all this is not the true process of its rise and establishment. It came by an inward and secret presence; by outward instruments, indeed, but with effects far higher than those instruments, and really by God's own agency. He who is Omnipresent and Omniscient, touched many hearts at once in many places; they forthwith, one and all, spoke one language, not learning it one from the other, but taught by Him the Song of the Lamb; or if in one sense by man's teaching too, yet catching and mastering it supernaturally, almost before the words were spoken. Men broke out all at once in His praises, in the East and in the West, in the North and in the South; and the perplexed world searched about in vain whence came that concord of sweet and holy sounds. Upon the first voice of the preacher, upon a hint, upon a mere whisper in the air, a deep response came from many lips, a deep, full, and ready harmony of many voices, one and all prcclaiming Christ. For the Spirit of the Lord had descended and filled the earth ; and there were thrilling hearts, and tremulous pulses, and eager eyes in every place. It was a time of visitation, when the weak should become strong, and the last become first. It was the triumph of faith, which saith not, " Who shall ascend into heaven ? or, Who shall descend into the deep ? but what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach.” And thus, as Vinereh and Babylon were surprised of old by the army of the enemy, so was the world then surprised by Him who wrode upon a white horse, and was called Faithful and True;" and as it befel Egypt, that there was not a house where there was not one dead, so now, on this more gracious risitation, there was not a house where there was not one alive. For God had come down among them, and was everywhere; the Lord of Angels was walking the earth; He was diffusing His Presence, and multiplying His Image ; and in this sense, as well as that in which He spoke the words, “ a man's foes were those of his own household.” The despised, the hated influence, insinuated itself everywhere; the learen spread, and none could stay it; and in the most unfavourable places, in the family of the haughty senator and fierce soldier, amid the superstitions of idolatry, and the debasement of slavery, the noblest and the ablest, and the fairest, as well as the brutish and the ignorant, one and all, by a secret charm, became the prey of the Church, and the bondsmen of Christ. And thus a
* Joel ü. 3, 4; Rev. ix. 9.
Matt. xii. 19, 20.
great and wide-spreading kingdom came into existence all · at once, like spring after winter, from within.
Now, if you ask me how this was done? or in what way the grace of Almighty God dealt with the spirits He had created ? the answer is ready : Man is not sufficient for his own happiness; he is not happy except the Presence of God be with him. When he was created, God breathed into him that supernatural life of the Spirit which is his true happiness; and when he fell, he lost the Divine gift, and with it his happiness also. Ever since he has been unhappy ; ever since he has a void within him which needs filling, and he knows not how to fill it. He scarcely realizes his own need; only, his actions show that he feels it, for he is ever restless when he is not dull and insensible, seeking in one thing or another that blessing which he has lost. Multi