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It reveals the sacrifice of Jesus as the foundation of our peace, and says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us."
Were this all that the sacred volume did for us, we should be laid under perpetual obligation to it. But there is security of a yet higher nature which it offers us. It not only stanches the wound and removes the pain, it also destroys the dire disease which is at the root of our misery and danger. A certain Jew formed a design to poison Luther; but he was baffled by a faithful friend of the latter, who sent him a portrait of his enemy with a warning against him. By this the reformer knew the murderer, and escaped his hands. Such a faithful friend have we all in the Bible. Threatened with destruction by sin, it gives lis the power of protecting ourselves against it. This it does by bidding us seek the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit. Once let the heart get under its power, and the affections being right, all else will eventually be right. There was profound wisdom in the advice of Solomon, " Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." Yes, " the issues of life," good or evil, are out of the heart. Where the love of a human being goes, his whole nature— body, soul, spirit—will soon go also; where the former keeps away the latter will not be found. "Whom having not seen we love," is the explanation of every Christian's life. Temptation is conquered, self-denial practised, work done, difficulty overcome, through the force of gratitude to him who died for us. Fervent attachment to the Saviour invariably produces willingness to obey him. "Set your affections on things above," is a command soon obeyed by those who have set their affections on him who is above. Not more poetic than truthful were the words of a pious Hindu. Witnessing a display of fireworks, he touched the shoulder of a missionary who stood near, and said, "Do you see that rocket? As long as it burns it goes up, up, up towards the sky; but when the fire goes out it comes down, down, down to the earth. It is so with us. While the flame of love to Christ is alive within we go up, up, up to the very gates of heaven, in peace, purity, and joy; but when it dies out we come down, down, down to sin and worldliness."
Again, if the Bible defends us from sin, it also affords us comfort in sorrow. What a remarkable tribute is unconsciously paid to it by the fact that it is the grand resort and refuge of all in time of trouble. Those who never read it at other seasons fly anxiously to it then. As has been well said, "When the traveller starts by] the railway, on a bright summer day, his attention is drawn to the friends who stand to bid him good-bye; and as the train moves on more and more rapidly, the mile-posts seem racing past him, and the objects in the far distance seem quickly to change their places, moving off the scene almost as soon as they have been observed. At length the long train like some vast serpent, hissing as it moves swiftly along, plunges underground. The bright sun is suddenly lost; but the traveller's eye observes, for the first time perhaps, the carriage lamp." God's promises are like that light. The traveller has them always, but too often he does not notice them. Let trial come, however, and he sees and cherishes them. Let scoffers say what they may about it, this old book is the unfailing solace of the afflicted when all other springs of consolation are dry.
When the writer visited the Tower of London he saw much that interested him. There were venerable relics of antiquity in grim casque and chain armour; there was the tragic evidence of barbario days in cruel implements of torture, used upon hapless heretics; there were the magnificent regalia of England, studded with flashing stones and sparkling gems. But though these things were curious and splendid, one thing eclipsed them. On the wall of a narrow, dismal dungeon, in which some unfortunate creature had been forced to pine away his life, was the following verse, scratched rudely with a nail: "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." Poor prisoner, how our souls yearn in brotherly pity for thee! Who of us would not have rejoiced to lessen the griefs of thy captivity, by looks and language of compassion? But what we cannot do this grand old book did. Weary and sick at heart, the promise of God sustained him. Nor is this an exceptional case. The bereaved, the sick, the disappointed, the forsaken, find themselves, as by an invisible magnet, drawn to the volume which more than all others has " the oil of joy for mourning." The experience of David has been that of thousands: "Unless thy law had been my delight, I should have perished in mine affliction."
Thus is the Bible man's great protection. It guards us from temporal ills and eternal woes. Two or three thoughts arise out of this glorious fact. Surely the book that can do all this must be divine. In the present day a fierce onslaught is made against Christianity in general, and the Old and New Testament in particular. As when besiegers attacked a castle in olden times, they sought to make themselves masters of the keep, because it was the enemy's stronghold, so, and for the same reason, the foes of religion assail the Bible. The cry of the adversary now is that the book js human—merely the production of devout genius—a volume full of beauty and instruction, but not inspired more than any. other. The best refutation is a practical one:—If this book is merely human, how comes it to pass that it is unequalled in power to strengthen and console? Were it only of man's creation, it is reasonable to suppose that it would not be the only one of the same order. Why should not the 6ame power which produced this work produce others as good? "No man can do the miracles that thou doest except God be with him," said Nicodcmus. "No book can do the moral miracles that thou doest except God be with it," we may well say to the Bible.
., Moreover, if this wonderful volume can do so much, ought we not to read it? During the persecution of the Covenanters, one of Claverhouse's dragoons overtook an old woman who was going to celebrate, in secret the Lord's Supper. Being suspicious, he stopped her, and demanded to know where she was going. "I am going to hear my elder brother's will read," was her reply. Christ is the Elder Brother of his people, and the Scriptures contain his will . What a testament! The wealth therein bequeathed to us no words can describe. Earth's glories fade and the treasures of life grow valueless in comparison with it. Then let us read the will. Here is our title to everything worth possessing for eternity. Be it ours to examine it.
It must never be forgotten, however, that we need and may have help in reading it. The Spirit that inspired it is promised to those who ask. Prone to misunderstand God's word, our minds fallible at best, our judgment often mistaken, we require Divine help. Very different does the Bible seem to him who has, and to him who has not this most gracious Quickener. Go outside a church, and look at one of its painted windows. There is no beauty in it. Go inside when the sun is shining, and then what lovely colours, distinct outlines, striking figures, appear on those panes! It is so with the window of revealed truth. Without the light of the Holy Ghost, it is comparatively dark and uninteresting: with that light, it is distinct in meaning, and radiant with heavenly glory. An undevout student of the Bible is an unsuccessful one. Eead it on your knees. Surround the picture of revelation with the framework of prayer. Never will it be studied in vain by him who first cries, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
MEETNESS FOR HEAVEN THROUGH SORROW.
God's people are dear to him. They are his because they are his creatures. He made them, and he made them "for himself." "The Lord, he is God; he hath made us, and not we ourselves." Before he formed them, they were nothing. Just as "the sea is his," because " he made it;" just as - the heavens are his, and the earth also is his, and the world and the fulness thereof are his, because he has founded them, so his people are his, because he called them into existence. "0 Jacob and Israel, thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant." His people are his absolute, inalienable property by this original and independent right of creation. They are and ever have been the objects of his preserving, watchful, and paternal care. His Son has redeemed them; they were given to him by his Father, and he bought them by his own precious blood.
"They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day that I make up my jewels." They are his peculiar treasure, vessels of mercy and honour, and their names are all recorded in "the Lamb's book of life." They are " comely through the comeliness he puts upon them;" a " crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of our God," and are destined to shine in his own kingdom for ever and ever. Yet by nature they are very unfitted for this high destiny. They scarcely thought of God, and never loved him. They cast off fear, and restrained prayer, and rebelled against him, though he nourished and brought them up as children.
There is a wide difference between a man who is born in sin, and the came man who dies a Christian. The first thing, in order to fit him for heaven, is that a work of grace should be begun in his heart. There has been a movement in heaven towards him. "We love him because he first loved us." God himself is the author and finisher of man's
redemption. There is the work which Jesus Christ has performed for his people, and there is the work which the Holy Spirit performs in them. The work performed without them has its counterpart in the work performed within them. God himself alone has the power to change their hearts, to form them new creatures, to make them vessels of mercy, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the liberty wherewith Christ makes them free. "To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name; who were bom, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." None are fitted for heaven unless their hearts are thus turned from sin to holiness, and receive this hallowed and heavenward direction and tendency. "Verily 1 say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This is an important epoch in the history of every redeemed sinner, and the first effectual step in preparing him for heaven.
This work of grace must also be carried on; and he which "began it will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Succour in the time of need is without ourselves. If they are not overcome in the spiritual warfare, it is because the Captain of their salvation watches over them, cares for them, and throws around them the shield of his salvation. "In them, that is, in their flesh, there dwelleth no good thing." They are exposed to wander, to backslide, to plunge into fatal snares; nor would they ever return if he did not reclaim them; nor would they ever reach the celestial city if he did not "restore their souls, and lead them in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
In making his people meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, the God of all grace commonly makes use of his word and ordinances. But it is when afflictive dispensations run through and are intermingled with the means of grace and salvation, that they ordinarily enjoy heart-affecting views of invisible and eternal realities. Seasons of trial become seasons of Divine manifestation. God ifi pleased to manifest himself to them as he does not to the world. As such glorious glimpses are not essential to a state of grace, God only gives them as peculiar circumstances require. They are precious manifestations in the hour of trial; they leave lasting impressions on the mind, and are never forgotten. Sometimes they come unexpectedly, and almost unsought; it may be in the darkest night