Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


to weary men, but will ye weary my God also ? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” David's son and David's Lord. Hezekiah sorely beset by the armies of the blasphemous king of Assyria; the cry of Hezekiah to the Lord is answered in mercy,

- For I will defend this city to save it for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake." It had not been said in vain, “ Also the Lord saith, I will make thee an house.” Do the people go into captivity and emerge from it only to be servants” in their own land unto the kings whom the Lord had set over them because of their sins; how cheering must have been the angelic announcement, " He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David.” What a meaning in the words, “I will make thee an house !” “ Is not this the Son of David ?” and, “O Son of David have mercy on us !” were the expressions of faith during our Lord's own personal ministry. And if either ourselves or Israel look for security of blessing, we are led back to David's disappointment in his service to God (Acts xiii. 32-34). And David still lives in our memories in Him who, in his closing words of the scripture of truth, announces the fulfilment of all the ancient promises to Israel in announcing himself, “ I am the root and the off-spring of David.”

But how entirely did David's disappointment in his contemplated service turn to the stability of his own soul in the sure grace and faithfulness of God,

" Solomon built him an house,” and after accomplishing the “ magnifical” work, he leaves, as it were, his last words for our instruction : “ All is vanity and vexation of spirit.” “What hath a man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart wherein he hath laboured under the sun?” But how different the last words of David, the lesson he teaches is not only happier but deeper “ Although my house be not so with God, yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. These

are last words indeed, and such will ever be the train of thought of those who serve their generation. There will be no rejoicing in any result of their own service, for the only satisfying result will be, that which the Lord himself will introduce: our expectations may be disappointed, but there is no disappointment to him whose expectation is from the Lord. If a present palpable result be the object we propose to ourselves, we shall certainly be disappointed; but if it be the honour of Christ, and there be no present result answering the desire of our heart, whilst deeply humbled under the sense of our own imperfection, we may take comfort from the language of the only perfect servant, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought and in vain; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.”

The apostle Paul served his generation, but he could find no rest in the work of his hands. He had laboured more abundantly than all others, yet what profit had he of all his labour under the sun, if he had regarded merely the result. “A great house” had indeed been reared, but it needed purification from within: “ All in Asia had turned away from him." But there is no such querulous thought as that which escaped the prophet before him, “I only am left.” His soul rises with the emergency: “Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner.” “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure," however tottering the superstructure, the result of his arduous labours, might appear in his own eyes and the eyes of others: his labour was not in vain in the Lord. His house, if Paul regarded the result of his own service, might not be so with God, but the foundation was sure, and it was all his salvation, and all his desire. He was not discouraged by the result, but gives a solemn charge to Timothy, “to preach the word,”

to do the work of an evangelist, to make full proof of his ministry,” for he had nearly closed his service to his generation. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous Judge will give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing." Had the great house" been that which was according to the desire of the heart of the apostle, he might rightfully have rejoiced in the result of his service: but in the wisdom of God it was not so, and the apostle, in serving his own generation, and in finishing his course, has served future generations, even to our own day. Error and evil of every kind were allowed to show themselves in the Church in the days of the Apostles, and the correction of these errors and evils by their inspired writings, supply to us even the place of themselves. Whilst we look to Paul's labours, and praise God for the grace given to him, we look to his writings for the confutation of the errors of our own day, which the apostle met in serving his generation. True it is that men, and even Christians look at the “great house," and seek either to support it by their own wisdom, or, turning from it in disgust as a failure, strike out a fresh path for themselves to produce something better. It is thus that many are turned away from the truth to infidelity: but faith regardeth that which faileth not, “the foundation of the Lord," and finds the Scriptures more wonderful and more profitable as corruption deepens.

How shall we then serve our generation? This question must be answered by another. Does it please God to walk still in curtains, or to fix his presence in any special place, so that his people may "dwell in a place of their own and move no more"? Does the Holy Ghost still assert his sovereignty with respect to the servants whom he will use “ for the work whereunto he calls them”? (Actsxiii.) Does he still appoint the sphere of their labour, as when he “ forbad them to preach in Asia"? Does He still show the special objects of his grace as when He opened the heart of Lydia? If it be so, then establishment is not his order, and we shall not be serving our generation by seeking it. Such a thought would take the care and keeping of the Church out of the hands of its Head, and interfere with the prerogative grace of the Holy Ghost.

Union is strength; men find it to be so, and it is characteristic of our age to seek to effect every purpose by combination. Shall we serve our generation by seeking Christian combination? The Word of God is very pointed here: not only does it say, “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord;" but “For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me, that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread, and He shall be for a sanctuary.” To seek even Christian combination would not be to sanctify Jesus, “ Jehovah-sabaoth" in our hearts, and, therefore, would not be to serve our generation.

Let it be fully granted that the unity of the body is a truth, as blessed as it is practical, and if carried out would be the great moral demonstration of Christ's mission (John xvii); yet it is not the truth, and is only valuable as it is subservient to the truth. The unity of the body is not a combination of Christians, such combination neither produces nor promotes it. It is an actual reality resulting from the fact of the redemption of the Church by the finished work of Christ, and by the coming down of the Holy Ghost in consequence of that finished work. To promote this unity practically, can only be a suitable object of service when the unity itself is regarded as a result of a higher object. The Church is not the object proposed to our faith, but Christ hiinself. We are not exhorted to hold fast the Church, but to hold fast the Head who holds fast the Church. If we see the result of seeking the unity of the Church to the disregard of the honour and glory of Christ, in the wide-spread abomination of popery, have


a How far the influence of this principle has tended to the dearth of great public men in our day might, morally and socially, be an interesting enigma; that it tends to destroy real independence of mind is sufficiently obvious.

we judged the principle in ourselves in the readiness of our hearts to maintain a combination of Christians at the experse of Christ's honour and glory. Unity is, indeed, both good and pleasant; but it is the result of the comeliness which Christ has set upon us; and we must not trust to our own beauty,” but “ to Him who has beautified us, who is altogether lovely.” To endeavour to keep “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is the common responsibility of all Christians; but it is much easier to keep the rules of any Christian association than the unity of the Spirit. This last cannot be effected without holding fast the Head, and it is the only unity which does not interfere with individual faith and conscience: on the contrary, it is really promoted by both being kept in exercise. The essence of all confederacies is, that they hinder the exercise of faith and conscience towards God, and shelter self-will; for if the confederacy be honoured, all else is disregarded. If we seek as our object to promote unity, we shall not serve our generation; but if we seek Christ's honour first and singly, we shall serve our generation, and secure the blessings which flow immediately from Him.

Human institutions are soon out-grown by the progress of society, and constantly need remodeling: but there is no such pliancy in the truth of God, and that because it is the truth. When the soul is once awakened to the recognition of the truth of God, it finds in the truth the standard to measure the declension of Christians and the alone power of recovery, “ Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.” In the too plainly verified prophetic declarations of the evil of the last days, we find the only remedy propounded by the Apostles to be recurrence to first principles. They are first and last, because embodied in Him who is it the first and the last.” When the Apostle Peter portrays

" the fearful corruption arising from damnable heresies privily brought in “ by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of”; there is no remedy but in the Lord himself: -• The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” If " scoffers”

« AnteriorContinuar »