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But even that last sad utterance of Jesus does not seem to close without a gleam of hope: “Ye shall not see me henceforth until ye shall say, 'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' Shall the foolish and misguided someday see their shortsighted folly and welcome him? Can there be a recognition of Jesus, even after the rejection, that shall bring back the blessings that were scorned? Jerusalem never turned to him, but some turned. Thousands when he was gone from them in the flesh remembered his call to them and responded, and he came back to them in the spirit. Jerusalem was encompassed with armies; the unhappy Jews were crucified by thousands; the temple was burned; and the nation ceased to be forever. But many had recognized their Lord, and in lives of truth ånd love and beauty glorified his name.
That love, infinite and yearning, of the heavenly Father, so wondrously revealed in Jesus, has never ceased. No rejection has lost. it to any soui. Jesus' cry is not a sentence of condemnation, but still a call to repentance. He did not leave Jerusalem to its fate, but came back that he might die for his people. And the last message of the Risen Christ sends the heralds of salvation to all the world, beginning at Jerusalem. Guilty Jerusalem still offered mercy! And each of us, however much we have rejected Jesus and his light and leading, are still offered his salvation to the uttermost to-day.
Wednesday—Tbe Betbany Silence
In the last week of the life of our Lord there were two days of silence. One was Wednesday, the Silence of the Bethany home; the other was Saturday, the Silence of the Tomb. These two days were not days of inactivity but of recuperation, one for the Trial of the Cross, the other for the Glory of Easter.
The power of Silence is not always recognized. Great souls have generally been born and reared in the regions of Silence. Wednesday was not a waste-day, but a prayer-day when the soul of the Lord took firmer root in the unseen and eternal.
The invitation to prayer, unaccepted by the multitude, is an invitation to power.
Our Lord was much in Silence. Thirty years out of the thirty-three of his life are appropriately named the years of Silence. Even during the three years of his public ministry he is often reported as withdrawing into solitude, going into a mountain or a desert place to be by himself. He went not only for rest but to gain power.
The Chinese have a proverb that since man has two ears and one tongue he should listen twice as often as he speaks. The Turks have a proverb, “When you see a man who is hustling, look out for him for he is moved by the devil.” Our own scriptures have the saying, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.”
If any age ever needed the Sabbath day for rest and Silence it is our age. Wonderful its activity and achievement, its creature comforts and commercial enterprise-yet there is fear that it will be classed as an age of superficial civilization.
It is easy to forget that the most inventive and enterprising portion of the American people—those called the “New Englanders”—had several centuries of quiet and solitude which impelled them to the cultivation of the habit of meditation and prayer. The rolling stone gathers no moss. The deep streams run still.
We are ever praying “O, that Ishmael might live," while God instead blesses the Child of faith and establishes his covenant with Isaac. The years belong to those who have laid hold of the invisible and have meditated over the deep things of God, not to those who have snatched at the things pleasant to the eyes.
The one who has learned to hear has more power often than the one who has learned to speak. Thought has more force than action. The philosopher will always have more battalions at his command than the merchant. The man who lies on his bed an invalid and “merely prays” may contribute more to the strength and welfare of the community than the man who figures largely in the market-place. Not only is it true that “they also serve who only stand and wait,” but these “shut-in saints" often wield the baton of power. They who create sentiment and songs do more for a nation than those who make laws. As men cannot give until they receive, neither can they speak until they hear.
Instead of meditation and prayer being waste-time it is the time best spent. “Prayer and provender hindereth no man on his journey.” The ten minutes devoted to family worship, if spent devoutly and intelligently, may do the members of the family more good in the long run than the ten hours spent in business or house-keeping. It is true now, as it was then in Bethany, that Mary chose the better part when she sat at the feet of her Lord instead of being burdened with much serving.
Not enough time is spent in preparation for service, in “waiting at Jerusalem.” Power from God comes after a proper process. The king's ladies spent a year of preparation before being allowed to appear before King Ahasuerus. One must be careful lest he "tempt God.” Eight hours of sleep and five hours of study may easily produce better and more lasting results than five hours of sleep and eight hours of study. A man who spends a year without a weekly Sabbath does less for himself and the world than the man who “remembers the Sabbath day.”
Wednesday—the day of Bethany Silence—has no recorded history. It is not, therefore, unimportant. Nay, of all the days, this day of prayer and silence, of recuperation from yesterday's toil and of preparation for to-morrow's trial, could not be omitted. Just as the training contributes to the victory of the athlete, so prayer reveals itself in accomplishment. To be is even more important than to act: and far more important than to record activities. Of the annalist, the warrior, the philosopher, the prophet, the first of these stands last in rank, measured by power: the last is first.
The best prayer is the prayer of silence. Man is prone, however, to think that much-talking will grant him a hearing. Our Lord clearly warns against this. He as much as says that the one who wins the ear of the Father must pray in secret; that it is heathenish and therefore vain to think that one shall be heard for his much speaking: that it is hypocritical “to stand and pray in the synagogues to be seen of men.” of power is the prayer of silence. One brief ejaculation of the publican, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner," had infinitely more power than the recital by thi Pharisee.
The prayer If there is not much silent prayer in the public assembly there is very little public worship and therefore little power. The introduction of a period of silent prayer in the service is doubtless a good correction of mind wandering. When the “minister prays" too often he prays alone. When the minister is thus compelled to pray alone, he can not well escape the feeling that he is a "prayer machine”—and such he soon will become, if the congregation is not much in silent prayer.
There is no difference between the heathen and Christian prayer machines in their vainness—except the Christian is more culpable, since the light has shone upon his darkness.
How much of the Bethany Silence is needed in the daily life.
The soul has been up to Jerusalem engaged in its tasks and returns home weary with the world's opposition, misunderstood, misrepresented. The Bethany Silence is like the shadow of a rock in a weary land. The soul faces the tasks of to-morrow, knows that it must go up to Jerusalem to be crucified by cruel men. The Bethany Silence is like a refreshing drink from the fountain of eternal life.
The Bethany Silence preceded the upper-room fellowship, preceded the Gethsemane struggle and the Judas-betrayal, preceded the trial with priestly bigotry, with Pilate-worldliness, with Herod-brutality, preceded the desertion of his disciples, the cruelty of the mob and the callousness of the soldiers. The stored-up strength of Bethany was what made possible the long weary journey to the cross.
No man has power who has not learned to pray. The seen-world is so small a fraction of our life, that he who has not laid hold of the unseen forces, has a judgment that is untrustworthy, either for the guidance of his own life, or the affairs of others. The