Page images

you see it?

the blaze of the glory would blind me, even though I hear the continual cry of cherubim and seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts !” It is not there I get true views of His holiness. Where shall I find out how" holy” God is? I go to that Cross, and see that dying victim thereon-it is God's own Son! Hear it, ye hard-hearted sinners; hear it, ye wandering ones; hear it, ye careless ones; God so loved you, that He gave

His own Son to die for you. He could not withhold Him,-because it was the only way of bringing you through the waters of judgment. He has done it. And now He is “just and holy,' and yet He can justify the man who ventures into the water, and believes on Him. Do

“ Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods ? who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?"

Now, my dear friends, do you see it all ? Do you see the deliverance ? Sinner, weeping sinner, are you free yet? Sinner, praying sinner, are you free yet ? Sinner, hardhearted sinner, are you free yet? You do not see those chains Satan has woven around you; you do not hear the clank of those hell-manacles with which he has bound your hand, and is dragging you down to eternal woe! Are you free ? Are you free? You have got your choice between freedom now, and slavery now,—the freedom of heaven byand-by, and the bondage of hell for all eternity-which is it to be ? “ If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Men and women, are you free ? Now, you know how it is, in your own hearts. If you are not, we are holding this “ Mission” that you may become free. Blessed be God, many have become free already. We have seen the fetters of hell broken in this church. We have heard the song of triumph, and, by God's blessing, we are going to hear it again to-night. We will take our “timbrel” in our hands, and take our stand there on the other side of the Red Sea, and as we gaze back on the buried squadrons of Egypt, we will turn back and defy the whole universe of evil (if there be one) to touch us, as

we rest upon the finished work of Christ. Where is “the horse and its rider" now? Where is the power of hell now? Where is the ruthless tyrant now? Where are the chains of despair now ? Snapped and broken; the captive free; and the tyrant hurled into the mighty torrent of the returning sea.

• Who is like unto Thee, O Lord,


among the gods? who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?”

Now, will you let Him do " a wonder” with you? Wont it be “a wonder” if He takes hold of any one of you who has been a rebel, a filthy sinner, a scourge to his family—if He takes one of you, and makes you one of His own bright, beaming stars, clothed with the beauty of holiness, surrounded with His own righteousness, and begins to fit you for His everlasting kingdom! Wont that be “a wonder?” That is “the wonder” that God can do, and God will do. Ah! my dear brother, this very night may sound the hymn of triumph: “Sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.”


"E am my Beloved's, and He is Mine.”

“I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine.”—SONG OF SOLOMON vi. 3.


N previous occasions, beloved friends, when I have had

opportunities of addressing those of you who, by

faith, are reconciled to God, I have felt it appropriate to the occasion to impress upon you, as far as I could, your own personal responsibility with respect to that work in which God expects everyone of us to be engaged.

This morning I take the opportunity of the Communion Service to endeavour, if God so enable me, to lead you up to higher and deeper things, and to talk to you, for a little season, about what I may describe as the inner life of God in the human soul.

Let me begin by pointing out how wide and marked a distinction there is between the life of blessed fellowship, which is indicated to us in the whole course of this book of the Song of Solomon, and those conventional forms of propriety which some people mistake for religion. Could worldly people dare to apply to that which they call religion the language which is used here about this blessed life of the soul in God? Can you even persuade yourselves, my brethren, -you, who do not know “the power of the world to come, but “ have a name to live while you are dead,”—can you even persuade yourselves that your life is anything like the life which is described here? Is it a life in whiclı The soul's desires are concentrated on the person of Christ ? Is it a life in which the one absorbing object is to do His will, and to enjoy His society, and to get nearer and still nearer to Himself? "I live, yet not 1 (saith St. Paul), but Christ liveth in me.

If our religion is of the true type, it will lead up to such experiences. We may not have attained to what we desire to attain unto, but we should be continually aspiring after it, and opening up our hearts more and more to God. “ Like as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” That is the experience of a Christian, a genuine Christian. But oh ! how many there are who would be insulted if you were to say they were not Christians at all, but who yet have really no such desire, or at any rate do not cherish it; but on the contrary, seem to be endeavouring to solve the problem, how little religion will take a man to heaven.

The life of the true Christian, from beginning to end, is a life of love. I do not think that Christian experience is uniform in this respect. It is progressive ; we have to grow in love more and more. This, you will remember, is the urgent desire of St. Paul, expressed for his Philippian converts, when there burst forth from his full heart those glowing words, “God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ, and this I pray


your abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.

Taking it, then, for granted that there is a life of love to be lived, and that this life of love has its degrees, 'let us endeavour, for a few moments, to sketch out the history of this spiritual experience. What is its commencement ? St.

love may

John tells us : “We love Him because He first loved us.” Here is where the life of love really begins. It is possible without this to lead a life of legal service; it is possible to do a great many things, because we feel it to be our duty, even many things which are disagreeable, under the idea that God expects it of us, and because He is so great and powerful and able to enforce His commands, that it is dangerous to resist His will, but this is not Christian experience.

This life of love does not come into existence naturally. You know how God has revealed His love; the Fatherly goodness of God is manifested in various ways, “He sendeth rain and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with joy and gladness." Everyone enjoys all these things alike; but they do not in consequence love God. Our hearts must be conscious of a Father's personal love towards us before we can love Him. The great revelation which is intended to bring this home to our hearts is that which was made by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself on the cross of Calvary. He hangs there before us as the revelation of the Father's love, if by any means the manifestation of that love to our souls may have the effect of calling us back from our wanderings, and concentrating our affections on the Person of Him of whom every true believer can say, “Whom not having seen we love."

Do you observe, dear friends, that although real Christian experience leads us right up at once towards love, there is a considerable degree of what I may call selfishness in its earlier stages. I recall the word “selfishness," and would indicate to you a distinction which exists between motives which are actually selfish and motives which are self-regarding. Our great theologian, Butler, has called attention to that distinction, and it is well to bear it in mind. I did not then mean to use the word “selfish” just now, in an invidious sense -naturally enough we first of all think about ourselves. God appeals to that rational self-love, which exists in our own heart, and He employs this self-love in order to lead up to higher and better things. A man who has not yet begun to think about himself is clearly not likely to think about his God. The man who is not awake to the necessities of his own nature, is scarcely likely to recognise the claims of God. God the Holy Spirit, when He comes to the human heart, reveals not only sin, but the danger which is the consequence of that sin. Those who have been brought under the power of the Word, during this week, have discovered themselves not only to be sinners, but sinners in danger ; sinners under condemnation; sinners being drawn down, step by step, to eternal perdition. When, therefore, you cry,“ Lord, save me, I perish !” there is a certain amount of self-regard even in that very look which you turn towards the cross of Christ. You look towards Christ because you feel in your own heart that you cannot do without Him any longer: in other words you want to make use of Him. It is not that you are filled with a passionate love for His person,—that comes afterwards, —but your eyes are open to feel your need of Christ, and to stretch out your hands to embrace Him as the Saviour you require.

If our religion were to stop short here, I do not hesitate to say, it would make people selfish. Many religious people do stop short here, and so become strangely selfish in their religious life; and although in the first instance their selfregard and self-love is a reasonable and proper thing, yet when it is rested in, and when allowed to become the ruling principle of life, the result is that the self-regard becomes really selfishness. Thus it has not been difficult to find those who may be called, by a stretch of language, “selfish Christians.” There ought to be no such being as a selfish Christian, and the phrase is itself paradoxical; for if I am really selfish, I am not a Christian; and if I am really a Christian I am not selfish. I am using the word “Christian "in a lower sense. It is the case with too many Christians that they never seem to get beyond spiritual selfishness; they begin with the thought of their own salvation, and they go on with the thought of their own salvation, and if they can only just keep a little tiny spark of love still alive within their souls, they are contentfor they hope they may at last get safe to heaven.

Now I beseech you, dear children of God, and you especially who have recently given yourselves up to the Lord, from the first set your eye upon the “prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” God never put


you salvation as the final cause of your being. On the contrary, He puts you in a state of salvation, so that you may have no doubt, no fear, no legal bondage on the subject; but may feel calm and confident that it is all right between you and God, in order that all your energies may be set free to press on towards the attainment of that glorious prize, which is for you in the living person of a revealed Christ! Lay it down then, dear friends,

« PreviousContinue »