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all our gloom and sadness our Father has watched over us. Nay, at the very first cry of alarm, at the faintest moan of our pain and sorrow, He heard, perhaps He alone : “Before we called, He answered ; whilst we were yet speaking, He heard.” He does more. He Himself speaks to us; and yet there comes from Him no chiding because of our weakness, for "He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust.” There is rather a soothing and tender compassion, a pitifulness which God only can feel, that will at once dissipate our alarm, if we will but give heed to Him. “ Thou poor, distracted child, frightened at thy difficulties and thy sudden pain and sorrow; tossed to and fro by thy present bitter anguish, 'fear thou not.' There is no sufficient ground for thy strange alarm. Dismiss it from thy heart. I, thy Father, speak to thee !" Yes, all God's promises are our Father's words of comfort and consolation to the fearful and sorrowing hearts of His children; and read in this light they are freighted with the balm that heals, and redolent with the love that saves and sanctifies.
We have, again, the Divine pledge of varied anl abundant succour. The pledge is this, that God is with 15. This is something more than the declaration that God's spirit fills the universe, that “ we cannot go from His spirit, nor flee from His presence." This is something more than the declaration that all life is the outflow from His fulness, that "in Him we live, and move, and have our being." More, that is, because we have a later and completer revelation in Christ Jesus our Lord. “I ain with you,” says Jehovah. “I will come to you,” says the Redeemer. Nay, He joins Himself with the Father. “ We will come unto you, and make our abode with you." This, this is the Real Presence which gives the true solace to the Christian's heart. When the prophet adds, " Be not dismayed,” he uses a word with a picture in it. It is as though he had said, speaking for his King and God, “Do not look this way nor that way for your helper, even though foes confront you, and foes hem you in on every side. Do not look about you doubtingly for your buckler and your shield. Look only to Me; for I am thy God.”
There are many similar assurances of comfort scattered throughout the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
Indeed, looking at the testimony of devout hearts, the refrain of the Old Testament saints is this—"The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge ;” and is not the response of the New even more emphatic? “ If God be for us, who shall be against us? He that
He that spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?" The promise of the old covenant is—“ Fear thou not; for I am with thee : be not dismayed; for I am thy God." The promise of the new covenant repeats and
emphasises the same assurance after the revelation of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. “Lo ! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
But look also at the variety and abundance of the succour pledged by God's presence. Think, for a moment, what is it that the despairing and the fearful most pressingly need? Are they not these things above all others-new power, timely refreshment, perpetual sustenance? We can do nothing when paralysed by fear, or when made hopeless through depression. If we only had a new heart we should have new life. We cannot give ourselves this. No self-spurring with motive will create it. Its origin and source are outside ourselves. The voice of a friend can do much to reassure us in the sorest straits; and even the mere presence of a friend will re-invigorate us, although, perhaps sometimes because, not a word is spoken. But if we have new power we shall still need such succour as will be best fitted to the ever-changing and ever-recurring wants of our spiritual life. One cool draught may refresh us to-day, but another will be needed to-morrow. We work, work faithfully, and yet work to weariness. Our Master did before us. He sat weary with His journey on the well. He fell asleep in Peter's boat after a weary day of toil. We want rest, therefore, and suitable refreshment. We need, moreover, from the constant return of our wants, stores that will never fail, and which the heaviest and the most constant demands will never exhaust. A mere rill will not be enough. It must be a broad and ample river. A tiny stream trickling down a mountain side may satisfy the wants of a few scattered households; a mighty and majestic river is needed to afford sufficient refreshment for a nation.
The sustenance which the whole Church desires must be perennial. There must be no fear of exhaustion, no sense of deficiency. The stream which is to satisfy a world must be full, and full for evermore.
Behold then how God has graciously and lovingly anticipated and met all these various needs! “I will strengthen thee "--the power you lack I will give. My strength shall be made perfect in your weakness. “ Yea, I will help thee." When special need is required special grace shall be near : “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." “ Yez, I will sustain thee by My faithful right hand.” Others may fail : there is no failure in Me. Others may desert you : I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I am with you now; I will be with you unto the end-in the dark valley, and beyond it.
What good cheer there is in all this! How unfailing the pledge that it shall be given ! How manifold are God's assurances of succour
how inexhaustible His treasury of grace! Who will henceforth take again such foolish heed of his cowardly fears ? Who will not listen rather to the loving voice of his Father and his God? Here is rest. Here is succour. Here is hope. Ye weary ones, enter upon it, for it is rest for your souls. Ye who are “hardly bestead and hungry," reach forth your hand, and open your heart, that God Hiniself may fill them out of His rich abundance. Ye sad and despairing ones, look up ! for God is bending over you, and the darkness which appals you is but His shadow as He stoops to bless you.
J. Jackson GOADBY.
Religious Enthusiasm. It has passed into a maxim that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with a will. No one was ever thoroughly successful in any important work of life who had not something like a passion for his calling. Whether farmer, mechanic, artist, man of science or letters, a teacher, or one devoted to any of the learned professions, a statesman or a sovereign, he who does not magnify his office by throwing himself into it with a genuine ardour will reach but moderate results, though he occupy himself with his particular vocation through even a long life. The men who keep the world from stagnation; who strike out new paths, rouse others into activity, and inaugurate new eras of progress; who, in spite of difficulties, achieve great things, and triumphantly leave the monuments of their energy and genius standing admired through ages, are men who are wide-awake and full of earnestness—an earnestness in which intellect and heart are both enlisted. It is this sort of earnestness, in which faiseeing wisdom is combined with the vitalizing glow of ardent feeling, that should be recognized as the true enthusiasm. It is to be carefully distinguished from the phrenzy of sudden and great excitements, and from the impulsive recklessness that is often energetic in proportion as it is blind.
Christian enthusiasm, then, is that earnestness in the Christian life and work in which right purpose is instinct with Christian feeling. It is the intelligent zeal of one who loves Christ, and longs to do His will. Jesus Himself, calm and self-poised as He always was, exhibited it in His whole public ministry, and expressed it when He said : “My meat and My drink is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” Paul described it when he wrote: “ It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing." He illustrated it most signally in that wonderful apostolic career in which he out-laboured his fellow apostles, and went unflinchingly through all manner of hardships to martyrdom itself. There must be a glorious record in the book of God of the names of vast numbers,
down through the ages, who kept the vestal fire of an intense and selfdevoting love habitually burning on the altar of their hearts. It has been mainly by the lives and labours of such that Christianity has been made an effective force in the world, and has steadily advanced. It is by the aggressive activities of such that she stands erect and extends her influence on every side to-day. In all the evangelical churches there are doubtless some who are truly fervent in spirit and fruitful in welldoing.
But yet, taking the great body of professed disciples together, what a painful lack of Christian enthusiasm do we
The opposite to religious enthusiasm is religious conventionalism that bondage to custom and prescribed methods which begets content with ordinary measures of success and the ordinary rate of movement, and discourages Christian aspiration and enterprise. How many churches and individual Christians are held, by means of this, as if in fetters, grinding contentedly in the mill of a cold and almost mechanical formalism, when they ought to be inwardly stirred with holy impulses and putting forth free and diversified activities! Birds may be kept so long encaged as to lose both the will and the power to fly. So it would seem as if many disciples, long used to a fixed routine, have lost the appetite for spontaneous Christian effort, and no longer feel themselves able to go forth and bear their part in the great melée of life as champions for the right. Order and propriety are certainly excellent things as means; but when they are changed to ends, and become walls within which to shut up active Christian energy, so as to keep it from doing anything effectively, they are utterly perverted from their legitimate use and set in false relations. The true Christian spirit is by no means a spirit of recklessness and anarchy; but neither is it so fastidious about methods as to be content to do nothing at all, for fear it may not work precisely according to the most exquisite ideals. It will rather seize a drowning man by the hair of his head than let him drown because it hesitates to outrage the conventional proprieties.
The truth is, that but very few things in the great complicated business of Christian living can be so arranged as to move on in a fixed routine. All the circumstances, activities, and drifts of society—the tastes, habits, follies, weaknesses, perils, sins of those who compose itare subject to perpetual change. The Devil does not marshal his forces according to a stereotyped book of tactics, and put them under martinets charged to see that they always work by the same rules, and do nothing on the battle-field that would be unbecoming on a dress-parade. Because he is in dead earnest, he exhibits his intellectual power, his versatility, his manifold resources, in new movements and combinations, new stratagems and wiles, in changing his points of attack, his weapons, and his battle-cries, from hour to hour, if need be. In such circumstances, and with such an adversary, the ministry, the local church, the Christian man and woman individually, ought not to expect to do much towards making the world better, if they insist on the status quo-one working always in the one conventional way. New plans and agencies, new lines of effort, new means of awakening and holding attention, fresh stimulants to thought, and fresh motives to exertion, are perpetually needed. The work of to-day is not the work of yesterday. It is not the work that to-morrow will impose.
He only, therefore, can be a successful Christian worker who is able to comprehend the present exigency, and to do promptly what it demands, Right purpose alone and moving along the beaten paths may fail to do
Right purpose all aglow with healthful Christian feeling, a genuine Christian enthusiasm, in other words, is much more likely to accomplish it. This quickens every faculty and greatly intensifies the power of attention and decision. It is broad in its views, fertile in expedients, and determined in its efforts. It supplies the steady impulse necessary to Christian enterprise, and does not soon die, like a mere occasional excitement. A person in conventional bondage is like a wheel in a groove, that may easily be blocked. One who is warmed with an intelligent religious enthusiasm is more like an eagle that, free and unhampered, soars when and where he will. Could the thousands of well-instructed Christians in the churches, could the great body of sound and able ministers who are the leaders of the sacramental host, rise to a glow of enthusiasm in the work of Christ in some good degree proportioned to the grandeur of the issues it involves, it cannot be doubted that the Christian cause would be seen advancing with vastly augmented speed.
Is such a thing to be reasonably anticipated? Yes. It must not only be anticipated, but realized, before the Kingdom of God can come with power. To become painfully sensible how much we need a warmer, deeper, holier earnestness—this is the first thing. To place our souls more fully under the legitimate impression of the glorious person and the redeeming work of Christ-our hearts in closer contact with the throbbings of His heart in its deep sympathy with a suffering worldthis is the thing next in order. To ask more and expect more of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, so that like primitive saints we may live in the spirit and not after the flesh-may be full of the Holy Ghost and of faith—this is the third thing. All of which amount simply to saying that we must attain to be more thoroughly Christlike, and to exemplify in ourselves that devotion to Him on which the whole New Testament insists. Christian enthusiasm can only be produced and sustained by a living contact with God and the open vision of Divine and eternal