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accord with the sweetest filial affection. The love will not wax over-bold or presumptuous, so as to forget the line that runs between things allowed and things forbidden; but it will set the heart at liberty from bondage, and make obedience free-footed and joyous. Whereas the man just shaking himself clear of his old life will often be found saying, “Must I do this ? " or, “What will happen to me if I do not ?”—doing some good things only because of a premonition of evil if they are left undone, -the more mature disciple will rather move forward to the duty or the sacrifice with an unquestioning conviction—which shuts every question up—that there God will be with him, and hence he cannot go elsewhere. His soul is so affianced to righteousness that, in the instinct of a noble nature, he recoils from known sin as ordinary men shun dishonour. In fact, sin becomes a dishonour to the Best Friend. Law remains, though liberty is gained, for law and liberty are not opposites ; the slavery of self-will the real antagonist of law, as license is the foe of liberty. And therefore it is one of the signs of a spirit that has risen well up toward overcoming the world, when the will spontaneously acts so much in line with the will of God that there is no galling of the neck under the yoke, and but little calculation of the consequences of disobedience. Believe in this oneness of purpose and life with God; pray for it as a part of the Christian victory, and expect it as a part of the Christian sanctification.
Along with the reconciliation of duty with inclination, there comes a reconciliation of small and even comparatively insignificant duties with the great principles of Christian allegiance. I scarcely know a surer test of real growth in Christ than this,-a more infallible touchstone to distinguish a true advance in holiness from the higher life of mere sentimentalism. Something is wrong where claims to exalted spirituality, or to a superior freedom from temptation, even though it be attributed to the special power of Jesus Christ, are accompanied by no corresponding deliverance from petty domestic foibles, from ill-temper, vanity, obstinacy, contempt of those that differ, or indolence. The grandeur of a triumphant faith is in the uniformity of its operation, in its easy condescension to homely drudgeries, in the quiet self-sacrifice with which it takes the stumbling-blocks and the burdens from others' paths and shoulders, in the Christ-like lowliness that renders the hour with God on the mountain-top not an excuse for neglecting commonplace services to our neighbours, but a secret preparation for their more punctual and faithful performance. Too many old habits, to be sure, cling about our crude beginnings of the new life to allow this divinest beauty of holiness to appear at once. But it is capable of indefinite unfolding and brightening. As sure as Christ is formed in you, it will glorify all your manhood.
Another mark of the increase of the blessed life of Christ in the disciple is an increase of serenity. Agitations belong to earlier periods ; the slender stream is tossed about and troubled by trivial impediments, frets at every little roughness on its edges, bubbles and babbles at the stones in its bed, and even seems to foam sometimes at sudden accessions to its own fulness. But, running on its way, it gathers contributions to its force.
Gaining volume and depth it gains tranquillity. Slight hindrances are borne silently away before its strength, and it moves in majesty because its motion is undisturbed. So'a German saint, describing in his diary the later results of a long spiritual conflict, the final issue of a slow, inward struggle, borrows Isaiah's image, and says, “Now was my peace like a river.” The anxiety of religious beginners is of many kinds. There is the anxiety of crude ideas, of undisciplined emotions, of morbid introspection, of comparison with others, of fear for the future, and distrust in God. In a true, healthy growth, you see less and less of this spiritual worrying. In the character of Jesus Christ nothing is more marvellously beautiful than His peace'; and, in the things of the Spirit, peace comes by power. The more He gives us of His life, the more He gives us of His repose. To a large extent this peace consists in a superiority to the irritations and annoyances of our common lot, as well as to its heavier sorrows. In respect to the former, we call it patience, which is sublime, in God and in man. In the latter, we call it submission. In the case of some eager, impetuous, and yet sensitive natures, it requires a long practice and ripe attainments to be patient with one's self,--almost as niuch as to be submissive to God. This evil spirit of unrest cometh not forth except by prayer and fasting ; but when it is gone a singular loveliness is seen on the face of the healed soul, and you confess that the power which, even in a lifetime of holy discipline, can work out a transfiguration so glorious, must be no other than the power of the Son of God.
In nothing, however, is the Christian's progress in holiness more signally manifest than in his prayers. They become more and more the natural expression of the new life. At first, prayer is either a part of the exercise of religious obedience, or else the indispensable means of obtaining some desired benefit. Accordingly, persons immature in faith and love have a great deal of difficulty with their prayers. No complaint is oftener poured into the ears of spiritual pastors and teachers than that of unsatisfactory devotions. It takes different forms. Sometimes the heart is cold; the hour of daily retirement is unwelcome; the closet has no attractions; the words are nothing but words; the whole transaction is a dead form, or even a mockery. At other times the disappointment is that the special petitions are apparently not answered. Again and again the cry goes up, and no evident sign is given of a hearing God. The request is not granted; the bad habit is not broken ; temptation does not die ; doubt is not removed ; the favour sought is not bestowed ; the comfort is not felt, and it is questioned whether the Comforter Himself draws near; it is as if the supplication were driven back from a shut-up heaven like a leaden weight upon the breast. The baffled suppliant keeps on entreating, rather because the letter of the command 'is plain, or because he knows it must somehow be well for him to be on his knees before his Maker, than because he is refreshed, or receives the boon he seeks. With the increase of life these sources of misery disappear; or, if they are afterward re-opened the distress is short-lived, being generally due to some temporary disorder of the inward man. Christ being more completely formed within, the believer's seasons of communion with the Father spread themselves more widely through his days and nights. He passes very frequently, almost unconsciously, and by imperceptible gradations of feeling, from his ordinary existence among the things of this world into direct converse with that Friend who is ever nearest, while also most high and most mighty. The current of adoring thought flows on in joyous, satisfying concord with the Eternal Will. We do not stop, perhaps, to shape every aspiration into articulate speech, but we yield to the Divine breath, and move whithersoever the Spirit that maketh intercession moves. In such measure as may be, the disciple is in the Mount with the Master. As the Lord Himself sometimes, to the very last, offered up particular entreaties, so it will daily be with His most spiritually-minded followers. But the communion will not end with these. A larger and larger share of devotion will consist in thanksgiving and praise-a sure mark of spiritual growth. Some new blessing-2 victory of faith, a fresh beam of light falling from heaven on the pathwill as often stir the soul to its heavenly conversation as a trial, loss, or throb of pain. There will be no anxious concern about answers, for the felt blessedness of the act is itself an answer. Day not something like this be the meaning of the prayer that is “without ceasing”? It is the loftiest action of the spirit of man. It is hiding in the pavilion of the Most High, and resting under the shadow of His wings.
600's Grief. Can the pure and infinite God really suffer grief? is a question that at once suggests itself upon the mere announcement of this topic. It is to many minds difficult of comprehension, partly because of a dislike to attribute to Him anything that appears like what we understand by suffering or unpleasant emotion, and partly because of the conceptions of God which they are accustomed to entertain. Yet it is certain that the Scriptures do in numerous passages speak of Him as grieved by human sin and misery. Nor are they all in the earlier portions of the Old Testament, where the history represents men in their more barbaric condition, and anthropopathic expressions are perhaps more frequent; but they are found in the New Testament as well. St. Paul quotes from the ninety-fifth Psalm the declaration of the Holy Ghost that God was “grieved with that generation,” tha: disbelieved and disobeyed Him, notwithstanding the demonstrations at the Red Sea and Mount Sinai, making it the basis of an exhortation to Hebrew Christians to beware of an evil heart of unbelief; and, again, he distinctly cautions the Ephesians that they “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God."
There is, then, some emotion possible to the Divine Mind, which is best expressed by this term. In some instances it involves the idea of indignation, provocation, and even loathing; in others, sorrow for the misery caused by sin, and remaining even after the sin has been abandoned, as well as pain and sadness for the sin itself. Here is a painful emotion ascribed to God, which however unpleasant to us in the contemplation, especially if we have
been wont to think of Him as incapable of suffering or destitute of feeling, certainly means something. Words express ideas ; God's words express God's ideas. The Holy Spirit has chosen and employed this term to describe a certain state of the Divine Mind in view of the sin and suffering of His creatures. And we can understand it only by our knowledge of what we have seen of it in other men and felt of it in ourselves.
A very prevalent, if not a very popular notion of God conceives Him as a pure spirit, of infinite intelligence, wisdom, and power, spotless in holiness, enthroned in awful majesty, in the possession of supreme and absolute authority, ruling all things according to His own will, gracicusly accepting homage and service, jealously guarding His own sovereign dignity, and wrathfully inflicting punishment upon them who disobey Him; but otherwise sitting passionless upon His throne and unmoved in feeling. He seems to them to be made up chiefly of cold intellect and absolute will. Now, it is not to be denied that the Scriptures do give of Him some representations that impress one more with a view of His majesty, His holinegs, and His power than of anything else, exhibiting to us His terrible side ; but this is not their full and fair representation of Him. It leaves out too much. There have been periods in the history of the race when some such views were necessary. When, for instance, the law was given at Sinai, it was needful to impress the Hebrews, just escaped from the debasing bondage of centuries, with a conviction of the greatness and holiness of the God who had delivered them, and then claimed their service; and especially of His infinite superiority to the gods of Egypt, or any other gods. So He caused the mountain to tremble at His presence, and a thick darkness to settle down upon its summit, with thunderings, lightnings, ascending smoke “ as the smoke of a furnace," and the sound of a trumpet. This could only awaken their terror, as they stood in that awful presence ; and then, to crown the whole, a voice spoke to them, so clear and loud, that the commandments uttered were heard in the remotest part of the encampment. Such an exhibition to their senses was necessary in order to their adequate comprehension of God's authority and hatred of sin. If their dullness and hardness rendered it only partially successful, we may well wonder what they would have become and done had it never been made.
This side of God's character was necessary once, and its lesson remains for all time. He is great, holy, infinite. But we are bound to take some additional things into our view, for the revelation of Himself to men is complete and many-sided. He is the same Being now that He has always been; only He has been fully manifested to the world through His onlybegotten Son. Yet the partial view above spoken of still remains in many minds. To them God seems wise and just ; but cold, unloving, and determined to pour out His wrath upon sinners, from which He is deterred only iy the interposition and pleading of His Son. God the Father is, in their conceptions, full of vengeance; God the Son it is who grieves over human woe, loves, pities, has compassion, and seeks to save. By the Son's sacrifice of Himself the Father's vengeful feelings are satisfied, and men may be saved.
This is an utter perversion of the truth. There is no such antagonism as is here represented. : The justice of God, one of His essential attributes, could not allow the bestowal of pardon without a previous expiation ; but it was the Father's love which provided the sufficient sacrifice for sin. “God is love," and He has proved it by sending His own Son into the world to die for sinners. This is a side of His character not seen in the giving of the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai, but none the less belonging to it.
Let us divest ourselves of the idea that God is a grand, majestic, cold abstraction, and believe that He has a heart to feel, as well as an intellect to think. Only thus can we understand what is meant by those Scriptures which attribute to Him affections and emotions. He is full of love; He, therefore, pities the fallen, grieves for the wretched, and compassionates the suffering. He does not mock us when He tells us of His sympathy for
If we are told that such expressions are employed to bring the facts down to our comprehension, we insist that it be admitted that there are facts which underlie them and are fairly represented by them. So it still remains that God is grieved by sin, that He hates and abhors it, that He pities the sinner, and delights in them that love Him. And, if it be said that, by adhering so strongly to such words, we are lowering the proper idea of God, we reply that we the rather exalt Him by taking the exact representation which He has given of His own perfections. The soul wants a God that can meet its needs ; and not a God stripped of all but cold intellect and mighty will, or, worse still, reduced to a blind force. We look into our own minds, and we learn what He means by love and grief. For God made man in His own image, with intellectual and moral traits of the same nature with His own; and He more than once appeals to these traits, and our knowledge of them, as grounds of our judgment of Himself. Or we may take the man Christ Jesus, in whom were none of the perversions of sin, who could say to Philip “ He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father," and believe that in Him God was trying to make Himself as manifest to men as possible, and show us as nearly as He could how He thinks and feels and acts.
How much nearer to us the thought that God has a heart to feel brings Him. As a loving Father, He grieves when His children offend Him ; but His grief has in it no perturbed feeling as in men. It is, nevertheless, a great reality, to be measured only by the infiniteness of His nature. By all His purity He loathes and hates sin, and by all His justice He must condemn and punish it; but equally by all His love is He grieved by it, and especially when men sin against light and knowledge, against the admonitions of conscience, and against the abundant exhibitions of His mercy and long-suffering. No man has a right to say of Him that He does not care for sin ; or, if He cares, He cares only to punish. He does care for the sin, and for the misery it causes, and even for the punishment that He will finally inflict. They have read the Scriptures to little purpose who fail to see His tender-heartedness among the characteristics of Himself which He has taken special pains to make prominent in their pages." In all their affliction He was afflicted,” are words that mean what they say.