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candidate for eternity, “Dare I lose new. Oh! cry, cry earnestly, that a day, when perhaps but few hours God will proclaim so as to make you are left; when life is the alone season practically and permanently feel this in which to gain a lofty place in the simple, well-known truth-“ All flesh future kingdom of Christ, and life may is grass, and all the goodliness thereof be already contracted to a span, so that is as the flower of the field.”—Henry what I grasp not now may be for Melvill, B.D.: Golden Lectures, 1851, ever out of reach ?” “ What shall I
pp. 733–740. say?” saith a voice from the firmament; the answer of the righteous I. ISAIAH'S MESSAGE. “ All flesh is man should be, “Oh! cry so as to grass.” I also have the same message make me feel that all flesh is grass; to publish to my hearers to-day. and all the goodliness thereof as the These words suggestflower of the field.'"
1. Our earthly origin. The earth II. A supernatural authority is needed is the mother of us all. Every kind to gain any practical hold for a truth of grass has its roots in her, and the which is 80 readily and universally most beautiful flower is not ashamed acknowledged. We do not require a to own its mother. But many convoice from heaven to make us know ceited people, especially if they have that such and such substances are risen in society, are ready to forget poisonous, when all experience testifies the lowliness of their origin. Their that they are.
And are not our parents and the friends of their childchurchyards filled with the old and
hood they would gladly disown. the young?
What mean and ignoble vanity! The Heavenly Voice bade a solemn 2. Our constant dependence upon the proclamation to be made of the frailty earth for our sustenance. of life; as though it were ascertained 3. Our equality. Some flowers are that observation and meditation would fairer than others, yet they are made never bring it home to man; as though of the same matter. One may be in truth must be delivered with all the better soil than another, more sheltered force and convincingness of a by nature or man's device from the revelation, ere there were likelihood of blasting north wind, and more open its gaining any practical hold.
to the sunlight, but it is the same in And if it be a thing for revelation, substance. When we look round on and therefore for prayer, all medita- society, we see men widely different tions amongst the tombs will be in appearance from each other. How practically of no worth, except as varied have been the circumstances of they bring men to their knees. their birth, education, employment,
It is most important to remember opportunities, &c. ! Yet they are all that there is no inherent power in brethren. A common lot awaits them truth to work effectually on the all (H. E. I. 1536, 1537; P. D. 677). soul. The power is in truth only 4. Our frailty and the uncertainty of as applied by the Spirit of God. our life. “ As the flower of the field." We must not substitute the Gospel for Not the garden flower, defended from the Saviour. A voice saith, “Cry!” storms and intruders by the yarıener's Your anxiety must be that the thing devices, but “as the flower of the cried-cried so as to come as a revela- field !” It opens with beauty in the tion from God-may be our own con- morning and drinks in the warm stant exposure to death (H. E. 1. rays of the sun; but there is no cer1557–1566).
tainty that a burning tempest will not CONCLUSION.—Let this be part of beat upon it or a beast trample it your daily prayer to Almighty God down before noon. Thus it is with (Ps. xxxix. 4). What we need is the us all. Confidently as the young being brought to feel old truth, rather reckon on seeing many years of happithan the being brought to recognise ress, " there is but a step between us
and death” (H. E. I. 1539–1516; surrounding him! Such are some of P. D. 705, 2225).
Wonder not, then, that we II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE “cry” to you. PROPIET WAS TO DELIVER HIS MES- 3. That the people and their danger
“Cry :” Be stirring, earnest, are coming nearer to each other cach urgent. Not that he who can cry the moment. Many, like men working in loudest is the best preacher. But the a hayfield when a thunderstorin is command suggests
gathering, postpone their escape to 1. That there is danger. A vehement the last moment, and often find that call is an indication of peril. There the danger was nearer to them than is danger to the sinner-not to his they thought. property, nor even to his body, but to 4. That the danger to which the people his soul!
are exposed is very great. 2. That the people do not see their 5. That the people are unwilling to danger. How true this is ! How hear. many are like a man sleeping soundly Life and Works of the late Rev. David on the beach while the tide is rapidly Rees, of Lanelly, pp. 87-94.
THE IMPERISHABLENESS OF THE GOSPEL
xl. 8. But the Word of our God shall stand for ever. A word is a spoken thought. God I. IT IS IMPREGNABLE IN ITS EVIhas spoken His thoughts to man. The DENCE, record of what He has said is contained The assaults of infidelity have been in the volume of inspired Scripture. unable to overthrow it. Its historical The text affirms that it shall stand for records receive confirmation from ad. ever. It is appropriated and applied vancing knowledge. Its prophecies to the Gospel by Peter (1 Pet. i. 24, have been historically fulfilled in the 25), who quotes this entire passage. most remarkable way. Its miracles The prophet's general affirmation re- are abiding evidence of Divine power specting God's Word is applied to the brought to bear on the confirmation of Gospel in particular. It is imperish- its truth. Its moral teaching is exable. The grass withers. It is fresh actly adapted to man's moral nature, and green when growing on the and presents the loftiest ideal of
posground. In due time the mower cuts sible humanity. Its conception of the it down, and, lacking the supply of great central figure, the Lord Jesus new life, it withers in the sun. The Christ, car only be accounted for by flower is beautiful in the garden. You its truth. Its distinguishing doctrines cannot carry it away exactly as you are characterised by their clear perplucked it. You have cut it off from ception of man's ruined condition, and the sources of its life; and, however their provision of what is necessary to carefully you keep it, in a few days it his spiritual interest. Its continuance will begin to fade away. Man grows and gradual advancement in the world into health and vigour. He is cut is a fulfilment of its own prediction, down by an invisible hand in the and a perpetual proof that God is with midst of his life-work ; or he accom- it. The grass has withered season by plishes his life-work, and then sinks into season ; the flowers have faded one by decay and forgetfulness. “All flesh
one; the generations of men have fol. is grass, and all the goodliness thereof lowed each other to the land of forgetis as the flower of the field.” But while fulness; but it remains. The attacks the grass withers, and the flower fades, upon it, made with fresh vigour and and man dies, the Word of our God from new points of view, have left itstands for ever. Our theme, therefore, a fortress often attempted, but never is the imperishableness of the Gospel. captured. As the sea flows up and threatens to overwhelm the land day is God's final word respecting men's after day, but retires again to its place, salvation. It must stand for ever. 80 the periodical assaults of infidelity III. IT IS IMMORTAL IN ITS INretire like their predecessors, and leave FLUENCE. the Gospel as it was (H. E. I. 2418– It stands for ever, not only in the 2427, 2451, 1165-1168).
written book, but in the living soul. II. IT IS UNCHANGEABLE IN ITS When believed, it enters the soul as a NATURE
living force. It completely changes Notwithstanding the dangers around the currents of life.
Its influence perit, the Gospel continues the same. Hu- vades everything. It touches and man history flows on, like a stream turns into gold everything in the man's with many variations and windings. nature. It removes fear, brings conEmpires rise and fall. Cities grow to solation, sanctifies the heart and life. magnificence, and decline. Customs “ Being born again." and habits change. Opinions become And when they pass to the better popular or drop into disuse. Physical land, it does not cease to live in them. science as taught in one age is entirely They carry it with them into heaven. different from physical science as taught It was Christ in them “the hope of in another. Manufacturing processes glory.” They are now glorified togive way to invention and improve- gether with Him. Christ will never ment. New facts are discovered ; new be effaced from their memories. The truths deduced from them. Human love of Christ which was felt below is thought is in continual flux. Yet the perfected above. The praise of Christ, facts remain. The crust of the earth which was expressed in many a thankand the substances it contains are the ful strain, is the celestial song which same. Change is not in the objects embodies their living recollections of studied, but in the knowledge of the the Gospel (Rev. v. 9). The Word of student. The same sun shines, the God will stand for ever in the thoughts same atmosphere floats around the and affections of ransomed souls. earth from the beginning; only both Nor can it, as a vital power in are better known. And God is the human breasts, pass from the earth. same, and the Gospel is the same. “One generation passeth away and Different views may be held of some another cometh.” The spiritual succritical questions; more may be known cession will be maintained to the end now than formerly of the localities, the of time. Flowers drop their seed behistory, the customs referred to in fore they die, so that from them other Scripture. But Scripture remains. flowers may spring. Every Christian No criticism has expunged any im- desires to leave representatives beportant doctrine.
Jesus Christ is hind him. Every Christian is an "the same yesterday, and to-day, and
agent; parents, friends, Sabbath-school for ever.” The same way of salvation, teachers, ministers. Thus the Gospel the same invitation to the sinful and lives. weary. The Gospel of Paul and Peter Christians ! how great the privilege and John is the Gospel still. The of an interest in the everlasting Gos“ faithful saying” is still true and pel! lt nourishes your faith. It rests “worthy of all acceptation.” The
It brings daily comfort justification by faith which Luther and strength. It sustains your dearest sounded over Europe is the way in hopes when all earthly things fade. which sinners are justified to-day. See that you discharge your duties The need of regeneration with which to the Gospel. 1. Obey it as the pracWhitefield and Wesley awoke the tical expression of your faith. 2. Disslumbers of England still exists. Men seminate it. 3. Believe in its permay throw off or modify their opinions petuity and triumph. Away with the of many things, but the essential nature drivel about the decay of its influence. of the Gospel cannot be changed. It O sinner, consider the bearing of this on you. You are perishable. So have perished. It is the winning side. is all around. The imperishable you At present you are on the losing side. neglect. Once more it invites. It will It is preached that it may win you. survive when you, as to this world, J. Rawlinson.
und the poor.
THE CHURCH'S MISSION.
xl. 9. O Zion, that bringest good tidings ! dc. It is freely asserted that the in- ening us with infinite peril, is the cleaving fluence of the Church of Christ is now of society into two great classes the rich extremely small. We have been made
While forces like these familiar with statements like these : drive different classes apart, what is “The pulpit has lost its power; the
there to draw them together? Higher Church has lost its hold upon the secular education does not do it. people; multitudes are hopelessly
are hopelessly Politics will not do it. Communism alienated from the public services of or Socialism has tried to do it, but has religion.” Consider
failed, and must ever fail. It fights I. The Church's place and function against inevitable inequalities. Men, in the world What have men a right divided from one another in various to expect from her? The text repre- ways, must be brought under one sents the Church as a bearer of good roof before God (Prov. xxii. 2). tidings to men. 1. She is exhorted to 2. What a terrible fact sin is in human get up on a high mountain where she life! Where it does not transgress will be conspicuous to all, and from the decencies of society, what a diswhich her voice shall reach turbing, depressing, en feebling fact it Judah's hills, along her vales, and is in our existence! The Church has to all her villages and towns. 2. To here a noble field of influence. She be courageous and energetic, full of ought to have glad tidinys for hearts faith, and action, and earnestness in burdened with transgression, or gnawed fulfilling her work. 3. She is told by remorse, or wearied in the conflict what her message ought to be: “Say with impurity, or depressed by the unto the cities of Judah, Behold your sense of helplessness. God !"
3. What terrible facts suffering and IL So long as the Church is faithful sorrow are in human life! The Church's to her mission as the earer of glad message to the suffering and sorrowful tidings about God, she will be pros- is an infinitely tender and precious perous and powerful. She is in the These should go forth from her world not only to hold fast the truth, courts relieved and comforted. Her but also to hold it forth. She is to Lord and Master was a great suffererecho God's message in human language was made perfect through suffering: and with human tenderness. Do not "Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold many churches fail in this respect ? Soine churches are turned into concert- 4. What a terrible fact death is in halls, some into homes of priestcraft, human life! Where, how, when, shall some into theological arenas or intel- we die? From whom can we learn any. lectual gymnasia, and others into thing of death? Science can explain places where feeble platitudes about the chemistry of our decay, can talk sin and grace, and faith and future wisely about the conservation of happiness abound (H. E. I. 1184– energy; but we want something more. 1186).
Philosophy has loved to speak of III. How much the world needs to death; the Epicurean saying, "Let us hear the good tidings which have been eat,” &c.; the Stoic, “Death is uniintrusted to the Church of Christ. versal and inevitable; let us meet it 1. One great and growing evil, threat- bravely and with dignity." But we are
only shocked and chilled. Poetry has from the grave. She provides a Guide sought to throw a charm around death ; who never fails in the valley of the but even poetry cannot satisfy our shadow of death. Pointing to One yearning. It is reserved for the Church who hung upon the cross, lay in the to justify her title as “the bringer of grave, and rose through the clouds to good tidings” by unfolding to men heaven, she can say to all,
« Behold her God-given revelations concerning your God!” (ch. xliii. 2, 3). —William death. To her it has been given to Young, B.A.: Christian World Pulpit, take the sting from death, the triumph xx. pp. 330-332.
THE PREACHER'S TASK.
xl. 9. o Zion, that bringest good tidings! &c. This chapter commences the second of recuperation. Its disease produces part of Isaiah's prophecies, in which a fatal unwillingness to be cured, if the local and national is less prominent only its consequences may be escaped. than in the former, and the visions are The preacher is charged with the good carried forward to the time of Messiah. news that the disease can be cured, its The prophet hears voices, each of which consequences averted, the dislike of recontains a message of consolation. The covery removed. God's love in Christ first bids him announce the coming of is the essence of the news (John iii. the King and command the prepara- 16, 17). If it came to you for the first tion of His way; the second affirms time, you would say it as the most the everlasting duration of the Lord's astonishing statement possible. It inWord; the third calls attention to the volves the whole work of Christ. It fact of His coming.
involves the proclamation of God's The third is our text. It is readiness to forgive and cleanse the differently rendered in the margin. sinner. It is salvation. “O thou that tellest good tidings unto Whoever makes this known to any Zion; 0 thou that tellest good tidings one previously ignorant of it is an to Jerusalem.” This version is adop- evangelist—a teller of good tidinys—a ted in Handel's Oratorio. It is gener- preacher of the Gospel. Conventionally preferred. It makes Zion and ally this name is given to a professional Jerusalem the recipients of the good class. There are many reasons for the tidings along with the cities of Judah. existence of such a class. But serious
God's strong hand would terminate loss is sustained, if the preaching of the the long Babylonian captivity, and Gospel is confined to them. Others lead His people back, as a shepherd should also preach. Parents, Sunday. leads his lock. But beyond this is school teachers, friends in conversathe great salvation the Messiah would tion, letters, visitors of the ignorant accomplish. The call is addressed to and neglected, distributors of tracts those whose business is to proclaim and books. Every man who has heard that salvation. Their occupation is and believed the glad tidings should described ; their challenge is dictated; himself be an evangeliser. Every their methods are prescribed ; their Christian is such a man. He has not sphere is defined.
heard a secret, but a glorious truth I. THEIR OCCUPATION IS DESCRIBED.
which he is to proclaim. They are evangelists : tellers of II. THEIR CHALLENGE IS DICTATED. good tidings-a suitable description The announcement of the glad tid. of the preachers of the Gospel, and ings of salvation does not terminate their work. The Gospel contains the in itself. It is proclaimed with a view good news men need. The world lies to action. “Behold your God.” Hence in ruin. It is sick. It has no power the Gospel is a manifestation of God