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themselves for safety to gods that Passages in the history of idolatrous first their own fingers must fashion. worship may be turned to account. Think of a human soul bowing down Here certain idolaters were alarmed, to an image that a few moments ago and ran to seek relief of their gods. was “fastened with nails that it should They are making a shrine or an idol; not be moved !" Yet we do injustice they are all in earnest. This suggests to heathenism, and do not rightly what we shall always see whenever we interpret it, if we suppose its signifi- find a model Church. Such a Church cance lies wholly in these material isobjects. In reality we see here the I. A scene of activity. Every one human soul crying out for Another, is at work. Life is a scene of acti. an Unseen, an Unknown. The very vity in the physical universe, in the groping of heathenism is 60 far a business world. We rejoice that intestimony to God, that it proclaims tellectual activity has disturbed the God to be in the worshipper before darkness and torpor of the Middle the worshipper seeks Him elsewhere. Ages; the printing-press does a nobler Amongst all our modern idolatries, too, work than the old feudal castle; brute idolatries of wealth, pleasure, fashion, force, exclusiveness, have had their day. power, &c., we see the uneasiness of It is still more encouraging when spirisouls who can find no settled rest tual life comes into a Church. Then a in the things that are touched, and happy activity reigns. tasted, and handled. Though not de- II. A scene of cheerful, courageous finitely expressed, the yearning is for toil. The carpenter encourages the God Himself, of whom, and through goldsmith. Many Churches are scenes whom, and to whom are all things — of recriminating discouragement. How William Manning.
much the minister is helped by a little
encouragement now and then! It need Thus the heathen helped each other not be flattery. Let every man do his (ver. 6). There are many seasons in own work, but let there be mutual which encouragement from our fellow. encouragement, Christians is peculiarly soothing and III. A scene of prompt industry and grateful to the mind; for as “oint- thorough work. There are few worse ment and perfume rejoice the heart, things for the development of any kind 80 doth a man his friend by hearty of life than dilatoriness. Promptitude counsel” (Prov. xxvii. 9). This is in Church worship and work is much true-1. In the wintry day of adversity. needed.
needed. And thoroughness no less. 2. In the dreary night of affliction and “ He fastened it with nails, that it bereavement. It is one of the privileges should not be moved.”. We want as well as the duties of religion to cloths that will not rip; bridges “ feel a brother's care,” to “weep with that will bear; characters that will them that weep," and to pour the stand temptation; friendships that balm of consolation into the bleeding
will lasto The model Church does its hearts of our suffering friends. 3. In work thoroughly. the stormy day of persecution. It was IV. All are working actively, a saying of Martin Luther, that “the cheerfully, courageously, promptly, plough of persecution was yoked as thoroughly--for one common end early as the days of Cain; and it has (Jer. vii. 18). They are all building been going upon the back of the à shrine or an altar. So the Church Church ever since (Gal. iv. 29; 2 has one end. It is a unity, not a uniforTim. iii. 12). 4. In the time of fierce mity-a unity in spirit, in aim, in end. conflict and strong temptation. 5. When V. Special marks of a model Church. entering the vale of death. The help 1. A common-sense sanctuary : central, we can thus afford we are bound to easy of access, constructed so as to be render.-R. Bond: The Christian's Re- a house of worship and instruction, membrancer, p. 162, &c.
not of worship only, still less for spectacular effect. 2. Kindness to stran- the crown of all.-E. P. Thwing, Ph.D. : gers. 3. Well-organised charities. Christian World Pulpit, xxii. pp. 136Truly sanctified, truly consecrated by 137. the indwelling Spirit of God. This is
Two KINDS OF HELP.
xli. 10. Fear not; I will help thee, dc. It is manifestly the intention of the merce you may meet many a mammonprophet to exhibit the contrast be- worshipper. In gay circles you may tween Israel and the heathen nations. find crowds given up to the worship of In contemplating the promise of the fashion. In the very Church you may 10th verse, we may be so absorbed by find the formalist who has made an its boundless wealth, so amazed by its idol of sacraments. These modern condescension, so cheered by its com- idolatries are godless and unbelieving; fort, that we fail to notice the sombre but while there is no faith in God, background against which it is placed. what an immense amount of faith of a There is help in both cases, but how different kind is exhibited! Believe ! different! In one case it is the help Why, they believe the most absurd and encouragement which men give to things ! e.g., they make gold their one another in a vain, foolish, and des- trust; they believe that they may lead perate course; in the other it is the Christless lives, and yet somehow get help that cometh from above. The to heaven at last. We speak of them rapid conquests of Cyrus throw the as unbelievers, yet what faith they nations into alarm. What shall they have! They believe far more than the do in this extremity?
To them Christianity 1. Look at the expedients to which idol- is irrational, yet what irrationalities worshippers have recourse (ver. 6). The they entertain! “O the credulity of carpenters and goldsmiths resolve to unbelief,” that accepts the most glaring manufacture a strong set of gods, and absurdities to strengthen its position ! to fix them securely. In the idol. And yet with all this rash credulity factories the workmen stimulate one there is often an uneasy suspicion that another. We may smile at such a all is not right and safe, and in a day of gross delusion, as possible only among trouble they must help and encourage ignorant races in an age of supersti- one another.
Observe the power of tion; but is there nothing correspond association and example to blind men ing to it among ourselves? We may to the truth and strengthen them in regard image-worship with an air of bad principles. People think themscorn as too silly and infatuated ever selves all that is excellent if they do to find place in Christianised communi- as others do, and are no worse than ties; but there are many idols to which their neighbours; and so they keep the unbelieving heart turns in the day each other in countenance, doing in of need and trial. The gods of our company with each other what they day have no outward embodiment, but would not do alone. not less loyal are their votaries to II. Turn now to the other side, and them. Idols are made of mammon contemplate the Divine help. Here is and worldly ambitions, of services and Israel's confidence. It rests on the ceremonies. Thus do the follies of a Almighty Helper. bygone age reproduce themselves in 1. It is help guaranteed by past exall their essential features.
perience (vers. 8, 9). How intimate idolatry, you need not take a long the relation in which God stands to journey to the South Sea Islands or spiritual Israel ! how gracious the acts Central Africa. In our scenes of com- He has done for them ! how dear they
were to Him!
What a powerful it. The worm is not the mean, feeble, argument for hope and trust! To and useless creature we think it. Dar.. cast them off would be the undoing of win has shown us that earth-worms are all that He had done. How securely, the plowers of the soil and the prothen, the promise stands on the foun- ducers of mould, thus by their comdation of past favours. To the triei, bined labours fructifying the land. doubting believer there is encourage- As in nature, so in grace (1 Cor. i. 27– ment here,
Your God not only con- 29). Jesus became “a worm and no descends to sustain you with a promise, man ;” and His people, few and weak, but to encourage your faith He points yet armed with His powerful help, go to past acts of mercy. He has brought forth to the conquest of the world. you pear; He calls you by endearing Why, then, should you shrink from names, and appeals to a long experi- any mission on which He sends you, ence of His grace and love. The past and why should you doubt of success ? may be full of unfaithfulness on your (2 Chron. xiv. 11). part, but amid all there shine out God's 4. Help in wunt (vers. 17-19). There acts of mercy. How can you reject is spiritual thirst quenched and spiri. the promise built on this experience? tual refreshment provided. The desert Help in the past guarantees help in the becomes a lake, the wilderness a garfuture.
den. God opens streams, not only in 2. Help against opposition (vers. 11, the valleys, but on the hills; "high 12), and the reason is assigned (ver. places.”
places.” . This points to something 13). Israel's enemies will be frustrated. above Nature. The whole description o 'Christian ! what foes can harm you is obviously figurative, representing with God for your Almighty Helper ? “ comfort and refreshment and the Plied with temptation, oppressed with largest spiritual blessings. As before fears, surrounded with dangers, you there was an allusion to the call of can yet say, “ None of these things Abraham and the exodus, so here to move me.” All the hosts of evil are the journey through the desert when passing on to confusion, and through the rock was smitten. The words them you are marching to victory, may include mercies shown to the Outward losses cannot injure your real exiles on their return; but their chief life. These onsets of the foe are for reference must be to the outpouring of the trial of faith (1 Pet. i. 7).
the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and 3. Help in weakness (vers. 14-16). The also in times to come” (Birks).
worm" and "“men” (i.e., mor- Now, what is the intention of this tals) are expressive of weakness and promise of manifold help? “Fear contempt. But how strong does the not, be not dismayed,” or, as it has feeblest and meanest creature become been rendered, “Look not anxiously when armed with a Divine commission around you for help.” Rather look and supported by Divine help! “ With
up (Ps. cxxi. 2). Vain is the inward what," it has been asked, “
look, for we have no help in ourselves ; new threshing instrument be armed vain is the look around, for no man but the Word of God ?” (Heb. iv. 12). can redeem his brother; but look up If God has a work to do, the unlikeliest (Ps. Ix. 11), and listen to the Divine instrument can be made sufficient for promise. William Guthrie, M.A.
(A Sermon to the Young.)
xli. 8. Abraham, my friend. God here puts a very great honour him His friend. What greater honour upon His servant Abraham. He calls could there be than this ? Notice
I. How ABRAHAM CAVE TO BE THE Abraham, and told him to go and live FRIEND OF GOD.
amongst His enemies. Suppose you met on the street a III. How ABRAHAM SHOWED THAT poor, ragged boy, you would very HE WAS A FRIEND OF GOD. likely pity him, and might say,
1. “ He builded an altar to the poor boy has got a bad home, and he Lord” (Gen. xii. 7, 8). He was like will grow up a bad man, and will have no a sailor or soldier who is not afraid to one to show him how to live an honest carry the Queen's standard into the life.” If you wished that you and he midst of her enemies. miglit become friends, what would 2. He always believed what God be the first thing to do?
told him. God promised him a son, not have to tell him that you wanted to and although he had to wait a very become his friend ? He would no more long time before he had the son, he think of asking you to be his friend never gave up believing in God; he than you would think of asking the said to himself, “God would never Queen to be your friend. God wanted have made me a promise if He did not Abraham to be His friend, but how was mean to keep it; I am quite sure He Abraham to know that unless God is able to perform His promise, and told him? Abraham was in the midst that He will do so some day.” True of men who were worshippers of idols. friends always believe each other. As the Psalmist says, “ They have 3. Abraham always tried to do what mouths,” &c. (Ps. cxxxv. 16, 17). God told him. He told him to offer God knew that Abraham would never up the beloved son, for whom he had come to be His friend unless He spoke waited so many years. And Abraham to him first. (Read Gen. xii. 1-3.) showed that he was willing to obey
II. THE TIME WHEN ABRAHAM BE- the voice of God. In the end he was CAME GOD'S FRIEND.
taught a great lesson, viz., that God It was at a time when God had very did not approve of human sacrifice-a few friends in this world. No doubt thing commonly done—and so a ram He had many friends in other worlus, was provided (Gen. xxii.) but He had not made many in this. How IV. LESSONS. many had He in the days of Noah? 1. You can have Abraham's name. It is possible that He had not even Yon, too, may be God's friend. Reso many in the days of Abraham. member what Jesus said (John xv. 14;
There are some parts of the world Mark iii. 35). where you have no friends,-in Pata- 2. If you wish to have Abraham's gonia, for instance, where all the people great name, you must often speak to are savages. Some good missionaries God. The comfort of having friends went there once, and tried to teach the is that we can talk to them, and tell people about the Saviour; but they them our troubles, and find that they would not listen to Christ's servants, share our joys. and starved them to death. Suppose 3. If you choose God for your friend, one of the wild savages had taken the you will have made the best possible missionaries' part and become their choice, Whatever other friends you friend, do you not think he would have
have, accept the loving invitation of be in a brave man? But why do many your Heavenly Father-let Himbe people in this country dislike good your dearest Friend; become, like people so much ? It is just because Abraham, “the friend of God.”they are good. Bad men do not want Sermons for Boys and Girls, pp. 80–87. to be better; they “love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” It is sad to think that even
(A Sermon for Adults.) yet God has more enemies than friends in the world ; but He has many more
Much that is honourable is recorded friends than in the day when He called of Abraham in the Holy Scriptures, but nothing equal to this. He was a man 4. By lis sacred filelity to him. At of extensive possessions, a venerable an early period Jehovah entered patriarch, the founder of two powerful into covenant with His servant, as a nations, the ancestor of a double race man covenants with his friend ; and of kings, tlie father of the faithful, but, He sware unto him because He loved as his highest distinction, "he was him. He made the most solemn engagecalled the friend of God" (cf. 2 Chron. ments to visit him with favour, and xx. 7; James ii. 23).
ratified these engagements in the most I. THE DISPOSITION AND CONDUCT clear and condescending manner. Were OF GOD TOWARDS ABRAHAM,
they ever violated ? No! As often, He distinguished him as His friend therefore, as the appellation "the -1. By Ilis large munificence. It is not God of Abraham ” occurs, we have a perhaps too much to affirm that God recognition of covenant transactions gave to Abraham more than He ever and an appeal to testimony of inviolgave to any besiile. He gave him not able faithfulness. The covenant of only "exceeding great and precious pro- God is His solemn promise, and this mises,” but the actual fufilment of them He hath given not to Abraham only, in all their variety and extent, either but to every believer as His “ friend” to himself or his posterity. The grant (Heb. vi. 17, 18). of Jehovah to this patriarch included II. ABRAHAM'S DISPOSITION AND a son in his old age, and that his de- CONDUCT TOWARDS GOD. scendants should inherit the fertile Friendship ought to be mutual. land of Canaan ; that he should become Observer the father of many and mighty nations, 1. Abraham's steady faith in God. and especially that in him all the fami- “He believed in God, and it was lies of the earth should be blessed. imputed unto him for righteousness, What does He give to others whom and he was called the friend of God” He designates His friends! “ His (James ii. 23).
(James ii. 23). Faith was the grace own Son," "all spiritual blessings," for which he was most remarkable, a heavenly country,"
a crown of
and in which he particularly exglory.”
celled. He is denominated “faithful 2. By His intimate communion with Abraham," and the “father of the him. “Fear not, Abram : I am thy faithful.” “ In hope he believed shield and thyexceeding great reward.” against hope, and was strong in faith, In the plains of Mamre, as Abraham sat giving glory to God.” In such degree at the door of his tent in the heat of as we live in the exercise of faith we the day, the Lord appeared to him in are entitled to this honourable distincall the condescension of His favour, at- tion, “the friends of God." Faith in tended by two celestial messengers in God is cordial reliance on His testi. visible form: there He conversed with mony. It is “taking God at His word” him, and the communion He maintained (H. E. I. 1877–1881). was intimate and friendly in an unusual 2. Abraham's holy fellowship with God. degree (Ps. xxv. 14; Isa. lvii. 15). He was much devoted to God, and en
3. By His affectionate confidence in joyed special nearness to Him. At the him. “ Shall I hide from Abraham time when he removed from place to the thing which I do?” He meditated place, it is remarked that wherever he the destruction of Sodom and Gomor rested, “there he built an altar unto rah; but how can He conceal the inten- the Lord, and called upon the Name tion from Abraham, His friend ? He of the Lord.” We need only to intold him, therefore, of the judgment stance his intercession on behalf of which He was about to execute on the Sodom. (Read Gen. xviii.) Thus let guilty cities. The sentiment which your life be a life of fellowship with Åmos and our Lord express is re- Heaven; and the closer this commumarkable (Amos iii. 7; John xv. nion is maintained, the higher your 15).
enjoyment will rise. Friends love to