Зображення сторінки


brance of past failures, ever made a man strong yet. It made him weak that he might become strong, and when it had done that it had done its work. For strength there must be hope, for strength there must be joy. If the arm is to smite with vigour, it must smite at the bidding of a calm and light heart. The Christian work is such a sort as that the most dangerous opponent to it is simple despondency and simple sorrow. The joy of the Lord is strength.”. Well, then, there are two questions : How comes it that so much of the world's joy

. s weakness ? and how comes it that so much of the world's notion of religion is gloom and sadness? Answer them for yourselves and remember : You are weak unless you are glad; you are not glad and strong unless your faith and hope are fixed in Christ, and unless you are working from and not towards the assurance of salvation, from and not towards the sense of pardon, from and not towards the conviction of acceptance with God!



“ And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger.”

John vi. 35.


SURELY all their doubts must now be dispelled. In the days of old their fathers saw many marvellous sights-Moses giving bread of wonder to the people in the wil. derness, Elijah multiplying the widow's cruse of oil and her barrel of meal, Elisha causing the oil to flow as long as there were vessels to receive it for the relief of the distressed widow's poverty, and in that barren land of Gilgal appeasing with the twenty loaves of barley the hunger of a hundred men.

But never did their fathers behold such a wondrous spectacle as these

saw yesterday in the desert of Bethsaida. In that desert place, whither they had followed Him, Jesus condescended to teach them not only by His words of wisdom but by a deed of power. Not merely by such marvels as a Moses or an Elijah wrought; for these prophets of old possessed only that which at the very highest was a measured grace, and so it was only in measure that they performed their miracles. The most amazing of all their works was cast into the shade when Jesus, with a scanty stock of the homeliest fare-no more than the lad's five barley loaves and two fishes--spread a table in the wilderness for His great throng of guests, and fed from the slender store no fewer than five thousand men. That work of wonder, when compared with the miracles of old, displayed the difference between the

servant and the lord. There the fathers saw a work that was amazing, but which had a limit; here the children are privileged to look upon One who, as He blesses and distributes the ever-multiplying bread and fish, shows Himself to be the wielder of a power that knows no bound. In those miraculous works of the bygone days the holy prophets of God exercised power which was not native, but derived from a source higber than themselves ; in this a Worker is seen whose power is in finite, and, instead of being lent Him, is plainly all His own.

The effect which the miracle wrought in the minds of the multitude was what we might expect. With one consenting voice, they cried, “This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.". They recognized in Him the promised Messiah. And as many of them were pilgrims now on their way to the feast of the Passover at Jerusalem, fain would they have carried Him up at once to the holy city, that they might there enthrone Him as their king in the royal seat of David.

But their recognition of the Christ is imperfect. Their wish and the work of Jesus are not in unison. Instead of going with them, He breaks away from them. During the night which follows the miracle they have been separated. He has spent it in prayer on the mountain side, and in

walking as never man walked-on the storm-tossed waves of the raging sea.

At length the morning has dawned, and they meet again, He, the same to-day that He was yesterday--ready as ever to instruct, and guide, and bless. What of the multitude ? Are their thoughts and feelings the same? Or, if changed, is it that the interval has deepened their solemn impression that He who fed them is the Christ of God ? Do they greet Him with lowly hearts and trembling lips, hushed to a reverent stillness by the growing wonder of the thought which tells them who He really is ? Alas! it is not so. The enthusiasm which the miracle had evoked has already subsided.

Fickle and wayward, they come into the presence of the unchanging One with doubts and questionings. They compare His work with that which Moses had performed, not to find in Him a greater than Moses, but to depreciate the miracle which He had wrought, and to set it below the level of that which the prophet had performed. They demand that another work, still more splendid, may be done before they will recognize His claim and acknowledge His right to rebuke and command them. “ Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat;” whilst thou – for this is implied if not expressed by their words—hast given us no more than the ordinary bread of earth. Therefore, thou must accomplish something more before we can accept thee. "What sign showest thou that we may see, and believe thee ? What dost thou work?”

Hereupon the Redeemer, with a tender forbearance which is still more wondrous than the miracle, with a loving pity which more powerfully affects us than all the proofs of His might, proceeds to disclose pet more fully the truth which they are so slow to recognize, that, if possible, He may awaken within them the slumbering germ of the higher life. He does not deny that the manna of Moses came “ from heaven;" but He reminds them that the manna in question served for the susten. ance only of the physical body, and therefore that, even although it was prepared by God in a miraculous way, it could not have been derived from the spiritual world. "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I

say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true (i.e., the original, the real)

bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Neither the manna which their fathers ate in the wilderness, nor that barley bread with which the Speaker fed them yesterday in the desert of Bethsaida, is the bread from heaven; but Christ Himself is the true bread which is typified by both.

“ And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger.”

Our thoughts are directed by these words of our Saviour to the consideration of the soul's hunger, the food by which alone it can be satisfied, and how that food may be obtained.

I. Let us contemplate, first of all, THE HUNGER OF THE SOUL. That there is a spiritual hunger which craves its appropriate food is only what we might expect when we look at the condition by which all creature-life is ruled; is what we find attested by the sad confession of the universal family of man; and is confirmed by our own individual experience.

1. That there should be a hunger of the soul is no more than might be expected when we look at the condition by which all creaturelife is ruled. There is no living creature sustained in existence without food. T'he very highest, in common with the very humblest, forms of creature-life are placed under this necessity. None are exempted from the action of this law. None are self-sustaining. This is true of the life that is merely physical. The grass of the field and the flowers of the garden and the trees of the forest are all feeding creatures: they derive their sustenance from many things without themselves, from the soil in which they are planted, and the air which breathes around them, from the clouds which break in blessing on their head, and the sunshine which attracts them to itself, from the sweet opening influences of the gladsome day and the no less helpful influences of the gloomy night. By the kind conspiring aid of all these varied elements they are called into existence and sustained in life. And as it is with the lower forms of merely physical existence, so it is with the body of man.

Each separate organ of this frame, so fearfully and wonderfully made, is an organ that must be supplied with its own appropriate food. The eye, that first great inlet of knowledge which He who formed it calls “the light of the body," must be fed by

cast away


light: shut up an eye in darkness, you have deprived the organ of its needed nutriment, and it will die. The manychambered ear, which more than all our other organs of sense connects us with our kind, which is the avenue of so many of our most exalted pleasures, must in like manner be fed by sounds. And all these vital creatures are, in this respect, types and symbols of what is higher in man. For the intellectual, no less than the physical part of our nature, appropriate food must be furnished, or it will die. The mind has, in respect to its various faculties, a capacity of growth which can only be developed by a supply of fitting nutriment. Deprive the intellect of the food which it requires, and under the deprivation it will most assuredly perish. Thus we are in the habit of talking of “stunted” minds, as well as of bodies that are not full-grown. Thus we have heard of the shipwrecked mariner

some savage island of the main, and there detained for many years, losing the possession of his own mother tongue and forgetting his old modes and themes of thought. Thus the supply of mental food in one case, and its withholding in another, may develop one Englishman into a Milton and leave another an ignorant and sensual boor. And thus children, condemned by unnatural parents or guardians incapable of a parent's love to the solitary imprisonment of a hidden room, because of some deformity in their bodies, have been dragged forth by the ministers of justice to be found helpless and drivelling idiots, made such by the total absence of that food wbich the mind requires in order to grow. And thus, when the liberating hand of the patriotwarrior has opened the dungeons of the despot and set the prisoners free, men have issued thence whose bodies have survived their souls-who, “cut off from all living sights and sounds,” have sunk from the intelligence and activity which first marked them as victims of the oppressor into piteous imbeciles. Surely, then, if physical lite and mental life are both conditioned by this need, the most exalted creature of all the soul of man-may be expected to require its appropriate supply of food as well.

2. That there is a hunger of the spirit is what we find attested by the sad confession of the universal family of man.

From every age and land the voice of man's misery, proclaiming a great want, is heard. Some

times it is no more than a half articulate cry, like the wail of a child in the dark which has no knowledge of its own need. Oftentimes it is a cry of anguish rather than a cry of strong desire. But in every case it reveals the fact, that there is in the heart of man a quenchless longing after something that is not possessed. Oh, what bitter voices cry out of all ages and all lands for a good the nature of which they do not understand, the source of which is a mystery they cannot penetrate, but the want of which, in spite of all their ignorance, is misery! From the lands of savage life, flowing with the purple tide of human blood shed so freely to appease their sanguinary gods ; from countries of culture and refinement, where poets sing and philosophers speculate, and the most exalted earthly wisdom rears its temple "to the unknown God;" from the wretched wanderers of the desert, subsisting like the cattle on the fruits of the uncultivated waste, and from the peoples enjoying an abundance and a power, a pomp and a beauty, such as made Rome the mistress of the nations; from the Jew, so highly favoured of heaven but waiting for more light; from the Samaritan, sharing somewhat in the Hebrew faith and to some extent also in the great longing which filled the heart of Israel ; and from the myriad members of the Gentile race from all there comes a confession that they are not satisfied—the cry of a hungry world.

3. And the fact of this spiritual hunger, thus universally confessed, is confirmed by the individual experience of each human soul

. You may have all the comforts which the world can furnish, and yet be destitute of true comfort still. Even the man who has secured the richest share of earth's treasures has to write over them all

, Vanity of vanities." We may possess the means of satisfying every appetite of the body; rising above the lower sphere of sense we may use every appliance for the cultivation of the mind; all in our lot may outwardly be bright and full of promise ; and yet, if these things be our all, the heart will be joyless and void of peace, infested with secret fears, full of miserable unsatisfied desires, consumed with an immortal hunger which no earthly food can appease. The true life of man cannot be sustained by bread alone. What is of the earth and confined to the narrow domain of time, will not suffice for a heart

whose aspirations rise above the stars, and for you all her comforts and delights, you stretch far beyond the present into the find that there is still within your heart boundless eternity that lies beyond. If

“ An aching void you had no other wants to supply than

The world can never fill." those of the body and the mind ; if you could write this inscription on the portals And thus your own experience confirms of the tomb, “ Death is an everlasting

the attestation which is made in their sleep;” if there were not within you a mournful confessions by the

whole family spirit restless and panting after the im- of man, and daily presses upon you a conmortal and the infinite, then perhaps you viction of the profound reality which lies might find food enough to allay your under the saying, that there is a hunger hunger in the things which the world can of the soul. supply. But after she hath poured out

(To be continued.)



man would pray.


“Thy will be done."- Matt. vi. 10. The whole of this prayer of Christ's contains, in brief, everything for which a good

We have a powerful illustration of this in the words of our text, for it is wonderful how many of man's petitions might be expressed in that short sentence, “ Thy will be done.” We ask for success, but because we know not whether failure might not be a greater blessing, we mean, if we ask rightly, “Let thy perfect will accomplish itself." We pray for happiness, but because it is possible that sorrow may be blessedness, we mean, “Let thy great purpose go forward.” We implore spiritual gifts, but because we know not what gifts we need, and the divinest answer to the prayer for peace might be a still fiercer conflict and darker doubt, that prayer may go upward in the cry, “Perfect thy work in me according to thine own will." So that apart from adoration and the direct converse with God which belong to prayer, all the cries of a God-like soul might perhaps be gathered up and uttered in this, “Thy will be done." And at first sight it may seem that no language can be more natural to the creature that approaches God. For when man prays, the child of earth and time dares to enter into the presence of the mighty and awful will that governs the universe ; the pilgrim to an eternity, the meaning of which he cannot for a moment measure, utters his little finite thought to Him whose infinite eye reads the whole future of his being. And what words would seem to rise more naturally to that Eternal Majesty than these? But it is not until we learn by bitter experience

it is to say such words while the heart does not mean them; how naturally he.can delude ourselves by thinking we are bowing to God's will while the language may

be “My will be done;" how when the prayer “Thy will be done” involves the sacrifice of lite's idols, it is only uttered in an agony of spirit which makes us shudder—it is only then, I say, that we learn how long and earnest a struggle it needs to use that simple language of the heart. And so it is that the words which embody the very spirit of prayer, and which one would think a child might comprehend, it may be one of the last attainments of life to understand and to utier honestly and

But difficult though it be to utter that prayer always and honestly, it yet embodies the essential spirit of Christian

life. Apart from it, real Christianity is impossible.



of life


Hull's Sermons.

The following Sermon is taken, by permission of;the Editor, from a forthcoming new edition of Mr.

The former issue has for some time been out of print. We have no doubt that the new edition, which contains several additional sermons, will be eagerly sought for.-EDITOR.


And one of the tests of the degree in which a man has risen in spiritual life is the measure in which that prayer becomes the living language of his heart and the rule of bis actions. It is, therefore, of supreme importance that we should learn its true meaning, and feel the necessity of carrying out its spirit in every sphere of life. We shall endeavour to illustrate-1, The meaning of the prayer, “ Thy will be done." 2. The necessity of living it.

I. We begin by inquiring into the meaning of the words. They are often uttered. and not felt. They are sometimes spoken in a sense which is very different from, nay, even opposed to, the whole teaching of Christ. Unless, therefore, we first clearly

, comprehend their real meaning, it is impossible to show their necessity as the law of living

And we must remind ourselves at the outset that the meaning of this and every, other part of the Lord's Prayer depends on its first words, “ Our Father.” The thought which they suggest explains the “hallowing of His name," the “coming of His kingdom," and the doing of His will." By taking any of the words of the prayer out of the light of that idea they lose all that makes třem Christian, for the very foundation of Christianity lies in this—that God is not a stern King enthroned in the distant universe, but a Father whose glory and love surround all man’s life, and are in constant contact with bis spirit. Therefore, any meaning of these words which is inconsistent with the idea of a father is unchristian. Any meaning which shuts out this truth may make the prayer that of a heathen, but never the prayer of Christianity. Taking this

, then, as the test of its true meaning, we shall gain a truer idea of the prayer if we begin by clearing away two thoughts respecting God's will which are opposed to the idea of a Father. (1.) There is a tendency in man to confuse God's will with the thought of an irresistible force. Totally distinct as the idea of will is from that of mere power, men have been perpetually' prone to regard them as the same, and thus utterly to misunderstand the Christian meaning of the words, “ Thy will be done.". This confusion may arise very naturally from the consciousness of human insignificance. Contemplating the grandeur of God, and overwhelmed before the Majesty that rules the universe at His pleasure, man may submit to God's will because it seems to be an awful power which cannot be resisted. Now this conception of God's will as an irresistible force springs from forgetfulness of the great difference between God's rule in the kingdom of matter and His will in the kingdom of souls. In nature, God's will and His power are one., Stars repolve and shine, seas ebb and flow, in obedience to a might which they cannot resist. In nature, God's will is irresistible. But the essential feature of spirit is its capacity for resisting God. This is the ground of all moral life—of all right and wrong.

.. No mere force like that which reigns in the material world can conquer a soul; the only influences that can subdue it are those of truth and love, and man can resist them. ... To regard God's will as a blind irresistible power, to submit to it when it brings sorrow merely because it is vain to resist an infinite might, is to forget our very nature as spiritual beings; it is the submission. of a heathen or an animal, not that of a Christian man. Still further, this confusion is utterly opposed to the thought of God as a Father. You cannot think of Him in that aspect, and imagine that His will is carried out among men simply as a crashing, almighty force that can uphold or destroy. You must think of it as a will of love and grace, moulding and blessing men by spiritual influences for their highest good. Here then we have the first tendency that destroys the meaning of the prayer. For whenever man conceives of God's will simply as irresistible power, submitting to it only because it is vain to struggle with its might ; whenever he bows his own will merely because he feels that an iron hand is ruling ámid the darkness of life, destroying hope and bringing sorrow; whenever he yields only to an infinite sternness that must have its way, he has not learnt anything of the deep meaning of Christ's prayer,

Thy will

be done."

« НазадПродовжити »