Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

cation of our souls for eternity. It is at first a discipline to prepare us for his service, to form, draw forth, and invigorate our spiritual faculties, to be exercised for his glory, in the spread of his kingdom, in the work of doing good, in a world of sin and sorrow, pain and conflict. It is also a discipline in itself, through this consequent and attendant habit of service, obedience, and self-denying love, for the blissful enjoyment of God himself in heaven, and for an infinitely higher and more extended service of faith, and position of glorious usefulness in that eternal kingdom. God acts with us as free agents, whose elements of character are all voluntary, whose good must be voluntary, or it is not good. Faith, in all its varieties, must be the act and exercise of our own souls, as well as the gift of God. It must be, under God's working, the co-operation of our own spirits with his Spirit, working in us both to will and to do.

It is by work here that God prepares us for rest hereafter. It is by faith here, amidst difficulties, that God prepares us for sight hereafter, amidst light and glory ineffable, inconceivable. The more work here, the deeper and more blissful rest hereafter.

The more faith here, amidst discouragements and darkness, the vaster, clearer, more transporting sight hereafter. The subduing of the will here to God's will, the habit of self-denial formed under the teachings and the power of faith, the habit of working for God amidst doubts

and difficulties, will be followed by a state where no self-denial is needed, because the will is completely one with God's will, because the soul is entirely absorbed in God and his blissful service and glory, without any mixture of sin, any thought of self, any experience of evil. Heaven itself is this perfect delight in the will and service of God. Heaven is a state, not a place, or it is a place, because it is a state first; a place and state of glory and rest hereafter, because there was a place and state of difficulty and grace here. Now God works in his children the preparation, the fitness, for heaven as an eternal, immutable place and state of glory and blessedness hereafter, by passing them through a medium of refining fire here; by leading them through state and place of difficulty, conflict, self-denial, service, where service is costly : leading them by grace in exercise, grace in conflict, grace fervently sought and laboured after, to the state and place where grace is sole and supreme in an eternal likeness and oneness with God.

This was' Christ's work with his disciples on earth. It is still his work, now that he reigns in heaven. While he was himself on earth, the object of sight rather than faith, their faith was stationary in its progress; it was germinating and preparing for growth, but their sight itself prevented faith. Christ was preparing them by his discipline and instructions, and then, so soon as he himself was taken up out of their sight, their faith grew like a mighty tree that could brave the most terrible tempests. When every sensible stay was taken away from them, when all the pillars of hope had been broken, on which they had confidently leaned while Christ was with them, looking even to the last moment of life for a temporal deliverance, kingdom, and reign; when every expectation of that nature, and every earthly imagination, had vanished with the sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, then faith took firm hold upon the promises ; then faith communed with, and relied upon, an unseen spiritual Almighty Savivur; then faith grew with the greater rapidity for its long previous discipline in Christ's own presence. Christ's departing words had a great meaning for his disciples, which they were not then aware of. “It is expedient for you that I go away

from

you; if I depart not, the Comforter will not come to you.” If Christ had not departed, the work of the Comforter, the work of faith, could not have been completed. It is often necessary that sensible supports and stays be removed, before the soul will rest upon those which are unseen, eternal, and spiritual.

One sun by day, by night ten thousand shine,
And light us deep into the Deity!

Yea, when the day that lighted us to our earthly

business, our cares of sight and sense, and also kept the outward sensitive organization of our nature so wakeful and active, and so fully occupied, that there was hardly a moment for thought, has passed into the silence and darkness of midnight, then not only the starry heavens reveal the infinite extent of God's universe, but faith is quickened, and in solemn, holy meditation and prayer, rises to heaven. So it is with God's gracious discipline. When the shades of darkness fall, when the winds rise, and deep calleth unto deep at the noise of God's water-spouts, then there is nothing but God left for the soul by faith to rest upon.

II.

The germ and the blade under discipline for the harvest-Con

trast and variety of spiritual experiences.

Among the parables of our Blessed Lord, there are none more beautiful and full of sacred meaning than those whose imagery is taken from the processes of seed-time and harvest. He gives us a system of accountability and retribution sometimes in a single sentence, and in like manner sketches the process and progress of his own grace. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” This illustration we doubt not was meant to be applied both to individual experience and to the workings of God's providence and grace on a scale as wide as the world. We

« НазадПродовжити »