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and hope ; in short, everything he possesses, outwardly and inwardly, may be brought into requisition for the service of his brethren of mankind. And by such employment of his powers and means of good, while he is preparing for himself a memorial in the respect and gratitude of his own generation, and in the benefits bequeathed by him and them to the generations which are to come, he is at the same time maturing his own soul in all the graces and exercises of the divine life on earth, and establishing for himself an abiding foundation of hope, that he may lay hold on eternal life.
Lastly: To each and all of us, my mortal brethren, there is an appointed term for our continuance in the present scene, and there is a determined period for our departure hence. Towards the point of time which is to close our earthly probation, we are all rapidly advancing. Indeed, from the moment of our birth, we begin to hasten onward to that of our death. Our progress along the pathway of this transient existence is ever gently downwards to the grave; and when we have once entered its silent and mysterious portals, we come up no inore,” neither have we any more a conscious part or interest in anything that is done under the sun. Yet every portion
progress through life may be improved to some wise and beneficent end. Every scene of our activity or of our experience may be made to yield some good fruits, for the comfort and rejoicing of others as well as of ourselves. Every gift which Providence bestows upon us during our advance in the journey which leads to the tomb, may be cultivated under the direction of the counsels of Heaven, so as to become to us an enduring substance, an everlasting treasure in the kingdom of the Saviour; in death itself we may serve the cause of religion and humanity. Oh! my brethren, let us endeavour so to live in obedience to the will of God, that when we come to die, we may be privileged to depart with the cheering hope that we done some good during the days of our continuance here, and that we have not been unprofitable servants in the work which our Master appointed us to perform. Amen.
THE REVELATION OF GOD IN CHRIST.
BY REV. HENRY IERSON, M. A.
John xiv. 6:
"I am the way, the truth and the life : no man cometh unto the Father
but by me."
CHRISTIANITY is an appeal to the human will. There is always in our religion something to be done, and a distinct choice implied on the part of man whether he will or will not obey it. It presents an ideal of hope and of duty, to which if we would conform, it must be by sustained effort. Hence is our faith a gospel requiring to be preached. It is addressed to the moral consciousness. It is a perpetual argument of persuasion, needing constant re-utterance before all new generations as their age matures to receive it.
How little is this like an abstract speculation ! How different from scientific research! There is no place for either in Christianity itself, nor occasion for the exercise of the habits peculiar to these labours of the intellect. The soul only knows if God hath spoken, or can hear His still, unuttered voice. It is not a dogma in philosophy that Jesus expresses when he declares himself “the truth,” nor a fact of science when proclaiming himself “the life.” Christ is, in the soul that has received him, a divine perception, a divine life ; and has opened within it the perpetual spring of its own moral nature. Only thus do men find the way to God, when the soul is awakened to seek and know Him—to love, revere and obey
Him. Hence in the Scriptures the perpetual demand for faith. The "obedience of the faith” is the fulfilment of God's work
That change of heart and purpose to which men are thus persuaded in the gospel, is called in the New Testament “conversion,” the “ turning of men from darkness to light, from the
power of Satan to God,”—two expressions which correspond to "the truth” and “the life” of our text. So is Jesus in every sense “the way” to the Father, since men become sanctified to God in him. The former sinner by nature has received a new principle of holy obedience, sufficient with time and trial to purify his whole being. He has become a saint, and lives a new life to God. To him the “old things have passed away." Therefore again is Christianity fully and fitly defined as God's message of salvation and mercy; and you perceive why, on the two sides, speculation and science, unable of themselves to discover the Father, have miserably erred and failed to comprehend the Christian doctrine, addressed as it is directly to the moral intuitions, to the higher affections, to the will, and only in a subordinate manner to observation and the understanding. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” There is no other means. One must have the new experiences of religion before he can reason about them.
We do not pause to justify this method of the gospel. Beyond all science or speculation are certain deep wants of our nature, which only the faith of Jesus attempts successfully to meet. We cannot come to the Father unless we know Him and are assured in our hearts before Him. Had the coming of Christ effected only this, had he convinced us merely of God's ready kindness, it would have been to remove an immense obstruction of fear, which hinders the human heart from approach to God. How justly might he have assumed this grateful title, “I am the way"! It had been a grand service to mankind, especially when exhausted with hopeless speculation, or under the thought of the seeming pitiless processes of created nature. Learning only our great distance from the Almighty Father by every effort to find the way of access to Him, how great relief should we have felt at the simple assurance in Christ that “the Lord pitieth those who fear Him”! How happy the inspired new life of such a promise and conviction! But the great Prophet of the New Testament has accomplished infinitely more. We have learned in him in what manner to come, and how the Father Himself assists to overget the difficulties that arise from within us. Jesus has so taught us of the Father as to invite and aid our coming, and so instructed us of ourselves as to facilitate and prompt this holy act of submissive return.
Just as we are he takes us straight to God, that we may learn in the sunlight of the Divine goodness and perfectness to aspire after what we ought to be. Then is all religion possible; the absolute worship, the perfect service, the ideal life of goodness, man's will in happy harmony with the Divine will. At least, in this direction does the soul now hopefully advance, measuring its progress by every added impulse of moral strength and purpose in the conquest of circumstance and self-will, and the foolish pride of natural ignorance and passion. Is not Jesus “the way to the Father," if his own example unites with his whole teaching to fulfil this noble function in humanity, as no other prophet or teacher has ever been inspired to do it? Surely the living and the true way to the true and ever-living God!
Here, then, we might well stop. The question is answered as to the revelation of God in Christ. And we might be satisfied to reflect upon our own position under his plain and sufficient teaching. Do we approach God as he did, trusting perfectly the Father's love, and receiving from it the inspiration of holy desire and of moral strength, to assure us under life's many difficulties and temptations ? Ah! how happy were it for an age like ours, could it learn from the wisdom of Jesus to recover the spring of hopeful faith, weakened hitherto and rendered powerless under the miserable strain of materialisms and of vague dreamings, newly misnamed philosophy and science! How deeply to be congratulated, could we but use our century's real knowledge to the legitimate end of releasing the religious convictions of the time from the still heavier oppression of sciences and philosophies confessedly effete and worthless, but which yet hinder mankind from the simple faith in the true way to the Father! Better than all the wonderful lights of science, better than all surest deductions of intellectual philosophy, is this speech of God through Jesus to the human heart—“Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace”! When the cloud is taken from before the face of God's love, the misty veil of our own superstitious alarms, visibly and for ever removed in the pure trust and promise of the Son of God, we can assuredly live to God, after the manner of Jesus, in all things—in science, in art, in philosophy and social interest; for all things are possible to mankind under the happy light of his regenerative faith.
But if it is demanded of us to shew, by more specific illustration, in what manner the revelation of God in Christ is adapted to our own age and time, we can only do this by first distinguishing the gospel of Jesus from certain other gospels which cannot be reduced into harmony with modern thought or feeling. Plain as the gospel really is, in the form of statement just given, many difficult questions present themselves to those who desire full instruction in religion,-a topic which by its nature must stand in close relations with every point of interest in human thought. The difficulty, sufficiently great in itself, and sometimes, as in many questions upon the absolute God, insuperable, is immensely increased by a long array of mistaken conceptions, which form the current religious thinking of our time. Moreover, we cannot find ground in people's thought or interest upon which to establish in the common mind our idea of Christianity, if we may not speak of it in the language of modern thought and feeling, and if men are to be for ever compelled to read it, in the New Testament, in forms often scarcely intelligible. We must do for the