« ÎnapoiContinuați »
with the mummies of Egypt 3000 years ago brings forth fruit still. The years, the ages, these are not God's measures. The word, the work, lives before Him, and is eternal. It seemed quite lost to you, lying storm-tost on the rock of some cold, hard nature, or buried in some sensual heart. No, brother; not lost, not lost. No! We shall meet them againthese words which we have spoken, these deeds which we have done, these struggles which we have borne, these victories which we have silently achieved—we shall see them again, not marred and tear-stained as we knew them here, but transfigured, glorious. We shall dwell at length with these children of our travailing spirits ; they shall attend us lovingly in the great circle of our orbit, and rain soft moonlit lustre upon our lives, as we circle around the central Sun of being, in the placid celestial deeps, for ever and ever.
2. God establishes this law of tearful sowing just that He may lead us to this fruitful and victorious union with Himself.
He limits the power of our will, not that He may crush us under a sense of our helplessness, but that He may enlarge us by ranging His almighty will on our side. He throws this element of doubt and darkness into our labour that He may rouse our faith to lay hold on His strength and conquer. The very conditions of the tearful sowing assure the joyful reaping, while He lives to fulfil His promise, for to this end were they ordained by Him. Listen to this: “ It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell ; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth ;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth ;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for
a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory ; yet of myself will I not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth : but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake : for when I am weak, then I am strong. I am become a fool in glorying ; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am Ibehind the very chiefest apostles though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” (2 Cor. xii, 1–12.)
3. We are not isolated in this work. We belong to an advancing army, we fight in a field of victory, we serve a Master who must push His triumphs until He has fulfilled the largest purpose of His love. We may not be able to trace the track of our particular effort, but the track of the whole band of workmen, army of soldiers, is clear, illustrious, and leads up to glory. Let our little effort perish; if Christ wins the sceptre of the world, He realises our success. All the great ones have lived before their ages, and wrought on in the backwoods of .time, silent and alone. How many men understood Paul, Augustine, Alfred, Dante, Milton, in their day ? “It takes the world two hundred years to find out its heroes," says Carlyle. But when did the world ever fail to press up to the ground they
won? Not more surely will the whole tide of civilisation overflow the ground where yon stout backwoodsman's axe is ringing through the silent forest, than will the whole world be one day up to and beyond the landmarks of truth which some brave pioneer is setting up now in sorrow, and it may be in shame. Christ's disciples are called to be the pioneers, and to work and fight—where some who seem to be leaders like least to fight-in the van. It is said that the Douglas took the heart of his great captain, Bruce, enclosed in a silver case, to the wars against the infidels. Whenever the battle went hard against the soldiers of the Cross he would unclasp it from his neck, and fling it far on before them into the midst of the enemies' war. “Pass on, great heart, into the midst of the battle, as oft thou hast done. The Douglas will follow thee or die.” One loves to see a man daring, as it were, to cast on his heart in advance of him. “ There is the line of progress! Pass on, great thought, warm with the life-blood of a beating heart, pass on! Man will follow thee, pass up to thee, or die.” No! none ever died in that battle; far on as they may project their spirits, they shall live to pass onward and onward yet. They shall see the ground which they strove to occupy pressed by the feet of Christ's conquering legions, while the eye of their spirit, in quest of fresh conflicts and triumphs, glances onward and upward still. Here or there they shall see and celebrate the victory. They shall not lose, but hang up in triumph the weapons with which they ended the war. Let us know that every spiritual seed cast into the human soil is the conquering of a fresh portion of the devil's empire for God. By sowing there we plant His standard, and He never loses what He once has won. Then, let no conflict, sorrow, anguish of spirit, which the sowing may cost us, shake our faith that “ they that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bear
ing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
4. We thus realise the full communion with the Saviour ; and that is the highest joy of a spirit—"the joy which the world giveth not and taketh not away.” Again, I say, granted
I that our seeds seem to perish, that our hopes seem to be frustrated, “ sowing,” we are fellow-workmen with Christ, and may enter into His joy. Nothing can rob us of the great prize-a likeness to, an eternal dwelling with, Him. If we work for Him, His victory is our victory; and when He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, we, too, be our life-work where it may, shall rejoice, “ with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” There is a sorrowful picture of the Lord's solitary work:-“ Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah ? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength ? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to sare. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat ? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold : therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.” (Is. lxiii, 1–5.) Not thus, blessed be Christ, work we. Our work, small and
may seem, is in the full presence of the Lord and the angels, is sustained by all the sympathies and prospered by all the forces of the celestial world.
I have spoken, in this discourse, of teachers and to teachers. I have endeavoured to lay bare the law of your activity and the secret of your success. Every one who has learnt any
poor as it
thing from God is bound to be a teacher of that to his fellows. “ Freely ye have received, freely give.” The law is absolute in every region. No thing, no being, grows otherwise than by imparting. Sun, stars, flowers, are all under this law, and work out by ministry their Maker's will. But see that you teach that which God has taught you. Confer not with flesh and blood, but with the Lord, and impart the wisdom and strength which you gain from vital intercourse with Him as your own precious gift to mankind. Let it be your own bread of life, the bread of your daily pilgrimage, the strength which sustains you through your conflicts, the source whence spring your victories. Speak, because necessity is laid on you to speak, because “ woe is unto you if you speak not " what the Lord hath spoken unto you. “Here stand I,” said Luther. “I can do no other, God help me.” Think what conflict and anguish that man had passed through before he could say “ This one thing I do; I can do no other, so help me, God.” And think how his heart exults to find that, in doing this one thing which he was pressed in spirit to do, he was doing the very greatest thing, the chief thing which the world was needing, that he was planting seeds which have borne fruits of life to generations of the noblest races and ages of
Pray that, as teachers, God may shut you up to speak the word which He has put into your lips. And would you have power with hearts, don't be afraid to suffer. Think you that we preachers have not to learn by suffering how to reach your hearts? A teacher who knows not the "temple of sorrow” may amuse, attract, but can never edify men. Think
you that it is no source of sadness to us preachers that we are chiefly sharers of your sorrows; that if we are brought near to you it is chiefly because sickness, sorrow, and death are in your homes ? But don't be afraid to sympathise, much as it may