226 MARVEL NOT
haps, and worse ; and no man ever really knew
the cause till Jesus told the world that it must ā
that it was essentially necessary ā that it must,
absolutely and imperatively must, be born again.
If human nature makes it necessary, much
more does the Divine nature. When Christ shall
present His Church to God, it must be as a Spot-
less Bride. In that eternal kingdom saints are
more than subjects : they are the companions of
the King. They must be a very select number.
They must be a very high-born company. Mar-
vel not if you and I are to be there ā as if it were
unnecessary that we must be born again, " Lord,
who shall abide in Thy tabernacle ā who shall
dwell in Thy holy hill? He that hath clean
hands and a pure heart." There shall in no wise
enter into it anything that defileth. Marvel not
as if it were unnecessary that our robes should be
washed in white.
Marvel not as if it were unintelligible.
Marvel not as if it were impossible.
Marvel not as if it were unnecessary that ye
must be born again. Marvel if you are. Marvel
if you are.
The Man after God's
A BIBLE STUDY ON THE
IDEAL OF A CHRISTIAN LIFE
" y4 tnan after mine ozini hearty who shall fulfil all My
wilir ā Acts xiii. 22.
NO man can be making much of his hfe who
has not a very definite conception of what
he is hving for. And if you ask, at random, a
dozen men what is the end of their hfe, you will be
surprised to find how few have formed to them-
selves more than the most dim idea. The ques-
tion of the siivimimi bonum has ever been the most
difficult for the human mind to grasp. What
shall a man do with his life? What is life for?
and Why is it given? This has been the one
great puzzle for human books and human
thoughts; and ancient philosophy and mediaeval
learning and modern culture alike have failed to
tell us what these mean.
No man, no book save one, has ever told the
world what it wants, so each has had to face the
problem in his own uncertain light, and carry out,
each for himself, the life that he thinks best.
228 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
Here is one who says literature is the great
thing ā he will be a literary man. He lays down
for himself his ideal of a literary life. He sur-
rounds himself with the best ideals of style ; and
with his great ambition working towards great
ends, after great models, he cuts out for himself
what he thinks is his great life-work. Another
says the world is the great thing ā he will be a
man of the world. A third will be a business
man ; a fourth, a man of science.
And the Christian must have a definite aim and
model for his life. These aims are great aims,
but not great enough for him. His one book has
taught him a nobler life than all the libraries of
the rich and immortal past. He may wish to be
a man of business, or a man of science, and indeed
he may be both. But he covets a nobler name
than that. He will be the man after God's own
heart. He has found out the secret philosophy
never knew, that the ideal life is this ā "A man
after mine own heart, who shall fulfil all My
will." And just as the man of the world, or the
literary man, lays down a programme for the
brief span of his working life, which he feels
must vanish shortly in the unknown of the
grave, much more will the Christian for the great
span of his life before it arches over the valley
He is a great man who has a great plan to his
life ā the greatest who has the greatest plan and
keeps it. And the Christian should have the
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 229
greatest plan as his life is the greatest, as his
work is the greatest, as his life and his work will
follow him when all this world's is done.
Now we are going to ask to-day. What is the
true plan of the ideal Christian life? We shall
need a definition that we may know it, a descrip-
tion that we may follow it. And if you look,
you will see that both, in a sense, lie on the sur-
face of our text. " A man after mine own heart, "
ā here is the definition of what we are to be.
"Who shall fulfil all My will," ā here is the
description of how we are to be it. These words
are the definition and the description of the
model human life. They describe the man after
God's own heart. They give us the key to the
The general truth of these words is simply
this : that the end of life is to do God's will.
Now that is a great and surprising revelation.
No man ever found that out. It has been before
the world these eighteen hundred years, yet few
have even found it out to-day. One man will
tell you the end of life is to be true. Another
will tell you it is to deny self. Another will
say it is to keep the Ten Commandments. A
fourth will point you to the Beatitudes. One
will tell you it is to do good, another that it is
to get good, another that it is to be good. But
the end of life is in none of these things. It is
more than all, and it includes them all. The
end of life is not to deny self, nor to be true,
230 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
nor to keep the Ten Commandments ā simply
to do God's will. It is not to get good nor be
good, nor even to do good ā just what God wills,
whether that be working or waiting, or winning
or losing, or suffering or recovering, or living or
But this conception is too great for us. It is
not practical enough. It is the greatest rnr^-
ception of man that has ever been given to the
world. The great philosophers, from Socrates
and Plato to Immanuel Kant and Mill, have
given us their conception of an ideal human
life. But none of them is at all so great as
this. Each of them has constructed an ideal
human life, a universal life they call it, a life
for all other lives, a life for all men and all
time to copy. None of them is half so deep, so
wonderful, so far-reaching, as this: " A man
after mine own hearty who sh all fulfil all My
But exactly for this very reason it is at first
sight impracticable. We feel helpless beside a
truth so great and eternal. God must teach us
these things. Like little children, we must sit
at His feet and learn. And as we come to Him
with our difficulty, we find He has prepared two
practical helps for us, that He may humanise
it and bring it near to us, so that by studying
these helps, and following them with willing
and humble hearts, we shall learn to copy into
our lives the great ideal of God.
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 231
The two helps which God has given us are
I. The Model Life realised in Christ, the
IT. The Model Life analysed in the Bible,
the written Word.
The usual method is to deal almost exclu-
sively with the first of these. To-day, for cer-
tain reasons, we mean to consider the second.
As regards the first, of course, if a man could
follow Christ he would lead the model life. But
what is meant by telling a man to follow Christ.'*
How is it to be done .'' It is like putting a young
artist before a Murillo or a Raphael, and telling
him to copy it. But even as the artist in fol-
lowing his ideal has colours put into his hand,
and brush and canvas, and a hint here from this
master, and a touch there from another, so with
the pupil in the school of Christ. The great
Master Himself is thereto help him. The Holy
Spirit is there to help him. But the model life
is not to be mystically attained. There is spir-
ituality about it, but no unreality. So God has
provided another great help, our second help:
The Model Life analysed in the Word of God.
Without the one the ideal life would be incred-
ible; without the other it would be unintel-
ligible. Hence God has given us two sides
of this model life: (i) Realised in the Living
Word ; (2) Analysed in the written Word.
Let us search our Bibles then to find this ideal
232 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
life, so that copying it in our lives, reproducing
it day by day and point by point, we may learn
to make the most of our little life, and have it
said of us, as it was of David, "A man after
mine own heart, who shall fulfil all My will,"
(i) The first thing our ideal man wants is a
reason for his being alive at all . He must ac-
count for his existence. What is he here for.-*
And the Bible answer is this: "I come to do
Thy will. O God." (Heb. x. 7).
That is what we are here for ā to do God's
will. "I come to do Thy will, O God." That
is the object of your life and mine ā to do God's
will. It is not to be happy or to be successful,
or famous, or to do the best we can, and get
on honestly in the world. It is something far
higher than this ā to do God's will. There, at
the very outset, is the great key to life. Any
one of us can tell in a moment whether our lives
are right or not. Are we doing God's will.^
We do not mean, Are we doing God's work.-' ā
preaching or teaching, or collecting money ā
but God's zvill. A man may think he is doing
God's work, when he is not even doing God's
will. And a man may be doing God's work and
God's will quite as much by hewing stones, or
sweeping streets, as by preaching or praying.
So the question just means this ā Are we work-
ing out our common every-day life on the great
lines of God's will.-' This is different from the
world's model life. " I come to push my way."
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 233
This is the world's idea of it. Not my way ā
not my will, but Thine be done. This is the
Christian's. This is what the man after God's
own heart says : " I seek not mine own will, but
the will of Him that sent Me."
(2) The second thing the ideal man needs is
Sustenance. After he has got life, you must
give him food. Now, what food shall you give
him.'* Shall you feed him with knowledge, or
with riches, or with honour, or with beauty, or
with power, or truth.-* No; there is a rarer
luxury than these ā so rare, that few have ever
more than tasted it ; so rich, that they who have
will never live on other fare again. It is this;
"My meat is to do the will of Him that sent
Me " (John iv. 34).
Again, to do God's will. That is what a man
lives for: it is also what he lives on. Meat.
Meat is strength, support, nourishment. The
strength of the model life is drawn from the
Divine will. Man has a strong will. But God's
will is everlasting strength ā Almighty strength.
Such strength the ideal man gets. He grows by
it, he assimilates it ā it is his life. "Man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word that
Cometh out of God." Nothing can satisfy his
appetite but this ā -he hungers to do God's will.
Nothing else will fill him. Every one knows
that the world is hungry. But the hungry world
is starving. It has many meats and many drinks,
but there is no nourishment in them. It has
234 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
pleasures, and gaiety, and excitement ; but there
is no food there for the immortal craving of the
soul. It has the theatre and worldly society,
and worldly books, and worldly lusts. But
these things merely intoxicate. There is no
sustenance in them. So our ideal life turns its
eye from them all with unutterable loathing.
"J^meat is to do God's will." To do God's
will ! No possibility of starving on such won-
derful fare as this. God's will is eternal. It
is eternal food the Christian lives upon. In
spring-time it is not sown, and in summer
drought it cannot fail. In harvest it is not
reaped, yet the storehouse is ever full. Oh,
what possibilities of life it opens up! What
possibilities of growth! What possibilities of
work! How a soul develops on God's will!
(3) The next thing the ideal man needs is
Society. Man is not made to be alone. He
needs friendships. Without society, the ideal
man would be a monster, a contradiction. You
must give him friendship. Now, whom will you
give him.? Will you compliment him by call-
ing upon the great men of the earth to come and
minister to him.? No. The ideal man does not
want compliments. He has better food. Will
you invite the ministers and the elders of the
Church to meet him.? Will you offer him the
companionship of saint or angel, or seraphim or
cherubim, as he treads his path through the
wilderness of life.? No; for none of these will
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 235
satisfy him. He has a better friendship than
saint or angel, or seraphim or cherubim. The
answer trembles on the lip of every one who is
trying to follow the ideal life: " Whosoever shall
do the zvill of My FatJier which is in Heaven,
the sa^ne is My brother, and sister, and mother"
(Matt. xii. 50; Mark iii. 35).
Yes. My brother, and My sister and mother.
Mother ! The path of life is dark and cheerless
to you. There is a smoother path just by the
side of it ā a forbidden path. You have been
tempted many a time to take it. But you knew
it was wrong, and you paused. Then, with a
sigh, you struck along the old weary path again.
It was the will of God, you said. Brave mother!
Oh, if you knew it, there was a voice at your ear
just then, as Jesus saw the brave thing you had
done, " My mother ! " " He that doeth the will
of My Father, the same is My mother." Yes;
this is the consolation of Christ ā "My mother."
What society to be in ! What about the dark-
ness of the path, if we have the brightness of
His smile? Oh ! it is better, as the hymnist says,
" It is better to walk in the dark with God,
Than walk alone in the hght ;
It is better to walk with Him by faith,
Than walk alone by sight."
Some young man here is suffering fierce temp-
tation. To-day he feels strong; but to-morrow
his Sabbath resolutions will desert him. What
236 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
will his companions say, if he does not join them ?
He cannot face them if he is to play the Chris-
tian. Companions ! What are all the compan-
ions in the world to this? What are all the
friendships, the truest and the best, to this dear
and sacred brotherhood of Christ? " He that
doeth the will of My Father, the same is My
My mother, my brother, and my sister. He
has a sister ā some sister here. Sister! Your
life is a quiet and even round of common and
homely things. You dream, perhaps, of a wider
sphere, and sigh for a great and useful life, like
some women whose names you know. You ques-
tion whether it is right that life should be such
a little bundle of very little things. But nothing
is little that is done for God, and it must be right
if it be His will. And if this common life, with
its homely things, is God's discipline for you, be
assured that in your small corner, your unob-
served, your unambitious, your simple woman's
lot is very near and very dear to Him Who said,
"Whosoever doeth the will of My Father, the
same is My sister."
Now we have found the ideal man a Friend.
But he wants something more.
(4) He wants Language. He must speak to
his Friend. He cannot be silent in such com-
pany. And speaking to such a Friend is not
mere conversation. It has a higher name. It
is communion. It is prayer. Well, we listen to
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 237
hear the ideal man's prayer. Something about
God's will it must be; for that is what he is sure
to talk about. That is the object of his life.
That is his meat. In that he finds his society.
So he will be sure to talk about it. Every one
knows what his prayer will be. Every one re-
members the words of the ideal prayer: " TJiy
will be Done'" (Matt, vi, 10),
Now mark his emphasis on dotie. He prays
that God's will may be done. It is not that God's
will may be borne, endured, put up with. There
is activity in his prayer. It is not mere resigna-
tion. How often is this prayer toned off with
mere endurance, sufferance, passivity. " Thy will
be done," people say resignedly, " There is no
help for it. We had just as well submit. God
evidently means to have His way. Better to
give in at once and make the most of it." This
is far from the ideal prayer. Well, it is a great
thing to say this, but not in this spirit. It may
be nobler to suffer God's will than to do it;
perhaps it is. But there is nothing noble in
resignation of this sort ā this resignation under
protest as it were. And it disguises the meaning
of the prayer, " Thy will be done." It is in-
tensely active. It is not an acquiescence simply
in God's dealing. It is a cry for more of God's
dealing. God's dealing with me, with every-
thing, with everybody, with the whole world.
It is an appeal to the mightiest energy in heaven
or earth to work, to make more room for itself,
238 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
to energise. It is a prayer that the Almighty-
energies of the Divine will nay be universally
known, and felt, and worshipped.
The ideal man has no deeper prayer than
this. It is the truest language of his heart.
He does not want a bed of roses, or his pathway
strewn with flowers. He wants to do God's will.
He does not want health or wealth, nor does he
covet sickness or poverty ā just what God sends.
He does not want success ā even success in
winning souls ā or want of success. What God
wills for him, that is all. He does not want to
prosper in business, or to keep barely struggling
on. God knows what is best. He does not
want his friends to live, himself to live or die.
God's will be done. The currents of his life
are deeper than the circumstance of things.
There is a deeper principle in it than to live
to gratify himself And so he simply asks,
that in the ordinary round of his daily life there
may be no desire of his heart more deep, more
vivid, more absorbingly present than this, " Thy
will be done." He who makes this the prayer
of his life will know that of all prayer it is
the most truly blessed, the most nearly in the
spirit of Him who sought not His own will,
but the will of Him that sent Him.
" Lord Jesus, as Thou wilt ! if among thorns I go
Still sometimes here and there let a few roses blow.
No ! Thou on earth along the thorny path hath gone,
Then lead me after Thee, my Lord ; Thy will be done."
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 239
(5) But the ideal man does not always pray.
There is such perfect blessedness in praying the
ideal prayer that language fails him sometimes.
The peace of God passes all understanding, much
less all expression. It comes down upon the
soul, and makes it ring with unutterable joy. And
language stops. The ideal man can no longer
pray to his Friend. So his prayer changes into
Praise. He is too full to speak, so his heart
bursts into song. Therefore we must find in the
Bible the praise of his lips. And who does not
remember in the Psalms the song of the ideal
man? The huntsmen would gather at night to
sing of their prowess in the chase, the shepherd
would chant the story of the lion or the bear
which he killed as he watched his flocks. But
David takes down his harp and sings a sweeter
psalm than all : " Thy StaUitcs have been my Songs
in the House of my pilgrimage" (Ps. cxix. 54).
He knows no sweeter strain. How different from
those who think God's law is a stern, cold thing !
God's law is His written will. It has no terrors
to the ideal man. He is not afraid to think of
its sternness and majesty. " I will meditate on
Thy laws day and night," he says. He tells us
the subject of his thoughts. Ask him what he is
thinking about at any time. " Thy laws," he says.
How he can please his Master. What more he
can bear for Him. What next he can do for
Him. He has no other pleasure in life than this.
You need not speak to him of the delights of life.
240 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
" I will delight myself in Thy statutes," he says.
You see what amusements the ideal man has.
You see where the sources of his enjoyment are.
Praise is the overflow of a full heart. When it is
full of enjoyment it overflows ; and you can tell
the kind of enjoyment from the kind of praise
that runs over. The ideal man's praise is of the
will of God. He has no other sources of enjoy-
ment. The cup of the world's pleasure has no
attraction for him. The delights of life are bitter.
Here is his only joy, his only delight (Ps. xl. 8).
" I delight to do Thy will, O my God."
(6) The next thing the ideal man wants is
Education. He needs teaching. He must take
his place with the other disciples at his Mas-
ter's feet. What does he want from the great
Teacher? Teach me Wisdom? No. Wisdom is
not enough. Teach me what is Truth? No,
not even that. Teach me how to do good, how
to love, how to trust? No, there is a deeper want
than all. " Teach me to do Thy WilV (Ps. cxliii.
lo). This is the true education. Teach me to
do Thy Will. This was the education of Christ.
Wisdom is a great study, and truth, and good
works, and love, and trust, but there is an earlier
lesson ā obedience. So the ideal pupil prays,
"Teach me to do Thy Will."
And now we have almost gone far enough.
These are really all the things the ideal man can
need. But in case he should want anything else,
Go4 has given the man after his own heart a
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 241
promise. God never leaves anything unprovided
for. An emergency might arise in the ideal
man's life ; or he might make a mistake or lose
heart, or be afraid to ask his friend for some very
great thing he needed, thinking it was too much,
or for some very little thing, thinking it unworthy
of notice. So God has given.
(7) The ideal Promise, " If we ask anything ac-
cording to His will, He heareth us . . . and we
know that we have the petitions that we desired
from Him " (i John v. 14). If ye ask anything
ā no exception ā no limit to God's confidence
in him. He trusts him to ask right things. He is
guiding him, even in what he asks, if he is the
man after God's own heart; so God sets no limit
to his power. If any one is doing God's will, let
him ask anything. It is God's will that he ask
anything. Let him put His promise to the test.
Notice here what the true basis of prayer is.
The prayer that is answered is the prayer after
God's will. And the reason for this is plain.
What is God's will is God's wish. And when a
man does what God wills, he does what God
wishes done. Therefore God will have that done
at any cost, at any sacrifice. Thousands of
prayers are never answered, simply because God
does not wish them. If we pray for any one
thing, or any number of things we are sure God
wishes, we may be sure our wishes will be grati-
fied. For our wishes are only the reflection of
God's. And the wish in us is almost equivalent
242 MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART
to the answer. It is the answer casting its
shadow backwards. Ah*eady the thing is done
in the mind of God. It casts two shadows ā one
backward, one forward. The backward shadow
ā ā that is the wish before the thing is done, which
sheds itself in prayer. The forward shadow ā
that is the joy after the thing is done, which
sheds itself in praise. Oh, what a rich and won-
derful life this ideal life must be ! Asking any-
thing, getting everything, willing with God, pray-
ing with God, praising with God. Surely it is
too much, this last promise. How can God trust
us with a power so deep and terrible? Ah, He
can trust the ideal life with anything. " If he ask
anything." Well, if he do, he will ask nothing
amiss. It will be God's will if it is asked. It
will be God's will if it is not asked. For he is
come, this man, to do God^s will.
There is only one thing more which the model
man may ever wish to have. We can imagine
him wondering, as he thinks of the unspeakable
beauty of this life ā of its angelic purity, of its
divine glory, of its Christ-like unselfishness, of
its heavenly peace ā how long this life shall last.
It may seem too bright and beautiful, for all
things fair have soon to come to an end. And if
any cloud could cross the true Christian's sky, it
would be when he thought that this ideal life
might cease. But God, in the riches of His fore-
thought, has rounded off this corner of his life
with a great far-reaching text, which looks above
MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART 243
the circumstance of him, and projects his Hfe into
the vast Eternity beyond. " He that doctJi the
will of God abidcth for ever" (i John ii. 17).
May God grant that you and I may learn to
hve this great and holy life, remembering the
solemn words of Him who lived it first, who only
lived it all : " Not every one that saith unto me,
Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven ; but he that doeth the will of My Father
which is in Heaven."
'ā ^ And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter . . .
and Peter went out and wept bitterly.'''' ā Luke xxiL 6i, 62.
EVERY man at some time in his life has