F. D. (Frederic Dan) Huntington.

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in these days of our humiliation and abide there continually
that following Him in His suffering and triumph we may be-
hold Him as He is and worship Him on the throne of His glory,
world without end. Amen.



The Scriptures for this day sharpen the contrast
between the old covenant and the new, the law of
ordinances and the grace of the Gospel, Moses and
Christ, at the same time that they show the connection
between them in the one eternal plan of God for man.
It all signifies also the spiritual advance from the old
to the new creature. In the formation of Christian
character the process may be sudden or gradual
But we come first to obedience as duty, on pain of a
penalty. With this is inseparably connected repent-
ence true or false. Each of the sensual iniquities has
its own punishment in some natural disorder, a pen-
alty in kind. Spiritual sins, like pride, insincerity,
disbelief, irreverence, though their distressing conse-
quences are more obscure, are equally sure to be over-
taken sooner or later by their appropriate retributions.
We are advertised beforehand of these inevitable
consequences. Hence the commandments. They are


written really in the Bible, the conscience, and the
experience of life.

You can shut the first of these books, where they
are most clearly written, if yoa please, because you
find the subject disagreeable, and this accounts for
the unopened Bibles lying in so many houses. But
you cannot shut the other two ; and if you coidd, the
retributive pain would still keep wasting and throb-
bing on, in your aching body or aching heart. If
you stay in that comprehensive state of sin, where
the whole nature stands estranged from God, and
hides from Him, sometimes called impenitence and
sometimes unbelief, then the retribution will be
equally comprehensive and complete ; it is that final
separation from God of which the issue is perdition.

In all this there is nothing very inspiring or re-
freshing. On the contrary, it is the very thing that
creates penitential sorrow. When the commandment
came, sin revived. It told you what wrong-doing was,
and made you conscious of it. The more law you had,
if it w^as nothing but law, the more you wanted some
reconciling grace, because your nature was bad, and
your transgression certain. You know that the law
is necessary to keep the world in order, and that the
world would go straight to wreck and ruin without it.


But to you personally it is simply a sentence of con-
demnation. It is a hard fact. It is a rock of offence
in your way. You are constantly chafing against it.
In the outward world around us law is beautiful and
beneficent, in the seasons and harvests, in the sea and
the stars^ for then there is no element at war with it.
But man is a moral creature and lives in a moral
sphere. lie has disease in him, bad desires and
bad bloodj and, therefore, unless there is some reme-
dial force, some healing agency, some Saviour and
Deliverer to work a change within him, reconciling
and purifying him, why, God manifested only as law
will be dreaded and avoided.

What then is the use of so much law ? If God
loves us, why does He not deal with us in some other
way 1 Why must this Israel in every man's heart
carry about, in the pilgrimage of life, this heavy bur-
den in the breast, to try him and to prove him
whether he will keep God's commandments or no I

The answer to these questions is the GospePs
dearest, deepest secret. We should never have
known the delicious sweetness of God's forgiving
love but for the violated law which made the forgive-
ness wonderful. The New Testament could never
have been written, if the Old had not been written


first. The Cro^s would have been only two transverse
pieces of common wood, except for all those forego-
ing failures of the human conscience to ^^ fulfil the
law's demands.'' I hear God say, ^* The soul that
sinneth it shall die.'^ I know that sin is the trans-
gression of the law. For the life of my soul I try to
obey all that ^^ commandment/' which is so ^' exceed-
ing broad.'' What then if I see the Son of Man
lifted up, and hear Him say, ^^Only believe, and thou
shalt live ! Instead of the deeds of the law, thy
faith saves thee. Go in peace ! Be united to Me by
that living bond of love and truth, and out of this
heart of infinite love and purity and life in Me life
eternal shall flow into that stained and fainting heart
of thine. Because I live thou shalt live also '' ? Will
not that be the good news from a far country, well
water to a thirsty soul ? Is it not the very Gospel
that we have 1

Among strong, upright and beautiful characters
that we have known, none are so strong, so upright,
and so beautiful as those where the graces grow on
the firm stock of obedience. Goodness is never very
good, tenderness is not nobly tender, unless there is
conscience under it, principle in it. Fetch back the
old Hebrew and Puritanic idea of allegiance and


you restore some nobilities that we can ill afford to
spare. Religion should not be an effeminate senti-
ment, or faith a headstrong fanaticism. The clamor
for more ^* rights '' is justified only when rights are
wanted as affording means and opportunities for
duty. Otherwise staunch manhood will be scarce,
families will be little '^fierce democracies/' schools
impertinent insurrections, government the cowed vic-
tim of anarchy, and the Church a congregation of
volunteers divided against itself even while it is say-
ing its prayers. The Lord Himself, Master of all
kingdoms, was subject to parental rule, obeyed the
barbarous ^^ powers" of the empire, conformed to the
ritual of the theocracy, and so laid His blessing
on the foundations of the three enduring pillars that
God has set to uphold the welfare of the world, the
Family, the State, the Church.

" Threo roots bear up Dominion, — knowledge, will,
These two are strong, but stronger yet the third,

Obedience, the great tap-root which still,
Knit round the rock of duty is not moved

Though war's fierce ploughshare spend its utmost skill."

In the great vision of St. John, the upper and inner
heavens being disclosed, the seer saw a ^' rainbow
round about the throne." A rainbow without the


throne would liave been a spectacle to be admired.
A throne without the rainbow would have meant
sovereignty without mercy, law without grace, a wild
and stormy splendor without the promise and pledge
of peace. ^^ Justice and judgment '^ would be still its
" foundation '' ; but who would sing the new song,
the praise of the ^' Lamb slain " ? As the blood is
precious, so it is costly. We can draw towards the
scene of the agony fearfully and only as ^' sheep that
have gone astray " ; but we '' venture near " boldly
because '^ on Him is laid the iniquity of us all."

" Angel of pain, I think thy face
Will be, in all the heavenly place,
The sweetest face that I shall see,
The swiftest face to smile on me.
All other angels faint and tire, —
Joy wearies and forsakes desire;
Hope falters, face to face with fate,
And dies hecause it cannot wait;
And love cuts short each loving day,
Because fond hearts cannot obey
That subtlest law which measures bliss
By what it is content to miss, —
But thou, oh loving, faithful pain 1
Hated, reproached, rejected, slain,
Dost only closer cling and bless
In sweeter, stronger steadfastness.
Dear patient angel, to thine own


Thou comest, and art never known
Till late in some lone twilight place
The light of thy transfigured face
Sudden shines out, and speechless they
Know they have walked with Christ all day,"

/^ THOU who by Thy pain, borne for us, hast made pain to
^^^ bring patience, and by Thy death for us hast overcome
death, grant that following after Thee in the path of Thy obe-
dience even to Thy Pussion, where Thou wast obedient to the
law for men, we may find it to be none other than the way of
pardon for ourselves and victory and peace with Thee, who
having died unto sin once livest and reignest with the Father
and the Holy Ghost, now and evermore. Amen.



By the history of Israel, and by St. Paul's Epistle
to the Corinthians^ we have to-day at once the mir-
acle of the bringing of water from the rock and the
interpretation of that type in the spiritual gift pro-
vided in Christ for the Church. Three figures carry
the mind beyond the bounds of natural fact. Men
drink of a stone ; the rock leaps out of its bed^ joins
a caravan and moves with it as if it had life j
and then the rock is no more so much mineral matter,
but the Son of Man, man's Saviour. We are so
made that we have no great difficulty, but rather a
luminous guide, in discovering what the great good
News has to teach us by this threefold wonder of a
stone- fountain giving life to an Eastern multitude
journeying across a desert. ^^I would not have you
ignorant, brethren, how that all our fathers were
under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and
were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the


sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did
all drink the same spiritual drink f for they drank of
that spiritual rock which followed them, and that
Rock was Christ," Why are v/e taken back, at the
opening of our Holy Week, through two long re-
moves and periods of time, first to a Corintliian com-
munity buried eighteen centuries ago, and then to a
strange people almost twice as remote, into a dim
age and a vanished host, to learn the lesson of a
universal law and an everlasting life 1

Because in all generations and lands the human
heart is one and the same thing, and every one of us
has it in his own breast. It has to do with one and
the same God and Father. It is weak and defiled
with the same infirmities and sins. It can be
strengthened only by the same power from on high.
It feels the same mysterious forebodings of a judg-
ment to come. It has the same conscience, love, fear,
and, when it has put its lips to broken cisterns, the
same returning thirst. No shifting of the course of
empire, east or west, as the desert sands are blown
by the winds, no building or burial of cities, can
change the substantial nature and wants of the soul.
This is the secret of that indestructible hold which
one old Book, as fascinating in its charm as it is


awful in authority, keeps and promises to keep on
mankind. Superficial critics, dealing only with sur-
faces, dates, the letter, the shell, miss the meaning.
^^ The letter killeth, the Spirit giveth life." Israel
is man. Egypt is the broken condition of the moral
life. Passions and appetites in our flesh and mind
are Pharaoh. The wilderness is human experience.
The forty years, patterns of these forty days, are the
trial and the discipline. The pillars of cloud and
fiame are the unsleeping Providence. The baptism
of cloud and sea is the baptism of water and the
Holy Ghost. The manna is the bread of life in
Him who is from Heaven, on whom except we feed
we die. The land of promise is the end of our
faith. This is why we hold so fast the story of what
you may call, if you are shallow enough, the romance
of a departed system and a scattered race. This is
why all the Christian phraseology of the Church
down to this year of grace is sprinkled with Jewish
names and colored with Oriental allusions. That is
why evangelist and apostle, and the Master Himself,
scarcely speak of the permanent realities of the
kingdom of Heaven without some name, or memorial
or metaphor from that unforgotten pilgrimage of the
tribes. You rise to loftier apprehensions of God's


plans running tlirongK the dispensations and binding
them together. You behold the magnificent unity
which not only links the epochs of Revelation in one,
but which also identifies your own personal struggles
aud sorrows and deliverances with those of the fathers
fallen asleep. They did eat of your meat; you drink
of their water of life, for ^^ that Rock was Christ.'^

What more unlike than rock and water ? No
solvent can make a stream of a stone. It refuses to
be assimilated to any vital organization as refresh-
ment or nourishment. When Jehovah set a natural
gateway to Palestine west of the Jordan, and made
its mountain-posts, Ebal and Gerizim, monuments of
warning and promise, He put the curses on dry Mt.
Ebal, a rocky peak, ridged with sharp edges, leafless,
blossomless, fruitless, waterless, symbol of a barren
commonwealth and a faithless Church. Yet notice
that under certain conditions, provided you take it
for what it is and was meant to be, a rock with all
its rigidity may become a kind of external protec-
tion, a shadow from the heat or a shelter from the
storm. Hungry or thirsty, for all that it can do for
you, you would die. But be friendly with it and
you may lean upon it. It never betrays you or
plays you false. It abides. It keeps its place.


Hence in some of His steadfast attributes the Al-
mighty is often called in His word by this figurative
name. The rock is not evil, cruel, malignant. Only
when you ask it to be or do what it cannot do, it
disappoints you.

Eock stands then significantly for the law. The
spiritual world, like the material universe, has its
stability and security in law. The framework of the
globe is braced up by the firm pillars and buttresses
of subterranean stone. God is the one Lawgiver.
Could we only live on confiding terms of obedience
and submission with it, we should find His orderly
will to be our cradle and our castle. But no man
ever found the slaking of his inward thirst, satisfac-
tion of love, or hope, or aspiration, in command-
ments. When he cries out for affection, for pardon,
for peace, he knows that mercy is not in rules.
They are fitly written on tables of stone. Law is
rock. The more of that you give him the more he
aches and despairs. If the law could have given life
you would have needed no Gospel, cross, Holy Week,
redemption. When the soul longs after God as the
hart panteth after the water-brooks, it is not His
statutes that will cool or slake the thirst. The rock
holds up the soil, the green turf, the trees, the har-


vests^ the water-brooks themselves. But it gives
life to notliing. It quiets no accusing conscience.
It heals no troubled breast. Sinai, seat of thunder-
ings and threatenings, was rocky. How vividly St.
Paul represents it ! " The ministration of death
w^as written and engraven in stones." But we,
planted in the New Jerusalem, ^^ above and free/'
born again in a more lasting covenant, gathering
around the cross, are not come to Mt. Sinai in
Arabia which gendereth to bondage, but to a
larger liberty and the '^ bringing in of a better

That is, there is another and more gracious ele-
ment, different in form, in substance, in effect. The
kingdoms of vegetable and animal organization, of
life and living things, are revived, invigorated, and
made fruitful by water. Water is at once yielding,
penetrating, and life-giving, and it fulfils its ministry
not by remaining a mere outside minister, but by
entering into hidden pores and vital channels, by
becoming an internal force, and thence feeding all
the springs of action. He who knew what it is, and
what it does, and who knew from how much higher
a source it flows tlian the fountains of Gerizim, and
how much deeper it is than Jacob's Well in Sama-


ria, called it " the water of life/^ a ^^ well of water
springing up into life everlasting."

Here is tlie graciousness of the gift. Grace is the
freeness of love^ unmerited, unhindered, impartial
love. Law is behind it^ regulating it, preparing for
it, securing its channels. The water is from the
rock. Love presses, molts and winds its way into
our inner hearts. There it quickens all that is best?
and purifies what is base, and sweetens what is bit-
ter. Love is the fulfilling of the law. In these
shaded hours, this tender worship, ashamed of the
sins past, knowing that unless we are pardoned we
perish, we adore Him who by His Cross magnified
the law and made it honorable, yet fulfilled it by His

*' They have stopped the sacred well which the Patriarchs dug

of old,
Where they watered the patient flocks at noon, from the

depth so pure and cold ;
Where the Saviour asked for drink, and found at noon repose;
But the living spring He opened then no human hand can


" They have scattered the ancient stones, where at noon He
sat to rest ;
None ever shall rest by that well again, and think how His
accents blessed :


But the Rest for tlie burdened heart, the Shade in the weary

The riven Rock, with its Jiving streams, forever unmoved

shall stand."

''They lead Thee forth to die,—
The Lamb, the siuless One ;
In lonesome agony.

Thy Father's will is done :
But we believe Thy dying cry
Our life eternal won.

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Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonForty days with the Master → online text (page 13 of 16)