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men for to dwell upon the face of the whole
earth." This is the announcement of a grand
fact which has never yet been successfully
disproved — the essential underlying identity
of the human race, however chequered by
the varieties of clime and of language — one
deep, constant, ineradicable identity which
links man to man all over the world. It is
just this principle of universal relationship
which thus binds man to man everywhere,
which turns the world into a neighbourhood,
and which founds upon universal affinity, a
universal claim. The old Roman, with the
far-sighted perception of this great fact, could
say, " I am a man : nothing therefore that is
human can be foreign to me." And Chris-
tianity takes that sentiment and exalts it into
a surpassing obligation, and stamps upon it
the royal seal of Heaven. This, then, is the
truth upon which I intend to found the claim
this morning — the truth recognised in the

D



74 LIFE THOUGHTS.

Scripture — that every man is my own flesh,
and because he is my own flesh, he has a
claim upon me which I cannot and dare not
gainsay. Of course this general law must be
modified by minor and smaller varieties, or it
will be practically useless. The sympathy
that goes out after the world gets lost in the
magnitude of the area over which it has to
travel ; and the very vastness and vagueness
of the object will of itself tend to fritter away
the intenseness of the feeling. That is a very
suspicious attachment which clings to nobody
in particular, which rejoices no heart with its
affection, which brightens no hearthstone by
its light. Its words may be loud and swelling,
and, like the bleak wind of March, they may
sweep noisily about men's dwellings, and drift
the dust about in clouds ; but men only expe-
rience discomfort when it blows ; they do not
trust it ; " it passes by them as the idle wind,
which they respect not." Hence private affec-
tions are recognised and hallowed and com-
mended as the sources from which all public
virtues are to spring. There is nothing in
them inconsistent with the love of the entire
race ; they prepare for it, and they lead to it ,
and they scoop out the channels through



LIFE THOUGHTS. 75

which its tributaries are to flow. Who shall
sympathise so well with oppressed people as
the man who rejoices in his own roof-tree
sacred, and in his own altar-home ? Who
shall be eloquent for the rights of other men,
but he who is manly in the assertion of his
own ? Who shall succour breaking hearts,
and brighten desolate houses, but he who
gazes with loving fondness on his children as
they climb upon his knees, and who realises
from day to day all the unutterable tender-
nesses of home ?

Now, these two obligations — the claim of
private affection and the claim of universal
sympathy — are not incompatible ; but they
fulfil mutually the highest uses of each other.
God has taught in the Scriptures the lesson of
universal brotherhood, and men may not gain-
say the teaching. Shivering in the ice-bound,
or scorching in the tropical regions — in the
lap of luxury, or in the wild hardihood of the
primeval forest — belting the globe in a tired
search for rest, or quieting his life amid the
leafy shade of ancestral woods, gathering all
the decencies around him like a garment — or
battling in the fierce raid of crime upon a
"world which has disowned him, there is an



-^^ LIFE THOUGHTS.

inner humanness everywhere which binds
that man to me by a primitive and by an in-
dissoluble bond. He is my brother, and I
cannot dissever the relationship ; he is my
brother, and I dare not release myself from
the obligation to do him good. I cannot
love all men equally ; my own instincts, and
society's requirements, and God's command,
all unite in reprobation of that. My wealth
of affection must go out after home, and
friends, and children, and kindred, and coun-
try ; but my pity must not lock itself in them
—my regard must not confine itself within
those narrow limits merely — my pity must go
out further. Wherever there is human need
and human peril, my regard must fasten upon
the man, although he may have flung from
him the crown of his manhood in anger. I
dare not despise him, because in his filth and
in his sin, as he lies before me prostrate and
dishonoured, there is that spark of heavenly
flame which God the Father kindled, over
which God the Spirit yearns with intensest
yearning, and which God the Eternal Son
spilt His own heart's blood to redeem. There
is no man now that can ask the infidel ques-
tion of Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?"



LIFE THOUGHTS. yj

God has made man his brother's keeper — we
are bound to love our neighbours as our-
selves ; and if, in the contractedness of some
narrow Hebrew spirit, we ask the question,
" Who is my neighbour ? " there comes the
full pressure of utterance to enforce and to
authenticate the answer, " Man is thy neigh-
bour — every one whom penury has rasped or
sorrow startled — every one whom plague hath
smitten or the curse hath banned — every one
from whose home the dearlings have van-
ished, or around whose heart the pall has
been drawn."

" Thy neighbour ? 'Tis that toiling slave,
Fetter'd in thought and limb,
Whose hopes are all beyond the grave ;
Go thou and ransom him.
'* Thy neighbour ? 'Tis that weary man
Whose years are at the brim,
Eent down by sickness, care, and pain ;
Go thou and comfort him.
" Thy neighbour ? 'Tis the fainting poor.
Whose eyes with want are dim,
Whom hunger drives from door to door ;
Go thou and cherish him."



The Iiiflueiice oj the Spirit.
It was Christ's promise — the only promise
that kept up the hearts that were ready to



78 LIFE THOUGHTS.

faint under the prospect of the spiritual be-
reavement that they were so soon to sustain
— " I, if I go away, will send the Comforter."
" I will pray the Father, and he will send you
another Comforter, and he shall abide with
you for ever." And thus earth has been the
theatre of the Spirit's labours ever since.
He strives with every man that He may
bring men to the truth. He is the great
agent in the conversion of souls, and a
measure of the Spirit is given to every man
to profit withal. He darts the light of truth
into the sinner's mind, and shews him his
own unworthiness, and then He leads him
to look higher, that he may see the cross
as well. He strives with men that He may
bring men to the truth. There is not an in-
dividual here — I am bold to say it — who has
not at some time or other felt His striving.
He meets you in the closet, does He not ? —
that is, if you ever go there. He meets you
in the closet, and there in the secrecy of
your spirit He uplifts your soul to heaven.
He meets you in the sanctuary— does He
not ? — when the litanies of the people rise,
and glad Te Deums are chanted ; and there
in the nearness of the worship He reveals to



LIFE THOUGHTS. 79

you the Father. He meets you in sohtude —
does He not ? — when the excitements of the
world are hushed, when the storm is com-
pletely still, when there is no sound to dis-
tract the quietude of the soul as it opens itself
before God. He meets you in company —
does He not ? — and often amid the charms
of society, and the festivities of gathered
friends, thoughts of another world will in-
trude themselves. Clear, piercing whispers,
that you know not how to still, will make
themselves heard. My brethren, does He
not meet you here ? Does He not meet you
now ? Yes, in every sennon you hear, in
every chapter you read, in every expression
you feel, there is the influence of the Spirit — •
there is a living, vital, everlasting proof that
God is not unmindful of man.



The Dispensations of Providence.

The great end of man's existence in the
present hfe is to prepare for a better. He
is so thoroughly earthly, so wedded to the
scenes of time, that vigorous means are
necessary in order to wean him from earth



So LIFE THOUGHTS.

and attach him to the skies. It would save
us from misery sometimes if we could only
regard our afflictions as having this dis-
ciplining and corrective end. God is mind-
ful of you when you think He has withdrawn
His face, and turned aside His glance. Every
affliction that causes you to feel as if the
rapture of life had gone, and as if the funeral
bell were tolling for all your past joys — every
bereavement that desolates your dwelling and
lacerates your heart — every pain that afflicts
you, and every languor that enfeebles you,
and every sickness that nauseates you — all
are visitations in some sort of the Spirit.
Oh how often has He spoken to you !
Have you been one moment of your lives
unvisited ?



What is Man ?

In magnitude he is but a speck ; the ever-
lasting hills are bigger. He is a dwarf when
he stands beside some object in nature. In
duration — as to his conscious existence in
this life — seventy, sixty, forty, twenty years
— what is your life } "It is even as a vapour,
which appeareth for a little time and then



LIFE THOUGHTS. 8i

vanlsheth away." What is man ? An atom
compared with the house in which he lives.
Even that is an atom compared with the
city of which it fonns a part. That city is
an atom compared with the country of which
it is the metropohs ; that country an atom
compared with the continent to w^hich it
belongs ; that continent an atom compared
with the great globe ; that globe an atom
compared with the universe. "What is
man, that thou art mindful of him 1 and the
son of m^an, that thou visitest him ? "

Look at him intellectually. Here some
light perhaps breaks in upon the subject.
He has an understanding that is capable of
comprehending truth. He has a will — " a
stern, tough sinew," as one of the old divines
says, "the most rebellient and toughest
sinew in the whole creation of God." He
has a will endowed with the mighty power
of volition, by which he can accept or reject
the offered mercy of the gospel. He has a
memory that can live on the past — an ima-
gination that can take in the future. He
has qualities which may fit him, if he be
rightly disposed, for extensive usefulness and
for God-communion. But there is nothing

D 2



82 LIFE THOUGHTS.

in that. There is no intellectual quality in
man that the devil has not ; yet God has
forgotten him — cast him out of heaven and
out of His memory, exiled for ever in ever-
lasting destruction from the presence of the
Lord, and from the glory of His power.
And man is immortal too, you may say.
Flung into existence, he cannot get out of it
again. He must live, and live for ever. So
the fallen angels were too ! Why has God
been mindful of man 1

Ah, mystery beyond human comprehen-
sion I

" Grace by far transcends
Or men or angels' thought."

The real cause of God's mindfulness of man
was that man repelled from him all that
was comely and of good report in the uni-
verse. " Because ye were sinners, Christ
died for you." We must go up and lose
ourGelves in the love of God — the mystery
that passes all comprehension.

" Pity divine, in Jesu's face,
We see, adore, and love."



LIFE THOUGHTS. 83

Simple Mea7is.

God does not in any instance supersede
means, but He does in every instance vitalise
them. Faith craves something tangible to
rest upon, by which it can be sustained, and
the faith of the man before us connects with the
account of his deliverance the instrumentality
of Christ. " He put clay upon my eyes" — He
did it — " He put clay upon my eyes, and now
do I see." It is worthy of notice how simple
and common were the m.eans of healing.
There was no period of display, no gather-
ing of appliances from afar, no mustering
of celestial energies. What a grand oppor-
tunity to magnify the omnipotence of Christ,
at which the world might hear and tremble !
He could have mustered celestial energies —
a legion of angels would have been proud to
sweep down on swift wings to be fellow-
helpers in the work of mercy. Simple things,
familiar things, things close at hand, clay and
the spittle, these are the chosen instruments
for giving sight to the blind. Oh, there is
nothing that shews at once the omnipotence
and humanity of Jesus in tender and mighty
combination more than the selection of



84 LIFE THOUGHTS,

means like these. And the ordinary human
things which the Divine Saviour consecrated
became at once a mighty power. And so it
is in connexion with spiritual things, and the
spiritual blindness that has come over us all.
Let God be in them, and the tiniest things
become powerful. Let God be in them, and
that directs their course : —

"A pebble on the streamlet's track

Has turn'd the course of many a river ;
The dew-drop on the baby plant
Has warp'd the giant oak for ever."

In the case of Ruth, her hap was to light
upon the part of the field belonging to Boaz.
Could there be anything more insignificant
than that ? Yet from that chance there
sprung the royal Psalmist, and great David's
greater Son. Apostles, fishermen, and tent-
makers of Galilee, what had they to do .? men
of vulgar associations and mean in descent,
what had they to do to impregnate nations
with a new life and overturn old systems ?
Yet God was in the track of these men ; and
as they spoke, uneducated as they were, the
learned bowed themselves down, and held
their breath to listen ; and the w^orld began
to heave with a novel and blessed inspira-



LIFE THOUGHTS. 85

tion. Oh, yes ; and if the Saviour comes to
you, simple, and common, and ordinary may
be the means that He employs, but there is
life in the heart of them to your soul — life
eternal for each one of you that will receive
it. You remember your own enlightenment
— how simple were the means. A word that
caught your eye upon a friendly placard in
the street ; a word whispered by a kind and
greeting friend ; some loved one faded by
your side, and a spring of eternal life gushed
up to you from the damp soil of the sepulchre ;
or a man of like passions with yourself stood
and told, in simple language, of the grace
that had redeemed him, and there was a fire
of religion kindled in your spirit that was
never there before. And this is the way that
God will work with those of you who are yet
unsaved. The temple is open for you ; the
Sabbath summons you to prayer ; the Word,
the living Word, is preached to you ; the
Spirit yet accompanies it with His powerful
and promised grace ; and these are the pre-
scribed and simple means of everlasting sal-
vation for you. Don't imagine that you are
of so much consequence that there shall be
an ostentatious healing 01 the leper. No



86 LIFE THOUGHTS.

prophet is commissioned to go forth to you,
and, in all the pomp of gratified pride, strike
his hand over the place and recover the
leper. This is not God's way of curing either
kings or clowns. Salvation is offered freely,
and if you come to Him to-night you may
have it. But you must have it in God's way.
Your pride must be humbled ; your perverse-
ness must be subdued. Are you coming
with the cry of legality upon your lips ? —
" Good Master, what shall I do that I may
inherit eternal life?" Do? Why, submit
yourself to God. The human effort in the
case of the blind man — what was it ? To go
to the pool. The human effort in the case of
the raising of Lazarus — what was it ? To
roll away the stone. The human effort in
the case of the man with the withered hand
— what was it ? To stretch it out that its
power and strength might return. And this
human effort for you, if you want salvation,
is — ■

"Just take the blessing from above,
And wonder at God's boundless love."

Simple and common and ordinary are the
means of salvation to you.



1



LIFE THOUGHTS, 87

" One tiling I know ^ that, whereas I was blinds
now I seeP

The giving of sight to the blind was so
noised abroad that the Sanhedrim had be-
come uneasy already about the new faith.
The Pharisees, whose credit for sanctity was
most endangered, were unfriendly watchers
of Christ's every movement, and this new
and popular work of healing could not be
passed over in silence. The man was sum-
moned before successive courts of inquiry in
the hope that some discrepant statement
might be elicited which they might seize hold
of, and thus neutralise the effect which the
miracle was having upon the public mind ;
but throughout he persisted in his artless
and eloquent tale, and became, successively
rising into higher and yet higher heroism,
the narrator of the fact ; the consistent wit-
ness ; the fearless confessor ; the avowed
disciple ; and, at last, in some sort, a martyr
for the truth as it is in Jesus. Brethren,
when a change takes place in the heart of a
sinner he becomes of necessity — yes, of ne-
cessity, for there is a fire burning in his
bones that will consume him if he does not



83 LIFE THOUGHTS.

get utterance — an honest witness, a witness
for God. And there is a substantial agree-
ment between the witness of the bhnd man
and the witness of the new man, upon which
it may profit us to dwell. As I observed of
this testimony before, it is an experimental
testimony. Religion is a real change. In
the case of the man before us, the reality of
the change was a simple question of con-
sciousness. It was not a thing about which
the man could possibly make any sort of
mistake. "One thing I know" — I do not
think — he does not say that — " One thing I
know" — there is no doubt nor hesitation, it
is a firm settled conviction. " One thing I
know ; " this was his answer wherever they
tried to bewilder him and lead him from the
main subject to extraneous matters — "One
thing I know;" I have no dim conjecture
nor uncertain wavering belief— a change has
taken place. I know it — this azure sky, this
beautiful landscape, these are things I see,
and I never saw them before. Do not de-
spise me, I am infirm and dependent no
longer. Yes, God has changed me ; my life
has begun, and there is a rapture in my soul
which I never felt there before. I cannot but



LIFE THOUGHTS. 89

speak. " One thing I know, that whereas I
was bhnd, now I see." Yes, brethren, rehgion
is a conscious thing, an experimental thing,
a change consciously realised. It is not a
beautiful theory, it is a deep experience. It
is not the lodgment of truth in the under-
standing, or an intellectual assent to the
doctrines of a cherished creed : it is also in
the affection, by which we are enabled to obey
the new commandment ; the heart is trans-
formed from its former enmity into loyal,
ardent submission to Christ's constraining
love. Now if that change takes place upon
a man, it is mighty — believe me, it is mighty
— too mighty to have passed silently ; the
man must know it. The Lord may not have
come in the whirlwind or the fire ; but the
man must have heard Him whisper in the
still small voice. There may have been no
convulsions prostrating the frame, there may
have been no external agitations about the
man ; but there must be a consciousness,
deep and unmistakable, that old things have
passed away, and all things become new. It
is quite possible the man may not have ex-
perienced the throes and tossings of the birth-
night ; but he must know that he is born —



90 LIFE THOUGHTS.

he must know that he hves. He may not be
able to tell with precision the time of his
conversion ; in moments of depression he
may easily trouble himself into the belief that
he is not converted at all. He may be
harassed with multiform temptations ; he
may be wrung with the remains of the carnal
mind ; he may often fall short of the ideal of
character which he has set before him as a
model, to which he will aspire ; he may feel
so helpless and so languid, that the only sign
of life about him is that he is conscious of his
deadness : but that he is not what he once
was he canot fail to know. His desires may
be faint, but they will be uniformly towards
heaven. He may fail sometimes in his
struggles with the giant evil that has so long
possessed him ; but he does struggle — and he
knows he does struggle — and he would fain
cast it out of him if he could. Another
thing, he does not cease because he fails. It
may be failing oft, but ceasing never. Like
the fabled wrestler, who gathered new strength
from every fall to earth, because earth was
his mother — so the Christian gathers new
strength from each successive fall, for it only
stimulates him to a perpetual endeavour after



LIFE THOUGHTS. 91

holiness and God. Upwards, though the
path is shppery and the snow is Winding ;
upwards, though the crevasses are deep and
avalanche hurries hoarsely by ; though un-
accustomed to such high elevation, though
his labour is heavy and he gasps for breath,
still upwards will he climb, stick in hand,
and his friend close at his side always ready
to help him when he reels and stumbles ;
upv/ard, till his life's work is over, his trouble
done, his Master speaks him home to rest —
eternal rest in the long glad Sabbath of the
sky. Oh, can you bear this testimony ? Is
there anything analogous to it in your cir-
cumstances or condition to-night. The Sp irit
of God will bear witness ; your own heart, in
its loathing of sin and in its longing for
holiness, will bear witness ; for both the
witnesses join — the Spirit of God and our
spirit. Oh, can you bear this testimony
unmistakably, experim.entally of this bless
change ?



God's Witnesses.

Conversion must leave a trace somehow.
I know there is a difference of temperament ;



92 LIFE THOUGHTS.

I know some people are very reserved in
communication, and some people are very
reluctant to tell of the Lord's dealings with
their soul ; but depend upon it if they are con-
verted, there is a trace of it. The countenance
has a gladder sparlde somehow, the conver-
sation has a holier tendency somehow, life has
a certain manifestation of goodness some-
how, the man's life is every moment bearing
witness for God. Yes, he is God's witness,
that converted man. Come, thou worldling,
and judge him. Are not his affections
kinder ? Is his walk consistent ? Has he
not a more chivalrous hongur than he used
to have ? Does he equivocate and shuffle
in the little lies of trade as he once did?
Has not he a more incorruptible integrity
than in days of yore .'' Don't you think his
conscience more tender than before 1 Ye
gay revellers, ye have roystered with him
full often, why shuns he now your company
and your gay revels ? Why trips he not at
your heels now in the race for fashion, or in
the strife for gold 1 Nay, be candid in your
iudgment. Don't scoff at him ; he is not
perfect — he does not profess to be perfect.
There are propensities to evil in him yet,



LIFE THOUGHTS. 93

sometimes, unextinguished ; he is harassed
occasionally by powerful temptations, by be-
setting sins ; he is not all that he should be,
he is not all that he will be — but, hark you,
he is better than you, and you know it. He
is better than you. There is a difference in
his temperament — he is not what he was
when you and he were congenial spirits, and
in glad companionship used to go to and
fro together. He is not what he was before
the change — oh, anything but that.

Oh, when have not those faithful witnesses
spoken ? Not only amongst the fellowship
of saints, not only under the excitement of
the sanctuary, but in the world, in the com-
panionship of gathered friends, in the un-
obtrusive living out their religion, they are
not silenced ; and amid darker scenes,
whilst trial bows the spirit down, it does not
silence the testimony. Reproach falls upon
the man, but the witness does not cease.
Affliction shrivels the strength, but the
spirit-life waxes into comelier and heavcn-
lier beauty. Lo, Death the spoiler pauses
abashed in his fell work, until the trium-
phant shout of victory has been cast up
from the lips of the dying. Yes, the testi-



94 LIFE THOUGHTS.

mony is consistent, and is sincere. All cir-
cumstances have witnessed it, and in all
scenes alike, of human gladness and of
human sorrow, the witness of God's faithful
people has gone upwards to the skies.



An Appeal to the Blind.

How is it with you to-night, brethren ?
Do you say, "We see," and therefore your
sin remaineth ? Are you anointing your
eyes with other eye-salve than that spiritual,
which alone can make you see '^. Born blind
as you are, are you resorting to the treatment
of empiricism ? Born blind as you are, are
you going to earthly healers, to physicians


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