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spirit of the Pantheistic philosophers, who
tell us that whatever is is God.

And then Pie is mindful of us inasmuch
as He has provided all things needful for


our existence. You cannot look around you
on the creation of God without discovering
that everything that is is for you. For man
has the creation been furnished, and the
eartli formed and fitted that he may dwell
on it. For man the sun rises in the east,
and pursues its course along the heavens,
and shoots out his beams of fire. For man
the moon and stars perform their nightly
revolutions round the midnight throne. For
man refreshing zephyrs breathe, and purify
ing winds blow, and gentle dews rise from
beneath, and fertilising rain-drops descend
from above. For man the earth is enam-
elled with flowers and stored with plenty.
For man springs gush from the rocks and
the throb of the ocean waves is perpetually
sounding. All orders of creation bestir
themselves when he speaks, and are alive
in their endeavours for his benefit. Nature
brings the keys of her magnificent treasure-
house, and lays them, a vassal, at the feet of

He is mindful of us again because He has
provided everything not only for our exist-
ence but for our happiness. Every portion
of the human body, fitting harmoniously


together — every duct — every muscle — every
nerve — all are of exquisite workmanship,
and all shew the benevolence of God. For
the happiness of His creatures He has
gifted us with the innocent pleasures of
sense; He has annexed enjoyment to every
action of the life ; so that when body and
mind are alike in health we can neither eat,
drink, walk, talk, or sleep, without sensations
of pleasure. He has gifted us with powers
of imagination — made us susceptible of the
rich poetry with which He has filled crea-
tion. He has given us the capacity for high
thoughts and feelings. He has endowed us
to expand, to analyse, to illustrate, to com-
pare, to combine. He has gifted us with
the principle of friendship ; He has im-
planted in us the social nature. He has
gifted us with the pleasures of hope, drawing
comfort from every clement of sorrow, and
soothing each Marah of the heart's bitter-
ness. He has gifted us with the pleasures
of memory, embalming the recollection of
the past in an amber that never fades away,
and that is proof against the corrupting
influences of time, thrilling again the spirit
with the pleasures that once thrilled the


heart in youth. He has gifted us, above all,
with the pleasures of holiness, the blessed
feeling of conscious pardon, the calm satis-
faction of assured faith, the enriching com-
fort of the Holy Spirit — heaven around us,
heaven above us, heaven beyond us, heaven
within us, and the bright and cheering pros-
pect of the enjoyment of that heaven for
ever. Infidels tell us that God has flung
this world from His hand, and has then left
it to shift for itself, and deprived it entirely
of His paternal care. God points to man
endowed thus richly, and tells them that they
lie. Infidels have insinuated that if there be
a God, He dwells in some far-off laboratory
of power, but that this world of His creation
is now orphaned of His grace. God points
to all the creation rejoicing in its fitness and
in its harmony, and bids them listen to its

" The solemn mountain lifts its heaJ, th' Almighty to pro-

The brooklet from its crystal bed doth leap to greet His
name ;

High swells the deep and fitful sea, upon its billowy

And red Vesuvius opes its mouth, to hurl the falsehood


No God ! With indignation high, yon fervent sun is

And the pale moon turns paler still, at such an impious

word ;
And from their thrones in heaven the stars look down

with angry eye,
That thus a worm of dust should mock eternal majesty."

" Tell me ^ art ihoii a Roman .?"

"Tell me, art thou a Roman?" It is a
suspected criminal who is thus asked by one
who is charged for the time with the arbitra-
tion of his destiny. While the cheek of the
inquirer is clouded as with the shadow of an
apprehended trouble, his eye lights up with
a glance of pride and envy. " Tell me, art
thou a Roman ? " Didst thou step easily
into the heritage which it was too costly for
me to obtain ? It was my life-long ambition
to acquire the citizenship, and at length the
kindly drachmas countervailed the prejudice
of alien birth ; but thou, of mean estate and
in evil fortunes — rthou, who seemest to have
gathered about thyself the popular hate —
thou, whom I have just sifted by scourging —
art thou a fellow-heir of this world's foremost
privilege? Then answered Paul, in all the


dignity of patriotism — in the majesty without
the insolence of patriotic pride, " But I was
free born." That must have been no hght
consideration which could induce him lightly
to regard such a privilege, or to prefer to it
any other inheritance ; and yet the faith
which had changed the current of his life
had sublimed his hopes as well, and in the
text he speaks of himself as a seeker after a
better country ; and his vaunt is not that he
is a Roman citizen, but that his conversation
(or citizenship, for that is the real meaning
of the word) — his conversation or citizen-
ship is in heaven. There he has laid up
his treasure, and thither, as to their source
of inspiration, his hopes and wishes fly.

We are Clu-istians.

We are Christians ; it doth not beseem us,
therefore, to act as worldlings do. The world
is their theatre — their treasure-house ; they
look and live no higher : but we, of nobler
birth and higher expectations, listeners to a
holy calling, waiters for the fruition of a
cherished hope — let us free ourselves as we


ought to do from the trammels of a sensual
bondage, mindful of our own rank and of our
destiny : let us beseem ourselves comely,
" for our conversation is in heaven." Breth-
ren, the need for a warning like this, an
exhortation like this, based upon the memory
of such privilege, has not certainly ceased.
The world, in which many of you mingle in
six days' passionate toil, the ordinary cares
of labour made a very drudgery by the fierce
competitions of the time, has yet, unhappily.
a power on the seventh, when another lord-
ship should take the possession of your soul :
and there are none of you, perhaps, that are
so free from its influences of distraction or
depression, that you are above the chance of
taint, and above the need of warning. It
cannot be amiss, therefore, for us to-day to
remind you of your heavenly citizenship, that
you may be grateful as you think upon its
source, that you may be stimulated to dis-
charge its duties, and that you may be com-
forted amid life's perils and sorrows by the
thought of the immunities which it confers —
" For our conversation is in heaven."


Ezekiets Vision.

I have somewhere seen a picture, which,
in brief words, and from dim memories only,
I will endeavour to describe. The scene is
in the far East ; the hour, when the earth is
just lighted up with that rare, oriental sun-
light which we Westerns long to see ; the
time, the sultry August, when the fierce sun
has it all his own way, and the country has a
sickly cast upon it, as if it fainted with the in-
tenseness of the glare. The plain is scorched
and arid, and the river running between its
sedgy banks seems to have hardly strength
enough to propel its own sluggish stream
from the mountains beyond. Beneath a
group of ancestral palms stands a knot of
Egyptian peasants, swarthy and muscular,
talking wildly to each other, and with eyes
strained wistfully in the direction of the
south, in which quarter there seems to hang
an indescribable haze, the forecasting shadow
of some atmospheric or other change. Why
look they there so eagerly? Why do they
gaze so intently just where the river faintly
glitters on the horizon's dusky verge ? Oh,
because they know, from the experience of


years, that the time has come for the inunda-
tion of the Nile. They do not know the pro-
cesses, perhaps, by which the waters are ga-
thered ; how in the far Abyssinia the sources
of wealth are distilled ; but, as certainly as if
their knowledge was profound and scientific,
do they calculate upon the coming of the
flood. And they know, too, that when the
flood does come, that scorched plain shall
wave with ripening grain, that there shall be
com in Egypt, and that those blackened
pastures shall then be gay wuth such fertile
plenty, that all the land shall eat, and shall
be satisfied ; for " everything shall live whither
the river cometh." And so marvellous shall
be the transformation, that the Turkish de-
scription of the soil of Eg\'pt shall be almost
realised — that for three months the earth is
white like pearl, for three months black like
musk, for three months green like emerald,
and for three months yellow like gold. This
picture has struck me as being a very vivid
and forcible representation of Ezekiel's vision,
embodied in the experience of Eastern life.
Nothing, surely, can better represent the
moral barrenness of the world — a wilderness
of sin— than that plain, on which the consum-


ing heat has blighted and withered the green
earth, and induced the dread of famine ; no-
thing can better set forth the grace and the
heahng of the gospel than the flow of that
life-giving river ; nothing can better image to
us the attitude befitting all earnest Christian
men than the wistful gaze of those peasants
to the place whence the deliverance shall
come, that they may catch the first mur-
mur of the quickened waters, and feel and
spread the joy. Of course, there is a spiritual
application of the vision before us : it seems
to have been given for the gladdening of the
stern Ezekiel, as well as ourselves ; for the in-
spiration of the hopes of the olden time, as
well as for the rejoicing of these latter days in
its fulfilment. The spiritual application, I
need not remind you, applies to the gospel of
Christ, made effectual by the Holy Ghost for
the healing and for the salvation of men.
You will not fail to remember that the gospel
is often presented to us in the Bible under
the same figure. Under the similitude of
living water, its blessings were promised to
the Samaritan woman. The great and divine
Teacher, who lifted up His voice on the last
great day of the feast, announced that the


heart of each believer should be as a fountain
of living water ; and in identity with the seer
of the olden time, and with the evangelist of
the new, John tells us of the river of life,
" clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne
of God, and of the Lamb." We cannot err,
therefore, on this occasion, when we present
the holy waters as emblematic of the scheme
of perfected atonement, made efficacious by
the power of the Spirit of God, and adapted
to the salvation of the world.

" / Stand between the Living and the

Literally it is true, in connexion with this
subject, I stand between the living and the
dead. How difficult it would be, how im-
possible it would be to classify the indivi-
duals that are now before me as to educa-
tional status, as to their intelligence, as to
their tempers, as to their moral culture, as to
any one subject upon which it is possible to
classify individuals ; but to the broad eye of
God, looking down upon us now, there are
just two classes — the living and the dead!


To which of these two classes do you beiong ?
Those are Hving who have come to Christ
and are resting upon Him ; those are dead
who are yet in a state of nature, or who have
fled for refuge to any refuge of Hes. I stand
between the living and the dead. Some of
you are living perhaps. Are you .^ You
hardly know, you say. Your only evidence
of life is that you are conscious of your dead-
ness. Well, there is life there. That is more
than a dead man has. The consciousness of
deadness is itself a sign of life — equivocal,
unworthy, unsatisfactory, but still there is
life. Perhaps yours is the life of an invahd,
spent only in complaining — perhaps yours is
but the life of a babe, that can do nothing
but cry ; still there is life, and where there is
life there is hope — where there is Hfe there is
susceptibility and growth. Go to the Source
of life, and get that life and that strength.
Get richer draughts of life coming from the
fountain, so that the supplies may daily lead
you unto life eternal. Then shall the life be
imparted to you yet more and more even
unto the end — even unto the end. Some of
you are dead — dead in trespasses and sins ;
you are going on, heedless and light-hearted


children of the world, but you have nothing
beyond ; this world is your all. A sudden
stroke separates you from this world, and
your hopes go no further. No man knows
what awaits you beyond death. You are
dead in reference to the spirit-world — dead
in trespasses and sins. Oh, I do rejoice that
I can come to you to-night with the publica-
tion of life. I can stand upon the sepulchre
and roll the stone away, and in the name of
my Master exclaim, '" He that belie veth in
Jesus, even though he were dead, yet shall he
live. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Jesus
shall never die." Strange it is, and yet not
more strange than true, the best gifts in the
universe, the costliest gifts in the universe,
are the freest gifts in the universe, and that
which the wealth of Australia could not buy
is offered without money and without price.
Brethren, it is for you ; I offer it to you to-
night. In the name of my jMaster, I offer
you life to-night. Neighbours may scoff at
you ; infidels, who don't believe in the exist-
ence of a hfe to come, may deride you ;
domestic ties may try to hold you down ; but
as Christian, in the " Pilgrim's Progress,"
convinced that it is your duty, flee from the


city of destruction with your finger in your
ear, crying. " Life, life, eternal life ! " and rush
forward unto the wicket-gate, and into the
Interpreter's house, and near the cross on
Calvary the Lord will bless you in your
pilgrimage, and bring you safely and speedily
home. Look ye, if ye list. Don't say you
have not had life offered, to your acceptance.
I call God to witness against you very sol-
emnly that to-day I have set before you life
and death. Don't kill yourselves . you will
do so if you refuse life. God will not kill you.
He has never decreed the perdition of any
creature He has made. Mmistcrs would not
kill you — they would fain have you live — they
give warning upon warning that you may
live. Oh, a terrible scene rises up before
me. I fancy myself somewhere ; it may be
in the country, perhaps, in this beautiful
island of ours. See, we will put the scene as
I have sometimes seen it. At the corner of
four green lanes, where everything in the
external aspect seems to smile ; yet there is
something here which makes the peasant
whistle to himself as he goes by at night, or
pass it with bated breath, and which causes
the children not to choose the spot to play


in, for it seems haunted with a nameless
horror. If I ask what it is, they tell me in a
whisper, " This is the grave of a suicide." An
unhappy sod ; the dust thrown up nameless
and unknown at the corner of four cross-
roads is the grave of one who put himself
out of life, and beyond the pale of Christian
burial — the grave of a suicide. O brethren,
it is a fearful scene ! But I must pursue the
analogy. If any of you, after repeated ad-
monitions and warnings, should perish, you
have stamped the suicide upon your own
soul, and wherever your nameless grave shall
be, angels, who delight to minister to those
that shall be heirs of salvation, looking at the
place where your ashes repose, will have to
say, " It is the grave of a suicide, of one who is
self-murdered, of one who is spiritually dead,
who has struck the dagger of perdition into
his own soul." Oh, don't do that, I beseech
you ! Don't do that I Live, live ! In that
one word is "the gospel," because Christ
has promised life, and the Spirit is waiting
to impart it. Live ! May God write that
word on your hearts, for the Redeemers


Christ a Sympathising F7'iend.

How grateful kindness is when it comes
bubbling in all the freshness of sincerity
from the unsullied fountain of a friend's
heart ! There is not a sorrow that it cannot
alleviate, nor a joy that it cannot intensify ;
and here we have a Friend that sticketh
closer than a brother, one who is touched
with a feeling of our infirmities, because He
has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
That is a poor fellow-feehng, you know,
which is the result of education rather than
experience. You cannot teach a man any-
where to sympathise in the distresses of a
fellow-man. If he would know the heat of
the furnace, you must put him through the
flame. And so Christ has been. His visage
was marred more than any man's ; He hun-
gered and thirsted, wept, bled, was a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief. There
is not a pang sharp of agony that lacerates
you that did not lacerate Him before you,
and He was in all points tempted like as
you are, and yet without sin. He is able to
sympathise, therefore ; and many a time, as,
you know, it is in earthly companionship,


the society and the soothing of a fiiend
dehvers the eyes from tears ; the tears flow
gently down, and do not scald as they rail,
when a friend's sympathising voice is heard:
so when Jesus comes to the believer's rescue,
his sorrow is but an element of strength and
comfort, soothed down into a pensive feeling
by the presence of Him who has redeemed
and will deliver him.

Affilciions from God.

Trials come not by chance, but are the
wise and merciful interpositions of an al-
mighty hand. The Christian is assured of
this ; he learns this in the school of Christ,
even in the rudimentary part of his educa-
tion. Knowing that in some way or other
his own benefit is involved, he endeavours
to find out the hidden lesson which is meant
for him. Whether to repress the giant growth
of selfishness, whether to impress him with a
tenderness for the wants and wees of others,
whether to win his spirit from the world and
attach him more closely to the skies, whether
to exemplify the honourable and noble grace


of resignation — in some way or other he is
sure his benefit is involved ; and while poor,
unthinking people come, and in ribald wit
are scoffing at him, and saying, " Persecute
and attack him, for the Lord hath forsaken
him, the wrath of God is heavy upon him,"
he bends meekly. " Whom the Lord loveth
he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom
he receiveth ; for if we be without chastise-
ment, of which all are partakers, then are we
bastards and not sons."

The Stroll^ and the Timid Christian.

To be sustained under the curse we must.
have the same strength as that by which
we were originally brought into the enjoy-
ment of the blessing. We cannot keep
ourselves for one moment ; we cannot of
ourselves enter upon life ; we cannot sustain
ourselves amid the world's ruggedness and
temptation and difficulty v/ithout the con-
stant protection of a Divine hand. " Thou
hast preserved my feet from falling." It is
just this ever-present guidance of God that
makes the difference between a strong and


a timid Christian. The timid Christian
sends out — to use an illustration that is very
familiar — sends out spies into the land of
Canaan, hears largely of its fertility and
beauty, very ardently desires it as an in-
heritance for ever ; but then the tall sons of
Anak are there, and the cities are walled
and very great, and the people are a feeble
folk, and the enemy a great multitude ; and
under the pressure of these giant-like diffi-
culties the man is content to remain in the
wilderness, cropping the scanty herbage by
the side of the tangled path, when he might
be luxuriating among the grapes of Eshcol
and among the vintage of Zion. While the
strong man, the man whose faith is strong,
who relies on God's promises, he sends out
his spies into the land of Canaan too, and
they bring back the same report, and say, " It
is true ; the tall sons of Anak are there, and
they are very tall " — he does not underrate
the stature of these sons of the giants one
cubit — " the tall sons of Anak are there, and
the cities are walled and very great, and it
would be a very formidable thing to take."
They tell him of the difficulties ; nothing is
gained by concealing the truth or by repre-


senting that it is all sunshine and calm, rest
and peace, in the way to the kingdom of
heaven — nothing is gained by that. The
spies are true men, and they tell the story
just as it is. Then the man looks into
himself and looks upward to his God, and
sees the finger which originally called him
in the way, beckoning to him from the cloud,
and he says to himself, " If the Lord delight
in me, He will surely bring me up hence ;"
and then he turns round and acts with
courage, goes into the midst of his grovel-
ling companions and says, " Let us go up
and possess the good land, for we are well
able to overcome it." " One routs a thou-
sand, and two put ten thousand to flight;"
and, more than conquerors, they enter into
the possession of the rest.

Soul Rest.

" Return unto thy rest, O my soul."
Where can the soul rest except in Him
who is the Redeemer, Consoler, and Pre-
server ? If He has delivered your soul from
death, and your eyes from tears, and your
H 2


feet from falling, there can be no rest but in
Him. The rest of the soul, you know, was
the problem of the old world. They formed
ideas upon it which were but as a vapour
that; appeareth for a little time and then
fadeth away. Pleasure, with her ever-
changing flashes and hues, was represented
as the rest of the soul ; but they lied — they
lied — who said it. The soul could not rest
in any of these, which are like the restless
and ever-heaving ocean, which can never be
stilled except by Him that appointed its
habitation, and fixed the bounds which it
can never pass. God is the only rest of the
soul. This return to it implies that you
have wandered. Is it so? Has there been
an idol in your affection^ — a compromise in
your practice — something that has been un-
worthy and impure ? You have wandered ;
then return into your rest, or there is no
happiness for you. You see that dove speed-
ing over the waste wilderness of waters, find-
ing no rest for the sole of its foot. How it
curves round and round that one lone rock
of shelter that floats, a solitary spot upon the
world drowned in the tempest of Divine dis-
pleasure, until at last the lattice is opened,


the patriarch's hand is extended, and the dove
flutters feebly in ! Thou art that dove, if thou
art away from Jesus. Oh, who does not say
to-day, —

"Take my poor fluttering soul to rest,
And lodge it safely in Thy breast?"

Do you see that pining captive yonder, dis-
consolate, weeping his tears into the mirror
of the river there, in which are reflected the
shadow of the terraces and towers of Babylon ?
that poor harp, unstrung and mute, hanging
upon the willows ? His heart is sad because
his soul is so feeble and sore broken that it
cannot sing the Lord's song in a strange land.
Thou art that Israehte, if thou art away from
Christ. Oh, let the captive exile hasten to be
loosed to-night, and come back to his inherit-
ance and to his home. " Return unto thy
rest" — this is God's invitation to the Israelite,
God's invitation to those who have partially
forsaken Him. " Return unto thy rest," — let
each one of you say it to yourselves, let each
one of you put it in practice, and by the grace
of God may each one of you realise to-night
the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of



There is nothing now anywhere upon
which the eye can gaze, or upon which the
mind can dwell, that does not remind us of
death. Everywhere there are the tokens
and memorials of death. The snow upon
the head of age, the brightness of the eye of
infancy, the tints which light up with such

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Online LibraryWilliam Morley PunshonLife thoughts → online text (page 8 of 11)