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noise and tumult of an age of controversies like that in which we live, seek you to live aloft in the stillness and comfort of clear certainty as to saving truth, having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. ii. 16), whom to know is life eternal (John xvii. 3.)
But as the High Priest of your profession, too, cherish an abiding fellowship with the Lord your Saviour. Realise by faith, that, in the holy temple of the Divine presence, your Lord is the all and in all of His people's acceptance, and safety, and perfect blessedness. You will thus abide in Jesus as the all and in all of your salvation. Coming by Him, you will live near to God in the finished reconciliation which Christ hath perfected. Peace with God, even to the quietness of assurance for ever, will bless your new and righteous relations to Him. The liberty of the redeemed will be your life. Every fear that hath torment being banished, the Spirit of adoption will constrain you, by the love of Christ, to live no longer to yourselves, but to the glory of Him who died for you. And your enjoyment of unclouded reconciliation with God will fringe all your habits, as the High Priest's robe of heavenly blue was fringed with the golden bells and the pomegranates, making your life, in every good word and work, fruitful to God's praise, while ringing out through, the whole tenor of it, the golden music of heaven's own gladness.
For, lastly, as the Priest whose throne is in the heavens, the Lord commands your reverent submission to be sanctified by His grace. That you may rejoice in the reign of the Lord as King and Head over all things to His Church, you must be subject to His rule, while you adore His majesty. His majesty is awful. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords, whose kingdom ruleth
And that awful majesty is ever present and omniscient. His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men. The deepest reverence is therefore ever due unto the name of Him before whom you stand in awe, lest you sin.
And yet, with what assured confidence may you trust your enthroned High-Priest, that in Him there can be lifted on you only the light of the reconciled countenance of your heavenly Father! That “His countenance doth behold the upright,” shall therefore embolden you fearlessly to face any danger, and faithfully to do every duty to both God and man for His sake.
Is His “throne in the heavens?" and shall you not make that heavenly throne your constant resort in believing prayer ? You think of the throne of grace as “in the heavens,” the very seat, and at the very centre of His influential government whose king
dom ruleth over all; and with calmness you will betake yourself thither in every time of trouble, to commit all to Him who knows your need, whose "eyes behold” it, whose "eyelids try” you, searching the most secret circumstance of trial in your lot. .
Above all, as the willing subjects of His holy government, submit to His rule. Obey all His commandments. Keep His every ordinance with sacred care. Then will the reign of Jesus be indeed your redemption. You will never then need to dread His coming again in glory. Meanwhile, every success in the progress of His kingdom upon earth will be a triumph to you. Personally interested in His cause, its every victory will be your rejoicing. A very heaven on earth will be yours, in the certain hope of the final overthrow of every foe of your safety and peace. In the full view, therefore, of the utter impotence of all their rage and subtilty in the hands of the almighty grace which reigns for your salvation, with what scorn of every foe's assault, however insidious and deadly, will you be ready with David to exclaim, “HOW SAY YE TO MY SOUL, FLEE? IN THE LORD PUT I MY TRUST!”
CHRIST'S METHOD OF CHRISTIAN
A SERMON TO YOUNG MEN.
JOHN LAIDLAW, D.D.,
FREE WEST CHURCH, ABERDEEN.
“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”—JOHN vii. 17.
It was a great festival in Jerusalem. Jesus had been much expected by the people, much talked about; there had been something like a furor of excitement. But Jesus did not appear till there was a calm; and then, when the Festival week was half over, He came, and began quietly to teach the people. They expressed astonishment that He knew the Scriptures so thoroughly, that He made them so interesting, that He threw such a flood of light into people's minds when they listened to Him, and they said, 'How can it be? He was never taught in the schools of the rabbis and the doctors. He is not one of them; He is a carpenter, and the son of a carpenter,—whence hath this man his learning on these great topics, having never learned ? Jesus answers, 'I will tell you. It is God's teaching. It is My Father's doctrine, it is not mine own, that I preach. I have learned it by being His beloved and obedient Son. But I will tell you more,' He says, “it is not Mine alone; there is no one of you but may become learned by the same method. any man will do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.'
Our Lord here corrects a common mistake, and lays down a great truth or principle. The error committed by the Jews of that day, and corrected by Jesus, some of us are committing every day. The humblest class of society falls into it. They say, We cannot be expected to have much religion, or much knowledge of the things of God; we were not educated. The most intellectually proud among us make the same mistake. You will hear them say, "The religion of the common people is really worth nothing. They do not know; they have not the breadth which science, literature, and culture give; their religious opinions have really no foundation. All this proceeds on the mistaken idea that it is the schools, learning, exact and critical knowledge by the intellect, which secure a foundation for religious insight. Jesus, on the other hand, lays down the profound principle which people are always forgetting,—that the first condition of certainty in Divine things is formed by the conscience, not by the intellect; it lies not in book-learning or criticism, or science, but in the inward disposition of the soul. In plain words, it requires only, but it requires absolutely, that the heart be in the right place. And what is the right place for the heart in these matters? It is, that a man be willing to do God's will; that is to say, that his chief anxiety is to be a child of the heavenly Father, and to learn His way.
Jesus was not the first to bring that truth to light. It is an old one. You have it in the Old Testament—"The fear of the Lord in the beginning of wisdom.” But Jesus brought it home and made it living as no other had done. The people said to Him, 'You have never been to any school of the Prophets, you have attended no rabbinical college; how can you know these discoveries of Divine truth and grace which, we must say, you teach so marvellously?' 'Yes,' says Jesus, “I have been to school, but it is to My Father's. I have leaned My head on His bosom, I have submitted My will entirely to His, I have listened to the lcving whispers of His spirit all my days; and, if you care, I will take you to the same school, and you shall have the same learning. My word shall abide in you, and your joy shall be full.
I. The principle here announced. “If any man WILL DO HIS WILL.” Watch, while I lay the emphasis on each of the words in this clause successively.
1. “Do His will.” Observe, doing is the way to knowing in things Divine; “ obedience is the instrument of spiritual knowledge.” Lord Bacon discovered the instrument of the physical sciences, that extraordinary heritage of these modern centuries. That instrument is careful experiment and observation. Before his time, men speculated, dreamed, imagined what the world was made up of. Since his time, by physical experiment, slowly, steadily, they have learned to know. Jesus promises us mental satisfaction of another kind altogether, in another and quite a different region,
not about the earth we tread on, or sky above us, but about our spiritual life, and its relation to God. Consequently, the method is one specially adapted to the end. How are we to know the doctrines or teachings that be of God? Not by sensible experiment, of course—“ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard." No, nor by mere mental toil. You are not to say, 'I will search, inquire, learn; and then, after that, I will begin to obey the religion I have learned and proved. It is the things of God you want to learn,–His nature, His truth, your relation to Him, and to the hereafter. Well, begin by being true to God, your heart, conscience, and life. Is there anything unreasonable in that? Is it not a great law and principle of all life, but here supremely true? It is that which is expressed by Pascal, when he says, “In the things of men, by knowing, we learn to love; in the things of God, by loving, we come to know.” Now, this is a law which we cannot get beyond, any more than we can get beyond the laws of motion, or the laws of the atmosphere. In things moral and spiritual, you cannot suspend action till you have learned. You are doing one way or the other-right or wrong-every day. Some of you say that you have not settled a number of spiritual questions, e.g., if God hears prayer, if there be a day sacred to God, if there be a sure and certain judgment to come, if Christ be really the supreme Lord of conscience and the Son of God; you have not settled these questions, and yet you are acting in your prayerless, slipshod, sinning, and Christless life, as if they were settled on the negative side; and every day of such a life is annihilating the only excuse with which you have furnished yourself against the day of the Lord,—that you were not sure, that you had not made up your mind whether the doctrine was of God.
2. “If any man will,”—i.e., be willing to—“do his will.” Lay stress upon the first “ WILL.” This throws great light on our Lord's meaning. It would have been a maxim fitted to instil nothing but despair, if the Lord had said that we could only come to know what was true about God, and Christ, and the soul, when we had perfectly done the will of God.
If a perfect obedience had been the condition of spiritual knowledge, the way of knowing and the way of salvation would have been equally barred, and barred for ever, to every child of Adam. But that is