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addressed to the children of Israel, as already children of God. But still it was, nevertheless, essentially negative in form; and hence, to most Hebrews, as, in the first instance, to all of them, the law seemed rather to forbid certain actions to which their natural impulses led them, than to give or seize, any higher impulse securing its own observance. Hence we find that, disregarding the inner promptings of conscience-God's witness in the heart-many a Jew was content to stand still, thinking that he would thus, at least, do no wrong. But now there is no uncertainty; and while the old Commandments still serve to convince or convict us of backsliding, the path wherein we are commanded to walk is that wherein Christ walked, for our law is the life of love.""A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another," said the Lord Jesus. Not new in words, but new in its position of supremacy, comprehending all law, human and Divine.
Again (6) The Law of Love is superior because it is exhaustive. Its exceeding breadth embraces every conceivable case; its Divine fulness embodies all those promptings of renewed hearts for which the old commandments were inadequate. The willing heart might observe the letter of the Law of Moses, and yet, unsatisfied and eager, cry, "What then ?" But this Law of Love, fair even at first sight as the starry blue of the arch of heaven, like it, when better known, deepens and grows more lovely in the inexhaustible riches with which God hath dowered it. The young ruler had kept all the Commandments from his youth up, and, unsatisfied, came in his distress to Christ, and was told : Sell all that links thee to the world, and follow Me. No word in the Decalogue bade him sell, yet, without selling, love in his case was impossible, for he loved those possessions more than he loved God; he had exhausted the letter, he had still to begin to obey the spirit of the law. When the priest and Levite passed the wounded traveller, each of them might have said to himself, that no commandment bade him nurse this suffering creature; but the Samaritan, prompted by love, tended and healed the wounded man. So, in our every-day existence, many cases occur where no special command in Scripture-I say not merely in the Commandments—tells us how to act, and yet this Law of Love embraces them all.
(c) The Law of Love is superior because it begins at the heart. It is a mighty mystery this human heart of ours,—this throbbing thing, whose ceaseless movement keeps our frame in being, whose silent forces sway our whole existence; the seat of every loving impulse, the seat of every wild emotion, melting at the sight of sorrow, maddened with the lust of crime; its power has made the philanthropist pass from land to land on missions of mercy, and the tyrant gall his people with a yoke of iron; it starts the tear in the eye of the child, it shakes with the agony of terror the watchful mother's frame; and yet it is this same human heart-turned to wilder work—that has done the deed of cruelty, stained the hands of murder, peopled the haunts of crime. We must not forget that it is the heart which throbs with passion, or prompts to cold deceit, as much as it is the heart which works the work of goodness, and wells up in love. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
Now, how shall this be changed ? Shall forces from without be brought to bear upon it? If so, what good is done ? It is a living, throbbing thing, full of good and evil, in changeful impulses shooting forth to holiness or sin; and what can outward force do but cripple its good, even while curbing its wrong? The law comes with its restraining power on every side; in a circle they have borne down upon the heart, those curbing commands; they crush it into narrower, smaller space; they shut it up within itself;—but, you observe, they cannot change it. It may do no murder, but it has wrath within it still; it may not steal, but it has greed and grasping here. Hence the hypocrite, in Scripture language, is one whom the law coerces into apparent conformity, but in whose heart there still abide all the former sins,-in whose case the strong door lets not the devils out, but they yell and rage within. The covering is white; but beneath it, bones and rottenness decay. A change is needed, and this the law could not effect, being weak through the flesh. But this new law seizes the very centre of all this movement, and makes it throb with love. It comes not from without, to restrain, but from within, to constrain. And hence its superiority. The former law could not act upon the real seat and centre of all as this Law of Love now does. It is therefore superior because it begins from the heart. Are not the best lives you have known lives where no outer law constrained, where it was the free promptings of a renewed heart that made the life so beautiful ?
But, further (d.), the Law of Love is superior, because it leads us directly and at once to feel our need of the Spirit of God. We cannot realise its meaning for one instant without feeling our need of the new birth from God. I cannot imagine that any one ever tried to keep this Law of Love without being brought to his knees to beg supernatural aid. I cannot imagine a man trying to walk by it, for even one day or one hour, without coming to feel that the power so to walk is the gift of the grace of God. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the means whereby we receive that power, and it cannot be made ours in any other way. When we seek it, we must come unto our blessed Redeemer, the Author and Finisher of the faith, and beseech Him, for His own work's sake, by His agony and death, to send us the Almighty Comforter, so that this new nature may be given us. It is not man's work; it is the gift of no Church ; it is beyond the grasp of intellect; reason cannot command it; interest cannot secure it. He that loveth is not the favoured child of fortune, nor a man with inborn affection, nor the wisest of the sons of clay; but he is born of God, and knoweth God, and grows ever like God, for, “God is love." If you feel your lack and need of this directing, constraining, strengthening love, love to God and love to man,-then come unto Him who loved and loveth you and ask Him, importune Him, for His grace.
For remember that we are called to love Him that first loved us; and although I have dwelt upon that law, as it may havo appeared unto the scribe who addressed our Lord, yet for us who are believers in Jesus Christ, that law has now a tenfold meaning and power. The crowning gift of the Father's love has been bestowed in His blessed and beloved One, sorrowing, suffering, dying for our sakes; and as the opening flower turns its dewy petals to the morning sun, so look ye in all your penitence for a broken law, unto the Cross of the Redeeming Christ. Behold what manner of love is there; we love Him who first loved us; we love our brethren for His sake, and so fulfil all the law. (John xv. 12, 17.)
Let us examine ourselves, whether we have this new heart, whose manifestation is love to God and man. Man is God's representative for us; if we do it to the least of these, we do it unto Him. Your fellowmen, the highest and the lowest alike, are of the same human blood, they are also children of the same heavenly Father, and for them one Saviour died. The requirements of society are easily satisfied, the laws of the land more easily still; but when you have done all that they ask, the Law of Love asks still greater things, to which the only limit is your power. When temporal distress pleads with you, love bids you give till you can give no more; when spiritual weakness, darkness, death, makes its mute unconscious appeal to your Christian sympathies, love bids you rise up in all your might, and spread the Gospel of God's grace. It will put away the hardness of prejudice, and the haze of indecision, and point you, with a finger unerring as the ray of sunlight, to the perishing brother whom you are called to love. It will point you for your model, to that abounding love which brought the Lord Jesus from the heights of glory to save the ruined souls of men, and bore up his suffering hunanity amid all the insults of His life and death. Pointing unto Jesus, unto Paul, unto the fellowship of apostles and saints of old, it says, “Go thou and do likewise."
O my brethren, tried by such a standard, what unprofitable servants have we always been! We have loved them that loved us, we have done good to them that had a claim on us; but custom, and sensibility have been our guides, instead of this prompting inner love, that would have sought out objects for its bounty and its help. A trifle has often turned us; ingratitude on the part of those we benefited has soured us. Let love now win our heart's obedience ; let it mellow our character; let it rule our intercourse ; let it shine on our words ; let it prompt our deeds ; and thus in social life, in works of benevolence, in efforts of evangelization, in holy service of our God, and in brotherhood to fellow-man, how great, how noble, how Christ-like we shall be ! Amen.
THE HIDDEN LIFE:
HUGH MARTIN, D.D.
“Your life is hid with Christ in God.”—Col. iii. 3.
THE believing child of God is in possession of eternal life. He is in present possession of it. He does not tarry till he enter into glory, to be put in possession of everlasting life. He possesses everlasting life already. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath”—even now, while sojourning in this estate of trial and probation—"everlasting life” (John iii. 36).
He hath already emerged from the region and shadow of death, and entered on the realm of life genuine and true-life that is real and endless. The domain of death is behind him, not before him. He has not to die : that is past. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." True, indeed, he has to fall asleep in Jesus. He must put off this earthly tabernacle. But as to death, in its high and awful meaning—as to death, in its constituting essence and real power—as to death, regarded in the light of penalty on sin,he is done with it for evermore. That is past-not to come: it is behind him—not before him; he is not advancing towards it, but triumphantly escaping from the very shadow of it. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
The believer is thus dead, in and“ with Christ”-in Christ's death, and as proprietor and inheritor of it. The death of Christ is imputed to him, and received by faith alone. Now, Christ's death was a death-conquering, death-extinguishing death. It was death in its perfection ; death, up to the full limits of its power and reign; a death which, as it passed away in its perfect consummation, swallowed up death in victory, and left the field in