Page images
PDF
EPUB

or ante-chamber, and retreating into the holy refuge—the sanctuary, where the life is hid in God (" till I went into the sanctuary," Ps. lxxiii. 17); for in comparison with the inwardness and secrecy of that hidden life, one's own very flesh, yea, throbbing heart itself, are things that be without. For “though my flesh and my heart faileth, yet God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever” (ver. 26). This is the continual and true relief from all doubts, from all apparent contradictions, from all that a present state of manifold trial and much corruption would seem to argue against the believer's present possession of eternal life and exalted rank with God. Let him retreat by faith to a life confessedly hidden. When he can see no evidence of his high estate and dignity, let him remember that the very supposition is, that he does not and cannot see it. Let him know that he is to hold to it by faith-by faith in his Father's word,—even when all things that he can see appear to go against it. Let him grow strong in the knowledge that this is faith's very office—to penetrate to a life which is hidden, buried under the weight of the earthly tabernacle, oppressed by a remaining body of sin and death, obscured by countless clouds of darkness, which oftentimes return after the rain. The hidden life is a glorious Alpine summit-itself bathed in sunlight's utmost splendours, but utterly concealed from the inhabitants of the plain beneath by seas of mountain mists, that roll their ceaseless fleecy waves in mid-ascent. “Command these mists aside," says sense; and weeps, and groans, and toils to obey its own command,-ever craving for its own devices, and leaning to. its own understanding. But all the armies of all the monarchs would retire baffled from the effort to expel the fleecy clouds, and reveal the glorious scene beyond them and above. “Let me rise through them,” says faith, “as on eagle's wings; let me ascend above them ; be it mine to live in the realm to which they cannot come.” And what all earth's armaments and enginery never could effect, the eagle can: it can procure a prospect of the sun-lit scene beyond. For what is it that faith really achieves, when against hope it believes in hope, but the very prerogative of the eagle,—to transcend the realms where obscuration rests, and rise to the elevation where the mists, and the tempests, and the lightnings cannot come ? But all obscuring clouds are one day to be swept aside for

Till then, the believer must expect nothing but the discipline of a state in which, confessedly, it is not designed to bring his

ever.

hidden life out to the gaze of others, or himself, as in his impatience and infirmity he might oftentimes desire. Till then, the clouds of trial that intervene between him and his very life are not by any effort whatsoever to be rolled away; neither by impatience are they to be murmured at, as if some strange thing happened to him. It might be comfortable and delightful to see and enjoy here the unbroken felicity of eternal life. One may even ask, in agony, Why should it not be so,—why, if I am a child of God,—why, if I am alive for evermore,—why, if I am not only a prospective heir, but a present possessor of eternal life? Why are so many things, if not all these things, against me ? Why is it with me thus ? Why cannot I do the things that I would ? Why cannot I compel the acknowledgment of my high estate, my heavenly credit and renown? Why should I be in heaviness through manifold temptation ? Why should I have to groan within myself, oppressed continually, with anomalous and seemingly unreconcileable conditions ?

It is a state of feeling of which thousands of Christians have been conscious; an agony that multitudes have never spoken of, but suffered from most intensely. More apostles than one respond to it, and soothe it. Evidently Paul has this very state of mind in view when he says, “ Yes,” we are saved, but it is “in hope.” We have eternal life, but as yet it is a hidden life. “We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope ; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. viii. 24, 25). John also answers this difficulty with striking exactness, when he says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God”; and if our outward estate seems to argue against our claim, it is granted that "it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” The glory that pertains to our relationship and rank is not yet manifest. Yet we only share in this with the Eternal Son Himself: “The world knoweth us not, just because it knew Him not. But when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John iïi. 2, 3). And thus also Paul testifies in our text:“When He shall appear”—when He shall no more tarry with the veil, but shall come forth and be manifested to the world, and every eye shall see Him—then our life shall no more be hidden. It also shall appear. How indeed, could it be otherwise ? Christ Himself “is our life," and when He who is our life is hidden from the world, our life must be hidden also. But when He who is our life is no more hidden, but shall appear,

we also shall appear with Him in glory.” Then shall full justice be done to our adoption. Then shall it become obvious. We shall be heirs-apparent then.

Meantime all nature, sympathising with the children of God in the present concealment of their life, and delay of their high estate,“groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth,” wearily, "for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. viii. 19). But when that shall at length take place, when obvious glory is assigned them, adequate to the rank they now possess, all nature shall welcome the sons of God. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." “For the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”

If your life with Christ is a hidden life, consider what you must hide, and what you must not hide.

I. Consider what you must not hide. You must not hide sin. And there are two respects in which you must not hide it.

(1) You must not hide sin in the love of it. If you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear you (Ps. lxvi. 18). And if the Lord shut out your prayer, are not the springs of your hidden life deranged immediately,—at least your conscious enjoyment of it, and all its aspirations and exertions ? (2) You must not hide sin in the guilt of it.

" When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid: I said, I will confess my transgression unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin ” (Ps. xxxii. 3, 6).

II. Consider what you must hide. “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps. cxix. 11). For the hidden life is a life of faith ; and faith lives, and moves, and hath its being in the Word of God. Faith's light is from the lamp of the Word, kindled by the Spirit; and by this lamp, faith penetrates, with unfaltering, unquailing gaze, into the things which

eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor reason grasped, nor imagination bodied forth. The “Word-and-Spirit” is a combination, with the glory whereof we might well make all heaven ring in celebrating it. The “Word-and-Spirit” is the life of God, and whoso hath it, is hidden, because God is hidden,-hidden, not for defect of light, but for excess of splendours, dwelling in light that is inaccessible and full of glory. Amen.

THE WRONG TRUST, AND THE RIGHT:

A SERMON.

BY

REV. J. J. BONAR,

GREENOCK.

“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches : But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth : for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”—JEREMIAH ix. 23, 24.

“To glory in” means to boast of and depend upon, Nor is it unlawful, but requisite, to have something which we make our confidence and strength. At the same time, we must learn from the text both what we are forbidden, and what we are enjoined, to lean on as a ground of support, so that we may not be put to shame when the sun goes down upon our path.

I. First, advert to our danger, as indicated in the twenty-third verse, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the strong man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches."

We are here warned that man is not to "glory in his wisdom :” and surely this is advice which we all stand in need of still, as well as Jerusalem of old. Our age deems itself peculiarly entitled to “glory in its wisdom," and would have us believe that it is equal to any feat of scientific inquiry, or any range of philosophical speculation. The march of intellect, and the conquests of knowledge are on the lips of all. Every one is “wise" in these days, and every one is enlightened. Every writer is a classic, and every speaker is a statesman; every ratepayer is an oracle, and every voter might be a senator. Nothing, indeed, can exceed the easy presumption which characterises the men of action among us, and the bold reliance that our men of thought place upon their methods and formulas, their deductions and conjectures. With all that pertains to the wealth or wellbeing of a kingdom our politicians are deeply conversant, and it is assumed that it lies with them to check or stimulate its greatness, as if the "government were on their shoulders.” Geologists have pierced the earth's strata and registered their successive epochs, until they can explain every phenomenon and feature, as if themselves had planned the structure. Our race, too, has been sifted and analysed with no lack of boldness, and, as the result, an origin and a date have been assigned for man, such as never was guessed at till now. The Bible is also unsparingly overhauled, and this, with no concealed design of removing from it whatever is mysterious, or supernatural, or distasteful.

The world asssuredly is “glorying in its wisdom,” and no secret can be hid from its penetration. A new era of progress has been inaugurated under the auspices of unbelief, and the movement, we are told, shall issue in a new revelation, which shall owe nothing to Scripture.

Glorying, however, such as this, cannot be good,-neither devout, nor intelligent, nor modest. For, in regard to all

wisdom” strictly human, is it not true that it gives us no knowledge of God-our source and end ; that it does not bring us nearer to Him in apprehension or contact; and that, as it is bounded by earth, so it will expire with time? Besides, what proportion does the information of any one bear to his ignorance ? Is it more than what the point of a needle is to the wide firmament? And, in spite of all our advancement in skill, invention, and mechanism, arg our wants lessened, or our ailments fewer ? Does life see more days, and is sickness leaving us ? Has war gone out of date, and do peace, and freedom, and righteousness flourish? Has not chance, so far as we are concerned, more than research or genius, often furnished us with our most remarkable contrivances ? Have we not been anticipated in many expedients by ancient China, or more ancient Babylon ? Is it not admitted, that various devices or products which we take the credit of, were familiar to the artisans of Etruria, and even the priests of Zoan ? Who can read the twenty-eighth chapter of Job without acknowledging that the whole process of mining and smelting was as exactly understood in the land of Uz as now in Great Britain ? Stout things have of late been hazarded, both as to Scripture and its truths—as to the Creator and His

« PreviousContinue »