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enlarge them to enclose far more of the grace than we have ever possessed. We are not straitened in God, but in ourselves. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or think.' Therefore let us stretch desires and thoughts to their utmost, remembering that while they can never reach the measure of His grace in itself, they make the practical measure of our possession of it. “According to thy faith' is a real measure of the gift received, even though 'according to the riches of His glory' be the measure of the gift bestowed. Note, again,
III. The Glory that springs from the Divine Work.
• The glory of God’is the lustre of His own perfect character, the bright sum total of all the blended brilliancies that compose His name. When that light is welcomed and adored by men, they are said to 'give glory to God': and this doxology is at once a prophecy that the working of God's power on His redeemed children will issue in setting forth the radiance of His name yet more, and a prayer that it may. So we have here the great thought, expressed in many places of Scripture, that the highest exhibition of the Divine character for the reverence and love-of the whole universe, shall we say ?—lies in His work on Christian souls, and the effect produced thereby on them. God takes His stand, so to speak, on this great fact in His dealings, and will have His creatures estimate Him by it. He reckons it His highest praise that He has redeemed men, and by His dwelling in them, fills them with His own fulness. And this chiefest praise and brightest glory accrues to Him in the Church in Christ Jesus.' The weakening of the latter words into by Christ Jesus,' as in the English Version, is to be regretted, as substituting another thought, Scriptural no doubt and precious, for the precise shade of meaning in the Apostle's mind here. As has been well said, 'the first words denote the outward province; the second, the inward and spiritual sphere in which God was to be praised.' His glory is to shine in the Church, the theatre of His power, the standing demonstration of the might of redeeming love. By this He will be judged, and this He will point to if any ask what is His Divinest work, which bears the clearest imprint of His Divinest self. His glory is to be set forth by men on condition that they are “in Christ,' living and moving in Him, in that mysterious but most real union without which no fruit grows on the dead branches, nor any music of praise breaks from dead lips.
So, then, think of that wonder that God sets His glory in His dealings with us. Amid all the majesty of His works and all the blaze of His creation, this is what He presents as the highest specimen of His power—the Church of Jesus Christ, the company of poor men, wearied and conscious of many evils, who follow afar off the footsteps of their Lord. How dusty and toil-worn the. little group of Christians that landed at Puteoli must have looked as they toiled along the Appian Way and entered Rome ! How contemptuously emperor and philosopher and priest and patrician would have curled their lips, if they had been told that in that little knot of Jewish prisoners lay a power before which theirs would cower and finally fade ! Even so is it still.
Among all the splendours of this great universe, and the mere obtrusive tawdrinesses of earth, men look upon us Christians as poor enough; and yet it is to His redeemed children that God has entrusted His praise, and in their hands He has lodged the sacred deposit of His own glory.
Think loftily of that office and honour, lowly of yourselves who have it laid upon you as a
His honour is in our hands. We are the secretaries of His praise.' This is the highest function that any creature can discharge. The Rabbis have a beautiful bit of teaching buried among their rubbish about angels. They say that there are two kinds of angels, the angels of service and the angels of praise, of which two orders the latter is the higher, and that no angel in it praises God twice, but having once lifted up his voice in the psalm of heaven, then perishes and ceases to be. He has perfected his being, he has reached the height of his greatness, he has done what he was made for, let him fade away. The garb of legend is mean enough, but the thought it embodies is that ever true and solemn one, without which life is nought : Man's chief end is to glorify God.'
And we can only fulfil that high purpose in the measure of our union with Christ. * In Him' abiding, we manifest God's glory, for in Him abiding we receive God's grace. So long as we are joined to Him, we partake of His life, and our lives become music and praise. The electric current flows from Him through all souls that are in Him,' and they glow with fair colours which they owe to their contact with Jesus. Interrupt the communication, and all is darkness. So, brethren, let us seek to abide in Him, severed from whom we are nothing. Then shall we fulfil the purpose of His love, Who hath shined in our hearts,' that we might give to others 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' Notice, lastly,
IV. The Eternity of the Work and of the Praise.
As in the former clauses, the idea of the transcendent greatness of the power of God was expressed by accumulated synonyms, so here the kindred thought of its eternity, and consequently of the ceaseless duration of the resulting glory, is sought to be set forth by a similar aggregation. The language creaks and labours, as it were, under the weight of the great conception. Literally rendered, the words are—'to all generations of the age of the ages'-a remarkable fusing together of two expressions for unbounded duration, which are scarcely congruous. We can understand 'to all generations' as expressive of duration as long as birth and death shall last. We can understand the age of the ages 'as pointing to that endless epoch whose moments are 'ages;' but the blending of the two is but an unconscious acknowledgment that the speech of earth, saturated as it is with the colouring of time, breaks down in the attempt to express the thought of eternity. Undoubtedly that solemn conception is the one intended by this strange phrase.
The work is to go on for ever and ever, and with it the praise. As the ages which are the beats of the pendulum of eternity come and go, more and more of God's power will flow out to us, and more and more of God's glory will be
manifested in us. It must be so. For God's gift is infinite, and man's capacity of reception is indefinitely capable of increase. Therefore eternity will be needful in order that redeemed souls may absorb all of God which He can give or they can take. The process has no limits, for there is no bound to be set to the possible approaches of the human spirit to the Divine, and none to the exuberant abundance of the beauty and glory which God will give to His child. Therefore we shall live for ever : and for ever show forth His praise and blaze out like the sun with the irradiation of His glory. We cannot die till we have exhausted God. Till we comprehend all His nature in our thoughts, and reflect all His beauty in our character ; till we have attained all the bliss that we can think, and received all the good that we can ask; till Hope has nothing before her to reach towards, and God is left behind : we shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.'
Let His grace work on you, and yield yourselves to Him, that His fulness may fill your emptiness. So on earth we shall be delivered from hopes which mock and wishes that are never fulfilled. So in heaven, after 'ages of ages of growing glory, we shall have to say, as each new wave of the shoreless, sunlit sea bears us onward, 'It doth not yet appear what we shall be.'
"THE FIRST DAY OF THE FEAST':
ON MATTHEW XXVI. 17, FOR A COVENANT AND
SACRAMENTAL SERVICE :
BY THE REV. NEHEMIAH CURNOCK. "Ye are they which have continued more difficult. Some are suitable to with Me in My temptations. And I our inclinations and interests, others appoint unto you a kingdom, as My are contrary to both. In some, we Father hath appointed unto Me; that may please Christ and please ourye may eat and drink at My table in selves. In others, we cannot please My kingdom, and sit on thrones, judg- Christ but by denying ourselves. It ing the twelve tribes of Israel.' One- is for Him to say what our work and ness with Christ in temptation, in all what our condition shall be. He that strengthens and gladdens, and in must have the command of us and royal labour-is not this the meaning, the disposal of us. Christ will be the not only of these words, but of all Saviour of none but His servants. the teaching that circles around them? He is "the Author of eternal salva
In this sense, and for this purpose, tion” to those "who obey Him."' 'I we are all summoned, on this day of must,' through all my life, whether solemn covenant and holy communion, on earth or in heaven, ‘be about my to look into the future.
Father's business. This is Christiwaiting, not only to be forgiven and anity-not merely for Ministers and purified, but also to be hired. We Teachers, for Leaders and Stewards, are standing this day before God that but also, and equally, for mothers and He may appoint us our work. Christ children, and old men and maidens, hath many services to be done. Some and sick and busy people. This is are more easy and honourable, others 'following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in paration day, whilst the leaven was His holy ways.
being put out of every Jewish house, * Dismiss me not Thy service, Lord,
and thousands of lambs were being But train me for Thy will;
devoted to sacrifice, the Son of the For eren I in fields so broad
Highest was to sanctify Himself for Some duties may fulfil ;
that sacrifice, of nobler name and And I will ask for no reward Except to serve Thee still.
richer blood,' by which sin was to be for ever put away.
Was it any How many serve, how many more May to the service come ;
wonder that the King's Son, in the To tend the vines, the grapes to store, supreme moment of His love, should Thou dost appoint for some :
seek to breathe into His friends and Thon hast Thy young men at the war, servants the spirit of His own selfThy little ones at home.'
sacrificing devotion? or that He In another and far higher sense should desire to give them some
kind than that thought of by the Jews who of specific preparation for the right were flocking by thousands to Jeru- doing of a work which was costing salem, it was the first day of the Him so dear? Were they not desfeast of unleavened bread.' The first tined, in a little while, to travel forth day of a feast unto all nations. A into city streets and lanes, and into feast of freedom and triumph : a feast far-off highways and hedges, to invite of the reconciliation of long-lost and, in myriads of cases, to bring children to their God and Father, and guests to their Lord's feast? Would of long-sundered brothers and sisters not the success of the work depend to one another : a feast which, be- chiefly upon the way in which they ginning amid the gloom and clamour did the part assigned to them ? of earth, was to find its consummation I. If they forgot Whom they in the everlasting light and rapture of served, or thought more about their heaven :
: a feast to which were to be own comfort and honour than about summoned the poor and the blind the welfare of those to whom He and the lame, and all who were so sent them; or if they were not gentle ready to perish that they could not and kind one to another, accounting come, except under the sweet com- it not merely a mark of high chivpulsions of Divine love, or borne in alry-though that is good and the arms of Divine power : a feast to Christian—but the purest joy, to which no man was required to con- have ever so small an opportunity of tribute anything except his own pres- bearing a brother's burden, or sharence—the gladness of his thankful ing his grief, or in any way helping
, heart, the music of his praiseful voice, his need, what heed would the people and also the presence of so many of give to the story they told of their his perishing neighbours and kinsfolk Lord's disinterested love? as he could persuade or compel to were in perilous straits, and two men come with him. For all things were came to you with frowning faces and ready, even the white robes in which unamiable manners, sneering at one the naked or travel-stained guests another, and betraying, even in what were to appear. And this was the they did for you, a greedy and narrow first day of the feast: the day on spirit; and if these two servants which the one thing which stood in announced themselves as sent by a the way of freedom for the guests, great and wealthy Lord, whose upperand triumph for the King, and victory most desire it was to help you, would for His soldiers, and successful labour you very readily believe them ? for His servants, and gladness for all, Would not your thoughts of their was to be put away. On this pre- Master be coloured by the faults of
; His servants? Would you entrust a one on Thy right hand, and the other sick child to their guardianship, or on the left, in Thy kingdom... And care yourself to travel in their com- when the ten heard it, they were pany to the halls of their Lord ? Sup- moved with indignation against the pose you fell into exasperation, and two brethren. If the Master had not cried out bitterly upon them, and instantly put an end to that most charged them with arrant imposture, preposterous contention, it would prowould your neighbours blame you bably have issued in an equally unvery much ? I will even ask another seemly contention between James and and far more momentous question- John for the seat of highest honour, asking it with all solemnity and de- ‘Master, we saw one casting out devils liberation-feeling, at least to some in Thy Name; and we forbad him, extent, the tremendous issues which because he followeth not with us.' it involves : Would the Lord Him- Which also, but for our Lord's reself blame you so much as them ? buke, would not improbably have reUpon whom will the sorest ultimate sulted in some more frightful and blame and punishment fall for the impious narrowness, which would thousands who are driven back into have destroyed the infant Church in the wilderness, from the very gates the first days of its life. of the City, by an
Now, on this first day of the feastChristianity ?-driven from the Lord's this solemn preparation day—how Table by the querulousness and quar- did our Lord prepare His disciples relsomeness of the King's servants ? for this great peril of their future How many younger sons and aged work? By uniting them together fathers and little ones are still in the into a Society, the ties and bonds of famine-land, because the brethren which were devotion to a common sent to fetch them to the land of corn Master, and honourable and loving are falling out by the way? service for one another.
Our Lord was 'with the wild beasts' 1. They were His guests. Where is in the wilderness. There are not a few the guest-chamber, where I shall eat who would rather face even these the Passover with My disciples.' They than the angry spirits which, alas ! sat at His table, in His kingdom. When are still to be found in Christian the County Magistrates dine together, Churches. We variously and won- before commencing the administraderfully proclaim ourselves as the tion of justice, whatever differences servants of Christ, and announce to of opinion, political and otherwise, the world that ours is a mission of may exist among them, honour for the peace on earth, and good will towards Sovereign in whose name they meet, men; and yet how often does one if nothing else, forbids any breach, Church contemptuously ignore the not merely of courtesy, but of amity. work of another, or
even turn the
They are 'brother Magistrates.' As in weapons of its warfare
its the Court itself, over the chief seat of Christian neighbours. And why? justice, so in the dining-hall, the Mostly for such trifles-and trifles heraldic symbol of the Royal presence they are, when looked at, as one day shines out from the point of highest we shall look at them, first in the glare honour, to rebuke any departure from of the devil's work, and then in the the law of brotherly esteem on the solemn light of the glory of our part of the servants of a noble MisLord's work-for such trifles as those tress. Were not these men to sit which threatened to divide the good on thrones, judging the twelve tribes men about Lord. • Grant of Israel'? Were they not now supthat these my two sons may sit, the ping together in the actual presence