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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The Crowning Vision

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 Re: The Crowning Vision

January 6 - by George H. Morrison

[b]Intimacy

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." Psa_25:14[/b]

When a man enjoys the friendship of the great, it is always considered an honorable thing. To have the confidence of famous people is a distinction of which everyone is proud. When people point to a man and say to you, "Do you see that man—he was the friend of Gladstone"; when we find ourselves in the company of one who enjoyed the intimacy of Carlyle, there is always a certain thrill in our hearts and a deepened interest in the happy person who enjoyed the freedom of familiar fellowship with those whose names are famous in the world. I noticed the other day in the newspapers the case of a lady who had died. What the facts were I do not recall, but I was impressed by one in particular. She had been the friend of Ruskin in her youth and had been honored with his close friendship, and every newspaper I got my hands on put that in large letters in the heading.

Now if that is so with great men, how much more will it be so with God! To be admitted to the confidence of God must be quite an incomparable honor. It is His hand that hath inspired the genius; it is His spirit that hath made the poet; it is He who hath quickened and kindled into greatness the mightiest upon the stage of history. And if it be honorable to be their confidant and move in the freedom of fellowship with them, how much more to be the confidant of God. That is the deep meaning of our text—"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." It is not the secret of His hidden counsel; it is the secret of His hidden heart. The psalmist tells us that there are certain people whom God delights to honor with His confidence and to whom He reveals Himself from day to day with a peculiar and delightful intimacy.

[b]Intimacy Associated With Reverence[/b]

For those of us who believe on Jesus Christ as the perfect revelation of the Father, that selective freedom of God, if I may call it so, is abundantly confirmed and illustrated. There is no soul which Jesus will not save. There is no man whom Jesus does not love. There is no sheep crying in the wilderness whom the Shepherd will not leave His flock to rescue. Yet universal as His mercy is and stretching to the confines of humanity, Christ, like the Father whom He came to show, had His special and peculiar friendships. Out of the multitude who trusted Him, He chose twelve to be His special comrades. Out of the twelve He made a choice of three, and they were with Him when He was transfigured. And then out of the three He singled one who at the Supper lay upon His bosom and who has been known right down through the centuries as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Were there not fifty cottages where Jesus would have been an honored guest? Were there no sisters in Galilean villages to whom His coming would have been like heaven? And Jesus loved them all and blessed them all, yet was there one cottage that was doubly dear, and there was a brother and two sisters in it whom He loved in a special way. Broad is the love of Christ as the whole world—deep as our deepest need—it is high as our highest aspiration and as long as the enduring of eternity. Yet was the secret of the Lord with them that feared Him. He had His intimates and special confidants. There were certain men and certain women to whom He revealed the treasures of His heart.

Let me say in passing that this peculiar intimacy is always associated with the deepest reverence. Wherever we find it in the Christian centuries, one of its marks is an adoring awe. We have a proverb, known to all of you, that familiarity breeds contempt. We have another not less cynical, that no man is a hero to his servant. And the very fact that these proverbs live and move contemptuously through our common speech shows that they are not without foundation. Intimacy is not always a blessing. Sometimes it is sorely disappointing. There are men whose lives are like oil paintings which look their finest from a little distance. But if that is so with men sometimes, never yet hath it been so with God. The closer the intimacy of a man with God, the deeper his adoration and his awe. Abraham was the friend of God, yet he was but dust and ashes in his own sight. Moses was drawn into His secret counsel, yet who was more devoutly reverent than Moses? John had looked into his Master's eyes, and lain at the Supper on his Master's bosom, "yet when I saw him," said that same disciple, "I fell at his feet as dead."

I well remember when I was first in Switzerland how we looked at the great Alps from afar off. And from that distance they were so sublime that one almost shrank from any nearer view. And yet when I spent a week embosomed by them with the glaciers reaching almost to the door, that vast sublimity was only deepened. They were not less wonderful when near at hand. They were a thousand times more wonderful and awful. There were voices whispering in these icy palaces which one had never heard from far away. And so when a man who sometimes was far off is brought nigh to God by the blood of Jesus Christ, he does not cease to reverence or adore. Always distrust the religion of a man who speaks to God as to a next-door neighbor. Always distrust that light familiarity with the Almighty Maker of the universe. To know Him best is to adore Him most. To have His secret is to worship Him. He who is closest to the throne is on his knees.

[b]God's Selective Freedom[/b]

Nor can we justly quarrel with God because He exercises that selective freedom. It is the very thing which you and I are doing in the fulfillment of that life which is His gift. What is that life which you and I possess? What is it mystically, I mean, not chemically? The deepest truth of things is never chemical. The deepest truth of everything is mystical. And what is life, then, but the overflowing of the exhaustless fountain in the heavens? In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Now did you ever think how poor our life would be had we no freedom in our loves and friendships? Is it not just the genius of selection that makes one life richer than another? When everyone is kept at equal distance, life is a miserable and empty business. It lacks much of its music and charm. Don't we all have our chosen friends? Don't we have some who are our confidants? Don't we sometimes make the great discovery and in a moment recognize our own? We are like Jesus in that village street, caught in the rough pushing of the crowd, yet there was one touch unlike all others—"Someone hath touched me." Why is it that we are drawn to some people so unerringly and so effectually? And why to others, no matter how admirable, we never unbar the gateway of the heart? To me the meaning of it all is this, that life is interpenetrated with election, whether it be the life of man on earth, or the life of the Almighty in the heavens. Good unto all men is the Lord. He is the Lord God merciful and gracious. I believe in His great love to all the world which moved Him to send us His Son. Yet are there those whom He delights to know in all the freedom of a blessed intimacy. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.

Now those confidants of God, if I may call them so, are never arbitrarily chosen. They are His friends because He wills it so, but they also become His friends by what they are. It is not always thus we make our friends. Our friendships are not always based on character. Often they take the line of least resistance, and sometimes they develop through a common jealousy or greed. But every friendship which is made with God is from the depths of character-the secret is with them that fear Him.

The note of the nightingale is never heard outside the borders of a certain area. You never hear it north of York. You never hear it west of the river Exe. You may take the eggs and have them hatched in Scotland and carry the fledglings to our Scottish woods, but never will the birds come north again to give us that wonderful music of the night. Outside a certain limit they are silent, and outside a certain limit God is silent. There are frontiers for the voice of heaven as there are for the voice of every singing bird. Only the frontiers are not geographical; they are moral and have to do with character. They are determined by what a man desires and by the deepest craving of his soul. The poorest peasant may know more of God than he who is a master of the sciences. The mystic cobbler may have such gleams of glory as put to shame the wisdom of the wise. For except we become as little children, we cannot even see the kingdom. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see Him.

[b]Waiting on God[/b]

Put in another way that just means this, that we must wait on God if we would learn His secret. As the eyes of a servant wait upon her mistress, so, says the psalmist, must we wait on God. It is not by a hasty glance at an old masterpiece that you discern the wonder of the painting. When you confront a celebrated picture, the first feeling is often disappointment. It is only as you wait and watch and ponder, and quietly linger with revering gaze, that you detect its fullness and its depth and waken to the wonder of it all.

The farmers used to make merry with the poet Wordsworth when they saw him sitting hour by hour on some Grey stone. Some of them thought he was an idle rascal, and more of them thought he was a little crazy. But Wordsworth was watching nature like a lover, and he was passive that he might catch her voice, and he waited on nature with such a splendid faithfulness that we are all his debtors to this hour.

A fickle man can never be a scholar, nor can he ever hope to be a saint. No secret that is rich is ever won without the reverence of assiduity. No self-respecting man reveals his deepest to the chance visitor or to the casual comer.

He keeps his best for those who love his company and who rejoice to be with him day by day. And so the secret of the Lord is kept—and kept forever—from the casual comer. The secret is with them that fear Him.

In closing I want you to remember that this secret is given for large issues. It is not bestowed for personal enjoyment so much as for the service of mankind. There are certain plants, like that exquisite child of the spring the woodsorrel, to which God has given two different kinds of flowers. The one is the white flower which we all love, but the other is hidden away beneath the leaves. It has no beauty that we should desire it, nor any petals which unfold in April, yet in that secret flower which you have never noticed there lies the beauty of another spring. So is it with the secret of the Lord, for it is not showy like a fair corolla, yet it gives to every life that knows it a certain gracious and beautiful fertility. The secret of the sun is in the coal, and it is that secret which makes the coal a blessing. It warms our dwellings and drives our engine wheels because the secret of the sun is there. And if for coal, so ugly and defiling, the secret of the sunshine can do that, who can tell what blessing may not radiate from him who has the secret of the Lord? It will not reveal to him tomorrow's story. It will not make him nastily infallible. He will be humble as a little child set in a world that is aflame with glory. But knowing God with such peculiar intimacy, for him tomorrow will be robbed of terror and in the weariest as in the roughest day there will be direction and repose.

 2008/1/6 14:47









 The Quality of Courage


George H. Morrison

[b]The Quality of Courage

"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart." Psa_27:14[/b]

There are three qualities, says Emerson in a familiar essay, which attract the wonder and reverence of mankind. The first is disinterestedness, the second is practical power, and the third is courage. Every mythology has its Hercules. Every history its Wallace or its Cid. There is nothing that men will not forgive to one who has exhibited conspicuous gallantry. Even the dumb animals are ranked by us according to their possession of this quality, the bravest being nature's aristocracy. There are people who make a joke of truth, but there are no people who make a joke of courage. The love of it, from Orient to Occident, is the touch of nature which makes the whole world kin. And that is why war will never cease to fascinate in spite of all proofs of its illogicality, because there is in war a matchless stage for the display of courage.

[b]The Universal Need of Courage[/b]

Nor can we wonder at this admiration when we remember the universal need of courage. There is no lot, no rank, no occupation, in which one of the first requirements is not fortitude.

When we are young we admire the showy virtues, and we put the emphasis upon the brilliant gifts. We are all enamored of what is glittering then, and we think that life is to grow great that way. But as the years roll on and life unfolds itself and we look on some who rise and some who fall, we come to revise our estimates a little. Then we discover that a certain doggedness is far more likely to succeed than brilliance. Then we discover that cleverness means much, but the courage which can persist means more. Then we discover what the master meant when at the close of the long years of toil, he said, Well done, not good and brilliant, but Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Courage is needed by the mother in the home; it is needed by the young man in the office. Courage is needed for the hills of youth and for the dusty levels of our middle age. There is a courage peculiar to the pulpit, and another peculiar to the football field, and another peculiar to that darkened chamber where the head is throbbing and the lips are parched.

Let a man have all the talents without courage, and he will accomplish little in the world. Let a man have the one talent and a courageous heart, and no one can tell what things he may not do. Probably when the stories of our lives are written, our gifts will be found less diverse than we thought, and it will be seen that what set us each apart is the distinguishing quality of courage.

[b]Courage—the Basis of Other Virtues[/b]

Courage is not an isolated virtue so much as the ground and basis of the virtues. It is like the tingling of health in a man's body which makes itself felt in every activity.

I cannot help but wonder at electric current. It drives an engine; it lights the house in the evening; it rings a bell. One single energy, and yet that single energy shows itself powerful in all these different forces, and so are the forces which God has given a man fed by the single energy of courage.

If could we get deep enough down among our vices, we would probably find they had a common source. Somewhere deep down in the unfathomed darkness there is one spark of hell that sets them all afire. So with our virtues and all that makes us men, there is one spirit that kindles and sustains them, and that enkindling energy is fortitude. For we never can be patient without courage, and without courage we never can be pure. It calls for a little courage to be truthful, and it calls for a little courage to be kind. And sometimes it takes a great deal of courage just to say what we ought to say, and sometimes it takes more courage to say nothing.

My brother, in this strange life of ours, never forget that fortitude is victory. There is no final failure for the man who can say I am the master of my fate. Never to tremble at the looming shadow, never to shrink from the unwelcome duty, never to despair when things seem hopeless, is the one road to the music and the crown.

Do you know the commonest command in Scripture? The commonest command in Scripture is Fear not. Times without number in the Word of God it rings out upon us, Thou shalt not be afraid. For courage is at the roots of life, and it is the soil in which every virtue flourishes; it is no isolated or independent grace, but is the nursing mother of them all.

[b]The Quiet Courage[/b]

Now if this is so, it is at once apparent that the truest courage is an unobtrusive thing. There is nothing spectacular or scenical about it; it sounds no trumpet before it in the streets. I can agree there come moments in some lives when courage flashes into dramatic splendor. When the soldier kneels to save a wounded comrad—when the fireman risks his life to save a child—there is something in that which strangely moves the heart. That is the courage which thrills, and it is splendid, but the courage which thrills is rarely that which tells. No voices cheer it; no papers give its story; no medals reach it from any millionaire. It moves in the shadow of our dreary streets and dwells in the shelter of our humble homes and carries in a quiet and happy and victorious way the crosses which every morning brings. I suppose there was never anyone on earth quite so courageous as our Savior Jesus Christ. Yet give a pagan that life of His to read, and I do not think he would say, How brave He was! He would say, How loving He was—how infinitely patient—how radiantly peaceful in the teeth of calumny; yet love and patience and radiance and peace were but His matchless courage in disguise. The courage which tells is not the courage which clamors. The courage which tells is the courage which is quiet. It sounds no trumpet; does not strive nor cry; never lifts up its voice in any street. It does things when it feels least like them, anoints the head for every hour of fasting, comes to the cross in such a smiling manner that others scarce suspect the cross is there.

[b]Courage Is the Conquest of Fear[/b]

We see also along this line a thought that courage is different from insensibility. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is the conquest of fear. One man, in some hour of peril, may feel that his heart is beating like a sledgehammer. Another, in an hour precisely similar, may scarcely be conscious of a quickened pulse. And yet the former may be the braver man if he does resolutely what the hour demands of him, for he has felt what the other never felt and feeling it, has brought it to subjection.

I often think of that fine old story of Henry IV, King of France. At the siege of Cahors, when he was young and in arms, his body began to tremble like an aspen. And he cried to his body so that all who were near him heard, "Vile carcass," he cried, "thou tremblest, but thou wouldst tremble worse if thou but knew where I am going to take thee in a moment." So saying, with a body trembling like an aspen, he flung himself into the thickest of the fight.

I have heard of two young men who had a cliff to scale, and one of them was very white around the cheeks. And the other looked at him and with a sneer said, "Why, I believe you are afraid."

"Yes," he replied, "I am afraid, and if you were half as afraid as I am, you'd go home."

The fact is, that as you rise in being you rise in the nobility of courage. It is those who are capable of being most afraid who are capable of being most courageous. And that is why the courage of a woman is something loftier than that of any beast, for she has a heart that by the touch of God has been made sensitive to every shadow. You will never fathom the bravery of Christ unless you bear in mind that Christ was sinless. For sin is always coarsening and deadening—"it hardens all within and petrifies the feeling." And it is when we think that Jesus Christ was sinless, and being sinless was exquisitely sensitive, that we come to realize the matchless fortitude that carried Him without a falter to the cross.

I beg of you not for one moment to believe that because you feel afraid you are a coward. Moses and Paul and Jesus Christ Himself knew in its bitterness the shrinking of the flesh. Courage is not the absence of dismay; courage is the conquest of dismay. It is how a man deals and grapples with his trembling that makes the difference between strong and weak.

[b]Courage Increases as Life Advances[/b]

It is one of the happy things, too, in human life, that courage grows easier as life advances. If we are living well and doing our work faithfully, we grow more equal to our problem with the years. A child begins by fearing almost everything because it begins by knowing almost nothing. Every shadow may be a horrid specter and every dark room is full of ghosts. But the years pass and we enter many a shadow, and the abhorred specters are not there, and so our childish terrors pass away.

I knew an officer who in the thick of battle was reckoned among the bravest of the brave, and yet that man would blanch like any girl if he found himself in the presence of diphtheria. And I know scores of ministers within our city who would never think twice of visiting a diphtheria patient, and yet I am certain they would be ghastly spectacles within the fighting lines of Adrianople. The fact is that, far more than we imagine, courage is a result of habit. The soldier who trembled in his first battle will enter his twentieth without a thought.

And so God is kind to us as life advances, and the fiery ardor's of our youth decay for with ripening knowledge some things become harder, but it does not become harder to be brave. The dash is gone. The youthful fire is gone. We are not heroic as at twenty-one. The old man cannot storm the heights of life with the reckless enthusiasm of the cadet. But he has seen such goodness of the Lord to him and had such sustainment in trial and difficulty, that he can lift up his heart and go forward gently where youth would despair in tragedy.

[b]Self-forgetfulness[/b]

There are two open secrets of true courage to which I would call attention as I close, and one of them is self-forgetfulness. Just as the open secret of all happiness is never to think of happiness at all but to forget it and do our duty quietly and take the longer road that leads through Galilee, so the open secret of all courage is to forget there is such a thing as courage in the gladness and the glow of an ideal.

When David fought with the lion and the bear, he never thought of the lion and the bear. He only remembered that he was a shepherd, and that his duty was to guard the sheep. So doing his duty in brave forgetfulness, courage came to him like a bird upon the wing and sang its morning music in his heart.

When Captain John Brown, that fine American hero, was asked why others were conquered by his regiment, "Well," he replied, after a moment's thought, "I suppose it is because they lacked a cause." They had nothing to fight for that was worth a stroke, and having nothing to fight for or to die for, it followed "as the night the day" that they were ineffectual in battle.

The most timid creature will face tremendous odds when danger threatens its defenseless offspring. The Roman slave-girl will throw herself to martyrdom when she is animated by the faith of Christ. The woman, in her self-forgetful love for the infant that she has nursed at her bosom, will dare to starve and even dare to die. That is why love is such a nurse of courage, and that is where love is different from passion. For passion is selfish and seeks its own delight and will ruin another if it is only gratified. But love is unselfish and seeketh not her own and hopeth all things and believeth all things, and like John Brown's regiment is always ready because for the battle it never lacks a cause.

Love for her fledgling makes the wild bird brave. And now comes Christ, and by His life and death writes that word love upon the gate of heaven. And so He has made it possible for thousands, who otherwise would have faltered in the shadow, to pluck up heart again and play the man and to be strong and of good courage by the way.

[b]The Sense of God[/b]

The other secret of true courage is a strong and overmastering sense of God. When you get deep enough, I think you always find that in every life that has been brave. When Peter was separated from his Lord for a while, then he denied Him with a fisherman's curses. With no one near but the soldiers and the servants, he was as a reed shaken with the wind.

But when the Lord came in and looked on Peter, Peter went out into the night and wept; and so repentant, became a man again. When I can go to my labors saying God is with me—when I can lie on my sickbed saying God is here—when I can meet my difficulties saying, This is God—when dying I can whisper He is mine—then in communion with that power and goodness I am no longer tossed and tempest-driven, but in the storm and shadow I am strong. It is that conviction Jesus Christ has brought to the weakest heart in the most dreary street. Prophets and psalmists might believe it once, but the poorest soul can believe it now.

To be in communion with God through Jesus Christ—to know that He is ours and we are His—is the victory which overcomes the world. Such courage is not based on fancied power. It is based on the absolute and the eternal. It is not kindled by any glow of anger. It is kindled and kept by the eternal spirit. So can the weakest dare to stand alone, and dare to live alone, and dare to die alone, saying The best of all is, God is with us.

 2008/1/7 14:34









 Re: cont.

[b]The Thirst for God

"My soul thirsteth for God." Psa_42:2[/b]

When the psalmist wrote this he was a fugitive in hiding somewhere across Jordan. He had been driven out by rebellion from Jerusalem, which is the city of the living God. To you and me, rich in the truth of Christ, that would not make God seem far away. And doubtless the psalmist also had been taught that Jehovah was the God of the whole earth. Yet with an intensity of feeling which we of the New Covenant are strangers to, he associated Jehovah with locality. He felt that to be distant from the Holy City was somehow to be distant from his Deity. And so, in a great sense of loneliness and in a thirsty land where no waters were, he cried out, "My soul thirsteth for the living God."

But when a poet speaks out of a burning heart, he always speaks more wisely than he realizes. When the soul is true to its own prompting, it is true to generations yet unborn. In the exact sciences you say a thing, and it keeps forever the measure of its origin. But when an inspired poet says a thing, it endlessly transcends its origin. For science utters only what it knows, but poetry utters what it feels, and in the genuine utterance of feeling there is always the element of immortality. No one worries about the atoms of Lucretius, but the music of Lucretius is not dead. No one feeds upon the Schoolmen now, but thousands are feeding upon Dante. And the psalmist may have been utterly astray in his measurements of the sun and stars, but taught of God, he never was astray in the more wonderful universe of the soul. That is why we can take his words and strip them of all reference to locality, or there is not one of us, whatever his circumstances, who is not an exile beyond Jordan and thirsting for the living God.

[b]Spiritual Thirst Indicates the Certainty of God[/b]

Now it seems to me that such spiritual thirst involves the ultimate certainty of God. It is an assurance that is never antiquated, an argument that never fails. I thirst for water, and from a thousand hills I hear the music of the Highland streams. I thirst for happiness, and in the universe I find the sunshine and the love of children. I thirst for God—and to me it seems incredible that the universe should reverse its order now, providing liberally for every lesser craving but not for the sublimest of them all. I don't think, if such had been the case, that Christ would have said, "Seek, and ye shall find." For then we should have sought the lesser things and found them to our heart's content, but when we sought the greatest things of all, would have been hounded empty from the door.

That is why the psalmist also said, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." But there are men who have said that out of aching hearts and ruined homes. They have said it when love had proved itself a treachery. For sometimes the seeming cruelty of things, and the swift blows that shatter and make desolate, have blotted out even from devout hearts the vision of the Father for a little. God never calls these broken children fools. He knows our frame and remembers we are dust. He is slow to anger and of great compassion, and He will shine upon these shadowed lives again. But the fool hath said in his heart there is no God. He scorns the verdict of his deepest being. He believes his senses which are always tricking him. He doesn't have the courage to believe his soul. A man may say in his mind "There is no God," and God may forgive him and have mercy on him. But only a fool can say it in his heart.

This thirst for God is sometimes very feeble, though I question if it ever wholly dies. You may live with a man for months, perhaps for years, and never light on that craving of his heart. But far away in the ranches of the West there are rough men who were cradled in our Scottish glens, and you might live with them for months, perhaps years, and never learn that they remembered home. But some evening there will come a strain of music—some song or melody—and on that reckless company there falls a quietness and they cannot look into each other's eyes just then: and then it doesn't take a prophet to discover that the hunger for the homeland is not dead.

There are feelings that you can crush but cannot extirpate, and the thirst for the living God is one of these. You may blunt and deaden the faculty for God, but as long as the lamp burns, it is still there. It was that profound and unalterable faith which made our Lord so hopeful for the most hardened sinners of mankind.

[b]Our Rest Is in God[/b]

And then remember also that men may thirst for God and never know it. That eminent scientist Romanes tells us that for twenty-five years he never prayed. He was crowned with honor in a way that falls to few—and all the time there was something lacking. It was not the craving of a disciplined mind that feels every hour how much still remains to do; it was the craving of a hungry soul that never knew it was yearning after God. Then, in the embrace of love, they met, and meeting, there was peace. So it often is when souls are restless. They are craving for they know not what. And all the time, although they little dream of it, that "know not what" is God. For as Augustine told us long ago, God has made us for Himself, and we are restless till we find our rest in Him.

 2008/1/9 22:46









 Re: The Crowning Vision

[b]Judgment

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory— Mat_25:31

Preaching on the Judgment[/b]

One always notices in time of revival that a great deal is preached about the Last Judgment. In our ordinary pulpit ministration it is not so. I think most ministers hesitate to face up to these awful truths, but always, both in past centuries and today, when there is a revival of God's Spirit, as a moral motive power you find prominence on the Last Judgment. Over against the inequalities, the injustices, the apparent unrighteousnesses of this world, mankind almost naturally has postulated a judgment to come. I suppose there is not a savage faith without some glimmering of it; and in the religion of old Egypt there was no picture more familiar than that of the Judgment Hall, and somebody standing holding a pair of scales, and in one side of them the human souls.

[b]The Judgment Is Going to Be at the End of Time[/b]

One wants, then, to find what our Lord had to say about this deep instinct of the human heart. We find it here. Laying aside the imagery—one can never be quite sure when or not the curtain is the picture—but trying to lay aside the imagery and trying to get at the truth which our Lord wanted to teach, I think we discover this. First of all, our Lord makes it perfectly plain to us that this judgment is going to be at the end of time; when the Son of Man cometh in His glory and His holy angels with Him, then—and whatever be our thoughts of eschatology, and whatever be our views of the millennium, I think it must be clear to all of us that what our Lord meant was that the great judgment is not to be until the story of time is at an end. Now a little reasoning will just show you how necessary that is. For instance, nobody can be perfectly judged in this life, just because life is not static; life is a thing of movement. Our blessed Lord never judged a man by what he might be at the particular moment, but rather by the trend of what he was going to be. You take the parable of the Pharisee and Publican praying in the Temple. At that particular moment the Pharisee really thought he was better than the Publican, he had done far more good, but in the broken heart of the poor penitent the Lord saw such possibilities for tomorrow that He pronounced blessing. John Newton was a slave trader, and if at any hour in his earlier life you had judged him you would have condemned him to the lowest pit. But Newton was converted, became a well-known minister, and won multitudes of souls for Christ. You see, you can never judge him while his life is moving. Again, is it not equally clear to you that you can never judge a man just when he dies, because when a man dies his influence does not die; it may go on from age to age. You take, for instance, a case like Mr. Quarrier. Mr. Quarrier with all the passion of his heart loved these little orphan children, and then he got the Homes built at Bridge-of-Weir, and there he laboured till he died; but the Homes did not die. Year after year, generation after generation, perhaps to the end of time, they are going to go on blessing the orphan children. If you want to sum up the total influence of Mr. Quarrier you cannot judge him till the end of time. You take a man whose influence is bad: a man who writes a bad book, it may be an obscene novel, spawn of the press, it may be a book deliberately designed to overthrow faith. The man writes it and gets his bread by it, and he dies; but the book does not die. Year after year it may go on corrupting, degrading, and lowering, and not till the ripples have broken on the shore of eternity is the whole story of the man's influence known, and our Lord, who is always so reasonable, says that when the Son of Man comes, when times is done, when your influence has gone to its uttermost limit, then we are going to be judged.

[b]The Judgment Is Going to Be Final[/b]

The next thing our Lord tells us here is that the judgment is going to be final. I want you to listen while I read over quietly these words—not of mine, but of Christ: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous unto life eternal." If there be anybody here who knows Greek, he will know that the word for "everlasting" is the same word as the word for "eternal," and therefore if you and I believe that the life we are going to live beyond is one that never ends, you can only interpret the words of Christ as meaning that the punishment is never going to end. I want you to think of that. It is perfectly true that men have tried to get out of it by giving another meaning to that word "eternal." They have taken it to mean "age-long": that is, lasting through the next period to this, though beyond that no one knows what happens. There is no hope that way. All through the Bible—St. Paul, St. John, the writer of the Hebrews, the Revelation—the word means "never ending." So it means in classic Greek, so it means in Plato. It is not I, it is the Lord who says, and says it with a passionate intensity, "Where the worm never dieth, where the fire is never quenched." It is not I, it is the Lord who says, "These shall go into everlasting punishment, and those into everlasting life," and how the Lord, with His big heart of love, tender to everybody, even to the beasts, how the Lord could combine that with such an awful prospect, is something we have never fathomed to this hour. If you want to say, "I do not believe in everlasting punishment," remember you are at perfect liberty to say it. If it is your judgment, then it is yours, but please observe you can never quote the authority of the Lord Christ for that. It is awful to think that His authority is on the other side. You have got to face up to that. I suppose the two difficulties men have felt when they have allowed themselves to brood upon this matter are these. First, we say, we have all said, How could anyone be happy in heaven, how could the saints of heaven sing their song if they knew that there were souls—even one soul—suffering in hopeless misery? To that there is no answer. But is not it possible that a little light may be drawn from what we see in this present world? Are not there people in Glasgow who are perfectly happy, thoroughly enjoying themselves, and all the time within a stone's throw there are men and women in hopeless misery? You see it can be done, and if you answer, as I have no doubt the keener among you would answer at once, that these are worldly people, these are not the inhabitants of heaven, my experience is, it is generally worldly people who talk like that. The saints rather bow the head and say, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

[b]Can God Be Love and Punish?[/b]

I fancy our other profound difficulty is this. How can God be love? How can God care and be a Father and wish us well and have the power to give us the best, and yet forever have creatures in hopeless misery? Again there is no answer, but again does not this present world suggest that it may be possible? Is not God love today? Is not God infinitely kind today? And yet today are there none who have committed the unpardonable sin which can never be forgiven, neither in this life nor the life to come? May there be forgiven, neither in this life nor the life to come? May there not be a fixity of heart, a deadness like that of the nether millstone, owing to our free will working as well as the love of God? There is not one of us in pew or pulpit, who does not long with all the passion of his heart for universal restoration; there is not one who does not crave that ultimately all should be blessed; but the Lord has been our light, the Lord has been the Revealer of the Father, and it is the Lord who says, "Where their worm dieth not and the fire is never quenched." It is the Lord who says, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment." I want to speak in the right tone, I don't want to speak harshly. I am like a man groping in the dark, but with one hand I grip Christ, and I say, Brother, would not it be awful to awaken and find that you were wrong and the Lord was right? "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him."

[b]Christ Himself Will Be the Judge[/b]

The next thing which our blessed Saviour tells us is that He Himself is going to be our judge: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory." Our judge is not God, the Father; our judge is Christ, the Son, and you know that is as stupendous as it is beautiful. Think how stupendous it is. Here is Christ, born in a manger, living for thirty years in a little cottage, going about among humble people, doing little deeds of kindness, and then He says, "I am going to judge mankind." It is either arrogance raised to the point of madness, or it is the truth, and I do not think that any fair review would ever charge the Lord with arrogance. And if it is the truth, your Carpenter of Nazareth is God, and you have got to bow before Him and say, "My Lord and my God." All well enough to say, I love the Carpenter of Nazareth; I like to watch Him talking with the children, watching the sparrows, moving through the harvest; but mark you, your only source of knowledge of that Carpenter tells you that He said, "I am going to judge the world." Then how beautiful it is that you and I are going to be judged by a Man, by One who bore our burdens, by One who knew our frame, by One who understands us perfectly. The other day there came into the vestry a man who again had given way to drink. When I asked him what was the cause of it, he answered something like this: "I was down and out, my business tottering, my home unhappy, and I gave way to drink." If I had judged him, what would he have said? He would have said, "You do not understand; you never had a business that was tottering; you were never unhappy at home." But if I could have said to him, "Brother, I have been down and out, I have come through all that you have, and yet God brought me through," my very presence would have judged him. It is so with the Lord. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. He was down and out when every disciple forsook Him and fled; and He is going to be our Judge. I could imagine some daring soul on the Day of Judgment, if the judge was God the Father, saying, "Thou who dwellest yonder, far away in the light that never fades, you do not understand." Nobody ever can say that to Christ; I think just His presence will be the judgment.

[b]Our Judgment Will Depend on the Discharge or Neglect of the Common Charities of Life[/b]

One thing more I have got to say, and it is this, that our Lord—apart from the figure altogether—teaches us the principle of the Last Judgment, and the principle is this: it is the discharge or the neglect of the common charities of life. May I say it again? It is the discharge or the neglect of the common humanities of life—visiting the prisoner, cheering the sick, giving bread to the hungry, clothing the naked; and that is but a short and swift summation of what we call the charities of life. Are you not surprised? You thought character was going to be the test in the Last Judgment; you thought the Spirit of Christ was going to be the test—"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His." But what is the spirit of Christ? It is believing and experiencing what He said about the new birth and proving it by doing what He did. It is the Spirit who brought Him to the manger, it is the Spirit who kept Him quiet in Nazareth for thirty years, it is the Spirit who made Him move among men, teaching them, healing them, helping them, doing them good; and if that is your life, you have got the Spirit of Christ. You do not know it ? Of course you don't; none of the saved knew it, they were all amazingly surprised when the Lord told how He reckoned them (see Mat_25:35-40). And you may have the Spirit of Christ if you go out and be kindly, charitable, helpful; and yet you may never know it till the judgment comes. You say, I am going to be judged by my relationship to Christ. Yes, you are. When the Lord was here, with whom, tell me, did He identify Himself? Was it with Herod? "Go tell that fox." Was it with the Pharisees? "Woe unto you, Pharisees." The Lord identified Himself with the poor, with the needy, with the last, with the least, with the lost; and He is the same yesterday and today and forever. And if the Lord is identified with all who are in need, then every time you help a man in need you are brought into relationship with Christ.

[b]We Must Revise Our Lives[/b]

It has been very difficult—not difficult to speak the truth, but to speak the truth in the right spirit. I trust I have done it tenderly, and I simply want to ask you to remember that all of us have got to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and therefore should not we all revise our lives, lest at the end, when far off there is music, for us it should be wailing and gnashing of teeth?

 2008/1/10 2:09









 Re: The Thirst for God

[b]January 13 Devotional Sermon by George H. Morrison from e-sword.

The Thirst for God

"My soul thirsteth for God." Psa_42:2[/b]

When the psalmist wrote this he was a fugitive in hiding somewhere across Jordan. He had been driven out by rebellion from Jerusalem, which is the city of the living God. To you and me, rich in the truth of Christ, that would not make God seem far away. And doubtless the psalmist also had been taught that Jehovah was the God of the whole earth. Yet with an intensity of feeling which we of the New Covenant are strangers to, he associated Jehovah with locality. He felt that to be distant from the Holy City was somehow to be distant from his Deity. And so, in a great sense of loneliness and in a thirsty land where no waters were, he cried out, "My soul thirsteth for the living God."

But when a poet speaks out of a burning heart, he always speaks more wisely than he realizes. When the soul is true to its own prompting, it is true to generations yet unborn. In the exact sciences you say a thing, and it keeps forever the measure of its origin. But when an inspired poet says a thing, it endlessly transcends its origin. For science utters only what it knows, but poetry utters what it feels, and in the genuine utterance of feeling there is always the element of immortality. No one worries about the atoms of Lucretius, but the music of Lucretius is not dead. No one feeds upon the Schoolmen now, but thousands are feeding upon Dante. And the psalmist may have been utterly astray in his measurements of the sun and stars, but taught of God, he never was astray in the more wonderful universe of the soul. That is why we can take his words and strip them of all reference to locality, or there is not one of us, whatever his circumstances, who is not an exile beyond Jordan and thirsting for the living God.

[b]Spiritual Thirst Indicates the Certainty of God[/b]

Now it seems to me that such spiritual thirst involves the ultimate certainty of God. It is an assurance that is never antiquated, an argument that never fails. I thirst for water, and from a thousand hills I hear the music of the Highland streams. I thirst for happiness, and in the universe I find the sunshine and the love of children. I thirst for God—and to me it seems incredible that the universe should reverse its order now, providing liberally for every lesser craving but not for the sublimest of them all. I don't think, if such had been the case, that Christ would have said, "Seek, and ye shall find." For then we should have sought the lesser things and found them to our heart's content, but when we sought the greatest things of all, would have been hounded empty from the door.

That is why the psalmist also said, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." But there are men who have said that out of aching hearts and ruined homes. They have said it when love had proved itself a treachery. For sometimes the seeming cruelty of things, and the swift blows that shatter and make desolate, have blotted out even from devout hearts the vision of the Father for a little. God never calls these broken children fools. He knows our frame and remembers we are dust. He is slow to anger and of great compassion, and He will shine upon these shadowed lives again. But the fool hath said in his heart there is no God. He scorns the verdict of his deepest being. He believes his senses which are always tricking him. He doesn't have the courage to believe his soul. A man may say in his mind "There is no God," and God may forgive him and have mercy on him. But only a fool can say it in his heart.

This thirst for God is sometimes very feeble, though I question if it ever wholly dies. You may live with a man for months, perhaps for years, and never light on that craving of his heart. But far away in the ranches of the West there are rough men who were cradled in our Scottish glens, and you might live with them for months, perhaps years, and never learn that they remembered home. But some evening there will come a strain of music—some song or melody—and on that reckless company there falls a quietness and they cannot look into each other's eyes just then: and then it doesn't take a prophet to discover that the hunger for the homeland is not dead.

There are feelings that you can crush but cannot extirpate, and the thirst for the living God is one of these. You may blunt and deaden the faculty for God, but as long as the lamp burns, it is still there. It was that profound and unalterable faith which made our Lord so hopeful for the most hardened sinners of mankind.

[b]Our Rest Is in God[/b]

And then remember also that men may thirst for God and never know it. That eminent scientist Romanes tells us that for twenty-five years he never prayed. He was crowned with honor in a way that falls to few—and all the time there was something lacking. It was not the craving of a disciplined mind that feels every hour how much still remains to do; it was the craving of a hungry soul that never knew it was yearning after God. Then, in the embrace of love, they met, and meeting, there was peace. So it often is when souls are restless. They are craving for they know not what. And all the time, although they little dream of it, that "know not what" is God. For as Augustine told us long ago, God has made us for Himself, and we are restless till we find our rest in Him.

 2008/1/13 20:50









 Re: The Crowning Vision ~

January 15 - by George H. Morrison


[b]To the Disheartened

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" Psa_43:5[/b]

It is one source of the eternal freshness of the Psalms that they tell the story of a struggling soul. They open a window on to that battlefield with which no other battle can be compared—the moral struggle of the individual with himself. And it is well that that story should be told in poetry, for there is nothing like poetry for describing battles. There is a rich suggestiveness in poetry, a rush of emotion, an enthusiasm that catches and conveys the excitement of the field. The dullest war correspondent grows poetical, his words become colored, vivid, picturesque, when he narrates the actions in the war. It was right, then, that for this warfare of the soul we should have the strong music of the Psalms.

Now as we read that story of the psalmist's struggle, one of the first things to arrest us is the likeness of that battle to our own. Ages have fled, and everything is different since the shepherd-king poured out his heart in melody. And yet his failures and his hopes are so like ours, he might have been shepherding and reigning yesterday. We are so apt to think we fight alone. We are so prone to think there never was a life so weak, so ragged, so full of a dull gnawing, as ours. We are so ready to believe that we have suffered more than any heart that ever loved and lost. And then God opens up the heart of David, and we see its failures and we hear its cries, and the sense of loneliness at least is gone. He prayed as we have prayed. He fell as we have fallen. He rose and started again as we have done. He was disheartened, and so are we.

[b]Disheartenment[/b]

Speaking of disheartenment, there is one temperament that is peculiarly exposed to that temptation. It is that of the eager and sensitive and earnest soul. If you are never in earnest about anything, you may escape disheartening altogether. To be disheartened is a kind of price we pay for having a glimpse at the heavens now and then.

"The mark of rank in nature is capacity for pain;

And the anguish of the singer makes the sweetness of the strain."

So the dull pain of being disheartened now and then is the other side of man's capacity for enthusiasm. Give me a flood-tide and I shall expect an ebb. Give me an earnest, daring, generous, loyal heart, and I shall know where to discover melancholy.

And one word I should like to say here—never pass judgments in your disheartened hours. It is part of the conduct of an honest soul never to take the verdict of its melancholy. The hours come when everything seems wrong. And all that we do and all that we are seem worthless. And by a strange and subtle trick of darkness, it is just then we begin to judge ourselves. Suspend alt judgment when you are disheartened. Tear into fragments the verdict of your melancholy. Wait till the sunshine comes; wait till the light of the countenance of God comes, then judge—you cannot judge without the light. But in your darkness, stay yourself on God. Disheartenment is the wise man's time for striking out. It is only the fool's time for summing up.

No doubt there is a physical element in much disheartenment. There is a need of health; there is a lack of sunshine in the hills about it. When we are badly nourished and poorly clothed and live and sleep in a vitiated atmosphere, it is so very easy to lose heart. And all that inter-working of body and soul, with the reaction of a man's environment upon his life, should make us very charitable to our neighbor. If you knew everything, you would find more heroism in a smiling face sometimes than in the most gallant deed out in South Africa. Make every allowance for a disheartened neighbor. Be charitable. Be helpful and be kind. But in the name of the Christlike character you strive for, make no allowance, brother, for yourself. Allowance is merely the pet name for excuse. It speaks of that tender handling of ourselves which is so utterly foreign to a vigorous manhood. I must make no excuse. I must be at it when I feel least like it. It is so much better to live nobly than live long.

[b]Causes of Disheartenment[/b]

Now what are the common causes of disheartment? I think we can lay our hand on some, at any rate. And the first is the long and monotonous stretches of our life. "Variety's the very spice of life, and gives it all its flavor," sings the poet. And when there is no variety at all, no new horizon in the morning, but the same work and the same haunting worry, day in day out, we are all apt to grow disheartened. It is a dreary business walking in the country when the dusty road, without a turn or a bend, stretches ahead of you for miles. If there was only some dip and rise in the road, some unexpected scenery, some surprises, you would cover the distance and never think of it. It is the sameness that disheartens us. It is the dreary monotony of life's journey until we lose all spring and spontaneity, all freshness of feeling, all power to react; and we live and work mechanically, deadly.

Another cause is bitter disappointment. When we have made our plans, and suddenly they are shattered; when we have built our castles, and the gale comes and brings them down in ruin at our feet; when the ties are wrenched and the loving heart is emptied, and in the bitterness of death the grave is full—we are all ready to be disheartened then. For where our treasure is, there shall our hearts be also; and when our treasure vanishes, our heart is gone.

The poet Wordsworth, whose calm, deep verse we should all keep reading in these hurrying days, tells us of the utter disheartening that fell on him after the French Revolution. He had hoped great things from that stormy time. He had hoped for the birth of brotherhood and freedom. He had thought that the race was going to shake its fetters off and proclaim the dignity of man at last. And when these dreams were blighted as they were, and instead of liberty and true equality there came the tumbril and the guillotine and blood, "I lost," says Wordsworth,

"All feeling of conviction, and in fine

Sick, wearied out with contrarieties,

Yielded up moral questions in despair."

It was his terrible disappointment that disheartened him. Perhaps it is that, friend, that has disheartened you.

Another cause of the deepest disheartening is this: it is the apparent uselessness of all we do. It is the partial failure, it is the lack of progress, it is the fact that I strive and never seem to attain that lies at the root of spiritual despondency. "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" says Andrea. And this very psalm from which we took our text, that thrills and wails with spiritual depression, begins with the cry of the soul after the Infinite "as the hart pants after the water-brooks." It is the other side of my glory, that disheartening. It is the witness of my kinship with infinitude. I am never satisfied: there is always another hilltop. I am never at rest: there is a better somewhere. And so I am disheartened—fool!—because I am something better than a beast and have been made to crave, to strive, to yearn, to hope—unsatisfied—till the day break and the shadows flee away.

[b]Advice Against Disheartenment[/b]

Now I shall venture to give some advice against disheartenment (I have received help here from the sermons of Dean Paget), and the first is this: disheartenment can often be dispelled by action.

A friend who knew Robert Browning well has said of him that one of his priceless qualities was that he always made effort seem worthwhile. You came into his presence restless, wearied, with all the edge taken off moral effort by the doubts and criticisms of this troubled age, and you left him feeling that in spite of a thousand doubts, the humblest effort heavenward was worthwhile.

O, how I wish that every young man and woman could feel the same thing! For what we want is not more light. What we want is more quiet fortitude. It is to believe that effort is worthwhile. It is to hold it, though the world deny it, that man shall not live by bread alone. And though it is very easy to preach that, and we read it and sing it like a common thing, there is the power of God in it against moral collapse, and it carries the makings of moral heroism on its bosom.

And this is my second counsel to the disheartened. Remember, friend, what others have to suffer. Look around you and see the burden of your neighbor and mark the patience and sweetness of the man, until, in that great brotherhood of trial, you ask God to forgive your gloom and bitterness.

In the theater of the ancient Greeks—and the theater was religious, it was not vulgar then—they played great tragedies and brought the sorrows and passions of the noble on the state. And the men and women of Athens went to see them, and by the portrayal of these mightier sorrows, their own so shrank into an insignificance that they went home with something of new hope in them and the determination to be braver now. There are such tragedies today, my friend, and you cannot only witness, you can help. "When you are quite despondent," said Mr. Keble, "the best way is to go out and do something kind to somebody."

[i]And lastly, in your hours of disheartenment, just ask if there was ever a man on earth who had such cause to be disheartened as our Lord. What griefs, what exquisite sorrows, and what agonies!—what seeming failure, what crushing disappointment! Yet on the very eve of Gethsemane and Calvary our wonderful Lord is talking of His joy. And when heart fails and faints, and I lose all will power, and my arm hangs helpless, and my soul seems dead, there is nothing like coming right to the feet of Jesus and crying with Peter, "Lord, save me or I perish." It is then that I take heart again to sing—

"The night is mother of the day,

The winter of the spring,

And ever upon old decay

The greenest mosses cling.

Behind the cloud the starlight lurks,

Through showers the sunbeams fall,

For God who loveth all His works,

Hath left His hope with all."[/i]

 2008/1/15 14:22









 Morrison on ~

[b]Sincerity

"Thou desirest truth in the inward parts." Psa_51:6[/b]

There is a remarkable foreshadowing of the insight of Christ Jesus in these words. They ring with that depth which is so clear a note of Jesus' moral teaching. We have been inclined to think of the Old Testament as dealing with the outward sphere of action; we have been inclined to say that it was Jesus who first ran down the act into the heart. But we must not separate the Old and New by any hard and fast distinctions such as these. They intermingle, both in creed and character. If Abraham saw Christ's day and was glad, David saw Christ's day and was sad. He recognized God's passionate insistence that a man should be thoroughly sincere.

It is worth noting, too, that when David recognized this, he had a broken heart. David had sinned, and David was repentant; and a repentant man sees deeply. There are some hours in life when we are blind; hours when we see nothing and forget everything; and all our past, and all our honor and duty and God, and heaven and hell, fade and are blotted out. But when repentance comes, we see again. We see what we have done and what we are. We touch a sinfulness far deeper than our act. And that was David's case. On ordinary days he might have been content with ordinary sacrifices; but in an hour like this it was "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned," and "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts."

This, then, is God's insistence on sincerity, and it is always a hard thing to be sincere. Life is so full of little insincerity's that it is often the man who is seriously struggling to be true who feels most keenly how untrue he is. It is always a hard thing to be sincere. But there are times when it is harder than at other times. And it is especially hard today.

[b]The Struggle for Existence[/b]

One reason it is so hard to be sincere is the fierce struggle for existence. There is a fierceness in modern competition that makes it very hard for a man to be a man. There are so many interests involved, so many whirling wheels within the wheels, that to be true to self is difficult. Men are not free as the shepherd on the hills is free. Men are combined and interlocked in the great mechanism of modern life until at last, to say what a man thinks and to be what a man is, is one of the quiet heroisms of honesty. Thank God, there are such heroisms!—as worthy of honor as any deed upon the battlefield. But when to be sincere spells heroism, we must not wonder if insincerity is common. Few men are heroes. For one soul that has a passion for sincerity, there are a hundred that have an overriding passion for success. And this, and the great gulf between Monday's warfare and Sunday's worship, and the compliance's and the accommodations and the silences, have tinged our city life with insincerity.

[b]The Pressure of Public Opinion[/b]

I think, too, it is harder to be sincere because of the increasing pressure of public opinion. It seems there never was a time when the thought of so many was so quickly voiced and registered. For centuries the people had no voice. They lived and loved and had their griefs and died. But what their thought might be on the great themes mattered no more to their rulers than the thought of brutes. Then came the awakening of knowledge, the dawn of power, the rising of the people like a giant, the vote, the newspaper; until today the thought of the people has been caught and voiced, and public opinion is a dominant power. It is an untold blessing. But the voice of the people is not always the voice of God, and in the tremendous pressure of general opinion, it is harder for a man to be himself. It is a difficult thing to be an individual. I am so apt to be all warped and pressed out of the mental form that God has given me until my life becomes play acting and all the world a stage, and I don't have the courage to think, and I don't have the heart to feel, and I don't have the heroism to be myself. And losing my individuality, I cease to be sincere.

[b]A Time of Transition[/b]

But perhaps the deepest cause of insincerity is that we are living in a time of transition. All times to some extent are that. There is never an age, however dull and dead, but the old like a river is watering its plains, and the new like a spring leaps up into the light. But there are some times when the transition is very sharp and clear, and we are living in such a time as that today. Old things are passing away. Old faiths are in the crucible again. Old truths have got to be recast and readjusted. There is not a doctrine, whether of heart or Bible, but earnest minds are trying to reset it in the growing knowledge of these latter days. In one pew a father and a son are sitting; and though the father may never dream of it, there is the space of centuries between the two. For the father, with all the loyalty of his heart, still clings to the great message of the past; and to the son the strain is to reconcile that message of his childhood with the wider horizon that he cannot yield.

That is the pain of a transition time. There can be little question that for many the only antidote for that pain is insincerity. It is impossible, it is utterly wrong, to cast away the past. It has meant too much to us and been too much to us for that. It is impossible, it is utterly wrong, to flout the new. It is the air we breathe. So springs the temptation to be insincere, to join in the worship that was formed and fashioned when faith was an enthusiasm, to sing the hymns that were the music of unclouded souls though the enthusiasm of our faith is gone and there are more clouds than sunshine in the sky.

[b]Insincerity Robs a Man of His Dignity[/b]

Insincerity takes all dignity out of life, and makes this world a very low place. We think we can be insincere, and men will be tricked and never find it out. O brethren, God Almighty has His own awful ways of writing a man's insincerity upon the heavens and engraving it as with a pen of iron on the world. All reverence is impossible, all purity is stained, and all innocence rebukes me when I am insincere. If I am false and double, I cannot hear the laughter of my children but what it sends a pang of pain into my heart. Better be excitable, better be inconsistent, better be dead than insincere. Peter was excitable, brimful of inconsistencies; yet if ever a sincere heart beat, it was the heart of Peter—and Jesus was Christ to Peter and heaven was heaven. But Judas, I don't know what his other sins were, was insincere till he came to feel the very sincerity of Jesus was like an insult; and, insincere, he went to his own place.

[b]Insincerity Distorts the Character[/b]

Insincerity carries yet another curse. I hardly think that there is any sin that mars and distorts the character like this one. That master theologian Augustine gave us a phrase that has become historic. He spoke of splendid sins. And perhaps there are some sins that in some lights, though not the light of God, have certain elements of splendor in them. But all the insight and all the love of Augustine could never find an element of splendor in the man or woman who had ceased to be sincere. There is no sin that so eats the manhood out of us as insincerity. There is no sin that so robs character of its quiet and restfulness and strength, and leaves it restless, shifty, self-assertive, loud. The nation has often wondered at the sweet equanimity of our revered Queen. And it was Bright who said the Queen was the most truthful being he had ever met. It is the insincere man who exaggerates. It is the insincere who flatters. It is the insincere who plays the coward in the crisis. When I have won something of the sincerity of Christ, I shall know something of His strength and peace.

[b]Insincerity Destroys Our Influence[/b]

Surely no sin saps and undermines our influence as insincerity. Perhaps you think you have no influence. You feel yourself a very uninfluential person. Come! humblest woman reading this, it is not so! Most of us think far too much of our abilities and far too little of our influence. We are so interwoven in the web of life that we are making and molding each other every day. In ways mysterious, out of the depths of this mysterious self, we touch and turn each other. And perhaps the men who influence us most are the men who never tried to influence us at all.

Now the one bolt that falls out of the blue to shatter this unconscious influence of character is insincerity. I may be ignorant, and men may not despise me. I may be poor and still command respect. But ignorant or learned, rich or poor, once let men feel that I am insincere and all my influence for good, all my influence for God, is gone. It's a sad hour when a son sees through his father. Sad for the father, twice sad for the son. And even if a minister have the eloquence of Paul, if his people distrust him, there will be no changed hearts. It is God's curse on insincerity. It is the separating, isolating power of that heart-sin. There is no more heart-lonely creature in the world than the man or woman who has grown insincere. And to be heart-lonely forever, that is hell.

[b]The Path to a Renewed Sincerity[/b]

First we must win a deeper reverence for ourselves. We must believe in individual possibilities. We must remember there are no nobodies with God. If I am only a leaf tossed by the wind, if I am only a flake carried on the stream, if I am only a light that flashes and is gone, if it will be all the same a hundred years hence, it matters little whether I am sincere or not. I must not mock myself with any self-importance. But if I am a man called into being by an everlasting God, nurtured and bosomed in an eternal love, gifted with faculties that only eternity can ripen, and filled with a ceaseless craving for the truth, to be untrue to self is self-destruction. Therefore, when I am tempted to be insincere, I fall back first upon Bible doctrine. I see my weakness there. I see my fall. But I see there such hopes for me, such possibilities for me, that to be me—myself—becomes a new ambition. And to be myself is to be sincere.

Then we must gain a profound faith in God. There is no choice about it. We simply must. I defy any man to be consciously insincere who lives under these eyes that are a flame of fire. It is because God is distant, hidden in the clouds that are around His throne, that we dare be one man within, another man without. The old religious sculptors, says a writer, who came to their tasks with prayer and meditation on unearthly beauty, would never suffer any imperfect workmanship even though placed where man could never see it. And when one questioned them why the concealed parts of statues removed from human sight should be so exquisitely made, they answered that the eyes of the gods were there. "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my goings are passed over from my God?" It is a speech like Jacob's that makes insincerity so easy. It is the practice of God's presence which makes it hard.

And we must gain a closer fellowship with Christ. Of all the helps whereby I struggle onwards toward sincerity, there is none like daily fellowship with Him. If it ennobles me to live with noble souls, and makes me purer to have a pure woman for my friend, how will it shame me into a new sincerity to live with the sincerest heart that ever beat! There are some men with whom I could not gossip. There are some men in whose presence slander dies. There is one Man whose very company kills insincerity, and that is Christ. When I am near to Him, and He to me, I am proportionately true. When I have lost Him, banished Him, driven Him from His center and His throne, like a strong tide my insincerity creeps up again.

There is a sad lack of sincerity today, but let us not be blinded to the fact that sincerity is not the only virtue. I am not necessarily good, I am not necessarily right, I am not necessarily saved, because I am sincere. There is a call for new sincerity in every heart, yet that sincerity is but a stepping-stone. I may sincerely believe the earth is flat, and yet for all my sincerity the earth is round. I may sincerely consider my friend to be a hero, and yet in spite of that my friend may be a scamp. I may sincerely be convinced Christ never arose, yet Christ did arise and is at the right hand of God today. Sincerity without humility is the obstinacy out of which fools are made. The truly sincere man is always humble, feels like a child amid God's infinite mysteries and cries in his heart, "Light, light, more light"; till God in His own way leads him there. And the light is light indeed, and the light indeed is love. And neither height nor depth, nor life nor death, nor any other creature, shall, separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 2008/1/18 19:13









 Re: The Crowning Vision


[b]The Ministry of Silence

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psa_46:10[/b]

There are certain voices which we never hear except when everything is silent. They reach us as a revelation of the stillness. Sometimes on a summer afternoon one gets away from the city or the village and climbs up the grassy hillside till all the noise of human life is lost, and it is often then that there breaks upon the ear a certain indistinguishable murmur as of the moving of innumerable wings.

Travelers tell us that there are rivers flowing beneath the streets of the ancient city of Shechem. During the hours of the day you cannot hear them for the noise of the narrow streets and the bazaars. But when evening comes and the clamor dies away and the dew falls on the city, then quite audibly, in the hush of night, you may hear the music of the buried streams.

There are many voices like those hidden waters. You can only hear them when things are still. There are whisperings of conscience in the heart which take only a very little to drown. There are tidings from the eternal Spirit who is not far away from any one of us; tidings that will come and go unnoticed unless we have learned the grace of being still.

[b]The Art of Being Still[/b]

And yet the very element of stillness is one which is conspicuously lacking now. We have been taught the art of exercise, and we have lost the art of being still. A recent writer, in a brilliant essay on the music of today, tells us that we are living nowadays under "the dominion of din." And whether or not that is true of music, of which I am not qualified to speak, it is certainly true of ordinary life. Our forefathers may have had very imperfect ideals of Christian service. They may have tolerated social abuses which we would never tolerate today. But they had one element in their Christian life in more abundant measure than we have it, and that was the blessed element of silence. What peace there was in the old-fashioned Sabbath—what a reverent stillness in the house of God—what a quiet and peaceful solemnity in worship at the family altar! And if today we cannot but be conscious that something of that old spirit has departed, we know that something precious has been lost. It is gain to be immersed in service. It is a high ambition to be energetic. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might." And yet the Bible never says to us, "Be energetic, and know that I am God." It says, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Indeed, we are so in love with noise today that stillness is commonly looked upon as weakness. And it is well to remind ourselves occasionally that often the very opposite is true. When the rain beats against the window pane, we are awakened by its noise. But the snow falls so silently, that never an infant stirs within its cradle. And yet the snow may block up every road quite as effectually as a landslide and dislocate the traffic of a kingdom. Set a thousand digging shovels to work, and you produce a certain effect upon the soil. But when the frost comes with her silent fingers and lightly touches field and meadow with them, in a single night that silent frost will work more effectually than a thousand shovels.

God does not work in this strange world by hustling. God works in the world far more often by hush. In all the mightiest powers which surround us, there is a certain element of stillness. And if I did not find in Jesus Christ something of that divine inaudibility, I confess I should be tempted to despair. When Epictetus had had his arm broken by the savage cruelty of his master, he turned round without one trace of anger, and said to him quietly, "I told you so." And when a heathen satirist taunted the Christians, asking what nobler thing their Master did, one of them answered, "He kept silence." There is a silence that may speak of weakness. There is another silence that is full of power. It is the empty husk that rattles in the breeze. It is the brook and not the river that makes the noise. And it is good that we should remember that when we are tempted to associate quietness with weakness, as perhaps we are all tempted nowadays.

[b]The Stillness of Absorption[/b]

There is, of course, a certain kind of silence which is only the outward sign of self-absorption. It does not indicate that a man is hearing anything; it just means that he is withdrawn into himself. I have heard runners say that in long races they have been oblivious of every sound. There may have been a thousand voices cheering them on, and yet they seemed to run in a great silence. Perhaps all of us have had hours such as that—hours of suffering or of intense activity—when we felt ourselves alone in a deep solitude. That is the stillness of absorption. It is not the stillness to which our text refers. It is of another quietness that it speaks; the quietness which is the basis of communion. For there are times when we never speak so eloquently, and times when we never hear so finely, as when the tongue is silent and the lips are closed and the spirit is the one interpreter. A love that has no silence has no depth. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much." There are people whose love we instinctively distrust because they are always telling us about it. And perhaps it is simply because God is love, in all the glorious fullness of that word, that we have to be still if we would know Him.

Indeed, there is often no surer sign than silence that the heart has been reached and the depths been broken up. In their greatest hours men are seldom noisy. I have watched sometimes an audience at a concert—for to me the audience is more interesting than the music—and 1 have watched the listless attention which they gave to music that reached no farther than the ear. And then perhaps there was some perfect melody, some chord which had the insistence of a message, and it was as if a voice had cried out loud, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Charles Reade, in one of the best of his novels, tells a story of some Australian miners. He tells how they traveled through a long summer Sunday to hear the singing of a captive thrush. And they were reckless men familiar with riot, but when they heard it, there fell a hush upon them, for it brought back memories of childhood again and of England where they had been boys. In a greater fashion that is true of God. We do not clamber to Him by the steps of logic; we reach Him by the feelings of the heart. And it is just because, when the heart is moved profoundly, there falls upon it a silence and a stillness, that we are bidden in our text to be still and know that He is God.

Probably that is the reason, too, why great silences have a divine suggestion. Great silent spaces speak to us of God. I remember a year or two ago visiting the cathedral at Cologne. I suppose it is the most magnificent example of Gothic architecture in the world. And I recall vividly, as though it had happened yesterday, how, passing in from the crowded city streets, the thought of the presence of God was overwhelming. I knew He was present in the teeming city. I knew He was present in the crowded street. I knew that where the stir and traffic were, the infinite Spirit was not far away. And yet it is one thing to know, and it is quite another thing to feel; and in the calm and solemn quiet of the cathedral I felt that God was there. That is what spiritual men have always felt under the silence of the starry sky. That is why they have always thought of God when they lifted up their eyes unto the hills.

Our noisy, talkative life is like the surge breaking on the edge of the shore, and away beyond it is the silent ocean carrying the message of infinity. We lose our sense of God in a big city far more readily than lonely dwellers do. And we lay the blame of that upon a score of things—on the strain of business, on our abundant pleasures. Perhaps there is a deeper reason than all these; it is the loss of the ministry of silence: of the field and the meadow and the hill; of the solitude's which are quivering with God. Spare your compassion for the Highland dweller. The man may be far richer than you think. It may be he has kept what we have lost in the keen and eager zest of city life. It may be he has kept, in all his poverty, those intimations of a present God which are given where a great silence is, as of the lonely field or meadow.

[b]Why God Makes Silences[/b]

I close by suggesting that this is the reason why God makes silences in every life; the silence of sleep, the silences of sorrow, and then the last great silence at the end. One of the hardest things in the world, as you all know, is to get little children to keep still. They are in a state of perpetual activity, restless, eager, questioning, alert. And just as a mother says to her child, "Be still," and hushes it to sleep that it may rest, so God does sooner or later with us all. What a quiet, still place the sickroom is! What a silence there is over a house of mourning! How the voices are hushed, and every footstep soft, when someone is lying within the coffin. Had we the choosing of our own affairs we should never have chosen such an hour as that; and yet how often it is rich in blessing. All the activities of eager years may not have taught us quite so much as that. There are things which we never learn when we are active. There are things which we only learn when we are passive. And so God comes, in His resistless way, which never ceases to be a way of love, and says, "Be still, and know that I am God." If that is so with the passive hours of life, may it not be so with the passive hour of death? What is death but the Almighty Father saying to our talking lips, "Be still"? And I for one believe that in that stillness we shall awaken to know that He is God, in such a love and power as will be heaven.

 2008/1/20 14:25









 The Crowning Vision


[b]January 24 th's Devotional Sermon by George H. Morrison
from e-sword.


Leaving It There

"Leave it all quietly to God, my soul." Psa_62:1 [/b]

There are times in life when it is a great help to have someone say to us, "Leave all that to me." Like a gentle wind it blows the clouds away. When one has a difficult schedule or has arrangements to make for a marriage or a funeral, to have someone who is competent and expert take over is often an untold relief. There is much in life that we must do ourselves, and no one can relieve us of certain duties. There are crosses each of us must carry and burdens nobody can take away. But how much more difficult life would be in times of anxiety or strain were there not someone standing by to say to us, "Leave all that to me." That is particularly the voice of fatherhood, which in reality is the secret of childhood's carefree spirit. A child does not worry about clothes or meals. Instinctively it leaves that to its father. And much of the joy of childhood springs from the trustful relationship to somebody who says, "Leave all that to me."

It is beautiful to notice how the psalmist had grasped that comforting energy of God. Baffled, betrayed, a prey to bitter anguish—"Leave it all quietly to God, my soul." And so for him, too, came interior peace, and the light of heaven began to shine again and the storm was changed to calm.

Now this command which the psalmist gave his soul is one of the secrets of the spiritual life. No passing of ages has made it less imperative. Think, for instance, of those ways of providence which it is impossible to understand, for in every life, however blessed and happy, there are things impossible to understand. And often these are strange and bitter and so difficult to reconcile with love that the bravest soul is near to unbelief. When prayers seem to go unanswered, when someone dear and young is taken away, when those who would not harm a living creature are bowed under intolerable pain, how hard it is to say that God is good, and saying it, believe it with a confidence which is pleasing in His eyes. We want to know. We want to understand. Sometimes, like Job, we expostulate with God. And so, expostulating, everything grows harder till we are brought to the margins of despair. How much wiser the attitude of David, plunged into the very sea of trouble—"Leave it all quietly to God, my soul."

We are not here just to understand. Now we know in part and see in part. We are here to glorify God by trusting Him even when we do not understand. And such trusting carries its own evidences in the rich inward peace it brings as if our life were in tune with the Eternal. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me." His meat was neither to probe nor to expostulate. When the cup was bitter, when the cross was heaviest, when the lights were darkened in the Garden of Gethsemane—He left it all quietly to God.

[b]Questions Too Deep for Us[/b]

Think of those intellectual problems which visit and perplex the human mind. There are times in life when these are very perplexing. Who that has ever thought at all has not had anxious thoughts about the doctrine of election? What, too, of the foreordering of God and of His sovereignty, universal and particular, if I am really a creature of free will? Such things, and a thousand things like these, puzzle and confound the human mind. And we are so made that we cannot avoid thinking of them with the mysterious facilities which God has given us. Yet I venture to say that something must be wrong if such great thoughts that have baffled all the centuries rob the believer of his joy and peace.

There are times when it is well to consider such things. A great problem may be an inspiration. The opposite of faith is never reason; the opposite of faith is sight. But there are other times when the highest part of wisdom is not to torment ourselves with things too high for us, but to give our souls the counsel of the psalmist—"Leave it all quietly to God, my soul." Someday we shall arrive and understand. We shall see His face and His name shall be on our foreheads—it shall be written out in the region of the brain. Meantime we have a life to live, a heart to cultivate, a service to perform. "What is that to thee—follow thou me."

[b]Failure and Discouragement[/b]

Again, we are to remember the psalmist's counsel in the hours when we have done our best—and failed. The higher the service that we seek to render, the more are we haunted by the sense of failure. The man who has no goal doesn't fear failure. But in higher ministries, when soul is touching soul and we are working not in things, but lives, how haunting is the sense of failure. Every Sunday School teacher knows it well, every mother with her growing family, and every preacher of the Gospel. So little accomplished, so little difference made, so little fruit for the laborious toil, although the seed sown may have been steeped in prayer. Well then, are we to give up in discouragement? Are we to leave the battle line and be spectators because we hear no cheering sound of triumph? My dear reader, there is a better way, and it is just the old way of this gallant psalmist—"Leave it all quietly to God, my soul."

Often when we fail, we are succeeding. We are doing more than we have dreamed. We are helping with our rough, coarse hands because Another with a pierced hand is there. Do your best, and do it for His sake. Keep on doing it and don't resign. And as to fruitage and harvest and success—leave it all quietly to Him.

"When obstacles and trials seem

Like prison walls to be,

I do the little I can do,

And leave the rest to Thee."

 2008/1/24 23:42









 Re: The Crowning Vision


[b]February 24 Devotional Sermon by George H. Morrison from e-sword.



Christ's Temptation—How and When?

Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil— Mat_4:1

Jesus, as a Man, Was Tempted in Order to Show That No One Can Escape Temptation[/b]

"If our blessed Savior had to be the very Son of Man, it was, of course, inevitable that He should be tempted, because that is the one experience nobody ever escapes; it is the touch of nature—one of the touches of nature—that makes us all akin. A man may escape great calamity, a man may escape overpowering illness, a man may escape the perils of being very poor and the perils of being very rich; but there is one thing that nobody escapes, from the king on his throne to the beggar on the highway, that is, the experience of being tempted. And therefore, if our Lord was to be the perfect Son of Man, it was quite inevitable He should be tempted. The man who is never tempted has either sunk to the level of the beast, or risen to the level of angels. Is there anybody who is never tempted, just because evil has already gotten complete control of him—anybody who can do things with unconcern that twenty years ago would have made him halt a moment? I don't think there is any prayer for such a man except just, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Of course, if we were all tempted on our worst side, our blessed Savior could never have been tempted, because His nature was that of heaven—while yours and mine has much of hell in it. But I think you will see how, in our common life, we are very often tempted not on the side of what is bad, but just on the side of what is good. Here is a mother, and how she loves her son; it is the finest thing about her. She used to be a careless girl, and now she is a self-sacrificing woman. How often mothers are just tempted not on the side of what is bad, but just in that beautiful love for their children. Or here is a man very, very fond of his wife and children—someone once said that whenever the devil tempts an Englishman he always does it in the guise of wife and children—here is a man very fond of his wife and children; it is the most beautiful thing about him; in business he has got rather a shady character, but he is almost perfect in his home. How often a man is tempted, perhaps, just to do things that conscience does not agree to because of his dear care for wife and children. You see, you and I are very often tempted not on the side of what is bad, but on the side of what is good; and if you follow out that thought a little, don't you come to see it was possible that our Lord was tempted, even though His nature was pure? I think sometimes we are very apt to misconceive the sinlessness of Christ, as if it was a garment given to Him by God, and He could not put it off even if He tried. It was not a garment, it was a victory. It was not an endowment, it was an achievement. Every hour the Lord was tempted, and every hour He put it from Him, until at last His sinlessness was final, and He cried, "It is finished." And if you regard that as the sinlessness of Jesus, wrought out every moment, every moment tempted, every moment obedient to God until the end, you begin to see He was tempted just as you and I are.

[b]His Temptation Makes Us Consider Him Our Brother[/b]

The thought I wanted to follow out was this. I wanted to ask, Along what lines did the tempter come to Christ? Because if we discover that, then we begin to understand that He was tempted just as we are. You know it is very difficult to feel that Christ is really our Brother. There is so much in Him that is different—His power, His nature is so unlike yours and mine, that it is a kind of relief to discover a touch of brotherhood. That is why we love to hear that He was weary—perhaps some of you are weary now; that is why we love to hear that He was hungry—there are people that have known hunger; that is why we love to hear that He was tempted—it draws Him near us. And if we discover the tempter came to Him very much as he comes to you and me, you have got a brother born for adversity. There is nothing in life like that.

[b]Three Times When Temptation Strikes[/b]

I want you to note, first, how the tempter came to Him at the very beginning of His task, before He had wrought a single miracle, before He had said a single word. I suppose that in these forty days in the wilderness our Lord was meditating on the future. I don't think there was a single incident that ever came to Him that our Lord had not anticipated in these forty days. He was looking forward to all that was coming, and it was just then the devil tempted Him.

I think there are three times in every great task when one is peculiarly liable to be tempted. The first is the start, when things are looming up before him. The second is when he is halfway through, the arrow that flieth at midday, when he has lost the glow and glory of the morning. The third is at the end, when he is tempted to think it has all been just a failure: like Lord Kelvin: near the end of his career he said he could only describe his life as a failure. I think it would be easy to show that our Lord was tempted at these times—right in the middle when the first enthusiasm had died away, right at the end when He had to turn to Peter and say, "Get thee behind me, Satan," and here, just at the beginning. There is a curious correspondence in many details at the end of His life with the details of the start, and I sometimes think that out in the desert here there had been something of Gethsemane, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." It was going to be an awful cup, awful, bitter as gall. And then, just in an instant, "Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."

[b]Tempted at the Start of His Ministry[/b]

Just at the start our blessed Lord was tempted. There may be someone who is starting a new task, perhaps in the Church, perhaps in the city, called to it by your duty. Well, if you are a lightweight, one of these jaunty people, of course it won't trouble you. My experience is that these kind of jaunty people never get there. But if you are deep and serious, and take life earnestly, when the thing looms up before you, then you are tempted to despair. I remember an eminent man in this city, called to a great task, telling me how the first thing he did (he was not commonly afraid) was to bow his head down in his hands and say to a friend, "It can't be me." Whenever you have these temptations, is not it a great thing that you are sure the Lord knows it? He has been there. He understands; you can get His fellowship even in that. A young writer once wrote to Sir Walter Scott, and he said, "Sir, I don't know how it is, but just when I am beginning a new book my heart sinks, formless fears surge up." And Scott, that gallant heart, wrote back, "My dear fellow, I feel it just as much as you do." You have got to think how that young writer was encouraged by the sympathy of that great soul, and you and I have got the sympathy of Someone infinitely greater.

Or again, there may be somebody who is starting a far more difficult task, and that is the task of taking up your cross, the task of bearing a great sorrow. By and by it will get a little easier. Time is a great healer; time rubs the edges off the boldest granite on the Arran hills. Men picture time with a scythe; I picture time with a vial of balm that it just pours into your gaping wounds. But at the very outset, is it not difficult? A few weeks ago, a month ago, you lost somebody very dear; now you are called to a task that is going to last through life; that is, bearing your cross of sorrow. At the very beginning are you not tempted, tempted to wonder if God is love, tempted to wonder if God cares, tempted to be dull and heartless when other lives are dependent on your brightness? It is a great thing to think that in an hour of that kind you have the sympathy, the understanding of the Lord Jesus. His task was not to manage a business. His task was to bear a cross: "Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow." And at the very start, to Him, just as to you, comes the devil, tempting you to doubt the Father, and to wonder if there is any love in heaven. "In every pang that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows had a part."

[b]Tempted in the Hour of Reaction[/b]

Again, I think it must occur to you that our Lord was tempted in the hour of reaction. I suppose you all know what reaction is? It is the recoil after a time of stress and excitement. Our Lord was subtly tempted in the hour of reaction. Well now, consider. I suppose the hour of the baptism of Christ, which just preceded, was an hour of the most terrific strain. You have got to try and picture it. It lies there quietly upon the Gospel page, but when you get to its meaning what an hour of strain it was—the old now gone, the quiet and beauty of Nazareth, the love of His mother. "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" was just coming, and then all the future of blood and sorrow, and all that; the cleavage of it, the baptism, and then identified with sinful man, and then equipped by the Holy Ghost for all His ministry, and then heaven opening and a voice speaking to Him—try and think of the tremendous strain of it. Mark tells us that He was driven to the wilderness. I wonder no great painter has ever painted that. The Lord, bowed and driven by what was uncontrollable to get alone to think it all out, and then for forty clays so wrapped in it that He quite forgot to eat. And then, suddenly, spent in every power, and wearied to His fingertips, then the devil comes—is not he subtle? Then the devil comes, in the very hour of reaction. Not when the candle of God is shining on His head, not when all the lights are burning, not when He is strong and quivering with life, but in that awful hour of weakness and reaction. Brother, sister, is it not so still? The devil leaves us when we are happy, and comes back when the tide is at the ebb. I want you to remember in these hours when there is no music, when all the lights are burning dim, when you are so weary you can hardly face your task, when after some time of spiritual intensity you are tempted, that the Lord knows it. He was just so tempted; He has just come through it. He holds out His hand and calls you brother.

[b]Tempted along the Line of His Desires[/b]

There is only one thing more I want to say, and it is this. I want you to notice how our Lord was tempted along the line of His desires, along the line of His ambitions (if I might venture to use that somewhat degraded word). You have that in every one of the temptations; you have it specially in the third. He would go out and preach about the Kingdom—no man worth anything preaches on what he has not given his intense thought to when you were busy at your business—and the Lord had been thinking of the Kingdom in these forty days when He was all alone, I suppose, saying to Himself, "My mother thought the Kingdom was for the Jews; and God, My Father, is showing Me that it is not. The Kingdom is going to include every kingdom in the world." And just then the devil comes to Him, and what does he do? Contradict Him? Never! The devil comes and says, "Sir, that is a most laudable ambition; accept my help; just let me give you a hand and all the kingdoms of the world will become yours." And our Lord said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Do you see the tactics he uses? That is exactly what happens today. Take for instance, a preacher who is on fire to preach the Gospel; but what is the use of preaching when the church is empty? Of course, his deep desire, though he does not say it to you, is to have his church full. And just then the devil comes to him and—contradicts him? Never. Says, That is a poor kind of ambition? Nothing of the kind. The devil says, "Now I want you to let me help you. Don't preach on such and such things; be modern, just avoid the Cross; sometimes take a risky subject about the eternal triangle; advertise flaming, flashing titles, just have a touch of the music hall about your service, and it will all come right." And the Lord says, "Get thee behind me, Satan."

Take a man whose great ambition is to advance in his field. Men who are content to be failures are not in God's line. Here is a man determined to advance, wanting to progress—and he is perfectly right, and the more of you who get ahead the better. And then Satan comes to him. Does he contradict him? Does he say to him, "Friend, you ought to have higher motives than that"? He says, "Won't you just allow me to help you a little?" The man is tempted to do something that he knows is wrong. The man is tempted to give bribes; to say, Of course everybody gives them, and I have my wife and children to look after. And the Lord was tempted just like that, and the Lord said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." The point is, are you a follower of His? It all comes to that. If you are not, you can do what you like. But what right have you to call yourself a disciple of Christ if in such hours you accept such help as that? None, no more than I would have as a preacher if I advertised flashy titles and had Scotch ditties sung here on my platform. Here is a man who is given to writing books, as so many people have an itch to do. Suppose he wants to be famous, and that is perfectly right. "Fame is the last infirmity of noble minds," says Milton. Mark you, of noble minds. Then the devil comes to him, never contradicts, says, "Friend, I want to help you to have your name on every lip," and tells him the sort of hook to write, so what if some of the Commandments are broken! But the point is that the Lord says, "Get thee behind me, Satan." The singular thing is this, that when the Lord took the long, slow, bloody way, there came into His heart a joy and peace that the world could never give, and has never taken away. And there is coming to Him a triumph ten thousand times greater than if He accepted the advice of Satan:

Jesus shall reign where'er the sun

Does his successive journeys run."

 2008/2/24 22:11





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