Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

fice. We read in the life of one to whom was meted out a death-sickness of uncommon anguish, that as she drew near the end, for a long season she was uncheered by the divine consolations which were the wonted stay of her soul. She complained in sadness to her spiritual guide of this strange and appalling desolation, until she learned to read in it the gift of a higher measure of conformity to Him, who in His last passion cried aloud, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" In like manner there is many a sorrow fearfully hidden from the world's hard gaze, many an overlooked affliction, many a piercing of heart by the lesser sharpnesses of our common griefs, which not the less, when borne in silence for God, make the mourning spirit to partake of His mysterious cross.

There is one more truth that we may learn from what has been said. I mean, what necessity there is that all should thus be crucified with Him. Sin is an inward and unseen malady: though manifested in act, its origin and being is in the spirit. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts;" therefore its overthrow must be by an inward mastery: and this is to be won only by suffering the buffetings of sin, rather than yield to its dominion. The strife is within a man. It is by a patient wrestling with temptation; by a sharp rule over our own temper; by a life of high and severe fellowship

with Christ, that we must be likened to Him. There is no smoother, no other way of eternal life. Let this be a warning to all sinful and shallow Christians; to all easy, formal, exterior minds; and to the worldly, self-sparing, and light-hearted. They that have no fellowship with the Man of Sorrows have no share of His cross, no promise of His crown. Let this be also a consolation for all the blessed company of the sorrowful; for all who, with a pricked or broken heart, are moving upward against the stream of this visible world, which bears down in a heavy tide away from God. They must be buffeted by it, or be borne along with it. But all this is likening them to the Lord of sufferings, and making them partakers of His sorrow. In a little time all will be over. It is sharp and piercing, but it cleanses and purifies; it moulds and draws the spirit into the form of the Son of God; it puts in the sharper lines and the deeper colouring; it is as the shadow of His crown of thorns. Blessed are they that have entered into the company of mourners life has nothing more for them either to hope or fear; they linger on in this visible world, but their true life is in the world unseen. Blessed lot! how calm, how even, how unmoved! all has been suffered; they are "afraid of no evil tidings," of no new and sudden strokes; all is known. No joy nor sorrow now can shake them from their

rest. They are of his fellowship who said, "Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."

1 Gal. vi. 17.

T

SERMON XIX.

THE HIDDEN POWER OF CHRIST'S PASSION.

ST. JOHN xii. 32.

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

OUR blessed Lord here reveals the great end of all His holy passion. He was lifted up from the earth, nailed upon the tree, that He might draw all men, from all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, to Himself. By His precious blood-shedding, He took away the sin of the world; and by the mighty virtues of that one great sacrifice, He has been gathering together again in one body the children of God who are scattered abroad.

First, then, in these words He foretells the gathering out and knitting together of His mystical body, which is the Church. From the time of His ascension into heaven, and the shedding abroad of the Holy Ghost, He has been working unseen upon the spirits of mankind; He has been drawing together the living stones of His

spiritual house; by the apostolic priesthood, by preaching, by His holy sacraments, by the interweaving of His providential government with the currents of man's will, and by all the wonderful changes in the tides of two thousand years; by the movements of the reason of man, and by what men call the civilisation of the world; by the rise and fall of empires, and the organised system of human polities. He has thus been working out this great all-comprehending aim-the perfection of His Church. First He drew a remnant of the Jews to the foot of His mystical cross: then to them he drew the Gentiles, first proselytes, then they that before were "strangers from the covenants of promise:" laying thereby in all the world the first foundations of the Catholic Church: and then into that same area He drew people unknown before by name; and, as they entered into the holy precinct, they put off their old natures-they came in as conquerors, and then dwelt in it as conquered. They were taken in a snare, and were subdued by the power they had seemed to overthrow. And thenceforward in all ages of the Church, He has wrought, through the sacramental power of its visible polity, upon the multitude of nations, drawing them together into the bond of peace; drawing them upward to higher movements of spiritual life; building up His temple, not

« FöregåendeFortsätt »