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one joy the more. It is all well; though, when it happened, you knew it not. "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." Therefore shun all things which may hinder your approach to Him: follow His drawings with a free and willing heart. Though restless and perplexed at first, yield to His mysterious will; even as Peter, who first strove with Him, and then said, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Wait for the end. Men mar their whole destiny in life by prescribing to God's providence. They either thwart it by outrunning it, or hinder it by hanging back. What we are to be He has determined, and in due time will reveal it. Your place, your crown, your ministry, in His unseen kingdom, are all marked out for you. He is drawing you towards your everlasting portion. At that day, when He shall have brought unto Mount Sion the last of His redeemed flock, and every lost sheep shall "pass under the hand of him that telleth them;" when the mystical number shall be full; and all the saints of God, from Abel the righteous to the last that shall be quick on earth at His coming, shall be gathered round the Lamb that was slain, then shall we know what He is now doing with us under a veil and in silence. We shall no more follow Him unseen; but behold Him face to face.
1 1 St. John xiii. 7 and 9.
SUFFERING THE SCHOOL OF OBEDIENCE.
HEBREWS V. 8.
Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered."
ALTHOUGH We are taught that the godhead and manhood were so united in the person of our blessed Lord as to be absolutely one, there yet remains unrevealed a wonderful mystery respecting the conditions of His human nature; as, for instance, where He said of His second coming, "Of that day and that hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." How did He not know? How should any thing be hidden from "the Son of Man, which is in heaven?" All that we can say is, that in these words He declared to us that the mystery of His incarnation was in some way ordered by the laws and conditions of our manhood. We have another example of this kind in the text: St. Paul 2 St. John iii. 13.
1 St. Mark xiii. 32.
here tells us that Christ Himself "learned obedience by the things which He suffered."
And, first, this may be understood of the passive nature which He assumed into His divine person, by taking upon Himself our humanity. As God He was impassible, immortal, incapable of being tempted by evil; infinite, and therefore unchangeable: neither growth, nor weariness, nor faintness, nor thirst, nor hunger, could reach the Eternal. He was above the conditions of a creature; but by the mystery of His incarnation, what things before could not reach or fasten upon His divine nature, were admitted to His manhood. He, therefore, took on Him our flesh and blood, that He might come under the dominion of suffering and mortality, of spiritual warfare and bodily infirmities. As He assumed the passive conditions of humanity, so He partook of the susceptibilities of its several ages. And therefore we read that " Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.' And these words are no mere economy or condescension, as when we read of God's repenting, or of awaking, or plucking His right hand out of His bosom; but deep mysterious realities, as plainly to be taken and understood as the Word being made flesh, and weeping at the grave of Lazarus, and
1 St. Luke ii. 52.
Such, then, was the
being nailed upon the cross. humiliation of the Eternal Son. He was made man, not only to suffer, but to learn; He assumed the imperfections of His creatures, and "compassed" Himself "with infirmity ;" that, as before there was nothing in Godhead which was not in Him, so afterward there was nothing in manhood, sin only excepted, of which He did not partake. It is plain, then, that He "learned obedience" in the very truth of our nature, even as we learn it; that is, by measure and degrees, and by discipline, and in time.
And this brings us to one more truth. There are different ways both of knowing and of learning. A large part of our knowledge is either intuitive and ideal, residing in the pure reason; or speculative, that is, gathered by deduction and mental inference: and this is one kind of knowledge, and one way of learning. Another kind is learned by what we call life; by experience, personal trial, entanglement with events, struggles in doing and suffering and what we learn in this way, we know with a depth and familiarity far beyond all other knowledge; it is a part of our living energies and powers, and dwells in our very being. Not only is its stamp imprinted on us, but it so passes into us as to blend with our whole inner nature. We are what we have done and suffered.
And this is what we commonly call " experience." Now, if we consider that the impassible Word took on Him our passible nature, we shall see in what sense even He "learned obedience by the things that He suffered." As there is a difference in kind between the knowledge we possess of those things which we have, and those things which we have not learned by experience; so the same is true also of His perfect manhood; and more visibly true of the knowledge of an omniscient impassible Being compared with the experience of suffering humanity. It is a mode and kind of knowledge which could not otherwise consist with the perfections of the Godhead.
He made trial, then, in a passible nature, of human suffering. He learned, by actual partaking of sorrow, what is the power of sin over mankind. Into His pure manhood the guilt of sin could no more enter than into His eternal Godhead: but the sinless infirmities of our fallen state, and its large capacities of agony, He took; and, girded about with them, He offered Himself to the strife of evil. He obeyed, in that He stood in the place of a sufferer. And in it He learned in very deed, by feeling and tasting, the nakedness and the bitterness of the fall of man. What was impos
sible to the Godhead, He as man endured in the wilderness, suffering the suggestions and solici