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God must be the motive. Were there a plurality of gods, there would be a difficulty to find out what virtue is; we should have to determine whose will to obey—the will of each, or some, or all. And we should also have to find out who of all the Gods we should love the most. But as there is but one God, our duty becomes definite, and clear as day. His will alone is supreme law.
He alone demands supreme regard. The Bible urges this argument. “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Know therefore, this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath ; there is none else. Thou shalt keep, therefore, his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, 'that it may go well with thee, and with thy children, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for ever.” Another practical use of this glorious fact is,
III. IT REVEALS THE FITNESS OF RELIGION TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE SOUL. There are three psychological facts that scarcely admit of disputation, and that every preacher of the Gospel should ever practically recognise in his discourses. (1.) The human heart has a centralizing tendency. Deep in our emotional nature is a craving for some one object on which to place entire confidence, and centre the deepest love. The soul, like the planet, is made for a centre ; it requires some thing on which to hang as its chief support—something to circle round as its glory-something to serve by reflecting its attributes and transmitting its influence. There is not a soul whose love does not point to some one object, as the needle to the pole. (2.) The moral character of the soul depends upon its central object. By, a law of our nature we become like that we most love. Love is a transfiguring force. It moulds us to the character of its object. He who loves the character of the devil becomes like him. He who loves God becomes a partaker of the divine nature. (3.) The soul's happiness is determined by the character of the object most loved. All
experience shows that most of our happiness and misery comes out of our supreme love. He that loves supremely a faithless, worthless, suffering, dying object, must inevitably suffer sooner or later. Elsewhere we have shown that the object of supreme love, to make us happy, must be supremely excellent, always blessed, ever reciprocating our affection, and continuing with us without end. These are the eternal con. ditions of human happiness, and this one God is necessary to the fulfilment. Thus it is that all in every age who have loved the one God supremely, have felt with the Psalmist who said, “Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." Another practical use of this glorious fact is
IV. IT REVEALS THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD OF SOULS. To us, says Paul, “There is but one God, the Father of all things, and we in him," It seems to me that spirits stand in a different relation to God to what material existences do. God is the Creator of matter, God is the Father of souls. “We are his offspring ”—the highest seraph in eternity as well as the poorest child on earth. Between souls and God there is an essential resemblance and a voluntary reciprocity. Those of his offspring who have always been obedient, feel and recognise their brotherhood and are banded together with the tenderest feelings of love. They look on each other through their love for their one Father, and feel the vast universe their Father's house. Men, alas ! have proved wayward and rebellious children. Humanity is the lost sheep that has gone away from the ninety and nine in the great fold, the prodigal that has left the Father's house. Because they have proved disobedient to their Father, they have lost the true spirit of brotherhood among themselves, and discords, contentions, and battlings are the result. What a moral anomaly in the universe is war! Children of the same father burning with mutual malice, and earnest in
mutual murder. What shall end this? What shall annihilate all the unkind feelings of men towards their race, what shall generate the loving spirit of brotherhood ? Nothing but a common love for the one Father can do it. He who loves not God as his Father, will never love his fellow-men as brethren. Piety is the parent of philanthropy. Religion is the inspirer of human brotherhood. Another practical use of this glorious fact is
V. IT REVEALS THE WONDERFUL IN MEDIATION. loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here is love passing knowledge. First: What a disparity between Him who loves and they who are loved! What a disparity in natures! God, the Almighty, the Allwise, the Eternal. Man, the feeble, the ignorant, and the dying. What a disparity in character ! God the Essence and Fountain of all holiness. Man, vile and polluted with sin. Secondly: What a manifestatiou of the greatness of his love. He so loved the world that He gave what? A world the system, the universe ? No, all this is nothing compared to what He gave—He gave his only begotten Son, “Herein is love." I see divine love everywhere. “It rises high and drowns the hills.” It floods the universe. But all I see elsewhere is nothing compared with what is here. “HEREIN IS LOVE." Love free, unbounded and unconquerable.
Brothers, is this one God our one God ? Have we no idols? Is there nothing greater in our hearts than He, nothing that engrosses more of our sympathies, and engages more of our thoughts and powers ? Let us look well to this, Away with all idols of the heart. Let Him be the all and in all of our souls. For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things.
3 Homiletic Glance at the Acts of the
Able expositions of the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, describing the manners, customs, and localities described by the inspired writers; also interpreting their words, and harmonizing their formal discrepancies, are, happily, not wanting amongst us. Bu the eduction of its WIDEST truths and highest suggestions is still a felt desideratum. To some attempt at the work we devote these pages. We gratefully avail ourselves of all exegetical helps within our reach; but to occupy our limited space with any lengthened archæological, geographical, or philological remarks, would be to miss our aim; which is not to make bare the mechanical process of the study of Scripture, but to reveal its spiritual results.
SUBJECT: Paul's final Departure from Jerusalem, and his
Arrival in Caesarea.
“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for' as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome," &c.--Acts xxiü. 11–35. AUL had made several visits to Jerusalem since his con
version. To the last visit he looked with great interest, as he was the bearer of the charitable contributions of the Churches of Achaia and Macedonia to the poor saints at Jerusalem. For a long time his heart was on this visit : he struggled to perform it. The fear of death would not deter him from it ; he made all circumstances bow to its accomplishment. But now he leaves that city never to return again he leaves it as a prisoner in chains. He had just delivered an able defence, first before the people, and afterwards before the Sanhedrim, and in each case, instead of conciliating them, he only intensified their unreasoning, unrighteous, and savage hostility; so much so, that the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from anong them, and to bring him to the castle.”
In glancing at the record here given of the circumstances connected with the termination of his connection with Jerusalem, and his journey to Cæsarea, there are, at least, three things worthy of our special attention : A visit from
Christ, a conspiracy of enemies an interposition of Providence.
I. A VISIT FROM CHRIST. “ And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, be of good cheer, Paul ; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
In what form “the Lord stood by him," whether as he appeared on earth, or as he appears in heaven, is not said; but he saw him not with his bodily eye, but with the eye of that soul that is endowed with faculties for perceiving the invisible. His advent to the apostle was—
First: Timely. . We may well suppose that Paul's sensitive nature would be subject to many painful memories, gloomy thoughts, and boding anxieties, on that night, as he lay, with a lacerated body, a prisoner in the castle. Mayhap he was permitted even to question the divinity of his cause, and the rectitude of his mission. The best men have often had sceptical thoughts, and such thoughts to such men are as the bleak winds of midnight to the unsheltered and unclad.. The advent of Christ on this night was, therefore, most opportune. A verification, this, of a promise that never fails,
as thy day, so shall thy strength be.” His advent now to the apostle was
Secondly: Cheering. “Be of good cheer !” What a contrast to the words of falschood, cursing, blasphemy, which during the previous days had been addressed to him! Who shall tell the cadence in which they were spoken-the soothing music, inspiring energy, the winning tenderness of Christ's voice, none know but those whose hearts have caught its accents. There are two things in Christ's words suited to cheer the heart of the apostle. (1) Commendation. “Thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem.” Had Paul been allowed the mental agony of questioning whether he had done the right thing in Jerusalem ? If so, here is a scattering of the dark thought; here is a Divine recognition, and an approving testimony of his services. “Thou hast testified of me"; thou.