« PreviousContinue »
I. THERE IS A DAILY DYING THAT IS INEVITABLE TO HUMANITY,
First: There is a daily dying of our corporeal frame. In cach human body the seed of death is implanted, the law of mortality is at work. There is decay with every respiration and heart-throb. When Dr. Watts wrote, “The moment we begin to live we all begin to die," he wrote what is not the mere ebullition of a poetic sadness, but a fact of scientific demonstration. The water does not more naturally roll towards the ocean, or a falling body more naturally gravitate towards the centre of the earth, than the human frame runs every moment to dissolution. Life streams from us at every pore. This fact should teach us (1.) that worldly mindedness is an infraction of reason. What a monstrous absurdity it is to set our supreme affections upon objects from which we are departing every moment! As the ship of the emigrant in full sail is bearing him every moment farther and farther from his native shore, so destiny is bearing every man farther and farther from his connection with this earth. No anchor can stop this ship of destiny. All “Life Insurance” ofliees recognize and act upon this fact. Every man's lifo is less valuable to-day than it was yesterday. This fact teaches us (2.) that sorrow for the departed should be moderafel. Why indulge in grief for those who are gone! Their de parture was but obedience to the resistless law of their nature, and that same law is daily bearing us whither they are gone. Why battle with destiny? This fact shows (3.) that Christianity is an invaluable boon to mortals. It does twothings,-it teaches us that there is a future world of blessedness, and points us the way by which that blessed world is reached.
i Secondly: There is a daily dying of our social worll. We live not only with others but by them. Withoat society we might exist, but live we could not. They are the objects of our sympathies, the subjects of our conscious life; they engage our thoughts, they affect our hearts, they originate our motives, they stimulate our conduct; and all this is much
of our life. But this social world in which we live, and by wbich we live, is dying daily, and with its death much of our own life dies. The social circumstances which feed our life are changing every day. No two days are they exactly the same. Something comes and something goes every hour. Like the waves of the river that roll at our feet, as we stand, they sweep by, and they roll back no more. We are to these circumstances what the traveller is to the scenes through which he passes. As he proceeds, old objects fade from his view, and new ones appear. The circle of the nursery in which we once lived is gone; the circle of the school and other circles in which we lived have broken up long ago. Thus it is we“ die daily.” The thoughts, the love, the grief, the anger, the fear, the hopes which were once elements of life to us, have passed away because the objects of them
Thirdly: There is daily dying of our mental motivity. The motives that influence us to action are elements of life, and they are constantly dying. For example, the leading purpose that a man has is for the time one of his strongest motives of action, that which touches most potently the springs of intellect and heart; but the leading purpose of every man is a dying thing. It is dead as a motive both when it is frustrated and given up, as is constantly the case, and also when it is fully realised. A realised purpose has lost its motivity. Thus we die daily in mind. Many of the loves, hopes, fears, romances, ambitions, which once formed much of our life, have been buried long ago in the ever-widening cemetery of the soul.
II. THERE IS A DAILY DYING THAT IS OPTIONAL TO HUMANITY. This optional death is of two kinds—the criminal and the virtuous,
First :: There is the criminal. There are noble things in man that are dying daily, for which he is responsible. In the depraved soul, sensibility of conscience, generosity of impulse, elasticity of intellect, freedom of thought, spirituality of feeling,-these, that constitute the highest life of man, die daily in the corrupt soul. The sinner is constantly mur. dering these, and their blood cries to heaven for vengeance. “To be carnally minded is death."
Secondly: There is the virtuous. There are certain things that men should and ought to crucify-selfishness, sensuality, love of the world, &c. The highest life of man is a daily dying to all that is mean, false, mercenary, unspiritual, and uncharitable. The apostle felt this when he said, “I," that is my carnal self, “ am crucified with Christ”; nevertheless, “I,” that is my spiritual self, “live," &c., &c.
SUBJECT : Man as a learner, and Christ as a teacher. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."-John xvi. 12.
Analysis of Homily tbe Seben Hundred and Fifty-Second.
that he is addressing the people of his charge for the last time, are set forth in the last volume of the HOMILIST, page 276. It is highly probable that such feelings in some measure, and in certain aspects, set forth Christ's feelings during the delivery of this last protracted discourse to his disciples. He communicated to them thoughts and facts of wonderful consolatory power.
He warned them of their approaching trials, and strengthened them to meet them. He exhorted them to fidelity and holiness. He announced his speedy departure. And, having said many most precious and beautiful things to them, He said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." But Christ had resources under these circumstances, such as no teacher has. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of trath, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” The Spirit, whom the Master was about to send unto his disciples, would guide them into the truth which then they were not able to
bear. I regard the text as the expression of a truth which is applicable to all the disciples of Christ at all times. Thus regarding it suggests two leading ideas.
“ We see
I. THE LIMITATION OF MAN AS A LEARNBR.
There is a limit to our power of reception, and a limit to our power of enduring what we receive.
First: There is intellectual limitation. Our power of application is limited. We cannot prosecute any prolonged investigation without interruption from weariness. There is also much weakness in our mental exercises. In our studies we soon meet with problems which we cannot solve, and mysteries which we cannot fathom. This is true of our investigations of nature and life; true also of our investigations of Revelation. We are moreover surrounded by a great spiritual universe, and form a part of it; and yet we know very little concerning it. Our perceptions of the spiritual are very dim.
only “ through a glass darkly.” Second: There is moral and spiritual limitation. Not only are we unable to receive much that Christ has to impart, but much that we may be able to receive we could not endure. To hear much and understand little is oppressive. There are truths which require a quick apprehension to grasp them, and which demand a pure and brave heart to bear the knowledge of them. Our perceptions are dull ; our souls are feeble; we are poor, limited learners.
What an argument is this for humility! We should be modest in the maintenance of our opinion while we are 80 ignorant. We should be humble in the presence of mystery.
II. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST AS A TEACHER.
First: In the vastness of his resources. The treasures of his mind are infinite. To the highest created intelligence he will ever be able to apply the words of the text. “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” His knowledge embraces the whole realm of being, from the most insignificant ephemera to the highest archangel before his throne. His knowledge covers the whole realm of matter, from the sand-grain upon the beach, to the worlds and systems that throng the immensities. His knowledge includes all the minutiæ of every object which it comprehends; and it comprehends everything that exists. All actualities, all possibilities, all things, past, present, and future, are fully known to Him. There is no teacher whose resources will compare with those of the “ Carpenter's Son." How strengthening this is to those who confide in Him. “If God be with us, who can be against us.”
How terrible is this knowledge to those who are opposed to Him! He knows the plans of the wicked in all their details, and He will thwart them. He knows their sins, and will punish them.
Second: In the communication of those resources to man. (1) He communicates. How much had He communicated to his disciples before He said, “Ye can bear no more now"? He has communicated much to us. Many things in nature which were once secret He has revealed. Many things in mind, many pertaining to his moral government, many which are yet future to us, He has revealed. Wonderful are the communications which Christ makes to us! (2) He communicates according to our mental and spiritual capacity. The statement of the text does not imply that anything which the Master had previously said to his disciples was untrue, or that He had led them into any misconceptions. It simply means that hitherto He had communicated to them only a portion of the truth; that He had given to them the elementary knowledge of his religion, and not the more sublime and thomugh knowledge; and the reason of this reserve was a tender regard for them. The teacher knew the capacity of his pupils, and regulated his communications accordingiy.
This will apply to the great mysteries of the plan of redemption. Our Lord had just spoken of “sin, righteousness, and judgment," before He uttered the words of the text. There are mysteries connected with these three words