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which we cannot understand. The mystery of sin, atonement, salvation, and retribution is very great. May it not be that the reason of this mystery is that we could not bear the knowledge ?
This will apply to the mysteries of unfulfilled prophecy. The Master evidently had this in view when He uttered the text, for in the next verse He promised the disciples that the Spirit of truth should show them “ things to come.” If we could bear the knowledge of those things which are dimly foreshadowed in the Apocalypse, Christ would reveal it to us by his Spirit.
This will apply to the mysteries of God's providence. We cannot reconcile the seeming anomalies of God's government. The knowledge to enable us to do this we could not bear now.
This will apply to the experiences of our own life. There is much darkness resting upon the past; much mystery in the present; of our future lot we know scarcely anything. Why is this? Because we could not bear to know the reason of the stroke which crushed us, or of the trials which now oppress us; nor could we bear the knowledge of the exact character of the future. We could not bear the removal of the mystery which strikes us dumb. Our Teacher knows exactly how much we can bear, and He will not impart a gleam of truth more than we can endure. Brethren, let us be thankful for mystery. Christ's method of communicating knowledge is a guarantee of our security from being overwhelmed with intolerable revelations. It is also a guarantee of our everlasting advancement in knowledge. Our Teacher unfolds his ideas gradually; and He, from his infinite mind, will continue the unfoldment for ever. What discipleship is ours! Everlasting discipleship? Throughout the endless ages of our being we shall be constantly making acquisitions in knowledge, and yet our Teacher will ever soar infinitely above our highest attainments. What communications our Teacher will make in the future? In the light that He will pour upon our life, how changed our impressions of it will be ! The poverty that crushed us will be a thing to bless God for; the hand that prostrated us by disappointment and suffering will be embalmed with the kisses of gratitude; the bereaved parents will look upon the grave of their child as a memorial of richest blessing; and the widow and orphans will praise the dispensation of providence that rendered them solitary: all will unite to magnify Him who doeth all things well! There is much mystery now-dark, impenetrable, almost crushing mystery-within us and around us. But God will make all things clear, and more than justify his ways to man “What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter.” Meanwhile, let us wait-calmly, trustfully let us wait until we are able to bear the revelation. Portsmouth.
SUBJECT: Rich Poverty.
Analysis of Homily the Seben Sandred and Fifty-Third.
If we heard the first part of this statement only, we should say, “Here is indicated as sad and drear a lot as mortal ever inherited—à state in which the man has lost all heart," &c. And if we did but hear the last part of the sentence, we should think, “ Here is Fortune's favourite, intoxicated with his uncounted treasures,” &c.
Neither part of the text must be explained away. The first cannot, the second must not be. From a worldly stand-point Paul was as poor as he could be not enough of ground even to be for him a grave, where his wearied body could lie down to rest in the sleep of death, was he owner of. But we must also conclude that this apostle was a greater possessor than the richest Croesus, or the mightiest Cæsar of the world. For we must either believe so much, or believe that he was a mere juggler with words, or mad with enthusiasm, and rich only in
the untold possessions of a wild and frenzied imagination. We cannot believe the latter, and so must conclude that the houseless wanderer, which had not where to lay his head, was at the same time the inheritor of all things.
I. Let us look for a few minutes at the first clause-"as HAVING NOTHING." And let us learn
First: That the truly great are not essentially the visibly rich. We live in an age so material that this needs to be proclaimed with trumpet blast. What is meant now by a man being well off, is his having several thousands of golden coins. Let him have them, and mansions open for him their doors, &c., whilst poverty, just because it is poverty, is shrunk from as though a leprosy. Nay, there are circles of society where vice is winked at, but into the presence of which virtue without £10,000 would not be admitted for a moment. How often the Church, in its estimate of men, imitates the world ! No doubt if Paul sat amongst the peers, enough would be made of him ; but if he lived again as he did when he wrote these words, who would have much to say for him or about him? Self-impoverishment crowns with greatness. Paul had nothing, not by an unalterable necessity, but for Jesus sake.
Secondly: That it becomes us to make greater self-denials. How seldom do our poverties arise from self-sacrifices ! There is only virtue in them when they do. Sooner or later we have all to feel the crushing cross, but how rarely because we have taken it up!
Thirdly: That God does not reward his servants with material pay.
If any man had a claim for such reward, it was Paul. But why is this? (1.) God does not attach the false importance to material possessions that we do. (2.) He will let us do and dare for him without a bribe.
Fourthly: That God's poor are the best off. For see the heritage to which they know that they are begotten! They verily have their reward. The Master promised that whoever for Him left houses and lands, &c., should have a thousandfold compensation, and Paul more than proves the promise true. If there is a servant of Christ benzoaning his poverty, let him lift up his lead, and grasp the title-deeds that are his rightful heritage, and when he ponders them, he shall find that he can say, “ As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
II. Let us look for a few minutes at the second clause, AND YET POSSESSING ALL THINGS," and let us see how it comes to pass that a good man does own all things.
First: By holding a true relation to things, he possesses all things. (1.) He who holds a true relation to things, is instructed by them. Who can own aught in such great reality? Because a man has paid for a lot of works of art, and has them arranged in his splendid gallery, does it follow that he is the truest owner of them? If he goes in and out amongst them uninfluenced, &c., I call the man that but once has gazed upon them, but in that moment has felt their uplifting power, &c., their owner in a far truer sense. And now take a man whose book shelves are filled with books, whose pages are to him unread and unreadable, do you call him their truest owner? Not if there is another that has access to them, and has the golden key to unlock their mighty secrets, &c. And so though a man owns not an acre of ground, and not a house in all the world, yet if he holds a true relation to things, there is nothing but in this sense becomes his. For the world becomes to him a school, a book, a museum, a gallery, &c. There is no star on high but has some light for him; no lily in the valley but has some teaching, &c. (2.) He who holds a true relation to things, gets enjoyment from them. And what more can any owner do? No man could hold so false a relation to things as he who looks upon them with no longing but to have or to feel that he has. But he who sees in things the monuments of the divine power and wisdom, and goodness, and forbearance, and love, holds a true relation to them, and he gets the joy they can give and were made to give. What is it but the hope of getting enjoyment from possessions that prompts
most men to toil, &c., for them ? ' But it does not follow that they get the satisfaction they hope for. There are men that sit in their lordly mansions that might as well be immured in a dungeon, for aught of joy they get from the blaze of splendour that surrounds them. There are men who gave thousands for their majestic parks in the hope that at last they would get enjoyment, but who have never walked in the shadow of the noble trees, and along the side of the silver stream where the deer sport, save with an aching heart, and never will. Men who fret for what they have not, oron not what they have. But the man that sees in all beauty and bounty the heart of his Father-God, loves and adores and praises ; and the mounts, and the rocks, and the valleys, and the sun, and moon, and stars, that he calls upon to join him in his praise, lend themselves unto him and leave him," “having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (3.) He who holds a true relation to things, gets growth in the midst of them. If a man's nature is ripened, enriched by things, what can make him in such a great sense their owner?
Secondly: By holding a true relation to Christ, he becomes possessor of all things. (Rom. viii, 17 ; Rev. iii. 21.)
Thinkings by a Broad-Bibleman.
(No. IV.) SUBJECT : Spurious Scriptures. is much to be regretted that those philosophical deists
who sprung up so plentifully during the last century should have been so late to take the field in denying the necessity of a written revelation of God's Will. For, most unfortunately for their argument, the World had long prejudged the question, having in all ages had its Bible, as well as the Church. The religious element, as powerful among the old philosophers as in our own day, had from the earliest times