« PreviousContinue »
“The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” asks us to let the past “suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles,” and in beginning a new year to renew our early vows, our first love, our young and ardent zeal, to be henceforth inspired with the holy ambition to be “conformed to the image of his Son."
To attain unto this we must yield our wills to God. Satan conquered man by man doing Satan's will. Christ conquered Satan by doing God's will. And every accession to the Redeemer's kingdom, and every diminution of Satanic power, and every measure of increase of the fruits of the Spirit, in the life of the new-born soul—of love, joy, and peace-is the consequence of man surrendering his will to God.
My brother! what art thou living for? for God or for self? If for God, thy being is encircled by a halo of glory which shall be ever expanding and widening with the revolving ages of eternity. But if thou art living for self, thy life must prove a failure, and thine eternity the dark covering of eternal shame and everlasting contempt.
G. HUNT JACKSON.
SUBJECT : Paul a Prisoner. “For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.”—Ephes. iii. 1.
Analysis of Homily the Seven Handred and Forty-Second.
I. A GREAT MAN IN PRISON. Prisons generally contain the lowest and vilest of menthe refuse of humanity. But they have often contained a very different class of men, the noblest and best; the men who by reason of extraordinary power of mind or greatness of soul have come into collision with the beliefs and habits of the people. Joseph, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Peter
Paul, Jesus Christ, all were imprisoned. Some of the great leaders in past reformations both of thought and conduct have been imprisoned. Socrates, Galileo, Bunyan, and many of the best men in the Nonconformist movement of 1662 are examples. These cases afford a mournful example of the blindness and corruption of men.
First : Men are generally too blind to recognise contemporary greatness. When the grass grows over his grave, and he is beyond the voice either of praise or blame, the worth of the great man is recognised; but very frequently not until then.
Second : Men are generally too corrupt to bear with a great man whom they cannot understand. They cannot comprehend the mystery of a noble life, so they put it out of their sight; confine it as a dangerous thing. This spirit is not yet dead. Blindness and corruption are rife amongst
II. A GREAT MAN IN PRISON FOR ENGAGING IN THE HIGHEST SERVICE. “I, Paul, am the the prisoner of Jesus Christ." Again, he says, “I, the prisoner in the Lord.” He was a prisoner in the service of the Lord Jesus. Prisoners for debt, crime, &c., abound. Prisoners of war are numerous.
But here is a man made prisoner for labouring in the highest cause. The progress of the cause of Christ is synonymous with the progress of humanity in everything which constitutes its well-being. Paul was labouring in this cause. Yet they imprisoned him; and imprisoned him for so doing. Paul said things which clashed with the old notions of the men of his time, and, without fairly examining his statements, they hurried him to prison. Men now do not like their stereotyped theories disturbed.
III. A GREAT MAN IN PRISON FOR TAKING THE MOST BENEVOLENT POSITION IN THE HIGHEST SERVICE. “ For this cause," i.e., for holding and proclaiming the views set forth in the preceding chapter. “On behalf of you, Gentiles." Paul
was suffering for others. He was imprisoned for proclaiming these three things. (1) That when the Jews rejected the Gospel God withdrew it from them.-See examples in the “Acts of the Apostles.” (2) That God willed that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles. (3) That God had called him to this work of preaching to the Gentiles.
First : Paul's position was most philosophic. The religion for humanity must be congruous, not with any special type or nation of the race, but with human nature in all ages and everywhere. The Gospel to save man must meet the needs of all and be free to all.
Second : Paul's position was most benevolent. There was no narrowness in it. It recognised the common brotherhood of the race ; but the 'Jews were too narrow, prejudiced, and bigoted to allow this, so they sent Paul to prison. HyperCalvinists have just the same spirit now. They revile the men who offer the blessings of the Gospel freely to
IV. THE IMPRISONMENT OF A GREAT MAN OVERRULED GOD FOR THE GOOD OF HIS CHURCH. In the prison Paul wrote this Epistle. Had he not been a prisoner he, most probably, would have spent all his time and energy in active labour; and none of the precious thoughts made known in such labour may have been preserved for succeeding ages. But from the prison he contributes to the religious thought and spiritual life of the church in all succeeding ages everywhere. From the prison there proceeded a letter to bless, not only the Ephegian Church, but the world also. Observe in this,
First: The grandeur of Paul's spirit. It was free. It went forth amid the churches. “ Stone walls did not a prison make," &c. It was benevolent. He did not moan over his own condition; but was full of the noblest solicitude for others.
Second: The providence of God. Out of evil He evolves good. Paul writes in prison. Bunyan writes in prison. Thus God maketh the wrath of man to praise Him. In this way the devil involuntarily is promoting the progress of humanity. In His providence, God watches over both the individual and the Church. He strengthens Paul in the prison, and sends a glorious letter to the Church at Ephesus. Portsmouth.
SUBJECT : The Unjust Judge. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward be said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”—Luke xviii. 148.
Analysis of Homily the Seven Handred and Forty-Third.
old and quaint expositor. And so it has, for the point to be illustrated is stated at the outset, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
We see in this parable three things; the picture of a distressed world-a recognised deliverer—and a successful invocation.
I. Here is a picture of a DISTRESSED WORLD. “The widow" here may fairly be regarded as representing humanity everywhere as afflicted by the fall.
First, it is desolate. It is a “widow" left alone without its loving companion and protector. Few of all the miserable conditions in life are more pitiable than the widowed one, left with a bleeding heart to struggle alone in a cold, selfish world. Man's condition as a sinner is poor, miserable, blind, and naked.
Secondly, it is oppressed. The widow had an “adversary"some hard-hearted creature, who took advantage of her weakness, and outraged her rights. Fallen man has an adversary. His adversary is the devil. "Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter v. 8.) This is an adversary mighty, malignant, cunning, unremitting. Do you pity the poor “widow," and have you no pity for a desolate and oppressed world lying in wickedness?
II. Here is a picture of a RECOGNISED DELIVERER. In the society to which this widow belonged there was a man appointed for the purpose of helping the oppressed. There was a “judge.” From Deut. xvi. 18, we learn that the Israelites were to have judges in all the gates of their towns, who were bound to judge the people with just judgment, without respect of persons. Such town tribunal existed in the days of our Lord. (Matt. v. 21, 22.) These judges were specially commanded by God to take widows and orphans under their protection. (Isa. i. 23 ; Jer. i. 6.) Samuel was a fine example of a good judge: “I am old and grey headed ; behold, here I am, witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken ?” &c., &c.
There was nothing good, however, about this "judge" but his office; that was divine. Both his official and personal character were bad in the extreme. He was an unjust judge, and neither “feared God nor respected man.” (1.) It is in his office, not in his character, that he represents the Great Deliverer of the race. Just as in the circle of that widow there was one whose office it was to help, so there is in the great world of men One whose office it is to deliver-namely, the Redeeming God. Unlike the judge, He is not only righteous, but full of tenderness and compassion, able and willing to save. To his seat, the throne of grace, we must repair for help. (2.) It is in his unhastiness, not in his reluctance, that he represents the Great Deliverer of the race. God appears to us to move very slowly. How long He seemed VOL. XX.