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Look for one moment at the glory that accrues to God from the gathering outlined in our text, and contrast it with the deist's ideal of universal worship. In both cases the object is the Great Father of all; but how unlike, the anthem! In the one case
“thousand thousands minister unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before Him," all of the grandest type of intellect-angels and archangels that excel in strength, mentally, morally, spiritually, as well as physically : in the other, material and irrational natures, consummated by. the lowest and feeblest type of reason, poor, purblind, fettered, faltering human nature. “() ye sun and moon! Oye stars of heaven! () ye nountains and hills ! O ye seas and floods! O ye whales and all that move in the waters! O ye fowls of the air! O all ye beasts and cattle ! 0 ye children of men! Bless ye the Lord; praise him and magnify him for ever!” Thus far the deist-"the diapason closing full in man!”
But the Christian takes up a far nobler strain. With him all angels cry aloud; the heavens and all their “Mighties” (according to the fine old Saxon rendering of our venerated “ Te Deum”) to the loud uplifted trumpets of the “bright serap him in burning row.” And with all these are associated the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, the Holy Church throughout all the world—men only, it must be allowed, but men of earth's best and purest, whose whole lives were one practical rehearsal of this coronation anthem, and who would necessarily throw into it an intellect sublimed and sanctified and energized by the power of the Holy Ghost, a power unrecognised in the starved and starving creed of the deist.
Another thought that strikes us in contemplating this great subject, is
III. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF Christ. He is the sun, the centre, the circumference, the beginning, and the ending of this majestic congress. God's exhaustive definition of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places and things is simply “Christ.” “In Him, even in him," all find their climax and consummation. Taking the world as it now is, how must it be filled with wonder that this grand event should bear almost exclusively on Him whose name is by common consent ignored by all! All our so-called great men in science, philosophy, theology, literature, and politics-men of advanced opinions in every department -philanthropists of wide sympathies, even educationalists of large-hearted liberality-every one, in fact, who, whilst he advocates reform and progress in its multiform developments, politely expurgates the Bible, and knows nothing of Hini in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All these must have looked for something very different, when the ages should be thus gathered together, to present the harvest of their achievements at the altar of the great Father of Lights. But God looks upon nothing as really great and glorious that is not saturated with the spirit of Christianity, and brought to bear directly and entirely on the mediation and merits of Christ Jesus. That very name, indeed, which the advocates of moral respectability and the directors of the public mind most scrupulously avoid, as one which it would be a scandal to introduce into our literature, our scientific dis
a cussions, our philanthropic movements, and our popular discussions and appeals, is here, exalted above every other name, and made to kindle with its glory this grandest of all grand gatherings.
But is the Church much wiser than the world ? Is Christ universally acknowledged there ? Are there not thousands of professing Christians, who, so far from determining to know nothing but Him, and Him crucified, are indifferent to the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, the transforming assimilation to his life ? Heterodox men we know there are who deny the Lord that bought themmen who are content to see in Him virtue incarnate, but not the fulness of the Godhead bodily—men who, after they have been known of Him, turn back again to the beggarly elements of formalism-men who overlay all that is essentially
great and God-like, with their own littlenesses and mistakes --men, by whom He is divided and apportioned with Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and the rest; but in the very heart and stronghold of so-called orthodoxy, are there not those who would rob Him of his worship, and tell us we are never to draw near to Him in prayer ? Woe worth the day when dignitaries of the Church of England so fill up the measure of their hypocrisy, and, after years spent in calling publicly on Christ as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, discover that they have been under a mistake, and write hymns to God, from which that name which can alone render them acceptable, is scrupulously eliminated!
But no wonder, if instead of drawing their inspiration from the Holy One, through whose anointing we know all things, they are content to seek it from a poor Zulu Kaffir unnaturally precocious in the rule of three! Another thought is
IV. THE WONDERFUL GATHERING. It includes all things, both which are in heaven and which are on earth"; the converts from Judaism--they who first trusted in Christ; and the Gentiles, who were some time alienated and enemies, but having believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
First : All things which are in heaven. We know not how, or how far, these other worlds, these “ things in heaven” may be interested in the grand scheme of redenıption, but the fact seems certain. Doubtless there is much that the angels desire to look into, as, in silent and acquiescent wonder, they minister in the work of salvation. The great mystery of Godliness is, we know, a mystery to them, but how deep, how vitally influential or important, we cannot tell. When we look at what Paul says to the Colossians, on the same subject, we are struck by his use of the term “reconciliation.”
"It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell : and (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” But the expression does not necessarily shut us up to the conclusion that any of the heavenly intelligences have been alienated like ourselves. God's dealings with us, both in providence and grace,' are full of mysteries-of mysteries which in the great minds of angelic and archangelic natures, must excite conflicting thoughts, intense and painful in proportion to their magnitude and to the scope and capacities of the gigantic minds they influence, which are to find solution only in the Fulness of Times.
There is something overpoweringly sublime in this thought. Worlds on worlds, systems upon systems, all concentrating their gaze on this development of God's scheme, waiting to witness the admission of fallen humanity to its promised inheritance, and though as yet they see through a glass darkly, looking in implicit love and deepest adoration for the dawning of this great Day of Restitution, when every shadow of conflict and perplexity shall have passed away, and they shall know, even as they are known.
Second : The Jewish Church occupies a prominent place. “We also,” “ye also,” “and you." These expressions open the little episodes relating to the Jew and Gentile Churches, as if only by an afterthought they were included in the great Congress. And yet, in our small minds, we often make our own peculiar section of the Church the be-all and the end. all of our creed. Not so the mighty God, who, when He calls together his saints from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, knows them but by one name—“those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” By one offering all have been perfected.
The place of honour is assigned to the Jew-" that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." God's glory in the work of redemption is illustrated and advanced by the praise attendant upon this accession to the Church. To be the first, the pioneer in almost any movement, is an honour; to tempt the ocean; to enter upon new territory, to lead to battle, to set up a kingdom, to found a family, to initiate, in fact, any undertaking,
signalises those who achieve such things. And the more arduous, the more honourable. Here is the Jew, nursed in formalism, righteous by rule and measure, clinging with almost preternatural fondness to heaven-born, but lapsed institutions-laying grievous burthens on himself, and others, in order to establish a claim to the Divine favour, Pharasaic beyond his own straitest Pharisaism, and clinging with a grasp, death-like but hopeful, to the inexorable demand, “ This do, and thou shalt live !” Look at such a man, and then think of his breaking through these trammels, and throwing himself implicitly on the free grace of Jesus ! Were not the Abana and Pharpar of his cherished rites and ceremonies better than all the waters of Jordan ? Could he not wash in them, and be clean ? It were scarcely to be wondered at that so often and so generally the poor Jew should turn and go away in a rage. Yet, in the simple, but exhaustive, language of our text, he trusts. Oh what a trust was that! So it is also, but under somewhat different conditions, with
Third : The Gentile Church. “Ye also trusted.” But to thein "faith came by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The message was to them new and incisive. It was the good word of salvation falling on the ears of those who had been nursed and nurtured in other creeds, and were crying out for clearer light, and more definite direction. “ Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord, or bow myself before the Most High God ?” Not so the Jew: the ordinances and the covenants, and the promises, had long been his; but he lay indolently entrenched behind his ancestral boast-"We be Abraham's seed.” He halted halfway, and saw not Jesus as the end of the law for righteousness, till this spirit of trust was given him, and he ventured wholly on the Saviour.
And now, let us, in conclusion, give a more personal and practical bearing to the subject. What is the attitude of the true believer? “ He first trusted." In what ? In the power and promise of Christ, as Doddridge beautifully para