Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

itself as more spiritual or as possessing higher dignity than the Church at Jerusalem or Thessalonica. They were called to be saints along with, and on a level with, all who named the Name of Christ.

Is this our idea when we set up Anglicanism against Romanism, and make England the centre of unity instead of Rome ? There is no centre of unity but Christ. We go to God with proud notions of our spirituality and our claims. We boast ourselves of our advantages over Dissenters and Romanists. Whereas the same God is “theirs and ours;" the same Christ is “ theirs and ours.” Oh! only so far as we feel that God is our Father not my Father, and Christ our Saviour not my Saviour, do we realise the idea of the Church.

«« The name of our Lord Jesus Christ both theirs and ours." What a deathblow to Judaism and party spirit in Corinth!

Lastly, unity.

Christ was theirs and ours. He was the Saviour of all, and the common Supporter of all. Though individual churches might differ, and though sects might even divide those churches, and though each might have a distinct truth, and manifest distinct gifts, yet Christ existed in all. The same one Spirit, His Spirit, pervaded all, and strengthened all, and bound all together into a living and invisible unity. Each in their several ways contributed to build up the same building on the same Foundation ; each in their various ways were distinct members of Christ's Body, performing different offices, yet knit into One under the same Head; and the very variety produced a more perfect and abiding unity.

III. The Benediction : “ Grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is, if you will, a formula, but forms like this teach much; they tell of the Spirit from which they originate. The heathen commenced their letters with the salutation, “ Health !” There is a life of the Flesh, and there is a life of the Spirit--a

; ܐ

a

66

nor

truer, more real, and higher Life, and above and beyond all things the Apostle wished them this. He wished them neither 66 Health” Happiness,"

,” but “Grace and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” And now comes the question, What is the use of this benediction? How could grace and peace be given as a blessing to those who rejected grace, and not believing felt no peace ? Let me try to illustrate this. When the minister in a representative capacity, in the person of Christ, declares absolution to a sinner, his absolution is not lost if the man rejects it, or cannot receive it ; for it returns to him again, and he has done what he could to show that in Christ there is a full absolution for the sinner, if he will take it. Remember what Christ said to the Seventy: “ When ye enter into a house, say, Peace be to this house; and if the Son of Peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall return to you again.”

The validity of St. Paul's blessing depended on its reception by the hearts to whom it was addressed. If they received it they became in fact what they had been by right all along, sons of God: they " set to their seal that God is true.”

“ Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” For the special revelation of Jesus Christ is, that God is our Father, and when we believe that, not merely with our intellects, but with our hearts, and evidence in our lives that we believe it, and that this relationship is the spring of our motives and actions, then will flow in the “ Peace which passeth all understanding," and we are blessed indeed with the blessing of God.

LECTURE III.

09

i CORINTHIANS, i. 4-13. - June 29, 1851. UR work to-day will be from the commencement of the

fourth to the end of the thirteenth verses, in which we find two points: first, the Apostolic congratulations from the fourth to the tenth verse; and, after that, the Apostolic warning and rebuke, from the tenth to the end. First, then, the Apostolic congratulation—"I thank my God always on your behalf,” &c. Let us remark here how, in the heart of St. Paul, the unselfishness of Christianity had turned this world into a perpetual feast. He had almost none of the personal enjoyments of existence. If we want to know what his life was, we have only to turn to the eleventh chapter of the second Epistle: “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned,” &c. That was his daily outward life; yet we shall greatly mistake the life of that glorious Apostle if we suppose it to have been an unhappy one. It was filled with Blessedness; the blessedness which arises from that high Christian faculty through which a man is able to enjoy the blessings of others as though they were his own. Personally we get very little in this world. The prizes are few : and if we are to mourn that we never had a whole kid to ourselves “to make merry with,” life will become desolate indeed. Only by saying, It is meet we should rejoice and be glad ” with our brethren, can life be a blessing Then it becomes a perpetual feast. All joys of others become ours,

“I saw thee eye the gen’ral mirth

With boundless love."

“I thank my God always on your behalf.” Thus the Apostle, in all his weariness and persecutions, was nevertheless always rejoicing with his Churches; and especially he rejoiced over the gifts and graces given to the Corinthians, of which he here enumerates three: first, Utterance, then Knowledge, and then the grace of that peculiar attitude of Expectation with which they were looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He speaks of the gift of Utterance, and we shall understand his reason for calling it a gift rather than a grace, when we remember that, in his conception, Charity was far above Knowledge. To him a blessing was nothing, unless it could be imparted to others. Knowing a truth is one thing : being able to express it, is quite another thing: and then again, to be able to express a truth is one thing ; but to dare to do it is another thing altogether.' “Utterance " implies both power

' and courage.

Hence it comes to pass that the deepest theologians are not necessarily the world's greatest benefactors. A truth hidden is unproductive. And therefore the power of utterance becomes, by the grace of God, truly a faculty Divine.

But again, there may be utterance without knowledge. St. Paul desired Utterance in order to speak out something in him. With many persons utterance is only verbiage, concealing the poverty of thought in a mere fluency of words. Accordingly in this day, when utterance abounds, when every platform, every pulpit, or journal teems with utterances, the thing to be pressed upon us is, that Knowledge is a grace. Let us seek, not merely to have utterance, but to have something worthy of uttering. In this present Babel of politics and theology, let us learn the dignity of silence : let us be still— silent before God, that we may have Knowledge. To know! how blessed! Be sure you speak that you do know, and nothing else. St. Paul thanks God for the knowledge his converts possessed; for utterance without knowledge is worthless. He did not value these things merely for themselves,

He says,

but only as they were means to an end-channels for conveying truth to others.

The last gift for which the Apostle thanks God in this place was their attitude of Expectation—they were waiting for the coming of the Lord.

“So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of the Lord;" as though that were the best gift of all; as if that attitude of expectation were the highest that can be attained here by the Christian. It implies a patient, humble spirit, one that is waiting for, one that is looking forward to, something nobler and better. The Apostle seems by this to tell us that the highest spirit is shown rather in calm expectation of that Kingdom, than in disputing how it shall come ; in believing that it must come, and silently waiting for God's own time for the revealing.

We make two observations on this point :

1. We are to look for a Church of the future—not of the past, nor of the present. The Coming of Christ—whatever that means—includes the perfect state of human society. Not hereafter, in a world beyond, but here : the Coming of Christ to us, not our going to Him. And the perfect attitude is to be looking forward to this : not busying ourselves in dreams about, and mournings after, the past, nor complacently praising the present, but thankful to God for what we have, feeling that the past was necessary; and still dissatisfied with ourselves, hoping something better yet, both for God's Church and World.

2. It implies a humble expecting state : not dogmatizing, not dreading, but simply waiting. The Kingdom of God is within us; but the Kingdom of God developed will be as the lightning, sudden and universal. Therefore our Lord says, Go not forth if any man says, “Lo! here or lo! there.” Be quiet—it will come. Patiently, humbly, watchfully waiting for that which shall be—that should be our Christian attitude.

« AnteriorContinuar »