« PreviousContinue »
not put on Christ as we have (Gal. iii. 27). The unfallen angels shine in the beauty of created innocence and righteousness, which is the beauty of the creature : the redeemed are bright in the righteousness of the Creator, the righteousness of God their Saviour; and they are therefore fairer in their adornment than the angels are in theirs. This robe of righteousness is the hidden treasure and ornament of the soul; and it is just as much in the soul as it veils and covers her. It is more delicate and dazzling than are the rays of the sun, and it has also more warmth than they have; for it is light from the eternal Sun of grace, Christ on the cross.
He who puts on Christ, receives the crown of eternal life (1 Cor. ix. 25). The crown of Jesus was a crown of thorns. Because he bore this for us, we, for his sake, receive the unfading crown of honour (1 Pet. v. 4). The more the crown presses, and the more its thorns pierce our head, the more surely can we know that it is the crown of eternal life. The way to the kingdom of God leads the Christian through much tribulation (Acts xiv. 22). The heaviest sorrow is sorrow for sin; and our most blessed sorrow is to weep in love and loving yearning for Jesus. Bitter times are the times of persecution, and yet they are also blessed, for we are permitted to suffer for the eternal Friend of our soul.
The tears of repentance and of love's ardent longing for Jesus are pearls in the crown of eternal life. That they may become this, the Lord counts them up, and collects them (Ps. lvi. 8).
The crown of life which is worn by the believing soul appears outwardly as though it were nought but Christ's crown of thorns. But when he, the chief shepherd, shall appear, then shall it shine forth as a crown of glory (1 Pet. v. 4 ; 2 Tim. iv. 8), which the righteousness of Jesus has provided; then shall it appear in splendour, never again to be dimmed by our tears and sighs.
What is the hidden crown of life? Jesus Christ himself. The crown is the sign of victory. Christ is our victory over self, Satan, and the world (1 Cor. xv. 57). The crown is a proof and a sign of honour. Christ is our honour. During our earthly pilgrimage no one beholds our crown of victory and honour but God; and the believing soul rejoices that it is so, and that it is hidden from the world, even as a treasure which safely rests under lock and key. The victory and the honour of victory—both are secured to the Christian.
Over the crown the Christian wears the helmet of salvation (Eph. vi. 17; 1 Thess. v. 8). This covers the crown, so that he appears not as a crowned victor, but as a combatant. As long as the helmet of salvation covers the head, so long the crown of life sits securely. But should the helmet fall off, then the crown will fall off too; should the helmet of salvation be thrown away, the crown will be thrown away also. Should the Christian permit himself to be induced by the enemy of his soul to throw off the helmet, in order, perhaps, to be for a moment free from the burden of the conflict, or in order that the world, which torments him, may not recognise him as a warrior of Christ,* he
This to our mind is a very muddled statement, but the author means rightly enough. If we did cast away faith, we should perish; but, blessed be God! the life within is living and incorruptible, and abideth for ever.-C. H. S.
may thereby lose the crown; for his soul's enemy will surely take advantage of the opportunity thus afforded.
Salvation is the forgiveness of sins. This forgiveness we have in the blood of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus is our salvation ; therefore, he is our helmet of salvation; for “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts iv. 12). In him is salvation.
Over his robe of honour the Christian wears the armour which covers his breast.
The apostle says: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. vi. 11, 13). It is against the arrows of the evil one, which convey into our soul blasphemous and self-destroying thoughts, that this arınour is designed to protect us.
* The Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John iii. 8), and thus deprive him of his might. Christ has triumphed over Satan, and over Satan's might (Col. ii. 15). Satan loses his power over us and his right to us, when we are released from sin, that is, when our sins are forgiven us (1 John i. 7). Christ is the propitiation for our sins (1 John ii. 2), and the vanquisher of Satan. Christ is our arınour.
In the hands of the believer flash sword and shield, the one in the right hand and the other in the left. The sword is the word of God (Eph. vi. 17); and it is sharper than any two-edged blade (Heb. ir. 12). Christ is the Word (John i. 1); and he is therefore the sword of the soui. The shield is Christ (Gen. xv. 1). The wounds which the sword of divine justice would have inflicted upou us sinners have been received by him. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities" (Isa. liii. 5).
** Armed with the terrors of liis hell,
His darts the foe is aiming.
Your faith in Christ proclaiming !
Wield sword in tight so holy;
On trusting souls and lowly,
That ye may conquerors be." The bright armour of the soul is invisible. Cirist also is invisible; but the world, overcome by faith, and fallen beneath the sword of the martyr's word, can perceive him. In the success of the divine word, in the protection which Jesus gives to his own against sin and temptation, in the invulnerableness of believers against Satan and his arrows, the world marks that the Christian wears an invisible armour. No one beholds on the Christian the hearenly robe of Christ's righteousness; but it shines forth in his word and walk. It is thus perceptible to the children of the world. This holy armour places the believing soul among the hosts of the Loru God of Sabaoth, and enables her, first, to fight against and to subdue self. He who uses this armour first against others, throws away his defence and weapons, and becomes a deserter to the multitude that is hostile to God. The soul lays aside her holy armour, when the flesh, subdued by repentance, decays in death. When the soul puts off this body of the flesh, her holy robe of honour shines openly before the angels of God. It shall be also openly manifested before the whole world, when Christ, rho is our life, shall appear, and shall give to our soul her glorified body.
The two ornaments of the soul (the dress and the armour), which we have been considering, are necessary to the children of God." All God's children, who are pilgrims, wear them until they enter into their heavenly rest. Then, they lay aside the armour; then, they walk clad in the pure robe of peace, which is the blood and righteousness of Christ.
Joseph's Cup which maketh Trial.
WORDS OF COMFORT FOR A SUFFERING MAN OF GOD.
to his beloved brother Benjamin, and his “mess was five times so much as any of theirs ''—and, doubtless, five times as delicate and as sweet. And yet to this beloved one was given the cup of trial. (Gen. xliv. 5—see margin.). And then the words of Joseph were : “ The man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant” (verse 17). Thus the cup which maketh trial was eminently the cup oi distinction. Benjamin was elect to service, and, THEREFORE, to trial. Let it never be forgotten that Joseph had drunk deep of this cup of trial before he gave it to his best-loved brother; and it had been most bitter in the mouth, but he had enjoyed the after sweetness ; his sorrow had not given place to, but been turned into, joy. (John xvi. 20—22.) "All things work together (not separately in themselves) for good to them that love God, who are the called according to his purpose,” that purpose being “the praise of his glory.” (Rom. viii. 28; Eph. i. 12.)
Now, if we turn to Jeremiah, the weeping Prophet, we find in his hand "the cup which maketh trial,” for he was of the tribe of Benjamin (ch. i. 1). Anathoth was the sacerdotal city of the tribe of Benjamin. I will quote a verse or two which speak of the trials of this servant of God:–He had personal grief ; " When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me” (ch. viii. 18). “ I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage.
Mine heritage is unto me as a taloned bird” (margin) (ch. xii. 7–9). He felt a deep pastoral grief : “But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive” (ch. xiii. 17). “Woe is ine, my mother, that thou hast born me i man of strife and it man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent me on usury : yet every one of them doth curse me. " Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be heales? Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail ?” (ch. xv. 10—18; see also ch. xx. 7–18).
Thus was intense and varied suffering the lot of this most highlydistinguished servant of God; for the man in whose sack is iny cup, the silver cup, which maketh trial, shall be my servant.
The second instance, I would bring before you, is Paul of the tribe of Benjamin. A single quotation will suffice: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep ; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren ; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak ? and I am not weak ? Who is offended, and I burn not ?" (2 Cor. xi. 23, 29.) Then we must add to this “ a thorn in the flesh," possibly a false apostle. Yet Paul's faith survived it all!
Thus the cup of trial is peculiarly the cup of distinction, it marks the chosen servant of God. Jeremiah and Paul were to occupy a high place of honour-a prominent place in the living temple of the Lord; and, therefore, of necessity, they must be much cut, and chipped, and polished. In proportion to the value of the diamond will be the labour of the lapidary.
Dear suffering brother, as myself a sufferer, both as a father and a pastor, let me earnestly commend to you the words and example of the blessed Jesus: “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” Then again, those notable words of Paul : “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church.” Christ, as I was reminded the other day when speaking of my own trials, was not only in the furnace himself long ago, but is always now in it with each of his own people.
May the Lord help you to roll your burden, too heavy to lift and cast, upon Him.
H. W. FOSTER.
The Elijah of the Alps.
[SECOND PAPER.] TE have already seen some evidence of Farel's restless spirit. The triumphs gospel, led him to venture into other fastnesses of superstition which he might storm and make captive to the obedience of Christ. He selected the Val de Ruz and four other valleys, and commenced at one of the villages, where a Romish service was going on. Farel, armed with the authority of the Lords of Berne, entered the pulpit while the priest was at the altar and the choir were chanting the missal, and, much to the annoyance of the former, commenced preaching salvation by Jesus Christ. That the people should be disposed to listen with even earnest attention was more than the priests could endure. They ran into the towers, and rang the alarm bell so furiously that a number of villagers made their appearance, and compelled the preacher and his associate to desist. They did so, and left the building, thankful that their lives had been preserved from the fury of the Papists. In the evening as they were returning to Neufchatel, they fared worse ; for women, priests, and men assailed them with clubs and stones, and after almost beating the life out of them cast them into a miserable dungeon. Were it not for fear of the Lords of Berne, it is probable that the Lutherans would have been put to death ; but they were released upon the demand of the townsmen of Neufchatel, after a short imprisonment, and, when they had recovered from their wounds, resumed once again, and with renewed ardour, their mission.
It was not to be expected, however, that the somewhat riotous procedure of the Lutherans to gain the pulpits of the Romanists, although shielded by authority, would besuffered to settle the matter. In proportion as the one party grew in zeal and boldness, the other developed all their muscular and scheming powers. They plotted a counter-revolution by which the Protestant pulpit might be overthrown and the worship of the host substituted. The priests were active in securing the sympathies of those who were still attached to old Romish practices. They visited the houses of the people, put up temporary altars in their homes, and secretly sought in every way to accomplish their purposes. But on the eve of carrying out of the plot, the burghers of Berne demanded of the governor tbat protection which was due to the evangelists whom they, as a civil power, had sent out. The result was that the conspiracy proved ineffectual
, and the gospel was still preached in the town. In other places Farel met with the roughest usage: he was dragged out of pulpits, beaten severely, and stoned. In return for this the Reformers at Neufchatel went into one of the churches, and into an abbey-"a blissful nest of quarrelsome monks "--and destroyed their altars and images. It is evident that this strong and unjustifiable step would not have been taken were they not greatly incensed at the treatment of their favourite preacher, unlawfully received at the hands of the priests. They had a very rough and ready kind of argument to justify their extreme measures in this case. We, they argued, did not aim our blows at living men, but at unfeeling idols of wood and stone : our opponents strike at our preachers, we at their evil and debasing system. It requires two parties to make a quarrel, and if the Reformers were rash and iconoclastic, the Papists were subtle, cruel, and riotous.
Some of Farel's bitterest persecutors were won over to his cause. The wife of Lord Arnex, who had planned a conspiracy against the ill-used preacher and had beaten him in the street, and had filled the church with mischievous boys, who laid down and pretended to be asleep during the sermon, and then sprang up, howling with all their might—even this fair but determined opponent had been converted. So had her noble husband, and a number of other equally unlikely persons. Every one was astonished—could it be possible ?
At Geneva, events were shaping themselves for the favourable reception of the gospel. Geneva, at this time, was Romish. Calvin had not yet left the errors in which he had been brought up. But dissatisfaction with Rome was spreading. Bible colporteurs were fanning the flame, and the Huguenots were demanding that the Genevans should be politically free. Some sturdy laymen, who had accepted the Bible as their sole religion, were vigorously opposing the teaching and the influence of the priests. There was an increasing party who were desirous that a Reformer should preach the gospel in the city or its suburbs. The granting of indulgences--twenty-nine livres for a false oath, and only about fifteen livres for a murder-opened the eyes of many inhabitants of the city ; and the presentation, by those who had received the gospel, of free pardon by Jesus Christ still further prepared the way for the reformation in Geneva. And now the venturesome Farel, “ the great missionary," appears on the scene. By some he was recognised as the scourge of the priests, by others as "a shabby little preacher.” Many of the principal councillors and citizens heard him preach immediately upon his entrance into the city, and several were convinced.