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heard just now_"If you let me out of prison to-day, I will preach the gospel tomorrow, by the help of God?" Who was it that lay twelve years in prison, and when they said he might go out if he would promise not to preach, replied, “No, I will be here till the moss grows on mine eyelids, but I must and will preach God's gospel as soon as I have liberty?” Why, that is John Bunyan, the very man who cursed Christ the other day. A ringleader in vice has become the glorious dreamer, the very leader of God's hosts. See, what God did for him, and what God did for him he will do for you, if now you repent and seek the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
“He is able, he is willing, doubt no more." Oh! I trust I have some here who have hated God, but who are nevertheless God's elect; some that have despised him, but who are bought with blood; some that have kicked against the pricks, but yet almighty grace will bring them onward. There are some here, I doubt not, who have cursed God to his face, who shall one day sing hallelujahs before his throne; some that have indulged in lusts all but bestial, who shall one day wear the white robe, and move their fingers along the golden harps of the glorified spirits in heaven. Happy is it to have such a gospel to preach to such sinners! To the persecutor, Christ is preached. Come to Jesus whom thou hast persecuted.
“Come, and welcome, sinner, come.” And now bear with me one moment if I address you yet again. The probability stares me in the face that I may have but very few more opportunities of addressing you upon subjects that concern your soul. My hearer, I shall arrogate nothing to myself, but this one thing—“I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God," and God is my witness with how many sighs, and tears, and prayers, I have laboured for your good. Out of this place I believe thousands have been called; among you whom I now see there is a large number of converted persons; according to your own testimony you have had a thorough change, and you are not now what you were. But I am conscious of this fact, that there are many of you who have attended here now almost these two years, who are just what you were when you first came. There are some of you whose hearts are not touched. You sometimes weep, but still your lives have never been changed; you are yet "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity." Well, sirs, if I never address you again, there is one favour that I would crave of you. If you will not turn to God, if you are determined to be lost, if you will not hear my rebuke nor turn at my exhortation, I ask this one favour; at least let me know, and let me have this confidence, that I am clear of your blood. I think you must confess this. I have not shunned to preach of hell with all its horrors, until I have been laughed at, as if I always preached upon it. I have not shunned to preach upon the most sweet and pleasing themes of the gospel, till I have feared lest I should make my preaching effeminate, instead of retaining the masculine vigour of a Boanerges. I have not shunned to preach the law; that great commandment has wrung in your ears, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” I have never feared the great, nor have I courted their smile; I have rebuked nobility as I would rebuke the peasantry, and to everyone of you I have dealt a portion of meat in due season. I know that this much can be said of me—“ Here stands one that never feared the face of man yet;" and I hope never will. Amidst contumely, and rebuke, and reproach, I have sought to be faithful to you and to my God. If then, you will be damnerd, let me have this one thing as a consolation for your misery, when I shall think of so frightful a thought-that you are not damned for the want of calling after; you are not lost for the want of weeping after, and not lost, let me add, for the want of praying after. In the name of him who shall judge the quick and dead according to my Gospel, and of him that shall come in the clouds of heaven, and by that fearful day when the pillars of this earth shall totter, and the heavens shall fall about your ears—by that day when - Depart, ye cursed," or "Come, ye blessed," must be the dread alternative, I charge you, lay these things to heart, and as I shall face my God to account for my honesty to you, and my faithfulness to him, so remember, you must stand before his bar, to give an account of how you heard, and how you acted after hearing; and woe unto you if, having been lifted up like Capernaum with privileges, you should be cast down like Sodom and Gomorrah, or lower still than they, because you repented not. Oh! Master! turn sinners to thyself; for Jesus sake! Amen.
THE TWO DISCIPLES' JOURNEY TO EMMAUS.
PREACHED on Sunday MORNING, APRIL 11, 1858,
BY THE REV. J. F. S. GORDON, D.D.
IN ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH, GLASGOW.
“And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent."--Luke xxiv, 28, 29.
On the day of the resurrection of our blessed Lord, two of the disciples were on their way to Emmaus, a village some short distance from Jerusalem. In what frame of mind they journeyed, we can be at no loss to discover ; for when our Lord appeared to them, we are told they were engaged in communing and reasoning together of all the things which had happened so recently at Jerusalem-and that his first question to them was, in these words, “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad ?" Their answer showed their doubts and their suspense. Their minds were full of Him, whom they acknowledged as mighty in word and deed, before God and all the people,” yet, nevertheless they could not bring themselves to speak of Him as “more than a prophet;" they manifest their astonishment at the tale of the reported resurrection, yet never seem to call to mind the many predictions which had been uttered on the subject. No sooner, however, does the Saviour begin to expound to them the Scriptures concerning Himself, than their hearts “burn within them,”-they listen with the deep interest of men whose thoughts are all centred in one absorbing subject ; who honestly seek for more light and knowledge, who desire to be convinced, and to be led into the way of truth. Their hearts revive as they listen to the teaching of the unknown Companion; they feel that it is good to be in his company ; and when he seems disposed to part from them, (just as the dove often moves its wings ere it takes flight,) they constrain him to continue with them—" Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”
Our own condition, in this our state of earthly trial, is not wholly unlike that of the disciples of Emmaus. At least, like them, we tread a path of sorrow, with blinded eyes, and uncertain steps ; like them, we wander forth, desolate and lonely; like them, we have to learn the extent of our own infirmities and incapacities ; like them, as we commune together, we are "sad," and, in truth, have much to make us so. Why, then, should we not betake ourselves to the same Friend in whom they found solace? Why should we not address our prayer deliberately and habitually to that Saviour whom they invoked unconsciously? Why should we not say to him as they said, " Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent."
“ Far spent,” indeed it is, even to the youngest, and healthiest, and strongest, among us :-“Far spent,” inasmuch as by every one of us, time has been wasted which can never be recalled, opportunities neglected, which will never be vouchsafed again; talents abused or frittered away, not one of which can be so treated with impunity; and means of grace despised, not one of which, but if duly improved, would have shown itself of inestmable value. “ The day is far spent.” To some among us, it may be, that few more work. ing hours remain. Some may be conscious of this by their own sensations ; they may feel the inroads of time, the ravages of care and sorrow, the weari. ness of lengthened toil. The infirmities of advancing age, and the failure of the powers of life may unequivocally warn them that night is coming on ; that before long they shall be able to work no more; that "the years draw nigh, when they shall say that they have no pleasure in them." To none of us is there any assurance that the day is not far spent, for even though in respect of the usual length of years allotted to man, we may not have yet lived out half our time, who can tell that his sun shall not go down while it is yet day? Who can tell how near, or how far distant, that night may be in which his soul may be required of him!
“ It is toward evening !" Hour after hour has passed away ;-the early dawn,-the fresh and joyous morning,—the scorching noontide with its heat and burden,--the afternoon with its weariness and exhaustion, each in turn have departed; and change, and chance, and sin, and sorrow, have been the companions of each. The brilliant hopes which we conceived, have shrunk and withered: the schemes which were to have ripened, have, for the most part, ended like untimely fruit, in rottenness aud decay. Yea, whether in the main, success or disappointment has been the result of our exertions, the closing day must elicit from every one of vis the same confession, that "all is vanity.” Pleasure, riches, power, rank, youth, strength, beauty, health, all perish in the using." Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
“ It is toward evening !" Hour after hour has passed away ; and though we have laboured on to the last, not an hour has elapsed but some one of our fellow-labourers has been called from our side to go home, and wait to receive his wages from his Master's hand. When we were children, the
children whom we loved, and who were the companions of our merry games, died around us, and gave us, perhaps, the first taste of that sorrow, which has ever since been mingled with the cup. In our youth we were shocked at seeing those of our own age fall beside us under some sudden blow, and we mourned at the time with all the depth and emotion of innocent and feeling hearts. But, we lived on; we lived to manhood, still shocked and warned by the successive deaths of those contemporaries who seemed but as yesterday to have the same prospects of life with ourselves. And now, as we look back, and see, perhaps, not one in ten of those with whom we started on our career surviving : as we find a new generation preparing to supply our place ; what thought,-as year by year, Advent and Christmas, Lent and Passion Week, Easter and Whitsuntide return (seasons sanctified each by its own associations of the past); what thought, I say, can come more naturally to our minds than this, that our remaining time must needs be short; that our opportunities of serving God in the courts of his house are rapidly drawing to an end ; that “it is toward evening, that the day is far spent ?"
We read that the “Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." But, we do not constantly witness how even the Word of God is wrested by individuals in support of some novel vagary, just as it furnishes the profane to point a jest! My brethren, the Scriptures will never make “our hearts burn within us,” if we carry thereto the same feelings as to a treatise on some branch of human science. There are inner meanings in the Inspired Volume which will never be reached through learning and ingenuity, but which open before the humble and prayerful inquirer : so that passages on which criticism is vainly turning all its strength, and to which it can attach nothing but an obscure sense, reveal to many an uneducated and simple-minded Christian the counsels of God and the bliss of the unseen. “The pure in heart, they shall see God.” The teaching is not merely to be stored in the memory, but to be woven into the practice. Let there be a real anxiety for spiritual wisdom, an honest wish to walk in God's holy ways, and an endeavour to cultivate good dispositions, and one lesson shall lead on to another,-field after field shall unfold beauty and grandeur-increase of light will revive, and the vanishing of darkness encourage the Christian. The power of Christ's resurrection is manifest in his Word. Christ reveals himself in the relief of the lonely penitent's yearning heart. He reveals himself in the interpretation of his own blessed Word, and in its application to our own individual case. It is not a lifeless but a living Word, for it makes “our hearts burn within us."
The position in which the two disciples stood is worthy of notice. They were within a hair.breadth of missing the most important truth which the
interview was preparing their minds for. Had they been too weary with their walk to importune for further converse, Christ would have passed on, and they would have lost the privilege of the vouchsafed manifestation. It seemed to depend on their embracing the present opportunity, and not allowing it to slip, in hopes of presently obtaining another, whether or not they should be satisfied of the great truth of Christ's resurrection. And here it is that the narrative should be most specially instructive to ourselves,setting forth a common danger, and delivering a general warning. For, there are many who often miss the manifestation of Christ, througli the letting slip some presented opportunity, in which it has depended on the im. mediately obeying some impulse, or hearkening to some suggestion, whether the door should fly open, or remain closed against them. Had the disciples, when at Emmaas, parted from their Teacher, and gone alone into the house, the golden opportunity would have been lost, and there would have been no manifestation of Christ to the soul. But, when “He made as though he would have gone further," they could not bear to part with Ilim with whom they were so entranced-therefore, “they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” Jesus loves to be “constrained.” He wishes to take up his abode in our hearts. He longs to reveal Himself. “And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him : and he vanished out of their sight.” In the acts of worship they found the Saviour—"And their eyes were opened, and they knew him.” How different is the aspect of the acts of worship, as soon as our eyes are opened, from what it has been before ! What a change is it from Luz to Bethel ! The patriarch Jacob beheld the sun set ; its light lingered on the walls of Luz; the cold grey rocks were about him; the hills surrounded him ; the shades of evening stretched out over him ; night rose over the sky; the stones of the place were his pillow, and he slept. All looked of the earth, earthy. He had dreamed while thus he slept,--and his dream was truer than his waking. “Behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven ; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending upon it." All is now heaven, heavenly. Then Jacob awoke, he exclaims, “Surely the Lord is in this place: and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” What caused the change? Just the Altar of God. It was Bethel, the House of God, where his forefather Abraham had worshipped, and where he had reared the altar of the Lord, and offered up sacrifices. The visions of faith is more real than the objects of our sense. The former has indeed substance, which increases in the distinctness of its features and the magnificence of its objects, till, from the shadowy iinage of a land far away, resting like mist on the horizon, it grows into the "Mount Zion, the city