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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 f”
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, aud 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 of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Appropriate architecture has a high value : we are to give God our best results of architectural skill : to Him we are to consecrate decorative art, to make His House “exceeding magnifical.” And rather a striking feature of the present day, is the strong re-action from the contemptible barns of churches which characterized the last century. Even those who cry down all significant ceremonial and holy rites, of late years so appreciate this revival of what the populace nickname “ Puseyism,” by uprearing fanes rivalling those of the middle ages. Every one of any taste or head who walks along the aisles of a noble Cathedral, beneath its bold and lofty arches, and amid its “dim religious light,” cannot but feel that such is a fitting place for audience with the Most High,-and that it is not seemly to build for the Infinite an abode, whose very meanness bespeaks a poor reverence for the Eternal Majesty. A magnifical House of Prayer is in itself a truly impressive object : still, we must have an inner eye which can discern far more grand, and solemn, and impressive things than mere human art can fashion. Thus, when faith is brought to bear on the services and worship of the sanctuary, they assume a very dif. ferent character and aspect froin that which they had before. Till God enlightens the understanding, they are only a form. However well arranged or celebrated, they address themselves merely to the taste or intellect: they are of the earth, earthy. The church may be stately and beautiful-the various offices may be all beautiful and enchanting : but the building, whether a gorgeous cathedral, or a square house, poor in style, is only a mass of stones, and the worship only an assemblage of sounds, until our eyes are opened from above. Our taste may be gratified, our eyes and ears may be pleased, but our hearts will be unmoved, until God vouchsafes us spiritual discernment. Sunday after Sunday, we may join in the same prayers, the same Psalms, the same Scriptures repeated over and over again—but unless we join in them with awe and reverence, we shall return without a blessing, we shall never know that “the Lord is in this place.” But when we have discovered, with spiritual insight, the Altar of God upreared in the House of God, then shall we constantly frequent it,-even the altar on which we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, body, soul, and spirit; the altar whereof we have a right to eat; the Altar where One offers Himself for us to us, who is the life of the world and the light of men ; the Holy Table where we join the Lamb's marriage feast, that we, entering in, may sup with him, and he with us. While awe and alarm, and the overwhelming sense of our unworthiness, would repel us from gathering up even the crumbs under God's Table, yet, the invitation and call of Christ—He who is within, the centre of radiance and glory, does not reject but invite “the weary and heavy laden.” His voice, and the voice of his spouse, the church, is, “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” “Do this in remembrance of me.” " Having, therefore, brethren, boldness through the blood of Jesus to enter into the holiest by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” Through the open gate of heaven, out of God's house on earth, let us lift up our hearts on high, even to the heaven of heavens, (as St. John beheld it,) where the unutterable glory of divinity streams from every wound of the atoning Lamb, " as it had been slain,” as the centre point of ineffable love ; where the eyes of the everlasting Father rest in benignant complacency on the one continual sacrifice of his beloved Son, and teaches us to carry out his will on earth as it is done in heaven. However, let us carefully remember, that, as Christ opens our eyes to the greatness of our Christian privileges, and admits us into the inner sanctuary,—and declares that, “ Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him,"-80, our inner life must show consistency. When Moses had been in the Mount with God, his face shone. So, when we have been in intimate communion, our lives should shine out in deeper devotion and in stricter watchfulness. We must not rest in ordinances, or in the feelings which they excite in us at the time. Take we good heed, therefore, that our inner life and outward actions do not discord : let us remember that we are the salt of the earth, lamps lit in a dark place, the city set upon a hill. “Ye are the light of the world."
As we advance on through the forty days' sojourn of our Blessed Lord between his Easter and his Ascension, and ponder his various revelations of himself, to Mary Magdalene, to the two on their way to Emmaus, to St. Thomas, and to the eleven,-He sums up all blessings in this concluding blessing, (as he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifted up his hands to bless)—“ Peace I leave with you': my peace I give unto you.” The blessed. ness given us is not of this world, or of our present life, but a golden cord let down out of heaven, to draw up our hearts thitherward, awaiting, in the temple of his church below, his second glorious Advent,-when, out of the place which He is now preparing for us, He shall come again with the last crowning blessing in His Hands, and take us by it to Himself, that where He, the Head is, there may we His members follow. Nothing but the thought of Christ's abiding presence, of His being in us, and with us,-the sharer of our trials, and the companion of our pilgrimage, can in any way fill up the aching void-can pluck out the stings of sorrow and disappointment, and change our despair and repinings at the vanity of things temporal, into grateful acknowledgments and childlike trust ; that He, who, in hitherto preserving us, has, at the same time, been gradually weaning us from this world, and therein has afforded us abundant ground of hope that he, who has hitherto delivered, will yet deliver. It was the Psalmist's humble trust that the loving-kindness and mercy of God should follow him all the days of his life ; and surely they who are conscious that they are endeavouring to walk in the Psalmist's steps, may repose themselves on the same comfortable hope. Pilgrims along life's stern and dreary way, we have still, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, a Companion in our path, who walks beside us, unseen, indeed, yet close at hand, who sympathizes with us as having shared our infirmities and sorrows, who is our Brother as well as our Lord, who, though as yet our eyes are holden that we should not know Him as He is, knows us, and loves, and pities us, in spite of that knowledge, and who is willing to tarry with us, and to be the Guide we so much need ; or rather, who hath already guided us, and hath talked with us by the way, even before our hearts began to burn within us.
This, my brethren, is the state of mind at which the Christian will be continually endeavouring to arrive--a simple committal of himself to his God and Saviour-with prayers for His continual presence, and entire, unreserved, 'unhesitating trust in His ever-watchful Providenc The Christian knows that, so long as God continues himn in the world, he must continue in the fellowship of his Saviour's sufferings ; and, therefore, his desire is to be made like unto him in faith and patience. If hitherto he has had much of trial, he trusts, that this, his experience, may enable him to meet those troubles which are in store for him hereafter, in a better and more submissive spirit. If as yet God's chastening hand has fallen lightly on him, he endeavours to discipline himself, that so he may bear the rod when it comes upon him. If as yet, neither chance nor change, sickness nor sorrow-care, anxiety, nor disappointment, have dimmed the brightness of his eye, nor imprinted a furrow on his brow, he soberly reflects that the probability is that some or all of them will speedily be his portion, and he prepares himself in them, to meet his God. The fewer the trials that have as yet been sent, the heavier may be those which are impending. The rarer the opportunities, hitherto, of showing forth faith and resignation, the brighter must be the light exbibited, when God shall put him to the test. Known unto God only, are the destinies which await any one of us. The Christian knows that the longer he lives, sorrows must await him, more disappointment of hopes, more breaking of long established ties, more changes, more pain, more tears, more bereavements, more death. And he knows that these things must fall on him, as his own strength is failing, and as sicknsss and infirmity are wasting down his bodily powers and the buoyancy of his mind, and bringing him to to the house-dark and narrow-appointed for all living.
It is hard to rejoice in tribulation ; to “yield most humble and hearty thanks,” when some object, who has been the light of our eyes, is removed from “the miseries of this sinful world;" but he who sends our trials, sends them one by one, as we are able to bear them-gradually teaching us, by our own experience, that it is good for us to be afflicted. Could our eyes pierce into the future ; could we look into each successive grave that is opened beside us, till we have reached our own; could we at once, and at