Images de page
PDF
ePub

a

potentially, but only potentially, a revelation of all truth to the intellect, and a communication of all power to the will. It is a growing and expansive force, not a force which exhausts itself in one impulse. In short, it is a seed, not a full-formed flower; and like all seeds, its growth is liable to checks and drawbacks. It is planted in the poor barren soil of the human heart, which by nature engenders weeds only. It shoots up into the climate of a wicked world. And just as, in the world of nature, plants are exposed to blight, which is said to be composed of hosts of minute insects, so in the moral world Grace is apt to be thwarted by the legions of fallen angels, whom the Scriptures speak of as swarming around us on every side, “principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world." What wonder if the spiritual development of saints be often thrown back, and if their best graces be sadly marred by infirmities?

III. We have been endeavouring to correct the popular notion of saints as men exempt from our infirmities and altogether exalted above our sphere. But this notion has another tendency, besides that which has been already discussed. It leads not only to what we may call an over-valuation of those saints who have long since passed away, but to an under-valuation of those who may now be (if we had eyes to see them) fighting the battle of life by our side. And against this error also the Word of God protests, teaching us, in another passage, that “the world is not worthy” of God's saints. Every man and woman who lives by Christian principle (that is, by faith), who sustains the life of his immortal spirit by prayer, and sacraments, and the Word of God, and resists evil watchfully and steadfastly, is a saint. He may have his infirmities, his

. backslidings, his periods of lukewarmness, his failings of temper, his moral cowardice; so had the Scriptural saints. And our close commerce with him in life, forcing upon us, as it does, his weaknesses and prejudices, while his communion with God, transacted in the depths of his own spirit, is of course skreened from from us, hinders for the present our fully appreciating him. We see very clearly that he is “a man subject to like passions as we are ;" but we fail to see that he is Elijah. Perchance we shall see this too by-and-by, when he is taken from us. Sanctity in our friends and neighbours is like a star. We take no notice of the star while the sun is pouring his rays over the firmament, and the full stir of life is around us. But let the night draw her curtain over the sky; and the star in all its beauty steals out to view. So while our friends are mixed up with us in the hurry and commerce of life, we seem unable to disentangle from their infirmities the saintliness which is in them. But they die; and something comes to light about their inward life which hitherto had escaped every eye but God's, and we begin to discover that the commonest things they did were governed by Christian principle, and referred to God in prayer, and perhaps that we have been for years walking side by side with angels unawares. Death has now thrown his pall over them; they are no longer in the hubbub of life or the strife of tongues ; and the star of their sanctity begins to twinkle brightly to our eyes.

Oh ! lest remorse for having appreciated God's saints so little should strike a chill to our hearts, when they are taken from us, let us now be on the watch for any tokens of good in one another, and hail such tokens with affectionate reverence. Let not infirmities, however patent, blind our eyes to the grace which there may be in a brother. Let us hope for good in him, promptly believe in it, joyfully welcome it. And let us not fail to bless God for every example of faith and love given by His people, whether still in a state of warfare, or departed to their rest, beseech‘ing Him to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of His heavenly kingdom.”

66

[ocr errors]

To revert again, in conclusion, to the great lesson of this Chapter. The greatest saints who ever lived, whether under the Old or New Dispensations, are on a level which is quite within our reach.

The same forces of the spiritual world which were at their command, and the exertion of which made them such spiritual heroes, are open to us also. If we had the same faith, the same hope, the same love which they exhibited, we could achieve marvels as great as those which they achieved—not indeed the marvels which change the outward face of nature, but those higher marvels, whose field is the heart and soul of man. A word of prayer in our mouths would be as potent to call down the gracious dews and the melting fires of God's Spirit, as it was in Elijah's mouth to call down literal rain and fire, if we could only speak the word with that full assurance of faith wherewith he said it. Let us no more say querulously, as an excuse to our consciences for not prosecuting the high end to which we are called;—“God has put the great standards of holiness out of my reach.” IT IS NOT so. As if with the design of meeting such an objection, He exhibits to us in His Word the occasional failures and feebleness of His most illustrious servants, and gives us a glimpse of them, not only in the triumphs of Grace, but in the infirmities of Nature. Seen in plain truth, and not through the distorting medium of distance, they were “men of like passions with ourselves,” though under the empire of principles which brought God into immediate relation with them, and thus lifted them above self and the world. Why should we not follow them, even as they followed God and Christ? Plainly the reason is not to be sought in any disadvantages under which we labour, in comparison of them. It is not that holiness was originally more congenial to their nature than to ours. It is not that privileges accorded to them are denied to

It can be nothing but that laggardness of will, that indifference to high moral aims, that want of spiritual

[ocr errors]

us.

energy, that cheerful acquiescence in the popular standard of religion, which has caused many a soul, when "weighed in the balances,” to be “found wanting," to be counted unworthy of the calling and the Kingdom of God.

« PrécédentContinuer »