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are not indeed left to doubt the love of God; we need not . torment ourselves with the dread that He will not forgive our sins; but it would seem as if, in what wrong has once been done, God had been defrauded of that which not even He could recover. It is sometimes hard to connect even nature with God; but the vast mystery that most utterly baffles us, is the personality of God coming into contact and even conflict with a personality in men. How the will of God and the will of man, both free, can be brought into harmony; how a power to disobey of which we are all only too conscious, can become an insatiable desire to submit and to depend,-how, especially after sin, God can gain a victory that shall not be identical with coercion; and how the greatest good shall be made to result even from the many experiments and failures of wrong,—this is what we have yet to learn. To gain the solution of these difficulties we look for a fuller revelation of God. · And when we pass from individuals to nations we are, if possible, still more perplexed. For our doubt need not be whether the end will be right; but how much has been sacrificed and lost in the process. What is to become of all those who passed away before the cruelties of tyrants were avenged? Where are the prisoners, for example, who languished through long years of torture and deferred hope before the Neapolitan dungeons were opened? It is not the first act of oppression that rouses a people to resistance; and the glory and freedom of almost every great nation has been bought by the blood and tears of her forgotten sons. Who shall bring back their names to the memories of men, and give them their fair share of that prosperity which without them never could have been? Or are they “ to be cast as rubbish to the void,” when the pile is made complete? Here, moreover, returns the perplexity that we feel in the case of individuals : how much more prosperous might the most prosperous nation have been if it had been journeying through its whole history on a right course. We can, indeed, see that a certain measure of oppression has proved suicidal, and forced a people to assert rights and obtain liberties that they never afterwards lost. But we can see with far greater clearness at how vast a cost such successes have been obtained. And what resurrection is there for the buried generations of uncivilized and unchristianized men ?
Indeed, dous not that question which divines seem more anxious to avoid than any other, press upon us more and more, not, perhaps, for an immediate answer, but demanding to be answered before the revelation of God can be considered complete,—the question, is any evil to be left in the universe of God ? is a hell full of devils and the blaspheming spirits of men,
tortured in hopeless agony, growing more and more wicked as their sufferings and their despair are prolonged,—is this to be for ever a part of the revelation of God's love and power? Is hell really a victory of the Divine will, and not, rather, of the rebellious human will? Is it a vindication of God's justice, or the poor expedient of baffled wisdom and exhausted resources ? We cannot venture to say what the answer to such questions as these may be. Hell may be far other than we think, than we dream; it may be a victory of God; it may be even a revelation of God's love, upon principles of which we can form no conception, to which we have nothing analogous, which lie, for the present, far beyond the reach either of our reason or conscience.
But, whether hell be compatible with a Divine triumph or not, the ultimate revelation of God must be the revelation of a conqueror. The Bible is not without its solemn warnings of a misery and punishment that seem at once hopeless and fruitless, never to do any good, yet never to end; it tells us of "a worm that dieth not, and a fire that is not quenched ;” it tells us that there was, at least, one man of whom it might be said, “ It were better for that man if he had not been born.” Again, it tells us of One “ who has the keys of death and of hell,” in “ whom all things shall be gathered together;" of One who, sitting on His throne, says, “Behold, I make all things new;” of a “ restitution of all things ;” of “God all in all.” These representations are not different only, but contradictory; they seem to belong to different regions of thought and experience, to different periods of the world's development. Each is in harmony with its own circle of facts, and laws, and anticipations; but for all that, like the facts themselves, they are opposed, and there must be some unity into which these differences may be resolved. And the resolution of them is necessary to that revelation of God in the future state, for which every increase of our knowledge makes us more ardently long. And this longing, and the hope that it will be satisfied, attain their utmost strength in the presence of the sacrifice of Christ. What will “satisfy the travail of His soul” ? What amount of redemption is to be the result of what He has suffered and done,—that life and death which were a perfect satisfaction to the Father? “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”
“ Behold, we know not anything ;
We can but trust that good shall fall
At last, far off, at last to all,
“ So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night,
An infant crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry." • Meanwhile, let us discharge those duties which belong to the present, and for which the light of the present is enough. We know that “ God's commandment is eternal life." All our hopes are on the side of goodness and virtue. There can be no salvation for men apart from these. Let us live, not for happiness, but for godliness ; so happiness will come to us, when it ought to come, as it ought to come. And should it never come, our whole being would be indeed a mockery and delusion, the noblest promises of reason and conscience empty lies, nay, the very universe chaotic, and the belief in a God impossible; yet we should be without remedy. Goodness would, indeed, deceive and disappoint us, but she would still be the least treacherous of all our betrayers.
But we need not fear this horrible and revolting contradiction, We know, at least, that “God is love." The narrowest form of the Gospel is compelled to acknowledge this. The cruelties of the Ultra-Calvinist heresy do not mean to be utterly unmerciful; and, as none of its teachers have ventured to tell us who the elected few unquestionably are, a loving spirit may find an excuse, though not a reason, for offering salvation to all. Only one here and there has had the logical hardihood to people hell with “infants a span long." For the most part, Christian teachers shrink with a pious instinct from any limiting of God's love or power, here or hereafter. Mysteries that they have scarcely faith to trust utterly to the “charity that never faileth,” they wisely " leave." Let us HAVE FAITH IN GOD, who seeth the end from the beginning, who is mighty to save, who sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. Let us not doubt that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. “Hallelujah ! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ! Hallelujah!” “Then cometh the end, when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, THAT GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL.
JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA.
“Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.”—John xix. 41. JOSEPH of Arimathea occupies no very prominent position in the stirring foreground of the Gospel history. Neither his form nor countenance come forth into distinct view, on a line with apostles and evangelists; but a mild and holy radiance covers his memory, as he stands retired in the shadows behind. His name has passed down through the ages gathering a quiet affectionate reverence peculiar to itself,—the name of a man none of whose words are expressly recorded, but who acted lovingly and bravely at the right time. The fond superstitions of Glastonbury Abbey indicate the place of veneration which held in the heart of Christendom even from the earliest centuries of the Gospel. Around his head shines the bright halo of a prophetic mention eight hundred years before Christ. He occupies a line in the noted chapter in which Isaiah foretold “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow :"“ He was with the rich man in his death ; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.” He was one of the principal Jewish nobility of the day ; uniting a character of religious and political dignity as a member of the supreme council of the nation, and adding to the eminence of his rank the consideration arising from the possession of wealth, wealth so great as to give him his qualification on the page of prophecy. But he was no vulgar capitalist,—no millionaire without a soul. He was rich in good works, a mild and pious man, and he has gone to heaven..
After the lapse of so many ages fancy delights to sweep away the coarse masses of ecclesiastical architecture which extend over the ground which was once his property,—and to walk alone in his “garden " as it appeared when he and his family, and his “gardener,” were the sole frequenters. It lay on the Mediterranean side of the city, on the slope of Acre, just outside the walls, to the north-west. Josephus tells us that Jerusalem was thickly environed with such groves and gardens. It was, no doubt, a shady retired spot, planted with flowering shrubs and umbrageous trees,—the fig, the sycamore, and the acacia. The rich man's metropolitan abode was probably among those of the other nobility on the heights of Zion, grouped around the magnificent palace and gardens of Herod and Mariamme: but here when weary of the business of the State and of the vanities of.
enk the condicil of the and politica2obility of tin His m
life, he used to walk, and meditate, and pray. The end of the garden was probably the rock on which the city was built, rising up nearly perpendicularly; and here Joseph had excavated his princely tomb. Here, in the shady recess, adorned perhaps on the exterior with sculpture after the prevailing fashion, he intended when the affairs of life were over to lie down in death until the judgment-day. As we look at him sitting under the shadow of his favourite tree, reading in dim wonder the book of the prophet Esaias, or one of the commentaries of the scribes, let us make these observations upon him :
The most elevated rank and fortune, although generally a hinderance, is not an absolute preventive of real piety. This man lived among the gay fascinations of the highest station and beauty; his coffers were full of gold ; he was a member of the Sanhedrim; his hands were full of business; but he seems to have kept, in the midst of all life's noises, a quiet place in his own heart for meditation on religion; and, more than that, to have been, according to his light, a good man,—one who would not for any earthly consideration join hands for a work of wickedness; one, moreover, more rare,—a man who stood so strong on his own moral understanding, that he could dare to stand alone, to brave the murmurs and the ridicule of the infuriated hierarchy; the advocate of reason and righteousness amidst a multitude of educated madmen and murderers. And never is true piety more beautiful and princely than when it is exhibited in such exalted men. It is glorious in a leprous beggar, in a weeping penitent, in a sighing publican, in a dying robber; but it often escapes the eyes of mankind when so attired in a dark disguise. When it shines in a king, a nobleman, a statesman, a judge, all men can recognise and “ bless the useful light." The radiance of Joseph's goodness extends from Migdol to Syene, over all the land of Egypt. The wisdom of Daniel illuminates and refreshes one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the Persian empire. The mighty statesman who lives on pulse, prays three times a day, and sees the visions of God for fifty years, vindicates the majesty of the true religion over the breadth of a continent, against all the powers of darkness and misrule. While we are thankful that the Divine grace can reach and raise the vilest men, let us not forget to magnify the heavenly love which occasionally adorns the magnates of the earth with the crimson robe of a higher nobility, and glorifies their worldly splendour with “ the crown of life.”
The common defect of pious persons in such stations of honour is timidity in the confession of their faith, Just in proportion to the cultivation of the mind is the tendency to conceal the most sacred feelings of the soul, and also the sensitiveness of the spirit