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“ Be still, and know that I am God.”—PsALM xlvi. 10. If we carry our minds back to the city of Cæsarea in the year A.D. 62, we find Paul a prisoner under the power of the Roman governor; with liberty, however, to receive visits from his friends. Had we been amongst their number, we should probably have asked the beloved apostle how he liked the enforced rest and quiet of those two long years; how, with his ceaseless energy, and burning zeal to accomplish the work put into his hands, he could endure a confinement that allowed him nothing more than the occasional visit of his friends. Had such a question been asked, the answer would doubtless have been given in much the same words as those written to the Philippians when he was in somewhat similar circumstances, “I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in
every thing and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me” (Phil. iv. 12–13, R.V.); and he might have added, that he had learned the secret both how to do and not to do.
It is well for us to remember that however much God values the work He may do by us, He values far more the work that He does in us; for that which He does in us will pre-eminently manifest the grace which makes us vessels of His eternal glory. When laid aside from the activities of service, workers for the Master are prone to forget this, and a painful sense of useless inactivity is taken advantage of by Satan to mar that calmness of soul which is needful for the carrying on of God's mighty work
within, in order that the faithful servant may thereby be ripened, it may be for brighter service here, it may be for brighter service yonder. Lessons in being “still ” have to be learned by every child of God sooner or later, and we are often slow in learning these lessons by which God seeks to bring out the softer tones of the divine likeness, the lowlier features of divine grace—those doubly precious resemblances to the character of Christ, which it is well nigh impossible to fix upon the soul amidst the din of strife, the activities of real service, and the outworkings of the energies of faith. In the one case the heart is occupied with its own workings and doings for the Master; in the other it yields to the quiet operation of God's workings and transformings, and learns the blessed secret of that direct and personal knowledge of God into which the believing soul is led in the quiet stillness of apparently unoccupied hours. From necessity rather than from choice the heart is then contented not to do, that God may the more effectually do what He sees needful, in order to pourtray by His Spirit upon the living tables of the heart the image and likeness of Christ. God's object, it may be, is to make His child no longer a preacher, a speaker, or a doer; but a silent epistle to be read by men and angels.
The following story about a child beautifully illustrates this. A friend going once to call upon a lady, found her child seated by her side, and while the little one's eyes beamed with intelligence, neither did her little tongue :speak nor did her hands move; she was silent and motionless. The friend was struck at the quietness of the child, and before leaving asked her what she was doing. Her reply was, “ I am learning my still lesson.”
How precious an answer! How obedient the child; how wise the mother! Now, what if God is again and again teaching His faithful ones that of all lessons this “still ” lesson is
the most important? Must not the heart of our Father in heaven rejoice with exceeding joy when he sees those whom He loves so well, and whose eternal destinies are to Him of such priceless value, quietly and calmly content to sit still, and not to do, seeking in His holy presence to learn their lesson well, and to please Him who takes them aside by “the still waters to rest awhile ?
It is thus God teaches us, and well it is for us if we are
able to say,
“I am not eager, strong, or bold
All that is past !
At last, at last !
'Tis all my part;
A patient heart. Truly we have a patient God, and we need continually to echo the prayer of the apostle in 2 Thess. iii. 5, “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.” Our poor impatient hearts need to be guided into that love which can alone bring forth in us the patience of which Christ is the example, and of which James writes, “ Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." How often we need to be reminded of those words of Psalm xlvi.“Be still and know that I am God ! ' It is not till we are still, content not to do, when He so appoints, that we can realize the precious truth that He is God. There is often more pride in our restless inability to be still than we are aware of; and our loving Father has often to use hard means to break the neck of our pride, and to lay our stubborn self-importance low in the dust. The tempest, the shakings and swellings, indicated in the Psalm, add force to the injunction to “be still.”
May the Lord in His infinite mercy give to all His loved ones whom He has for a season taken aside, such an appreciation of their golden opportunity, that the deep and precious teaching of their “still” lesson may be well learned, and yield a rich present joy as well as a precious eternal reward.
“I WILL GUIDE THEE WITH MINE EYE.'
Without a fear, without a care
Thus would I wait, my Lord,
Springs forward at Thy word ;
Thus would I-but my coward soul
Does aye elude my will,
From faintest touch of ill!
Cast out the terror from my heart,
Keep me from vain alarm,
Fearless of loss and harm;
Thus shall I ready be to run,
Thus willing, Lord, to wait;
Thy will doth dedicate
E. S. W.
“THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.”
THE sixth chapter of Luke's Gospel is evidently a brief counterpart of Matt. v.-vii.; for it begins and ends as the “Sermon on the Mount” does, and is almost wholly composed of portions of it. Other portions lie here and there in Luke's Gospel, from which it would seem that Matthew gives in these chapters a summary of our Lord's Galilean teachings, as he gives in chapters viii. and ix, a summary of His Galilean miracles; for these also are found in different parts of Luke. We may
therefore regard Matt. v.-vii. as an announcement and a declaration by the Lord, of the holiness and heavenly-mindedness of that “ kingdom of the heavens* " which had already, in His own blessed Person, come down on a visit to earth. This “kingdom of the heavens” is the same as the “ kingdom of God” in the other Gospels.
Kingdom of the heavens” points to the place above from whence the King had already come in grace, and would hereafter come in glory. Compare our Lord's words to Pilate in John xviii. 36, “My kingdom is not of this world .... now is My kingdom not from hence." Most justly, therefore, does He call it " The kingdom of the heavens.” Compare also God's message to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. iv. 26, “They shall drive thee from men
till thou know that the heavens do rule." The expression,“ kingdom of God” points to God Himself as the one only source of power or authority in the heavenly kingdom.
This comprehensive expression gives the exact meaving of the ori. ginal, as Mr. Newberry's Bible rightly shows.