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glory,” said the brothers—and the Christ hung upon the cross ; and soon after the one brother was joined to the noble army of martyrs. And is not life always this—the very opposite of our own hopes and desires and wishes ? Is not life, generally, the destruction rather than the realization of the cherished purposes of our bright and sunny youth? Whose dreams have become substantial every-day-world facts? Whose course has been the success he said it should be ? Whose ambitions have been gratified ? Whose testimony is to-day, “I have gotten all I ever expected or desired”? Has not the world been stronger and harder and more contradictory than we ever thought, long ago, it could be; and have not circumstances been stronger than our own power; and has not the Divine ordination of our Life been very different from what we supposed it was? Disappointed ! yes, in one form or other that we have all been who have come to mature life; and some can hardly understand how they ever could have dreamt as they did, considering what the painful course of their life has really been.
But there is more here than the disappointment of desirethere is, also, its change and purification. James and John both came to know that there was something higher, nobler, truer and in every sense better, than sitting at the right hand of an earthly king, or holding the high offices of the State under an earthly monarch. James was taught, through the life and death of his Master, that there is a spiritual kingdom of truth and goodness to which it is essential that a man should belongthat there is a glory of character-a glory of purity and goodness and charity-which infinitely surpasses the brightness and splendour of the richest and mightiest of earth's potentatesa glory without which a man is darkened, ruined, and cursed for ever.
And he put away from him as base and unreal the idea of the Redeemer's temporal power and sovereignty ; grasped with all his heart the idea of the spiritual kingdom; and, in process of time, his old desire to sit on the right hand or on the left hand of Christ came to have a new meaning; and fellowship with Christ in character-fellowship with Christ in purpose-fellowship with Christ in benevolent labour-fellowship with Christ in life, in death, and in eternity, became the grand aim of his spirit and endeavour.
It is well if we have experienced a change like this--if the inevitable disappointment of life, instead of souring and embittering us, has helped us to feel and know the immeasurably higher worth of the spiritual elements of character of goodness, of godliness, of purity, of faith, of Divine fellowship; -if thus our ambitions have been turned away from selfish possessions to things higher than self—if we have come to know
that God is our highest portion and chiefest good. It takes much, and the process is painful, to dispossess us of the carnal, the material, the base and selfish projects which we may have entertained ; but our life never becomes real—it never has in it the elements of satisfaction, the elements of blessedness—until thus we learn to dwell in God, and are conscious that God dwells in us.
And it is in this way–in this new and higher, this purified sense, that youthful desires, disappointed in one sense, may yet be gloriously realized in another. James might not sit on the right hand of the Lord on earth, but he sits there in heaven. What he could not have realized here is blessedly fulfilled there. What earth never has given, heaven supplies to the humblest saint. The Kingdom of grace is changed into the Kingdom of glory, as the light of moon and stars pales and loses itself in the brightness of the morning. There was for the Apostles, as for all faithful souls, a crown of life laid up in heaven. He reached the glory through the path of suffering. He need to be emptied of self-emptied of personal desire, which was earthly- to give up his base ambition—to relinquish the idea of great things which he sought for himself; and in the service of Christ he attained a greatness nobler far than that of which he had ever dreamed in the hot days of his youth; and he was crowned with heavenly dignity, with spiritual glory, with Divine honour, and with immortal blessedness.
But more than this. There is here, also, a contrast between appearances and spiritual realities. “He killed James with the sword” expresses the fall of a good man before the destructive power of a tyrant—the bloody end of a faithful endeavour to serve the best and highest interests of humanity. A degrading execution, that is the fate, painful and humiliating, of the chief pastor of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. Faithfulness to the Lord, and his Gospel—that fiery zeal and energy which could not be restrained, have brought upon the minister the hatred of Herod, and this cruel and ignominious death. He was beheaded before he had reached middle life—was prematurely cut off—was cut off, just at the time when the Church was entering upon her enlarged Gentile mission, and before he could do anything by which he would be known, and for which he would be celebrated, in the history of the world. Whatever ambition he might have had as the servant of Christ was useless, and he passed away before he had time to make any deep impression upon the life of the Church. Humanly speaking, there is much here that is mournful and sad ; and it seems as though James had lived in vain-as though his whole life were but one continued disappointment and failure.
But it was not so in reality. If James was not permitted to continue long on earth, he did actually fulfil the ministry he had received of the Lord Jesus. His brother John lived for nearly sixty years after he had attained the crown of martyrdom, and yet his life was not more perfectly rounded off than was the life of James. The servants of the Lord are immortal until their work is done. The good die not until their testimony has been delivered, their due influence exerted, their character perfected, and their spirits made meet for the skies. It is not always those who live longest who do the most. It is not always that those of brilliant gifts and enlarged cultivation are allowed to exercise them : sometimes, in their case, there has only to be shown the meekness of wisdom, the patient spirit that longs to do, but is content to suffer, so the Lord be glorified. In painful afflictions well borne, and not by mighty deeds, some find the appointed end; and sometimes the vocation is fulfilled,
, in and through the quiet resignation of the spirit in an early and painful death. Missing the records of the Christian activity of James, and mourning over his premature death, we are met in the ancient history of the Church with the record of the fact that either his accuser before Herod, or the Roman soldier who had him in charge, was so influenced by his testimony to the Lord Jesus, and his admirable behaviour, that he confessed that he also was a Christian, and was put to death with him. And it is related further that, on the way to the place of execution, he craved forgiveness of the Apostle for what he had done in bringing him to death, and received for answer the Apostolic Christian benediction—"Peace be unto Thee," and the Kiss of Charity. The tradition is valuable as indicating what the impression was which James had produced upon the early Church—what was the kind of personal influence which he exerted—and what was the effect of his death. It shows us that he had not lived unusefully—that he had not died in vain. He had done all that the Lord required him to do; he had but to endure the baptism of blood, and then, the crown of life was his own.
The lessons are important. Suffering for Christ is as necessary as labour for Christ; and both they who suffer and they who work do well. Sacrifice, as we see it exemplified and embodied in the cross, has its counterpart in life, and some have only to make manifest in their mortal flesh the dying of the Lord Jesus. In working or in suffering, or in both together, we may be called to fulfil our destiny—to serve and glorify our Master. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Let us see to it that we be faithful, however painful, however arduous, our appointed task. The cup may be intensely bitter—the blood-baptism may wring our
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hearts with agony which cannot be expressed-still let us be faithful. “No cross, no crown!” " But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”
Life is not wasted because it early comes to an end. The seeds of truth and goodness sown by mortal hands are never lost. They always bring forth fruit. Preparation and discipline are not wasted because they are not used to more purpose in this life. There is another world in which ripened power, perfected character, holy wisdom, find their fitting sphere, and in which the will of the Lord is perfectly done. All is not lost because death comes soon. Those who were early taken from us—who were suddenly cut off, when they seemed to be most needed and were most likely to be useful—who are embalmed in our memories and in our hearts—did not die too soon, for “the Lord had need of them," and, therefore, called them into His heavenly kingdom. To die soon is to be early blessed-early released from earth's sins and sorrows-early taken home. To die suddenly in the service of Christ is to be suddenly glorified. It is all well, therefore, whether, as Christians, we live or die“ for to us to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."
THE ECCLESIASTICAL CHARACTERISTICS
OF THE LATE SESSION.
During the last few years there has been but little encouragement to reflection at the close of the parliamentary session; the prevailing feeling having been one of gladness that it was over, if not of wishfulness to forget its characteristics and its events. This, however, cannot be affirmed of the session of 1867; for its proceedings have been of the highest interest; one, at least, of the measures adopted is admitted by all parties to be of the first importance, and even the most light-hearted of politicians and journalists have felt constrained to moralize, as they have compared this year's political history with that of last year—the promise of the beginning of the session with the performance at the close ; and as they have contemplated the political possibilities and probabilities which open before us as the result of the parliamentary action of the last six months.
Nor is there any party to whom the retrospect can be altogether pleasant or satisfactory. For if the Whigs be “dished," where are the Tories? And if a seemingly triumphant government is still in possession of "dignities” which not long ago seemed to be hopelessly distant, is it not because it has eaten dirt" to an extent which lowers it below any administration of modern times? It is true that the Radicals are, or are supposed to be, left masters of the situation; but even they have to taste drops of bitterness in their cup, and may well be uneasy at the prospect of having to make their way to much-needed reforms through a sea of electoral corruption, which Mr. Disraeli, and his out-door lieutenant Mr. Spofforth, have done their best to widen and to deepen. And what true Liberal, if he be a moralist as well as a Liberal, can reflect without pain on the costly sacrifice which this Reform Act of 1867 has involved ?-a sacrifice of all reputation for personal consistency, and of almost all faith in the honour of public men, presumed to be the pledged guardians of truth and of consistency, and the foes of insincerity and treachery in the management of State-affairs. In the Church, which the State has established, we have become so accustomed to double-dealing and equivocation, that the national conscience has become seared or sluggish; but we are less familiar with duplicity, chicane, and shameless tergiversation, as the chosen and unconcealed agencies for keeping a Ministry in office, and for checkmating and demoralizing an Opposition. Happily, though the end has been accomplished, the public have rightly appraised the means, and in the general expressions of disgust, which mingle with the congratulations poured into ministerial cars, we find assurance that conscience has not wholly quitted the domain of politics, and that, as the nation was not permanently mesmerized by a Palmerston, so it will not, for any period, be hoodwinked by a Disraeli.
We have spoken of the dissatisfaction with which all parties must recall the history of the late session; but the statement admits of one, and that not an insignificant exception. For while Voluntaries, in the capacity of members of the Liberal party, must share in the feelings common to the body to which they belong, as the friends of free religion, and the advocates of religious equality, they can look back upon the parliamentary history of the year without aching hearts; as they can certainly anticipate future years with an untroubled glance, and with an inspiring faith. That they have made no mistakes, have suffered no disappointments, have met no reverses, it would be folly to affirm; but how comparatively slight have been any one of these ? and how little have Voluntaries had to mourn in August over the shattered expectations and the blighted hopes of Feb