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CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MINISTERS AND MEMBERS, OF VARIOUS EVANGELICAL DENOMINATIONS.

A CONTINUAL JUBILEE.

BY THE REV. JOHN MILNE, PERTH.

'Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.'-PSALM LXXXIX. 15.

HAT is the joyful sound? It is just, I think, the gospel. It has been in the world ever since the fall. When sin had reigned unto death, grace began to reign, through the coming righteousness, unto eternal life. It was the grain of mustard seed sown in Eden; and it went on, age after age, opening up and expanding. Paul tells us that it was preached to Israel, even as to us. It was wrapt up in all their types and ceremonies. It was the subject and substance of all their sacrifices and solemn feasts. There was one of their feasts, however, which more clearly and fully expressed or pictured it than any of the others. It was the jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year, and was indeed, in a temporal sense, a joyful sound. It came immediately after the day of atonement; and in the kindness and remission which it enjoined towards their fellow-men, was a most fitting exercise for those who had themselves just been receiving forgiveness and clemency from God. We are told how eagerly it was waited for, and how gladly it was welcomed. Persons were stationed on the hill-tops, all over the country, to watch for the first appearance of the new moon, which was the commencement of the year of grace. Whoever first observed it, signalled to the others; and so the good news was circulated all over the land, with a kind of telegraphic celerity. Then the trumpets were blown, and The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He that moment all were free. The prison doors hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the were opened, the chains were broken, the debtor poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokendischarged, the captive released, the slave en-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, franchised, the mortgaged houses and lands and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at

| restored to their original proprietors; and thus many a scattered family met once more in the old home and inheritance, to thank the Lord for his goodness, and his wonderful works to the children of men. It was a real Christmas season.

Don't you think that Christ must have looked with deep interest upon this? He loved and honoured all the ordinances of his Father's house. Every Sabbath saw Him in the synagogue. He regularly attended the Passover from his youth up. We find Him walking in the temple at the Feast of the Dedication, and taking occasion, from the many lamps which it was the custom then to light, to draw attention to himself as the world's great Light, and to urge them to walk in his light of life, till travelling days were done. At the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the people were pouring out, as they were wont to do, the pitchers of water which they had drawn from the pool of Siloam, He again drew attention to himself as the Well of life, the world's great drinking-fountain. He stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.' May we not, therefore, conclude that the jubilee would be peculiarly dear to Him? When acknowledged by the Father, anointed by the Spirit, a victor in the wilderness, He returned full of power to Nazareth, and read in the synagogue the words of Isaiah,

liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord,'-don't you think that, while thus engaged, his mind may have been full of the jubilee, and that very possibly He would say to the wondering assembly, 'I am the true Jubilee; I am the world's great Jubilee. Come unto me, and be free; come unto me, and be forgiven; come unto me, and receive more than your fallen father Adam lost?' Would not the same thought be in his mind, when He said to his disciples, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature?' Yes, the gospel is a joyful sound. It proclaims salvation to the lost, forgiveness to the sinner, health to the sick soul, comfort to the troubled, deliverance to the oppressed. It bids the prodigal come back to his father's love, his father's house, his father's boundless wealth; and all this free, absolutely free, without money and without price. It is simply, Come-come now-come just as you are-come, for all things are now ready. Work is not required, strength is not needed, fruit is not demanded, questions are not asked; it is simply, Come, and receive.

Such is the joyful sound. But it must be known before it can bless. This is very important; it explains what would otherwise be a mystery. The jubilee trumpet has long been sounding in the world, the gospel has been largely preached, and yet the greater part of men are still aliens from God, slaves of the devil, without peace, and without hope. How is this? Here is the explanation: the joyful sound must be known before it can benefit. By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many.' Says the Apostle Paul: The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.' What is this knowledge? It is believing, understanding, welcoming it. Multitudes who read and hear the gospel, never really believe it. They give a lazy, indolent, uninquiring assent to it; but if they were asked, they could give no intelligible reason for their doing so. The subject has, perhaps, never fairly crossed their minds; or, if it has, they have given it the go-by. They say it is too simple, too humbling, too easy; it will lead to licentiousness, -as if they knew better than God what will preserve and conduce to his glory. Many, again, never really understand the gospel. They have not felt their need of it, and so they take little interest in it-never give their minds to it. They are busy with many things, which they think more urgent and important; and thus they have not attained a correct, intelligent knowledge of God's way of peace. They never see its fulness, freeness, suitableness, nearness, and the obligation under which all lie to receive it. They hear it preached and explained from Sabbath to Sabbath for a whole lifetime,

and yet, at the end, they are as ignorant of God's way of justifying sinners as they were at the beginning. If we were more in the habit of speaking freely and directly with one another about our most important concerns, we should oftener see how very general this ignorance is. They confuse the way of grace with the way of works, and think that it is by their own righteousness, not by faith in the righteousness of another, that they are to be saved. They cling to their own works, and say they are doing what they can. This, I suppose, is the hell-filling sin of our day. But, once more, there are many who do not welcome the gospel. I suppose there were some who did not welcome the jubilee. The selfish slaveholder's evil heart rose against it. He would say, Here have I been training and educating this servant; and now, must I set him free? The avaricious landholder, adding field to field and house to house, did not welcome it. He said, Must I now part with my accumulated possessions? The slave, enamoured of his bondage, said, I do not wish to be free; I love my master, am pleased with his service, and enjoy the connections which I have here formed. And so there are many who do not welcome the joyful sound. They give it the same reception which He, who is the sum and substance of it, got when He came into the world,—they do not receive it. But, thank God, there are many who do receive it. The poor, awakened, heavy-laden sinner, welcomes it; those who are broken in heart and wounded in spirit, welcome it; those who are weary of sin and its bondage, welcome it; those who feel their need of something better and more enduring than this world can give, welcome it; those who are afraid of judgment and the wrath to come, welcome it. The gospel just suits them; it is like bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, life to the dying. Put these three things together,-believing, understanding, welcoming,-and then you will know the joyful sound, and experience in yourself the blessedness which it brings.

Let us look at this blessedness. There are three ingredients in it which are here mentioned,-the favour of God, the joy of God, and the exaltation of God.

The favour of God: "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.' The light of God's countenance is another way of describing his favour. When He is displeased, He hides his face, or covers it with a cloud; whereas, when He is pleased, He lifts up the light of his countenance, or makes his face to shine. 'Walking' is just the whole conduct. A man's walk is his whole life; and therefore, when it is said, "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy counte

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