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are not examples, that all will be converted in this way. Nor is it an example in its accompanying circumstances.
Many are disposed to imagine that they cannot be converted unless it is done terribly;—with pangs, and throes, in tears and blood. Sometimes it is so. But generally it is brought about gradually and silently. God is not confined either to the one or the other. The manner of accomplishment must be left with him. He will not allow the slightest dictation here. It is His undoubted and glorious prerogative to convert when and how He please. We are to be concerned about conversion itself, and leave the rest with Him. We must not suppose that we are all to be converted as Paul was ;—by the visible and overpowering manifestations of the glorified Saviour. But his is note-worthy, as exhibiting the unparalleled longsuffering, or patience, of Jesus towards sinners.
We remark :
I. THAT SUFFERING IS NECESSARY TO THE EXERCISE OF TRUE PATIENCE. Jesus suffers at the hands of sinners; He is “crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.” That which wounds Him the most is repeatedly inflicted. His love is questioned and rejected, His melting pity despised, His goodness misunderstood, and His offers of pardon treated with contempt. His tender loving heart must feel this, for that work which cost His blood is rejected and trampled upon. Amazing patience that can endure such rejection ! Jesus applied to Himself what Paul had done. “Why persecutest thou me ?” “ I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.” This is true of every sinner. The Church does not merely suffer, but the Saviour also; not simply the members, but the Head. Think then, O sinner! of thy sin, how it pierces the heart of Jesus. Yet He is longsuffering ; “not willing that any should perish, but that all may come to repentance."
Thus rebellion and contempt, the open enmity and active hatred of men, are borne. The consuming fire is not poured down, the avenging sword does not fall. The threatenings are
repeated, yet are not executed. The sentence goes forth, and the executioners are ready; but the mediator intercedes, and obtains a respite. Thus He spares ; His forbearance is unutterable, greater than that of the tenderest parent. But for this, how would the apostle have escaped ? Man would have condemned him ; angels would have wearied in their compassion, and turning from him, would have left him to his doom. But Jesus did not; He bears, and forbears. “ His compassions fail not, therefore we are not consumed." If it was not so, death would soon visit us, the shriek of despair would soon be uttered, and hope would be blotted out for ever. We remark :
IS CONNECTED ACTIVE AND INCESSANT GOODNESS AND LOVE. He spares to save ; he delays that he may win. He silences the thunders of His wrath, that He may secure the soul's confidence, and draw it to himself. When He is sparing He is working. He enlightens, instructs, urges, and draws, that the sinner may see his danger, and fly to the refuge. Thus means are employed for the sinner's salvation ; thus the Saviour is not only passive but active, in bestowing blessings, that “the goodness of God may lead man to repentance.” Such is the longsuffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The case is in harmony with others mentioned in the Word. The Antediluvians, Sodom, the Jews, &c. God spared them long, but at length His patience was exhausted. Such examples have done much to instruct, and influence, sinners of every class. We learn from this subject :
(1) That there is hope for the greatest sinner. If Paul could be saved, so may I. The same grace that reached him, can reach me; the same love that was over him, is over me; God is as willing to save me as He was to save Paul. Sinner ! there is hope for thee, though thy sins have been like the great mountains. Look up and be saved !
(2) It was intended to act as a stimulus and encouragement to good and not as an inducement to continue in sin.
If the Saviour's forbearance has encouraged you to continue in evil, it has been perverted and misapplied. Look then at the apostle, and be encouraged to come and trust in that Redeemer, who saved him, and made him “a chosen vessel” and an honored disciple.
-Needy Man and his Moral Provision.
"And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of
of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in vic. tory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”—Isa. xxv. 6—9.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-fourth. This passage which is exceedingly poetic and beautiful, points by the common consent of expositors, to the glorious provisions which Heaven has made for humanity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It leads us to consider the moral wants of humanity and the complete supplies of Christianity. I. HUMANITY IS MORALLY FAMISHING,—CHRISTIANITY HAS PROVISIONS. It has “ a feast of fat things,” &c. The state of the Prodigal, when he was in want, “and would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat," is a true picture of moral humanity the world over. The feverish restlessness, and the earnest racing after something not yet attained, show the hungry and thirsty state of the soul. Christianity has the provisions, which are adequate "for all people.” Varied—“wines and fat things full of marrow.” Pleasant—"wines on the lees well refined.” “ Wisdom, hath builded a house,” &c. (Proverbs ix. 2.) “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain man which made a marriage for his son,” &c. (Matt. xxii. 2~4.) II. HUMANITY IS MORALLY BENIGHTED,-CARISTIANITY HAS ILLUMINATION, “He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail spread over all nations.” Men are enwrapped in moral gloom; they have their “understanding darkened.” (Eph. iv. 18.) “Darkness covers the earth,” &c. (Isa. lxvi. 143.) “The vail is upon their hearts.” (2 Cor. iii. 15.) Physical darkness is bad enough, intellectual darkness is worse, moral darkness is the worst of all. It is a blindness to the Greatest Being, to the greatest obligations, and the greatest interests. Christianity has moral light. Christ is "a light to lighten the Gentiles.” (Luke ii. 20—32.) He is “ The light of the world.” Indeed, Christianity gives the three conditions of moral vision :—the visual faculty ;-opens the eyes of con. science;—the medium, which is truth ;-and the object, which is God, &c. III. HUMANITY IS MORALLY DEAD,-CHRISTIANITY HAS LIFE. “He will swallow up death in victory." Men are “dead in trespasses and in sin.” The valley of dry bones is a picture of moral humanity. Insensibility, utter subjection to external forces, and offensiveness, are some of the characteristics of death. Christianity has life. “I am come that ye might have life.” Its truths with a trumpet's blast call men up from their moral graves. Its spirit is quickening. “You hath he quickened,” &c. “It swallows up death in victory.”, IV. HUMANITY IS MORALLY UNHAPPY,—CHRISTIANITY HAS BLESSEDNESS. There are moral tears on "all faces." Go to the heathen world, and there is nothing but moral wretchedness, The whole moral creation groaneth : conflicting passions, remorseful reflections, foreboding apprehensions, make the world miserable. Christianity provides blessedness. It fills with joy and peace in believing. “It wipes away tears from all faces.” It enables us “to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” V. HUMANITY IS MORALLY REPROACHED,-CHRISTIANITY HAS HONOR. “And the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth.” Man morally “rebukes” himself; he is rebuked by his fellow man; he is rebuked by his Maker. He is under “condemnation.” And the rebuke is just. Christianity removes this. “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” It exalts man to the highest honor.
SUBJECT :- Affliction.* “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.”—Heb. xii. 5.
Inalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-fifth. Men fail to recognise the combination and harmony of wisdom and love in all things.
That such actually exist is seen in the fact that evil connected with, or arising out of, our own nature, and evil permitted in the providence of God, are equally intended by Infinite benevolence for our good.
To this end, (1) The trial is especially adapted to our individuality of nature and need; and (2) Is also wisely regulated in degree, according to our capacity for its endurance, and the object of its permission. : Consider trial in three aspects :
I. SUBJECTIVELY. With respect to its nature, it involves a fact which must be accepted ; also a principle which must be learnt. The recognition of the former, and the apprehension of the latter, constitute Elements of Prayer.
II. RELATIVELY. With respect to its media of operation. Trial works through prayer--prayer involves trial. Trial is the sphere of prayer. Prayer is a power-it colors all events, and converts them to its use. Almighty in its power, because it lays hold on the Almighty One. It moves His heart.
III. OBJECTIVELY. With respect to its final cause, or intended issue. “ Tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience," &c. (Rom. v. 5.) It forms part of the discipline. The conflict between the two natures (Rom. vii.) continues till conquered in death. The final victory—“And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John, v. 11.)
* This "germ” was forwarded to us as the joint production of an eminent Christian physician and author, and a Christian student, a patient under his care.