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SUBJECT :-Death Avoided.
“ Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." John xi. 26.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-eigbth.
NEVER die ! What does this mean? Does it mean (1) Freedom from corporeal death? Nothing does the world dread so much as death, and nothing would it hail with greater exultation than a deliverance from it. Albeit, so long as mankind are sinful, a deliverance from corporeal mortality would be an evil rather than a good. Death serves to arrest the course of sin, and to prevent the world from becoming a pandemonium. Does it mean (2) Freedom from annihilation? We are in no danger of this ; and this in itself is no boon :-non-existence is better than a miserable existence. What then does it mean? Generally it means this : That nothing that gives value to life, nothing that makes life worth having, shall ever die if we truly believe in Christ.
I. THE HEALTHY ACTION OF OUR SPIRITUAL POWERS WILL
What is life without activity? Worthless. And what is activity unless it be healthful ? Misery. Faith in Christ secures the healthy action of all our spiritual faculties. The perceptive, reflective, imaginative, recollective, anticipative, will work harmoniously for ever.
WILL EVER BE LOST.
II. NOTHING VALUABLE IN OUR SPIRITUAL ACQUISITIONS
What is life without ideas, emotions, memories, habits ? A blank. And what is it with these if they are not of a truly virtuous character ? Despicable and wretched. But when these acquisitions are holy, life is blessed. Faith in Christ secures the permanency and perfection of all true ideas, affections, principles, habits, &c. “ Our works do follow us. We cannot "labor in vain in the Lord.”
OF TRUE PLEASURE WILL
TINUE FOR EVER.
III. ALL THE SOURCES
CONWhat are the sources of true enjoyment? Intellectual :-study, &c. Social :—friendship, useful ness, &c. Religious :-communion with God, worship, &c. Faith in Christ, then;—in Him, not in propositions concerning Him; not in what theologians say about Him; but in Him, as the living, loving, personal, Son of God, and Saviour of mankind, is the condition of a happy immortality.
SUBJECT :--The True Spiritual Life of Man.
“I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman ; every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." &c. John xv. 1-5.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-ninth. This beautiful passage gives us several striking ideas concerning true spiritual life in man.
It teaches :
I. THAT MAN'S SPIRITUAL LIFE IS DERIVED FROM CHRIST. Religion is not a mere creed or form ;—it is a life, and the life is a “ branch of Christ's life. It grows out of Him. The vital
sap—the spirit-comes from Christ as the root, and runs through every branch, leaf, and fibre. There is no true spiritual life where Christ's spirit is not the inspiration. “Without me,” &c. It teaches :
II. THAT MAN'S SPIRITUAL LIFE IS DEVELOPED IN FRUITFULNESS. -“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away,” &c. The production of fruit is what is required; it is not to pass off in foliage, and blossom, -it is to yield fruit. Unless we yield fruit we are worthless and doomed to destruction. What is the fruit ? “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
It teaches :
THIS FRUITFULNESS IS PRODUCED BY THE JOINT AGENCY OF GOD AND MAN. First: Man must seek an
abiding vital connexion with Christ in order to produce it. “ The branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine." Cut the branch from the tree, it will wither and rot.
“Abide in Him." Secondly: God must act the part of the great husbandman in order to produce it. The mere abiding in Christ will not do of itself. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit be taketh
branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." "He prunes," &c. “ Unto him that hath shall be given.”
-Strength flowing from Divine Joy.
“ The joy of the Lord is your strength.”—Neh. viii. 10.
Analysis of Homily the four Hundred and Fortieth.
The physical strength of a man as a laborer is not unfrequently regarded as the measure of his worth; but mental strength is as much superior to the physical as the soul is to the body. Physical weakness often co-exists with mental might; but both bodily and mental strength may be found in combination with the utterest spiritual weakness. Solomon and Samson blended in one produced only the most puny spiritual being, whilst a Hebrew captive maid in Syria stands forth in strength to move a host of valiant warriors. The strength of the captive maid was the strength of faith. And this is within the reach of all, whilst strength of body and mind are independent of human volition. To every human being as to Israel is this declaration addressed, for God calleth things that are not as though they were.”
I. HUMAN JOY IS IDENTICAL WITH DIVINE JOY. First: The joy of atonement with God. God and man atoned by Christ's death, de facto as well as de jure, produces joy in God and man.
“For the joy that was set before him," &c.; and “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom also we have received the atonement." Secondly: The joy of reciprocated love. Antecedent to reconciliation with God, His love to us is love of pity and compassion; but atoned in Christ, God's love to us is that of moral esteem, and our love to Him is the re-percussion of His love to us. “We love him because he first loved us." “If any man love me,” &c. (John xiv. 23.) Thirdly : Joy of assimilated character. As an element of the kingdom of God joy is a Divine attribute, inherited by those who are “One with Christ.”
“ That they might have my joy fulfilled.” (John xvii. 13.) “That they all may be one," &c. (John xvii. 21.) Divine strength and joy are our everlasting inheritance.
II. HUMAN STRENGTH IS GENERATED BY DIVINE JOY. First: As experienced in freedom from man-fear. “Only fear the Lord,” is one of the first lessons of Christian manliness. God-fear annihilates man-fear, which ever“bringeth a snare.” Secondly: As experienced in freedom from death-fear. Really in birth we take up death; but in Christian decease death dies. “That through death he might destroy,” &c. (Heb. ii. 14, 15.) Thirdly : As developed in all holy action and endurance. The strength of health must be operative. To use is to gain strength. "They go from strength to strength.” (Ps. lxxxiv. 7.)
W. R. P.
Theological Notes and Queries.
[The utmost freedom of independent thought is permitted in this department. The reader must therefore use his own discriminating faculties, and the Editor must be allowed to claim freedom from responsibility.]
ment of Hebrews ix. 13, 14.
Secondly : To this end it was a There the author of that epistle prerequisite, that they should apinstitutes a comparison between proach God, and occupy a parthe sacrifices of the Mosaic
ticular standing “ near to God." economy and the sacrifice of
Psalm cxlviii. 14. Amos iii. 3. Christ. Assuming, as a matter Thirdly : But as unclean, they well known to his readers, that
were unfit to appear before God, the former did cleanse to the
and unable to stand in His sight. purifying of the flesh, he argues, Psalm xxiv. 3, 4. Fourthly: To * How much more," &c. i.e., If remedy this defect sacrifice with you see as a matter of fact (whe
various accompaniments was apther you understand the link of pointed. Micah vi. 8. Fifthly : connexion or not), that the exter- Animal sacrifices sufficed for this nal things of the blood of bulls
end, so far as the flesh, or outer and of goats (Lev. xvi.), and of
man, was concerned, but were the sprinkling of the water con
inadequate to cleanse the containing the ashes of the red heifer
science or inner man. The rela(Num. xix.), did sanctify to the
tive nearness of Israel after the purifying of the flesh, much more flesh was still a real distance from obviously efficacious for the purg- God. Heb. ix. 8. Their services ing of the conscience is the internal
were unsatisfactory. Rom. viii. 3. thing of the blood of Christ, who The law made nothing perfect. through the eternal spirit, offered
Heb. viii. 19. himself without spot unto God.
But now, in contrast to its defiA recent writer,* indeed, while he admits this to be the natural
ciency, Christ has by this “one of
fering perfected for ever them that meaning of the verses, denies
are sanctified." Heb. x. 14. First: that in either case “the fitness
The end He proposed to gain was of the offerings to produce such
that men should “worship the effects is explained ;' and alleges that “in both cases alike it is
Father in spirit and in truth."
John iv. 23. Or “serve Him in presupposed as a matter of Divine
newness of the spirit and not in arrangement.” But conscience is
the oldness of the letter.” Rom. not a matter of arrangement.
vii. 6 ; xii. 1; 1 Peter ii. 5; Phil. Nor can it be cleansed by any
Secondly : For this end arbitrary arrangement.
If it could, where would be the argu
he brings them near unto God. I
Pet. iii. 18; Eph.ii. 13,18. Thirdly: ment for the necessity of Christ's
To this spiritual nearness cleanssacrifice ? A “ Divine appoint | ing of the conscience from dead ment” could have made the blood of beasts efficacious for the cleans
works is indispensable ;-for fools
shall not stand in God's sight. Psa. ing of the conscience, contrary to
v. 5. Hebrews x. 4 ; or at least some
Fourthly : To effect this thing less than the death of Christ
cleansing, Christ's sacrifice is ade
quate, because it is not a mere exmight have sufficed.
ternal thing but the embodiment of Let us look at the two sides of
absolute truth in human nature. the comparison in Heb. ix. 13,
Christ is a priest having in him 14. In regard to the Jewish sacrifices. First: The end to be
" the power of an endless life,” and gained was that the people might
" through the eternal spirit he offered
himself without spot unto God." “Serve God” at peúevv-worship). He is in this respect
" the way" * Donnellan Lectures for 1857, by John Cotter Macdonnell, B D., p. 46. London:
unto the Father, because he is Rivingtons.
“the truth;" who as the repre