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The rocks of Sinai, for instance, are the same as those on which Moses looked. Since that time, they have been exposed to the action of the weather, the force of storms, and the tooth of time, yet there they are as hard and as firm as
Some rocks grow harder the longer they are exposed; they retain their position and appearance, age after age:-nothing seems to have any influence upon them. So it is with sinhardened hearts. Under the kindly rays of the Father's countenance, and the Saviour's love, they remain in the same unmoved and unfeeling state. Time and blessings come and go, narrowing the circle of life, bringing the body nearer to its grave, and the soul to its destiny, and yet there is no softening of the heart, no earnest seeking for God's loving favor.
How strange it is that men can remain so long unaffected by these solemn truths and undoubted realities! They are like the hard rock, which remains the same, though the gentle rains descend, or the storm rages, or the waves thunder at its feet. In the world multitudes are to be found who have been the subjects of God's varied providence, who have had strong convictions, and yet have remained dead in sin, and hardened in guilt. They have felt, but have not yielded -steeling their hearts ; every arrow of conviction has glided away, and the heart has not been touched. The Lord has called, but they have not answered—they have despised His reproofs. Thirdly: These rocks
be broken. If we look at them, we shall see that this is true. They are composed of blocks of stone. The hardest is formed by the adhesion of minute particles ; these may be separated—pieces may be detached, and the whole rock broken. Such is man's skill and perseverance—such his mechanical appliances, that no rock can withstand him. If he please, he can bore into its very heart, and make a path for the rushing engine; or he can blow it into the air. He has various ways of breaking rocks. Rocks are broken every day. Those who have never seen one
broken might doubt whether it could be done, and deny the possibility, yet we know that this would not affect the certainty. If we now apply this to the heart, we shall see the points of resemblance. Here we have hearts of stone daily becoming harder in active and open sin, and we ask, can these be broken ? Scripture and facts affirm that they may. Each heart has many parts and many avenues. One part after another is conquered, until the whole soul is suba dued, and brought in humble submission to Jesus. Now whatever the unbelief of some suggests as to the impossibility of it, we know there is no ground for it; as sinners of every class and character have been made obedient to Christ. Well is it for us if we have the strongest proof of this in our own conversion--in our own subjugation to the power of God. We take it then to be a soul-cheering fact, that these human rocks, hard though they be, can be broken by Divine
· Fourthly: These rocks may be made useful. That is, they may be usefully employed. Stone is used for many important purposes. What is better for foundations and buildings? What noble temples, dwellings, and public works, it enables us to rear! And yet these stones are but detached pieces of rock. We may not see the value and usefulness of a rock, as we look upon it in its huge shapelessness, yet all the elements of usefulness are there.
Rock then is valuable in many ways : it girds the seacoast and stops the encroachment of the waters ; it is the best foundation for the friendly lighthouse ; it gives us the most solid and the most beautiful of buildings. So with the wicked hearts around us. It is true, that they are not only useless but injurious in their sinful unquarried state; yet from these must come the able and devoted servant of Christ, the loving disciple, the brave defender of the Faith, and the real benefactors of a needy world. Let us not then look with in. difference upon these rocky hearts, but with a full appreciation of their unutterable worth, and vast capabilities. They need only to be broken to be useful. Here then we have the resistance to be overcome-the heart in its hardness and hostility.
We have now to look at:
II. THE DIVINE MEANS EMPLOYED BY GOD TO REMOVE THIS RESISTANCE. His “word” is compared to a hammer; “like a hammer," so that we may put it thus :
“ As the hammer is to the rock,
So the word is to the heart."
This comparison suggests two or three thoughts :
First : There is adaptedness in the means to accomplish the desired result. The result is to be the broken rock. There is no instrument so adapted for breaking as the hammer. Hence its long and common use. It has weight in a small compass. It has also hardness; it will not yield to the stone ; it has a peculiar shape and this gives it power. It would not be so powerful in any other shape. Flatness or roundness would weaken it. Here then is fitness. It is evidently fitted to do its work. Thus the word of God, with all its doctrines, promises, and threatenings—in all its discoveries of truth, and sublime revelations of the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, is fitted to make deep and abiding impressions on the mind, and to subdue the soul. These and similar truths fall with power upon the conscience, and awaken it, so that it can sleep no longer. Indeed these truths which are best adapted to impress and win the heart, are employed by infinite love and wisdom. God's love in Jesus may draw one soul, His justice and holiness may awe another. There are many arrows, and that which passes one may pierce another. These are different, so that all may be reached and smitten. God works by various means, but they are all in full accord with His word, nor is this word likely to be superseded ; God himself has shown no disposition to do it, and man cannot, although he boasts of his pbilosophies and systems. These were never adapted to remove the hardness of the heart, nor to bring the soul to God. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul," &c. “The word of God is quick and powerful,” &c. Secondly: There is a concentration of power.
The same part is struck repeatedly,-each stroke tells. It cannot withstand. The hardest rock will yield to this concentrated force. The Word is similarly applied to the heart in order to subdue it. The rays of Divine truth shine upon the heart's false refuges until they are seen to be such, and are abandoned. The preaching of the Gospel and the means of grace have no apparent effect, yet these are doing an important work in gradually thinning and dispersing the thick clouds of ignorance and unbelief. To accomplish the soul's salvation the Lord gives “line upon line, here a little, and there a little.” Conviction follows convictionthe Word clings to the memory and conscience, and there is the continued cry heard, “Flee from the wrath to come,” until at length resistance ceases, and the soul is completely subdued.
Thirdly: There is the strong arm in its application. What can be done without this? We may have the rock and the hammer, but unless it is raised and brought powerfully down upon the rock, that rock will not be broken. There must not only be the means, but these must be applied by intelligence and power. This is seen in other matters. For instance, we may have all the apparatus for taking a correct likeness, but unless the photographer is there to superintend the process, we shall have no likeness. So with the Word. We must have the Divine Spirit, the arm of the Word, to bring it with convincing and saving power to the heart. Without this, we may have the Word, and all the ordinances and means that Word suggests, but all will be in vain. Without Him the Word cannot save. Let us then ever gratefully, and humbly recognize and adopt the Divine utterance, which must be always true, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
SUBJECT :-Soul Elevation.
"After this I looked, and, behold; a door was opened in heaven : and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”—Rev. iv. 1.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Forty-fifth.
Amidst all the gorgeous symbolisms and the marvellous manifestations of this book, you have oftentimes great principles of universal application brought out with a freshness and a power seldom found elsewhere, even in the Book of God. The text is an illustration of this remark. The reigning sentiment it contains is elevation of soul. Of course it was not the bodily senses of John that were thus addressed, not the body that was commanded to ascend. His outward eye saw not the material heavens open, his outward ear heard not the "trumpet” blast, nor had he any power in a bodily sense to obey the imperative command. He could not liberate his body from the gravitating forces of this planet, and soar to the heavens as Jesus his Master did. The vision here is mental. All that took place was within the region of his own soul. Elevation of soul then is our subject. What is it? This is the question that meets us at the outset. First : Is it the elevation of sensuous excitement ? The souls of all men, especially of those whose physical temperament is of the bilious order, have great variation of mood. Sometimes they are buoyant and sometimes sluggish-sometimes in caverns deep and sometimes high up in the clouds. Such souls often soar aloft on the pinions of an excited imagination, they are often rapt in the admiration of beauty which has no existence but in their own fancy, they indulge in a kind of spiritual reverie, and find a heaven for the hour upon the mountain heights of their own creation. But this is not what we mean by elevation of soul. Secondly: Is it elevation of intellect? Is it the elevation which arises from study and culture ; the elevation of a mind trained to think with pre