« ForrigeFortsett »
The “light” of which Isaiah spoke, the “glory" | Aud has God any reason to call to us, and say, in which he foretold as rising upou Zion, was Christ this sense, “Arise ?" himself. Simeon, appropriating to Him, by the in | “Ye are idle, ye are idle,” was a cruel accusation spiration of the Holy Ghost, these very figures of for Egypt to bring against Israel, when the fault was prophecy, calls the infant Jesus, not only God's in the oppressor, not in the oppressed. But is it a salvation--"Mine eyes have seen thy salvation”- cruel or a false charge if God brings it against us? but yet more expressly, “A light to lighten the Many things might be true against some of us, Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” And which would not be true against others. Faults and yet Zion herself, to whom this promise is given, sins differ both in nature and complexion, and be failed, when He came, to arise and shine! So easy who offends in one point, offends not (it may be) in is it for man's carelessness and man's unbelief to another. But this we can say contidently, that spoil and vitiate, for him, God's best and brightest spiritual idleness is, more or less, the fault of all. gifts !
“Arise,” as a call of action, suits us all : all alike, Again, although man is false, yet God abideth as a summons; all alike, if not all equally, as a faithful: He cannot deny Himself. He kept his / reproof. promise to Israel : the light did shine, the glory did Where is he amongst us, Christian friends, who is rise upon her: Gentiles did come to her light, and taking pains with his soul ? Where is he who gives kings to the brightness of her rising : nay, she her- any time to it? whose thoughts run upon this, as a self, the nation of Israel, is still, as St. Paul writes, point of real and chief concern, “What must I do to “beloved for the fathers' sakes," and has a glorious be saved ?” “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to future yet in store when her “heart shall have do ?” how can I make a little progress in the life turned to the Lord,” and “the vail” which now of God? how can I get on, how can I make way, rests upon it is (in consequence) “ taken away." how can I press towards the mark, how can I make
The words of the text, spoken (in form) to a sure of the prize which hangs thereon ? These person, were addressed (in sense) to an aggregate of questions do not occupy us. We sit still, instead persons; and that aggregate of persons was the of walking, instead of journeying, instead of running church and city and nation of Israel, which God the race that is set before us. We are to-day just had taken for Himself out of all the nations, to be where we were yesterday, just where we were on the the repository of his revelations, and the very first day of last year, as to the chief question of all nucleus of life to the world.
- the question of grace and salvation. At best it But were the words done with, when “Israel after is an oscillation : to and fro the pendulum swings, the flesh” had once heard, and once refused them ? within fixed limits, at a certain rate, till the chain
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, uses is run out : and the pendulum-not the race, not these very words as applicable to Christian congre- the struggle, not the warfare nor the battle- the gations, and to individual Christian men. For there . pendulum is the fit type and emblem of the life of can be little question that it is to this lst verse of the most of us--for the life of most of us is oscillation, 60th chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, that he makes not progress, not advance. his reference, when, after speaking of the effect of Shall it be always thus ? Shall we not try, in light in reproving and transforming darkness, he this opening year, to take one step really onwards? adds, in the way of enforcement, the words which Is there nothing, in which we may not definitely next follow, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that hear the charge to arise ? no bad habit to be finally sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall trodden under foot, no neglected duty to be at last give thee light.” It is his paraphrase of the verse faced in God's name, and done? God grant that it now before us, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, be not, in our case, as it is year after year in the and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” case of countless thousands, the spiritual oscillation
Therefore we have the sure warrant of Inspiration of a life, and then the spiritual galvanism of a for taking home to ourselves the animating exhorta- death-bed! tion, even as the Church herself, in her choice of 2. “Arise” is a call to wakefulness. St. Paul lessons for her sacred seasons, has made this her makes it so, in the passage already quoted, when Epiphany subject.
he says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise. " The text has but two words: but a whole volume And so what was before a call to action, the reof doctrine lies in each.
proof of a spiritual indolence, becomes now a call to I. “ Arise."
waking, the reproof of a spiritual unconsciousness. We may see three charges in this one.
And the latter state accounts for the former. It 1. “Arise" is a call to action. The Old Testament is because we are unconscious, that we are inactive. Scriptures are full of it in this use. “Arise, walk If we were wide-awake in soul, we should also be through the land." "Arise, go up to Bethel." "Arise, hard at work in life. therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee." | What then is spiritual unconsciousness ? “Therefore we his servants will arise and build." It is not the absence of all impressions. In bodily “Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered." sleep, the brain is not always torpid : bodily sleep “ Arise ye, and depart: for this is not your rest." | has its dreams : events of the past day, or of days To " arise" is the opposite of sitting still.
long past, exercise an influence still; and often the
impression is not only strangely vivid, but (which love: that which God commands, do. Correct is a different thing) wonderfully life-like : persons your impressions of things false and true, and live appear in their exact character, know just the henceforth that kind of life in which shadows are secrets which they ought to know, and say to us no longer substances, nor the false real, nor the inst the words which they ought to say: probabi- | fleeting permanent. lity is there, plausibility is there, verisimilitude is 1 3. Add yet, with St. Paul, one third thing. there-only reality, only fact, only truth itself, is “Awake," he says, “thou that sleepest”-of this wanting. And because truth is wanting, therefore we have spoken—"and arise from the dead.” To we call sleep unconsciousness. There is impression, arise is, in its strongest and highest sense, to arise bat there is not consciousness, because conscious
from the dead. “Arise” is a call to resurrection. ness has place only in the case of true impressions. St. Paul speaks, in the same Epistle, of persons Knowledge is the belief of things true, and con- 1 “dead in trespasses and sins," to whom God has sciousness is the impression upon the mind of some given life by his Holy Spirit. “And you hath He thing real.
quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sin.” Now therefore we see, by example, what spiritual
1 Death is an aggravated form of sleep. It differs ancor sciousness is. It is not the absence of impres. from it in two chief respects. In both sle SLODE : it is not a condition in which that which is death, there is inactivity : but in death there is also impressed upon the mind is violently improbable, (1) incapacity for activity-the dead man cannot, at watradicts all reason, and violates all the unities : | will, arouse himself to action : and in death there is but it is a condition in which reality is wanting ; also (2) a permanence of inactivity : to-morrow shall
is wlich the things impressed upon the mind are be as this day : that sleep has no natural waking : . not the very things actually existent and really nothing but miracle, nothing but the interposition
of God Himself, can restore to that substance either To take just one instance. There is this common sensation or action. caracteristic in the cases now before us—those of So therefore, when a man is described as spiritually persons spiritually asleep : that they put time and dead, it is a stronger thing than to describe him as the world in the place of eternity and of God. They spiritually sleeping. It expresses (1) impassivity as are, as St. Paul says, “conformed to this world.” | well as inactivity--the present absence of impression They wear the fashion, as it were, of persons who as well as of motion : and it expresses (2) the impobelong to this present state of being, and not to the tence of this condition; the loss of powers, as well eternal unchangeable state of being which lies above as their suspension. aod beyond it. They act, speak, and think, as if And can this figure, as well as the other, be ap. this world were permanent, and they in it. Is that plied to any Christian ? The wise virgins "slumi libel upon worldly persons ? Is that à charge bered,” as well as the foolish : the Christian may be which, in itself, they would even think affropting ? inactive, may even be asleep, as to his soul's life : Might they not even be supposed to say in answer, but the wise virgins had only, when aroused, to that they are bound to do so: that they could not be “trim their lamps ”: the oil was there : it was the the active, nor the successful, no, nor the useful men foolish only who had a name to live and were dead. they are, if they were perpetually reminding them. Can a Christian be told to arise out of death? alves that the things which are seen are temporal. It is true, these are all figures, all metaphors :
Now therefore we say of this unconsciousness, as let us be careful not to stereotype them into dogmas. of the other, bodily sleep, that the impression upon But let us look at the facts. Is there nothing like the mind is not a violently improbable one : it is death now, even in Christian Churches ? Is there only the impression that that which has been is, no such thing as death after Baptism, yea, amidst aad that that which is shall be : it is only the feel. | Communion? Is not the present condition as hopeing, not avowed but still cherished, that there is a less, in many cases, without God, without the trality, and that there is an importance—in one miracle of his grace, as ever it was in heathen man Ford, that there is a permanence--in the life of this or publican of old ? Wherever sin is, there is death : world, which the Word of God says that there is total death, if the sin reigns; partial death, if the ely in the life of eternity and of God. The un- sin even lives. If there be one amongst us, who
sciousness consists, like the other, not in the struggles not against his lusts, there is a dead soul ence, and not in the faintness, of impressions, even now: if there be one amongst us, who struggles but only in their unreality and in their untruthful- indeed a little, but most often struggles unsuccesstess. And in this matter the unreality and the fully, against his besetting sin, there is even now a atrathfulness of the ideas can be learnt only from soul but half alive; a soul in which the great issue the Word of God.
of all is still ambiguous.-Shall he die in his ini. The call sounds in our ears again this day, quity, or shall he at last, through abounding, **Arise" out of sleep-out of a condition of spiritual sovereigu grace, save his soul alive? sonconsciousness. It says, Shake off these false, So then the text-the first half, the first word of these unreal impressions. Be no longer as men it-has a voice for each one of us. *bo live for time : live for eternity. That which To all it says, Arise from sitting. God tells you, believe : that which God promises, To many it says, Arise from sleep.
To some it says, Arise from death,
was glorious, to the perfection of its irradiationAnd may God guide his Word infallibly to the to the absolute self-forgetfulness (so to speak) of its mark, and make it suitable, impressive, persuasive, receptivity. powerful, to each soul which He has caused to These are so many common examples of the thing listen !
denoted by the charge to "shine.” Receive God's II. Pass to the other charge.
I hope we are not losing the truth in figure. Take I believe that the word, and certainly the context, then oue verse, the last of the 3rd chapter of the expresses not the origination but the reception of 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, that we may bring light: not, Give light; but, Receive light: not, Illu- together, under the guidance of Inspiration itself, minate, but, Be illuminated, for thy light is come. | the sigo and the thing signified.
Zion is charged to drink in the glory with which “But we all, with open face beholding as in a God has visited her. The Sun of righteousness has 1 glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the risen upon her let her bathe herself in his beams, same image, from glory to glory, even as by the and then she too, by reflection, shall brightly shine. Spirit of the Lord.” The Christian, charged to " In thy light shall we" first “see,” and then “shine,” can do so only as did the Lawgiver of transmit “light.”
Israel—for his history furnishes the illustrationIt is a true and touching parable.
when by long converse with God “ the skin of his “Let your light so shine before men, that they face shone;" 80 bright was the glory of the may see your good works, and glorify,” not you, heavenly vision, so near the access given him to but " your Father which is in heaven." The light the Divine presence. Even so we, St. Paul saye, is all His; and the recognition of it, in eternal must strip off every vail which lies by nature praise, shall be His also !
between the heart and its God, and allow the full To "shine" is to transmit light,
light of God Himself, as He is revealed to us in So then there must be two things in this charge, Jesus Christ, to stream without let or hindrance when we set ourselves to act upon it.
upon our souls. It is by communing with God 1. First, receive the light.
Himself, in deep earnest prayer, in the study of His You have seen one of the windows of a great Holy Word, in the devout and diligent use of every church perfectly filled and saturated with sunshine. means of grace, that we must become as it were It might have seemed, to an uninstructed eye, to have penetrated and innbued with the light which is our the glory in itself. But what really caused the life, and so be changed into the same image-into beautiful dazzling brilliance was the combination of the very likeness of Christ Himself-by the operatwo things; the direct incidence of the sun's rays, tion and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. and the perfect transparency of the window's glass : To "shine" is to receive God's light; that light the window "shone,” because the sun was opposite, which is the revelation of Himself in the person of and because the window was so made as to be recep. | Jesus Christ. tive of light.
I hope we ask ourselves seriously, Is Christ “Shine,” as addressed to the Church, means just manifested to me? Do I know personally what is that. Receive God's light. Drivk in at every pore meant by the words, “In him was life: and the the rays of the Sun of righteousness.
life was the light of meu ?” Light is cheering; Some of you, in home or foreign travel, may have light is guidance; light is comfort, and warmth, chanced to reach, just at sunrise, the brow of a hill and power. Is Christ any of these things to ide? which looked down upon a sleeping city. The first I cannot “sbine” except by receiving light: I rays of the sun were just gilding the towers of its cannot originate light: I cannot emit light: I can great cathedral : and for the moment it looked as only receive, I can only drink in, that heavenly though the building itself were on fire-so perfect ray which falls upon me out of heaven, from the was the lighting up of pinnacle and buttress, so throne of God and the Lamb. brilliant the reflection of the glory from its roof of Let us think of the Gospel as meant to be our metal.
light. Or rather, as meant to bring us into contact Or you may have been a spectator of that most with Him who is our light. Let us desire to know unearthly of all sights given to human eyes below- it thus, and to know Him thus--and then we shall a sunrise over snow mountains; when far above the be able to say, “My soul waiteth for the Lord more earth's surface, above lovg-spread ranges of moun- | than they that watch for tbe morning: I say, more tain tops, above even the cloud which rested on the than they that watch for the morning." * summit of most of them, there appeared just one 2. And then, tinally, the charge to shine by peak, clad not in goldeu but in rosy light-and for receiving will pass ou into the charge to shine by the moment you took it for a cloud itself; so reflecting. strangely delicate, so transparently immaterial, was! Be well assured, there is but one way in which the form before you ; so severed from earth, so far the true light is ever communicated below-and uplifted in heaven. But in reality it was nothing that is by reflection ; by being transmitted by ons more than the pointed horn of a solid mountain : who has tirst received. all else it owed, all that was distinctive, all that! In other words, every single endeavour made to