Imatges de pÓgina

wrought into the state and texture of the mind itself. They have so little that is sensual about them, and are so refined; they are so free from outward transgressions of the second table of the law; they wear so much of the array of light. But, nevertheless, they concentrate themselves with a fatal intensity against the spirit of humiliation; against humility, self-denial, self-abasement, compassion, and love.

To bring this home to our own case: how does our past life appear, seen thus under the light of the crucifixion? How will our sins bear to be measured by this rule? What is the secret temper of our spirit now at this present time? Is it humbled, broken, mortified; or fearless, self-supported, and erect? These are questions we must ask, and answer with sincerity and a godly fear: for they will be asked in the day when we shall see our Redeemer in the judgment. Let us clearly discover now what we must confess at that day. If we be living in a high-minded, selfish, loveless spirit, let us lose no time to lay down the arms of our rebellion at the foot of the Cross; let us there break the weapons of our pride in sunder, and bow down our will beneath His pierced feet.

And, as a part of our submission, let us take two very simple practical rules.

One is when we are tempted by any approach

of evil, to fix our eyes inwardly upon Him, hanging upon the Cross. Let us then call to mind His five wounds, and His crown of thorns. This will abate our pride, break our will, and cast out our evil thoughts. If the temptation be strong and abiding, keep your eyes upon Him until you are delivered. Look upon Him, as upon the true Serpent of brass, till the fever and the poison of your sin be healed. Go, if you can, into some secret place, and kneel down in His sight; and, there, stay upon your knees till the sting of sin is allayed, and the temptation passed away.

The other rule is: to pray, day by day, that our will may be crucified with Him. This prayer, if we persevere, will, by His grace, slay the enmity that is in us, and make us, not enemies, but lovers of His Cross. St. Paul says, "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts;" and again, he says still more, "I am crucified with Christ." This shall be even our state at last. Happy and blessed are they who are dead to themselves, alive to Him alone. Let us, therefore, pray Him so to unite us to the spirit of His crucifixion, that we may die to sin, to the world, to our own will; to all that flatters, fosters, strengthens the love of ourselves. As in Baptism we were signed with His life-giving sign,

1 Gal. v. 24.

2 Ib. ii. 20.

and charged to fight manfully under His banner, so let us pray, that in life and in death we may be under the shadow of His Cross. Howsoever He may fulfil this prayer, be not afraid. It may be He will send you sickness, or sorrow, or contradiction of sinners, or suffering of some kind. For your prayer is an appeal to His Passion. He may suffer you to receive the stigmas which the world printed on Him. Be it so. Let come what may, if only we have upon us the marks of our crucified Master at that day when the sign of the Son of Man shall appear, and the angels "shall gather His elect from the four winds of heaven."



EPHESIANS iii. 19.

"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge."

AFTER three years, spent, day by day, in teaching the faith of the Gospel to the Church in Ephesus, there was still something which St. Paul could not make known. He had declared to them "all the counsel of God." He had taught all that language could utter; all that intellect could receive. But there was something yet to be taught and learned. And this, all apostle as he was, full of the Holy Ghost, rapt into the third heaven, partaker in the secrets of paradise, he could not teach them. Not that he did not know it. He had learned it at mid-day in the way to Damascus, in the solitudes of Arabia, in all the warfare of a

1 Acts xx. 27.

life of the Cross, now drawing on towards its crown. Yet though he knew it with this energetic fulness, and burned to make it known, it was among those "unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter." The utterance of man was too narrow for it. Therefore, after he had forced all the power of speech into one word, language failed him for very weakness: he could only approach to what he would say by contradiction, "to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." Words cannot express, for words cannot contain it. There can be no utterance of this love by sounds of this outer world of sense. It must be learned inwardly before the throne of God. Apostles preach, but the book of the Spirit has seven seals; and One alone can open them. The science of the saints has but one Teacher, who is both truth and understanding; both language and power: He both reveals, and gives the capacity to learn; He speaks, and Himself opens the ear to hear. This is what St. Paul could not teach the surpassing love of Christ. He had no language to express; they had no understanding to receive it. To reveal it is the office of Christ Himself; therefore St. Paul commends his flock by prayer to the one great Teacher: that, as he goes on to say, "ye may be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may

« AnteriorContinua »