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besides !” or with that of the great apostle, described in the words before us, “as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich ; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” “The fruit of the Spirit is ... joy.” “The work of righteousness is peace; and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever.”
Now, in the dispensation of these spiritual riches, there is no restriction, save what exists in the minds of those to whom they are offered. They are a free gift to all who desire and seek them. Neither the possession of this world's good, nor the want of it, is any bar to their acquisition. There is wonderful liberality and even profusion in the bestowment of blessings that are necessary to man's higher and especially his highest interests. It is only in things that do not enter essentially into his well-being, that there is intentional limitation and seeming partiality. Whatever gives happiness to man, as man, is made, or designed to be made, more or less accessible to all. There is a largeness, a munificence in the gift, which answers equally to the common wants of the race, and to that paternal relation which gives to God a like interest in all his intelligent creatures. The things usually called precious—"gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean”—are, and probably were intended to be, in the hands of a few; but no one can exclusively appropriate the universal sunshine, or the vital air, or the dews and showers that water the earth. Nor can any one claim a property in these which does not equally belong to his neighbour. The delicacies and refinements of luxurious living, to which all climes and all seasons are made contributory, are necessarily confined to a small number—to the favourites of birth or of fortune : but, without stint, the grass grows for the cattle, and herb for the service of man ; the trees bring forth their beneficent fruit, and the flowers breathe out their delicious fragrance, for the common enjoyment; the heavens rain down their beauty for every eye, the birds pour forth their melody for every ear, and the earth and sea everywhere, throughout their vast extent and depth of treasured riches, teem with plenty and yield their increase for the universal life. Thus also is the Gospel, with its untold wealth of blessing, both for the present and the future, God's great gift of love to all mankind.
I will only add, that what is thus meant for all should, as far as possible, be offered to all, and that each of us should make himself responsible for some part of the duty. That which is of so much value to ourselves cannot but be of corresponding value to others, since their nature is like our own, and their future destiny dependent on precisely similar conditions. We can have no claim to the blessings of salvation which they have not, seeing, in fact, that no one has any claim at all. The mercy of God has given to us a prior possession of them, but not, assuredly, for our own exclusive enjoyment. It is,
rather, that we may take upon ourselves the responsibility of distributing them to those, at home and abroad, who have hitherto been less favoured than we, and of thus becoming “ labourers together with him.” It is God's established method to give first to some, or to give abundantly to a few, that they, as ministers of his bounty, may afterwards give to others. So Jesus first gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples then gave to the multitudes. We cannot conceive of any other mode of spreading the Gospel. It will not spread itself, and a miraculous diffusion is impossible. Men must be saved by the agency of their fellow-men, if saved at all. Divine power takes the channel of human means. It operates through willing hearts and willing hands, by deeds and words steeped in human sympathies and moistened with human tears. Besides, not to bestow what we ourselves possess is the surest way to lose it. Riches corrupt, and garments become moth-eaten, when not used. The one condition of all flourishing and fruitful life is to give itself out freely, and when it ceases to give, it ceases to live. “From him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.” On the other hand, they who generously share their blessedness with others become themselves doubly blessed. Nor is their blessedness present only, but future and eternal: nor human alone, but eminently Divine. It is even now, and shall at last be still more abundantly, “the joy of their Lord.”
THE SLEEPING AND THE STILLING OF
BY THE REV. H. FENTON. The works of Jesus Christ are intended for revelations. When God the Son tabernacled upon earth he had so many and important lessons to give, that he must needs speak through his acts. “Being the Lord his deeds are words to us." Indeed, as works are the chief medium God employs in revealing himself, so the God-man addressed men through those “miracles and mighty works" which are “signs," rather than through words. Christ wrote nothing, said little, did much. Besides, Christ is the revelation of Jehovah, and yet the histories of his life recount chiefly his works. All his words an ordinary reader might peruse in a few hours. It is incredible that the Eternal Son should come into our world in order that he might make known the ever-blessed God, and yet that the revelation should be found only in words which may be read in half a day. Inspired men can speak the words, and some of their words would bear no unfavourable comparison with the words of Jesus. What we need from the Incarnate God are works. In perfect accordance with this need, some of the “signs” which Jesus “truly did ” are “ written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," and that, believing, we might have life through his name.
If the works of Jesus are revelations, we should carefully and reverently read the works. Christ's love and thought being disclosed in his deeds, we should ponder those acts. And, possibly, of all his works none gives a clearer revelation than that of stilling the tempest.
On the evening of the day on which our Lord spoke so many parables * that it might be called the day of parables, he said to his disciples, “Let us pass over unto the other side” of the sea. While crossing the sea in company “with other little ships," " there arose a great storm of wind,” one of those sudden storms or squalls to which the Sea of Galilee, surrounded by mountain gorges, was notoriously exposed. The ship was filled with the waves ; and in the imminent danger the disciples call to the Master to save them, who, awaking from the peace of sleep, calms the winds and sea.
The barque containing the Lord with his disciples, tossed on an angry sea, is a natural antitype of the ark containing the infant race of men, and prefigures the Church in the world-ocean of evil-is “a prefiguration of the Church in its relation to the stormy sea in the world.” The mighty works of Jesus wrought upon the material and external, represent similar and equally great works wrought upon the internal and spiritual. The influence of Christ upon the soul is analogous to that exerted over the body in the days of his flesh.
That storm-tossed barque, the promise and prophecy of the Church, was not only exposed to danger, as every ship at sea must be, but was in actual peril. A “storm of wind came down upon the lake." “ The waves beat into the vessel so that it was now full.” So great and imminent was the peril, that men who had earned their bread upon that same sea, in exceeding fear, declared that they were perishing.
Christians, in crossing the sea of life, are not only exposed to sudden squalls or severe storms, but are often overtaken by the storm. There are agitations of the sonl arising from domestic cares, losses in trade, want of work, sickness, personal or family bereavement; and also from those spiritual temptations by which the Christian life is assailed. The vessel strangely rocks and rolls, heaves and pitches. Now, some of these tempests cause but little anxiety. We apprehend no danger, having been in as raging stornis, in which we have been safely preserved. But there are times of extraordinary peril. Trade is so bad that bankruptcy threatens the merchant, and poverty the mechanic. The dearest friend dies, and earth is the
merest blank. A sickness which brings us into the presence of the king of terrors assails. Possibly Satan himself, the prince of tempters, who cannot always be attacking each Christian, is permitted, with special severity, to test our faith in God. Our troubles are most complicated. Many sorrows, ever growing in number and strength, distract the spirit. Winds roar and rage. Waves dash over and fill the vessel. Sails are torn and carried away. Though the Christian has been in many severe storms, he has never been in one so severe as this. Notwithstanding his long experience, he trembles for his safety. Instead of abating, the storm every moment becomes increasingly dangerous. Winds rush with stronger violence, and the waves lash with mightier power ; the heart becomes more agitated; the passions more stirred; our whole nature more distracted.
While that storm was raging on the Sea of Galilee, alarming the disciples so greatly, Jesus Christ, "who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,” was with them. Had they gone away alone, like Martha and Mary, they had said, “ If the Master had been here this tempest had not arisen." The Master was with them. It was while fulfilling his desire that they were overtaken with the storm. It was he who said, “ Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.” They were not, like Jonah, running away from their Lord and their work. And when winds roared and waves swelled, so far froin even helping them at all, he quietly slept in the hinder part of the vessel, on a pillow. That sleeping was a Divine permission to the tempest to rage. Strange sight-Christ asleep in a vessel threatened with speedy destruction ! Jesus sleeping, and his people in imminent peril !
Typical was that scene of many an experience in the life of every Christian. It is a grievous mistake to suppose that because evils asail, therefore the Saviour is not near. He permits many affilictions to befall. his servants. He desires brave followers—a people who shall be the spiritual “athletes of the world.” Hence he gives hard work to those who follow him ; allows them to be placed in circumstances so difficult and embarrassing as to demand the exertion of all their skill and strength ; permits even perilous times to develop their utmost faith. Hence, Christian brother, the Saviour was with thee when fell the blow which destroyed thy business; with thee when thy character was falsely but foully blasted ; with thee when thy dear dear friend died; with thee when, in the agony of thy sickness, thou didst gaze into the face of death. But though with thee, so little did he exert himself that he might have been asleep. And what can even a Saviour who is asleep do ?
The stormy sea is the school of Christ. The leaves of his lessonbook are the trials and sorrows of life; he traips men by painful experience. Neither he nor his bravest and best servants have found their congenial sphere in the peace of the secluded study, but in the busy and distracted concerns of the ordinary life of men. His people will have more time and ampler opportunities for intellectual exercises in heaven; on earth they must learn the immensely important lessons, to be learned only in storms and temptations. Christ conducts his people along the pathway of hard and painful difficulties, that in the end they may find abiding peace.
It was only in the extremity of their danger that the disciples sought help from the sleeping Stiller of Tempests. As though understanding his very sleeping to be a promise of deliverance, they did not awaken him until, in the greatness of their peril, the vessel being now full, their faith was swallowed up in fear. But when they did pray, it was with intense energy. The double “Master, Master," of Luke; the reproving words of Mark, “ Master, carest thou not that we perish ?” and the pitiful prayer of Matthew, “Lord, save us ; we perish,” equally reveal anxiety and terror.
It is a very trite remark, that difficulties and dangers drive all men, even infidels, to prayer. It is equally common to regard the fact of our general disinclination to supplicate God's help, unless impelled by sorrow, as proving man's ungodliness. But it is not so constantly observed that men must pray more earnestly in danger than they can pray at other times. We must seek Divine power then most, when most the heart and mind are affected. The spirit must be deeply moved to exert its utmost might in clinging to the power of the Infinite. The soul wrestles most effectually with the Prince of Israel in the darkness of the night, and before meeting the angry foe. Even the perfect Prayer never cried so passionately and powerfully as when, in his limitless passion, his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. The night of blackest, darkest trial is the time of deepest prayer. One of the blessings resulting from exceeding suffering is, that it so develops the latent feelings of our nature as to enable us to exert our utmost power with God; so that though it is certainly a sad fact that we so feebly and seldom call upon God in times of prosperity and joy, yet were it far sadder if, when the waves of trouble threaten to engulf our vessel, we did not with intensified earnestness, as becometh men in sore danger, pray for Divine deliverance.
The disciples called upon one who " was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.” Strange that they should; but not very strange. For although he who sleeps must be human, yet had that Sleeper given to those in the vessel unmistakable proof that he was more than man. He had already wrought many miracles (Matt. iv. 23, 24). They had received glimpses of their Master's divinity; hence they prayed to him though asleep. Nor can we do better,