Page images
PDF
EPUB

31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

part of their inmates were users of intoxicating liquors. See the effect on boys of cigarettes. Keep your eyes open.

Follow Jesus, and you shall not walk in darkness.
Follow Jesus, and you shall have the light of life.

II. THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST, v. 31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him. Believed what he said, believed that he spoke the truth, accepted him as leader, teacher, Savior, and adopted his teachings as the guide of their lives.

If ye continue in my word, keep on going to school to him, as distinct from those who soon fall away because there is no real life in them, but are like the morning cloud and early dew that passeth away. (Hosea 13 : 3.) Then are ye my disciples indeed (Am. R., truly my disciples "). A disciple is a learner, one who accepts another as teacher and master, one who accepts his teachings and follows his example. Hence a true disciple of Christ is a true Christian.

1. The Teacher is Jesus Christ, perfect in knowledge, in method, in example. He is wise, just, sympathetic, and perfect in the art of teaching. All his scholars are drawn to him.

2. The entrance examination is the simple but necessary condition of believing, of accepting Jesus as Lord and Teacher, joining his school.

3. The scholars are the disciples of Jesus, who continue under his instruction. To visit a school does not make one a member of it. To sit upon the benches with the scholars, to pass the time in the schoolroom, does not make one a scholar there; but to accept of the teacher, to submit to his discipline, to obey his rules, to pursue the required studies, and to continue in these things, makes one a scholar of that school. The continuing in his word is the test, whether one is a disciple or not. Some one has said that perseverance is the only virtue that cannot be counterfeited. 4. The object of the schooling is to make per

“ unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13); the cultivation of all the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 4: 22, 23) ; till we stand perfect and complete in all "I am the Light of the World." the will of God” (Col. 4 : 12).

5. Where is Christ's School ? “ Christ's school is not only in the church and the Sunday school and the Christian Endeavor society. Christ's school may be in the kitchen or the office or on the street or in the railroad car. Christ's school is wherever His followers are at work or at play, or even by themselves with nothing to do but think. Wherever any one is trying to live according to Christ's will there Christ sets up His school. It is open day and night. It has no vacations and no recesses. And its sessions last all one's life.”

6. The Text-book. “ Christ's school has the greatest text-book ever written, the Book of Books. It is sixty-six text-books in one. More than a thousand years were needed to write it. Several countries and two great languages had a share in the work.”

There is no safeguard against the temptation to use intoxicating liquors, and suffering the evils of intemperance, so good and strong for the young as being faithful students in the School of Christ.

III. THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD, vs. 32, 33. Having become a student in the School of Christ, ye shall know the truth, the realities

[graphic]

fect men,

Holman Hunt.

33. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

[ocr errors]

of God, and Christ, and daily life, and righteousness, the spirit of truthfulness, of sincerity. The new Century Dictionary gives these definitions of truth,“ The state or character of being true ; conformity of thought with fact; “ habitual disposition to speak only what is true ; sincerity, uprightness, honesty.” It is of the utmost importance that we have the spirit of truthfulness, of sincerity, the spirit that wants to know the truth about everything so far as we know anything about it. Then we belong to Christ's kingdom of the truth (John 18:37). The Truth we are to learn from Christ concerns the great important realities of life and the world ; the truth of his claims, of his Gospel, of the love of God our Father, of eternal life, of righteousness, of spiritual values above the earthly. It implies the right emphasis on all things, according to their importance.

Freedom by the Truth. And the truth shall make you free. 1. It Freedom from sin and the love of sin. For sin is slavery, a bondage of remorse, of bad habits, of bodily disease, of perverted conscience, of present and future punishment. It compels those who are its slaves to do what they, in their better moments, would not do, and keeps them from doing what they would. They are hindered in their every effort to do right.

2. It is Freedom from the curse and penalty of sin. For one who continues in sin is compelled to bear its consequences against his will. He cannot escape from the gnawing of his conscience.

Sayings of the Wise. “ For the worst tyrant a man can serve is his own selfish heart." Dr. Hovey. “ The idea that vice is slavery is common in all literature ; frequent in the classics.” Cambridge Bible. Dream not of freedom while under the mastery of your desires.” Plato. “No one committing deeds of wickedness can be free.” — Arrian.

3. It is Freedom from the bondage of corroding care and anxiety, from the foreboding fears that destroy our peace, like the sword of Damocles hanging by a hair over his head as he sat at the feast.

4. It is Mental Freedom. Nothing gives so much mental freedom as the Gospel ; for the Gospel conquers prejudice, selfishness, falsehood, the great enemies of freedom. The Christian cares more for the truth than for life. He freely ranges every field of thought. God his Father has made all things, therefore it is his children's privilege to study all. The works of God can never contradict, but always explain and illustrate the Word of God. And while ecclesiastical bodies have sometimes opposed freedom of thought, in the name of the Gospel, yet, as a fact, under the Gospel is the greatest mental freedom this world knows.

5. It is Freedom of Christian activity. The Christian's whole life, so far as it is Christian, is the free, joyous outflow of his Christian heart ; as the fountain flows, as the bird sings, as the child plays, as the artist paints, as the orator speaks. He gives, he prays, he does good, because he loves to. Laws are like fences by the roadside, a restraint to those who wish to do evil, but to those who wish to travel, and not to trespass, they are guides, and not restraints.

Illustration from the Liberty Bell. In Independence Hall at Philadelphia is the bell which first rang out to the citizens, who in 1776 were anxiously awaiting the results of the discussions in Congress, which was sitting with closed doors, that the Declaration of Independence had been decided upon. It rang out liberty in full and joyous peals. But fifteen years before this, when that bell was made, upon its rim were cast the words, “ PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND, UNTO ALL

THE INHABITANTS THEREOF” (Leviticus 25:10). For fifteen long years that bell rang not an actual liberty, but the hope of liberty, the prophecy of liberty, the preparation for liberty. But at length, on the Fourth of July, 1776, the words written upon it in prophecy were rung out a reality, a prophecy fulfilled. So the Christian has liberty written upon his soul, — partly a fact, partly a prophecy, and a hope. But at last to the Christian redeemed from all

35. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever : but the Son abideth ever.

36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

37. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

As

sin, the prophecy is fulfilled, the hope is realized, and he enjoys the perfect liberty of the sons of God.

The Slavery of Intemperance, vs. 34, 36. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (“the bond-servant " Am. R.) of sin. This lesson can be made a powerful temperance lesson, because in temperance is one of the most visible illustrations of the slavery of sin in its threefold form. (1) The man addicted to strong drink is its slave because he is restrained by it from doing what he knows he ought to do. The drunkard often longs to be happy and respected and healthy again, and vows to leave his cups forever; but his master passion cracks its whip over him, and he goes to his drink again. Put wife and children in the path before them, and they cast them aside. Put respectability and honor and manhood there ; they gaze at them a moment, and fling them away. Lay remorse, with all its coiling serpent tongues and scorpion stings in the path, yet they walk on. Pile up miseries, sorrows, pains, diseases before them, but they still seek the mixed wine. (2) The victim of intemperance cannot even do wrong freely. His conscience, his whole moral nature, the voice of God, the fear of punishment, ever stand in his way and protest against his course. They never cease to act so long as the soul exists. As long as God rules, as long as the laws of nature exist, so long can no man do wrong unfettered and free. (3) He is a slave because he is compelled to bear the consequences of sin against his will.

There is only one way of escape, v. 36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. This is the work of the church, of Temperance Societies, Rescue Missions, and individual Christians, to use every possible effort and means to bring the unfortunate victim to Jesus Christ. Great numbers have been rescued, and many more can be.

A VISION OF THE DANGERS AND EVILS OF STRONG DRINK. we look through the remainder of this chapter we find that Jesus pictures the character of the devil the great enemy of mankind under two aspects.

First. He is a Murderer, v. 44. Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. (Am. R.) He was a murderer from the beginning. Personifying Intemperance, it has been a murderer from the beginning. Even War has not slain so many.

Second. Intemperance is a liar and the father thereof, for there is no truth in him (Am. R.). There are few things more deceitful than the beginnings of the entrance upon the habit of using intoxicating liquors. The way at first is so flowery, so social, so inspiring to the spirit, that it seems hardly possible to feel that it may, and often does, lead to almost every kind of evil, to sickness, and poverty, disgrace, prison, crime, and death. Alcohol is a liar, a deceiver. It claims to make men happy, as we hear in the old drinking songs. It claims to make men strong, brave, eloquent, free, abounding in life especially to the young. “ Drink, and you will be happy, with joys beyond your highest dreams. Drink, and your sickness will fee away, and health and strength be renewed.”

One of the best illustrations of the deceitfulness, the distorted visions and promises with which strong drink entraps the young is found in Moore's Lalla Rookh, The veiled prophet of Khorassan.His silver veil covered his distorted features, and shone with the radiance of the sun. His young, enthusiastic follower

“Kneeling, pale
With pious awe before the silver veil,
Believes the form to which he bends the knee,
Some pure redeeming angel sent to free
This fettered world from every bond and stain,

And bring its primal glories back again." And the beautiful Zelica, believing his promises to make her“ his own blest, purified, eternal bride where every stain that lay upon the spirit's light should pass away,” pledged herself to him forever.

Then in a charnel house he tore off the silver veil from his hideous and monstrous face.

56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

“Ha, ha ! and so, fond thing, thou thought'st all true,
And that I love mankind ? I do, I do —
As victims I love them. ..
And now thou see'st my souil's angelic hue,
'Tis time these features were uncurtained too; -

“Now turn and look
Here, judge if hell, with all its power to damn,

Can add one curse to the foul thing I am.' One of the most famous and effective illustrations of the dangers and wrongs of yielding to the temptation to use intoxicating liquors was printed 82 years ago, entitled,

DEACON GILES'S DISTILLERY In 1835 Rev. George B. Cheever, a young minister of decided talent and fearless disposition, commenced a warfare against the monster Intemperance. There were four distilleries producing 600,000 gallons annually in his immediate vicinity, and of three thousand persons admitted to the workhouse, within a few minutes' walk of his study, two thousand and nine hundred were brought there directly or indirectly through intemperance. Over these and the untold corruption, Sabbath desecration, and ruin of souls connected with them, he could not sleep. His thoughts took the form of “ a dream that was not all a dream.” It was published and created an intense excitement. It was so true to fact that a distiller caused Rev. Mr. Cheever to be indicted, and he was fined $1000, and sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

The dream story runs thus : One Saturday afternoon Deacon Giles's workmen had quarrelled, and all went off in anger. He was in much perplexity for want of hands to do the work of the devil on the Lord's day. In the dusk of the evening a gang of singular-looking fellows entered the door of the distillery. Their dress was wild and uncouth, their eyes glared, and their language had a tone that was awful. They offered to work for the deacon ; and he, on his part, was overjoyed, for he thought within himself that, as they had probably been turned out of employment elsewhere, he could engage them on his own terms.

He made them his accustomed offer - as much rum every day, when the work was done, as they could drink ; but they would not take it. Then one of them, who seemed to be the head man, agreed with the deacon that if he would let them work by night instead of day, they would stay with him awhile and work on his own terms. To this he agreed, and they immediately went to work. When he went home he locked up the doors, leaving the distillery to his new workmen. Trick. gathered from their talk that they were going to play a trick upon

the deacon that should cure him of offering rum and Bibles to his workmen. They were going to write certain inscriptions on all his rum-casks that should remain invisible until they were sold by the deacon, but should flame out in characters of fire as soon as they were broached by his retailers or exposed to the use of the drunkards. The next evening, the men came again, and again the deacon locked them in to themselves, and they went to work. They finished all his molasses, and filled all his rum-barrels, and kegs, and hogsheads with liquor, and marked them all, as on the preceding night, with invisible inscriptions. Most of the titles ran thus :

CONSUMPTION SOLD HERE.

Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery.
CONVULSIONS AND EPILEPSIES.

Enquire at Amos Giles's Distillery.

INSANITY AND MURDER.
Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery.

DROPSY AND RHEUMATISM, PUTRID FEVER, AND CHOLERA

IN THE COLLAPSE.
Enquire at Amos Giles's Distillery.

DELIRIUM TREMENS.

Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery. Many of the casks had on them inscriptions like the following :

DISTILLED DEATH AND LIQUID DAMNATION.
The Elixir of Hell for the bodies of those whose souls are coming there.
Some of the demons had even taken sentences from the Scriptures, and marked the
hogsheads thus:

WHO HATH WOE?
Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery.
WHO HATH REDNESS OF EYES?

Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery.
Others had written sentences like the following :
A POTION FROM THE LAKE OF FIRE AND BRIMSTONE.

Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery. All of these inscriptions burned, when visible, a “still and awful red.” One of the most terrible in its appearance was as follows : WEEPING AND WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.

Enquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery. In the course of the week most of the casks were sent into the country, and duly hoisted on their stoups, in conspicuous situations, in the taverns, and groceries, and the rum-shops. But no sooner had the first glass been drawn from any of them than the invisible inscriptions flamed out on the cask-head to every beholder.

The drunkards were terrified from the dram-shops ; the bar-rooms were emptied of their customers ; but in their place a gaping crowd filled every store that possessed a cask of the deacon's devil-distilled liquor, to wonder and be affrighted at the spectacle. For no art could efface the inscriptions. And even when the liquor was drawn into new casks the same deadly letters broke out in blue and red flames all over the surface.

The rumsellers, and grocers, and tavern-keepers were full of fury. They loaded their teams with the accursed liquor, and drove it back to the distillery. All around and before the door of the deacon's establishment the returned casks were piled one upon another, and it seemed as if the inscriptions burned brighter than ever. Consumption, Damnation, Death, and Hell mingled together in frightful confusion ; and in equal prominence, in every case, flamed out the direction :

ENQUIRE AT DEACON GILES'S DISTILLERY." National Temperance Society (58 Reade St. New York, $2 per 100.)

LESSON XII.

March 25.
JESUS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.

REVIEW. READ John 14:1-14. GOLDEN TEXT. -- Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life : no one cometh unto the Father but by me. — JOHN 14:6.

« PreviousContinue »