Page images
PDF
EPUB

the gates of the city. And in this and to take the place, it may be, of the great Antitype was conformed to Simon the Cyrenian, in bearing His the type. “Jesus, also, that he might cross; and then unfalteringly to stand sanctify or atone for the people with by Him when priest, and scribe, and his own blood, suffered without the elder, and multitude, pour on Him gate.” The sentence that he should the meanness and bitterness of their die was pronounced within the gate, scorn. This is what Paul exhorts, in the heart of the city, not far from Let us go forth unto Him without the Holy of Holies, but it was exe- the camp, bearing His reproach." cuted without the gate. Let us

It will be asked how we, in our therefore go forth to Him to His circumstances, are to go forth and Calvary, beyond the camp, beyond the bear Christ's reproach. We are not gate, bearing his reproach. Let us to court shame or peril, we are not to not shrink from bearing Him company plait crowns of thorns for our own as he traverses with weary step that heads, we are not to make crosses for via dolorosa which leads from the ourselves, we are not to invite the judgment hall to Golgotha. Let us world to spit on us and buffet us. not shrink from standing by His-cross How then shall we go forth and bear on Golgotha, like the three Marys of His reproach ?

Into what modern immortal fame, and share with Him duties shall we translate this going His reproach. Very easy will it be forth, and this bearing of reproach for for us to go forth and meet Him on Christ? the slopes of Mount Olivet, with I. We find the extremest form of it branches of palm trees in our hands, in that exile from home and society when He approaches Jerusalem as which fidelity to Christ and conscience her long-predicted king, and when may require. “Going forth from the the welkin rings with the hosannas of city beyond the gate,” represents the the multitude, exclaiming, “Blessed leaving of that home and society is the King of Israel that cometh in which we enjoy in the city, the name of the Lord: peace in ter whatsoever may be found in the heaven, and glory in the highest.” uncultivated and unprotected wilderBut a very different thing will it be ness beyond. It may be a going forth for us to stand by Christ when the to die, or a going forth to endure sound that echoes through the air is want and privation, or a going forth not “ Hosanna,” but “ Crucify Him," into distant exile, where the sweets of when palm branches are exchanged home and the advantages of society for a crown of thorns, and when the will be enjoyed no

Such way we have to go is the way to shame going forth has often been required by and death. And yet this it is that fidelity to Christ and to conscience. Paul exhorts us to.

And were fidelity to Christ to require jubilant throng who are praising God it now, were we forbidden by law or with loud voice, and spreading their by violence to hold what we believe garments in the pathway of the King; to be the truth concerning Christ, and but to join that sorrowing, weeping to obey what we believe to be the law company who go with Jesus to Cal- of Christ, it would be our duty to go vary, some of them, alas, only a far off; forth unto Christ beyond the gate, to

encoun

more.

Not to join yon

abandon home and society, to submit to exile or even to death, as much as it was the duty of our English fathers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and as it was of the Christians of the first and later centuries. Much as we may shrink from the cross on which Peter died, or the block on which Paul died, or the wild beasts in the amphitheatre by which others have died, or the fiery stake by which still others have died, we are under the very law which these confessors and martyrs obeyed when they went forth to their Golgotha, and suffered death for Christ's sake.

II. But seeing that in the good providence of God we now enjoy the protection of free and equal laws, this going forth without the camp should represent to us the enduring of any difficulty or extremity in which fidelity to Christ may involve us in our circumstances. It may be such persecution at home as no law can take any cognisance of, or such persecution in the shop or workshop, or it may be loss in business, or it may be the forfeiture of honour and reputation, or it may be vexations and annoyances, which, though in themselves small, are to a sensitive soul as a perpetual thorn. Now the health and strength of our Christian principle will be seen in the calm, patient constancy with which we do the will of Christ, and bear whatsoever of evil the faithful doing of that will may entail upon us. If we compromise the claims of Christ and His will, or fret because of the social pains and penalties to which they subject us, we are not fulfilling the Apostle's requisition : “Let us go forth unto him without the gate, bearhis reproach.”

III. I may add this further idea

That this going forth without the camp requires under all circumstances a spiritual and practical separation from the evils that exist within the camp. Christ prayed not that His disciples should be taken out of the world, either by death or by local separation, but that they should be kept from the evil that is in the world. He lived in the world Himself; He was no ascetic; no anchorite; He did not court the solitudes of the desert, but sought the haunts of men in city and hamlet; sat at their tables, ate and drank with them; and yet it is said of Him not only that He was holy, harmless, and undefiled, but also that He was separate from sinners, separate from them while mingling with them, separate from them while talking with them, working with them, eating with them. And such separation as this must be ours. We must go forth beyond the camp, beyond the gates of the city, not in the sense of forsaking men to live with the beasts of the wilderness, or forsaking the family to live in the cloister, but in the sense of separating ourselves from the evils that are found within the gates of the city; that is, in one word, in society, in the family, and in business. Against these evils our practical testimony must be clear and decisive; we must shake off the dust of our feet against them. And thus only shall we act in the spirit of the exhortation : “Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach."

So much as to our “going forth unto Christ." But what of bearing His reproach ?

Christ Himself was reproached of men-as prophecy foretold, and history relates. He was despised as well

as rejected of men. And this perhaps We may look at this bearing of is the strangest part of His painful lot the reproach of Christ in another on earth. I can understand far better aspect. We have to bear, if need be, how He was hated and put to death the reproach which Christ bore—the than how He was despised. That His same kind of reproach—reproach for purity should be hated by the impure, the same reasons--that is, such rethat His lovingness should be hated proach as in this evil world follows by the selfish, that His devotion to godliness and purity; such reproach God should be hated by the ungodly, as a devout man would meet with in What His heavenliness should be hated the society of the profane, or a temby the earthly, I can understand. perate man in the society of the But that one so pure, so loving, so drunken, or a pure man in the society devout, so heavenly, should be de- of the licentious, or an honest man in spised, this is a mystery. I can under- the society of thieves, or a loyal man stand it only as I understand how all in the society of rebels, or a man of the objects that a jaundiced eye looks God in the society of the impious or upon appear to be yellow. Those who of devils. Jesus when in the world despised Christ looked upon Him was not of the world, and He was rethrough diseased eyes. When they proached by a world which could not put on Him the purple robe, and put appreciate His divine virtues. His into His hands the sceptre of a mock followers are likewise not of the world royalty, and buffeted Him, they were though in it; and in the very meaunder the influence of a stranger delu- sure in which they are not of it, sion than when they nailed Him to they must expect to bear the world's the accursed tree.

reproach. But be the explanation of the shame We may still further vary the aspect and contempt that were thrown on of this bearing of Christ's reproach, Christ what it may, the fact re- while the idea is substantially the mains that shame and contempt were thrown on Him; and we must not be It was the reproach of Christ that surprised, nor must we rebel against His kingdom was spiritual and heaour lot, if we should have to bear re- venly. The Jews expected an earthly proach for His sake. What the Master Messiahship with an earthly princesuffered, the servant must expect to dom ; and in their disappointment suffer likewise, and he must expect to with Jesus, they hypocritically charged suffer it for the Master's sake. But him before Pilate with usurping the one who himself knew how hard it

province of Cæsar. Pilate therefore was thus to suffer, and who knew at said to him, “ Art thou the king of the same time the consolations which the Jews ?" And Jesus answered, "My such a sufferer may enjoy, has said, kingdom is not of this world : if my “If ye be reproached for the name of kingdom were of this world, then Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of would my servants fight, that I should glory and of God resteth upon you. not be delivered to the Jews; but now On their part he is evil spoken of, but is my kingdom not from hence.” Pilate on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter therefore said unto Him, “ Art thou a

king then ?” And Jesus answered,

same.

iv. 14.)

" Thou sayest that I am a king. To that are of the truth hear His voice, this end was I born, and for this cause and are His fellow-witnesses for God, came I into the world, that I should for the spiritual, for the heavenly. bear witness unto the truth. Every They may work in the carpenter's one that is of the truth heareth my shop as He did; they may eat and voice.” (John xviii. 36, 37.)

drink, and work that they may eat and This was the very reproach of Jesus drink, as He did. But likewise as among the Jews. Their hearts were He did, so must they witness unto the set on the earthly and visible : He truth, unto the truth of God, unto the witnessed for the heavenly, and the truth of our spiritual nature, unto the spiritual, and the unseen. Just as in truth of our eternal destiny. With the beginning they desired of God to their lips when occasion serves, with have a king set over them, that they their lives at all times, they must might be like the kingdoms round about approve themselves citizens of heaven, them, so now they desired a king that heirs and expectants of its perfection should restore them to their place and its glory. It must be seen of among the kingdoms, and should even them that they seek first the kingdom set them over the kingdoms of the of God and His righteousness, that world, and should be a Jewish Cæsar, their ambition is to lay up for themhaving temporal dominion from sea to selves not treasures on earth, but sea, and from the river to the ends of treasures in heaven. the earth. And it was the reproach And if they are thus fellow-witnesses of Jesus of Nazareth that He would with Christ, there is no doubt but not be such a king. He stood among that they will be fellow-sharers of His men a witness for God, who claimed reproach. The world will call them spiritual dominion over the wills and visionaries and enthusiasts, perhaps hearts and consciences and lives of fools and fanatics. It will hurl its wise men, a witness for that spiritual world maxims at their heads, and remind in which our redeemed and regenerate them that a bird in the hand is worth nature attains its perfection. And in two in the bush, and that the solid His witnessing for the spiritual and gold which the eye sees and the hand the unseen, He said to a generation handles is better than the crown of gold that was steeped in earthliness and which faith dreams of. Earthly poscovetousness, “ Lay not up for your sessions are things of this terra firma; selves treasures upon earth, where heavenly possessions are things of moth and rust corrupt, and where cloudland. This is the reproach which thieves break through and steal: but those must bear who are practical and lay up for yourselves treasures in faithful witnesses for unseen realities, heaven, where neither moth nor rust and who set their affections on the doth corrupt, and where thieves do not things that are above, where Christ break through nor steal; for where sitteth at the right hand of God. And your treasure is, there will your heart they surely can well afford to bear it be also.” And all this was the re- who are the expectants of an inheriproach of Christ.

tance which is incorruptible, and unNow we must go forth unto Him, defiled, and which fadeth not away. bearing His reproach likewise. They Let not Christians then shrink from

the cross of our profession. With all its painfulness, happy shall we be in bearing it; happy shall we be to be found faithful to Him, faithful as the salt that is full of saltness, as the light that maketh the darkness flee away, faithful in our practical witnessbearing against worldliness, and covetousness, and earthliness, and selfishness—so faithful that the world cannot mistake us, and imagine that we are of it. Happy shall we be if we are thus so Christlike in character that those who have hearts in them to reproach Christ, will be sure to reproach us likewise. We may be sure of this,

that if we take our place by Christ with constant devotion, when the path we tread leads to Calvary and a cross, we shall have His society and companionship on the way to Emmaus as well. And if we weep on the road to Calvary, our hearts will burn within us with divine joy on the road to Emmaus. He will make Himself known to us in the breaking of bread, and finally He will lead us forth to Mount Olivet, not to be parted from us, but to take us with Him to His glory, that where He is there we may be also—"for ever with the Lord.”

Stepney.

MARAH AND ELIM. From Poems by the Author of "The Three Iwakings.” THREE long days of desert sunshine, toiling 'neath those scorching beams, Three long nights of heavy silence, gladdened by no sound of streams. Hear the waters now around us! see them sparkling in the sun! Surely now our trial ceaseth !-surely now our goal is won! Lips long parched and sealed in silence press the joyous waves to kiss Eyes whose tears were dried by anguish overflow with tears of bliss ; Toil-worn men, themselves untasting, leave to dearer lips the prize, Drinking draughts of deeper pleasure from the smile of grateful eyes. But a moment! but a moment may the rapturous dream remain; But a moment! from the nation bursts a sob of wildest pain. Children dash the bitter waters from them with a moaning cry; Mothers, by the mocking fountains, lay their little ones to die. Hearts that bore the trial bravely, with this shattered hope have burst; Streams for which we prayed and waited, bitter streams, but mock our thirst. Was it but for this the ocean, parting, bent our feet to kiss, Fiercely then our foes o’erwhelming? Were our first-born spared for this? Better to be slaves in Egypt! better to have perished there! Better ne'er a hope have tasted, than to sink in this despair. Israel! Israel! hush thy murmurs, hide thy guilty head in dust! He who is the Joy of heaven feeleth grief in thy distrust. Gently to thy wails He answers, “I am He that healeth thee;" E'en to-day the streams thou loathest shall thy best refreshment be. And to-morrow, but to-morrow, He thy sins so often grieve, Trains thee for, and storeth for thee, joys thy heart can scarce conceive. Coolest waters leaping, gushing 'neath the shade of many a palm ! Let no memory of murmurs mar for thee that blessed calm. So thy Marah shall be Elim, and thy Elim know no fears, For the fount of deepest gladness springeth near the place of tears.

« PreviousContinue »