"And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he
lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he
blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into
heaven."—Luke xxiv. 50, 51.
It was in the act of blessing His infant
Church that the Lord was taken up, and He has never ceased from that
work. The hands He then lifted up to bless them, the pierced
hands, have never ceased to pour down upon His Church every grace, and
gift, and benefit that she has ever enjoyed. "Wherefore he saith, When
he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto
men." The gift of the Spirit, "the Comforter," the "promise of the
Father," followed soon after His ascension—the first proof to the Church
and to the world of the wonders that the risen Saviour was to
accomplish. And of all the " multitude which no man can number," who in
all countries and times since that day have been saved and sanctified,
and brought to stand redeemed before the throne, there is not one who
has not been saved by Him, and led. by Him, and blessed
with an everlasting blessing from those uplifted hands -Jew or Greek,
bond or free, barbarian, Scythian, to Him alone do they ascribe their
salvation; and mingling with those ancient names are those of the latest
days, —modern Europeans, natives of India, Esquimaux, and Africans, and
Americans, and New Zealanders,—all owe their all to that blessed
Saviour, and cry, "There is none other name !"
"Nor death, nor life, nor earth, nor hell,
Nor time's destroying sway,
Can e'er efface us from His heart,
Or make His love decay.
Each future period that will bless
As it has bless'd the past;
He loved us from the first of time,
He loves us to the last."
"I will pour upon the house of David, and upon
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of
supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and
shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his
firstborn."—Zech. xii. 10.
I have seen the mourning of a bereaved mother for her
only son ; oh, how deep, how intense, how bitter is such a grief! How it
changes the whole world to the mourner, making her forget everything
else in the one absorbing feeling of heart-anguish! And have I ever thus
mourned for Him. whom my sins have pierced? Have I believed and
comprehended that for me He suffered such things? Have I ever so
looked upon Him— so turned aside " to see this great sight," that
my heart has been melted like the broken desolate heart of that poor
mother? O Lord, grant me to know something of this mourning; it is
better than all this vain world's rejoicing, for by Thy grace it will
end in the only true rejoicing, when Thy Spirit, and the water, and the
blood that flowed from that pierced side, "agrecin one." . . . .
" And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and
this life is in his Son."
"The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow:
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine
A contrite heart or no?
"Oh, make this heart rejoice or ache:
Decide this doubt for me;
And if it be not broken, break,
And heal it if it be."
"The world passeth away, and the lust thereof:
but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."—1 John ii. 17.
The first part of this verse may well stand as a true
epitaph over many a grave of human greatness and glory —"The world
passeth away;" and those who have made it their choice pass away with it
down to the mighty ocean of eternity, whether they float as stately
vessels, the "observed of all observers," or as humble, unnoticed little
rafts! "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof,"—when in
another world, will not men wonder why they loved this world so much?
Will they not look with a very different eye on what once so deeply
engrossed them? And can we say how soon it may be appointed for our
eyes to look thus upon a world which shall have passed away from us,
and upon an eternity which shall have dawned upon us? Life is passing
quickly away, with all its concerns and cares; let me not, then, be
either too much cast down or too much elated with that which is of so
fleeting a nature— but may it be the one earnest desire and prayer of my
heart to be found living to the glory of God while life is prolonged,
that I may be among those who do the will of God and abide for ever!
"While our days on earth are lengthen'd,
May we give them, Lord, to Thee;
Cheer'd by hope, and daily strengthen'd,
May we run, nor wearied be; Till Thy glory,
Without clouds, in heaven we see!"
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
places." —Eph. vi. 12.
"Your adversary the devil."—1 Pet. v. 8.
In these days of modern refinement, men are perhaps
too ready to forget that there is such an adversary—our
adversary—as strong and subtle as ever, and as full of enmity as ever
against the seed of the woman; the serpent of Eden is not dead,
though it' is one of his wiles to make us think so, or at least to make
us forget his awful existence! We find the writings of the apostles full
of warnings against the devices of our malignant enemy; this was
apostolic teaching on the subject, and in conformity with it we find the
same warnings brought forward very prominently in the writings of our
Reformers, Luther especially, whose belief was, in one instance, too
strong for his bodily senses, so that he-forgot that the adversary was
not assailable by material weapons! "We wrestle not against flesh and
blood;" and how much more awful is the conflict!—how much more
formidable is an invisible than a visible foe,—formidable even from our
disbelief of the danger, and for-getfulness of the need to watch! But
"stronger is He that is with us than all they that can be against us;"
and the Unseen Power that is ever ready to help is "more of might by
far" than all the rulers of darkness that are against us. "Prom the
crafts and assaults of the devil, good Lord, deliver us!"
"The end of all things is at hand: be ye
therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."—1 Pet. iv. 7.
If the end of all things was at hand in the apostle's
days, surely it must be still more nearly at hand to us in these latter
times. His exhortation, then, applies even more strongly to us, as he
calls on us to "watch unto prayer." "Life is real, life is earnest," in
the truest, deepest sense to one who believes that his Lord is at hand;
he may not suffer himself to be engrossed with trifles; great thoughts
have forced themselves on his mind ; he hears the advancing footsteps of
his Master; he feels that an attitude of watchfulness is the true state
for him. Oh that the Lord by His Spirit would deeply impress our minds
with the reality of those things! Oh that we could believe them as we
ought! How closely would we then cleave to Him who alone can sustain us
and enable us to walk through this life as those whose affections are
set on things above ! How sober-minded would we be, believing that the
end is indeed at hand, when all earthly concerns shall pass away for
ever!— how watchful unto prayer would we become, longing to hear Him
say, "Blessed are those servants!"
"Come, Jesus! come! return again;
With brighter beam Thy servants bless,
Who long to feel Thy perfect reign,
And share Thy kingdom's happiness!"
"Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?"— John
It is well for us to put this question often to our
hearts; for there is an easy, assenting belief—passing current for true
belief—which, in time of trial, is but a broken reed to trust to. Even
the true believer sometimes needs to wake up the faith that is in him by
this question, and to ask himself, "Why art thou so cast down with
earthly troubles? 'Do ye now believe?' Do ye now feel that
you have God for your Father? Have you now a sense of His
presence and power? Pain oppresses and sorrow grieves you, but can you
find no support in God? Have you a real faith, and can it do nothing
more for you than this? Have you nothing better to sustain you than the
men of the world have ?" It is related of a much-afflicted, aged
Christian, that when the strokes of his heaviest misfortunes fell upon
him, he found strength in repeating, from the depth of his heart, the
words, "I believe in God the Father Almighty!" Words of solemn import,
and strong reality! He thus took the shield of faith to quench the fiery
darts of the wicked; and though we need not use the same words, as if
there were any charm in them, we would do well to use the same weapon,
and as our old divines would say—"Act faith in God."