Our blessed Lord, the
Wisdom of God, does not address acute and subtle argumentation to the
skilful logician, He does not appeal with glowing and gorgeous pictures to
the imagination of the poetical, or with pathetic and sentimental strains
to the "religious temperament;" but He appeals to all men by addressing
Himself to their common sense. In Christ's words we may find the
profoundest metaphysics, the most cogent logic, the most sublime imagery,
the most touching pathos; but you cannot escape Him, you cannot exclude
yourself from His audience, or plead inability to understand and follow,
by saying you are no reasoner, no poet, and without the organ of
veneration or religious susceptibility. Are you a plain, common-sense man?
You are able to manage your worldly affairs, and to conduct your business;
you lay claim to ordinary intelligence. If so, you are able to take in
When Christ says to the
Pharisees—"When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather, for the
sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day, for the
sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the
sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?"— it is as if He said,
'You are all clever enough, when and where you like; and your not
understanding the times is not from want of power of thinking, and
comparing, and arguing, and coming to a conclusion; it is want of
inclination. If you would apply your common sense to spiritual things,
which are contrary to your sins and tastes, as you can and do apply it to
things temporal, you would soon come to a correct result.' And this is the
meaning of all Christ's parables. For instance:—
What common-sense man would
expect a harvest when there has been no sowing? or that he would awake
some beautiful morning and find himself possessed with an accurate
knowledge of Hindo-stani, though he had never spent a minute in the study
of that language? or who would expect a crop of wheat, after having sown
barley? And yet why do men expect to reap eternal life, when they have not
sown to the Spirit; but, on the contrary, when all the days of their life
they have sown to the flesh—that is, been without God, prayer, meditation,
the constraining influence of Christ's love?
Who would expect seed to
spring up on the roadside, on hard ground, where it cannot penetrate, but
remains on the surface, and men tread on it, or the birds devour it? And
why should the superficial reading of the Bible, and the mere mechanical
listening to the sermon, produce permanent result?
Who would expect to learn
to swim on dry land? Then is it not a rational demand and condition— "If
any man will do God's will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be
of God, or whether I speak of myself?
Or again, who would build a
house upon sand? or think, that because a house built upon sand has the
same outward appearance, height, elegance, accommodation, as a house built
on a rock, it was equally safe, and equally able to withstand the tempest
and storm? And why are we so unwilling to examine ourselves, whether we
possess the power, and not merely the form of godliness?
Then, as to our ideas of
God. Who among us would build a ship or house, without intending to enjoy
it or profit by it, or use it according to our pleasure? And if God is our
Creator, is it strange that He should expect us to live to His glory, and
according to His will?
Is it difficult to
understand what is meant by sin, when we think of what a father expects
from his child, and then apply it to our conduct towards our heavenly
Is it difficult to see that
the life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment? that
Christ-bought men are nearer and dearer to the Father's heart than
sparrows and lilies? and so learn from the trustfulness and
light-heartedness of the children of evil parents the sinfulness of
doubts, anxious, fretting care and discontent?
Christ's sayings are so
simple, that man is immediately silenced, convinced, condemned, and if he
yield and continue to listen, enlightened, guided, and comforted. Christ,
coming from heaven, and while on earth still living in heaven (John iii.
13)— do try to understand this verse—that is, in a spiritual, eternal,
real world—sees in the things visible and temporal the same laws, and
principles, and truths which exist in the higher region; for there is but
one God, and one Word of God, through whom all things were made, and one
Spirit, and in His divine wisdom and human sympathy He teaches us and
reasons with us, so that we can understand Him, and are inexcusable if we
do not hear and ponder His words.
Read, therefore, and weigh
what Christ says,—at first, and at least with thy common sense, honestly
and candidly; thou wilt have to deny thyself every step thou advancest,
but the more thou losest of thy own opinions, security, love of the world,
sin, the greater thy gain; till at last thou art willing to lose all
things for the sake of one precious pearl, in the possession of which thou
wilt find a sure portion, and an exceeding great reward.
On the day of judgment the
wise shall be saved (Dan. xii. 3, Matt. xxv. 10), whereas the foolish
shall not stand before Him (Matt. xxv. 12); but during the long year of
salvation the heavenly Wisdom, even Jesus Christ, speaketh to us thus:—
"Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting
at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall
obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own
soul: all they that hate me love death."
A Story in Point, or Moser's
Moser was one of the most
celebrated and learned lawyers of Germany in the eighteenth century, and
his books were known and honoured throughout the country as masterpieces
of erudition and profundity. He was also a man of inflexible purpose and
unswerving integrity. For this reason he had many enemies, who
misrepresented him at the court of his prince. He was imprisoned in
Hohentwiel for five years, and liberated on the energetic remonstrances of
Frederick the Great and the Imperial Council of Vienna. The first use he
made of his liberty was to go to the house of God. On his way home he was
greeted and cheered by the people in villages and towns, and the Duke
himself, who had sentenced him to imprisonment, acknowledged his error.
This great man, the Sir Matthew Hale of Germany, was a devout, spiritual
Christian, who confessed his faith in the crucified Saviour before high
and low, and held meetings in his own house, at which he explained the
Scriptures. He reached the age of eighty-five, after having rendered the
most important services to both Church and State.
I have premised this, that
you may read with greater interest the simple history of his conversion.
In his younger days he read Voltaire's attacks on the Bible. He thought
that as a scholar, and especially as a lawyer, it was not right for him to
come to a conclusion without hearing the other party. He therefore
resolved to examine the Bible carefully. In doing so, he read the words of
Christ—"If any man will do God's will, he shall know of the doctrine,
whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Moser thought it
perfectly legitimate for Christ to fix Himself the method in which people
are to arrive at certainty concerning His doctrine; and, moreover, he
thought he owed it both to Christ and to himself to try that method. Thus
he applied common sense, his lawyer's sense, to things spiritual. He began
to examine what God required of us, and he commenced to do God's will. In
this effort he learned many things; above all, as he expressed it, the
hard and evil nature of his heart; and soon he found that Jesus was indeed
the way, the truth, and the life, and rejoiced in the righteousness of
God, which is by faith.