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But, returning from that which is unutterable and incomprehensible in the truth which this day bears witness to rather than makes manifest ; returning from the natural mystery of God's nature, to the Christian mystery; that is, the revelation of what He has done for us ;—then we come to matters of which we can speak, and on which we can be understood; to truths capable at once of being known and loved. “ Taste and see how gracious the Lord is; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him,”—“ Fear ye Him all ye His saints." Here we come to matters not veiled within the heaven of heavens, but stretching from heaven to earth, to lift up earth to heaven; to thoughts, divine indeed, and high, and holy, but which, as I said before, suit our present condition as we are here assembled at this moment; the best charm which we could each carry with us when we go to our several homes, to bless our stay there and our meeting here again.
“ Taste and see how gracious the Lord is.” We may do this, it is true; but we may also refuse to
We look forward to many and great enjoyments, and in the common course of things we shall not, I suppose, be disappointed. There will be pleasure tasted, humanly speaking, by most of us, with very little effort or care of ours. It would be, therefore, a mere waste of words if we were to say to you, “ Taste of pleasure and see how sweet it is.” But to say, “ Taste and see how gracious the Lord is,” is a very different thing from saying, “ Taste of and enjoy your pleasure;" even although it is most true that that pleasure cannot come without God's permission. It cannot come without His permission; but it may well come without His blessing. And, as I have often said before, if it come not with His blessing, it will come assuredly with His curse.
Therefore, try to consider the pleasure you are looking forward to as God's gift. Is it not so really. What hinders it from being so? It is not an unlawful pleasure, is it, that you should go home, and enjoy the happiness of home? It is not a forbidden pleasure to be with those who love you, and whom you love, nor to receive their kindness. The happiness which your earthly parents do not grudge you, is not grudged by your Father who is in heaven. He gives it to you freely to enjoy. What should hinder you from so receiving it.
Nothing, I do fully hope and believe, will hinder many from so receiving it. We drew near to God last Sunday, receiving together the holy communion; we prayed and resolved, and some of us at the very least, will have prayed and resolved not in vain. What they wished and purposed last Sunday, they wish and purpose still. There is yet in them the frank confession of and
turning away from sins past, the watching themselves lest the past sin should revive, the looking to Christ as the author and finisher of their faith, their help and strength from the beginning to the end. They have tasted, as I said last Sunday, they have tasted of His grace, I know, in far greater matters; yet let them not doubt, that He who gives to them Himself, gives all other things also. Our Lord said to his Father of His disciples, “Of those whom thou gavest me have I lost none.” And the words, no doubt, were most true of the salvation of their souls, which Christ's care had kept. Yet does St. John acknowledge the fulfilment of the promise in a lesser matter also, when our Lord said to the soldiers who laid hold on Him, “ If ye seek me, let these my disciples go their way.” And even so those who have tasted Christ's goodness in the strengthening and refreshing of their souls may well receive from His hand no less His gift of earthly blessings. “ Taste and see how gracious the Lord is.” He gives you the pleasure of returning home; He bids
you enjoy as from His free love the cup of home happiness.
So receiving it, it is true of this no less than of spiritual mercies, that blessed is be who trusteth in Him. Home and its pleasures will not then spoil you, but soften and enkindle you for good. It will not be all receiving, drinking in some gra
tification or other all the day, — drinking it in greedily, and angry if it be for a moment withheld.
a Whilst receiving pleasure you will be longing to give it, and because you long to give it, you will give it. The home circle which receives you so lovingly, and so largely ministers to your pleasure, will derive also in return a real increase of pleasure
Your coming back hither, if otherwise very unwelcome to you, will yet take another, and a better aspect, when you feel that he who has enjoyed is called upon to work; that he who has received much, should be anxious also to do something for others. If this place were much more disagreeable to you than I believe it is, still it would not be disagreeable to those who looked upon it as their appointed field, wherein they were to show forth their zeal for God. And how large a field is here offered for the display of Christian zeal, you know full well without my saying it. It is so large, that if there existed in any one of you an absolute enthusiasm of devotion ; if your hearts were burning within you to do Christ's work; if even here, (the supposition is not an impossibility, for the thing has been,) if even here you were to be thinking of leading hereafter a missionary’s life, and wishing that it were already begun; then I would say to you that it is begun already; that not in India, or in the farthest parts of the earth, is the Lord's harvest more calling out for labourers than here, in this very place and school ; that nowhere could souls be saved more surely, which are now in infinite danger; that nowhere could a larger increase of good be gathered, nowhere could Christ's grace be more glorified.
Nor will those who have tasted and are ready to taste again of God's graciousness, and of the blessedness of trusting in Him, be unwilling also to hear the Psalmist's next exhortation, when he says, “O fear the Lord, all ye His saints, for they who fear Him lack nothing.” It was the last part of the prayer for those who were confirmed, that God would fill them with the spirit of His holy fear, now and for ever. And though fear may seem but an unwelcome visitor, yet this holy fear of God, while it delivers us from all base and earthly fear, is in itself so joined with confidence and love, that it does but sober our hearts without making them unhappy. He who fears God will be certainly most likely to love Him also, and he will be free from all other fear in the world. And there is no one with so much natural or constitutional hardiness as to be altogether safe from other fear, unless he gives up also all hope, and makes himself like the beasts that perish. I mean that although some may imagine danger to exist where hardier persons see that it does not exist, yet if it does exist really and near at hand, then if the prospect of death be really opened