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for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” When He had looked upon St. Paul with compassion, it was when He said to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And so if He looks on us with compassion, it is only because we are still going astray from Him, because we are still as sheep without a shepherd.
This cannot be hard to put into that distinctly practical shape which immediately concerns us all. It is that we should consider what it is to be looked on by Christ our most merciful Saviour with compassion. How many things are then contained in it! Why should He look upon us with compassion, but because He knows to what end we are hastening? We are not sick, we are not hungry, we are not friendless, not in distress; yet still Christ looks on us with compassion; we are very cheerful, very lively, very happy; our looks are bright, our step is quick, all seems well amongst us; yet He to whom all things are known looks on us with pity. There is an evil about us then which we dream not of; a danger which we do not at all suspect. If Christ looks on us with compassion, ought we not to be afraid? Again, Christ looks on us with pity, we have been very ungrateful to Him, very unheeding: He has called, but we would not answer; yet still His look is one of pity. It might well be a look of anger, of judgment, but it is a look of compassion. That
is, He still cares for us, He would that we should not perish, He would still be our Saviour. What a thing is it, that when Christ is looking upon us with pity, we should feel neither fear nor love! It is a real truth, that Christ's eye,
of the Son of Man, at the right hand of God exalted, is ever upon each of us ; here, and when we go out, when we are abroad, and when we are within doors; when we are awake or when we are asleep; when we are alone or when we are with others, Christ is ever regarding us. Think of Him when we will, and also at all times when we do not think of Him, still there is the fixed look of compassion, because we are gone astray as sheep without a shepherd. Let any one consider what it is to be so regarded by his Saviour, and then can he help turning to Him? Can he help running to Him with St. Paul's words, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And then He is ready to teach us many things; even the whole counsel of God. I will not now give you any particular instances of this teaching; for indeed you know well enough of what sort it is. If you ask in sincerity, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do,” the same heart which prompts the question will directly suggest with it the answer. No, the difficulty is not there; Christ's teaching has been often enough in your ears to have made its way into your memories, if you at all cared to find it there.
I would add now no precepts, no rules, no mention of particular sins and dangers ;-gladly, safely might I leave these to your own heart's reminding, if now, at this new beginning of our time here, we who have been spared to meet each other here once again in God's house and in Christ's presence, would consider that truly, really, and in very deed, Christ is looking upon us with compassion; that is, He knows our danger, and He desires to save us. Believe this to be true, as indeed it is, and then there is a faith in each of us which will bring us to Christ, and bringing us to Him in earnest will lay hold on His salvation.
Oct. 3, 1841.
THINGS TEMPORAL AND THINGS ETERNAL.
ST. MARK, xiii. 31.
Heaven and earth shall pass away : but my words shall not
THESE words are nearly to the same effect with those of St. Paul where he says,
“ The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." It is remarkable that the confession of this great truth has become so universal amongst all Christians, that it seems in consequence with many persons to be looked upon as a thing of course; and they who agree in confessing it are thought to be no more united by so doing in any Christian fellowship, than if they agreed in confessing some axiom of science or of common sense, which no man could dispute without insanity. And thus the great stress laid in the Scriptures upon the belief of our Lord's resurrection, is apt I think sometimes to surprise us. It seems SO natural to us to confess that there is a life to come, that we almost forget that the knowledge of this truth was a matter of revelation, nay, that it was a thing which prophets and righteous men had desired to hear, and yet which in express terms they heard not. This has happened to us, because the great truth of the resurrection has never, I believe, been disputed in the church, since the very earliest age of Christianity. There were some at Corinth in St. Paul's time who said that there was no resurrection, but any later denial of it is scarcely to be found. So the truth being quite unquestioned, we confess it all as a matter of course, and it seems as I said to be no great thing to confess it. But here as in other things it holds, that between not questioning a thing or confessing it with our mouths, and really believing it, there is often a very wide interval. If it were really believed, there could be no doubt as to its importance, no doubt also that the holding this point in common is a very great bond of Christian sympathy. Indeed there is scarcely any thing which would make so wide a difference between those who hold it, and other men; for in truth, to speak generally, the difference between those who believe it, and those who believe it not, is exactly the difference between the spiritually minded and the worldly