Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

faith and tranquil power. I see the faultless Joseph maintain his crystalline purity at the court of Egypt, and shed sunshine through his father's house. I behold the imperishable Lawgiver stride on, meek, majestic, and indomitable through the desert, then calmly ascend Mount Pisgah on his path to heaven. The venerable Samuel, “half warrior and half sage,” travels the round of the sacred places, beloved and honored of Israel. Elijah, grand and terrible, confronts Ahab alone in the vineyard stained with Naboth's blood, or wrapped in his mantle hurries on to his ascersion, attended by his heartbroken friend and bewailed by all good men. Daniel sheds the lustre of all virtue through the reigns of four monarchs, and the light of a wonderful example down to this day. Peter throws his whole fiery character into the Master's work. Paul counts not his life dear. John lingers long on the vision, as a golden chain binding apostolic times to common life, and earth to heaven. And behind them all looms up that personage whom Renan calls “the incomparable man, so great that no fault can be found with those who call him God." What figures are these—what ideals — what inspirations ! For, proceeds the same freethinker, Jesus "founded the eternal religion of humanity, the fruitful center to which mankind for ages were to refer their joys, their hopes, their consolations, their motives to well-doing.'

Well spoken, Frenchman! But what a catalogue — “their joys, their hopes, their consolations, their motives to well-doing"! What more is it possible to say? It is indeed the glory of that gospel that it

offers and applies all the forces of the noblest character and achievement, such as have filled the world with heroism and godlike magnanimity. And as the moral capacity and quality are raised higher and higher, it still offers to the soul, in its best estate, whatever could fill its utmost aspirations : a God who knows its every wish and want, hears every prayer, guides every event, and guarantees all true blessing; a Redeemer that frowns on sin, yet holds out hope and help to the sinner, full of human sympathy and bright with the power of God, watching in heaven above and personally present here below, inbreathing spiritual life on the earth as the sure pledge of eternal life in heaven.

And when its perfect work is wrought, faith becomes experience and knowledge, saying, “I know whom I have believed." And then the simplest believer may boldly add: “You may puzzle my intellect, but you cannot confound my heart. For though you array against me the utmost stores of learning and argument, you cannot for an instant discredit what Christ hath done for my soul, or take away the daily power of that blessed Presence."

“ To the whole world I say, Christ lives

Uprisen from the dead;
His spirit in my bosom heaves,

And hovers round my head.

This world shines out on my new sense

Now first my fatherland;
Fresh life beats in my soul intense

From his creating hand."

Hither, then, do we come at last. We have proved and held fast. We have found the pearl of great price and we will not part for an instant with our heavenly birthright for the beggarly elements of the world. We will cling firmly and lovingly to that tried gospel of Christ which has proved itself both to be the power of God unto salvation and to be the mainspring of all that is lovely and good in human life and human affairs. We gaze upon its central figure in the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” and behold, around him cluster the great coherent facts in the scheme of redemption. Not surer is the universal reign of gravitation than the universal reign of sin. Not more unmistakable the light of the sun than the light and life that radiate from the “Sun of righteousness," who is therein and thereby the great Son of God; yea, “God over all, blessed forever.” Not more certain and undeniable the power of the rushing wind, blowing where it listeth, than the effects of God's Holy Spirit on human characters and lives. As ineradicable as our own moral being is the great law of holiness, and as inevitable as the law of cause and effect is the decree that “without holiness no shall see the Lord.” The volume which, when all human wisdom failed, sets forth the divine remedy for human ruin is and shall be to us the Word of God.

Here we stand and will stand firm on our solid rock. And when we launch forth on the voyage of exploration we will never cast overboard the compass of the ages nor the chart of all blessed experience. For we

man

know that they who begin with destruction end with destruction ; and they who cut adrift from all that is hallowed in the past will remain adrift from all that is blessed in the future. We will have no fear of the new, for it can be tested; nor will we rush eagerly after novelty, for it will not hurt with keeping, and the old is tried. When the new is proved true we will cheerfully accept it; but should the novelty come into absolute collision with what is proved and known to be highest and holiest, then we will stand on our rock and hurl it to the winds.

Meanwhile we look calmly on all efforts to dislodge this Gospel of Christ from the seat of its power. While he that sitteth in the heavens laughs at all attempts to dethrone his royal Son, we on earth can afford quietly to smile at the desperate renewals of a struggle that has been for two thousand years a defeat. Steadily we move on in our Master's appointed work and way, bringing forth from the treasury of his gospel things new and old — the same ancient and eternal truth in its ever-new aspects and applications, knowing that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,” saith the Lord. Confidently we pray to him "that heareth prayer." Cheerily we labor on, assured that we “shall reap if we faint not.” Firmly we press home the sad fact of human guilt and ruin, knowing God's witness is in the human breast. Gladly we offer to the sinner that “only name,” believing and seeing that he is as freshly present now as eighteen hundred years ago. Joyfully we look for the outpouring of the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Spirit, having beheld time and again how vain are all arms and defenses against his in-rushing power. And “having done all, we stand,” saying once more with him of old : “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

ers.

Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : You have now received your last lesson from college teach

As you go forth into life under your own personal guidance momentous questions will open before you, and great issues will depend on the answers you shall give them. You enter on an arena of conflict, of questioning, doubting, dogmatism, of which the in. tensest form is the dogmatism of doubt. Seldom, if ever, has there been a more tempest-tossed sea than that on which you set sail. Scarcely a principle supposed to be settled in the past but is alleged to be unsettled now. This may be a transient fog, but it is none the less bewildering.

Let me, then, earnestly press upon you as our closing lesson the heavenly wisdom of this Scripture text, with the whole force of its climax, “ Prove all things,” but above all things, “hold fast that which is good.” Hold fast to personal integrity and honesty of mind and heart. Hold fast to every good influence around you. Hold fast to that Word of God identified with everything that is lovely and good. Hold fast in loving faith to the living God and Saviour who is the foundation and the fountain of all that is good, lovely, true, and holy.

« PreviousContinue »