Sivut kuvina

What is man whose breath is in his nostrils? His power is limited, and under the worst of circumstances little can he do; for it is the declaration of Christ himself" Fear not them which kill the body, but after that have no more that they can do, but fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Mark the noble example of the members of the Church of Pergamos, and learn to despise the puny opposition of an age and a place like this in which we dwell. It was around the fires of martyrdom that they confessed the name of Christ, and testified their willingness to live or to die for him who loved them and gave himself for them an offering and a sacrifice for sin. It was as they witnessed the terrible exhibitions of relentless persecution, as it gave them the tremendous anticipation of their own catastrophe in their martyred leader, Antipas, that they refused to draw back from the bold position they had taken. It was in a city which the Spirit of God has designated as the place of Satan's throne, that these holy men stood forth the advocates of him, of whose universal empire in the souls of men Satan is the adversary. And what are we, that in the midst of circumstances in which no such catastrophe can reach us, we are afraid of the name of Christ? There are none but petty trials to which your faith is now exposed; for instead of the fires of martyrdom, you have only the harmless point of ungodly ridicule; instead of the wild beasts to which the early disciples were exposed, you have only the reproach of unkind friends and of unarmed foes to fear. You have only to exert that moral courage which dares to be singular, and wills to be firm and undaunted, let the cost be what it may. It is al

most impossible for us to measure the amount of faith which could bear up the members of the Church of Pergamos against the trials by which they were encompassed. But when we fear the world in the little which it can do, we sink to the miserable dimensions of the pigmies, while they, in the comparison, may be called the giants of the Christian faith. Still, by the grace of God, you may and you must, if you would be saved, reach to a measure of the same nobility of soul; for if it is yours to despise the fear of the world, and in the face of ridicule and reproach and discouragement from worldly friends as well as from worldly foes, to take boldly on yourselves the name of Christ, and not deny his faith, but maintain the purity and integrity of the Christian character, by adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour, there hath descended upon you, like the prophet's mantle on his brother, the spirit of the ancient martyrs; and had you lived in those days of primitive trial, you would have despised the threat of the persecutor and have dared to perish in the flame. It would have been your chariot of fire, and there would have been given to it steeds of fire, and the epoch would have been distinguished by your spiritual translation. But if, on the other hand, you fear the ridicule of men, and you shrink from the reproach of Christ, if you permit any thing to hinder your confession of the name and the faith of Christ, you resemble those, the timid and the false-hearted of the ancient time, who apostatized from the faith, denied the name of Christ when they were questioned, and shrank from the testimony of the cross. Had you lived in those days, you would have declined parti

ticipation in the fiery honours of the confessors, and have saved your lives at the expense of your salvation. The man who fears the world, sets God at defiance; he bends beneath the power of a mortal, and disregards the anger of the Omnipotent; he quails before an arm of flesh, and for the short-lived privilege of exemption from scorn, sells the salvation of his soul. If such a feeling as contempt could dwell in the bosoms of those celestial spirits, who, as the swift messengers of God, execute his will and behold the actions of men, that feeling would be called into exercise as they see the paramount influence of the world upon the hearts of men, and they would consider as among the most contemptible and cowardly of beings who crawls on the earth, the man or the woman, young or old, who did not dare to be religious. But, my friends, I would permit a character so despicable to pass unnoticed, and they would pass by him without a sigh, if the interests of eternity were not involved in this question. But the interests of eternity are involved; and let the timid and the faint-hearted know, that so long as fear of the world, in its ridicule or its opposition in any form, keeps them from a firm, decided, open stand on the Lord's side, they have denied the faith and abandoned the name of Christ. Yes, ye who are afraid of the offence of the Cross, are ye not afraid of Him who wields in his hand the sharp two-edged sword? That sword will do its execution, and as it severs you from life, it will sever you from hope; and your portion I have dared to describe, in the language of the Scriptures, in the lake which burneth with fire, for ever and ever.

Do I not describe the character of some, when I say that they deny the name and the faith of Christ, because they are ashamed to take them the open upon profession of his religion? I know not in what terms to speak of those in a predicament like this. It is beyond the control of language, and were I to exhaust the images which might be found to picture the degradation and the ingratitude of being ashamed of Christ, I should leave the depth of the degradation and the enormity of the ingratitude, undescribed. Is it nothing to you that for your sakes the Lord of glory should have disrobed himself of the splendours of his majesty and descended to earth to suffer and to die? Suppose that he had neglected you, and been ashamed to connect himself with the outcast children of apostate Adam; then would your apostacy have been incurable, and then would your doom have been remediless. But he did not forget you, and he was not ashamed for your sake of a life of suffering; for your sakes he was not ashamed to be buffeted and spit upon; for your sakes he was not ashamed to hang upon the cross and pour out his soul even unto death. But, my brethren, it is not on the score of gratitude that I would ask you why you deny the faith and the name of Christ, by being ashamed of him? I speak to you in an argument drawn from the realities of an eternity lost or won, and I would ring in your ears the declaration of Christ, till it roused your slumbering fears, and constrained you to a different determination. Whosoever is ashamed of me in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and the holy angels." Anticipate the period; in the rapid conceptions of an active imagination, antedate the


day when you and I and all the intelligent creation of God shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. The fires of every persecution will then have burnt out; the rage of every mortal foe will then have been quieted; but in the Judge we shall find an adversary, and in the alloted mansion an quenchable fire and no matter in what form you have denied the faith and the name of Christ; no matter whether it has been by open or disguised infidelity, or in seeking to establish a righteousness of your own that you have not submitted yourselves to the righteousness of God; no matter whether it has been by being afraid to face the world and take the banner of the cross, or by being ashamed of Jesus; the course is fatal, for every one of these devious paths ends in the same inevitable ruin. And when those who like their Master have endured the cross, despising the shame, shall pass from the judgment-seat to their everlasting home, with songs of praises on their tongue, it will be your unhappy lot-unhappy, but deserved-deserved, because life and death were placed before you; it will be yours to endure the horrors of a second death; shut out-shut out from the paradise of God. Oh be wise while the oppor- . tunity is yours. Merciful to your souls may be this evening's visitation of the Gospel of God; and if you will, like those of Pergamos, hold to the faith, and not deny the name of Christ, then will the conflagration of the world be but your chariot of fire to carry you to the presence of Elijah's God, the hope of the martyrs, and the glory of his redeemed for ever.

« EdellinenJatka »