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buying of land in Rome, when the city was in the power of an enemy. The Lord had just foretold, in vivid and awful terms, His approaching sufferings—how He should be condemned, mocked, scourged, spit upon, crucified, and the third day should rise again. It is at this moment, in connection with this announcement, and not knowing what the "rising” on the third day might mean, that the brothers ask places at His right hand and His left, in His glory. What, if they remember His large and varied teaching about exaltation in the kingdom of heaven? What, if they understand, however dimly, that the greatest greatness is that which can bear to be despised and rejected of menthat the chiefest power is that of suffering love? What, if they understand, however dimly, that all greatness under Him is held in like manner-that all power under Him is like-conditioned? What, if their desire on this occasion has been quickened into energy by His very prediction of the cross, and is kin to that of Paul, “ that I may know. . . the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead”? When it is put to them, they hold themselves prepared to suffer with Him—to drink of His cup and to be baptized with His baptism, sharing His sufferings of both kinds, inward and outward. It is true, they knew not what was involved in their own request, and the means of its accomplishment, and the Lord tells them so :-who knows all that lies in his own prayers ?—but the Lord reads their sincerity of heart, and accepts them, and they shall learn afterwards how deep and serious their word was. It is noticeable that while Jesus explains that places in glory are given by the Father to those for whom they are "prepared,” He does not blame the ambition of the brothers, but (if at all) their ignorance. I do not say that unworthier thoughts may not have been present in their minds; but I cannot join in the sweeping assertions which ascribe to them a selfish and vulgar ambition, as if they were trying to drag down others from their seats and to mount in their stead.* I do not think they could have brought that (as they did) under the eye of the meek and lowly One. Ambi. tion there is ; but I would call it noble, though as yet untaught in the highest truth ; not that soiled and unholy thing, the selfish lust of power or of human admiration—the thirst of fame, which is well-nigh as base as the thirst of gold—but that greatness of mind which the Lord Himself creates, and to which He makes appeal, as when He promises His apostles to sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ; when He tells that the faithful seryant shall have dominion over many things; or, when He says, “If any serve me, him will my Father honour." We shall not know the Apostle John, till we recognise his "high humility,” his noble ambition to be great, seated by the side of the suffering King in His glory. Were we more Christlike, we should be able to enter more sympathetically into this aspect of his Christianhood.
*" It may be that an action displeases us, which would please us if we knew its true aim and whole extent.”—Letter of Meta Klopstock.
In the ancient Church he was symbolized as the flying eagle,“ kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam.” He rises to loftier heights spiritually than any other of the New Testament writers ; further still above clouds and earth-born mists; and ever looks and points upwards to the “heavenly places.” As Augustine says, speaking of the four Gospels, “ While the three evangelists remained below with the Man Christ Jesus, and spoke but little of His Godhead, John, as though impatient of treading the earth, rose from the very first words of his Gospel, not only above the bounds of earth and air and sky, but above the angels and celestial powers, into the very presence of Him by whom all things were made.” Even physically, he is the eagle-eyed. Not to refer to the book of Revelation, this is illustrated notably in three incidents recorded in his Gospel. On the evening of the crucifixion day, the Jews besought Pilate that the bodies should not remain on the cross during the Sabbath ; and accordingly, the soldiers came and brake the legs of the two who were crucified with Jesus; but when they found that He was dead already, they brake not His legs, but one of them with a spear pierced His side, and John, who was standing near, testifies, “Forthwith came there out blood and water.” In thus distinguishing, at such a time, the blood from the water that gushed forth with it, he shows the keenness of his eye. Again, when Peter and he came running to the sepulchre on the morning of the first day of the week, John stooped down and looked in; he does not enter and search: he uses his eye. Once more, at the sea of Galilee, when Jesus stands unknown on the dim shore, in the early morning light, John the eagle-eyed (though doubtless his heart helped his eye) is the first of the seven to recognise Him, and to say, It is the Lord.
It is obvious that such a man as this, combining qualities apparently opposite, or at least, seldom found strongly developed in the same nature, was fitted to be an organ of the Lord in special and singular ways. He could see aspects of the Lord's character and life that were either hidden from others, or but dimly and partially discerned. He could hear words for which no other had an ear. Even apart from the special grace of the Holy Spirit vouchsafed him, and the bringing of all things to his remembrance thereby, it is not incredible that he should have retained in his memory, on to his old age, not merely brief sayings of Jesus, but whole discourses, and these of the profoundest order. Through such a man, we may expect to receive deep and peculiar revelations of the glory of Him who is the light and life of
A PASTOR'S STORY. It was December. My quarter's Thoughts of it soon began to affect salary, the last for the year, had been the peace of my mind. I could no paid me with the usual promptness.* longer apply myself calmly to sermon I don't wish to blame my people in labour and pastoral duty. I even the least,-- in many things they are
looked around for some employment very kind to their minister and other than my regular one wherehis family. But the plain fact is, that with to turn an honest penny,- but during no year of the five I have every door was closed. I could enbeen with them, has my salary met
dure the tension of thought--the necessary home expenses. We have daily worry-no longer. I resolved tried to economize in every way, but to lay the whole case before the Lord as yet are unable to make the two in prayer. With this end in view, I ends of the year meet on the salary. first carefully estimated how much I
We were particularly tried during needed to carry me through the rethe month mentioned. The weather maining weeks of the quarter, and without was not more gloomy than clear me from all debt. It would the state of things within doors. take, I thought, about twenty pounds. My three eldest children were down I next wrote out my prayer, that I with the hoopingcough: a little might afterwards know just what I babe of only a few weeks was daily had asked for, what promises I had threatened; my wife lay prostrate pleaded, and with what sort of a spirit on a bed of sickness; I myself was I had prayed. struggling with the severest cough This written prayer I took to my that had yet overtaken me; our
closet and laid before the Lord. I servant had left, and we could obtain asked for these three things:—that no one to take her place; and one of I might not get into debt; that I the worst features of the case was might not be compelled to draw from that I was entirely out of pocket, the little I had laid aside for the not two months of my quarter future; and that I might have twenty having passed before every penny of pounds,—or such sum as the Lord my salary was spent,-a most un- knew I needed, -to carry me through usual circumstance: for ordinarily it the quarter. would last me till within a couple of After prayer, I somehow became weeks of the close of the quarter. very calm. Things didn't look quite Six weeks were before me during
so dark. I felt that in some way the which I would receive no remunera- Guiding Hand would appear. Now, tion by which to meet the expenses
note the result. It was that same that would not stop.
evening, I believe, at a very late hour, I saw no way of relief. I could when my door-bell was suddenly calculate on no outside income of rung. In some surprise I responded my own; I had none. My credit at to the summons. A stranger stood the shops was good; but to avail
before me. He came, he said, to ask myself of it would inevitably plunge me to attend the wedding ceremony me in debt, for which my next of his daughter. I inquired into the quarter's salary would not be suffi- circumstances, and found that the cient. I dared not to draw from the parties were to have been married little I had laid aside for the rainy in B-, but on account of the days of the future; for when or mother's health, had unexpectedly how should I be able to replace it ? changed their plans, and were to be The prospect before me was dark. married at home. Of course I con
sented to go. As he left me, I said to myself, “My first pound towards the twenty. T'he Lord means that I shall work it out. Most willing am I, if He will only give me something to do.”
A few days after this came our Sunday-school Christmas festival. It was a season of much innocent merriment to the children. The Christmas-tree was heavily laden, and Sancta Claus was profuse with his gifts. Perhaps, thought I, the Lord will remember me to-night; but not a penny was announced for the pastor.
Nothing disturbed in my faith, I was turning to leave, when a gentleman accosted me, one who held a bill of a barrel of flour against me. It was one of the things that had given me trouble. He held in his hand the bill, and, with a good-natured smile, said he wished to make me a little Christmas present. He then handed to me the bill receipted. It amounted to two pounds. Saying a few words of thanks, and remarking on the timeliness of the gift, I returned home with a lighter heart.
A few days after this, a neighbouring pastor called and asked me to exchange with him the next Sunday. I consented, being in no mood for pulpit preparation, on account of domestic care. I went. It was a dismal day. The rain fell in torrents incessantly. Only a scattering few were present. All my efforts that day seemed to me the veriest commonplace. At the close of the afternoon service, and before I could leave the pulpit, a gentleman hastily came up and took his seat by my side. I had been introduced to him that day. He kindly inquired how I was to return, etc.; and then on leaving me, put a coin into my hand. He pressed the gift upon me so delicately, that I consented to take it. On going home I found it was a sovereign. I have been a minister for twelve years, but this was the first time that I had received a gift in the pulpit, and on the Lord's-day.
I now felt more certain than ever that God was answering my prayer. In a few days I had received from most unexpected quarters, four pounds towards the twenty I had asked for. After this, twenty-two days elapsed; and one Monday evening, as I was sitting with my wife, talking about the matters of the day, but all the while inwardly wondering whether the Lord would suffer me to begin my new quarter, which was only six days off, in debt, we were startled by a nervous ring of the door bell. On opening the door, the friend who had remembered me so pleasantly on Christmas Eve, entered. He had been a frequent visitor before, and his presence now raised no expectations. After an hour's chatty conversation, he arose to leave. I accompanied him to the door with the light. As I extended my
hand to shake good-night, he left a small purse in it. Before I had time to express my astonishment, he had gone. Not having given me the slightest intimation of what was coming, this almost midnight gift seemed like something dropped from the skies. We opened the purse and counted fifteen pounds. “ Within one pound of my twenty !” I exclaimed. “ This will suffice. My prayer is substantially answered. What gratitude swelled in my heart that night! And the next day how laughingly I went to the shops, and left word at each to make out their respective bills! And with what joy I speedily cashed them all! Once more I was out of debt,--and, what to me was very strange, I had some money left. But why forget the five loaves and twelve baskets of fragments !
Previous to this event, while in one of our Church gatherings, I had been invited to visit a lady who had formerly been constant at our service. In the press of my ministerial duties I had almost forgotten this servant of the Lord. I was glad to be told that a visit from me would be wel.
comed. A few days after the Monday I have just spoken of, while sitting in my room, I became strongly impressed to go at once and see this lady. I did so. The day was mild
After spending considerable time in profitable religious conversation, I rose to leave. "Stop a moment,” she said, and then left the room. I wondered; but imagined she had gone to get me a book to read, or prepare something to have me take home to my wife. She quickly returned; and then extended to me her hand with a coin in it, asking me to accept it. I could not do so at first, telling her I had no need of it; but she had so many reasons why I should take it, that I reluctantly consented. On
my way home I looked at the gift. It was a sovereign.
This made up the twenty. In two days more my quarter would end. In just thirty-six days from the time I offered my prayer, the whole answer came.
One circumstance I afterwards learned with respect to the fifteen pounds. It came from three individuals only. Each of them agreed to give as much as the other would. One started with five pounds; so the three gave five apiece.
The friend who brought me the gift was overheard saying, some time after, that he was sorry he had not doubled his gift. Instead of fifteen, then, I should have received thirty pounds. Was it because I had asked for the twenty only, that my friend did not yield to his first impulse ?
SONGS IN THE NIGHT. The discipline of sorrow and affliction has uses which none but God could foresee or ordain. As Samson found honey to refresh himself in the carcase of the lion which had roared against him to destroy his life, so the bitterest trials of God's saints are often the sources of unspeakable consolation to themselves, and also of incalculable benefit to multitudes of others. Not only their sorrows, but their failures, their faults
, and even their sins, are made a warning and a blessing to those who come after them. “If David's heart had not been wrung, then David's songs had not been sung."
One of the sweetest of England's Christian poets was William Cowper, whose hymns have long rejoiced and comforted the people of the Lord. One of the best of these hymns was born from the depths of sorrow, or by some accounts, upon the very verge of destruction. According to Rogers and Montgomery, it was written during a solitary walk, when the poet was in “the twilight of departing reason.”
According to another tradition, as given by Dr. Belcher, the origin of this hymn is still more remarkable. Cowper, it is well known, was subject to despondency and occasional periods of mental derangement. In one of these, he became persuaded that God required him to drown himself at a place in the river Ouse, two or three miles from his home. Accordingly, one evening, he hired a man well acquainted with the place, to drive him thither. Unaccountably the driver lost his way in the darkness, and wandered about in various directions, spending hours in vain endeavours to find the place be sought. At length, discouraged