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today appear only like the picture of the virtues or the graces--outward expressions of the inner soul.-SWING.
Christ the Revelation of God.
Slowly, indeed, comes the redemption of the human race; but, notwithstanding this painful halting, looking back we behold Christ to be the turning point in the his- | tory of our earth. He was the revelation of a new God; the One who proves to be the true God, the only Lord and Father of us all. He was the revelation of a code of morals that makes the sages of old hang their heads in humility. He did not, like Seneca, teach virtue without being virtuous; nor was He content by being worse than the best, but better than the worst. mising, all comparative goodness, terminated at Nazareth. A sinful thought became a stain upon the soul, and the enmity that said “Thou fool" became a confessed ruin or sorrow in that heart.--Swing.
The Sermon on the Mount Was Needed.
Into what an empire did the Son of Man come! There was a vast state, which represented the world, to be reformed; there was a marvelous language to be the vehicle of the new truth; there was the decay of the Roman religious faith; there was a decadence of political and æsthetic forms of thought; there was a mental vitality remaining for new guidance; there was a condition of morals that demanded the Sermon on the Mount; there was a dark night setting in that appealed loudly for the mercy of Heaven. Two nations, the greatest that had
come from the mind of man—the Greek, which dazzles the world yet with the memory of its poetry and art and philosophy and oratory; the Roman, with its law and military skill and ambition, and with its unrivaled temples and palaces—had been merged into one, and with all their combined riches of mind and soul were descending to ruin together.—SWING.
Christ the Mediator.
In supposing that a saint is more merciful than God, I derogate from God's mercy. In imagining that a saint shall have more influence with God than His own Son, I suppose His heart is not tender enough to be open to my cry, without the use of influence, which is, to say the very least of it, throwing some slur on the infinity of His mercy and detracting in no small degree from the benignity of His grace.
God has one Mediator because man needed Him.
He has no
more mediators because neither God nor man requires any. Christ is all-sufficient. You do need a mediator between yourselves and God, but you need none between yourselves and Christ. You may go to Christ first as you are, with all your filthiness, with all your sins, for He came to save you from what you now are. —SPURGEON.
The Son of God.
If God were destined ever to draw near the human sense, the best shape of that earthly residence would be such as our Christ. What more impressive Son of God need we await than He of the manger and cross? Do
we seek diviner words, or a diviner love or holier life? Let the super-human come to us again and again, to attach itself to these years of humility and sorrow, and the being who should carry about this mangled body and mind would always be a Jesus Christ. Heaven and earth meeting could not but give us the Man of Sorrows and sympathy. The upper purity and the lower sin, meeting, could not but give us the cross. Such upper life wedding the shores of death could not but give us the resurrection.—Swing.
The secret of life—it is giving;
To minister and to serve.
And ruin befalls if we swerve.
Overhanging the commonest way;
And to breathe is an ecstasy.
Life dawns on us, wakes us, by glimpses;
In Heaven there is opened a door!
The dead are the living once more !
One swift, sudden vision sufficed;
One of the Roman writers said: “Even our children no longer believe in our divinities.” One of the prayers of Pliny was “for a new consolation, great and strong, of which I have not yet heard or read.” A Latin sage said:
“I need a God who can speak to me and can lead me.” Dr. Arnold finds somewhere in the writings of Aurelius that he was sad and agitated, stretching out his arms for something beyond.” Cicero had declared that “the Academy could prove nothing." The Roman Empire had all forms of greatness except religious faith. Weary of legend, cultured beyond the credulity that believes without evidence, the Roman Empire was ready for an advent of fact. In the Man of Nazareth the dim gates of mythology were closed and the gates of evidence were opened. Here was One who could speak to the multitude, and the hem of whose garment might be touched. Here was One who could say “blessed” to the unblessed crowd, and whose feet a Magdalene might bathe with tears. Here was One who could feed a multitude in the wilderness, who could comfort the dying and the living, and could allow a mortal like John to rest against His bosom.-SWING.
The Imperishable Ideas of Christ. But let us pronounce the name of the one mighty intellect which, more than all others, has sown in the Church the seeds of this harvest-of poisonous plants, as some say, but of golden grain indeed--destined to be the food of the future! Let us pronounce the name and
then ask those whose bosoms are full of alarm to call Him “infidel” or “destroyer.” The name! The name ! Ah, here it is-- Jesus Christ of Bethlehem! There is the fountain whence roll the transparent waters of this broad philosophy. Far beyond all beings who have ever lived Christ was the broadest. His ideas are all imperishable. He cast out the temporary that had come down from Moses; He made the old iron-bound Sabbath die in the field where the sweet wheat was ripening; He saw the human soul in Lazarus, in Magdalen, in little children; He rebuked the disciples when they desired to draw the sword of their sect; He uttered few of the ideas that enter into the modern differences between denominations; He preached a discourse, every word of which falls not upon Judea, but upon the whole earth--a sermon under which all men have written the word “forever."--Swing.
The Influence of Christ.
So there may be spirits living and dying unaffected by the Son of Man, but when we seek for an influence that is molding deeply the heart, we find it here in Nazareth. Whether Mr. Lincoln repeats the poem-
'Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?" -whether Macaulay, dying, wishes to take the sacrament; whether Payson prays or Bunyan dreams; whether a child commits itself to God at night, or a Cranmer sees Heaven through the light of the fagot, it is all one
that of Jesus Christ affecting deeply the inmost spirit of man.-Swing.