صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

him. To whom St. Mark replied, 'I yield Thee thanks, O Saviour, that Thou hast counted me worthy to suffer for Thy Name.' On the next

day, the Pagans drew the Evangelist around the city, as before, until with the words, 'Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,' he went to his rest."

Such was St. Mark in his life and in his death. Guided by the Holy Spirit of God to commit to writing, for the use of the Church in all ages, the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and confirmed and strengthened by the same Holy Spirit to preach the same blessed Gospel, and to found a Church, such as by strictness and purity of living, by zealous efforts for the conversion of the heathen, and by firm and fearless witness for God's truth, shone forth as a light in the Christian world: so guided and so strengthened both to write and to preach the Gospel; and, then, further confirmed and strengthened to suffer for the faith: the crown of martyrdom being added to his other titles to have his name remembered with love and reverence in the Church of God.

And, now, to pass to the practical lesson which we are this day to learn. And surely it is this. That we use, and profit by, God's great and singular gift of His Written Word. We have what

the Christians of Rome wished to have, the preaching of the Apostles committed to writing, and so secured to us; committed to writing by men indeed, yet by men guided and overruled throughout by the Holy Spirit, led into all truth, guarded against all approach to error, by the ever-present inspiration of God. May we have grace to use this gift aright for the glory of God, for the edification of His Church, for the salvation of our own souls. This is the practical lesson of to-day; and, in order to this, the Collect puts into our mouths words of thankfulness to Almighty God for the gift of His holy Gospel, and earnest prayer that we may be found sted-. fast and rooted in it-that " Almighty God, Who hath instructed His Holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of His Evangelist St. Mark, may give us grace, that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of His holy Gospel."-Great indeed and inestimable is the blessing of the Written Word, which we, by God's great mercy, possess; and possess in such sort, as no other age of the Church, it may be, has possessed it. Great indeed is the blessing, and great also the responsibility, which we have in the Written Word. Alas, for us, if we fail to use

it aright. Alas, for us, if, (with this, which should be a sure anchor of our faith,) we, like children, be carried away with every blast of vain doctrine. Alas, for the unlearned and unstable, who wrest (as St. Peter says) the Scriptures to their own destruction. May we never so tempt God, or abuse His mercies. May we contend earnestly for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints. May we ever approach the holy Scriptures with a quiet, sober, devout, and reverent temper: seeking in them true spiritual knowledge, true practical guidance: not putting upon them new and strange senses, but content and thankful to receive the old; not seeking to explain away the high and holy mysteries of God, or our own duties to God; not speaking or thinking, as if our Christian liberty consisted in receiving and believing only so much as we are willing to receive and believe; but remembering that God Almighty, our Heavenly Father, is herein speaking to us His children, and that it is our privilege and our blessedness to hear and obey His voice, not alone when that voice is clear and distinct, but in its lowest whispers, in its faintest echoes.

Alas for the unloving temper, the spirit of mistrust and unbelief, with which men, in these

days, refuse to submit themselves not alone to the Church of God, but to the Written Word of God, when it crosses their waywardness of thought and will. Without meek and lowly and humble and teachable spirits, without loving dispositions, without chastened tempers, not the best and highest of God's gifts can profit us; not the Written Word, not the holy Scriptures, not the law, not the testimony will teach man his faith or his duty, unless he first put from him pride, waywardness, self-will, self-confidence. Unless by God's help, he thus cleanse his heart, he will but find in the holy Scriptures his own vain conceits in place of God's eternal truth, his own mean standard of duty in place of God's pure and perfect law. Alas, we know not how great and appalling is our danger so often as we approach the Word of God, not for guidance, but for a pretext and excuse for the errors of our faith, or the sins of our lives. Alas, the loud, and careless, and angry tone in which men, in these days, repeat the holiest words of holy Scripture bears witness against them, that they have not sought to them, as to God's Word, with reverence and godly fear, that they have not received them into their hearts and spirits and consciences, as the rule of Christian faith, and of a holy life. They

hear them, and repeat them, loudly and readily, but they do not realize them, do not enter into their deep and manifold meanings; and so, although living and life-giving in themselves, to them they are dead and lifeless. May Almighty God keep us clear from this besetting sin of our times, may He give us humble and teachable tempers, and so, by His grace, establish us in the truth of His holy Gospel.

JOHN HENRY PARKER, OXFORD AND LONDON.

« السابقةمتابعة »