« السابقةمتابعة »
bows down at the sound of it, like a vast harvestfield beneath the wind. With what gladness does the penitent hear the name of Jesus, bringing to him the assurance that he is not lost for ever; with what gratitude does the fainting Christian remember it, speaking as it does of health and strength to his soul; with what affection must the saint regard it, reminding him of infinite mercy, and of redeeming love, of the remission of sins, of peace of conscience, of joy and pleasure found in holy Communion, of hopes on high that shall not pass away. It has a meaning of its own, suited to the wants, the hopes, the love of every soul. For whatsoever we need of help, whatsoever we hope of reward, whatsoever we love of all that is beautiful and excellent, is contained in Him, who, amidst the bloodshed and weeping of circumcision, received as at this time the only name that could describe Him aright - Jesus, the Saviour.
At baptism, each Christian receives a name, which through his after life is to remind him of what he then became. Being then admitted to be a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of heaven, whereas before he had been but a child of wrath and of the evil one, a new name is given him to mark the change. Hence
forth he is to be Christ's soldier and servant, and manfully to fight under His banner. So it was also, though for a different reason, with the Son of God. Being before, the Lord Almighty, the Judge of all the world, He was now, not to change indeed His nature, but to add to it; He was to be the firstborn of many brethren, the Redeemer of mankind. Therefore another name was to be given Him, one not setting forth His majesty and power, but telling of His love and
, goodness; one derived not from His being from everlasting with the Father, and one with Him in glory; but from His learning in the weakness of human nature to obey, and by obeying, to be made perfect.
“ He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient ..., Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This then is the doctrine taught us by the Services of this day, that we have a Saviour, who,
with a share in all the weakness of our nature, has yet raised it by His perfect obedience, shewn amidst all kinds of suffering, not only to that place in God's favour from which Adam's disobedience caused it to fall, but to the very right hand of the FATHER. And now what are the practical consequences of this truth?
First, that we must learn obedience in the same manner. We, like our Lord, are born in a land where a covenant with God is offered to us, where God's favour is to be won on certain conditions ; circumcision was to Him the appointed way of admission into God's Church, as baptism is to us; it was one of the outward forms which the laws of His Church commanded, and therefore Christ complied with it. Is not this sufficient reason for us to do the same ? Must we not learn to give up our own fancies as to what is necessary for salvation generally, or for ourselves particularly, and follow reverently the Church's guidance ? Must we not learn obedience by taking the path marked out by the teaching of the catholic faith, however painful to our human nature, however contrary to our natural inclinations it may at first sight appear ?
And again in the common duties and trials of life, should we not always see in them an oppor
tunity of practising obedience? How inclined we are to give up any work or place that seems to cause us annoyance, how apt to seek other duties which we fancy would suit us better, would not call for so much self-denial, would not cause us so much disquiet and anxiety. Yet we are where God's ordinance and providence has placed us; it is our duty not to look around as it were for some one to come and relieve us, not to peer about for some means of escape, not to build ourselves
up upon the proud resolve to break our fetters at the first opportunity, but to trust ourselves humbly to God, to do our best as we are, to leave ourselves entirely at His disposal, to seek relief in contentment, an escape in carefully doing our duties, peace in entire submission.
And, once more, in the troubles caused by our own sins, how prone are we all to murmur, as though some strange thing had happened to us, as though some unjust treatment were laid upon
Surely if our Saviour could as a little infant, born too without spot of sin, submit to the wounding of circumcision for our sakes ; it should not be a great thing in our sight, if we are called upon to suffer weakness, or trouble, or poverty, or contempt, or provocation, in consequence of our own faults or negligences. When
we can shew ourselves to be without sin ; when we can prove that God has no reason wherefore He should contend with us; when we can satisfy Him that we have no more virtues to improve, no more excellencies to make perfect, then we may complain: or rather, not even then, for then will come before us the vision of the bleeding Lamb of God, and we shall thank the Almighty that we have been counted worthy to be partakers of His sufferings, that we may hereafter share His glory. Oh if people would but learn the duty, set forth not only in this the first event in our Lord's life, but throughout the whole time He was on earth, of a trusting, loving obedience to their heavenly Father, what peace they would find for themselves !
The heart of man is made to rest upon God; we may try for a while to find satisfaction in other things; we may try to find pleasure in foolish amusements, to obtain joy by worldly success, to win comfort by setting our hearts on our relations, our home, or the other objects of our affection : and we may find satisfaction in these for a little time; but thanks be to God for His merciful dealing with us, we cannot find it in these for ever; we feel all along that before we can be perfectly at peace, we must turn and