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in the grave. Had he 80 willed it, he might have risen into life from the cross. But he would yield to the uttermost power of death, that'so'bis victory might be the more signal and complete. The great Augustine ha's pointed out how in the miracles wrought by bim during his life, he displayed his power'over death in an ascending scale. First, he called back to life the ruler's daughter, who was “even now dead," and in whom the spirit might be conceived as yet hovering over the body from which it had but just departed. Then, the young - man at Nain, who was being borne forth to his burial, in whom the victory of
death was complete, was bidden to arise from his bier. Then Lazarus, who had - "been dead four days already, and by this time he stinketh," was called from the tomb, and " came forth, bound band and foot with grave clothes.” But the final victory yet remained to be achieved. The Lord of Life must yield himself a victim to death, and that nothing might be wanting to the completeness of his seeming defeat and subsequent triumph, he suffered himself to be borne into the very dungeon of his foe, to be immured in the sepulcbre, and there he lay a pierced and mangled corpse. As if death itself were insufficient to hold its prisoner, a great stone was rolled to the mouth of the tomb, a seal was affixed to it, and a grúard of soldiers stationed to keep watch over it."
“Vain the stone, the watch, the seal,
Christ hath burst the gates of hell,
Christ hath opened paradise." O grave, where is thy victory!” Christ, who had asserted his power over leath during life, now that he is both dead and buried, comes forth triumphant, aving in his own person burst the bonds of death and the gates of the grave.
IV. It was “a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid." This is "nportant, as tending to prove the impossibility of collusion, and showing that e rose from the dead by his own inherent might. It might have been alleged yo the superstitious Jews, that as contact with the dead body of Elisha had iven life to a corpse let down into his grave (2 Kings xiii. 21), so some prophet ad lain in that sepulchre on Calvary, and the resurrection of our Lord would ave been thus accounted for. Modern infidelity might have pretended that the lics of mortality, in a sepulchre previously occupied, afforded opportunities for Incealment and fraud. Poor as either of these subterfuges would have been, leir value is equal to that of many of the arguments, or rather sophistries, rought against the truth of Christianity. But the fact that it was “a new pulchre," prevents even such evasions as these, and the evidence of our Lord's surrection remains beyond question or cavil. It may be observed, too, that our Lord, having suffered the extremest insults id indignities up to the moment of his death, was thenceforth to receive only pour. When“ he cried, It is finished, bowed his head, and gave up the host," his humiliation was complete. Having been "obedient unto death, even e death of the Cross," he had drained to the very dregs the bitter cup given im to drink. Though laid in the tomb, he shall contract no pollution or defiletent there. He shall come forth from the sepulchre free even from that cerelonial pollution which contact with the dead would have caused. With myrrh, ad aloes, and costly spices, and fragrant perfumes, his dead body shall be laid 1 the new sepulchre, tended with loving care, that it may come forth thence Dpolluted and undefiled.
V. The sepulchre being "in a garden," serves to connect this event with many - I the most eventful scenes in the history of man. It was in "a garden east
Tard in Eden” that man was born. It was from a garden that man “by his ransgression fell." It was in a garden that the final victory over temptation Tas gained, when the Lord with strong cries and tears prayed unto Him that : Pas able to keep him from falling, and in his “agony and bloody sweat" over
came all the power of the wicked one. “In the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a sepulchre." And now he invites us to the Paradise above. “Blessed is he that hath a right to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Space will not allow us to trace the profound analogies between these events. We commend the study to the devout attention of our readers. Eden, Gethsemane, Calvary, Paradise: what themes for endless thought are presented by these words ! Eden is inscribed on the first page of Revelation, Paradise on its last, Gethsemane and Calvary lie between!
_VI. "The grave in the garden reminds us of death underlying life and beauty. We walk over the green and flowery turf, little thinking of the dread mysteries which lie beneath our feet. The soil out of which the flowers grow, is made up from the mouldering relics of the dead. The roots of the plants whose beauty gladdens us, are struck down into hidden graves. Of the world, as of the whited sepulchre, it may be said, that it is indeed beautiful outwardly, but within it is full of rottenness and dead men's bones." All bright and beautiful shining things spring from and return to darkness and death. The grave in the garden is but one form of the memento mori which all nature is uttering in our ears. The Egyptians used to place a skeleton at the table to remind the banqueters of this lesson. The Roman conqueror, as he rode in triumph through the Imperial city, with kings bound to his chariot wheels, had a slave to whisper in his ear, Remember, thou art mortal! Every garden may teach us the same truth, for in every garden there is a grave. Death is everywhere!
VII. But whilst we are thus reminded of death in the midst of life, we are taught the associated truth that death passes and rises into life. The grate has been beautified by Christ. It is no longer a dark and loathsome vault, hideous and terrible. It is wreathed with amaranthine flowers, it blossoms as the rose. It was in the sweet spring time that our Lord was laid in his garden. tomb. The earth was carpeted with flowers. The lilies of the field, compared with which the pomp of Solomon was mean and poor, were in their full splen. dour. “ The rose was in rich bloom on Sharon's plains.” “ The winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land." At such a season it was that the Lord of glory was laid in the sepulchre in the garden. Cold must that heart be, and dull and dead that imagination, which does not feel the meaning of the symbol. In every sense of the word it was "a new sepulchre, in which never man had yet laid,” to which the Lord was borne. He“ brought life and immortality to light.”
,“ Christ has made even death beautiful ; it is but a name for that other and higher life which none of our human words can express. We need not weep by the sepulchre as those who have no hope ; it stands in a garden, God's suņ sheds light upon it, and the beautiful flowers cluster around it, prophesying of the better land. If the sepulchre still speak of corruption, the garden speaks of the resurrection. If the cave in the rock still tells of dissolution and decay, fragrant flowers and spreading trees tell of life and immortality."*
* From an admirable sermon on this text, by the Rev. $. Cox, late of Ryde.
OPPORTUNITY AND ITS USE.
· Aets xvii. 16, 17. No part of the apostle Paul's life more, the more, their histories will furnish us worthily represents his character than the with many a lesson which would never time of his stay at Athens. It brings out have been learnt, save in such close and the complex structure of his mind in beau-, sympathetic contact with their ordinary tiful contrast with the transparent sim lives. Even the faults and failings of good plicity of his aim. His highly cultured men, as well as their virtues, will thus be intellect, his firm and skilful grasp of the full of meaning for us. Their errors will great questions which were agitating men’s | be beacon-lights on the verge of precipices, minds, his aptness in meeting the polished over which we might otherwise stumble Athenians on their own ground, and argu- unawares ; their virtues will hang like stars ing from their own stand-point, point out in the firmament of our intellectual world, his thorough fitness for his great work as to remind us of our destiny and direct our the apostle of the Gentiles. We see in himaims. “These great ones, we shall say to an evidence of how wisely God chooses his ourselves, “ were, after all, men of like instruments for his special purposes ; how | passions with ourselves; they sorrowed and carefully he prepares them, girding them, suffered, they thought and felt as we do; like Cyrus, though they have not known why may not I fight a good fight and win him; leading them to lay up stores of 1
| the battle even as they did ? " learning, and so to cultivate their mental / It is in this way we shall best under. powers, that when his time has come they stand one of the great lessons of the may come forth ready furnished for their apostle's life, as illustrated during his stay appointed work.
at Athens. He appears there, after all, But while we thus admire Paul the less as the learned philosopher than as the apostle, in relation to his special calling, it humble, devoted Christian. We see him 18 at a distance. In the possession of not more in those manifestations of himself these superb qualities, he seems set above which we must be content to admire, than the level of ordinary men. He stands alone in those which by God's grace we also may m, the history of the Christian Church, attain. His first thought — his ruling Others may have been as eloquent, as thought-evidently is, what good he can learned, as devout; but apart from the do, and how he can best do it. It was cact of his special inspiration as an apostle, apparently by mere accident he came to nowhere do we meet with the man, either Athens. He was obliged to fly from Berea, in ancient or modern times, who has pos and considerations of safety directed his sessed his many excellencies in combination. course to the sea-coast. Athens seemed to We feel, the more we consider his life, be the most easily attainable point, so they that the greatest and best do themselves that conducted Paul brought him thither. honour in reverencing him; and that, the He was there alone. For the first time nearer they approach him, the more be
in his life we may suppose he stood in that itting does that reverence seem.
city which had long been famous throughere is one danger connected with this out the world as the centre of art and orship. It is, lest we should con- | philosophy. He was surrounded by every.
rselves with reverencing those who thing which could attract and fascinate are truly noble ; lest, instead of emulating I such a mind and such a taste as his. Turn their excellencies of character (a thing whither he would, art in its severest beauty : possible to all), we allow ourselves indo met his gaze. Every scene, too, was sug. lently to think, “ Ah! these men are altogether above us; it is impossible we can
gestive of names world-famous-as lawis impossible we can givers, statesmen, orators, artists, philos. like them.” It is well for us, I ophers. Statues of heroes anu demi-gods în considering the lives of great crowned every eminence and adorned every
100k, not only at the qualities which temple. Nor can we suppose that he was once arrest our attention, and make us
unobservant of these things, or uninterested eat they are, but at those in which in them. But his admiration of them was at one with them. We shall not lost in higher thought which they suggested.
· the less, but, loving them They were to him witnesses of idolatry."
ever be like them.”. It therefore, in considerin men, to look, not only at feel how great they are, by we can feel at one with the reverence them the less, but,
They spake to him of a people who were characters and habits to those to which we without God in the world. They were have been accustomed. Our own circumreligious, but theirs was a religion which, stances may change, and we may be placed while it gratified the taste, was entirely where our influence for a time is lessened, destitute of moral power. It could not and our opportunities of doing good apprevent the degradation of the refined and parently decreased ; or, on the other hand, philosophical Greek. It was even losing. | where our influence is greater, and our its hold upon him altogether, and leaving opportunities are multiplied. Sometimes him with nothing beyond this present we may be thrown, more into contact with evil world.” In the midst of all that could the big, and busy world, yet may be left gratify, his taste, and minister to his in alone in it, like Paul at Athens; and we tellectual refinement, he was dissatisfied. may be tempted to shut ourselves up within Always craving for something new, he never ourselves, and live in that loneliness which found that in which he could find rest. | is nowhere so lonely as amid the thronging Amid a crowd of temples and altars, as if crowds of a great city. And sometimes we to declare how they all were in vain, Paul may be for a time withdrawn from the found one with this inscription,-"To the I world, by sickness or adverse circumstances, Unknown God.” Here then was, work for or by what we are accustomed to call one him to do. He longed to tell them of Him of the chances of life. But wherever we who was no longer, in Christ, an unknown are, we may do good. The probability is God. How could he reach these men ? that there is some work for us to do there, how speak to them? Mark how he solved that we could not have done elsewhere. the question, for herein is the great lesson Paul could not have done the work he did of this narrative for us. He began at the at Athens anywhere else. He had to do nearest point, and, as we might think, in here with a different class of men, to bring the most commonplace way. A commoner the truth of Christ into contact with these man would have cast about to make some keen thinkers, these refined philosophers. grand preparation for getting at these He might have been tempted to be silent. philosophers. Paul's good common sense, He might have pleaded the especial diffiguided by the wisdom which never fails | culties of the case. He might haye urged any earnest humble soul, taught him that that he was alone, and that one man could the readiest way was the best. First, as not do much. He might have said he was was his custom, he made himself known to only waiting there for Silas and Timotheus, his countrymen--he knew he could get and that he should not have time to perfect access to them. Through them he could and carry out his plans. But he thought further get access to the Greek proselytes ; none of those things. He knew that there and through them to their kindred and was an opportunity here of working for acquaintance. But not in this way alone. God, if he only knew how to find it and The habits of the Athenians gave him use it. The special circumstances were another opportunity of getting at them. to him a special call of God to do this They were accustomed to pass much time work. in the open air in conversation and discus We must learn to interpret our life and sion; and as a stranger, a man of educa- | its ever changing circumstances in the same tion, and a gentleman--there is no better manner. The first question of the Christian word-he would be readily admitted to I man or woman placed in a new situation of take a part in their talk. He began with life should be-Why has God sent me these opportunities. He did not work here? Or, rather, the truly sincere and miracles, or advertise himself, but just devote, Christian will instinctively look quietly began to work in the simplest way, about him with this end in yiew-that in wherever opportunity offered. He used his new sphere he may find new opportuthe opportunities he had, and greater nities of serving Christ. . It may be, some opportunities came.
new aspect of the Christian life is thus to Let us try and sum up for ourselves the be developed; some new kind of influence lessons which are suggested by the manner or ability for usefulness to be brought out. of the apostle here.
Our influence upon others, in the ordinary 1. The first is, that everywhere there are relations of life, is a call in this way. Even opportunities for Christian usefulness. our enforced retirement, and loss of worldly
We may be thrown unexpectedly into influence, may perhaps be designed to innew scenes, among men of different i crease our Christian influence and useful.
ness by an example of patient resignation | He would have dared that, had it been and chastened holiness. Everywhere, and needful, but he chose the wiser, the more in the narrowest circle of life, there are op | Christian course; and thus his doctrine portunities, if we know how to find them; dropped as the rain and distilled as the and we may oftenest find them very near dew. Christian work demands " the meek. at hand. The mother, in the midst of her ness and gentleness," as well as the courage, children ; the workman, in his shop ; each of Christ. We are too apt, in our exaltaman among his neighbours ; the true tion of Christian zeal, to forget that our Christian, wherever he is, will find that his | Lord himself bade us be “ wise as serpents, means of usefulness are closely connected and harmless as doves." Much earnest with his ordinary life, and that he never labour is thrown away because we pursue need be where he cannot do good.'
methods of working which in the com2. The conduct of the apostle shows us monest worldly affairs we should at once that in our method of working we must be pronounce absurd. Opportunities will be guided everywhere by a wise expediency. in vain alike, if we do not use them, and if
This is a much abused word, but it is we do not know how to use them. It is the right word if rightly used to express sometimes wise to be silent, even when the the manner of all Christian work. If we enemies of the Cross blaspheme. It is ? understand expediency to mean, as it does | sometimes wise to withdraw from the
mean, the best way of doing anything, and thronging crowd, even though they press therefore, with regard to this matter, the for instruction, that we may go apart and best way of doing the right thing, we shall rest awhile (Mark vi. 31). It may somenot hesitate to adopt this as an important times help our work forward to do nothing, principle in the regulation of our efforts. and more may be gained in the long run
Expediency and principle are not neces by the slow but sure steps of prudence than 1. sarily opposed. If principle is our weapon, by hasty and premature zeal. It is as brave s expediency is the skill which knows how to sometimes to wait as to dare, and often
wield it. The example of Paul, here, fully needs a higher courage to seem to others to illustrates this point. He took advantage, do nothing than to rush headlong into in commencing his work with the Athenians, difficulty or danger. Paul did not shrink of their peculiar characteristics. He saw from an arowal of his faith before the how greedy they were after novelty; how philosophers of Athens, but he would not ready they were to discuss and dispute ; court their opposition; he would wait with how much of their time they spent in this a wise forethought, using the opportunities way, under their bright sunny sky, and he had, till the opportunity he hoped for amid the objects of their pride and skill in had come, and he could preach at their own art. Observing and pondering these things, request the truth of Christ. and conversing daily in the market with 3. Another important lesson comes out those that met with him, making their ac of this last consideration--that opportunity quaintance and using every opportunity of for usefulness will increase if we faithfully converse with the main end in view, what | use it. he had to talk about began to furnish a The " open door" is the reward of faithtopic of conversation. We can imagine his ful labour. It would have been impossible, being pointed out in the market-place by perhaps, as well as unwise, if possible, to one and another as the clever Jew who was | have begun by preaching on Mars' Hill; setting forth strange gods; we can imagine, but when the people were prepared, God little groups of listeners and disputers | gave the opportunity of doing so. Paul gathered around him, some with sceptical waited for it, and it came. But he did not sneer, others with respectful attention, and wait for it in indolence, hoping it might talking together among themselves after come in his way; he worked for it. He Wards, until the leading philosophers of did all he could, and then God showed him the Epicureans and Stoics became curious the way to do more. Indolent wishing will to know too, and with all courtesy requested not open for us doors of usefulness. him to give them a more public exposition Prayer in and of itself will not. But the of his doctrine. Had he begun with an faithful doing of that which is possible to open defiance of their errors, had he gone us, the faithful fulfilment of existing duty, at first to Mars' Hill to denounce their in the spirit of humble, waiting prayer, will. idolatrous and vain philosophies, he would It is in the natural order of things—that is not have been listened to for a moment. 1 God's order that it should be so. It is