'Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.'—PSALM LXXXIX. 15.


HAT is the joyful sound ? It is just, | restored to their original proprietors; and thus

I think, the gospel. It has been in many a scattered family met once more in the the world ever since the fall. When old home and inheritance, to thank the Lord sin had reigned unto death, grace for his goodness, and his wonderful works to

began to reign, through the coming the children of men. It was a real Christmas righteousness, unto eternal life. It was the season. grain of mustard seed sown in Eden ; and it Don't you think that Christ must have looked went on, age after age, opening up and expand with deep interest upon this? He loved and ing. Paul tells us that it was preached to Israel, honoured all the ordinances of his Father's house. even as to us. It was wrapt up in all their Every Sabbath saw Him in the synagogue. He types and ceremonies. It was the subject and regularly attended the Passover from his youth substance of all their sacrifices and solemn feasts. | up. We find Him walking in the temple at

There was one of their feasts, however, which the Feast of the Dedication, and taking occasion, more clearly and fully expressed or pictured it from the many lamps which it was the custom than any of the others. It was the jubilee, which then to light, to draw attention to himself as occurred every fiftieth year, and was indeed, in the world's great Light, and to urge them to a temporal sense, a joyful sound. It came im- walk in his light of life, till travelling days were mediately after the day of atonement; and in done. At the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, the kindness and remission which it enjoined when the people were pouring out, as they were towards their fellow-men, was a most fitting wont to do, the pitchers of water which they exercise for those who had themselves just been had drawn from the pool of Siloam, He again receiving forgiveness and clemency from God. drew attention to himself as the Well of life, We are told how eagerly it was waited for, the world's great drinking-fountain. He stood and how gladly it was welcomed. Persons were and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come stationed on the hill-tops, all over the country, unto me and drink. May we not, therefore, to watch for the first appearance of the new conclude that the jubilee would be peculiarly moon, which was the commencement of the year dear to Him? When acknowledged by the of grace. Whoever first observed it, signalled Father, anointed by the Spirit, a victor in the to the others; and so the good news was circu- wilderness, He returned full of power to Nazareth, lated all over the land, with a kind of telegraphic and read in the synagogue the words of Isaiah, celerity. Then the trumpets were blown, and The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He that moment all were free. The prison doors hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the were opened, the chains were broken, the debtor poor ; He hath sent me to heal the brokendischarged, the captive released, the slave en hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, franchised, the mortgaged houses and lands and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised ; to preach the and yet, at the end, they are as ignorant of acceptable year of the Lord,'—don't you think God's way of justifying sinners as they were at that, while thus engaged, his mind may have the beginning. If we were more in the habit been full of the jubilee, and that very possibly of speaking freely and directly with one another He would say to the wondering assembly, “I am about our most important concerns, we should the true Jubilee ; I am the world's great Jubilee. oftener see how very general this ignorance is. Come unto me, and be free; come unto me, and They confuse the way of grace with the way of be forgiven ; come unto me, and receive more works, and think that it is by their own rightthan your fallen father Adam lost ?' Would not eousness, not by faith in the righteousness of the same thought be in his mind, when He said another, that they are to be saved. They cling to his disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and to their own works, and say they are doing what preach the gospel to every creature?' Yes, the they can. This, I suppose, is the hell-filling sin gospel is a joyful sound. It proclaims salvation of our day. But, once more, there are many to the lost, forgiveness to the sinner, health to who do not welcome the gospel. I suppose there the sick soul, comfort to the troubled, deliver- were some who did not welcome the jubilec. ance to the oppressed. It bids the prodigal come The selfish slaveholder's evil heart rose against back to his father's love, his father's house, his it. He would say, Here have I been training father's boundless wealth; and all this free, ab- and educating this servant; and now, must I solutely free, without money and without price. set him free? The avaricious landholder, addIt is simply, Come—come now—come just as ing field to field and house to house, did not you are—come, for all things are now ready. welcome it. He said, Must I now part with my Work is not required, strength is not needed, accumulated possessions ? The slave, enamoured fruit is not demanded, questions are not asked ; of his bondage, said, I do not wish to be free; it is simply, Come, and receive.

I love my master, am pleased with his service, Such is the joyful sound. But it must be and enjoy the connections which I have here known before it can bless. This is very im- formed. And so there are many who do not portant; it explains what would otherwise be welcome the joyful sound. They give it the a mystery. The jubilee trumpet has long been same reception which He, who is the sum and sounding in the world, the gospel has been substance of it, got when He came into the largely preached, and yet the greater part of world,—they do not receive it. But, thank God, men are still aliens from God, slaves of the devil, there are many who do receive it. The poor, without peace, and without hope. How is this ? awakened, heavy-laden sinner, welcomes it; those Here is the explanation : the joyful sound must who are broken in heart and wounded in spirit, be known before it can benefit. “By his know- welcome it; those who are weary of sin and its ledge shall my righteous Servant justify many.' bondage, welcome it; those who feel their need Says the Apostle Paul : “The excellency of the of something better and more enduring than knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.' What is this world can give, welcome it; those who are this knowledge? It is believing, understanding, afraid of judgment and the wrath to come, welcoming it. Multitudes who read and hear welcome it. The gospel just suits them; it is the gospel, never really believe it. They give a like bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, lazy, indolent, uninquiring assent to it; but if clothing to the naked, life to the dying. Put they were asked, they could give no intelligible these three things together, -believing, underreason for their doing so. The subject has, per- standing, welcoming, -and then you will know haps, never fairly crossed their minds; or, if it the joyful sound, and experience in yourself the has, they have given it the go-by. They say blessedness which it brings. it is too simple, too humbling, too easy; it will Let us look at this blessedness. There are lead to licentiousness, -as if they knew better three ingredients in it which are here menthan God what will preserve and conduce to his tioned,—the favour of God, the joy of God, and glory. Many, again, never really understand the the exaltation of God. gospel. They have not felt their need of it, and The favour of God: “They shall walk, O Lord, so they take little interest in it-never give their in the light of thy countenance. The light of minds to it. They are busy with many things, God's countenance is another way of describing which they think more urgent and important; his favour. When He is displeased, He hides his and thus they have not attained a correct, in- face, or covers it with a cloud; whereas, when telligent knowledge of God's way of peace. They He is pleased, He lifts up the light of his counnever see its fulness, freeness, suitableness, near- tenance, or makes his face to shine. “Walking' ness, and the obligation under which all lie to is just the whole conduct. A man's walk is his receive it. They hear it preached and explained whole life; and therefore, when it is said, “They from Sabbath to Sabbath for a whole lifetime, shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance,' it is as much as saying, they shall enjoy the joyful sound, Christ's righteousness is put God's favour in all they do. What a comfort is upon us, and we become partakers of his exaltathis,—the Father's smile always resting upon tion; we are justified, accepted, made near and his child,—the master's smile always resting upon dear to God. his servant! This is a kind of summer life, a continual sunshine. Christ had it. The Father

"So near, so very near to God,

Nearer I cannot be ; looked down, and said, “This is my beloved Son,

For, in the person of his Son, in whom I am well pleased ;' and the Son looked

I am as near as He. up, and said, “The Father heareth me always, for I do always the things that please Him.'

So dear, so very dear to God,

Dearer I cannot be ; God's favour is life. How little the world's

The love wherewith He loves the Son, frown can trouble a man in whose heart God is

Is the love le bears to me.' whispering, 'I am well pleased!'

The joy of God: 'In thy name shall they re- Put these things together,-favour, joy, exaltajoice all the day.' God's name is himself; what tion,-and think what a blessedness this is. Yet He is,—his attributes, his perfections, his being. it is open to us all, free to us all. Take in the They rejoice in this, and their joy is perennial— joyful sound; hold it fast; rest simply, unwaverall the day. God's gifts change, but He never ingly upon it. Give no heed to the suggestions changes. “He is the Father of lights, with whom of the devil, the questionings of your own heart, is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' and then you will abide in perfect love, and walk We very commonly err here; we rest in the in perpetual sunshine. A good man, who was streams, when we should rise to the fountain. much blessed and honoured in his day, was once We should turn away from our comforts, works, asked, “How is it that you are always so peaceful and fruits, and say, God is mine ; “the Lord is and unencumbered amid cares and labours which the portion of my soul, therefore will I hope in would crush other men? He answered, “It is not Him.'

that I am not tempted. I have many thoughts, God's exaltation : ‘In thy righteousness shall and fears, and cares crowding upon me, and seekthey be exalted.' What righteousness is this ? ing to get possession of my heart. But then, Not God's attribute of righteousness, for that hundreds of times a day, I think with myself, Is could only condemn us ; not our own righteous- not God my Father, Christ my Brother, the Holy ness, for we have none. It can only mean the Ghost my Comforter, Providence my helper, righteousness which Christ has wrought out, and heaven my home? And thus I am upheld, and in virtue of which He has been exalted, and is carried on from day to day, as upon eagles' now with God upon the throne. When we know wings.'

Narratibe and Descriptive.



of God's grace, we can, by these performances, satisfy the justice of God, obtain pardon for

our sins, and merit heaven.' He fasted, prayed, T Sienna, in Italy, in the year 1487, kept vigils, tormented his body; but no peace

was born a noble witness to the came, no holiness. He became a monk, and gospel ; one who might, in some re- courted the sternest rules and the hardest penspects, be called the Italian Luther. ances; but still there was no peace, no holiness.

His early spiritual conflicts were At times, after going through some sad round not unlike those of the German Reformer. His of penance and self-torture, he would cry out, name was Bernardino Occhino.

as he lay on the ground in his hard cell, “O He began early to seek the way of life; which Christ, if I am not saved now, I know not what in his age was so hard to find, because of the I can do more!' Truly he could do no more. darkness which then rested on it, the thorns and He did not need to have done so much ; for the briars with which it was blocked up. “From promise is, “To him that worketh not, but bethe very beginning of my life,' he says, 'I had lieveth, his faith is counted for righteousness.' a great longing for the heavenly paradise.' Here He was called to preach ; but he had no good was the Spirit of God moving on the face of news to tell. Preparation for preaching, howthe deep. His eye was beginning to turn up- ever, led him to the Bible. He began to study ward, but his sky was cloudy; he saw no sun, it; but it only increased his troubles. It connor moon, nor star.

tradicted all he had been saying and doing. It He thus expressed his uncertainties : 'I be- was irreconcilable with his great idea of peace lieve in salvation through works, through fast- by doing and suffering. He continued, however, ing, prayer, mortifications, vigils. With the help to study the word; and as he studied, light

broke in. Hitherto he had taken his own works is the tree; love is the fruit. This faith is that and prayers to God, to secure a hearing for him; which clings with entire confidence to every now he began to see that there were better works word of God. When Christ says, “ He that beand prayers than his which were available for lieveth shall be saved,” he that believeth ought him, nay, placed at his disposal. Hitherto he not to doubt his salvation.' had tried to soothe his conscience by works and So spoke Valdez. The lady made answer : fasts; but his conscience refused to be pacified, ‘But no one can believe better than I do.' either by these works and fasts themselves, or But the teacher, who saw her deficiency at by his thinking of them after they were done. that very point which she seemed so sure of, Miserable comforters are a man's own doings, or made answer: “Take care,' said he, quite after feelings, or experiences! They heal no wounds; the manner of Luther; “if you were asked they are not the balm of Gilead.

whether you believed in the articles of the faith, Soon he came to this conclusion: Christ, by you would reply, Yes; but if you were asked his obedience and death, has fully satisfied the whether you believed in the forgiveness of your law of God, and merited heaven for sinners. own sins, you would only say, You thought you This is the true righteousness; this is the true did ; you hoped; but you were not quite sure. salvation.' Light broke in upon him; peace Ah! madam, if you accept with full faith the took up its dwelling in his soul. He was not words of Christ, then, even while suffering under yet wholly delivered from error, but he had the pain caused by your sins, you would not found Him who is the way, and the truth, and hesitate to say assuredly, Yes, God himself has the life; and this knowledge of the Son of God pardoned all my sins.' had brought him out of the house of bondage. The preaching of Occhino struck upon yet He was now a freeman, and could act and speak another ear-a nobleman of Florence, Carnesecchi as one who knew that he was not under wrath, by name. The truth entered his soul. With but under grace.

his eye on the Saviour of sinners, he exclaimed, His zeal waxed more fervent as he drank into 'Ah! certainly justification proceeds from faith the liberty of the gospel. He went from place alone, in the word and love of a crucified Sato place in Italy, on foot, preaching the good viour. We can be sure of salvation, because it news which had given him joy and liberty. He was purchased for us by the Son of God at so preached because he believed. Whole cities, it great a price.' is said, went out to hear him; and no church Another of this little but noble Italian group could contain the crowds that flocked to him. was Flaminio, a native of the north of Italy, but He was not old, but his hair was grey, his face brought into contact with the Christians of the pale and thin, his beard falling to his waist, his south, at Pausiliporo, hard by Naples. There clothes of the coarsest kind. He was the very he learned the way of peace through Him who image of what men in all ages have supposed the finished the great work upon the cross. Having outward person of a saint to be.

found forgiveness through the knowledge of a The word came from his lips in power, as it crucified Christ, he spoke out thus : 'God does ever does when it pours out of a full and fer-not call those happy who are clear from every vent heart. At Perugia and at Naples there stain, for then there could be none such here; was what we would now call a mighty revival. but those whom his mercy pardons, because they The Emperor Charles V., who went to hear him believe with all their heart that the blood of our at Naples, remarked, as he left the church, " That Lord Jesus Christ is the atonement for sin. If monk would make the very stones weep.' An our conscience accuses us before God, if death Italian nobleman, Valdez by name, was led by be near, let us still be full of hope, for the mercy him into the liberty of Christ; and a young of God exceeds all the wickedness of the whole widow, noted in that day for her beauty, and human race.' rank, and accomplishments, was stricken to the This Flaminio, writing a commentary on the heart. Valdez and she met

, and the teaching of Psalms, and dedicating it to the Cardinal FarValdez completed what Occhino's sermons had nese, grandson of Paul II., thus confesses his begun.

faith in the one sacrifice, the one cross, the There is war within me,' she said to Valdez; knowledge of which is everlasting life: Herein that monk's words fill me with fear of hell. He will be found many things about Christ, our stirs up in me longings after paradise ; but I Lord and our God,—his bitter death, and his feel also a love for the world and its glory. How everlasting kingship ;-— his death, by which, can I get free from this conflict ?' Valdez showed sacrificing himself on the cross, and blotting out her that the hand of God was upon her, and that all our sins by his most precious blood, He has it was the Holy Spirit that was beginning his reconciled us to God ;-his kingship, by which work in her. He showed her that the law had He defends us against the eternal enemy of the wounded her, and that only the gospel could human race, and, governing us by his Spirit, heal her; that the law kills, but the gospel makes leads us to a blessed and immortal life.' alive. He pointed out the necessity of being From such witnesses we learn what was thie decided, and the sin of a compromise between old Italian gospel,—the good news of the one God and the world. He then spoke of good great work on Golgotha, which ‘finished transworks as springing out of faith. Our works gression, and made an end of sin, and brought are good,' he said, 'only when they are done in everlasting righteousness, and made reconby a justified person. As fire is needed to give ciliation for iniquity.' In the belief of God's heat, so faith is needed to produce love. Faith testimony to that one sacrifice, these men found immediate peace, and were assured of eternal believing it, that peace flowed into their souls. life. This believed gospel did not introduce them They did not wait, and work, and weary theminto uncertainty, but into certainty. That great selves with attempts to qualify themselves for the work which they believed contained the peace reception of the peace. They believed, and they which they needed—'peace with God;' and, in entered into rest.


MELANCTHON. COME, rouse thee up, Melancthon!

I have wrestled for thee well;
And the prayers are answered that we prayed

To break this deadly spell.
I bear the cup within my hand

Shall call thee back to life;
What, brother! would'st thou leave me here

To bear alone the strife?

[ocr errors]


FAVOURED ONES SHOULD NOT FEAR. Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God.'

-LUKE 1. 30. God's favour, even 'good-will towards man,' is proclaimed wherever the gospel comes; and it becomes the portion of every one who receives the glad tidings. Such should not fear; they have no reason to do so, seeing. God is for them.' They stand in grace, and should seek to have access into it. The farther they travel in this direction, the less will they fear, and the more will they hope. Thus grace saves and supplies : the salvation is complete, the supply suited and sufficient. Among these rich supplies are many 'fcar nots;' and the provision shows that there is much need of them. To Abraham, to Jacob, to David, to Jeremiah, and many others, God hath ushered in his sweetest encouragements with 'Fear not ;' and the family of faith, throughout all ages, have used them to chase away fear and strengthen faith. 'Behold, God is my salvation ; I will trust, and not be afraid,' has been their exulting resolution, and that with good reason.

To find favour with God, sometimes, as in the case of Mary, means to be used by God in some special way, as instruments for his glory,-being set apart from others, as separated ones. Thus Noah and Moses “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.' Mary, the humble virgin of Nazareth, was distinguished above all others. This favour was as unexpected as it was great. The manner of announcing it was also extraordinary; and no wonder that she was troubled at the saying of Gabriel.' But there was no reason to fear. There could be no failure of the word spoken, however wonderful; no injury could come to her in being God's instrument; and it was a high honour that God put upon her. Let us not put from us, by unbelieving fears, any happiness, elp, or honour which God pleases to bestow. Wirt should we not, however unworthy, expect from such favour; and what may we not become, however feeble, by its pledged assurance?

There is work for thee, Melancthon

Brave work for thee to do;
God needs on earth thy loving heart,

Thy words of counsel true.
In heaven He hath good souls enough,

His bidding to pursue.
And what were I, Melancthon,

If thy presence were withdrawn ?
I am as bleak as the cold midnight,

Before the frost is gone; And thou art gentle, and kind, and warm,

As the sun of the summer's dawn.

[ocr errors]

Thou'rt not the first, Melancthon,

My prayers have held from death: Our gracious God hath promised grace

To those who pray in faith ; And well He knows a hundred souls

Hang on thy trembling breath.

All night for thee, Melancthon,

My soul in prayer was rent;
I wrestled for thee as of old

Did Jacob in his tent,
With an angel mightier even than that

Wherewith his strength was spent.
So rouse thee up, Melancthon!

'Tis not thy time to die:
The Lord, who needs thee on his earth,

Gives life the victory;
And even now the evil one
Hath turned his face to fly!

-Paraphrused from the Life of Luther.

« VorigeDoorgaan »