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with his physician, while he declined to take the medicine which would heal him. There are others whose imagination is kindled by the sublimity of the Divine self-sacrifice which the Cross expresses, and whose emotions are stirred by the pathos of its agony, while their pride is not subdued by its grace, nor their hearts won by its love. There are thousands of habitual frequenters of the sanctuary who listen with attention and with pleasure to the story of Christ crucified, and to the appeals and invitations of the gospel, and yet do not respond to those appeals and invitations in the only way that can avail for their good. They admire the soundness, the faithfulness, the earnestness, the eloquence of the preacher, they feel in some measure the power of the truth he speaks, yet “they hear his words but will not do them.” They are always in the gallery, among the “spectators,'' at the supper of the Lord, but come not with those who “keep the feast." While there are many who attend upon the ministry of the word with unbroken regularity, whose presence in the house of God does not even betoken this amount of interest in sacred things, but is due to custom, education, or formality. Such persons as these, in somewhat different senses and degrees, may fitly be called “lookers-on at the Cross of Christ.”
Now surely it is something passing strange,—so strange as to be the last and crowning proof of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the human heart that men can occupy such a position, and still more that they can contentedly remain in it after it has been pointed out to them, in relation to a fact whose personal, practical issues are so tremendous and all-pervading. That any one can accept as matter
of theoretic truth that the awful alternative of salvation or perdition | depends on the acceptance or rejection of the atonement of Christ, and
yet practically treat that atonement as if it were no concern of his except as a matter of speculative or sentimental interest, is surely the most astounding phenomenon which even human perversity presents. The criminal awaiting execution who should criticise the style and grammar of the proclamation which offered him forgiveness, and meanWhile let the offer lie neglected; the man who, while his house was blazing around him, should spend time in admiring the ingenuity of the fire-escape which yet he did not use; the bankrupt who, when told of a friend who had lodged at the bank a sum sufficient to discharge all his liabilities, should be melted into tears or stirred to ecstasy by such an act of generosity, and yet suffer the deposit to remain unclaimed, and his debts unpaid,—such men would be reckoned utterly mad. And yet their conduct furnishes but a faint and distant illustration of the ghastly absurdity perpetrated by these “lookers-on at the Cross of Christ.” - If it were possible to treat such a subject coolly, and to make the persons of whom we speak the subjects of a process of spiritual anatomy, it would be a problem full of deepest interest, to ascertain How such anomalies, such contradictions of conduct are possible. For the conduct of which we speak is utterly contradictory. These persons who stand in this strange attitude in relation to the Cross, are neither gainsayers of the fact of the death of Christ, nor deniers of the New Testament doctrine concerning that death; they believe, as matter of creed, in both. They have not the same excuse for remaining mere lookers-on, which they had who held this position literally or Calvary. To these, as has been said, the death of Christ was little more than an ordinary public execution: they could know nothing oi next to nothing of its spiritual meaning. But that meaning is under stood and admitted by the others. To them the Cross of Christ means the Atonement, as the one means of the salvation of the sinner, and yet they deal with it thus. It is certainly a melancholy proof, hov possible it is to admit a truth into the understanding, and yet deny i entrance into the heart; how wide is the interval between intellectua belief and spiritual living faith; nay, how the very unquestionin completeness with which a truth is acknowledged, may render th recognition practically null and void, passive rather than active, th most solemn truths lying dead or sleeping in the chambers of the soul instead of taking up their residence there in living power, to transform the whole character, and sway all the life.
The delusiveness of this habit of dealing with the Cross of Christ, i one secret of its inveteracy, and one tremendous element of its dangei It helps men to deceive themselves, to put a comfortable cheat upon con science, which serves to muffle, if not entirely to silence, its monitions It serves to ward off the sense of danger, and to maintain a pleasan hope of final safety which it would otherwise be difficult to cherish They are no deniers of Christ, no scoffers at His Cross. Are they no “ glad when it is said to them, Let us go into the house of the Lora" Do they not hear with interest of the love of God, of the sacrifice o Christ? Can they not vindicate the true faith against error an heresy with zeal and power? And shall they be reckoned among “th enemies of the Cross of Christ”? So do men's very privileges becom the means of their fatal self-delusion; so often does nearness to th kingdom here issue in dreariest distance from it there!“ Many shall saj to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonder ful works; then will I profess unto them, I never knew you."
And the habit, like all habits, and even more than most habits, tend to perpetuate itself. The truths and appeals of the gospel lose, b: familiarity, their power to rouse the soul. The man grows accus tomed to his position, and less and less inclined or able to stir from it The dream of security grows more substantial to the imagination by long indulgence; it is too pleasant to be resigned, and becomes at lengt! too inveterate to be dispelled. There is surely no earnest preacher o righteousness on whose heart the feeling has not often fallen deas and chill, of the hopelessness of their plight who thus, beneath an by means of the very sound of the gospel, grow drowsy with the slumber of false security, and stolid with the stolidity of a delusive self-satisfaction. One is often tempted to wish that one could wipe
clean out from the tablet of men's memories all they have ever heard of the Cross, that, coming to their ears again as a fresh message from God, it might, perchance, by His blessing, win hearty and practical heed.
But it cannot be. This is the solemn thought we would fain press home upon the heart of these “lookers-on at the Cross." You cannot, after all, be mere lookers-on there. You cannot blot from your life the fact that you have had Jesus Christ evidently set forth crucified amongst you; you cannot rob that fact of its influence on your future destiny. The Cross will not be made a mere spectacle of—will not be dealt with as a mere theory. Men may treat it thus now, but it will avenge itself, will assert its practical, personal relation to them, at the last. No man who has heard the gospel, but must be the better or worse for it for ever.
There will be no lookers-on at the judgment, no lookers-on in heaven, no lookers-on in hell. All the sons of men will be actors, not spectators, in those tremendous scenes of destiny. And the part each shall take there, the issue of these scenes for each, at least of those to whom the word of salvation has come, will depend upon the attitude they have held here towards the Cross of Christ. That Cross will be the discriminating test of the final judgment, the aggravation of the anguish of those who have despised or neglected it, the inspiration of the eternal rapture of those whom it has redeemed. Kettering.
“THE LORD'S POOR.”
A HINT FOR CHURCH-MEMBERS. It was half-past six on a chilly au- | medy? It is this: Search out the tumnal evening. I had just finished poor of the Church--especially such tea, and, with a glance at a dull star as are widows indeed, and desolate; less sky, had decided not to venture be their friend for Christ's sake; out that night, when the postman's prove the warmth of your own heart brisk knock made me hasten to the by the love which you manifest to door. In five minutes from that them; and devote the time which time I had lighted the reading-lamp now hangs on your hands to that and drawn the curtains, wheeled my sweet ministry which the Master so favourite chair to the bright fireside, greatly loved. So shall you cease and begun the delightful task of to chafe over the indifference of devouring—if I may be allowed the Church-members who consider that expression-a true friend's letter. they are above you in society,' or It was long and interesting; but of who feel no interest in the entertainits contents a portion only need be ment of a stranger; so shall you set before my readers.
be brought into contact with your "You complain, my dear friend,” | minister on holy ground, and unite said the writer, “ of the Blank Street with your deacons in that serving people as the coldest ever known. | tables' which alone can insure that Will you allow me to suggest a re- | the widows be not neglected. So shall you have no leisure possibly , on no formal plan; I simply prayed, even no inclination—to complain as I knelt in that dim corner, for that the people at Blank Street are more grace and “a continuance of too cold to be your companions in opportunities.” Now that my eyes the way to eternal glory."
were opened, I could see that great I closed the letter, mused awhile | “chances," if I may so call them, over its contents, and finally put on had been floating past me ever since my bonnet and went out. It was | I came to Blank Street, and that I Friday evening,-service-night at | had seldom given a moment's heed Blank Street chapel, and the clocks to any one of them, just because I were striking seven. In twenty was always looking out for Christian minutes, praying silently all the fellowship amongst my equals and way, I had passed from the quiet superiors in worldly position, never suburb in which I had recently amongst God's believing and hum taken up my abode, to the crowded ble poor. So I did not ask anything thoroughfare out of which Blank new in the way of openings and Street opened. I was late, and in “doors” of usefulness; only abun. stead of passing on to my usual seat dant grace out of that fulness which among the great folks, I turned is treasured up in Christ. After aside and sat down by the door- praying like this, it was natural, 1 keeper's blind daughter, in the im thought, that I should speak a gen mediate neighbourhood of five or tle word to the poor girl who sa six old women, who, as I afterwards beside me. No “introduction" wa discovered, were “widows indeed.” needed here. I had only to pick up That evening, happily for me, Mr. her fallen handkerchief, and restor F read the story of the cruci it with a whispered word of explana fixion. I was deeply moved. All tion, and we were acquainted. 4 the tenderness of my soul seemed to few minutes later, at the door, w be called forth by that tale of match- | met the mother. Taking the blin less grace. A prayer that expressed girl's hand in mine, I invited her t my heart's desire came next. As I visit me next morning and hea joined in it, tears of gratitude would some music, of which, as I knew bị flow, though for years I had seldom her singing, she was fond. My ir wept. Never before had I felt such vitation was accepted, and I wer deep love for Christ and for His home with a warmth about the r people. It was as if scales had fal- | gion of the heart such as I had neve len from my eyes. Was it possible, before brought away from Blan I asked, as we rose up to sing, that Street chapel, and a smile on m I had stood within those walls chaf face that was positively cheerful. ing because Mrs. A. had bowed so I may as well say here that I a slightly, or because the ladies B. C. | one of those isolated beings · wh and D. had declined to bow at all? having what is called an “indepen Could I have felt really angry be ence," and no very near relation cause no one “ took me up" and live alone and are consequently made much of me in this Church of danger of becoming every day mo Christ at Blank Street ? Had I been selfish. Add to this, that I ha positively unhappy because people recently been compelled to migra were neglecting me, “a fellow Chris to a strange place and settle dov tian," while I, in my turn, was neg. amongst strange people, and yo lecting a score of humble souls for will at once understand my tem whom Christ died? It was even so. tation to self-indulgence, and n · Ashamed as I might well be to con need of that Divine grace wit fess it, it was too true.
out which no temptation can I made no resolutions; I decided truly resisted. That my friend
letter was a word from heaven itself, fore I left them. This looked like I cannot doubt. Still less can I beginning hesitate to assert that it was used I was out again, as a matter of by the great Master as the means course, that evening, although preof my complete awakening. I had viously I had seldom felt "equal” hitherto been a selfish Christian to three services; and I carried with as far as it is possible for such an me a note to the senior deacon, in anomaly to exist-but from that which I requested the favour of a time I began to live for Christ and, list of such members at Blank Street in Him, for His people.
as were “widows indeed.” The inNext morning, punctual as the | quiry, like many which followed, was clock itself, the blind girl made her made with much premeditation. appearance, and we spent a delight The idea occurred to me, I knelt ful hour in making melody with down and prayed over it, rose and heart and voice unto the Lord. It thought awhile, turned to a few texts was better, I thought, than the that bore on the subject, and then I finest concert in the world; and I | acted. The result was one of the had my reward in the intense de- | happiest months I had ever known. light which beamed from her ex- My work was simply that of " callpressive face and was poured forth ing” upon our poor members, at by her earnest voice. We were the time most convenient to them, consciously “sisters in Jesus” ever just as I had been wont to "call" after.
upon my equals and “superiors" The day after that was the first | in society. It may seem absurd to Sunday in the month, and, according you, but it was very refreshing and
Street in the afternoon to eat bread I was privileged to win the confi. and drink wine in remembrance of dence of more than one downcast the Lord Jesus. My blind friend, soul. By the bedside of the dying who was also a Church-member, sat I met often, as my friend had said, bumbly in her usual place amongst with our excellent minister; and I the widows, and I again turned aside am sure that two such interviews to sit with her. In that solemn hour, made us better acquainted than a as I thought of the love which my | score of drawing-room meetingsSaviour bore to me, my heart yearned pleasant and often refreshing though towards all His saints, but especially they may be. Now and then, too, towards His poor. When the deacons I was able to help the deacons, and came round with their boxes at the at last, even the deacons' wives ! close of the service I felt glad to give Gradually I became , acquainted, in twice as much as heretofore; and as the true sense of the word, with we came out I kept near a little nearly all the real philanthropists group of aged sisters, in order that at Blank Street, and we worked as I passed them in the street I together until, at last, I had many might bid them a cheerful good-day, friends of my own rank, in addition and speak two or three words con to those whom I had gained amongst cerning Him in whom we were the poor. Years have passed by, and
one.” The look of pleasure with I no longer complain of the coldness which they received these advances of the people, or of the time that encouraged me to inquire if they hangs on hand, day after day, beWould like me to come and read to cause no one will have the politeness them sometimes. It was the very to fill it up for me. , I have discothing they would like, they told me, vered that the best remedy for Lor their sight was failing. So I other's chilliness is to be warm mymade an appointment with each be- / self, and that he who, in coming as