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a righteous one; that it is not one that you can conscientiously pursue. There may be falsehood or impurity mingled with it, or demanded by it. If so, you are quite right; you must bring it to an end. If your business is immoral, or seems to you to demand prevarication, mendacity, impurity, selfindulgence, irreligious compliance, or trifling with conscience, you cannot devote yourself to any Divine worship with honesty, or to any religious work without hypocrisy.
On the other hand, your notion of God's business may be something altogether unpractical and sentimental. Perhaps you fancy that it will make a great demand upon your time, and diminish your means of securing a livelihood. Well, then, if you should be under such a mistake, gather from these first words of Jesus some hint of what it really is.
It is impossible to understand this narrative without seeing that the Father's business involved the praise and worship of God. A tree cannot worship God; the heavens only declare His glory when they are understood and appreciated by His intelligent creatures : but you have the power of perceiving the Father's glory, and of adoring it. Until minds like yours were admitted into the world, God had not perfected praise. Even out of the mouth of babes and sucklings He could do this more effectually than out of the glory of sun and stars. This kind of business consists in humble, earnest thoughts; in the habitual feeling of the heart towards God; in the resolute desire to thank Him, and own, as from Him, the blessings of His hand. That man's business must be a bad business, and the life of that man must be a rotten life, who cannot ever be praising God.
Again, Jesus clearly considered that the temple and house of God were the strongest attractions for one who knew that God was his Father. He was amazed that His parents should have had to seek Him; they might have taken for granted that the place where prayer, praise, and sacrifice were made, would have resistless fascination for Him. Verily, if the place of public amusement or scientific instruction, if the University, the ball-room, or the warehouse, if the band of music, the shop, or the dance, have greater attractions for you than the house of prayer, then it is clear that you cannot yet know the unspeakable majesty, the infinite power of this great heavenly Father of yours. The whole spirit and mission of the Lord Jesus prove to us that He felt the very essence of the Father's business to be, in His case, a patient, continuous obedience to the Father's will. As God gave Him a work to do, and called upon
Him to finish it, He has also given you a work to do; and when you are yielding to the claims of conscience, when you are toiling honestly for your daily bread, when you are denying self for the good of others, when you are trying to soothe a broken heart, when you are doing the commonest earthly work in a right and reverent spirit, you,
too, may feel that you are about your Father's business.
But, in conclusion, let me ask one more question.
(4) Do you feel that you must be about your Father's business?' Jesus felt a holy, a glorious compulsion upon Him to work the works of the Father, to do the will of God, to promote the glory of God. His strongest wish was to do it. It was impossible for Him not to do it. May we not believe it true of you, that your Father's business, that His praise, His glory, is indeed your business! Oh, that your hearts were so full of jubilant gratitude that you could not hold your peace! My brethren, if this work is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well; and if Christ is anything to you, He must be everything to you. I beseech you, then, when the world
. tempts you to yield to its seductions, have the answer of Jesus ready. If your old companions sneer at your new-found happiness, tell them there is abundant cause for your joy. If they do not understand the strength of your new attachment, tell them of the discovery that you have made; tell them that you have seen on the great hard face of universal things a smile gleam forth; that the leaden sky rains down new thoughts and mercies on you; that the universe seems to you to be a new home, a real dwelling-place of God. If you have to lie on the bed of suffering, and the devil tells you to curse God and die, resist him! Suffer on in patience, saying, even there, “I can be about my Father's business.” If death stares
you in the face, learn to see in him but an angel of light, a messenger of mercy, a herald from the Father's house, calling you in higher fashion and nobler guise to be about your Father's business.
In that temple-palace of God, where all the spirits of just men made perfect are gathering, where the Lamb of God is in the midst of the throne, may we all be welcomed as to our own home, to the rest and joy of our immortal spirits! Then, when earth from afar beholds us there, and hell wonders that it has lost its prize,-even while we echo the everlasting song, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, unto Him that sitteth on the throne, be all honour and glory for ever,”— we shall only be saying in other words, “Wist ye not, oh earth, oh hell, that we must be about our Father's business !”
THE WITHERED HAND.
MARK III. 1.
And He entered again into the synagogue ; and there was a man
there which had a withered hand.
HITHERTO the phases of the Divine life which have come under our review have had respect to the direct conscious relations of the soul with God. There are, however, manifestations of the new and higher life which are more decidedly subjective and experimental in their character, the analysis of which is more obviously made from the stand-point of human consciousness. There are forms and also defects of the Christian life, which may come under our inspection and criticism, and one of these is suggested by the text.
All the miracles of our Lord had a double meaning; they were proofs that He was gifted with Divine power, and was therefore a Divine Messenger, a divinely-commissioned Saviour; and they were also representations of the great work which He came