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SERMON XV.

THE SUMMONS TO HOLY WORK,

PSALM XCIV. 16.

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up

for me against the workers of iniquity ?

THERE is no superscription to this Psalm. There is no indication of its authorship, of the period at which it was written, or of the circumstances to which it refers. There are many of these anonymous hymns in God's Book of Remembrance, nameless utterances, voices of the night of weeping, shouts from the mountain-tops of thought, prayers unto the God of Life, which belong to no individual, can be fathered on no solitary period, but descend as an heirloom to successive ages, and enrich every generation. As the circumstances, the victories, the shortcomings, and the possibilities of men are continually being repeated, so the religious experiences of the Church do often reappear in its history, and we may receive the inspired utterances of them in one age as almost equally appropriate to the sorrows and joys of another age. How often have the trials, the perils, the deliverances of God's Church been expressed in those Divine words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble;" “ The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge!”

How has the graveyard echoed age after age the words of the Man of God, which were first liberated from the strings of his mighty harp amid the rocks of the Arabian Desert, “ Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place from one generation to another!” The old kingdom of God could utter the whole of the fervid prayer contained in this Psalm from its oft-restrained heart. Not only so, but the Church of Christ in these latter days, amid bonds and imprisonments, persecution and apathy, work and fear, has been fain to pour out its sorrows and its faith in these Divine words. The Church of God, or rather the Divine Spirit, the Christ within it, is ever crying out, as some venerable saint of the olden time did, for the manifestation of God; is always beseeching the Most High God to reveal His glory; is now imploring Him to have respect to the dark places and cruel habitations of the earth; and does not fail to recognize, as in this Psalm, the proofs of Divine goodness, and knowledge, and power, which can and must outbid and overawe the conspiracies, the malignity, and the perseverance of evil.

It is hardly possible to read this Psalm through, without feeling that the inspired voice in it denounces the unbelief of the heathen world. One must see that the faith of the Psalmist is quickened to a burning heat by the glance that he has cast over the idolatries and follies of our race. When a man has come to a deep conviction of the Oneness of Jehovah every other worship is to him an abomination, for such worship must either be an awful rivalry to Him whose glory cannot be given to another, or must involve a total misconception of His nature and a blasphemous corruption of His Name. There have been times in the history of God's people when their loyalty to Him has consumed every lax notion about other lords; when, burning with zeal, with reverence, with godly fealty to the Great King, and sickened at perceiving the countless multitudes of those who are treacherously rebelling against Him, the true Israel has lifted up its voice for help, and identifying itself with God's holiness and kingdom, has called aloud for self-sacrifice and devotedness, exclaiming in the Name of God, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers ? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity ?”

We may regard these words as parallel at least to those of the Judges and Lawgivers of Israel, of men who when the very existence of Israel as a nation was trembling in the balance, and when devotedness and loyalty were demanded by the circumstances of the case, called with trumpet-voice to the brave and truehearted among them to be on the Lord's side," and

“ “ cursed bitterly” those who would not come “to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” It is reasonable to suppose that ever since the day when the Son of God took our nature on Him and bore our sins, and dragged that cross of His to Calvary, He has been uttering them afresh. Open your ears, my brethren, to listen, not to my poor words, but to the voice of Him against whom the throne of iniquity frameth mischief by a law, against whom the powers of the world have been so long in combination, the treatment of whom by the men He died to save has been so mean, so ungrateful, so cruel, so mad, so blasphemous. Listen, hearken to Him, for it is no other than your Lord who is pleading with you to be on His side, to gather together unto Him, to rise up for Him against the workers of iniquity.

First, let us review a few characteristics of these evildoers. We will not go back into the past for our illustrations, but simply ask your consideration of some obvious facts.

(1) Look at the NUMBER of the evildoers. Figures and comparisons of figures give but a very feeble impression of this terrible fact. Surely it should be burned into our recollection and give force and spur to all our thoughts about the world, that not more than one-seventh of the human race is even nominally Christian; and that among these Christians are reckoned all the populations of Austria, France, Russia, America, and Spain; the Greeks, the Copts, and the Armenians; the priest-ridden inhabitants of Brazil and Mexico, and all the crowds of our English cities; the Sabbath-breakers, the despisers of God's

love, the haters of God's law, the drunkard, the harlot, the miser, the dotard, and the fool. Verily,. an accumulation of sin, a multitude of evildoers, are to be found in so-called Christendom !

But let us turn from the one-seventh to the sixsevenths of this world's population. Here, notwithstanding all our grievous imperfections, we are passing out of Goshen into Egyptian darkness. Do you ever sit still and ponder the multitudes of China ? Imagine them in their crowded cities, in their teeming villages, in their busy marts, on their great canals and navigable rivers, with all their self-sufficiency, their licentiousness, their man-worship, their denial of, or their gross emphatic indifference to, the Being who made them. Do you ever travel in thought over the mountains of India, and try and trace its vast rivers to the ocean, and pass in review the hordes of Affghanistan and the Punjaub, of Rohilcund, Oude, and Behar, of Bengal and Bombay, the Deccan and Mysore ? Can you watch them crowding into Benares on some renowned feast-day of Hinduism, or filling the mosques of Lucknow on some great Mahomedan fast ? and then, before your gaze is quite absorbed or your heart riven, can you transport yourself to Thibet, and see the worshippers of the Llama, the chief pontiff of Buddhism, and the priest-ridden hordes of Tartary, Burmah, Siam, Ceylon, given over to the deadly fear, the virtual atheism, the proud self-sufficiency, the man-worship, and deep superstitions of Buddha ? Then on some strong

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