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that name to others who by reason of their reverence for truth have never ventured into such sublime discussions. Thus it has become very easy to affix the one term as a stigma, and the other as a seal of Heaven's approbation; not on distinct moral qualities, but on religious opinions which it has been sought thus either to refute or to confirm.
Again, it is easy to forget the grave importance of these words, and to ignore their solemn lessons; it is possible to forget in the wisdom of this world, Him whom the world by wisdom never knew; to invert the grand conditions of all knowledge, to over-estimate that which philosophy or science may bring within the field of our view, by underrating that which to childlike obedience and trust is already known.
Our Lord always uttered His most comprehensive and weighty words when He permitted His disciples to listen to His communings with the Father. Ere the veil of His flesh had been rent in twain, and before the holy burnt-offering of His soul had been consumed by the fire of heaven, the great High Priest entered often into the holy place. No man ascended into that awful secrecy save He who came down from heaven, even the Son of man who was indeed ever in heaven. When He lifted up His eye, when He spake unto God, and allowed His communion with God to touch the deafened ear of man, then His disciples learnt most of Him and of the Father. His intercourse with God, His appeals to the Father seem to be less restrained than does His converse with man; in this glorious exercise He was most tranquil, most at home. When mysterious troublings passed over His soul, it was thus that He received consolation, and thus that He “rejoiced in spirit.” It was in prayer that He gave us to know the glory of His transfiguration, the agony of His sacrifice, His own deepest self-consciousness, and the nature of His highest work. Is it not true, my brethren, that we know more of one another when we pray together than when we try to teach each other? We understand, or rather feel more distinctly the unity of our Christian faith when we weep over sin and struggle together after light, than when we write or read books, than when we preach or hear sermons. It is in prayer that we put the very essence of our faith to the test and find out the worth to us of our God, and really measure such sense of emptiness and wretchedness, such aspirations after fulness of joy and true holiness, such communion with the Father as He may deign to vouchsafe to us. How many
walls of partition have thus been broken down! How many veils have been rent in twain! How many wicked uncharitable feelings checked when men have bared their hearts together before God's piteous and holy eye! This may help us to understand how we get to know so much of Christ from those mere fragments of His priestly intercessions ; those audible communings of His mighty spirit with the Father, which the Holy Ghost has recorded. It is then that we discover His sympathy, that we see His brotherhood, and that we feel His divinity. On the mount of transfiguration, at the grave of Lazarus, in His mighty works, amid His deepest agonies, during the night of His betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane, on the cross itself we hear some whispers of these thoughts of His, which have bound men to each other as well as to Him, and linked this much-wandering and unhappy world of ours to the throne of God. The passage I have read as my text is, I believe, the earliest record of this audible communion between Christ and the Father. It was one of the first of these instructive and redemptive acts. It was not petition, but submission; it was not that He needed aught, but that He had learned obedience, and in this matter did Himself adore the perfections of God, and offered up praise to the will and the good pleasure of the Lord of heaven and earth. He suffered His disciples to follow Him, to enter by faith within the veil of His flesh, into the sanctuary of His spirit, and to learn something of the rest and peace and joy of God.
“ Jesus answered and said.” It is true that this word is not infrequently used by the Evangelist without his stating the previous words or circumstances to which the answer may be supposed to be given. Whatever may be the explanation of this usage of words elsewhere, the interpretation here is obvious. The language of rebuke in which the Saviour had dealt with the unbelief and unspirituality of the people of Israel was grieving His own spirit. He had been troubled with the contrast between the fewness and simplicity of His followers, and the superstitions and traditions, the learning, pride, vice, and power, which were arrayed against Him; but the Divine Spirit had spoken within Him; the deep sources of consolation had welled up from within Him, the radiance of God's smile had lighted up His soul, and in answer to the divine assurance, in response to all the querulousness of humanity, or to the wonder and anger which He could sometimes feel at the. unbelief of His hearers, he uttered this unparalleled, divine, and inexhaustible saying, which we can feel better than we can interpret, which we can never overload with adoring gratitude, and which has done as much to humble the pride and heal the broken hearts of men as all other influences combined. We will consider,
I. The apparent paradox involved in these words.
II. The Redeemer's judgment, and gratitude concerning it.
I. The great paradox :-" Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes." All revelation is to some extent a concealment. The veil is ever being drawn aside, but it is never taken away. We see gradually enlarging portions of the awful face of truth, but there is always much concealed. Wherever we take our stand, our own shadow will fall on the glorious countenance. Every new piece of information that we acquire, every fresh relation that we discover, makes us more conscious of our ignorance. The belt of light thrown over some divisions of the great sphere of knowledge leaves the rest in apparently deeper shade. All language by expressing some thoughts conceals many others. Much is repressed by every effort that we make towards expression. If we try to unbosom our hearts to each other, we hide as much as we reveal. We wrap ourselves round in mystery when we are most communicative. All art is concerned as much in hiding what ought to be concealed as in making known what is meant to be expressed. When an Infinite God reveals Himself to man, by a necessity of our nature He hides far more than He manifests. That which is unrevealed must always be greater than that which is made known. “My Father,” said Christ, “is greater than I.”
But farther, the special revelation which God has made to some individuals, is the very process by which He has concealed Himself from others; for there are two grand conditions of divine revelation by which God brings His own truth, the truth of His own holiness and love, to bear upon the human heart. The external circumstance and event which He has taught us to consider as a special communication from Him on the one hand, and the mental pre-requisites, subjective state, or moral condition capable of receiving a divine communication on the other hand. So far as we can understand it, there