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Observer, Sept. 15, '77.


"LET not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also." So says the great Physician, who has a balm for every wound and a cordial for every fear. The words form the opening statement of the last discourse that our Lord delivered before His death. It is one of consolation and comfort. How very unselfish was Jesus. His own Cross is just before Him, Gethsamane's agony is close at hand, the cruel jests, mockings, and Scourgings of wicked men were near to Him, yet He seems for the time being not to be mindful of these things. Forgetful of His own troubles, He is mindful of the troubles of His little band of disciples, and devotes the last hours of His life to the comfort and strengthening of those who had been with Him from the beginning. We must ever remember that Jesus knew all that was before Him. sorrow of Gethsamane and shame of Calvary were ever in view, and often pressed heavily upon Him. We know not what is before us. Thank God for it. We have almost as much reason to thank God for what we do not know as we have for what we do know. Certainly what of troubles and trials to-morrow may bring to us we cannot tell, but we can tell that strength equal to our day awaits us. The trials and


bereavements that take us by surprise do not take our God by surprise, and He fits the back for the burden and tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

But Jesus knew all that was to befall Him, yet He chooses to lay His own suffering aside to cheer His sorrowing ones, whose hearts were troubled. They had come to know that the death of their Master was at hand-"the hour" was now come, the last Passover had been kept.

It had also been brought to their knowledge that Judas would betray Him. "He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon." They had also learned that Peter would deny Him. Addressing Peter, Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice." Surely these things

were enough to fill their hearts with trouble, and Jesus seeks to assuage their troubles by making known to them the precious truths contained in John xiv., and following chapters.

But heart troubles were not confined to the apostles and immediate disciples of the Lord, they are the common lot of all the followers of Jesus, and, therefore, the words at the heading of this paper are common property, and may be taken by all the Lord's children, in all places and ages, as applicable to them, and how many troubled hearts have been comforted by them eternity alone will reveal. With a view to give a few crumbs of comfort to any who may know something about heart troubles I submit a few thoughts upon this beautiful Scripture.

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First, please notice the home view of heaven that is here given, "In my Father's house." The future abode of the righteous is spoken of in Scripture under various figures-as a city with a foundation of twelve precious stones, with jasper walls, pearly gates and golden streets. Here it is "My Father's house," which means our Father's house, for Jesus said to Mary, when she was about to embrace Him, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." He whom Jesus spoke of when He says 'my Father" is " our Father who art in heaven," so that we may truly say our Father's house. Now I confess to a liking for this home view of heaven. I like to think of heaven as my Father's house; that heaven is our home. At present we are strangers and pilgrims. No home this side heaven does the Christian recognise really and truly as home. It is not bricks and mortar and timber that make a home; nor is it tapestry nor gold and silver. It is that which makes heaven that makes home, even upon earth. It is love that makes the home; even though it be a lowly cottage, with furniture poor and scant and crevices through which the wind makes music. Hence we often find home in the rudest dwellings, and the want of it in splendid mansions. But where death can cross the threshold at any moment and take away those who after all make the homewhere some rude hand can take the knots that love is ever tieing and snap them asunder— the home feeling must of course be partial, and we ardently long for a place where those whom we love will never be taken from us, and where we shall always be in the presence of those who love us. love us. Such a place is our Father's house, in which "there are many mansions "—abodesresting places. The two words rest and home go well together; they belong to the same family

Even here we enjoy a rest at home that we know not of when we are away from home. Although friends may lavish kindness upon us, and study our comfort in every way, yet we cannot have that kind of rest that is only to be found at home.

Home, sweet, sweet home;
Be it ever so humble,

There's no place like home.

Ah, but how much more true is this of heaven, our home, our Father's house-"There remaineth a rest for the people of God!" When we get home we shall know all the beauty and sweetness of rest, and not till then. The Apostle Paul seems to have this home view of heaven before him when he says to the Corinthians For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a HOUSE not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We have a house not made with hands-this is our Father's house, for it is "a building of God." Then again, to the Ephesians, he speaks of the whole family in heaven and earth. It is not an empty desolate house, but a house with a family.

Ah, surely this is cheering and comforting to our troubled hearts: there will be no separation in that family group. There will be no grim monster to cross the threshold of that house, to take away any of its inhabitants.

But Jesus not only makes known to us the precious truth about the many abodes in His Father's house, but He continues, "I go to prepare a place for you." What an entrancing thought! At this very moment He whom all heaven adores is thinking of us, preparing a place for us. He has not forgotten us. Although He has gone into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, ages and principalities and power being subject unto Him, He is still interested in us, and watching over us. How comforting this announcement must have been to His troubled disciples! They were sorrowful because He was going from them. He assures them that His absence will be for their good, actively engaged for their welfare, preparing a place for them-not only for them, but for all who love Him and keep His commandments. He died for us: He lives at God's right hand for us and now He is getting the home ready for His bride. What the home will be we know not. All the elements that will constitute the future home of the righteous we cannot tell, but we may rest assured that it will be a fit habitation for immortal beings, a suitable dwelling for the glorified family of God-built up by the energy of His power, enriched by the resources of His wealth, one in every way worthy of Him who is preparing it,

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Observer, Sept. 15, '77.

a prepared place for a prepared people. Yes, there is a twofold preparation going on-the house for the tenant and the tenant for the house. When Paul is speaking about the building of God," the "house not made with hands," which is to be ours "when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved," he says, "Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." The Lord prepares His people by many ways-by all the storms, disappointments, afflictions, and bereavements of life the work of preparation is carried on. Wonderful and mysterious are the modes of preparation; but they are all necessary to consume the dross and refine the gold. How wonderful were God's dealings with Jonah in the work of preparation. "And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head to deliver him from his grief, so Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd." This was one preparation, and we say how good and kind of God so to consider His grief-stricken servant. But we read, "But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered." Again we read, "And it came to pass when the sun did arise that God prepared a vehement east wind, and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said it is better for me to die than to live." How strange! Yet it was the same loving hand all the way through. Love raised the shelter and love caused it to wither away and love brought about the "vehement east wind." Jonah could not understand it and wished he were dead.


in all this God was preparing him for the lesson He wished him to learn, as recorded in the same chapter. God works thus to-day. He gives us joys and sorrows, sunshine and storm, prosperities and adversities, to prepare us for that house Jesus has gone to prepare. Not only so, but He says, "And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also." "I will come again." This is an exceeding great and precious promise, dear, inexpressibly dear, to the Lord's children. The apostles kept this truth very clearly before the first Christians. It was also an important item in the proclamation of the faith, for the Thessalonian Christians "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." Now we must keep this truth in the place where Jesus puts it. His coming again precedes our being with Him.

Observer, Sept. 15, '77.

If this is kept in view it will save us from many mistakes that are made respecting being with Jesus. For instance, Did Paul desire to be with Christ? We know that that is contingent upon the fulfilment of the promise "I will come again and receive you to myself." Did he wish to be "present with the Lord ?" We know that that will be so when Jesus comes; "I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may also be." Does Paul rejoice in the prospect of possessing a crown of righteousness? He knows that he will do so at the appearing of his Sovereign Lord.

And thus the coming again of Jesus is the hope of the church-not our going to Jesus, but His coming to us. This is the precious heart-comforting truth: The Lord has gone to prepare a home for us--He is coming again to receive us to Himself, that where He is there we may be also. This same comfort did Paul administer to the troubled in the Thessalonian church. He tells them of the Lord "descending from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God"-that then the dead shall be raised, the living changed, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to be for ever with Him. "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." There is so much of interest and importance bound up in this coming again of Jesus that we feel constrained to respond, as did John to the statement "Surely I come quickly," "Even so come Lord Jesus." May the Lord "direct our hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ;" and may we ever be working, watching, and praying, so that we may be accounted worthy to occupy a place in the house that Jesus has gone to prepare.

"O blessed hope, with this elate,

Let not our hearts be desolate,
But strong in faith and patience wait

Until He come."

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LET us have a plain word about the greed for sermons, so prevalent in these latter days. We doubt whether there ever was a time when ministers were placed in so awkward, difficult, and unjust a position as they are to-day. Great, expensive edifices of worship are built, for which the builders run heavily in debt. That debt can only be handled, the interest on it paid, and the principal reduced, by filling it with a large and interested congregation. That congregation cannot be collected and held without brilliant preaching. Brilliant preaching is scarce, be

cause, and only because, brilliant men are scarce, and scarcer still the brilliant men who have the gift of eloquence. So soon, therefore, as a man shows that he cannot attract the crowd, "down goes his house." He may be a scholar, a saint, a man whose example is the sweetest sermon that human life ever uttered, a lovely friend, a faithful pastor, a wise spiritual adviser, and even a sermonizer of rare attainments and skill; but if he cannot draw a crowd by the attractive gifts of popular eloquence, he must be sacrificed to the exigences of finance. The church must be filled, the interest on the debt must be paid, and nothing can do this but a man who will" draw." The whole thing is managed like a theatre. If an actor cannot draw full houses the rent cannot be paid. So the actor is dismissed, and a new one is called to take his place.

There is an old-fashioned idea that a church is built for the purpose of public worship. It is not a bad idea; and that exhibition of Christianity which presents a thousand lazy people sitting bolt upright in their best clothes, gorging sugar-plums, is not a particularly brilliant one. It was once supposed that a Christian had something to do, even as a layman, and that a pastor was a leader and director in Christian work. There certainly was a time when the burden of a church was not laid crushingly upon the shoulders of its minister, and when Christian men and women stood by the man who was true to his office and true to them. We seem to have outlived it, and a thousand churches, particularly among the great centres of population, are groaning over discomfiture in the sad results. Instead of paying their own debts like men, they lay them on the backs of their floundering ministers; and if they cannot lift them they go hunting for spinal columns that will, or tongues that hold a charm for their dissipation. It is a wrong and a shame which ought to be abolished just as soon as sensible men have read this article.

Who was primarily in the blame for this condition of things we do not know; but we suspect the ministers themselves ought to bear a portion of it. The great preachers, by going into their pulpits Sunday after Sunday with their supreme intellectual efforts, have created the demand for such efforts. Metaphysics, didactics, apologetics, arrayed in the robes of rhetoric, have held high converse with them. The great theological wrestlers have made the pulpit their arena of conflict. Homilies have grown into sermons, and sermons into orations. Preachers have set aside the teacher's simple task for that of the 'orator. Even to-day they cannot see, or they will not admit, that they have been in the wrong; they still go on, and

seem more averse than any others to a change of policy. It is all cram and no conflict, and they seem just as averse to stop cramming as they did before they apprehended and bemoaned the poverty of its results.

But we are consuming too much of their time. The great dragon, with its multitudinous heads and arms and feet, is to meet them next Sunday with its mouth all open. It has done nothing all the week but sleep, and it is getting hungry. Woe to him who has not his two big sermons ready! Insatiate monster, will not one suffice?

"No," says the dragon;" "no," says his keeper and feeder. Brains, paper, ink, lungs he wants all you can give, and you must give him all you can. The house must be paid, and you must be a popular preacher, or get out of the way. Meantime the dragon sleeps, and meantime the city is badly ruled; drunkenness debauches the people under the shield of law, harlotry, jostles our youth upon the side-walks, obscene literature stares our daughters out of countenance from the news-stands, and little children, with no play-ground but the gutter, and no home but a garret, are growing up in ignorance and vice. If this lazy, overfed, loosely-articulated dragon could only be split up into active men and women who would shut their mouths and open their eyes and hands, we could have something different. But the sermon is the great thing the people think so, and the preachers agree with them. We should like to know what the Master thinks about it.-Scribner.


THE tendency of the carnal heart is to repudiate all law, and by repudiating law to evade its penalty. This tendency is not peculiar to any age. There is constant and persistent resistance to law, especially to statutory law. It is seen in all forms of government, whether human or Divine. Hence the policy of all time-servers, whether in Church or State, to so soften down law into mere sentiment, that whatever is obnoxious in the stern obedience of law may be removed, and the acceptance of sentiment instead of law be made palatable to the people. Especially is this resistance to law made apparent as it relates to the Divine government. There is a tendency in the human heart to despise and transgress all written and authoritative law. Blackstone defines law to be a rule of action, and it is this very rule of action that the rebel heart so profoundly dislikes, and which is supposed to be an intrenchment upon personal liberty. All wicked men are opposed to law. Only he who loves truth loves

Observer, Sept. 15, 77.

to honour the "royal law" or the "law of liberty." What wicked men understand, or rather interpret, as liberty, is with them practical licentiousness. The law of liberty, or, what is the same thing, constitutional law, without which there can be neither Divine nor human government, is a law of checks and restraints upon the human passions. Without law there would be universal chaos. No government was ever run on the policy of sentiment, or perpetuated on the mere "spirit of obedience." Neither in the family, nor in the civil government, nor in the Divine government, could the "spirit of obedience" be substituted for the law of obedience. To rely on sentiment, or on the mere spirit of obedience, would ruin family government or civil government, and the Divine government.

Without the recognition and enforcement of law no civil government could stand one day. Until the constitution of man undergoes a radical change, positive law must be enforced in every form of human government, in order to insure peace and prosperity. But the particular thing I wish to call attention to is the fact, that so far as the propagation and establishment of Christianity are concerned in the present generation, every possible effort has been made to divest that Divine system of the odiousness of law by substituting what is called "Christian sentiment" or the spirit of obedience. The love of God is construed to mean the acceptance of certain abstract principles and the indorsement of certain sentiments, the tendency of which is to nullify all positive law and to set aside every form of Divine government. This dangerous principle sets aside the fact that a king always implies a lawgiver, that a lawgiver implies subjects, that subjects imply a constitution. If, therefore, sentiment is to rule the church, what becomes of Christ as a lawgiver? What becomes of the gospel as the law of God's love? Is the law of love an abstraction and wholly undefinable? Is not the love of God founded in justice? What is sacrifice but an exponent of God's justice? And where did God ever exhibit his love to man outside the institution of sacrifice God can only be just and the justifier of them that believe where an infinite and perfect sacrifice meets an infinite sin. If God is infinite, His Divine law is infinite; if the law is infinite, the transgression of the law is infinite, and therefore if man has violated an infinite law, the acceptance of an infinite sacrifice-as Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world— secures an infinite salvation, while the rejection of an infinite sacrifice brings eternal death. This being a logical and inevitable conclusion,

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