[2]
Editorial: Striking the Right Balance

"Our Lord pronounced the children of this world wise in their generation; and who can doubt that thousands who are lost would be saved, did they bring the same prudence, and diligence, and energy to their eternal, as they do to their temporal interests? In how many people do we see consummate wisdom joined to the greatest folly They are wise enough to gain the world, and fools enough to lose their souls.

Convince a man that the only way to save his life is to lose his limb, and he does not hesitate an instant between living with one limb and being buried with two. Borne in, pale, yet resolute, he bares the diseased member to the knife - and how does that bleeding, fainting, groaning sufferer teach us to part with our sins rather than with our Saviour. If a life is better than a limb, how much better is heaven than a sin!

Two years ago a man was called to decide between his life and the gains of his lifetime. He stood on the deck of a ship that, coming from Australian gold fields, had - as some all but reach heaven - all but reached home and her harbour in safety. The exiles had coasted along their native shores; tomorrow, husbands would embrace their wives, children their parents, and not a few would realise their dream of returning to pass the calm evening of their days, envied, and happy amid the loved scenes of their youth. It was never more true, that there is much between the cup and the lip. Night came lowering down: and with the night the storm which wrecked ship, and hopes, and fortunes all together. The dawning light but showed them death staring them in the face. The sea ran mountains high - no boat could live in her. One chance remained. Pale women, weeping children, feeble and timid men, must die; but a stout, brave swimmer, with trust in God, and disencumbered of all impediments, might reach the shore - where hundreds stood ready to dash into the surf, and, seizing, save him. One man was observed to go below. He bound around him a heavy belt, filled with gold, the hard gains of his life, and returned to the deck. One after another, he saw his fellows leap overboard; a brief struggle, and head after head went down - sunk by the gold they had fought hard to gain, and were loath to lose. Slowly he was seen to unbuckle his belt. His hopes had been bound up (Contd. on p. 27)

[3]
A Prime Text for The Prime Minister

A Sermon preached on Lord's Day evening 15th December 1985 in the Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church by the Minister, Dr. Ian Paisley.

Those who attend the worship of God in this House and the preaching from this pulpit are well aware that I read through my Bible each year, through the New Testament twice and through the Book of Psalms twice according to the Bible reading plan of Robert Murray McCheyne. As I was reading just after the Anglo/Irish Agreement was signed, one of the portions of Scripture was the seventh chapter of the prophecy of Micah. In this chapter I realised that there was a description here of the sad and terrible plight into which our land had fallen. In verse two, we read, 'The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood'.

There was a time when the word of Government was respected for you knew it was a word that was based on truth. There was a time when the statesmen of the land were persons of integrity and persons of truthfulness. When they spoke you had confidence in their affirmation. That day, alas, has sadly gone. Yes, the good man is perished from the earth.

As we read on we are told that they do evil with both hands earnestly. There is a dedication today in the doing of evil. There is a revival of evil. There is a resurgence, a renaissance of evil, and it seems that the whole world has become polluted with a confrontation against the truth, righteousness and godliness of God's law, of God's standards and of God's commandments.

Then note carefully that there is corruption, 'the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward', and all is done for the reward at the end of the day. It is not done out of principle. It is not done out of integrity. It is not done out of honour. It is done for the reward.

BARBED DECEPTION

The prophet says, 'the best of them is as of brier; the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge. The day of Thy watchmen and Thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity, (Micah 7:4).

He goes on to tell us that you can have no confidence even in those in whom you rightly put our confidence in. Such confidence is completely taken away, that honour is forgotten, that truth has fallen in the street. [4]

The word of truth is not known in the counsels of men. Their stock in trade is lies and deceit.

I know no more damning indictment of our own day than this seventh chapter of Micah.

Then this old prophet asks, 'What will I do?' All the props on which I have learned the foundations on which I ought to rely, the supports on which I ought to rest, the confidences I ought to have, they are all swept away. On whom will I rely? Where shall I find a sanctuary, a refuge for my soul?

He turns and draws his conclusions in verse 7, 'Therefore will I look unto the Lord'. He lifts up his eyes away from the turmoil, away from the deceit, away from the lying, away from all the programme of confusion, and he lifts them up unto the Lord.

That is what we need to do in this day. If ever there was a day that God's people needed to look up and put their confidence in the Lord, it is NOW.

THE SECRET WEAPON

Then there is something else. He says, 'I will wait for the God of salvation'. He is going to give himself to prayer. He is going to turn to God for a waiting time before Him.

Then he affirms, 'My God will hear me'. Just underline those words, 'My God will hear me'. If we could get that written into our hearts, children of God, then our prayers would take on a meaning and a strength that they never had before. Then would God's people seek the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind. Then would half-heartedness and double-mindedness give place to wholeheartedness and a wholesome mindedness before the Lord. The church would then discover experimentally that their God did hear them.

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

Let me take you back to the early history of Israel. For four hundred and thirty years they tarried and sojourned, and at the end of that period there was an increase of affliction. They went down into the Egyptian furnace of testing. They became a nation of slaves. All they heard in their ears from their waking hours was the crack of the taskmaster's whip. They knew nothing of liberty. They knew nothing of freedom. They knew nothing of prosperity. They knew nothing of any of those ingredients of life which make life worth living. It was one continuous torturous existence.

Then God stepped in. Great judgments fell. Pharaoh was chastised by the hand of God Himself.

One night, the night of the shedding of blood, the night of the sprinkling of the doorposts and the lintels, the night of the Lord's Passover, God stretched out His hand and laid the firstborn of Egypt low in death.

Israel escaped from bondage, left the shackles of Egypt, the incarceration of Egypt, the imprisonment of Egypt behind, and stepped out on that road [5] of promise, that road of pilgrimage to the land promised to them in the Abrahamic covenant.

One would have thought that Pharaoh had been sufficiently chastised, that he would have forgotten about these slaves that had brought so much trouble to him and to his people. Not so. When Israel was hemmed in at the Red Sea, when there were mountains at one side and mountains on the other side, and the sea before them with its billowy depths, they hears a great thunder in the distance. It was the thunder of Pharaoh's approaching army. Enraged Pharaoh, stirred up by malice and pride, decided that he would come and fetch back these slaves and punish them for what had happened to the firstborn of Egypt.

DESTRUCTION

What was going to happen? It seemed as if a terrible slaughter was going to take place. It seemed that the firstborn of Israel would fall to the Egyptian swords and that, the last of Israel would be captured and brought back to more slavery and a darker experience of Egyptian bondage than ever before. It was an impossible position. No strategy of man could get them out of that position, it seemed that all was lost.

Moses cried to God. It was the only weapon he had. It was the weapon of prayer. God said, 'Do not stop the march, Moses, I have ordered you to march, keep marching'. Moses said, 'if we march on we will go into the sea'. God said, 'I will part those waves. I will do something this day that will show Pharaoh and the world that I alone am the God of Heaven'.

That day the waves parted. That day Israel went over dryshod. The thundering chariots of the Egyptians pursued them into the depths of the sea, but God put that great fiery pillar of cloud between them so that Egypt could not come at Israel all that night.

In the morning every man of the twelve tribes of Israel was safe on the shore. Then God said, 'Stretch out thy rod, Moses, bring those waves together'. I think I see that sight. I think I behold the chariots of Egypt there going across on the bed of the Red Sea. On every side there is a wall of water solidified and they pass through that great arch of water. Then suddenly those briny walls collapse. Suddenly those heights regain their liquid nature. Mighty waves crash against the chariots of Egypt, and into that briny deep fall the hosts of Egypt.

What was to be the wiping out of Israel became the wiping out of Egypt.

"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform,
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm."

THE PRIME TEXT

As I was reading down this chapter I came to verse 10. This is the text for the Prime Minister. (if I had penned it myself I could not have penned it better.) 'Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her [6] which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God? mine eyes shall behold her now she shall be trodden down as the mire of the streets'. What a text of Scripture!

The challenge of Margaret Thatcher is the question - the interrogation of this text, 'Where is the Lord thy God?'. If there is one thing that distinguishes our nation as a nation that has known the great Reformation, it is the attitude of this nation to the Lord's Day. You can test a nation in its spirituality and obedience to God by its respect for the Day of God.

Sunday in our nation is different from the Continent, for the Continent has its Continental Sunday which is the result of the theology of Romanism, making Sunday a holiday rather than a holy day.

There has always been something different about the English and the Scottish and the Ulster Sabbath.

Mrs. Thatcher, however, has taken upon herself the task to destroy every bit of legislation that has been passed for centuries to prop up the defences of the Lord's Day. The laws making that day a day of rest, safeguarding workers and consumers alike, she has purposed to sweep completely away, 'Where is the Lord thy God?'. That is what she was saying. But I tell you, that plan marked the obituary notice for Margaret Thatcher. The end for her and of her.

ULSTER PROTESTANTISM


The Protestantism of Ulster is an embarrassment to her. The old way of thinking that the Bible is true, that men need to be changed by the power of that Holy Word, that there is a separation demanded between God's people and those that live for the devil and sin, she does not like. She thinks she will change it. So she takes Ulster and puts Ulster into a marriage bond with the Republic in order to destroy the identity of the Ulster Protestant people. She is saying to us, 'Where is the Lord thy God?' - 'I have got the Army. I have got the Police. I have got the authority. I have got the Parliament. I have got the backing of the world. I have the great American nation behind me. You defiant little remnant of people you do as I say. Where is the Lord thy God?'.

I have news for the Prime Minister. God is in Heaven. You may have no respect, Mrs. Thatcher, for praying people. You might laugh at their religion, laugh at their Bible, laugh at their God, and laugh at the Day of God, but 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at you, the Lord shall have you in derision'.

Look at the text, 'Then she that is mine enemy shall see it and shame shall cover her'. The day of glory for Margaret Thatcher is over. The day when she was hailed as a woman of strength is over. The day when she was hailed in the robes of glory has passed. The robing of this woman is going to be the robes of shame, for God will take her in hand.

ALL PHARAOHS FAIL

The mighty Pharaoh could not crush the despised Israel of God. All his plans [7] in Egypt were frustrated. All his plans at the Red Sea were overthrown. I tell you, the plans of this woman will be overthrown. You need not, my friends, be unduly worried, because God Almighty is in the situation, and God Almighty will take a hand in the matter.

Then look at it, 'She shall be trodden down as the mire of the streets'. The day will come when this woman's name will be a byword. The day will come when the only thing that will be written about her will be her treachery to the truth of God, and her treachery to this little province of Ulster.

God has a people in this province. There are more born again people in Ulster to the square mile than anywhere else in the world. This little province has had the peculiar preservation of Divine Providence. You only have to read the history of Ulster to see that time after time after time when it seemed humanly impossible to extricate Ulster from seeming disaster, that God intervened. Why? God has a purpose for this province, and this plant of Protestantism sown here in the north-eastern part of this island. The enemy has tried to root it out, but it still grows today, and I believe, like the grain of mustard seed its future is going to be mightier yet. God Who made her mighty will make her mightier yet in His Divine will.

RESPONSIBILITY

We the people of God have a solemn responsibility to remember that no political acts or political unity alone can bring us deliverance. By faithfulness in prayer, by a dedication of our lives to God, by a pouring out of our petitions at the throne of grace, that alone is the path which will bring us to the place of victory.

How wonderful to get down to the end of the chapter. When God has dealt with the enemy, wiped out the evil and condemned the unjust, we have this great verse, verse 18, 'Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity?'.

How good is our God! And if one repents of one's sin; if one turns to God in holy prayer and holy penitence, then there is pardon for that seeking soul.

I would commend the Lord Jesus Christ to every man and woman that hears my voice this night. He is a God ready to pardon. He wants to come with healing. He wants to come with an uplift. He wants to come with a blessing. He wants to come with salvation to your heart.

I have a message from God for you. It is the message of pardon and life everlasting, 'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.'

It is true, it works. The experience is real. This night you can have that experience by simply coming to the Cross and trusting in the Blessed Son of God.

I trust, God will write these words upon your heart. May every sinner in this House trust Christ, every backslider return to God, and every one of God's children dedicate their lives to the Saviour!

AMEN AND AMEN!

[8-15 MEDITATIONS FOR THE MONTH]

[16]
In the Glow of a Log Fire
by Ian R. K. Paisley

One thing I will always remember about Christmas Day, and that is that my Dad always believed in having a log fire, in burning what he used to call 'the Yuletime Log'.

At the end of Christmas Day, as we sat round the fire and watched the logs burn themselves out in the hearth, in the red glow of their departure, as they were burned to a cinder in the grate, and the shadows of the flickering flame danced round the whole room, the reminiscences began.

All the past seemed to rise like a phoenix from those glowing ashes.

DREAMING MY DREAMS

I remember, when I was working on the farm in Sixmilecross for my good and dear friend George Watson, long since called to Higher Service in the Father's House above, I used to sit and look into the heart of the peat fire that burned in the open grate. As the crickets sang, I too pondered what was then my very short past and then I dreamed my dreams and say my visions.

This past Christmas, as Boxing Day dawned, found me at the finish of a log fire that I myself had built throughout the day. As the wood changed its colour from glowing red to a duller hue, and then eventually that hue was overtaken by the white ash, I had an opportunity alone with my thoughts to cast my eye back over the winding path of my life's pilgrimage. The first thing I thought of as I looked into the glow of that dying log fire was those particular places which to me could be called by that dearest of all terms Home Sweet Home.

I was born on the 6th April, 1926, in Station Terrace, in the City of Armagh. I have no recollection whatsoever of that house. I quitted it in 1928 when I was just two years of age.

The first house that I remember as home was the Manse - the old Manse - in Mount Street, Ballymena. My father became minister of Hill Street Baptist Church in the town. Hill Street Baptist Church was one of the Churches resulting from the great 1859 Revival. The Rev. John G. McVicker was minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Cullybackey. He was converted in his own pulpit during the Revival, and subsequently left the Reformed Presbyterian body and built the Baptist Church in Hill Street, Ballymena. After that he became a member of the Brethren Assemblies, and was responsible for the erection of the Wellington Street Gospel Hall which was a smaller edition of the Baptist Meeting House. [17]

MY FIRST HOME

Hill Street and Mount Street run parallel, so the old Manse backed on the Church building. It had a very small garden to the front; and a driveway which led to the old stables in which my father used to garage his small Austin car. There were larger gardens to the rear.

That house, which was my first recollected home, has imprinted itself indelibly upon my memory. I think of it now. On entering the door to the right there was a room which we used as our living room. It had a side window which looked out on the driveway to the old stables. Then on the opposite side was the room that we used as the drawing room, it also had a side window looking out unto the other small side garden. To the rear of the house there was a room which my mother used as a pantry, and on the other side a kitchen, and then to the back of that was a large outshoot building which was used for a scullery, and the place where the meals were prepared and the family congregated.

At the turn of the stairs was the bathroom and toilet on the second storey of the outshoot building.

The stairs led on up to a spacious landing. To the left there was a room which my father used as his study. There were four other rooms which were used as bedrooms.

MY BEDROOM

I remember well my bedroom because over it there hung a picture of the founder of the Salvation Army, General William Booth. It was a picture issued by the Army in its Centenary Year. The General was old with white hair, and under the pulpit where he stood was a great crimson and gold sign bearing the words, 'Salvation to the Uttermost'. The intensity of sincerity and passion on the General's face and the words 'Salvation to the Uttermost' impressed themselves mightily upon my young mind. When I knelt to pray each evening I prayed that one day I might preach that message 'Salvation to the Uttermost'. It is for that reason that I have those words emblazoned on a sign in my Church adjacent to my pulpit, for those words sum up the message of the Gospel of grace, Salvation to the Uttermost, - where sin abounded grace did much more abound, which it has been my privilege to proclaim for over forty three years.

That picture of the General got lost in our many removals from house to house. However it remained imprinted on my mind. A couple of years ago I met the present General of the Army and I described to him the picture and told him my story.

When he returned to HQ he had his secretary search the archives and found me a copy. That copy beautifully framed was presented to me by the Officer in charge of the Army in N. Ireland. It hangs in the Minister's Room in the Martyrs Memorial Church. Precious memories! How they linger. [18]

THE FAMILY ALTAR

One of the first recollections that comes to me about that home was its family altar. I remember the family Bible. Many a time as a boy I leafed over its pages, and looked upon the insertions in the front page. There was a record of all our names; the date of my Dad and Mum's marriage and the date of our births. There also was added the date of that second birth - that spiritual birth - that birth from above. That dear old family Bible was burned to a cinder when my father's and mother's seaside cottage at Killowen, Co. Down was destroyed by arson by the republicans.

Each morning after breakfast my Dad opened that family Bible and read a portion of Holy Scripture to us. On the conclusion of the reading we all knelt in prayer, and my father, after he had finished praying got us all to repeat the Lord's Prayer. The family altar was a real anchor to all our souls and especially to us boys as we ventured out into the great world. Alas, today the family altar is largely neglected in the Christian home. As a result the families that don't pray, don't really live together, while the families that do pray not only stay together physically but are welded together morally and spiritually. If there is one thing which is needed in our land it is a return to the family altar. There the father becomes the prophet to his family bringing them the Word of God, the priest to his family in leading them in intercession and supplication, and the king to his family directing them by the Word into those laws and commandments, in the keeping of which there is great reward.

It is a great thing when the saint, the husband and the father leads his family daily in prayer, and the Word of God is the first Word instilled in the heart in the morning hour.

MY FATHER'S STUDY

Another recollection that I have of that home is my father's study. There was something fascinating to me about those bookshelves that ran right up to the ceiling, and all fully lined with all sizes and shapes of books. Some were very thin and some were very thick, some very large and some very small, some very old with tattered backs, and some very new with their dust covers still upon them.

As a very young boy I used to sit for hours and pull out those books and leaf over the pages. They held a strange fascination for me. I must confess I became a book-lover even before I could read and then when I was able to read I loved what I found encased in the covers of those books.

Some books I remember because of their illustrations. My Dad one day took down some volumes, both very largely illustrated: one, 'Foxe's Book of Martyrs', and the other, 'Wylie's History of Protestantism' (three volumes). He said to me, 'You will not be able to read these yet my son, but you can look at the pictures'. I sat for many hours and many days and leafed over the pages of those volumes. I discovered there the gallery of the heroes of [19] Christianity - the continuation of that history which was commenced by the apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. And the time would fail me to tell of the Confessors, the Reformers, the Covenanters and the Martyrs who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

A NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN LESSON

From those illustrations I learned that there was a system on earth calling itself the one and only true Church which actually persecuted, tormented and slaughtered those who believed the Bible, the true and faithful saints of God. As a result there was instilled into my heart an abhorrence of a system which was responsible for the slaughtering of the people of God, and the persecution of the saints of the Most High. Through those volumes, pursued as a boy, I had my first and lasting lessons on the antichristianity of the Church of Rome and its persecuting hatred of all who accepted the great maxim - 'the Bible, the Bible only, the religion of Protestants'.

Yes, in the glow of the log fire at the end of another Christmas I was reminded of the two great lessons of my very earliest years, one, the sweetness, wholesomeness and blessing of the family reading of God's Precious Word and the offering up in the family of prayers to the only true God, and, two, the hatred of the Church of Rome for the purity of such religion and devotion, and its continual and persistent attempts to destroy the true faith by a system of antichristianity.

Those two basic principles learned so early in my life have been principles upon which I have sought to build my life and ministry. Those were foundations well and truly laid, and from which I cannot and will not turn. 'For if the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do', and 'no other foundation can any man lay than that which Is laid, which is Jesus Christ'.

[20]
The Sunday School Teacher's Teacher

Subject: The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Lesson XLV - The Feeding of The Five Thousand
Lord's Day 5th January: 'He hath filled the hungry with good things.'

Read - Mark vi. 30-44; (comp. Matt. xiv. 13-21; Luke ix. 10- 17; John vi. 1- 13);
Learn - Ps. xxxiv. 9, 10; John vi. 27, 35.

SKETCH OF LESSON

Two companies of men come to Jesus at Capernaum:- (a) John's disciples - where from? why? (see last Lesson); (b) The Twelve where from? see ver. 7-13, 30; - have been journeying round Galilee, two and two, in their new office of preaching, with their new power of working miracles in their Master's name. No doubt excited by success (comp. Luke x. 17), perhaps a little vain - what do they need? To be quiet for a while, and to learn their own weakness. Can they get quiet at Capernaum? ver. 31. So two reasons for Jesus going away: this, and His sorrow for John's death (see last Lesson).

Down to the shore, into the boat - the old way of retiring (see Lessons XXXVIII, XLII). Across the Lake - not to the Gergesenes again - to a lonely place where may be undisturbed - up to the hills there (John vi. 3).

But - scarcely arrived, before crowds of people surrounding them! Whence? ver. 33 - some have run six miles, from Capernaum, round head of Lake - across Jordan; multitudes joining them as they went. How does Jesus receive them? ver. 34 (comp. Lesson XXXVIII) - He cannot turn away from them (see Rom. xv. 3) - spends the long day teaching and healing then will give them a wonderful proof of His love and power, and at the same time teach the Apostles not to be vain or self-confident. See how.

I. THE MIRACLE

It is getting late - people still hanging on Jesus' words - never thinking of the time. (Which of us like that in church or school?) At length Jesus stops - here are Andrew and Philip in the crowd - what inquiring for? ver. 38, John vi. 5-9. The people now thinking what to do - tired and hungry too far for some to go home - must find 'lodging', etc., where they can (see Luke ix. 12). But now all the disciples moving about among them - what saying? Fancy the looks and words of wonder as they sit down - what can it all mean?

Here they sit, on the grassy slopes, the orderly ranks and groups looking like beds of flowers. There is Jesus, in sight of all what doing? - like 'saying grace'. But the provisions - where? - not even one basket-full. Now see the disciples - from man to man, from rank to rank - bread and fish in abundance - round again - and [21] again - surely in awestruck silence till all 'filled'! More than that - the ground strewn with fragments, making up far more than there was at first!

II. WHAT THE MIRACLE TAUGHT THE PEOPLE ABOUT BODILY FOOD

1. What had they come out there for? Not as afterwards (John vi. 26), to get fed - no idea of such a thing; no - but to be taught. If they had thought most of what they would need by-and-bye, would they have come so far, and stayed so long, unprovided? But, had been so eager for Jesus' words that they could think of nothing else (comp. Job xxiii. 12). Would Jesus let them suffer through this eagerness? What had He said in His great sermon? Matt. vi. 25, 33. By the Miracle, He has taught them how true those words were.

2. But how did Jesus supply their wants? Worked a great miracle, certainly; yet used human means. What is that? Think - He could have turned all that green grass into bread, for them to gather and eat as they sat. But what did He do? (a) Used what food was to be had; (b) made the disciples work hard in distributing: (c) allowed no waste (John vi. 12). What taught by this? That, though God would not forget them, though they not to think too much of bodily wants, yet not to expect miracles always, but to be content with getting supplied in common ways.

3. Yet, were these 'human means', these 'common ways' enough? Could the disciples and the 'little lad' have fed them? His blessing indispensable. And so always: therefore they must look to Him as the Giver of all good things, even of those which seem to come from own or others' labour.

These three lessons for us, too (recapitulate). (a) If 'seek first' to do God's will, 'all these things added to us.' (Illust. - e.g., giving up Sunday trading; preferring church and school to a 'place' with Sunday work.) (b) Shall be helped without miracles, in 'common ways'; so must not neglect these (see 2 Thess. iii. 10-12) - and not waste what we have - 'gather up fragments,' Of money, time, etc. (c) But 'see God's hand' in all the earthly blessings we get; so pray, 'Give us day by day our daily bread.'

III. WHAT THE MIRACLE TAUGHT THE DISCIPLES ABOUT SPIRITUAL FOOD

1. They had been giving spiritual food to the people of Galilee - how? ver. 12, 30. With what feelings had they come back? (above). Now what does Jesus do? He will show them how little reason they have for boasting - how? Ver. 37 - 'Give ye them to eat'; John vi. 5, 6 - why did He say that to Philip? How perplexed they are! - suppose they spend all their money, not near enough. Yet presently - all that vast crowd 'filled'? Can they not see how helpless they are without Him? - the spiritual food (the teaching, etc.) which they give as apostles, not their own - can satisfy no 'hungry soul' themselves - only give what Jesus gives them.

2. Yet had they nothing to do themselves - only give what Jesus gives them. Yet had they nothing to do themselves? Had they not to search for provisions (ver. 38), to bring what they found to Jesus (Matt. xiv. 18), to distribute it when blessed? So in giving spiritual food: not to think, because all from Jesus, they to do nothing - not to be downcast, or idle much would depend on their being earnest and diligent.

So with us teachers. We bring you children spiritual food, as you sit in ranks and groups (like the people on the grass). We must work hard - yet what we give you is not our own - all from Christ. But -

WHAT IS THIS SPIRITUAL FOOD?

Jesus tells us John vi. 35, 48, 51 - 'I am the Bread of Life'. How is this?

What does bread (and other food) do for our bodies? Sustains - keeps life going so called 'the staff of life'. Strengthens not only just keeps alive - makes healthy and strong. Satisfies - how does a hungry man feel after a meal?

So Christ does for our souls. Sustains life without Him, Eph. ii. 5 (comp. John i. 4, vi. 53, xiv. 6). Strengthens, Phil. iv. 13, 2 Cor. xii. 9. Satisfies, Ps. Ixiii. 5, 6, lxxiii. 25 (comp. Ps. cvii. 9, Ise. lv. 2). (illust. - If go to work without breakfast, will be weak and faint; so, if meet little daily temptations (give instances), no strength to overcome them unless had spiritual breakfast, i.e., read and thought about Christ, prayed to Him, etc.)

Are our souls hungry? Happy if they are - why? Matt. v. 6. It was when the Prodigal felt hungry that he came back to his father, Luke xv. 14-17. All invited to the feast, Is. lv. 1. "O taste and see that the Lord is good' (Ps. xxxiv. 8). [22]

Lesson XLVI - Walking on the Sea
Lord's Day 12th January: 'Without Me ye can do nothing.'

Read - Matt. xiv. 22-33; (comp. Mark vi. 45-52; John vi. 14-21),
Learn - Ps. xxxvii. 23, 24; Ise. xiiii. 2; 1 Cor. x. 12.

SKETCH OF LESSON

What must those 5,000 have felt as they rose up after their ample meal? They have seen Jesus heal sick people - He has done so today (ver. 14) - But now every man feels that a miracle has been done for himself - he was hungry, he is satisfied it comes home to each one. Think of the wondering looks, excited talk, amazement, as the Apostles bring together the 'Twelve baskets full" of remains of what did not exist three hours ago! They remember how the hungry Israelites in the wilderness were fed with 'bread from heaven' (see John vi, 31) - 'and did not Moses (Deut. xviii. 15) speak of a Prophet whom God would send like unto him? - surely this is that Prophet! See John vi. 14, 15. All the morning He had talked to them of the coming 'kingdom' (Luke ix. 11) - 'He shall be our king', they cry - 'To Jerusalem! Proclaim Him king at the great feast (John vi. 4) - away with the murderer of John, and with the hated Pilate!'

But the Apostles would know better, surely, and calm the people? No, it seems not; ver. 22 - Jesus has to send them away (and then they will hardly go - He has to 'constrain' them), before He can disperse the people. They are more excited than ever - have been able to work miracles (last Lesson) - today have been distributing bread never grown, reaped, threshed, ground or baked - and now at last the people will receive their King surely the great time of glory is at hand!

That distribution should have taught them something (last Lesson); but now Jesus will give them a more solemn lesson, of their weakness and of His glory - His real glory, not the false glory they would thrust on Him. That same night He did so; see how.

I. HOW CHRIST LOOKS UPON HIS SERVANTS (Read ver. 22-25)

It is getting dark. With heavy and perplexed hearts Peter and his comrades go on board their boat. For a while they linger near the shore, in hopes of Jesus coming down to them (John vi. 17); but the wind and sea are rising - if they are to get across they must start at once - and they cannot disobey His express orders.

Look again at them some hours after - the night almost gone - and they still in middle of Lake, tossed about with winds and waves - striving in vain to reach the shore. How well they must remember that other night when they were nearly lost! (Lesson XLII). Ah, but then Jesus was with them - and what did He do for them? but now (they think) He is out of the reach of their cries. What, then, makes them dejected? - the furious wind, roaring sea, long weary night? - Something more than all this - their Master's absence. They feel now how much they want Him, how badly they get on without Him.

But Jesus will shew them that He can be near them without their seeing Him - can watch over and care for them when they know it not. Where was He all this time! ver. 23. Just think - He came over there for rest - and what has He been doing, in the morning (Luke ix. 11), afternoon (ver. 19), evening (ver. 22)? and now, all that dark stormy night, out on those bleak hills, praying! But has He forgotten His chosen Twelve? See Mark vi. 48 - 'saw them toiling in rowing'. How could He see, through the black darkness, down on to the far distant waters? see Ps. cxxxix. 12 (comp. Exod. iii. 7; 2 Chron. xvi. 9; Ps. xxxiii. 18, xxxiv. 15, lvi. 8).

Jesus looking with what loving pity - with what gracious readiness to help! 'Saw them toiling' - every weary pull at the oar, every anxious glance at the waves, every downcast thought in the heart, seen and marked by Him. But He will not help too soon - they have a lesson to learn (above).

And now another wonder. His eyes what had they done? His feet - what do they now do? Is not that God-like? see Job [23] ix. 8; Ps. lxxvii. 19. Here is His true glory: how can He care for an earthly crown? His royal power to be used, not to give honour to the Jews, but to watch over and care for His own people.

II. HOW CHRIST'S SERVANTS SHOULD LOOK UNTO HIM (Read ver. 26-33)

Now look at the boat again. All terrified not at the storm - at what? Would they have been frightened if they had expected to see Jesus? But that He should see them then, come to them so! - no idea of that. They can't trust their eyes; but their ears whose voice is that? 'It is I!' - yes, their Master, who has so often used their boat, now shewing them He can do without it.

In a moment Peter's courage has come back - 'Yes, it is true: He is all, more than all, that we thought He was.' Peter has healed the sick and cast out devils, like Jesus - a few hours ago he was helping in that wondrous distribution of bread and fish - surely (he thinks) we can do all that He does - can tread the waters too. See him venturing - yes, he is walking on the sea - suddenly a cry - he is sinking - the swimmer's skill (John xxi. 7) no use - then a mighty hand stretched out, and he and Jesus are in the boat. Then two more wonders, ver. 32, John vi. 21.

Now ask two questions: -

1. Why did Peter sink? see ver. 30 afraid'; and why afraid? - 'when he saw the wind boisterous'. Then he was looking - at what? Was not the storm as great just now, when he leaped from the boat? - but he saw it not then - never thought of it then - his eye fixed on Jesus then therefore could walk on the sea. 'Looking unto Jesus' - that the only way to be strong and brave.

2. What was it that he needed? See what Jesus says to him, ver. 31. 'Little faith!' was it not great faith to venture on the water? - no, he was thinking partly of himself, how he was going to do a mighty thing - there was a little faith, but vanity too - he would do more than the others (comp. Mark xiv. 29, 30). Then, when he was sinking, wanted the hand of Jesus to save him - but could not Jesus have saved him at a distance? - should have believed that. He wanted more faith.


THUS WE SEE THE SECRET OF STRENGTH

1. Jesus is looking at us. Is that a pleasant thought? Not for his enemies: see what a Divine look may do to them, Exod. xiv. 24. But see how it can strengthen His people, Judg. vi. 14. The thing is to remember that He is looking. The disciples thought He was far away; so He seems to us. We cannot see Him, but He is there (illust. - sun, hidden by clouds, is still there). He is at God's right hand, but what is He doing there? Rom. viii. 34; and He can see all the way to earth, and be with us just when we want help. It may see very dark, but -

'It is not night if Thou be near.'

2. We must 'look unto Jesus' (Heb. xii. 2). When in trouble, danger, anxiety, must look out for Him - He may come when we don't expect - in a way we never think of. And at every step we take - difficult steps, doubtful steps, dangerous steps - trying to be like Jesus, to act like Him, to imitate Him, in the midst of difficulty and danger what to do? To keep our eyes on Him - the eyes of our mind - our thoughts; then shall find how true is the promise of Isa. xiiii. 2. If begin to sink, cry, "Lord, save me!" (comp. Ps. lxix. 1, 2); then shall say with the Psalmist (xciv. 18), 'When I said, my foot slippeth, Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up!'

Lesson XLVII - Disappointment and Desertion
Lord's Day 19th January: 'Will ye also go away?'

Read
- Parts of John vi;
Learn - John vi. 66-68; Heb. III. 12-14

SKETCH OF LESSON

What became of the 5,000 men miraculously fed? Most of them, who had not very far to go, no doubt went home when Jesus dismissed them; but those from Capernaum? - stayed there all night - in morning thought would get hold of Jesus again - [24] perhaps He would give them breakfast as well as supper. But (ver. 22-25) can't find Him - is He gone back? - how could He? By-and-bye they recross the Lake to Capernaum - there He is!

Now, why did they follow Him so eagerly? - wanted Him to be their king (ver. 15)? but why wanted that? Was it because they 'saw the miracles', so learned His love and power, and wanted to be forgiven and made holy? or because they 'did eat of the loaves,' and thought if He were king He would feed them all for nothing? See what Jesus says to them when they find Him, ver. 26. All through this long chapter He shows them their mistake.

A very difficult discourse, but try to understand a few things in it, and see two results of it - people disappointed, disciples offended.

I. THE PEOPLE DISAPPOINTED WITH CHRIST

Last evening they were disappointed - at what? ver. 15. Now still more so at what He tells them. What does He tell them?

(a) What they ought to be eager for, ver. 27. 'You are eager to get food, and anything else of the kind that I could give you (riches and honour from earthly king, etc.); but suppose you get it, what then? It won't last ('perisheth'), the best bread can only satisfy for a few hours - more and more wanted - and what good to you when you die? Why not be as eager for that which will feed the soul - (sustain, strengthen, satisfy it) (Lesson XLV) - and not decay, but last for ever?'

(b) How they could get this heavenly food, ver. 27-29. It should be given them, if - if what? They asked, like the young ruler (Mark x, 17) and the jailor (Acts xvi. 30), 'What shall we do?' See the answer, ver. 29 - 'Believe in Him.' Well, did they not believe? had they not wanted to make Him king? - ah, but that showed unbelief, after all He had told them about the 'kingdom' (Lesson XXV, etc.).

(c) What this heavenly food was, ver. 30-35. They thought of the manna their fathers had in the wilderness - how could this Jesus give them anything better than that? But the manna, though God's special gift, not 'heavenly food' - why? did it 'endure to everlasting life'? did it feed soul or body? see ver. 49, 50. What then? Himself - the 'Bread of Life'. Why is He like bread? Sustaining, strengthening, satisfying (see Lesson XLV). Why called 'Bread of Life'? Earthly bread is the 'staff of life', but only of the body's life. Jesus gives the soul life, and that life everlasting.

(d) What He would do for those who came to Him to get the 'Bread of Life'. lst. Not one should be refused, ver. 37. 2nd. They should never hunger or thirst, i.e., should have all their souls could want, and enough of it, ver. 35. 3rd. They should have everlasting life, ver. 40. 4th. And though this life for the soul, not for the soul only the body too to be 'raised at the last day' flesh and bones might decay and be broken up, but nothing to be lost, ver. 39, 40. (Comp. Communion Service - 'preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life').

Is it hard to understand all this? No doubt; but all can see that Jesus promises great and wondrous blessings - hard to be understood just because so great and wondrous (comp. 1 Cor. ii. 9). Could a little ragged boy understand a description of the Queen's palace? Yet, if told that all that might be his own, would he not be eager for it? Were the people of Capernaum eager for what Jesus offered them?

They were disappointed! Why? lst. Because they cared more for earthly food, money, anything to give them pleasure now. 2nd. Because, though ready to call Jesus 'prophet', and make Him 'king', they remembered His family and home, and could not believe that He, the Nazarene carpenter, could have 'come down from heaven', ver. 41, 42.

What was it they needed to make them different? The grace of God, as Jesus told them, ver. 44, 45 - and that they would not have (see John v. 40; Matt. xxiii, 37; Acts vii. 51).

I. CHRIST DESERTED BY SOME OF THE DISCIPLES

Deserted by His own friends! - how sad! We know how, just before His death, the Apostles forsook Him (Mark xiv. 50); but then they came back afterwards. Now, we see some forsaking Him altogether.

1. The 'Hard Saying'.

Jesus is now in the synagogue (ver. 59). The people's murmurings have increased and spread, and the chief men have come together again to hear these strange things about the 'bread from heaven'. Jesus has to defend Himself before them, as He had done a year before at Jerusalem (John v.). Does He speak more cautiously now? First, He repeats what He said before, ver. 43-51. Then He tells something new, something more startling than all, ver. 51-58. [25]

'Eat the flesh of Christ' - 'drink His blood' ' Truly a 'hard saying' to understand. Like a deep well - we can't see to the bottom of it. Yet see two things: -

(a) It showed that His flesh and His blood were to be separated; and how could they be separated but by His death? So when He speaks of giving everlasting life, etc., it is by His death. Of this the Jews then knew nothing; but we know. What had His death to do with our everlasting life? see 1 Pet. 1 1. 24; Gal. iii. 13; Eph. i. 7.

(b) 'Eaten' - 'drunk'. When we eat and drink, what we take becomes part of us, goes to make our flesh, etc. So the words show that Christ is to become one with us (ver. 56); and that our souls can no more live without Him, than our bodies can without food (ver. 53).

Does all this seem very mysterious? Well, it is very mysterious how food makes our bodies grow; yet, if we take food, we know it is so. So, come to Christ - then will know what it is to 'feed on Him in thine heart by faith with thanksgiving'.

2. The result of the 'Hard Saying'.

See ver. 60, 61. Who are these 'disciples'? Not the Twelve. Not the people generally. Those who looked on Jesus as a great prophet, as, perhaps, Messiah - admired Him - liked to hear Him - followed Him about (see ver. 66, 'walked'). No doubt some of them among those who wanted to make Him king - hoped that by-and-bye He might claim the throne, and so turn out to be really Messiah. But now they are shocked. True, He offers them wondrous blessings (above), but how? - by their 'eating His flesh', 'drinking His blood' what can He mean?' Whatever He means, it is not what they care about - why should they trouble any more about Him? - clearly He will never be the leader they want. See the offended looks - hear the discontented words - look! ver. 66 - 'went back walked no more with Him'.

What must Jesus have felt? comp. Luke xix. 41., 42. See how He turns to the Twelve, ver. 67 - hear His sad inquiry (not reproachful, He did not doubt them), 'Ye will not go away too?'

And what of the Twelve? are they wavering too? It must be a severe trial to them - their own friends, no doubt, perhaps some they have brought to Jesus, turning away; 'and that is a strange saying of His - are not our friends right? Had we not better go back to our fishing?' Perhaps Satan thus tempts them; but what is it they desire? Not only earthly gifts, but 'eternal life' - strange as His words are, they feel sure no one else can give them that - and what is their reply to Jesus? ver. 68, 69 (more of this another day).

ARE WE TEMPTED TO 'ALSO GO AWAY' FROM CHRIST?

There are some who are disappointed with Christ - but why? They thought of what they would get if they became 'religious' credit, good reputation, prosperity in earthly things. Is this what He promises? see John xv. 18-21, xvi. 33 (see Lessons XXXIX, XLII). What does He promise? (above). Do we care for that? If so, shall we be disappointed? Rather exclaim, with the Queen of Sheba, 'The half was not told me!' (1 Kings x. 7) - see 1 Cor. ii. 9; Ps. xxxi. 19.

There are some who desert Christ because of His 'hard sayings' - want to understand everything, and, when cannot, are offended. But which is the way to understand? see John vii. 17; Hos. vi. 3; Ps. xxv. 14.

The. Lord Jesus looks down: He sees us wavering, drawn this way and that. He says, 'Will ye also go away? Go away from such a Friend? Lose 'eternal life'?

'O Thou who on the cross
Didst for my sin atone!
Preserve me by Thy mighty power,
And keep me for Thine own.
'


Lesson XLVIII - In Phoonicia
Lord's Day 26th January: 'The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.'

Read - Matt. xv. 21-28; (comp. Mark vii. 24-30);
Learn - Rom. x. 12; Heb. xi. 6.

SKETCH OF LESSON

When God promised Abraham that 'his seed' (i.e. Christ) should be a great blessing, what people did He say should have the blessing? Gen. xxii. 18 - 'all nations'. And [26] when John saw the redeemed in glory, whence had they come? Rev. vii. 9 - 'all nations', etc. But when all the world had forsaken God, He chose one nation to be His own specially - that He might train them to know and obey Him, and give them His messages to men to write down and keep safe - that from them the Saviour might come. When the Saviour did come, who, then, would be told of Him first? Acts xiii. 46. But not they only. When He had gone back to heaven, then 'all nations', Luke xxiv. 47.

Yet one or two Gentiles came to Jesus while He was on earth (illust. - like first drops of coming shower), Matt. ii. 2, viii. 5; John xii. 20, 21; (see Lessons Vil, XXVIII). See one today. See contrast between unbelieving Jews and believing Gentile.

I. CHRIST WITHDRAWING FROM THE UNBELIEVING JEWS

For more than a year Jesus has been in Galilee. What doing? (Lesson XXIV). How many hundreds have been healed, or had their sick relatives healed - how many thousands have heard His gracious teachings! Yet what result! Open hatred and opposition of some; careless half-heartedness of others. (Lesson XXXIX). True, the multitude, when miraculously fed, ready to make Him King, yet when He offered them spiritual food, what did even some of His own followers do? (Last Lesson - recapitulate.)

And now another attack upon Him. They have been up to the Passover (see John vi. 4), and come back with more of the malicious scribes from Jerusalem (see Lesson XXXVII). Never tired of finding fault with Him - now a new accusation, ver. 1, 2; comp. Mark vii. 1-5. See what He calls them, ver. 7; how He openly warns the people against them, ver. 10, 11; how this scandalises (lit. meaning) them, ver. 12. No doubt the rest of the people, already wavering in their feelings, now still more turned against Him.

What does Jesus do? ver. 21 - He leaves them. Just as He left Jerusalem when persecuted - just as He retired for a while when attacked at Capernaum (Lesson XXXVIII) - so now He quits Galilee - goes to the country where Elijah found refuge (1 Kings xvii. 9). What to do? Not to preach, but to be in retirement, see Mark vii. 24 (comp. vii. 36, viii. 26, ix. 30). Why? (a) His 'hour' not yet come to suffer; (b) the rest He had not yet found (Lesson XLV), He may now get by going further away; (c) He may so get time to instruct His faithful ones.

His faithful ones - there are some - who? see John vi. 66-69. They are sure He is Messiah, is the Son of God - particularly after what they saw on the Lake that night (observe Matt. xiv. 33) - so, when their friends turn from Him, they remain steadfast (last Lesson). With these Jesus goes away.

Very likely the apostles are sadly dejected at such an end to the year's labours. But they shall have several encouragements see one today.

II. CHRIST SOUGHT BY THE BELIEVING GENTILE

It is a heathen country in which Jesus now is. He has not been here before, but the people have heard of Him - some have been into Galilee to see Him (Mark iii. 8).

Here are a mother and daughter. How pleasant, when a daughter is a help and comfort to her mother! - why cannot this one be so? Suddenly, a rumour that the wonderful Nazarene, who casts out devils with a word, is here! Shall the mother go to Him about her child? 'But He is a Jew will He not regard her as a dog, turn from her in disdain? is she not one of the accursed race of Canaan? were not her forefathers Israel's worst tempters and enemies of old?' (1 Kings xvi. 31; Ezek. xxvi. 2). Yet she will risk contempt and denial, and go. Now see three things about her: -

(a) Her faith. She sees Jesus walking with the Twelve. How does she address Him? ver. 22 - "Son of David" - then she knows of the expected Messiah - believes this is He. Did the Jews believe that? And, like the leper (Matt. viii. 2), she has no doubt about His power - only pleads for mercy'.

(b) Her perseverance. What answer does she get? ver. 23. Yet she 'cries after' Him. The disciples are alarmed - if she goes on crying out, they will be noticed - if she follows to the house, it will be known where they are (see Mark vii. 24) - she must be got rid of, whether answered or not. But Jesus is going to give them an encouragement in their dejection (above) by shewing them that there is such a thing as faith in Him, though so little of it at Capernaum therefore, will test her faith (like gold in the fire, see 1 Pet. i. 7). What He says (ver. 24) is true, but He will prove to them that this poor Gentile is one of the true children of Abraham (see Rom. iv. 11; Gal. iii. 8, 9). Now see her perseverance. They have gone into the house, but will she be left out? See, she has burst in, and is at Jesus' feet - [27] hear her urgent cry, ver. 25 - surely the tender Saviour must yield now - no, He gives her the hated name of 'dog' - 'how can He give her what belongs to the chosen people?'

(c) Her humility. Yes, let her be a 'dog' she does not mind that - but then how can He refuse her? - do not dogs eat the crumbs? she wants nothing of the children's only let her have the dogs' portion.

Once we saw Jesus 'marvelling' at 'great faith' (Lesson XXVIII) - and that, too, was in a Gentile; so here again. See its reward: she is 'sent away' (Mark vii. 29) - but how? How true is our first text for repetition!

Thus we see: -

1. The Result of Unbelief - Blessings removed. The Galilleans had Jesus with them a long while - did not believe some who did turned away - then what did they lose? How many blessings we have; not only earthly, but heavenly too - Bibles, churches, schools, teachers - above all, a mighty Saviour and Friend 'waiting to be gracious'. Are we careless of all this? Then may lose opportunities even here; and if death comes -? What if one day a 'great gulf' (Luke xvi. 26) between us and Christ? It may be so with some who (like the Jews) think 'all well with them, at all events'.

2. The Result of Faith - Blessings bestowed. See what kind of faith the Phoenician mother's was: -

(a) Rightly directed. She trusted in Jesus, in God's Messiah - in His power - in His willingness to help. So let us. Many trust in something else - they want to be happy trust in their idea that God 'could not be so hard as to condemn them'; want to be sure of heaven - trust in their 'not being worse than other people', or in their church-going, etc. But remember,

'None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good,'


and 'helpless sinners' we all are, whether we feel it or not.

(b) Persevering. Have you prayed, and not been answered! Some have. Perhaps Jas. iv. 3 gives the reason; but perhaps Christ is waiting for you to go on asking. Who would grant you a favour, if you asked it, and then ran away and forgot it? If you really wanted Christ's blessings, you would go on asking even if not sure how He would receive you. But are we not sure? What is His own promise? John vi. 37; and see Ps. xxvii. 14, xi. 1; isa. xxx. 18; Lam. iii. 26; Luke xviii. 1-8. Go to Him, believing that He is 'the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.'

Striking the Right Balance (Contd. from p. 2)

in it. It was to buy him land; it was the reward of long years of labour and weary exile. What he had endured for it! The sweat of his brow, the hopes of day and the dreams of night, were there. If he parts with it, he is a beggar; but if he keeps it he dies. He poised it in his grasp. Balancing it for a while, his fate trembling in the balance, with one strong desperate effort he flings it into the sea. It sinks with a sullen plunge; and now he follows it not to sink, but, disencumbered of its weight, to swim, to beat the billows manfully, and, riding on the foaming surge, to reach the shore. Well done! Ay, well done, well chosen; but if a man, as the devil said, who for once spoke God's truth, will give all that he hath for his life, how much more should he give all he hath for his soul. Better to part with gold than with God; to bear a heavy cross than miss a heavenly crown."

The other day I picked up an old volume of a magazine called "The Family Treasury" 1861. 1 read the above from the pen of Dr. Thomas Guthrie. It is most appropriate for our entering the New Year.


[28]
"LIVING ROOM"
A page for women, presented by Eileen Paisley
The Woman of Canaan: "O woman great is thy faith" Matt. 15:28

It is told in the life of a great criminal, who, though often apprehended and tried, was never convicted, that he made a rule of never answering any question, nor admitting anything, and thereby, as many do, committing himself. Thus while others, less cautious, paid the penalty of the law, he escaped the gallows, and died in his bed. One would think that men expect that by not admitting their guilt they shall be able to elude also the justice of God. They don't admit that they are sinners, or if sinners, they don't admit that they are great sinners. On the contrary, like the pharisee of old, they thank God that they are not as others are - not they! Guilt meets no pity at their hands; to save it, they would not touch it. Stand aside, they say, I am holier than thou.

WHITEFIELD

"It is monstrous to be told," - wrote a lady of this school to the Countess of Huntingdon, when finding fault with George Whitefield's style of preaching, - "It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth; and I cannot but wonder that your ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding; their doctrines are most repulsive, and strongly tinctured with disrespect toward their superiors, in perpetually endeavouring to level all ranks, and do away with all distinctions." What darkness! miserable, fatal ignorance! Who would not have their soul bound up in the same bundle with the poorest Magdalene, that stands trembling, weeping, timidly knocking at the gate of heaven, rather than with this haughty dame who, pushing the poor penitent aside, ruffles up to it as if obsequious porters would throw it open at her appearance. How different the spirit of the Canaanite! As Mary, by the tears she shed on Jesus' feet, this woman in that word "truth", puts in a plea of guilty, unclean, unworthy. Catching at the word and figure which our Lord uses, and casting herself on his generosity, she says, "Yet surely you will treat me as kindly as a man treats his dog." Blessed humility! happy thought! touching, eloquent, irresistible appeal! [29]

THE PLEA

The plea is as good as ever. We have, and we need no other. Does God say, You have been a sinner! We reply, Truth, Lord. You have been a great sinner! - Truth, Lord. There is no commandment of mine you have not broken, no mercy of mine you have not abused! - Truth, Lord. You have crucified my Son - Truth, Lord. You have grieved my Spirit! - Truth, Lord. You deserve to be cast into hell! - Truth, Lord. Into the deepest, hottest hell! Truth, Lord, that is all true; but, God of mercy! so is this, that thou never saidst to any of the sons of men, Seek ye my face in vain - that thou art not willing that any should perish - that thou hast no pleasure in the death of the wicked - that thou didst sent thy Son to seek and to save the lost - that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin - that the woman was successful, and why should not we? We will hope in thy mercy, for it is said, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy."

BETTER THAN EVER

The woman's plea good as ever? It is better than ever. We can go with more freeness and boldness to the throne of grace. That harsh, reproachful word, "dog", is blotted from the Bible. Ever since Jesus died, all differences between Jew and Gentile abolished, his lips have never uttered it. Sent to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel, with Jews for the objects of his mercy, and the Holy Land for the orbit of his mission, in the kindness shown to this miserable mother, our Lord, in a sense, exceeded his commission; and to save this poor, struggling, sinking creature, he overleaped the barriers of ancient covenants. He took time by the forelock, and anticipated the hour when there should be neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free. How great her happiness had been if, in reply to disciples, saying, "Send her away," he had answered, "No, I will not send her away; why should I send her away? it is to her, and to such as her, that I am sent." At such words how had the blood rushed to her pallid cheek; how had her heart beat loud with joy, and throwing herself at Jesus' feet, as she clasped and kissed them, confident of getting all she asked, how had she mingled praises with prayers? What in that case had been her position is now ours. Weak faith has no longer to pursue a departing Saviour. Distress has not to address itself in piteous accents to an ear that seems deaf. Jesus is not now passing by silent, reserved, and wrapt in thought of other objects than us. He looks on us, he pities us, he loves us, - with open arms he invites us to his bosom. Throned high on the mercy-seat, he stretches out the golden sceptre, saying to every suppliant, What is thy request, and what is thy petition, and it shall be granted thee? "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."

Selected from the writings of Dr. Thomas Guthrie.

INSIDE INSIGHT
. . . a page of inspirational poetry presented each month by Rhonda Paisley.

THE LAST LULLABY

An infant on its mother's arm
Reposed and smiled, secure from harm;
Softly as evening shadows fly,
The mother sang this lullaby,
"Sleep, baby sleep -
Thy rest shall angels keep."

Another eve the sun went down,
While tears bedewed the lashes brown;
And then in mournful tones again,
Was heard that tender refrain,
"Sleep, baby sleep -
Thy rest shall angels keep."

Morn came, - a darker shadow fell;
The soft eyes slumbered in its spell;
Scarce could the trembling lips prolong
The cadence of that plaintive song, -
"Sleep, baby, sleep -
Thy rest shall angels keep."

A starless night, a sunless day,
A jewel borne from earth away;
A loving heart by anguish riven,
Yet sand she 'neath the light of heaven,
"Sleep, baby, sleep -
Thy rest shall angels keep."

[31]
Ordinations

REV. STEPHEN HAMILTON

Mount Merrion Free Presbyterian Church in Belfast reached another landmark in its history on Wednesday, 20th November, when the Rev. Stephen Hamilton, was ordained and installed as minister of the congregation.

In order to accommodate the expected large crowd which was in excess of 500, it was decided to hold the service in Martyrs Memorial. Rev. Stanley Barnes, senior minister, conducted the service and Rev. Ron Johnstone from Clogher Valley preached the ordination sermon. The charges to the newly ordained minister were given by the Moderator, Dr. Paisley.

Mr. Hamilton, who is a Belfast man and former member of Martyrs Memorial has been serving in Mount Merrion for the past two years as student minister.

After the meeting was over, supper was served to all present by the ladies of the Mount Merrion congregation.

REV. DAVID FLETCHER

Rev. David Fletcher was ordained and installed as minister of Castlederg Free Presbyterian Church on Thursday, 21st November.

The service which was held in the nearly completed new building at Bridgetown was presided over by Rev. Harry Cairns, senior minister, and was attended by over 400 people.

Mr. Fletcher, who is a native of Bangor, has been serving as student minister in Castlederg for the past two years.

Rev. Stephen Hamilton from Mount Merrion, in Belfast, preached the ordination sermon and the Moderator, Dr. Paisley gave the charge to the newly ordained minister and to the congregation.

Supper was served by the ladies of Castlederg at the end of the service.

REV. IAN HARRIS

On Tuesday 26th November 1985 a packed congregation gathered in Carrickfergus Town Hall to witness the ordination and installation of Mr. Ian Harris as the new Minister of Carrickfergus Free Presbyterian Church. Rev. David McIlveen presided and the Ordination Sermon was preached by Rev. David Fletcher from Castlederg. The prescribed questions were put to the new Minister by Rev. Fred Greenfield of Banbridge, Mr. Harris' home Church. The Moderator of Presbytery, Dr. Paisley brought the charge to the Minister and Congregation from Colossians 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 16: 10. Alderman David Neill, Church Secretary, welcomed Rev. Harris to the Carrick congregation and after Mr. Harris had spoken, Rev. Ron Johnstone, the former Student Minister in Carrickfergus, closed the service in prayer. Supper was then served by the ladies of the congregation.