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The Home Preacher
Or Church in the House - Week 48



By William Lindsay Alexander, D.D.
Memorial to William Lindsay Alexander (1885) (pdf)
Bishop of Derry

Editors Note: The name at the end of the sermon is typed: William Alexander, D.D. and that does match up with "Bishop of Derry" as written in the index. But the engraved portrait is of Revd. W. Lindsay Alexander D.D., Professor of Theology, Edinburgh.  So a little confusion as to who the author is but we believe it is the Bishop of Derry.

MORNING WORSHIP

O GOD, who hast taught us that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us, increase and multiply upon us Thy mercy, that Thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm xxxi. 1-5.

I’M not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend his cause;
Maintain the honour of his word,
The glory of his cross.

Jesus, my God, I know his name,
His name is all my trust;
Nor will He put my soul to shame,
Nor let my hope be lost.

Firm as his throne his promise stands,
And He can well secure
What I’ve committed to his hands
Till the decisive hour.

Then will He own my worthless name
Before his Father’s face;
And in the new Jerusalem
Appoint my soul a place.

ACTS XXVI. 1-23.

THEN Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2. I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews; 3. Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews; 5. Which knew me from the beginning, (if they would testify,) that after the most straitest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee. 6. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7. Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come: for which hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? 9. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and, being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12. Whereupon, as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priest, 13. At mid-day, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. 16. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17. Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19. Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20. But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and to God, and do works meet for repentance. 21. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23. That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

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Prayer.

O LORD, another of our earthly days is far spent, and the shadows of evening gather on our path. Soon the night cometh wherein no man can work. The brightness of youth, the vigour of manhood, the lingering strength of age will soon be gone. When a few years are come, we shall go the way whence we shall not return.

Merciful God, as in Thy righteousness Thou hast appointed unto all men once to die, and after death the judgment, bestow upon us that deep repentance and godly fear whereby we shall be prepared to meet Thee in peace. We confess that we are utterly without merit or righteousness of our own. Our days are passed away in Thy wrath; and wert Thou to mark iniquity, O Lord, who should stand? We look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. In Him may we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. May we say, each one, from the heart, in the exercise of a lively faith, “Surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength;” and thus may the sins of a lifetime be covered from Thy sight, and our transgressions be removed from us as far as the east is from the west.

O Lord, Thou callest us by the rapid flight of our days to redeem the time, and to give all diligence to make our calling and our election sure. How many of our companions have fallen in the wilderness! How are their bones scattered about the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth! Soon it shall be said to all of us, “Arise and depart, for this is not your rest;” “Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward.” Grant, O merciful Father, that instructed by the dispensations of Thy providence, and awake to the voice of Thy Spirit, we may prepare to meet our God. Forbid that so much as one of us should delay repentance to a more convenient season, or be overtaken by the final day unawares! O Thou God of the families of the earth, bless this family with the richest blessings of Thy grace. Uphold us in the slippery paths of youth; comfort us in the decays of age; deliver us in the day of trouble; save us in the hour of death! We have no hope but in Thee; and of this one thing we are confident, that He which hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ! Then shall our sins and our dangers alike end, the burdens of earth be exchanged for the joys of heaven, and the pains and infirmities of this corruptible body give place to incorruption and immortality! Grant us thus, O merciful Father, a part and a lot with Thy redeemed in the day of Christ’s appearing; and may our light affliction, which is but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Amen.

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THE CHURCH IN THE HOUSE.

O LORD, we acknowledge the depravity inherent in our nature through the fall of our first parents, and that with the full consent of our own minds we have committed unnumbered sins, which justly expose us to everlasting condemnation. Give us thankfully to accept the remedy Thou hast provided, and to remember the obligation it imposes on us to maintain good works. Hear us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm li. 5-10.

GOD of all grace, we come to Thee,
With broken contrite hearts;
Give what thine eyes delight to see--
Truth in the inward parts:

Give deep humility; the sense
Of godly sorrow give;
A strong, desiring confidence
To hear thy voice and live:

Faith in the holy Sacrifice
That can for sin atone;
To cast our hopes to fix our eyes,
On Christ, on Christ alone:

Give these, and then thy will be done!
Thus strengthen’d with all might,
We, by the Spirit and thy Son,
Shall pray, and pray aright.

PSALM LI.

HAVE mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin, &c.

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SERMON XLVIII.

“SO HE DROVE OUT THE MAN.” -- Gen. iii. 24.

“O WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM! WHO SHALL DELIVER ME FROM THE BODY OF THIS DEATH! I THANK GOD, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” -- Romans vii. 24, 25.

HOLDING in our hands, as it were, these two texts, selected from the Old and from the New Testament, we propose, with God’s help, to offer to you to-night some thoughts upon these great subjects of Man’s fallen life, and Man’s redeemed life.

I. First then, Man’s fallen life, and that viewed, so to speak, externally and internally.

First, viewed externally. Consider for one moment the dark lines which are here drawn by God’s own hand upon the pages of God’s own book, and confess that they are accurately copied out and transcribed in the experience of life around us. In the first place, the seventeenth verse of this third chapter of the book of Genesis shows us, that man was condemned to toil and sorrow; no more allowed to remain there; no more allowed to obtain the produce of the earth, which perhaps it would have produced to him, without hard toil, having remained his willing servant; no longer fed by the sacramental food of the tree of life, participation in which was immortality; condemned to all those ills to which flesh is now heir, to death, to disease, to pain -- “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return;” no longer permitted to tenant that fair home, or to walk beside the gleaming of the four-fold stream; exiled from the garden, and debarred from entering the gate which was closed against him by mysterious shapes and by points of flickering fire. And when we compare the fourth chapter of Genesis with the first three chapters, how truly do we see that man is indeed an exile from Eden. Read the first two chapters. How calm, how peaceful they are! There are few voices to be heard there -- only the voice of the everlasting Lord God communing in the depths of his own mysterious being with his coequal Son and with his coeternal Spirit; only that hymn of gratitude and praise which burst from the lips of Adam when he wakes from the prophetic sleep of ecstasy; only the gentle voice of the loving Lord communing with his children day after day in the depths of the garden. And then, consider for one moment all those echoes of sin, and sorrow, and care, and business, and pleasure, that are wakened up for us in the fourth chapter, that beginning of the moral and physical history of man as he now is. Read verse after verse. There is the cry of anger, there is the voice of blood going up to the throne of God, there is the hoarse murmur of remorse, there is the hum of the first city, there is the lowing of the cattle, there are the instruments of music, there are the clashing metal and the roaring furnace, and then at the end of the first chapter only one thin column of prayer, and praise, and worship, rising on the heated air from the fountain that had once been full to overflowing of the presence of God -- “Then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.” Truly these sounds are the preludes of all the mingling sounds which in this busy and distracted century fill all or great cities. Truly we feel the force and the truth of the words which tell us, that “the Lord God hath driven him out of the garden.”

Now, we all know that there is a very obvious and a very popular objection to such statements as this. Men cry out at once that it is a gloomy myth, the gloomy basis of a gloomy, dogmatic creed. “What!” they shriek out, “it is unjust! These priests tell us that one weak woman, and one who apparently was a weaker man, six thousand years ago transgressed the law of God, and put forth their hands and took of the forbidden fruit and did eat thereof, and what do these men tell us is the consequence? They tell us that for their sins the thorns and thistles run up into every man and woman's head, and heart, and brain; for their sins they tell us that the air is full of farewells to the dying and mournings for the dead; and worse than that, they tell us that poisoned fountains of sin are opened up within these hearts of ours that scorch and scathe and blacken the whole fair creation of God.” This may be plausible; but after all, we believe that this old book is God's book, and all who are not atheists believe that this world is God’s world. I ask you how is the charge heavier against God’s book than it is against God’s world? For, after all, these things are facts. You have only to go out, and you will see sin and sorrow in every shape. You can see some poor woman, the light perhaps of some miserable home, sobbing out that precious life of hers in the pangs of chid-birth: you can see the funeral winding to the cemetery. Either these things had a moral cause, either they had spiritual antecedents, or they had not. If they had not, there is no moral order of the universe; and if they had what other origin can you assign than this -- “The Lord God drove him out of the garden?”

Now, consider for a few moments this fallen life of ours, viewed not externally, but internally. There are two preliminary observations which must here be made. In the first place, I think it is impossible for any one who has lived thirty or forty years in this life of ours not to have, either consciously or unconsciously, some general view, some general theory, of human nature. There are many such afloat. Let us very briefly take up three.

There lived in the course of the last century a great satirist, unhappily a vowed minister of God, who loved to burn out the lines of the pictures which he drew of human nature, as it were, in vitriolic acid. He seemed to delight in exhibiting all the baseness, all the meanness, all the ugliness, all even of the physical repulsiveness, that there is in man. Sometimes he exhibited him under the microscope, sometimes under the magnifier, now on a lilliputian scale -- the word is his own -- now upon a gigantic scale. Now whatever men’s theological views may be, they shrink from these representations as a libel upon human nature. They will not allow that --

“Every heart when sifted well
Is but a clod of warmer dust
Mixed with cunning sparks from hell.”

There is a view of human nature which is exactly at the opposite pole to this. An eminent statesman, who died not many years ago in advanced old age, surrounded by the love of friends and the gratitude of his country, is reported to have said that we are all born very good. It was an easy, sunny, genial sort of exaggeration, and most people are content to refute it with a significant smile.

There is, again, an intermediate view of human nature, which has been very ingeniously illustrated by a living poet. Human nature, he tells us, is like one of those glass balls or tops, which may be seen in one of our philosophical toy shops. When it is in a state of quiescence you can easily distinguish each tint, the bright tint on the one side, and the dark tint on the other side; but when you touch it with your finger, and set it off spinning, you become completely perplexed: the darkness is suffused by the brightness, and the brightness is shaded by the darkness, till you do not well know what colour to call it. Something in the same way, in the incessant whirl and motion of this life of ours, men perplex you as to what judgment you shall pass upon them; there is so much goodness in those who seem worst, and so much that is bad in those who seem best.

I wish you also to consider for one moment the strange and terrible possibilities of sin, which unquestionably lurk in this human nature of ours. A work which was published not many years ago, contains what are believed by the initiated to be the actual confessions of an unhappy man of genius. This man in the days of his youth, upon one summer evening, declared positively that he had seen suddenly the shape of drunken man, running past him at first, then turning to him and looking at him with a terrible glance of hatred. He knelt down for one moment to peruse his features, and then he knew that the form, and figure, and face which he saw, were his own -- his own twenty years later, his own when the long lines of excess, and lust, and passion, and care, and sickness, had been ploughed down into it. Oh, who can measure the possible distance between himself now and himself twenty years hence -- between the innocent babe in the cradle and the haggard and outcast Magdalen under the gaslights of some great city -- between the glorious youth of the poet’s vision, riding on his winged steed to the castle gates, and the same man in after life, when his animal nature is worn down to the very stump, a grey and gap-toothed old man, lean as death?

Now, if we are asked to explain these terrible possibilities of sin, if we are asked to draw out a general view of human nature, which shall harmonize and take up all that there is of truth in these discordant views, then we need but turn, thank God, to our own Bibles; we need but range upon one side those texts which tell us of the image of God that still remains in man through all the ruins of the fall, and on the other those which tell us that the heart of man is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” and that “out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

Now, see the bearing of this upon man’s fallen will, and so upon the second of our two texts. Man even in his fall bears the image of God, in having a free will separate from the will of God, yet which ought not to be independent of Him. That will is free, yet there is a limitation. There is a law imposed upon man’s will, a law which is holy and just and good, which, like the God who is its author, compasses him about day and night, and from which he can never escape -- a law to which he feels that he might freely conform himself every moment of his life, and which he is yet constantly rejecting and baffling. And so it is that there seem evermore to be two wills in the mystery of the one will. There seem to be two men in the one man, those two men of whom when the French king heard he started from his seat, and said, “I know those two men very well -- those two wills and two men of whom the apostle speaks when he says, ‘I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.’”

II. Now, secondly, The redeemed life. As we have placed Adam at the head of the fallen life, so with deepest reverence we place Christ our Lord at the head of the redeemed life. And observe, that Christ is here, Christ is in these opening chapters of the Book of Genesis. With the whole church of God we refer to Him that first gospel, “I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Dim and indistinct indeed the promise must be admitted to be; yet something in the same way as upon some pale winter morning we see a shape dimly in the mirror, and yet recognize it, because we have seen it before, because we have seen it in the broad daylight, so in that dim, far back winter morning we see a shape dimly in the mirror, and yet recognize it, because we have seen it before, because we have seen it in the broad daylight, so in that dim, far back winter morning of prophecy, we can see Christ in that first promise, because we have seen Him fully before in the gospel and in the church. Original sin is the fault and corruption of man’s nature. It is the fault, therefore we are guilty. That guilt is forgiven by God’s great mercy, first, when we are grafted into the second Adam by a new birth of water and of the Spirit; and then afterwards, when the infection which still remains breaks out into fresh transgressions, still there is forgiveness, forgiveness for every sinner, forgiveness full and free, forgiveness through the blood of Christ, to all them that “truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel.”

But the redeemed life includes something more than even the forgiveness of sin, blessed though that be. It includes an emancipated will. Man’s will, as we have seen is weak and sick. It is a universal law of our moral life, that when we go and seek for strength by trying to lay our weak will upon a stronger will, that strength is almost invariably given. Nay, to seek the strength is to find it. Take some instances. Some man filling, we will say, a public situation is tempted day after day to the commission of some act, which is not only sin against God, but also transgression against society. Does such a man as that feel no strength, derive no strength, from public opinion? And observe this, that the higher we ascend in the moral scale the greater is the strength given. A pupil of the greatest modern schoolmaster has left it upon record, how when in the moments of conscious weakness and temptation he went to his master and sought to derive strength from the grandeur of that strong will of his, he felt as if his feet were lifted up, and as if he were set upon a rock. So is it evermore. In every great city how often has some poor tempted young man who perhaps has begun to pilfer from his master and to falsify his accounts, gone to some pious friend and derived strength, and hope and consolation have spring up within him. Or, perhaps some poor weak girl, allured on to the brink of an awful precipice, has gone to her mother at night and told her all; and as her mother has spoken to her of strength and pity, she has felt as if the very breath of God blew upon that passionate and fevered cheek of hers. Now, does not this lead us up to the mystery of the redemption of the will? Ever as the sympathy of the stronger will is purer and better, so the strength given to the weaker is more blessed and more abundant. Suppose you were haunted day after day with some terrible temptation, suppose some dread secret lay upon your heart and conscience to whom would you go and tell it? Would you go and tell it to one like yourself? Would you go to some man of the world, who seems to have no principle but that code of honour which appears to be so lax, and which yet can be so dreadfully unforgiving? Would you go to some woman of the world with the exquisite finish of that polished scorn of hers? Better to die than that. You would not. You would go to the best, to the purest, to the holiest, to the most Christ-like being, that you could possibly find. Is not this the secret of prayer? Is not this the meaning of the Christian’s daily prayer, of his approach to the holy communion? Evermore, when the will is felt to be weakest, we go to the incarnate God by the means which He himself has appointed; we go to that precious, loving, sympathizing Lord; and the language of the poor souls, addressed to Him who has trodden the bitter grapes of our sins in the awful winepress, is practically just this: “Thou who are whiter than driven snow, immaculate Lamb of God, upon whose pure and perfect human will, upon the perfect will of whose superhuman humanity, all the shadows of temptation could no more leave an impression than the passing shadows upon the pillared alabaster -- thou art pure, and I come to thee for strength because thy will is perfect. I cry unto thee from the ends of the earth. ‘Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.’ Take this weak will of mine, and lift it up, and fold it with the unfoldings of that everlasting strength of thine.”

May we not read in the light of these great truths the seventh and eighth chapters of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans? There seem to be three stages in the seventh chapter -- man before the law, man under the law, man under grace; first, moral insensibility, then moral knowledge without moral power, then the great emancipation. First unconscious ignorance; then comes the law of God: for in the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet,” the whole intense holiness and spirituality of the law seems to be concentrated, and that sword of God goes on and down, cutting deeper and deeper, until He has cleft and divided into twain, on the one hand, the decaying, decomposing body of moral and spiritual death, on the other hand, the weak and fluttering will; and the last and lowest cry of the fallen life is, “O wretched man that I am! while the first blessed cry of the redeemed life is even this, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Now there are just two words which I wish to say before closing. What has been said goes to explain to us much that seems darkest and most unaccountable in the structure and in the particulars of the Bible history. It was said now many years ago by a writer who is very unjustly forgotten, that history is like a pall covering dead men’s bones and all uncleanness, but that it covers them gracefully. So it does. It covers them gracefully enough. Take up some volume of history: the narrative runs on smoothly in the master’s hand: vice, and sin, and selfishness are dwarfed and dwindled in the distance: the hero walks forth in his majesty, and all his littleness is forgotten: the statesman is there with his specious pretensions, and with this ornate speeches, and with his claim to the divine right of always being with the majority and of always acting upon the winning side: and all these inconsistencies, if they are remembered at all, are only like specks in the sunny foreground of the brilliant history. How different is it with God’s inspired history? If we had to frame a history which men should suppose to be God’s history, a divine history, what would be its character? It should be pure, it should be perfect, it should be noble, it should be a following on of saints and martyrs winding on with the cross upon their shoulders and the light upon their brows, through the gates and the crowd, to the very throne of God. And yet how different is that divine history which we actually find in the Bible, from these surmises? Turn to those chapters which record, first the fall of man, then the sin of the whole world, then the transgressions of the cities of the plain that brought down fire from heaven, then the revolting story of the revenge of Simeon and Levi for their sister Dinah, then the baseness, and the selfishness, and the brutality of Joseph’s brethren. We ask why these things are there, why they are written? For our instruction -- not only to show us the latent possibilities of human nature, but they are the beginning of a story of a long, long, history, of which the fall is the commencement and the redemption is the end. They justify, they verify at least, and they illustrate, the whole of the fall; and they justify, if they cannot explain, that redemption which could only be wrought for sinners by the life and death, by the passion and resurrection, of our incarnate God. Yes, still as we think of the corruption and the fall of man, and of the redemption wrought by Christ, let us look at it as St. Paul looks at it in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Have you ever remarked how St. Paul begins there the comparison between the first and second Adam in slow and measured lines, till, as he goes on, that great spirit of his catches fire, and there are parallel lines of light and darkness, and at last, the delicate line of light broadens and deepens, shining more and more unto the perfect day? Yes, Christ our Lord, Christ the second Adam, Christ in whom there is redemption, Christ into whom we are grafted by the baptism of the Spirit, Christ in whom we live by faith -- Christ is our redemption. This is the great truth that has power to stir all the most varied hearts, and to make them bow before its strength as the corn-fields bend before the rushing winds of heaven. In Him, in Christ Jesus, the precious Lord and Saviour of every one of us, the fallen life may pass into the redeemed life; in Him the cry of anguish, “O wretched man that I am,” may be taken up, and swell into that triumphant music -- “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;” in Him, exiles as we are, we may win a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates, and pass into the city which is our home.
-- WILLIAM ALEXANDER, D.D.

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THE CHILDREN’S SERVICE.

THE UPPER ROOM.

WHEN the time drew near at which Jesus knew that he was to die and go up to be with his Father, he set out from Galilee, and showed himself quite bent on going to Jerusalem. But he spoke many good words, and did many good works, while on his way. After he came to Jerusalem, he taught the people, and produced a great stir among his bitter foes, by curing a man who had been blind from birth. Then, as the Jews sought to stone him, and his hour was not quite come, he left the city for a time, and went away beyond Jordan. He returned not long after, and raised Lazarus from the dead. Then he left the city a second time, and staid in a place down on the border of the wilderness. When the passover, however, drew near, he came back once more to Bethany, and a wonderful week of events followed. Some of these have been told in former stories. I am now going to tell you what happened on the last day of that week, or in the last twenty-four hours of our blessed Lord’s life on the earth. I do not know how I could better close this year of stories, than by asking you to give me your best thoughts, while I try to set before you the way by which Jesus at last went to his Father, from whom he had come.

Let us, first of all, go to the upper room where he ate the passover with his disciples for the last time, and appointed the Lord’s Supper. In the earlier part of the day he had sent two of them to get every thing ready, giving them a curious sign to direct them where to go. The two disciples that went on before where Peter and John. Every thing happened to them as Jesus had said it would. For on entering the city, they met a man who was carrying a pitcher of water, and followed him to the house to which he was going. They asked to see the goodman of the house, and said to him, The Master says that his time is at hand, and that he is coming to eat the passover here, along with his disciples; where is the guest-chamber that we may make all things ready? The householder, on hearing these things, took them at once to a large upper room, furnished and prepared, just as if he had been expecting them. Towards the evening Jesus came with the rest, and sat down with them all around him. In those days the seats were rather sloping couches, on which the guests lay long, with their heads towards the table, and the feet stretched out behind. It was in this way that the woman, who loved Jesus so much for saving her from her sins, could stand and wash his feet with her tears, when he was at meat in Simon's house. At the passover-supper in the upper room, John reclined next to his Lord, and was, as it were, in his bosom. When they were all in their places, Jesus said to them, I have had a great desire to keep this feast with you, before I suffer.

Now, would you think it? though these twelve men, chosen by Christ to be his apostles, were all now round about him, all, one would think, happy in being near him, a contention had arisen among them as to which of them should be greatest. Jesus knew this, and spoke to them about it. He said that in his service the greatest was to be the person who would be like the least, and should help others most. He said, too, that he had been among them himself like a servant; and when supper was fully served, he showed this in a beautiful parable of action. For he rose from table, and put his upper robe aside, and took a towel, and girded it round his person. He then poured some water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples, one after another, and to wipe them with the towel. When he came to Simon Peter, Peter, who was always ready to speak out his feelings, said to him, Lord, thou shalt never wash my feet. He could not bear the thought of his great Master doing such a thing. But Jesus calmly answered him, and said, Uness I wash thee, thou hast no part with me. That made Peter go off to the opposite extreme: for he cried out, Then, Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and head too. Jesus put him right again, saying that was not needful; for those who had been bathed were clean, and only needed to have the dust washed from their feet. Then he said solemnly, Ye are clean, though not all; for he knew that one of those whose feet he had been washing, had it already in his heart to give him up into the hands of his enemies. So he said, Ye are not all clean. When he had finished his tender and humble task, he put the towel off, and put on his garments, and took his place again at the table, and said, See, if I your lord and master have washed your feet, surely you ought not to quarrel with each other about greatness, but be willing to serve each other, and to do as I have done unto you. The disciples, I think, must have felt how faithfully, and yet how very kindly, he had shown them their fault.

Some time after, while they were eating, Jesus appeared very sad, like one much troubled. At last he spoke out, and said, One of you is going to betray me. When the disciples heard that, they were all very sorry indeed, and one after another, cried out, Lord, is it I? Only Judas Iscariot did not say a word. The rest kept looking at each other in distress and wonder, till Peter whispered to John who was next the Saviour, to ask him who it was that was to be so wicked. John having asked accordingly, Jesus said, It is the man to whom I will now give a morsel when I have dipped it. So he took a sop, and dipped it into the dish, and gave it to Iscariot. Being thus pointed out, Judas exclaimed, Lord is it I you mean? and Jesus said it was. Then the man -- angry, I suppose, at being detected, and urged on by Satan to whom he had yielded up his heart -- got up from the table, and left the room. But as Jesus had said to him, What you are going to do, do quickly, some of the rest of the disciples thought he had sent him out to buy something that was required for the feast: for Judas was the treasurer of the little company, and carried the purse. By the time these things happened, the night had fallen,: and so the traitor went off to do his dark work.

There was more conversation after that. Among other things, Jesus said to them all, Ye will be stumbled and offended by what you see done to me to-night, and will leave me. When he heard that, Peter again spoke out boldly, and said, Though all the rest should forsake thee, I never will, Lord. Jesus looked to him, and said solemnly, Simon, Simon, you are to go through a great trial. Satan wants to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail, and when thou art brought back, help thy brethren. Peter would not hear about being brought back; he was so sure he would not go away. So he cried out, Lord, I will go to prison with thee, if need be, and to death itself. Ah! said Jesus, you think you are ready to lay down your life for me, Peter; and yet before the cock crow, you will three times over deny that you know me. Even that plain word, however, would not make Peter suspect himself. He said, “Never, never; I will rather die than deny thee. And all the rest eagerly and vehemently said the same, each seeming more confident than his neighbor in his own strength.

Some time a little later; Jesus appointed a new service for his disciples. It was a very simple one, though it has since got laid over with much that does not belong to it as the Lord commanded it. He gave it to keep his death always in mind. He took bread, and gave thanks for it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take and eat; this is my body broken for you: do this to keep me in remembrance. Then he took the cup that was on the table, and gave thanks again, and put the cup into the disciples’ hands, and said, All drink of this; it is my blood of the new covenant, shed for many, that their sins may be forgiven: do this in remembrance of me. Thus it was that the Lord’s Supper was appointed. It has continued in the churches for hundreds of years. It is a preacher of Christ wherever it is observed. “For as often as ye eat this bread,” says the apostle Paul, “and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”

After this Jesus, seeing the disciples sad because he had been speaking of going away from them, and of his sufferings being at hand, began to say very comforting things to them. He told them he was going away to make a place ready for them in his Father’s house, and would come back again to take them with him. He said he would send them, meanwhile, another Comforter, the Holy Spirit to stay with them, and guide them. He said he would leave his peace with them, and bade them cease being troubled in heart because of his going away. Then, knowing that his own hour was at hand, he said, I shall not have much more time to talk with you; Satan is coming to search me, but he can find nothing that is his in me. Rise, let us go hence.

So with his disciples he left the room, and went out beyond the walls of the city.

QUESTIONS FROM THE BIBLE STORY.

1. Where is Jesus said to have set his face to go to Jerusalem, so that other people could see he was bent on going thither?
2. What was the name of the place where Jesus staid for some time, before he went back finally to Bethany and Jerusalem?
3. Where do we read about the upper room in Jerusalem after the Lord’s ascension?
4. Which of the evangelists tells us that it was Peter and John who were sent before to prepare the passover?
5. When did Christ, on another occasion, send two disciples to do something for him, telling them beforehand what to say?
6. Where do we read of Christ teaching his disciples not to strive about being great, by showing them a little child, and speaking about him?
7. In what psalm have we a prayer for washing from sin?
8. Where are the robes of the redeemed said to have been washed white in the blood of Jesus?
9. Where is John called the disciple whom Jesus loved, after he was risen from the dead?
10. Who was it that thought he would be a dog, if he were to do the bad things a prophet spoke of, yet afterwards did them?
11. Which of the apostles was not present when Jesus appointed the Supper, yet gives us an exact account of it?
12. Where is the ordinance appointed by Jesus in remembrance of himself, called the Lord’s Supper?
13. Where is it referred to as the breaking of bread?

ANSWERS to the questions may be found by turning to the following chapters. -- Luke ix.; John xi.; Acts i.; Luke xxii.; Matt. xxi.; Matt. xviii; Ps. li.; Rev. vii.; John xx. and xxi.; 2 Kings viii.; 1 Cor. xi.; Acts xx.

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Prayer.

O LORD, who didst send Thy beloved Son to die for the sins of men, wash us from all our guilt in His precious blood. Cleanse us from all our stains, that our robes may be white. Create within us right spirits. Give us the new heart Thou hast graciously promised. In all our troubles may we have the sympathy of Jesus. May we have an interest in the prayers which He presents for His people before the throne of His Father. O grant us in this way to have part with Him, and to have a place prepared for us by Him in Thy house of many mansions. We ask these things for His own name’s sake. Amen.

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THE EVENING SERVICE

O KING of Kings! who hast raised from the dead Thine only Son Jesus Christ, and hast given Him all power on earth and in Heaven, and who didst not leave Thine apostles comfortless, vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, to give us Thy Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us; that, being sober, and watching unto prayer, and above all things having fervent charity among ourselves, we may be exalted into the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm cxviii. 22-29.

HOW sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast:
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear name! the rock on which I build:
My shield and hiding-place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Guardian, Friend;
My Prophet, Priest, and King;
My Lord, my life, my Way, mine End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought:

Till then, I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath;
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.

MALACHI IV.

FOR, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. 4. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 6. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

2 PETER III. 1-14.

THIS second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour; 3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therin, shall be burnt up. 11. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness; 12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

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Prayer

O LORD, we adore Thee as the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who faintest not, neither art weary. Thou art the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. With Thee one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Heaven and earth shall wax old as a vesture, but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.

Thou hast made the successive generations of mankind to spring forth as the grass, and to flourish like the green herb. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. We spend our years as a tale that is told. Our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. Our childhood hastens on to youth and manhood; and soon the evil days shall come, and the years draw nigh, when we shall say that we have no pleasure in them. Teach us O Lord, to pass the time of our sojourning in Thy fear, and to number our days so as to apply our hearts unto wisdom. We confess that the brevity of our life will not teach us to consider our latter end without Thy grace. Grant us then Thy Holy Spirit, that he may lead us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and to do whatsoever our hand findeth to do with our might. We bless Thee for the mission and incarnation, for the sacrifice and death of our divine Saviour, and for the light which His glorious gospel sheds upon all the stages of human life. We thank Thee for its invitations to the young, for its cautions and counsels to those who are in the fulness of their strength, and for its succours and consolations to those who are bending under the weight of age. Grant that all of us, according to our years, may find Thy grace sufficient for us, and Thy strength made perfect in our weakness. Teach us to embrace the common salvation as equally needed for our sin and for our sorrow, and may we all be complete in Christ Jesus our only hope. Bless us as a family; and may the young remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and the more advanced in years hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end. May we alike glorify God in the day of visitation. May we forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those which are before. May our path be like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, even our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

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MORNING AND EVENING MEDITATIONS.

MONDAY.

Morning.

And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

Jer. xxxii. 38. John xvii. 1, 2, 9, 10.

Evening.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Ps. xix. 7. Ps. cxvi. 6. 1 Cor. i. 19, 20.

TUESDAY.

Morning.

I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon.
Thou hast heard my voice; hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.
O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.
Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned: renew our days as of old.

Lam. iii. 55, 56, 57, 58. Lam. v. 19, 20. 21.

Evening.

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ: we are weak, but ye are strong: ye are honourable, we are despised.
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place;
And labour, working with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it;
Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day.
I write not these things to shame you, but, as my beloved sons, I warn you.

1 Cor. iv. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

WEDNESDAY.

Morning.

Then Jesus, answering, said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.
The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

Luke vii. 22. Isa. xxix. 18, 19, 24.

Evening.

The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous.
But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens, God himself that formed the earth, and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is none else.
I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

Ps. cxlvi. 8. Isa. xlvi. 17, 18, 19.

THURSDAY.

Morning.

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made a man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
Take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Exod. iv. 10, 11, 12. Mark xiii. 11.

Evening.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ:
That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1 Cor. i. 4, 5, 17, 18, 21.

FRIDAY.

Morning.

Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation O God, set me up on high.
The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
For the Lord heareth the poor and despiseth not his prisoners.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Ps. x. 12. Ps. lxix. 29, 32, 33. Isa. lvii. 15.

Evening.
For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.

Heb. vi. 10, 11, 12. 2. Pet. i. 10.

SATURDAY.

Morning.

Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us; see that ye abound in this grace also.
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
A lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Holding fast the faithful word.

1 Pet. iv. 9, 10. 2 Cor. viii. 7, 12. Tit. i. 8, 9.

Evening.

Let all your things be done with charity.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
As it is written, he hath dispersed abroad: he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

1 Cor. xvi. 14. 2 Cor. ix. 6, 7, 8, 9.

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