and said to him, "Run and tell that young man: 'Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the multitude of men and livestock within it.
I. MAN'S IDEA OF THE CHURCH AS CAPABLE OF STRICT DEFINITION AND MEASUREMENT. There has always been a disposition to fix and limit the boundaries of the Church.
1. Irrational. The visible Church may be defined, but not the invisible. Truth is not to be measured by our belief, or godliness by the piety of the party to which we belong, or the community of the good by the little systems of our day.
2. Presumptuous. This work cannot be done by man. He has neither the capacity nor the means. "We mete out love as if our eye saw to the end of heaven." It demands higher powers - a purer eye, a deeper insight, a more far reaching vision. Even Elijah failed, and Peter greatly erred. Only the Lord himself knoweth them who are his.
3. Injurious. Mistakes must occur. Some excluded who ought to have been included, and others included who should have been excluded. Hence evil both to the judge and to the judged - pride, injustice, uncharitableness. See Saul "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." Mark John, the beloved disciple, wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans. Behold the Corinthian Church - sample of many others down to our own day - torn by factions and blighted by party spirit. How often, in the world, have grievous wars arisen from paltry questions as to boundaries! So the Church has suffered incalculable evils from "profane and vain babblings" and questions which minister strife.
II. GOD'S IDEA OF THE CHURCH AS TRANSCENDING ALL HUMAN LIMITATIONS, God is the Supreme and only Judge. He sees things as they are. He knows not only the outward works, but the heart, and the end from the beginning. In the woman whom Simon the Pharisee despised our Lord saw a true penitent. In the man who was casting out devils in his name he discerns an ally, though he followed him not openly as a disciple. In the devout Cornelius he acknowledged a true worshipper and servant of God, though he was as yet unknown to the apostles. His love overflows the letter of our Creeds and the boundaries of our Churches. And as in the past, so in the future. The picture is grand and inspiring. It foreshadows the glory of the latter day. Here is:
1. Vast extension. (Vers. 6, 7.) The Church is like a city that outgrows its walls, that absorbs the outlying villages and hamlets, that gradually includes the whole land in its benign embrace. As Jerusalem, so the Church, in the day of prosperity, would far surpass all former bounds.
2. Inviolable security. The figure is vivid and striking. It recalls the story of the prophet (2 Kings 6:15-17) and the more ancient records of Moses and of Israel in the wilderness. The true defence is not material, but spiritual - not of the world, but of God.
3. Divine blessedness. The life and splendour of the Church are in the inhabitation of God. This secures the supremacy of goodness, and the brotherhood of man in Christ Jesus. God is in the midst. "God is Light," "God is Love," God is Holiness; therefore the people will live and move and have their being in light and love and holiness. It will be the days of heaven on earth. - F.
Run, speak to this young man
I. "LORD, WHICH ONE?" First, this one. He is the son of godly parents, he was nursed in the lap of piety, and cradled in prayer. He is in the general acceptation of the word a good fellow. The home is all the brighter when he is in it. The parents all the happier for his presence. "Is he, Lord, the only one?" No, "speak to this young man." Ah, I see him now. His experience has been a very different one from the last. No prayers ever arose on his behalf; no holy influences ever surrounded him; his earliest remembrances are oaths. "Are there any more, Lord, I have to speak to?" "Yes, this one." He is a young man of considerable mental ability, who is fast making his way in the world. A bright future seems to be opening up before him. Sitting at his right hand I see another I have to address. He is of a very different stamp of character. I thought I heard him say just now, "Well, thank goodness, I'm no money grub. I don't care so much about getting on in life as seeing life." His motto is, "begone dull care"; aye, by any means so long as it goes.
II. WHY SHOULD I SPEAK TO HIM? To this question three answers at once came.
1. Speak to him because danger awaits him. The very least we can do for a man in peril is to arouse him to a sense of danger if he be ignorant of it. Humanity itself will dictate this. Never mind frightening the crew, better do that than all be lost, through want of warning.
2. I am bound to speak to you, because one wrong step will lead to many.
3. Speak, for if you do not there are many that will. No one knows the temptations that surround young men, but a young man. If there are but few to lead him right, there are plenty to lead him astray. Godless companions will. Then, too, he has the attractive preacher called the world, who like some fair siren seated on a rock by the deadly pool, smiles but to deceive. "Speak to him," still my Lord says, "for if you do not Satan will."
III. WHY SHOULD I RUN?
1. Be cause he is running. Sinners never creep to ruin. Slow as the tortoise are we on the road to heaven; swift as the bounding stag to hell. The road to perdition is downhill all the way. The natural heart which is so heavy a load heavenward, lends a tremendous impetus to our downward course.
2. Because time is running. Time is a ship that never casts anchor — an eagle that is ever on the wing — a shuttle that always flies — an ocean that never ebbs.
3. Run, because opportunities are running.
4. Run, because death is running. The grim despot is after every one of us, nothing can turn his course, he laughs all bribes to scorn, and every moment he gains upon us; his scythe swings with the speed of the lightning flash, and never grows blunt in its work.
5. Run, because hell is running. We read in the Book of Revelation that death rode forth on a white horse and hell followed after, to every impenitent sinner the two go together.
IV. AND WHEN I CATCH HIM UP, LORD, WHAT SHALL I SAY TO HIM? Son of pious parents, with many a noble, amiable quality, let me say this word to you, "Your morality will not save you." Unless you are "born again," you will be as much lost as if you never possessed any. Young man, you who have had nought but evil example from infancy, to you let me speak. Do not think that frees you from responsibility. Your parents' sins will not exonerate you from yours. If they led, you have willingly followed. Remember, too, you can no longer plead ignorance as to the way of salvation, for you have just heard it, if never before. Young man, so occupied in getting on in this world, I will just ask you one question, and leave you to give the answer. It is this, "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
(A. G. Brown.)1. Tell him he has a wicked heart.
2. He ought to become a Christian.
3. He should improve the season of youth.
4. He should beware of evil company.
5. He should attend to Bible reading and to prayer.
I. TO MYSELF, AS PREACHING TO YOUNG MEN. It is an earnest exhortation unto the Christian minister to labour especially with young men. The conversion of young men is so important —
1. Because, in most cases, if not converted while they are young, they will never be converted. Divine grace, in its very sovereignty, operates according to the laws of our moral and intellectual nature. Youth is the most favourable period for religious impressions.
2. Be cause of the peculiar power of young men to accomplish great things for God and their generation. Young men are hopeful; young men are brave; young men are fertile in invention: and thus young men are strong in all qualities that secure earthly success. The foundations of all true greatness must be laid in early life. The energy of youth is the world's mightiest influence; and that influence is especially needful in the Church.
II. TO YOU, AS YOUNG MEN AND CHRISTIANS. The words set forth the means, objects, and manner of a. great Christian duty.
1. The means. "Speak." Use that grand power of articulate utterance; it is almost man's finest gift. Language is reason, walking forth with tremendous energy amid the vital interests of the race. Consider the wonderful title of the Divine Son — the Word.
2. The objects of your labour. Consider some distinct classes of young men with whom you are called earnestly to labour.(1) Strangers who have just come into your sphere.(2) The young man beginning to associate with evil companions. The pitiful idler. The fashionable young man. The spendthrift. The dishonest employer. The openly profane and impure man. Corruptors of youth, etc.(3) The sceptical young man.(4) The young men whose lives are already practically immoral. The profane man. The Sabbath breaker. The dishonest. The impure.
3. The manner of their labour. "Run." The extent of your influence over others will depend not so much upon your talents as your discretion. Be earnest, thoroughly in earnest —
(1) (2) (C. Wadsworth.) (John Robertson.)
(2) (C. Wadsworth.) (John Robertson.)
(C. Wadsworth.)en route for a ball in Dublin, who entered the carriage in which Mr. Birch was travelling. Soon the cigars were produced, and one of them, looking at Mr. Birch with a serio-comic face, said, 'I hope you do not object to smoking,' and, without waiting for permission, they lighted up. Mr. Birch took out his Bible, and said to the young man who had addressed him, 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ?' 'Shut up!' exclaimed the officer. 'Because,' continued Mr. Birch, 'if you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be lost.' 'Do you hear that old stupid?' said another of the officers; 'what shall we do to him?' Quickly the preacher of the Gospel turned to the second speaker, and said, 'Do you believe in the Lord Jesus? for, if you do not, you will be lost.' 'Sit on him,' suggested one. 'Shove him out of the window,' proposed another. 'That would not alter the fact,' said the intrepid servant of God. Just then the train began to slow down, and there was a general cry of 'Oh, let us get out! Let us change carriages!' 'Your getting, out will not alter the fact,' again said Mr. Birch. Well, good-bye, old fellow! shouted the officers, as they jumped from the carriage. 'Good-bye,' was the response; 'but remember that does not alter the fact. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be lost.' Four years had passed away, and the evangelist was travelling in England, when a tall, military-looking gentleman entered the carriage. As soon as he caught sight of Mr. Birch, he leaned forward, and said, 'Excuse me, but I think we have met before. Do you remember, some years ago, a party of young men entering the compartment of a train in which you were travelling to Dublin? I was the young fellow who sat next you. We went to our ball that evening; but, despite all our gaiety, I was conscious of that awful, sentence ringing in my ears, "If you do not believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be lost." I drank heavily that night, but the champagne did not revive me; and at an early hour I left the ballroom, and went to my hotel, where, in the solitude of my own room, I knelt down and cried to God for mercy. Since that night I have been a Christian, and have striven to bring those under my command to know and to love the Saviour.'"