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iniquity, he shall remove the stumbling block out of the way of his children.
The work of grace shall then be able to develope itself fully in the heart, and the words of divine truth shall then be living powerful words, the righteous shall indeed be righteous, and they who profess to follow the example of our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ shall indeed follow the example, and they who have seen him lay down his life first, shall learn how to lay down their lives for the brethren, and then the following of the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, shall not be mere words, but men shall be able to walk after the footsteps of our holy Saviour. Then the shining of divine grace on the character of men, reflecting freely the glory of the Saviour's grace as he shines upon them, shall not be obstructed by the hindrances from dark souls around, and shall not be hindered by the stumbling blocks that lie in the way of the children of God, and shall not be sullied or stained by spots or stains of sins that shall be upon them, then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. With regard to those who shall have returned with Jesus, we have reason to believe that it will be a physical as well as a moral brightness. It was seen when our Saviour stood on the mount of transfiguration, when his raiment did shine as the light, and his face became resplendent as the sun. Of those who are partakers of the first resurrection, it shall indeed be true that “those that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” But there is, brethren, a better shining than even the glory of the resurrection : to-day, a brighter light than even the shining which is above the glory of the sun, coming from
divine truth, there is the glory of divine grace, there is the spotlessness of divine holiness, manifested in the character -seen in the temper-acted out in the life visible in the being of all those who are indeed to be in the kingdom of Christ, in that day of blessedness and glory, “when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
What, then, is the lesson that we are to take home to our own hearts and thoughts in considering this aspect of the kingdom of heaven? Are we not to ask ourselves what are we? are we wheat or tares ? are we the children of the wicked one or are we the children of God ? If we are the children of God, how is the growth of the work of God developing within us ? profession correspondent with our attainments? If we have indeed the renewed heart that is able to look heaven, and say, Whom have we in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that we desire but thee ?” Are we growing in grace ? is the state of to-day an advance beyond the progress of yesterday? are the resolutions of to-day, a holy determination to be more holy to-morrow? are we determined to be indeed the children of God, growing in grace, increasing in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ? Brethren, that hath ears to hear let him hear.” Let us remember that it is not men, but the Son of man, that can sow divine truth in the heart—that can multiply right thoughts in our consciences--that can give vivifying power to the letter of divine knowledge, that is sown by the lips of the outward and visible minister. Let us realize Him that is invisible; seeing him that is invisible, taking truth from his lips, and taking benefits from
the faces of resurrection men, there is the brightness of his hands, that we may become like him, and be fitted for our place of blessedness in that glorious kingdom
When the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father”- He that bath ears to hear let him hear.”
THE PARABLES OF OUR LORD.
Matt. xii., v. 31, 32.-" Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field : which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatesl among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
In this parable we have another and very important feature of the kingdom of heaven presented to us. The parable of the sower directs our thoughts to the state of heart of him who is to receive the words in which divine truth is declared. There the seed is not divine grace, but the statement of divine truth ; the sower soweth the word; and there the field is not the world, but the heart of man; as our blessed Saviour himself tells us, The devil came and took away that which was sown in his heart." That parable, therefore, teaches us the need of having our hearts in a right state to receive the truth “ The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” It teaches that the word spoken by our blessed Saviour himself could only become fruitful in a prepared heart. We have again the parable of the good seed sown in the field, where the field is the world, and where we have the good seed -
men impregnated with divine truth ; and the tares men impregnated with Satan's errors. But now we have another view given to us of the kingdom of heaven, one of unspeakable importance ; it is again the heart of of man that is presented to us -but now it is no longer the seed of words merely, but it is the seed - the divine seed that is planted in the converted heart— the seed that becomes victorious over every opposing power— the seed that is developing continually into the tree in which the birds of the air can come and lodge in the branches thereof. People have applied the idea of the seed of grace to baptism, as if, because we are brought under the power of divine grace, at least under the agency of divine grace in baptism — and indeed we are—as if that were the seed here spoken of which might fail, or might be cultivated by human power and human attention. But this is indeed a great mistake. We do, indeed, enter by baptism into a solemn covenant with God, and God enters, in baptism, into a solemn covenant with us, and we are thereby made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. From the hour of our baptism, the Holy Spirit is pledged, by the covenanted blood of the cross to deal with every baptized person as no longer one of the common fold of this world, but as a member of the church of Christ; from the hour of our baptism, the Holy Spirit is thus pledged by the blood of the cross to deal with every baptized person as one who is to be thenceforward under the agency of divine grace, and under the operation and dealings of the blessed Spirit of God. Yet, baptism was not intended to change the heart, to renew the soul, or to implant in us that divine seed of which this parable speaks. Baptism can only make us members of the