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Much depends on your not flinching when the moments come which may be the outlets to new and glorious labours, or which may offer you new clues to be followed out Find out how to lay Christian hands on the men and classes that seem to have drawn away from us.... Learn to serve Christ on the great scale, and even, if the scene of your work be narrow or obscure, serve Him on the grand principles which make life strong, noble, and spacious.
References. XVIII. 12. Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p. 103. XVIII. 13. Ibid. vol. iv. p. 117. XVIII. 17. F. C. Spurr, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 52. W. H. Evans, Sermons for the Church's Year, p. 242. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons, p. 264. XVIII. 18. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 58. XVIII. 19. F. D. Maurice, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 303. XVIII. 21. G. R. Fetherston, A Garden Eastward, p. 55. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 37. XVIII. 23. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 148; ibid. (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 18. XVIII. 24-28. Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 318. XVIII. 25. J. Parker, ibid. vol. liii. p. 312. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 184; ibid. (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 114. XVIII. 27. Spurgeon Sermons, vol. xxxvi. No. 2138. Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p. 403; ibid, vol. ii. p. 371.
By What Authority
Man must have some kind of authority. He must assume something; he must begin. The proof is not always in the beginning palpable and undeniable; the beginning contains the end, but until the end is reached we do not know the full value and true force of the beginning. What is there in all your life which does not rest upon an assumption? The whole scheme of life seems to rest upon some airy, beautiful, fragile bubble. You think at a certain part of your process of life that you are acting upon definite proof and authority; but you are doing nothing of the kind; you are basing your whole selfhood upon an assumption.
I. From the beginning God has been endeavouring to incarnate Himself in various proofs and authorities suitable to the growing mind of man. So he has made all nature a parable, a panorama, an open secret; upon every door of nature He has written, Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Then came a book, The Book, the Bible or Revelation. For God's sake and your sake, give it a fair chance 1 Let it prove its irreligiousness or its insanity, but remember that it is a book that wants to do you good; therefore it may have come from a good source. If it were a book of dreams and imaginings only you might receive it as such, but it is a book of discipline, a book of army orders; no soldier is to invent his own book; whatever the book may be, it tries to do us good, to dry our tears, to direct our way, to sustain us in our misfortune and distress; yea, it holds a lamp above the grave and frightens death into deeper gloom. Let it therefore have a fair chance. After the book comes Manhood, which is, so to say, the result of the book. The book has been sown as seed in our minds and hearts, and after it has come to fruition we have manhood. So the incarnation advances from nature to intellect, to character. It is a progressive revelation; it proves itself by itself. Revelation which is true never goes backward, it always has some larger kingdom, it always preaches a warmer, a larger welcome to the growing mind and the enlarging heart. These are the proofs. Let it be assumed that the Bible is the book of God and spoken by God, full of God, leading to God; let that assumption be nothing but an x to work with, but let us try how that assumption works out; then we must believe, commit ourselves to certain propositions and doctrines, receive a certain testimony and witness into our hearts; then we must indicate a certain discipline of humiliation, depletion, bereavement, mockery, disappointment; the whole time healing a voice saying, Hold on, be faithful unto death; do not let go; keep the commandments, follow the Christ, though it cost thee right hand and right eye; persevere. Then see what the upshot is; what are the sheaves we have brought, what the tokens, the signs, the proofs or the disproofs of our spiritual education; and I now say in view of human history and Christian experience that the result of that assumption, faithfully believed and faithfully carried out, is manhood, virility, and masculine nobleness. We began with an assumption, we proceeded to a conviction, we ended with a new manhood.
II. How profitable it would be if instead of going to the library to borrow a very large book to prove that Christ is the Son of God, and that Christianity is the sum of all virtue and spiritual excellence, we would simply go down where the work has been realised and brought into eloquent and impressive life. We do not need the book to prove the argument; the argument proves itself.
I have seen no other religion produce anything like this; other theories I may have intellectually accepted on approbation for purposes of speculative inquiry and titillation, but I have seen this Christianity do such things, and do such things by the very necessity of its own nature; I have seen this decalogue work such and such results, and these beatitudes realise themselves in such and such forms of heroism and martyrdom, patience and beneficence, that I have living, breathing, imperishable proofs and authorities.
Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. iii. p. 50.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 18". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany