The Abiding Word

1 Pet. 1:23.---' The word of the Lord which liveth and abideth.'

When we speak of the Word of the Lord, we mean the very thought of the living God, sent forth to reach the mind, to dwell in the heart, and to become part of the life of His creature. As it comes from the Infinite, the Eternal, it partakes of His Truth, His Eternity, His Infinity. By it man knows God, and 'this is life eternal,' this is a permanent possession, this is a lasting heritage, 'to know thee, the only living and true God.'

The Moral Law abides for ever.---Right is right, and wrong is wrong, by an absolute decree. Though all appearances are against it, 'though hand join in hand'---appearances are one thing and reality quite another---right in the long run must prevail, and 'wickedness shall not go unpunished.' It is ever true that to put God first, to refuse to make any object other than Him the object of final worship, to consecrate to Him the gift of speech, to consecrate to Him the gift of time, to reverence authority where He has placed it, especially in fatherhood, which is the shadow of Himself, to respect the gift of life, to deal reverently with the tremendous power of the transmission of life, to respect the property of others, to respect that most valuable form of property, a neighbor's good name, to be loyal to truth, to guard from the touch of wrong desires the sacred sanctuary of motive---in other words the Ten Commandments, the Moral Law, these abide for ever. These come from the very heart, from the very nature, of God; these can be made a part of our very being; and, if so, we may be sure they will not fail us when all things pass and change.

Moral law is permanent and universal. Men may rebel against it, but sooner or later it vindicates itself in its sure vengeance on the transgressor. We cannot compromise with it. No doubt we are often perplexed about the exact form of our right compliance with its demands, but we must not be tempted to suppose that morality can be bent to our wishes or convenience. Moral uniformities are as constant as what we call natural law. We do not win our freedom by opposing either. We become free by obedience.

The Catholic Faith abideth for ever.---Call it the Divine revelation, call it the Gospel of Christ, call it the Catholic Faith, call it what you will; do not quarrel about names, but remember that body of unchanging truth with regard to God's nature and man's dealing and man's relation to God does not change. It is full of simple truths for the devout and unlearned mind; it is full of the highest truths for the exercise of the most exalted intellect; but, above all, it is meant to feed and direct the immortal part of man. It is the knowledge to know which practically is to be learned for eternity, even if we are wanting in much culture, which is useful and interesting for the present moment; it is of such importance that not to know it and not to live by it, even if we have all other learning, is to be destitute indeed. Of all duties there is none more paramount than, in heart and life, to 'hold the faith.'

It has been my lot to know not a few of the famous men of our generation, and I have always observed that there is no lasting happiness without faith. All 'Moral' satisfactions soon pall by custom, and as soon as one end of distinction is reached, another is pined for. There is no finality to rest in, while disease and death are always standing in the background. Custom may even blind men to their own misery, so far as not to make them realize what is wanting; yet the want is there.

Love is known to be all this. How great, then, is Christianity, as being the religion of love, and causing men to believe both in the cause of love's supremacy and the infinity of God's love to man.

The Bible, in its sacred and unapproached preeminence, abideth for ever.---Its charm as a varied literature cannot but be widely felt; its wonderful pathos, its deep reality, its unbending witness to the glory of righteousness, its constant insistence on the reality and greatness of the unseen---these things no one can deny. Ut we are told in some quarters that the "higher criticism" of this enlightened age has proved a solvent to the old beliefs about the Bible. Certainly reverent criticism has done much to illustrate its history and illuminate its meaning. There is also another kind of criticism which is far enough from reverent. But we may take courage. As various unbelieving criticisms arise, they startle or they attract; "the world goes wondering after the beast," the fashion passes, the last novelty is dismissed to the limbo of forgotten audacities, and the old Book lives on. It lives on because it has in it the life and thought of the unchanging God, felt in serious moments to be of the last importance for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for consolation, to the soul in the journey of life.

We recognize that a book is alive when it touches our modern needs and hopes and problems, when it appeals to the people of today. Yet vitality does not mean novelty. It has a deeper meaning for each generation---a meaning which the labors of modern students have done something to bring to light, but with future ages will certainly grasp more and more fully---a meaning which no changes in society or belief can put out of date. In a far profounder sense we claim that no changes in society or belief can put the Bible out of date. It is just as modern today, and just as living, as it was a thousand years ago, and as it will be a thousand years hence.

The Church abideth for ever.---She has had a strange and checkered history. She has had her human side as well as her Divine. She has had her family quarrels, hindering her Divine mission. She has made great mistakes, she has had sorrowful defeats, but she has had triumphant victories. She has used all phases of changing civilization; she has used all varieties of human character and human circumstance; she has been at home with the high-born and she has made friends among the lowly; she has soothed the pain of the sick-bed and brought hope and consolation by the open grave, and she has not neglected to enter into the joys of the marriage morning. But, above all, amidst all the vicissitudes of her changeful career, the living voice of the living God has been heard in her, in her creeds, in her handing on of the sacramental mysteries, in her psalms of praise, in her words of prayer, in her voices of teaching. Other kingdoms may rise and flourish and wane. She carries with her the promise of perpetuity; she has in her the presence of Him 'who liveth, and was dead, and is alive for evermore.'

The Church is that world-embracing society which has God for its foundation, Christ for its Head, and all faithful people for its members---the most ancient, the most continuous, the most universal society---for it began with the beginning of the race, it has drawn its members out of every nation and tongue, and out of every age of history, and it is existent in the world beyond this present world.

Blessed memories, and holy teaching, and holy lives abide for ever.---God's Word has sometimes come to us from a loving mother, or a wise father, or a dear friend. We may have neglected it at the time, but it was not lost; it does not return to God void, but accomplishes the work that was given it to do. Late---perhaps too late for our perfect peace of mind---we pay to the moldering dust the tribute that should have been paid to the beating heart. Blessed are we if, though late, the tribute be paid, and into our souls there sinks as n eternal treasure this Word of the Lord.

Jesus Christ abideth for ever.---The same in His unimpeachable authority, the same in the exact truth of His moral teaching, the same in the depth of His Divine relations, the same in His perfect example, the same in His tender pity, the same in His width of sympathy, the same in His priestly power of sacrifice, the same in His kingly prerogative of pardon; the strength of life, the support in death, the joy of His people for eternity, He is as He ever was---blessed be God, as He ever will be---the Way, the Truth, and the Life, to all who come unto God through Him.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha