The revelations of the Way

Acts 26:16.---' To this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee.' In looking back upon his earliest sight of Christ, Paul felt that it had somehow opened a door in him for visions and discoveries coming after. In itself it was very great, but it was not everything. He had seen the Lord, but he had seen Him in such a way as to be sure of seeing Him again; for a Lord of that grace and fullness could not be content to appear for a moment and then to vanish as if he had only one thing to say.

A MAN'S EXPERIENCE OF GOD OUGHT TO GROW.---Paul had brooded hotly over the unreasoning doggedness of these Nazarenes, who, against the judgment of the wise, had set up in their hearts as Master, One whose career had ended with the disgrace of crucifixion. But now this same Jesus was revealed in a splendor which robbed the Cross of any suggestion of defeat. And it was not only victory that he saw, but the revelation of a character; for Jesus that day had come down as the defender of His folk in Damascus, a people few and frail, but lying so near to Him that all blows struck at them found out His heart, and that, on the other hand, all majesty and strength that were His were theirs also. That was a tremendous discovery, which changed the face of everything for Paul. It gave him another God---a God not so much making righteous demands on men as coming to their help, a God not of law but of grace. Here truly are the things that angels desire to look into, why should he wish for more? Was it not enough that he had seen, and that now, for all his days, he might remember?

Well, for one thing, the revelation was of God; and once a man has come where God is he discovers himself in a region in which there is no end to amazement. A small man wrestles to do what, after all, is inconsiderable work; but from the man of spacious nature great things come with a certain splendid ease. We may admire his work, but we are scarcely astonished by it---everything about him is of the same sort. It is matter of daily experience that, when a man meets a casual call magnificently, we do not conclude that that is all we shall get from him. We anticipate that in the dim days to come he will play a great man's part. and it is surely less than reason, when we have seen any working of God, so quickly to draw the line and say, We have had our experience, and now we must remember it, and live upon it. In this case also, through the work we should guess at the greatness of the Worker, at depth, and radiance, and tenderness beyond our sense as yet, which only the future can disclose. If even a man cannot be seen in any single act or period, much more must God move on from event to event in order to convey to our slow minds the assurance of the fullness of His life.

When God spoke to Israel, the revelation was outspread over the changing history of a nation through fifteen hundred years. 'Abraham saw him and was glad'; but if men had halted with Abraham, content to see no more of God, how ill the world would have known its King! And the revelation still moves from age to age; not that new thoughts come so much as fresh thoughts, words which are todays message and not some far-off yesterday.

I see something of God in each hour of the day, and each moment of each hour; I find letters from God dropped in the streets, and every one is signed by God's name, and I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoever I go others will punctually come for ever and ever.

And as the revelation comes from the living God, so it is addressed to man, who is a growing creature. We never continue even for a year at one point. Something in us withers, whilst other needs and tendencies expand; and, moving away from ourselves, we look across, after a while, with a sense of estrangement, to the creature we used to be. That person so hot about things I care nothing for, so zealous in defense of friends whom I dislike, so greedy for pleasures which weary me---that person, somehow or other, was myself; only, for better or worse, I am now translated, and am not the man I was. As circumstances change, new needs assert themselves, and I am driven to lay hold of other powers of good and evil in the world; I look with other eyes and ask for other rewards, and if I am living on the message of yesterday, it cannot be to me what it was, for I am different.

Who is he is honest towards himself could say that the religion of his manhood was the same as that of his childhood, or the religion of his old age the same as the religion of his manhood? It is easy to deceive ourselves and to say that the most perfect faith is a childlike faith. Nothing can be truer, and the older we grow the more we learn to understand the wisdom of a child-like faith. But before we can learn that, we have first to learn another lesson, namely, to put away childish things. there is the same glow about the setting sun as there is about the rising sun; but there lies between the two a whole world, a journey through the whole sky and over the whole earth.

NOTHING HELPS THIS GROWTH LIKE EXPECTATION.---Many people pass from preacher to preacher, and from book to book, fastening upon new ideas as they go, and dropping them to catch at others; it is doubtful if they grow rich in the course of their pilgrimage. But others have no better prosperity who abide where life has set them, like stones squatting in the river's bed, overflowed only in times of highest crest. In every Church there are men and women who, at some time of revival, have been submerged when the realities of God broke over them, and they had thought for nothing else; and whenever a revival preacher comes they go to hear him, and they sit wondering if this time the water will rise about them again, and give them the sense of the rush and the power of the full stream. They have not been keeping themselves in the love of God, in health and exercise and obedience, but they hope that the crowd and the stir and the hymns will do it for them. That, certainly, is not the hopeful way of progress.

Nothing is more needful than continuous expectation. The mind which is conscious that the world is unexhausted will not fail to see marvels, for each man makes his own world. The artist bears about with him a faculty of appreciation which is the key to a hundred secret chambers of delight. A dull man, who has made up his mind on everything, may grumble even at a change in the vocabulary which he has learned to associate with the things of God; but his neighbor who sits beside him, with sense alert and vigilant, knows that the best word ever spoken about God is too dim and faint for the reality. Which of these two will see? he merely orthodox who remembers and deplores, or the man of faith who anticipates and desires?

Some of us in these days are hindered by perplexities of the intellect. The matters on which we cannot be sure increase, and perhaps no habit needs more to be cultivated than that of magnifying our certainties. There are things which we know, and as we exalt these and live in the power of them, the greater things draw near. They go from strength to strength, from grace to grace, from vision to vision; and it is an honor which our Lord desires that, whilst in our hearts we do justice to the goodness of what we have, we should be looking for the things which are yet to be revealed, for there is no coming to the end of the love of Jesus Christ.

THERE OUGHT TO BE GROWTH IN A MAN'S TESTIMONY.---There are many ways of bearing witness, but in some way a man is bound to make known what has become so marvelous to himself. Some have no words, and yet their bearing as they go about the common tasks is enough to let their fellows guess at the wells from which they have been drinking. It is a hard world to live in, and if we have discovered a secret which has changed its face for us, we have an obligation to those who do not know.

But Paul, who often was content to tell the story of his own arrest on the Damascus road, felt that he had other words to speak. he was to be a witness of the things wherein his Master would yet appear to him, and thus there is visible in the Epistles a continual growth and movement. There is a message of the door which is never out of date, but new aspects of the grace of Christ are discovered as one lives with Him, and thus the accent changes. Those who wish to help their fellows must always be learning and unlearning. Nothing can be worse than speaking from the memory and not from the heart and from today. What helps us most in the distresses of life is not our ideas, however shiningly original, but the immediacy of our contact with the living God; and if we speak as of today we can scarcely fail to help, for through us the ever urgent goodwill of the Father will find utterance.

That implies that we must, at all times, be willing to admit that what we saw or what we said yesterday was less than the whole. There are reaches and remoteness without end; how shall I ever do justice to that vast expanse? 'I bow the knee,' says Paul, 'and pray that, with all the saints, we may comprehend the length and breadth and depth and height, and that we may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.' With all the saints---for it exceeds the power of the wisest to know---it takes a world of holy men to do justice to the endlessness of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

I could tell you, of a great kinsman of the Lord, of friends who have been fifty years in Christ, and though they hold a constant jubilee in the sense of His love, yet they will tell you that they are only scholars in the lowest form, beginning to spell out the alphabet of the grace of our Lord Jesus. After fifty years in Christ, only just beginning to know, only just matriculated in the Academy of Love!

In Christ, timothy. maranatha