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Character and Circumstance.

Character and Circumstance.

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Luke xvii. 34, 36.


Luke xvii. 34, 36.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 17, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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CHARACTER AD CIRCUMSTACE.BY REV, H. S. HOLLAD, M.A.Luke xvii. 34, 36.The Christian life, as we have been seeing, has twoaspects which stand in the sharpest contrast one to theother. On the one hand, it has its seat and source farhence in the hidden Heaven, ** where Christ sits at theright Hand of God." There lies our citizenship "inJerusalem, the free, the mother of us all." Thither weare to send our hearts travelling — where our treasure islaid up, unstolen and incorruptible. In this Heavenly-place, in all hours of blessing and thanksgiving, we sitwith Christ our Master; we take a Heavenly Food; welay our lives in His Hand, to hold fast for us againstthat day : and, for the hope so set before us, and inloyalty to that high calliag, we struggle here on earthto take up our cross ; to be crucified in the affectionsand lusts, mortifying the body ; to die with Christ, tobe already dead, that our life may be even now hid inHim ; to hate father, mother, sisters, and brothers ; toleave home, and land, and wife ; to seek that city notmade with hands, to enter the rest, the rest whichCharacter and Circumstance. 329remaineth. We are children of the Eesurrection, forwhom to die is gain, because it will restore us to theBridegroom, now taken from us, and so shall we bewith Christ, which is far better. So we wait groaningin this earthly tabernacle. So the heart of faith inApostle and Saint beats its wings against withhold-ing bars. So, as an exile by strange waters, it makesmelody to itself in psalms, and hymns, and spiritualsongs. But nevertheless, on the other side, not inspite of the homeward yearning, but by virtue of it ;not in forgetfulness of the hidden Lord, but in veryfaithfulness to His honour ; that same heart, fed withbread from Heaven, turns, with a warmer love and afresher zeal, and a more tender patience, to the sceneof its dying Master's toils. It pours out its devotions,
its pains, its tears, its strength, upon all that hungersand suffers here. It lends itself to the world's pursuits,closes with the world's interests, and labours at theworld's business with all the fervour of men who havethe possessions committed to them of their Master tobe used on His behalf. With a sharp reckoning ahead,and a short time in which to prepare for it, their faithin a risen and remote Lord intensifies the pleasure of the work to be got through on earth before He returns ;and so we have already been considering thosefamiliar motives which make the very absence of theMaster beyond the grave the reason for quickeninginterest in the things to be done on this side of death.And yet the picture may seem, to some, fantastic andfanciful. It may look very unlike human nature to bedragged in two directions at once. Men m^y say, " I330 The Christian Life here on Em^th.can understand one line or the other. I can under-stand a Saint, a Hermit, an Apostle, possessed with theone longing to be with Christ ; but to such an one thisearthly tabernacle must remain as a prison house, — mean, contemptible, and unkind. Or I can imagine theman to whom the active business of this life and thedevelopment of his present energies is an absorbingoccupation, to which he willingly gives his utmost skill ;but then, to him Heaven must seem a far-off andstrange dream, which he finds it very difficult to peopleor to conceive, and which he cannot bring to bearupon his daily business with any force or decision. Hefinds himself compelled to leave off imagining it, andto hope for the best. He prays for entry there here-after, but in no practical sense can he manage to intro-duce its hope into the thick of actual and occupieddays." " These two worlds," it may be said, " cannotwell be pictured to belong to one another — Earthhere and Heaven hereafter ; they cannot be imaginedintermingling or interlacing. They cannot cross eachother's lines ; they are too violently alien in type andfeatures to be brought together in the intimate fashionwhich this account of the Christian faith requires.How can a fitness to sit in Heavenly places withChrist of itself adapt us to act among our fellows on
earth ? If our treasure is in Heaven, then our heartscannot be here. True, you can give us some romanticreasons why we should value this earth out of love fora Master Who has left it in our charge, but it remainsthat we are to be dead to this Jife, and to live in thebelief that it will all be put away from us at the last ;Character and Circumstance. 331aad no romantic loyalty to a lost Master's memory willfinally sustain our interest in earth in face of that, itsutter worthlessness. Surely, it is an unnatural pre-tence to profess that you love father, and mother, andsisters, and brothers, and house, and land, all the morebecause for Christ's sake you have learned to despise,hate, and forsake them."ow, that is the criticism of common sense on themysticism of the Christian position. It divides itself into two great heads.First, it declares that there is not sufficient unityof kind between our life here and life hereafter toallow of this identity of interest ; and then it supposesthat this strange doctrine by which we are called uponto live in two worlds at once is in collision with humannature as we find it. Let us ask. Is it true that thereis no unity of kind between our life here and life here-after ? Let us consider what is it that will certainlybe the same with us here and hereafter. What isthere that we shall carry away with us when we die,when everything else falls away from us ? What is itwhich we shall still be — that which no conditions canchange or efface; which will abide there under theawful Eyes, before the Throne, in the sight of Heaven ?We know that it is our character. That must stand.Strip it as you will of all that encumbers it here, thereit will still be all the more sure and visible for thisnakedness. Our character — a certain moral structurewhich has come together with the growth of years, acertain combination of ruling motives, a certain bendof will, a peculiar set of emotional currents, a peculiar

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