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John xvii. 6.


John xvii. 6.

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


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THE SECRET OF THE CHURCH.BY REV, H. S. HOLLAD, M.A.John xvii. 6.We are asking, What is it that the Gospels have totell us of a Church ? And this, not in a few raretexts, open, as all isolated texts must be, to discussionand hesitation, — but in their inherent and vital teach-ing, as expressed throughout the length and breadthof their consentient record. And we put this questionin its most crucial form if we ask it thus — Do thefour Gospels imply that our Lord Jesus was content tothrow the truth down upon the open area of theworld, and to leave it to make its own way, to shapeits own course, among the listening crowds, undirectedand unorganised? Did He discharge His messagewithout taking securities who should hear it? WasHe as a sower who sowed His seed without askingwhere it fell ?Here is the salient question, and the answer isabsolutely certain and precise. Some seed there wasHe cast out loose among the multitudes, to fall whereit would; some general offer of Himself He made toall who passed by, to all who drew near: but suchoffer, such message, was only experimental, suggestive54 The Church m the Gospels,parabolic. It acted as a test, as a probe, as a sieve.It operated as a judgment between man and man,between those that had ears to hear, and those whohearing heard not. His full significance was nevertold the crowd. o, not even though the patheticappeal came up from the bewildered Jews, "Tell usplainly, art Thou the Christ ? " It could never betold plainly. It could never utter itself in wordsthat would be plain to those who were not in themoral condition of His sheep, and who could not,therefore, know His voice. His ame, which is Him-self, could never be committed to the floating crowd.or was His inner secret ever once cast down loose to
take its chance. On the contrary, the Gospel storyis the record of the pains and anxiety with which theLord sifted, selected, prepared those few to whom this.His vital and essential message, should be committed.Where else but in this lies the terrible interest of theGospels ? We are spectators at a living drama. Wewatch the Lord passing through the multitudes, asthey sway beneath and about Him, like great tidesthat roll, and swing, and lapse, and roll again, underthe quiet eye of the moving moon. We know thesilent secret that He holds deep buried — His Death atJerusalem — on which His entire Will is unerringlybent. We know; but those crowds know nothing,suspect nothing. Who is there that will ever believethe report? Who will be found to understand, andshare the tremendous news? To whom will the armof the Lord be revealed ? We wait, and watch, as oneby one they are detected, detached, elected. Two thereThe Secret of the Church. 55are, first, who followed that silent Teacher home, andabode with Him in His own house. And each of thesehas a brother to bring on the morrow. Strange thingsthey learned, alone there in the house with Him ; andthey could tell what they had learned : " We havefound the Christ." Andrew findeth Peter. And, then,there is one on whom our Lord's eye has already fallen :"Jesus findeth Philip;" and Philip, once brought, canbring another, the Jew without guile. The work isbeginning, but a whole year will pass before four of these, who so heard and learned, will be summonedto the intimacy of discipleship, and will be shaped forthe great work. And not yet, even to them, is a wordsaid of the inner secret. Much is first to be done:fierce trial ; bitter experience ; sharp agonies of judg-ment. These four are called, and, after the longnight's prayer among the hills alone. He adds eightothers ; and with these He walks. Keenly He watchesthem, searches them, prepares them. Even now, dothey know Him ? Dare He trust them ? Have theydiscovered His meaning. His ame ? Who can say ?Far apart He leads them, out from among the troublingnoises of the town, far from the perplexing dishonoursof the home-country. Will they stand? It is a
terrible, a searching hour! All men have misunder-stood, the most faithful are falling away ; and bad asthe case looks to them now, in Galilee, He has worseto tell them, of the desperate things that must be donein Jerusalem. How will they endure it? Are theynot already touched, tainted? ot only are allbaffled, saddened, cast down, but one of them, nor56 The Church in the Gospels.he the least, has even now lost heart, doubted, dis-believed : *' Have I not chosen you Twelve, and oneof you is a devil ? " One of them is gone, is lapsed,is weighed, and found wanting. The Lord feels it,knows it. What of the rest ? " Will ye also goaway ? " It is the crisis of the drama ; and now that,through the great confession of Peter, eleven at leastare found worthy to receive, and hold the unburdenedsecret, the care of the Lord intensifies. With ever-increasing anxiety He devotes Himself to the singletask of preparing those few for the ultimate revela-tion. The Gospel now becomes little else but a storyof their slow and reluctant training. With growingemphasis He unburdens His secret, and for long theycannot accept it. "They understood none of thesethings, and this saying was hidden from them, neitherknew they the things that were spoken." Very slowlythey are made ready, chastened, purged; until thatlast awful hour was reached when, with feet washedclean, with hearts made pure by the word implanted — alone with Him in the upper chamber, apart, hiddenfrom the world, they receive the uttermost secret, nolonger in parable, but in plain speech; and share inthe ew Covenant, and take of His Body, and drink of His Blood.That is the story. There can be no doubt about it.It is perfectly simple, plain, familiar.^ How is it, then,* Cf., for instance, article by Dr. Edwin Hatch in ContemporaryBeview, June, 1885 [on " Canon Liddon's Theory of the Episcopate "] :" We believe that if organisation had had the importance which manyattach to it, that importance would have been marked in the SacredEecord. The main facts of that Record are clear enough for those whoin any sense accept it."

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