The Living sought among the Dead.


Why seek ye the living among the dead. S. LUKE xxiv. 5. WHY seek ye the living among the dead ? Who, you will ask, does this now ? I. It is done, in the worst sense, by those whom Scripture calls the children of this world. If we look for our happiness below whether in riches, honours, or pleasures, whether in ambition, self-indulgence, or love we are, in the worst sense, seeking the living among the dead. This world is one great sepulchre, and the men that live for it are so many soulless bodies. This life, let it run its course for a few years, has been to each of us, or will be, the grave of many hopes, many beliefs, and many affections. How difficult is it, looking back even from middle life, much more from old age, even to imagine to ourselves enjoyments which in some earlier stage of being were our all in all ! Pursuits which we once lived for seem to us now mere insipidity and emptiness. Joys for which we would have sold a birthright are seen now as the mere mess of pottage. Friends, alas ! whom we once idolised have forgotten us or have been forgotten. The mere lapse of time, the mere change of circumstances still within the limits of this life makes everything that is behind seem insignificant, seem delusive: shall it not be thus when we advance one step further, and look back upon the world that is from the world that shall be? Let us listen betimes to the warning voice which says to us, Why seek ye the permanent in the transitory? * Why seek ye the living among the dead ? II. The same question has its application to formalism in religion. And what do we mean by formalism ? We mean that habit of rest ing in the means of grace as if they were ends, of regarding the ordinances of religion as if they were securities for acceptance, which is at once the oldest and the most obstinate of all human tendencies in the things of God. There may not have been in the man one spark of real sorrow for sin, of real anxiety for salvation, of real wrestling in prayer, of real, honest, heart-deep gratitude to the Saviour who shed for him His most precious blood. And if it be so, if it be indeed so, then to him belongs, not in an encouraging but in a fatally condemning application, the grave question of the text, Why seek ye the living among the dead ? III. We approach more nearly to its first meaning when we speak of its bearing upon the case of doubters. These flit around the

grave, they feel it as holy ground, they bring their offerings of praise and of reverence to Him whom they have left lying therein. But 79

EASTER DAY they stop short of a hearty and a lively faith in Christ risen. They hope it may be so ; they do not deny it ; but it forms no part of their daily trust or of their daily motive. And thus they lose, and must lose, that which is distinctive and characteristic in Christianity. They cannot hold the Atonement, and they cannot hold the Divinity, of their Saviour. They cannot build upon Him, and they cannot live by Him. Oh, for a voice, not of severity but of attraction, to ring in their ears the angelic remonstrance, Why seek ye the living One among the dead ? IV. There is a different case, though in one point resembling this, to which I would make a last application of the words of the text. It is that of Christian people, true believers, firm holders of the Pro pitiation and the Mediation of Jesus Christ, but who yet never advance practically beyond the death, beyond the Cross and the grave, into the clear light and full glory of a risen Saviour. They bring their sins for forgiveness, night by night, to the foot of the Cross ; they place no slight and no presumptuous trust in that blood of sprinkling which speaks peace to the conscience ; and they pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit to keep them from treating as an unholy or a common thing that blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified. What lack they yet ? Onwards not back wards, upwards not downwards, be the eye of their souls ever directed, if they would know the inheritance, the present inherit ance, of the saints in light, or know the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of His calling, who says, I am the Resurrection and the life : he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. He is not here : He is risen/ DEA VAUGHA . 1. 68 FREE BOOKS


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful