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Why are ye so fearful ? — Mark iv. 40. EVER does our Lord seem nearer to us than when He lies in the little vessel on the Sea of Galilee, fast asleep, like one of ourselves. From the deep rest of weary human nature, He is not even awakened by the roar of the tempest about Him. We see in Him here our Brother, who could suffer fatigue of mind and body, and sink overpowered into the forgetfulness and unconsciousness of kindly sleep. So it seems to us now, but to the disciples that sleep was almost like wilful desertion. Jesus was their Master, to whom they looked for help and guidance. In His power they were beginning to have unlimited trust. ow He had laid aside his sceptre, and seemed lost to them in the hour of trouble, even unmindful of them and their needs. They dared to wake Him, and address to Him the words of wounded confidence and almost indignant reproach. The majesty and power of our Lord crowned
MI ISTERI G. 95 Him on awaking. The winds and the waves were hushed into subjection. They who had presumed to rouse Him from His quiet sleep felt Him now an august stranger, and whispered timidly together, " What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
What did the disciples expect the Master to do, when they roused Him to come to their aid, if they were so astonished at the execution of His sovereign power? What a picture we have of the Church of God, and even of individual believers, in those few men in the storm -tossed ship! "They cried unto the Lord in their distress," but were filled with stupefied surprise and timid awe when He heard and answered their prayer. There are few ways in which Christians show more their lack of real faith than when they stand astonished at a direct answer to their prayers. In our troubles we besiege Heaven for help and add in our hearts if not with our lips, "Master, carest thou not if we perish?" Yet we are hushed into convicted silence when the sudden answer to our prayers overtakes us, perhaps as we rise from our knees. Real answers to prayers are not only a rebuke to our latent unbelief, but a strengthening as well to our atom of faith. We have seen what manner of being our Lord is, and more truly
96 OUR ELDER BROTHER. than ever before rely on Him with childlike trust. In such a response to our cry ; we have perhaps a secret with Him alone, which we should shrink, it may be, from naming to mother or sister or brother, yet it sends us singing on our way. It is not to all Christians that the question "Why are ye so fearful?" can with the same
pertinence be addressed. Individual character sets its stamp on the spiritual life, its joys and its difficulties and its temptations. Peter is born Peter, if not in name, and John is born John. We come into the world with fixed characteristics, and probably each with his peculiar bias, his weak places, where the enemy may most readily make his assault. This fact is most important for the educator to remember, be he parent or teacher, A child's natural gifts and tendencies must be patiently and prayerfully studied, by one who would guide and direct and develop him aright. There may be points of character about which even the mother of a boy may be long in doubt, while others will be clear to her from his earliest infancy. There is no characteristic that shows itself more early than timidity. Some children, from the dawn of opening consciousness, are fearless and confiding and friendly. Others shrink from
MI ISTERI G. 97 strangers with a quivering lip, and lay the head on the mother's shoulder, they know not why. Some baby faces will cloud and fill with tears at a harsh word, while others will answer frown with frown, and hasty reproof with irritated opposition. How few children have pains early taken with them to soften and modify their dangerous peculiarities ! There is a time when a human being comes into a new possession of himself, as something given back to him, as Moses was to his mother,
to be trained not like Moses for an earthly princess, but as a voluntary subject of the King of Kings. Bought with a price, we are no longer our own, but pledged to live in the midst of this evil world in accordance with the laws of Him who has bought us. The beginner in the Christian life sees in himself an instrument to be used in his Master's service. What is the temper of that instrument? What is its appointed work? He hardly knows its strength or its deficiencies. On a careful examination he is discouraged, humbled, cast down. He seems made up of incongruous elements, diseased, out of joint, imperfect at every point. In the midst of this natural and suitable humiliation he should take courage. Every human character is an uncompleted work. It is not to be judged of until the last ingredient, the essential ingredient, is added 7
98 OUR ELDER BROTHER. to the composition. The cure for the apparent disease must be applied. The hand of the Master must set right the disordered machinery. The Power that is the secret of all growth must develop what is imperfect or existing only in the hopeful germ. Our very faults may be for us the source of our virtues, if subjected to the healing touch of the Great Physician. Have you an anxious, timid, shrinking nature that you think unfits you for a true soldier of the Cross? You are weak that you may be strong. atural courage, headlong, thoughtless bravery, even to rashness, can stand abashed before the courage of a Heaven-
sustained Christian woman. Such women, in the strength that cometh from above, can face danger and certain death with a calm and cheerful offering of themselves for a high purpose that ranks them among the noblest and bravest of earth. The fearful who flee to the Lord in their felt helplessness, have a source of courage that is inexhaustible. Let them take heart, and answer the self-reproachful question, " Why are ye so fearful?" with the comforting words, "That because we are fearful, knowing our own weakness, we may so flee to the Lord and trust in Him only, that no anxieties, no coming pains, no threatening dangers can disturb our peace ! " So we might make the round of human frailties
MI ISTERI G. 99 and shortcomings and special temptations. "Man's necessity is God's opportunity," here as elsewhere. Our faults, our very sins, may be made the prompters and sources of our virtues. The place where the fort was known to be weakest has been made its strongest point. The struggle, through God's grace, with our known enemy, may make us excel where we have most frequently failed. The tried and tempted may not only be the forgiven and reformed, but the rescuer of the falling and the fallen, and the glad finder of the lost and despairing.
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