THE BURDE I WORD AD I WEAR.

BY REV. JOSEPH ODELL
The burden of the Word of the Lord." — Zechariah xii., 1.
What wonderful men those ancient prophets were ; how lonely,
solemn, honest and fearless ! God's men, possessing within them
the inspiration of a Divine call, and hot with the action of a Divine
fire, they went forth with commanding might and majesty to do
God's work. As we read their prophecies in these distant days
the men start up before our minds and seem to live again. There
is Isaiah, grown snowy white with age. He has seen kings die ;
priests fall at the altar ; people of two generations pass away;
yet he appears to grow young with whitening years and fresh-
ens for his work with age, while in a foreign city and in the
trials of captivity he moves from street to street, a grand example
of open-air preaching, as with trumpet voice he tells the people
of their sins, and points them to the coming Deliverer. There is
Jeremiah also — that man of grief, that weeping seer ; he grew so
full of sorrow at the approaching doom of the people that he
could not tell it all ; — his preaching would have been choked by
sighs and groans, so, taking a new parchment scroll, he writes
God's message, and putting the ominous document under his arm,
with downcast looks he ascends the temple steps and nails his
message up ; then with streaming eyes and breaking heart he re-
turns in loneliness to his home, awaiting the judgments of his God.
And Ezekiel too, he began his work in the morning of his days,
yet how manly and mature he looks ! he employs no half measures
to convey God's truth ; he is very practical withal ; his faith is
fully shown by his works, for having told his message, he moves
all his goods from his house and then awaits in patience the visi-
tation of the Lord. In this text Zechariah appears before us.
The picture is a gloomy one ; he has seen better days ; when a
122 UDER CAVAS.
young man, he took part in those stirring scenes of the return
from bondage and the rebuilding of the temple ; he has now
fallen on evil days, and in his old age too ; for the people have
forgotten their former mercies, they have deserted the temple and
dishonored God. The good old man cannot endure this ; the bur-
den of the Lord rests heavily upon him ; he cannot refrain ; his
summons to reform falls with threatening, ominous tones upon the
people; the heads of the nation were alarmed, but the people
generally were so persistent in their course, that rather than re-
form they mocked the messenger of God, and he, burdened with
the word of the Lord, went sadly to his grave.
These were the men ; they carried Divine truth with them ;
this gave them their burdens : nor does it reduce their lives as
examples for us, to say they were supernaturally endowed; it
was this endowment that made them strong to meet the flood-tide
of evil and scale the mountain barriers of idolatry. God gave
them their hope and proved Himself their amulet and glory.
The ministry of this day ought not to be regarded as so en-
tirely dissimilar from those ancient prophets. Without the pro-
phets' mien or garb, and without the prophets' miraculous power,
we are, notwithstanding, called to as great a work ; and we have
certainly the greater opportunities and the greatest privileges;
supported by the accumulated experiences of the past, sustained
by the Holy Spirit of God, carrying the solemn saving message
of the Lord, we should feel like men wrapt in garments of flame.
Ours should be words that would flash as the lightning, roll as
the thunder and distil as the dew, and invariably as we weep be-
tween the porch and the altar we also should feel the burden —
" The burden €>f the Word of the Lord." ow, praying that this
sense of responsibility may be mine ; conscious of the presence
of beings from other worlds to watch the issues of this service,
and oppressed with the knowledge that the delivery of this Word
may decide your position in the scale of moral, intelligent and
saved beings for evermore, I present to you " the burden of the
Word of the Lord."
We study the subject, first, as the burden in word.
The word "burden" is of very simple and general application;
it cannot well be misunderstood ; it is often used by the prophets ;
the meaning there varies according to the relation the word sus-
tains. For instance, the responsibility that the prophets felt in
their reception of the Word from God, and their official obligations
made a burden for them ; the announcement and continued de-
livery of the Word was a very burdensome duty to them ; the
thought of the hardness and guiltiness of the people imposed a
burden on them also ; the people too had their burdens; the law
of God, the repetition of warning, the demands of righteousness
THE BURDE I WORD AD I WEAR. 123
the people so frequently regarded as burdens ; the simple and
faithful acceptance of the messages from God led to burdens of
condemnation for past sins that none but God could remove ;
hence, it seems perfectly natural for us to read of the burden in
word. To some, however, there may appear a strange paradox
in the burden of a word. What can be lighter than a word ?
Words so quickly spoken and so soon forgotten ; a word is but a
vibration on the air, it may be but a simple sound, — an articula-
tion; where can be the burden of this AVord? Such, however, is
but a partial view of the subject ; even small words may impose
great burdens ; words have been uttered that have electrified the
nations ; seas have bent beneath the weight of navies, and
the thunder of artillery and the clash of warlike implements have
drowned the thunders of the skies, and all has started by a few
short words. The message wired from the President of this great
commonwealth to all the States might paralyze the country for a
time ; a few words, — just strokes of the pen from the Admiralty
of Great Britain might close the naval yards of the country and
desolate the homes of multitudes of families ; a few words spoken
in Berlin and repeated in Paris, gave us all the shocking scenes of
the Franco-German war. If such may be the weight of words
spoken by mortals, what must be the burden of the Word of the
King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible ? We now present you with
a ponderous fact. We have a Word from the Lord! There is no
clear ground for doubt upon the subject. Our Bible has stood the
test of logical, critical, sceptical and friendly investigation ; fiend-
ish malice from one side, and human experience on the other have
heard this Word, and found it to be all-conquering, — all-Divine.
It has taken a position in harmony with its claims, millions upon
millions of our race keep it by them, carry it with them, love it
and obey it as the Word of the Lord. It bears a likeness in har-
mony with its high claims ; it is like its Author ; the writing and
the lines, the spirit and design of it prove it all-Divine. As one of
the starry sons of science, discovering a new truth in astronomy,
starting back from his table and looking reverently up to heaven,
said, "My God, this is too beautiful not to be true;" so in the
message of this book, the Word of the Lord — " it is too beautiful
not to be true ! " It assumes an authority equal to its claims.
"Thus saith the Lord," is the herald that introduces all its solemn
teachings ; it is the voice of the great God and King of earth and
heaven ; it comes ringing down the starry steep above us and en-
tering every attentive heart, it says : " Let the wicked forsake his
way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return
unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our
God, for He will abundantly pardon." This being the truth rela-
tive to the authenticity and divinity of the Word, we must acknow-
124 UDER CAVAS.
ledge our tremendous obligations ; we must give the most profound
attention to its discoveries; it shows that men are all sinners;
Christ the universal Redeemer ; this life a preliminary, a margin
only ; death is a solemn frontier, and a deep blue eternity beyond
the destiny of us all ; it attests that we must give up sin, fly to
Christ, accept His atonement, grasp the saving power of His
grace, live holy by an in-dwelling Spirit, and die in the full triumph
of faith, then rise to eternity's throne. We must most faithfully
administer its teachings ; as ministers of Christ a dispensation of
the Gospel is given unto us. What a responsibility is ours to-
night ! " Son of Man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house
of Israel Thou shalt warn them from me, Oh, wicked
man thou shalt surely die." What a work for mortals ! Ruling
empires is nought to this : not one solitary hearer present but
must take an impression from this service that will never wear
off : heaven and hell will forever ring w r ith recited memorials of
this service ! " Oh Earth, Earth, Earth, hear the Word of the
Lord." " Come now T and let us reason together, saith the Lord,
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." We
must most promptly and fully obey this word — " Be ye doers of
the Word." " To-day if ye will hear His voice harden not your
hearts." " Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die." " Repent ye
and be converted." " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou
shalt be saved."
Let me now speak, secondly, of the word of the Lord, as the
burden in wear. Having taught this Word, you have now to take
the truth, to put it on, to wear it, to feel its weight as the pro-
phets felt ; no one can wear your burden ; we, as preachers of the
Word, may feel our own responsibility, but we cannot feel yours ;
we cannot repent for you, we cannot take the life- weights of piety
and carry them for you. I pray that the blessed Spirit of God
may fit the burden to every soul this night. You must feel first
a burden of guilt. This Word charges you with a violation of
God's law ; guilty you stand ; are you too hardened to feel your
guilt and shame and condemnation ? I pray you may feel heavily.
Paul describes your very state when you begin to bow down under
this burden : " Oh, wretched man that I am ! " David said, " Mine
iniquities have gone over my head, as a heavy burden ; they are
too heavy for me." The publican on the temple steps was so
burdened that he could not raise his head or lift his eyes to heaven ;
this must first come upon the unconverted here. This is the
weight, if not felt by the ungodly on earth, must weigh them down
forever. ext, there must be a burden of grief. The weight of
your guilt will draw open the weeping cross gate ; sorrow for sin
will make the tears flow ; reflection of Jesus' love to a guilty sinner
THE BURDE I WORD AD I WEAR. 125
will melt the heart ; " they shall look upon Him whom the} T have
pierced, and they shall mourn;" there shall be mourning apart,
every family apart ; the loneliness of heart-sorrow shall be felt;
like the little boy of troubled heart, who wept when he thought
of the Saviour's death for him, because he could not help it.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
My spirit next is filled
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I killed.
Then must follow a burden of grace.
This is the result of transfer : you may lay your burden of
guilt and grief down at the feet of Jesus and take up the burden
of grace ; your faith this moment may make the transfer. " I
lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God." Faith connects
the sinner with the Saviour. Jesus now waits your act of trans-
fer. The burden of grace is prepared for universal wear ; all
may bear it now and bear it gracefully ; the religion of Christ is
not a license, but a law — the law of love ; grace is the ballast of
the life ; it is the burden and restraint of a willing service ; " bur-
dens of love are light." Jesus says, " Come unto Me, all ye that
labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest ; take my
yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in
heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for My yoke is
easy and My burden is light." This burden so light is also very
enjoyable and beneficial, for David said, after his transfer: " Bless-
ed be the Lord, who daily loadeth me with benefits, even the God
of my salvation." This burden is available for all ; there is no
difficulty in the way ; you may all put it on and wear it as your
protection and beauty.
Finally, there shall be a burden of glort.
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for
us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." A weight
of glory then ! Of this burden we cannot fully speak ; but we
know that, as in the universe of law, there is a principle called
gravitation, a subtle, mysterious power that draws all bodies and
keeps an infallible balance from the centre ; so this " far more ex-
ceeding and eternal weight of glory," by a mysterious, majestic
power, is drawing our souls upward ; the burden of grace and
the burden of glory have a secret affinity to each other ; but
there is more weight above and so we rise ; the world recedes, it
disappears ; heaven opens to our view ; sounds seraphic fall upon
our ears, and we pass home to the centre of light and fife,
evermore to live upon the golden glory that comes from the
Word of the Lord.
In conclusion. I plead with you to believe this "Word and
accept the burdens it imposes. May the Lord help you. Amen,
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