Sermon VI. Character of Christian Rebukes.
Feast of St. Stephen.
"And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an Angel."
HE Who humbled Himself, for our sakes, to become Man, humbles Himself still to behold man, to dwell in man, to be honoured in man. And so the Church has, in honour of His Coming in great Humility, gathered around it three Festivals of those whom He sanctified, instances of His Mercy, specimens of that noble army, which, as time goes on, He is enrolling, who, with His Holy Angels, serve Him here, and who, with all the Heavenly Hosts, shall praise Him for ever. They are (it has long been noticed) ensamples of different sorts of Martyrs; the blessed Saint of today, the first-fruits of that noble Army, an actual and willing martyr: to-morrow St. John, a willing but not an actual martyr, preserved, like Daniel's three companions, by His Saviour's Might, stopping the violence of fire, and in the cauldron of boiling oil, a Fence around him, keeping him unconsumed, so that his actual martyrdom was rather, not to die, not "to be dissolved," and be with His Master Whom he loved, but year after year, in suffering expectation await His Coming: the third, the Holy Innocents, earliest crowned, without their deserts, their will, or any tried service. Each of these, severally, was the fruit of His varied Grace; and all, together, set before us the manifold Mercies and depth of Wisdom in God, Whose "ways are not as our ways." In them we see how He dispenseth or withholdeth His Gifts, hasteneth His Work or delayeth it, early delivcreth from this evil world, or preservcth His own unto the end in it, not according to any rules of wisdom which we could see, nor according to our notions of merit or attainment, but according to His Own Sovereign Will and Wisdom, that all may ascribe all honour and might to Him, commit all to Him, acknowledge "both riches and honour" (all we are endowed with, and His Grace crowning His Grace in their holy use) "come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all, and in Thine Hand is Power and Might; and in Thine Hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all. Now, therefore, our God, we thank Thee and praise Thy Glorious Name." Who would have thought that infants would have been the first to "glorify God by their deaths," and that out of their speechless frames He would have "perfected praise?" Or, that of His willing Martyrs, one in the inferior office of Deacon, should have been the first against whom the rage of the enemy would have been maddened? Or that he, the Disciple whom Jesus loved, would have been kept the last from gazing on that Glorious Face Which he so loved, from that Blessed Embrace in the Everlasting Arms, for which he so longed, from reposing in that Bosom whereon, even on earth, he lay, and drank in His Wisdom and His Love? Who would not have thought that lie, so early loving, would have been early perfected; he, so early ripened, would have been gathered early into the garner of the Lord?
Yet more, in these two Saints there is a likeness of natural character, and yet how differently are they dealt with, how differently perfected? Both were naturally full of burning zeal. Of St. John we know that our Lord entitled him "son of thunder;" as, through his early temper, proclaiming rather the Terror and Majesty of the Wrath of God than His Love. In St. Stephen every word and action breathes a Divine might and holy awe, bearing down before him the opposition of man's rebellion. But of these, the one was moulded to proclaim the Lord, as the vessel of His Inspiration, not in the whirlwind, but in the "still small voice" of Love; the other equally speaking, "as moved by the Holy Ghost," was yet taught so to speak, as to draw down quickly the wrath of the adversary, and end at once his burning course, "resisting unto blood," even to the shedding of his own. Yet St. John too could reprove terribly, as in the rebuke of the heretic who denied his Lord, "acknowledging" him as "the first-born of Satan;" and to St. Stephen it was vouchsafed to take upon his dying lips, his Master's prayer of tender self-forgetting love, for those who slew him. [Cerinthus I. Irenæus (3. 3. 4.) says--"they were yet alive who heard" St. Polycarp, his disciple, relate this.] And through that Lord, by Whose Spirit and in Whose Name he prayed, the prayer was heard, and, in his stead, was raised up that "chosen vessel" St. Paul, to carry on the message of mercy, whose early preacher he aided to cut off. By both, again, God would teach us, not to choose for ourselves or for others, "what shall this man do?" but to yield ourselves to do or to suffer, that whereto we are each appointed. He Who perfects His instruments in different ways, would, by that very difference, teach them that their course, from first to last, is not of their own wisdom, but by His Guidance. He would prepare us to trust ourselves beforehand with Him, desiring nothing but what He appoints; wishing for nothing but patient, thankful hearts, to commit our way to Him; fearing nothing but to miss or fall short of His Gracious Will towards us; thankful for every thing whereby He hinders us from following our own and rivets us closer to His; glorying in nothing but that we are not our own, but His.
To think then of the blessed Saint of this day, as a pattern of holy zeal and severity, he is invested with a very aweful character. He is first named to us, as selected for a lowly office, "to serve tables;" yet whereas all, chosen even for this, were to be "full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom," Holy Scripture selects him, above all the rest, to name him as "a man, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." Yet God Who assigned him this humbler place in His Service, and raised him not above it, gave him power beyond it. Immediately on his ordination to it, we are told, how "the Word of God increased," "the disciples in Jerusalem greatly multiplied," and "a great company of Priests were obedient to the Faith." He, not himself a priest of the New Law, subdued unto Christ the priests of the Old. Every word which speaks of him, declares the Might wherewith he was clothed. He was "full of faith and power;" he did no ordinary, but "great wonders and miracles among the people." The learned of five synagogues, who arose to dispute with him, fell before him; they "were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake." As he was to be the first to suffer for his Lord, so it was vouchsafed to him, to be brought before the very same Council on the same charge of speaking against the temple: only, the Lord they accused of foretelling that in three days He would raise a new one; the servant, that he foretold the destruction of the old. Placed before the Council, the Indwelling Spirit so shone through the "tabernacle" which he was "shortly to put off," that his face was no more like the face of man, but of the Holy Angels, who behold and reflect the Face of God. His severe rebuke closed, we hear again that he was "full of the Holy Ghost." His eye was raised above this earth, and quickened to behold things invisible. One steadfast gaze into the Heavens which were to receive him, and he saw what man could "not see and live," "the Glory of God, and Jesus, standing" to defend him, "at the Right Hand of God." And then he was permitted to take upon his lips our Lord's dying prayer, to commend to his God and Saviour his parting spirit, as his Lord committed His to His Father, to pray for his enemies, as his Lord prayed for His, and in his Saviour's words "he fell asleep;" with them his spirit parted from his earthly frame, and passed into his Saviour's Presence, an intercessor with his Saviour, as his Saviour with The Father.
So full of greatness is every word, in which the Scripture speaks of this first of Martyrs, And so we shall be prepared to find the words which, amid all those glories, he spake by the Holy Ghost, full of solemn majesty. To look on them in one way only, as rebuke rather than instruction, they sound very awefully. They seem like the Sentence of God Himself, unveiling the human heart, developing, in signal instances of his history, man's malice, and its fruit-lessness; how the succeeding generation filled up the measure of its fathers, and completed towards the Son what the former had done to the servants, rejecting the Deliverer Whom God chose. So Whom they would not have as a Deliverer, they should have as a Judge. At the close, it seems to deliver them over to that Judgment, as those who, "always resisting the Holy Ghost," were abandoned by Him, as uncircumcised and out of His Covenant, "the betrayers and murderers of the Just One." Wherefore, all the blood of the prophets whom their fathers persecuted, should, with that Righteous Blood, come upon them; not keeping the law, but slaying Him contrary to the law, they should fall under the curse of the law, from which He came to redeem them. The speech, unlike those at other times, closes with no call to repentance. From first to last it sets forth the earnest and grounds of their condemnation. It sounds like the terrible Voice of God, sealing their doom. They are cut to the heart, but repent not. It seems like the two-edged sword, to destroy and not to save; the gnashing of their teeth, an emblem of those cast into outer darkness.
So aweful and severe do the words sound, that most have probably at some time been amazed at them, and at least reverently wondered how words so sharp came out of the mouth of man. How could the ambassador of reconciliation, the messenger of peace, speak so sternly words only of overwhelming wrath! And yet, if we consider, it is but one instance of one very aweful character of Holy Scripture; it is but one specimen of the future office of the Apostles, "on" their "twelve thrones," assessors of the Judge, to "judge the twelve tribes of Israel," and of "the Saints," who "shall judge the world." The holiest have been delegated to be the sternest rebukers of sin, taught to speak in the very tones of our Lord Himself, in Whose Name they speak, Whose Judgment they denounce or foretell. How very terribly do our Lord's own woes on the Pharisees sound! how severe His bidding to "fill up the measure of the iniquity of their fathers!" Both of which occur just before His prophecy of the final Judgment. How, out of His Holy Mouth, have we been startled to hear the words of rebuke to Herod, "Go, tell that fox." How austere, again, His messengers! How does St. John Baptist repel those same Pharisees coming to his baptism, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Or St. Peter, to Elymas, the sorcerer, when he would have "turned the deputy from the faith," "O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness;" or to Simon Magus, "Thy money perish with thee." The Acts of the Apostles close with St. Paul's severe denunciation of judicial blindness on the Jews, "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand;" "for the heart of this people is waxed gross, lest they should understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." How does the same St. Paul pronounce him who loveth not the Lord Jesus Christ, to be "Anathema, maranatha," "devoted to destruction," and "awaiting the Lord's Coming," to fulfil it to the uttermost; and him who made himself High Priest to be a "whited wall," whom God should smite; and that God would "requite" Demetrius "according to his deeds." How does Ahab tremble before Elijah! or Elisha call a king "a son of a murderer," and would not look on or see a king of Israel! And Moses, "the meekest of all men upon the earth, was "very wroth with Korah and his company," and said unto die Lord, "Respect not Thou their offering." How do the Psalmists so denounce vengeance upon God's enemies, and go along with what they denounce, as to "hate them who hate God!"
There is then a very aweful power of rebuke entrusted by God to His chosen servants; and well may it fill us with awe that He has invested men, to such a degree, with His Own Attribute. Yet this same history of St. Stephen furnishes us with limitations of its use, which are still more needful for us. For man, in his waywardness, too often reverses the method of God; he is silent when he should rebuke, in what concerns God's Honour; rebukes when he should be silent, in what concerns his own. He rebukes, when he should be "as one in whose mouth are no rebukes," but "commit himself to Him That judgeth righteously." He rebukes whom he ought not, or in what spirit lie ought not, or being such as ought not.
For they who rebuke should have the commission to rebuke. To rebuke is God's Office and that of those to whom God has delegated it. It is, to stand in the place of God, to pronounce the Sentence of God, and that those rebuked so far fall under that sentence. It is to take the Law of God upon our own lips, and to declare that others have so far transgressed that Law. For nothing is to be censured except what is against the Law of God. All censure, from the least to the greatest, is to apply that Law, and declare it so far broken. When we rebuke, we speak in His Name; and this we dare not presume, of ourselves. It is a very solemn act to speak any how in His Name, Who is "the Judge of all the earth," and our own. "I have not sent these prophets, saith the Lord, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." All whom Holy Scripture speaketh of as rebuking, bore His Commission. Our very Lord, Who was God, spake not His Own words, but the Father's. He saith of Himself in prophecy, "He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword." The rest were His Servants, Messengers, Prophets, Apostles. The Prophets received directly the Commission "See I have this day set thee over the nations and kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down." The Minister speaks in His Name Whose Minister he is; and bears God's express injunction, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." Kings execute judgment, only by Him. Parents are for the time to their children, in the stead of the Father of all, and are, over and above, under a direct injunction to rebuke: "Withhold not correction from the child." We have all the commission, privately and in quiet, to rebuke them who sin against us--"If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him." "The spiritual" have the commission, "in the spirit of meekness," to "restore such an one." Those very directions, who are to rebuke, are a caution to those to abstain who have no such commission. Even "Michael, the Archangel, brought not," unbidden, a "railing accusation," but said the Lord rebuke thee." Elihu excuseth himself that he speaketh, "I am young, and ye are very old, wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion; I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom;" and pleads, for so doing, that he had "understanding," by "the Inspiration of the Almighty." Even St. Timothy, though a Bishop, yet, being young, is directed by St. Paul not to "rebuke? an Elder, but entreat him as a father." Children are taught not to instruct their parents, but to obey them; and it is mentioned as a token of God's Judgment, when "babes shall rule," and "the child behave himself proudly against the ancient." It is spoken of as the last hopeless sign of stiff-neckedness, from which there could be no amendment, "Thy people are as they that strive with the Priest."
Then also, since rebuke is the Voice of God correcting us, they who utter it should be themselves such, as to hope that they speak that Voice. We must listen to those in authority, as our Lord bade to hearken to those who sat in Moses' seat; but they who speak, must, that they sin not, speak the Words of God, and see that they mingle not their own. They of whose rebukes Scripture speaks, are called by His Own Name, "Men of God." Being themselves God's, they spake His words. To St. Stephen, before and after that severe speech, Holy Scripture again and again bears witness, "he was full of the Holy Ghost." St. John Baptist says of our Blessed Lord Himself,"He Whom God hath sent speaketh the Words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, and even thence hath it its sharpness; and, through the power of The Word, whose Word It is, doth It "pierce even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit," and "discern the thoughts and intents of the heart," coming from Him, Who is the Searcher of the heart. To the Prophet God himself saith, "Behold, I will make My Words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood." It devoured man, as being fire from Him, Who "is a Consuming Fire."
Further, since rebuke is of so aweful a character, and inflicts suffering, it must be given, not without suffering to ourselves also, who give it. We may not inflict pain without pain, suffering without suffering. Our Ever-blessed and Gracious Master, Who sends us suffering, Himself first suffered for us. "The Prophets, who spake in the Name of the Lord," are set forth "for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." The Apostles were, as it were, "appointed unto death," and out of the midst of death, bearing about the marks of "their Lord's" Suffering, they "reproved the world of sin, "in the words which the Holy Ghost taught. Elijah and St. John delivered their stern messages, clothed in hair-cloth. In hair-cloth are the two witnesses to torment them that dwell on the earth. St. Stephen delivered his aweful rebuke, as one ready to lay down his life, and was inspired to utter words which should draw on his death. The Bishops of old, when they shut out of the congregation of the Lord those convicted of notorious sin, wept, and mourned, and humbled themselves with those whom they were appointed so to punish. [See Sozom. vii. 16. in Nicholls' notes on Common Prayer Book. Commination Service. Wheatley, Ib. Bingham 18. 2. 2.] All suffering should be inflicted with "sympathy," that is, sharing the suffering. It is to forget our common nature, to inflict it without suffering. "If, when one member suffer, each other member must," Scripture says, "suffer with it," how against nature were it for one member to inflict suffering, and itself not suffer! It were to forget our common Master, Whose office we take; our common frailty, alike liable to be tempted, and to need rebuke; it were to make ourselves as God, Who Alone cannot suffer. It were rather thereby to make ourselves as Satan, who alone torments without suffering, and is made to suffer, since of himself he will not.
And we shall suffer in the suffering which rebuke causes, if we love. Love cannot sec, much less cause, suffering, without itself also suffering. How do Jeremiah's eyes, who had so sternly to rebuke, ever "run down with tears, for the breach of the daughter of his people." How did our Lord weep over the city, whose destruction He denounceth. How does St. Paul wish himself "accursed from Christ" for his people, whose fall he declareth, having "great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart!" How does he grieve with the Corinthian Church, which he rebuked so sharply, so that though "a door was opened" to him "to preach Christ's Gospel," he could not, finding "no rest in his spirit." "St. Stephen, whose love is so vailed, through the sharpness of the message which he had to deliver, had scarcely closed its sharpest words, when he closed his life, united, in love as in suffering, with the Pattern of Infinite Love, and breathing out his soul in his Lord's prayer of Love for his murderers. Our Lord's Rebukes are the very proof's of His Love. "As many as I love," He saith, "I rebuke and chasten." They who would rebuke with our Lord, must love with our Lord. Unloving rebuke is but the vent of anger and selfishness or pride. The very order of God's Providence teaches us to love whom we rebuke. They to whom He assigns the office, are such as must needs feel love, and sorrow for and with those they rebuke. A parent loves the child he rebukes; a pastor, his nock; all whom we naturally have to rebuke, are in some way drawn near to us, and so we must in some degree love them. Those whom persons do often rebuke so sharply and so thoughtlessly, those who minister to their household-wants, are one family with them, and should be loved for their service sake, as well as for their common Master. On this very ground, St. Paul commands us, "Masters, do the same things" i. e. service, "unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in Heaven." We feel, for the most part, that we have no call to rebuke one, wholly a stranger, because, in whatever degree we may love him, we feel that he knows not that we love him; we should not feel called to rebuke him at all, did we not, for Christ's sake, love his soul.
Such then being the condition of Christian rebuke, as set forth in the blessed Saint of this day, following the pattern of his Divine Master, we must own, alas! that herein a sore disease has spread over our whole way of acting, our whole Church and nation, in public and in private, and well-nigh in all our relations to each other. How full are we of rebuke, and how little is it restrained to those whom God has appointed! How little is given in God's Name, as by those whom He has sanctified, with how little sympathy, how little love! How little reproof do the Ministers of God venture directly to give to their people, knowing how little they will bear, how soon be alienated. Rather, we seem to reverse in every thing God's appointment. Those commissioned, the Ministers, rebuke the people little; the people, uncommissioned, rebuke their Ministers much. The young speak against the aged. The Church has lost her power to censure, and her children censure their Mother at will; reverencing her not, they understand her not; understanding her not, they rail against her. Rebuke of Churches, of fellow-Christians in our own Church, of brethren, seem almost our daily occupation; we "pass our time in hearing or telling some new thing" against our brethren. What we daily read is full of censure; and yet how little love! Who would think that these are servants of One Master, members of one Body, living, as far as any of us do live, by One Spirit, having One Faith, One Hope, even One Redeeming Lord, with Whom and through Whom we all hope, in one holy happy company, to live for ever? Who would think that we were the disciples of that Master, Whose disciples were to be known by their love, one to the other?
But these things we can only remedy, by not joining in them ourselves, not partaking in them, praying in our Church's manifold prayers for peace. For this unloving' spirit would not so reign abroad, were we each ruling our own spirits at home. Great crying evils are but the sum of all our separate sins. To cure them, we must be healed ourselves.
Reproof then, as we see in the Saint of this day, requires the presence of many Christian graces. Due discipline of ourselves herein may aid to foster them in ourselves, while we edify our neighbour.
We should then reprove, as using God's Words, applying them to ourselves first, that wherein we judge another, we condemn not ourselves. If we ourselves commit things like to those for which we reprove others, what do we but bear witness against ourselves? If as masters, we reprove our servants of carelessness to us, and ourselves are, all the while, careless of our duty to our Heavenly Master; if we demand strict attention to our own wishes, are vexed with forgetful-ness of our slightest directions, and are ourselves inattentive to our own duties, and habitually forgetful of our Lord's Commands, may not our Lord say to us also, "Out of thy own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant? "Our earthly relations shadow forth our Heavenly; and this, among others, has this end, that in acting, instructing, obeying, commanding, reproving, in things earthly, we be reminded of our Heavenly duties. Shall we expect our servants to await our return, and not ourselves await our Lord's? shall we reprove our children for disobedience, and not strive to obey our Father Which is in heaven? And yet how often do masters and fathers reprove not for these only, but for the very sins whereof themselves are guilty, and therefore are unheeded, and gain this only, that they condemn themselves.
Then, we must reprove in holiness. Before we allow ourselves to be indignant with sin in others, we must be severe with ourselves. The sword which should pierce through all the fences of self-love to the hearts of others, we must first have proved on our own. We dare not carry on a Heavenly warfare with weapons of this world's temper. Our zeal for the Lord God of Hosts must be Elijah's, not Jehu's. We dare not speak against the Baal whom the world worshippeth, while we ourselves go astray after the calves in Bethel and Dan. We dare not pluck the mote out of our brother's eye, while the beam is in our own, or bring others under a yoke which we ourselves do not bear. All the eminent servants of God, who have borne witness to Him in a perverse generation, have first, by long discipline, subdued self, and then, through the Spirit Which worked in themselves, awed the world.
Then we must reprove with humility. St. Paul says even to "the spiritual," "reprove such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." How much more such as most of us, who are, alas! not spiritual. To reprove with humility, we must reprove only those whom we have a right to reprove; not our elders; not those set over us; not those manifestly superior to ourselves. And to those who seem our equals, or who are in any way subject to us, we dare not assume any superiority, as though we were, on the whole, better than they. Even when charity constrains us to blame these, we should tell them of their fault, as being indeed in this one thing to blame, yet, inwardly at least, in the consciousness of our own manifold offences, counting ourselves, in God's Sight, beneath their feet.
Lastly, we must reprove in love. We must not, as we are wont, measure the fault by the vexation it causes ourselves. To speak God's Words, we must forget self; we must consider reproof as God's Commission, for the benefit of others' souls, and so the more carefully separate from it any thing of our own. Rather should we be tender, in proportion as the fault affects ourselves. Our one object must be to win, as we may, souls to Christ; and so we should reprove as may best win them; in private, rather than before others; for their sakes, not for our own; as they will best listen; seeking to speak God's words; tenderly, even as our Gracious Master, when He most sharply rebuked us for sin, has ever dealt with us most tenderly.
My brethren, suffer me once more to say, how different is this from most which we witness around us, from too much which we have done ourselves, or perhaps even now are, from time to time, betrayed into. Is the tone of rebuke, such as we hear it, the sorrowing tone of those who love, and mourn over those whom they rebuke? Is it the sympathizing voice of those who are pained themselves when they rebuke sharply, who sorrow to have to cut deep into a neighbour's soul? Is it the reverential voice of persons speaking God's Words? Are we, when we rebuke, alive to God's Honour only?
If this be not so, think not these common and ordinary topics, on which to speak within the compass of the great Festival of our Blessed Lord's Nativity. [Preached when the Feast of St. Stephen fell on the Lord's Day after the Nativity.] "Peace, good will to men," was part of the Angel-message, which even now we heard; peace with men, flowing from the Peace and Love of God. "Peace, not as the world giveth," was our Lord's last gift; love and peace are among the first-fruits of the Spirit. It is the Comforter Who was to "reprove the world of sin;" comforting, while He rebuked. "Peacemakers" are, in an especial way, "the children of God." Love is the badge of His disciples; for love (if one may dare so to speak) is the very Unity of the Ever-blessed Trinity, is the very Essence of God, is, in us, His Effluence and His Presence.
Think not, then, any words misplaced, which may recall us from unloving ways; nor any thing little, wherein we may fulfil His Commandments. It is in the midst of common and ordinary duties that our life is placed; common occupations make up our lives. "The righteousness which is of faith" saith not, "Who shall ascend into Heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead;") but, "The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.'" By faith and love we obey; but by obedience are the faith and love, which God gives us, strengthened. "If a man love Me," saith our Lord, "He will keep My Words," "and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our Abode with him." Hereafter, if by His Mercy we attain, will be the time, if so it be, for enwrapt contemplation and love without duty; now it is part of our humility to do common things as in God's Sight, to be content to learn how to do them, to be diligent in them. Strange humility indeed, when God humbleth Himself to behold us, to think any thing common, wherein we may approve ourselves to Him!
And yet are they common things? is the right discharge of duty not too sadly an uncommon thing? Are holiness, love, humility, the sense of God's Presence, the acting, in what things soever, as His delegates, are these common things? or rather are they not the very privileges of the Holy Angels? were it not to live upon earth an Angel-life?
Rather shall we then indeed love our Lord, when we seek to please Him in all things, speak or are silent, eat and drink, or be hungry and thirsty, sleep or wake, rebuke or suffer rebuke, labour or rest, do or suffer, with a single eye to His Service. Then shall we be faithful servants, when we are "faithful in that which is least," when we count it a great thing to keep the least of His Commandments, when we long to have His Commandments laid upon us, to live under His Rule, to have no will of our own, but in all things to be conformed to, to do, and to suffer, His Will.
God give us grace so to love Him, that we may in all things see Him; in all, obey; and obeying, see Him more clearly and love Him less unworthily; and so, in that blissful harmony of obedience and of love, be prepared to see Him "face to face;" living unto Him, be prepared through His Mercy to die unto Him, Who died for us, that we might live to Him and with Him, and be His own for ever; all, perfected in love and unity, as full of Him, Who by the Blood of His Cross, has knit all things in One, for an habitation of God, Who is One, and is Love.