William Mackergo Taylor
The great moral lesson which Saul's history leaves for the instruction of mankind is this: That without true piety the finest qualities of character and the highest position in society will utterly fail to make a true and noble man. If Saul's heart had been true to God, he would have been one of the grandest specimens of humanity; but, lacking this true obedience to God, he made his life an utter failure, and his character amoral wreck.
The lack of brotherhood among believers themselves has paralyzed the church in front of the skepticism and immorality of the world; but when we go back in simple faith to the one great fact of our redemption, we shall be both brought into closer fellowship with each other, and stimulated to more tender regard for the salvation of men.
The whole track of history is marked with the ruin of empires which having been founded in injustice, or perpetuated by wrong, were ultimately destroyed.
They tell us of the fixed laws of nature! But who dares maintain that He who fixed these laws cannot use them for the purpose of answering His people's prayers?
True repentance has as its constituent elements not only grief and hatred of sin, but also an apprehension of the mercy of God. It hates the sin, and not simply the penalty; and it hates the sin most of all because it has discovered God's love.
Up with the banner of your new Lord, Jehovah Jesus! Raise it in firm decision, with quiet earnestness and with humble prayer; keep it with unflinching fortitude, and be ready to die rather than dishonor it.
We can set our deeds to the music of a grateful heart, and seek to round our lives into a hymn--the melody of which will be recognized by all who come in contact with us, and the power of which shall not be evanescent, like the voice of the singer, but perennial, like the music of the spheres.
You cannot stay the shell in its flight; after it has left the mortar, it goes on to its mark, and there explodes, dealing destruction all around. Just as little can you stay the consequences of a sin after it has been committed. You may repent of it, you may even be forgiven for it, but still it goes on its deadly and desolating way. It has passed entirely beyond your reach; once done, it cannot be undone.
Heathenism had proved unequal to the wants of men; and it was when the most thoughtful among the Pagans were turned away from its hollow mockeries and misleading altars that the anthem of the angels broke clear and loud above the slopes of Bethlehem: "Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth and good will toward men!"
It is better to have a plain, substantial building, with no extravagance about it, but without a debt, than to have the most splendid specimen of Gothic architecture that is overlaid by a mortgage.
Modern engineers, after having erected a viaduct, insist upon subjecting it to a severe strain by a formal trial trip before allowing it to be opened for public traffic, and it would almost seem that God, in employing moral agents for the carrying out of His purposes, secures that they shall be tested by some dreadful ordeal before He fully commits to them the work which He wishes them to perform.
Prayers born out of murmuring are always dangerous. When, therefore, we are in a discontented mood, let us take care what we cry for, lest God give it to us, and thereby punish us.
So, from generation to generation, the spiritual church is rising upwards toward its perfection; and, though one after another the workmen pass away, the fabric remains, and the great Master-builder carries on the undertaking. Be it ours to build in our portion in a solid and substantial manner, so that they who come after us may be at once thankful for our thoroughness, and inspired by our example.
So, my brethren, let us do our work, that others entering on it may carry it forward through after generations. Thus shall the work of the fathers become the glory of fheir children; and in the end, when the mystery of God shall be finished, we shall see, in its completed beauty and proportion, the great fabric into which we put our little all; and we shall rejoice at once in the skill of the Architect and the diligence of the successive builders.
Temptation rarely comes in working hours. It is in their leisure time that men are made or marred.