Billeder på siden

years, and was eminently successful in his work. His counsels and exhortations afforded encouragement and stimulus to those who met with him, while the cheerfulness of his piety gave him additional influence. His services were frequently in request in connection with revival work, and were greatly valued by the Ministers with whom he cooperated.

For seven years Mr. Rapp's name appeared upon the Plan as an Exhorter. At length, however, he was constrained to withdraw it, not because he ceased to love the work and to be useful in it, but because he had a strong desire to bring all his energies to bear upon the little place in Wold Street, Norton, where the public Methodist services were first held. The present Society owes very much, through God, to his persevering zeal and earnest piety. He held fast the profession of his faith and hope, and, being sustained by the grace of God, at length triumphed over death, on January 8th, 1877.

FRANCIS ROBSON, of Westgate, Weardale, was brought to God in his twentythird year. Returning home late one night, he heard his father praying for him. That prayer touched his heart, and the Holy Spirit disclosed his sinfulness, and melted him into penitence. He sought the Lord for many days in deep distress. One night, when on his way to work in the Middlehope Lead Mine, he prayed earnestly that the Lord would save him before he entered the mine. His prayer was heard, and he received the assurance of his acceptance in Christ. He was so full of joy through believing, that the man who laboured with him, said, 'Frank, thou art going mad.' He replied, 'If this is going mad, I wish I had been mad a long time ago.'

Not long after, he was severely tempted to cast away his confidence; and for some days he was in great heaviness, and even in spiritual darkness. But while he was engaged in prayer, the Lord delivered him out of the snare of the devil. Through renewed acts of trust in the Lord Jesus, he obtained yet richer consolation, and soon became an established Christian.

He joined the Class of Mr. John Featherstone, of Westgate, a very pious Leader and Local Preacher. At this time Mr. Featherstone was an old man, and the members of his Class were mostly old people; but they welcomed the youth among them. Francis loved the Classmeeting, and derived great benefit from

listening to the rich experience of the members. Throughout life he often referred to these meetings and spoke of the members by name, giving thanks to God for the privilege of meeting with them.

On the death of Mr. Featherstone, Mr. Robson was appointed the Leader, to the joy and delight of all the members. Under his care the Class prospered. Few men knew better how to encourage the weak, to guide the perplexed, and to correct the erring. He was apt to teach. His words were marked by wisdom and discretion, and through the blessing of God on his counsels, and on the Christian intercourse of the members of the Class, they manifestly grew in grace.

He was a man of prayer; and his prayers in the Class-meeting and in meetings for supplication were pointed and powerful. He was clothed with humility; and in him, too, patience had its perfect work. He possessed the charity that endureth all things.'

He loved the gates of Zion, and was one of the first to enter them. One who knew him testifies that for thirty years he never found him late at public worship. One of his sayings was: 'If we diligently attend the means of grace in health, God will give us in sickness the grace of the means.

He gave attention to reading. The Holy Bible and Mr. Wesley's Notes on the New Testament were his daily companions. He read the Bible throughout once every year, and said it was always new. He selected a passage out of his morning lesson for meditation during the day, that his mind might be profitably occupied and kept from vain and foolish thoughts. His conversation was 'seasoned with salt,' and often ministered grace unto the hearers.' He was a bright example of the purifying grace of Christ. To a friend, he said that he only wanted two things in this worldthe Holy Bible and perfect love. He thanked God that he had the first, and was giving all diligence to attain and enjoy the


He was prepared for his great change, and in advanced age calmly looked for the summons of his Lord. 'I am waiting,' he said, 'till Jesus comes.' These were his last words. No one thought that his end was near. He had no affliction, but was found dead on December 12th, 1876, in the eighty-seventh year of his age, and in the sixty-fourth year of his membership in the Wesleyan-Methodist Society at Westgate. 'Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.'


[graphic][merged small][merged small]






[blocks in formation]

'We have an altar.'-HEBREWS XIII. 10.

THE emphasis lies where I have placed it on the second word. 'we,' not even on 'altar,' but on 'have.'

Not on

Those to whom the Epistle was written lay at this time under a severe and a peculiar temptation. It came to them, as temptation often comes to us, in the guise of duty. The Christians of Palestine were about to be compelled to make their choice, finally and for ever, between their country and their Saviour. It was a very trying and a very cruel necessity. Patriotism is generally a part of religion. When our Saviour wept over Jerusalem, He taught us this. But for these Hebrews, patriotism and religion were about to part company. He who would keep his nationality must lose his Christ. A judgment was coming upon Jerusalem in which the Christian Israelite was to see the hand of God. If he will resist the judgment, he will be fighting against God. Christ has said to him: 'When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies,...then let them which be in Judea '-instead of taking up the weapons of warfare, and dying, if need be, in defence of city and temple against the legions of Rome-'flee to the mountains.' This was the cross laid upon him; he must bear it after Jesus.

We all know what this sort of trial would be to an Englishman. If possible, it was even more to a Jew. To the Jew, country was Church, country was Gospel, country was religion. And all these he is to count as dross and refuse, that he may win or that he may keep Christ.

This grand Epistle is written to reconcile him to the necessity. It is written to show him that not only is Christ more to him than country, more to him than all that country was to him or could be; but that, in simple truth, Christ was to him country, was to him Priest and Sacrifice, was to him City and Temple, was to him Aaron and Moses, Joshua and David, Sabbath and Canaan, hope and promise, earth and heaven, in one. To go back from Him, in this crisis of the national destiny, is to fling away the substance for the shadow, to barter for one morsel of meat a priceless birthright of blessing. In this closing section the sacred-to us anonymous-writer has reached a pathetic topic of persuasion: 'Remember those who have been your guides ; who spake to you (while they lived) the Word of God.' Consider the end


of their conversation'-think, that is, how they died: with what fidelity, with what courage and imitate the faith' which nerved them for martyrdom. Men come and go, but 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day and for ever.' The grace which He gave them He lives to give you. That Divine grace is the true strength of the heart-not those ritual observances which men may live and walk in, and be nothing profited. 'We have an altar'— there is no need to go back for it to Judaism. 'We have an altar'—only keep it, prize it, use it. It is an altar all our own-'they who serve the tabernacle,' the very priests of the Law, though they lived of' their altar, 'have no right to eat of' this. You are God's priests now-to eat of our altar (it is the only condition, but it is indispensable) you must believe in Christ.

Now, there was a type of this Christian altar, he proceeds to say, in the institutions of Judaism. On the great Day of Atonement, that most solemn day of all the Jewish year, that annual foreacting of Calvary itself, there was a victim offered for the priest, and there was a victim offered for the people, every fragment of which was burned outside the camp of Israel-no worshipper, no Levite, no priest, was suffered to eat of it—it was charged with sin, it was charged with sanctity. Minute directions were given for the removal of those two victims to a place beyond the encampment-every particle of each was to be burned with fire outside the gate. In that exclusion of the very priests from participation, in that solemn transfer to a spot outside of Israel, see, the Apostle says, the type of another altar-an altar not ceremonial at all; an altar, not tied to one polity or one nationality, but designed, literally and without limitation, for all mankind. Jesus suffered without the gate without the gate of Israel let us seek Him-offering through Him Who is our one sin-offering the perpetual thank-offering of heart and lips and life.

Such is the context of the brief saying before us. And I think that this glance at the context will have precluded the mistake into which many Church writers have fallen in interpreting the text. They have read the text as referring primarily and exclusively to the Lord's Table and to the Sacrament of Holy Communion. If this were its meaning, it would stand quite detached and isolated from the whole argument in which it is embedded. The one purpose of the Epistle is to show how Christ personally, Christ Himself -not anything connected with Christ, or anything instituted by Christ, but Christ Himself—is the antitype and the fulfilment of everything contained in or ordained by the Law, insomuch that faith in Him gives instant admission into all that the Law promised or prophesied or prefigured to the people of God. If the words, 'We have an altar,' meant: 'We have in our places of assembly for worship a material table at which we repeat, or at which we commemorate, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ offered once for us on Calvary,' it would be an utter breach in the continuity of the passage and of the Epistle-for it would be representing a material service as the antitype of another material service, when it is the one aim of the whole writing to show that every material service finds its scope and its rest in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

« ForrigeFortsæt »