REV. G. MILLER'S FIRST SUNDAY.
1 The Rev. George Miller, who was inducted into the pastoral charge of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Thursday last, commenced his ministry yesterday; when he preached at both morning and evening services. There were large congregations. At the morning service, Mr Miller took as his text the words: "And they journeyed. . V in the wilderness. . towards the morning" (Numbers xxi, 11). .He commenced by saying.that the Israelites, to whom the text referred, trudged ..on their weary way in faith,, I for the fire of hope burned in their souls: they were marching towards the sun-rising.' This hope had been the saving and inspiring power of many, a life. This was the light that had beckoned Pym in his struggle for English liberty; Knox in that mighty reform that had saved Scotland from the j thraldom of ecclesiasticism, Howard, in ' his humane efforts to purify England's prisons, "and Clarkson and Wilberforce in their splendid fight to free humanity from the blight of slavery. This was
the light that has upheld many a, sufferer, tossing upon a bed of pain; many a broken heart in its night of sorrow; many a missionary, toiling in a heathen
land awaiting for the day to break; and many a minister of the Gospel going out and in among his people, preaching Christ and Him crucified, and longing to see them entering into the light. When the' Isarelites were being led from Egypt into the Promised Land they had to pass through the wilderness. Trial-and discipline were necessary, so that they might glorify God in the possessing of the new land. There was no land of delight or of worth that could be reached except by the way of the wilderness: Difficulties must be overcome, and there must be a stubborn taking of the road and keeping on through the valley and up- the hill. There must be temptation and trial, hardship and disappointment, danger and discipline, to 'draw into activity the latent powers of the soxil. The wilderness was the temporing process by which the soul was hardened into the truest steel. It was the process which added beauty and strength, lustre and power to life. In the night time the air got chilly and cold/ every leaf and blade were wet with' dew, the mists came down, the night was damp and disagreeable. But the morning broke, the sun shone down in all its beauty and strength, ana every drop of dew became a diamond; the, mist(3 were. scattered, the grass and flowers freshened by the dew were beautified in the sunlight, and all Nature rejoiced. The wilderness was
like the night time: it was a necessary part of the discipline of life—that men might be enabled to fulfil their great double calling and reach their divinedestiny. Then some of the paths >in the wilderness night be noticed. , ■ First, there was the path of temptation—the path that everyone entered very early in life. There was the temptation to escape from duty, to do wrong/ to reach a goal by a v wrong path, to yield to wrong desires. Most people had been caught in the net that had been laid for their feet. Many feet were so entangled that life was ruined, and the heart was utterly desolate; but whereever there was a turning unto God, and a confession of sin, there had come the glad experience of the- breaking day. The preacher said he did not know., a gladder day in the life -of any man than the day when he stood in the presence of God, and realised that in Jesus Christ his sins had been forgiven and blotted out. They were all passing through the wilderness; but the man of faith was passing through it with his face towards the sunrising. r A second path was that of sinful tendency, There was the place one found it difficult to keep his feet—the place where the failure robbed one of his peace of mind. Let them.not despair, however, but stand at the Cross and I see the Christ bearing their sins and restoring them again. A third path was that of fiery trial. It was not the people who had been brought tip in the lap of luxury who became stalwart and strong, but those who had to gather a meagre harvest from a reluctant soil. Trial and hardship brought out the hidden beauties of the soul. It was a hard way, but it was the safest way. For every one who was enriched in soul by prosperity, there were thousands who were enriched by adversity. A fourth path was that of sorrow. Every heart knew its own sorrow. There were lives iin which there are tragedies that one could not dream of. But when they have taken the sorrow to God, and laid the burden down at the feet of Jesus Christ, they were journeying through the wilderness towards the sunrise. The day was coming when all tears would be wiped away, when they would mourn no more, and when the light of eternal day should break and the soul should find its rest in God. Was their face towords* the sunrising ? Had they found in Christ the One who could save and keep them— the one who would guide them through the wilderness towards the sunrising, where the eternal day would break and all the shadows flee away ?
The evening sermon was based on John i, 6: "There was a man sent from God whose name was John." The preacher commenced by saying that eGodhad sent men into this world for a definite purpose, and it was well that they should try to form some conception of that purpose. No one could know God, no one could read His Word, without coming to the conclusion that the great aim of life was; to build up a virtuous character. Their future would ,be determined by their character. And ! 'as they faced this truth, they.were confronted with their sins and their, feebleness. and their utter inability to .reach a noble character for themselves. But no matter what they had been, they | were pointed to the Lamb of God, in whom there was redemption through ! His blood. In Him there was salvation, through Him they would be enabledi to live a new life. Through the Saviour's redemption work, God had i provided atonement and reconciliation. What they could not do for themselves, He had done for them. The spirit of life in Christ Jesus freed men from the I law of sin and death. A new inspiration, a celestial power, streamed into the lives of those who were united to God by faith. Christ raised them from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. He awakened the dormant eternity within them, He kindled love, He energised them with his inbreathed power. If they studied the lives of the Apostle Paul, St. Augustine, John Bunyan, John Hampden, John Newton, and William Wilberforce, they would see that all these men had been godless and
careless, but had been completely changed and transformed by the Gospel of Christ. While the Gospel could lift up men like these, no one need despair. God had had a special purpose m sending John. He was sent to be the 1 forerunner of Christ, and God had fitted him for his work. He was a strong, independent man, faithful to his trust; a rugged, bold man wholly emancipated from the fetters; of what men thought of him~-and that was the kind of men the Oh urc h' needed to-day—men who had been delivered from the slavery of low aims/ men who turned their faces from all that was false, men who resisted temptation and did the will of God, who. refused to bow before the [ god of gold, and who • regarded all ! superfluity .of wealth as little less than acrime when, there was so, much miseryl and darkness in: the world. They too, like John, had been sent into the world with a purpose, in view. They were sent, into this world to live for God, to grow in grace and in the' knowledge of Christ. Their chief end was to glorify God and enjoy Him for: ever. Each; one had his own task. There was always something that they could do. The preacher concluded by encouraging his hearers to dp their best to help others into the Kingdom of God. God had helped them, and He called upon them to help others.
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THE CHURCHES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8789, 9 February 1914
THE CHURCHES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8789, 9 February 1914
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