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milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.' Then the great truth is presented that God had given a Leader to the people. Then follow promises and invitations. Then beautiful illustrations are drawn from the descent of the rain and the snow. And even nature herself is represented as rejoicing at the glorious results flowing from the coming of this Leader to the people: 'For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.' What grand and striking language ! How feeble is all the imagery in human compositions, when compared with that presented by the sacred writers! Well would it be for the scholar if he would come and drink at this pure fountain of truth.
But we must look to the character of our Leader and to his commands.
There are several qualities essential to a good leader. He must be wise to devise, powerful to execute, and willing to suffer himself first in his own
He who was given as a Leader to the people, possessed all these qualities in all their fulness.
Look, for a moment, at the wisdom of this Leader. He came to effect a great work. The world was in a
state of confusion and moral darkness. There had been many philosophers who had wrote correct maxims and inculcated pure precepts, but all their attempts to reform society had proved ineffectual. At last, God gave a Leader to the people, every way qualified to reform the world. Look at the instruments selected by him to effect this mighty revolution; a revolution compared with which all others sink into insignificance. The means were apparently wholly inadequate to the end. He asked no assistance of any earthly power. He went not to the mighty ones of earth. He solicited aid from no throne, save that of God. He collected no vast army from among men. He fitted out no great military expedition. No. He turned from every plan which the wisdom of this world would have chosen. He went and selected twelve men of obscure birth and parentage; unpolished by learning, and of no authority in the world. Earthly wisdom would have sought the patronage of the great and the influence of the learned. This Leader disdained such a course. He led his scholars gently into his kingdom. He removed their prejudices, enlightened their understandings, and sent them forth amid the frowns and opposition of a cruel world. As they had no help from the powers of this world, civil or military, so had they all the opposition that was possible; which they withstood and baffled: they sowed the good seed of the word under the very feet of the Roman magistrates and soldiers, who, though they trod it down, and rooted it up, yet could not destroy it so far, but that still it sprang out again, and yielded a fruitful and glorious harvest.' Look next at the power of this Leader. He stood friendless and unarmed before the world. Every sect and every throne was arrayed in the most hostile manner against him. It has been well said by Fenelon that 'a powerful conqueror may establish, by his arms, the belief of a religion, which flatters the sensuality of men; a wise legislator may gain himself attention and respect by the usefulness of his laws; a sect in credit, and supported by the civil power, may abuse the credulity of the people: all this is possible; but what could victorious, learned, and superstitious nations see, to induce them so readily to Jesus Christ, who promised them nothing in this world but persecutions and sufferings; who proposed to them the practice of a morality, to which all their darling passions must be sacrificed?' Such a Leader the world never saw before; one who went on in the midst of every obstacle that the collected wisdom of man could throw in his way; one who led his followers forth in despite of courts, of crowns, and of potentates.
His enemies looked on with astonishment, till finally even the Pharisees, his most untiring enemies, 'said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him.'* But we cannot pursue the history of the unnumbered and splendid triumphs of our Leader. Suffice it to say, that he commenced his great work at Jerusalem, and he will go on till the temples of idolatry are thrown down, till kings shall fall down before him, and till the banner of the cross wave over a subjugated world !
* John xii. 19.
Before him kings and tyrants fall,
And he a pardon freely gives :
And in him all the world shall live.'
But we have said that a Leader must not only be wise to plan, and powerful to execute, but he must also be willing to suffer first in his own Thousands of our race have embarked in noble causes, and have possessed sufficient wisdom and power, but have been unwilling to suffer.
As long as prosperity smiled, they were faithful, but the moment persecution came, the cause was left to suffer. Not so with this Leader. He laid down his rules and followed them. In the midst of the riches of a world, he pathetically exclaimed, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.'* A rich young man came to him apparently desirous of being a follower. The condition was, 'Go and sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and come and follow me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.' And he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.'t As this Leader was willing to suffer first in his own cause, so he wanted no followers that would not be governed by the same self-sacrificing spirit. 'He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me,' said our great Leader to the world.
Would we then be thought worthy of a place in
* Matt. viii. 20.
† Ib. xix. 16–22.
his ranks, we must renounce all the charms of wealth, all the flattery of the world, and all the allurements of popularity. We must be actuated by the purest motives. We should be like the American patriot in England during the struggle for liberty. Several attempts it is said were made to buy him over to the interests of the crown, but being weary of these importunities, he said one day to those who would draw him aside from the path of duty, 'I am poor, but the king of England is not rich enough to buy me. So will the devoted follower say to the enemies of our Leader, 'I am poor, but this world is not rich enough to buy me.' Such is the spirit that our Leader wishes to see among his disciples. Let us then endeavor to rally around his standard ; let us imbibe his spirit; and though our path may lead to persecution, and even death, yet we shall know that we cannot suffer more than he has endured before us. 'If they call the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call those of his household.'* Our path of duty is plain. Let us then move forward. We have a faithful Leader; one who has met the frowns and persecutions of a world, who was never known to falter for a single moment; one who possesses every qualification, and one who has said, 'I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.' Our Leader has been lifted up, and he is now drawing a world to himself. What a glorious work! He is not leading his followers through seas of blood and war, to an earthly possession, but to a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. May we be faithful then
* Matt. X. 25.