The Oberlin Evangelist
July 13, 1859
We Live, Toil, Suffer and Die for the Fulfillment of God’s Purposes.
Addressed to the rescuers in Cuyahoga county jail.
The same eminently gifted and inspired man who said, “Such oppression maketh a wise man mad,” said also in the next breath, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud I spirit.” In the same connection he said, “A Good name is better than ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.”
Life with its powers of doing and enduring is related to certain objects, which are to be accomplished. These objects being of divine ordination impart to the lives of those who are devoted to them a superhuman dignity and importance. We contemplate the youthful Solomon, born a prince, the inheritor f the throne and of the glory of his great father, David, and on his accession to the kingdom endowed with extraordinary gifts, of wisdom and largeness of heart, which made him greater at the beginning of his reign than David was at the end of his; we behold and admire this prodigy of capabilities. But we inquire, why such rare gifts in this young man? This inquiry originates in the intuitive apprehension that every servant of God has of God the qualifications, which his appointed work requires, and consequently that large capacities denote a destination of uncommon service. Accordingly when we consider the objects to which Solomon was to be devoted, the administration of the government affairs of the Lord’s people during the most important period of their national history, the building of the Lord’s House, and the establishment of the Lord’s worship, the inditing of multifarious maxims of inspired wisdom, and the practical exemplification of the superiority of peace to war, and of wisdom to strength, we no longer wonder at his endowments, we see the reason for them, there is no longer any mystery about the astonishing qualities of the youthful king, there is not even any romance left lingering about this personage of antiquity whose story eclipses the most brilliant creations of fiction; the romance, the mystery, the wonder attach to those grand ends for the accomplishment of which this prince was raised up. What he did challenges our admiration more than what he was. And had he faithful adhered to the objects to which his life was consecrated, had he continued steadfast unto the end in all the counsels of the Lord according to the covenant made with him at the beginning, then, in addition to the objects actually realized, that crowning result and fitting consummation of such endowments and such consecration would have been secured – to wit; the permanent establishment of the throne of David over the undivided nation.
Solomon did not endure unto the end, his work was not finished, his life, with all its gifts and graces, and its many successes, was on the whole a failure, and a deep shade rests on his fame. I would have been well for him, and well for the people of Israel, had he laid to heart duly his own words, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Then had his “good name been better than ointment, and the day of his death than the day of his birth.”
We turn to One who is greater than Solomon, greater in nature, in endowment, in the work he had to do, and greater in that he remained steadfast to his mission even unto death and finished the work given him to do. The wonderful circumstances of the nativity of Christ indicated the advent of an extraordinary personage. The jealousy his birth excited, notwithstanding its lowly manner, the extreme measures resorted to destroy the infant, and the wonderful method employed to preserve his life, foreshadowed and uncommon destiny. The astonishing powers of understanding displayed in his childhood also denoted a career of unparalleled service to mankind. When to all this were added the powers of miracle and prophecy, it was evident that Jesus of Nazareth was sent into the world to perform a work which no man could do. His ministerial life was short, but it was signally eventful; it was full of wonderful works, and words, it was crowded with eminent services, it was adorned with matchless virtues, it was also overshadowed with sorrows, sufferings, privations, indignities and abuses such as no other man ever endured.
Glancing at this extraordinary life we are attracted by a temptation to which it was exposed at the outset, a temptation conceived with all the skill, and wielded with all the subtlety of the Devil – the object of which was to divert him from his Father’s business. At subsequent periods temptations were repeatedly addressed even by his kind but inconsiderate disciples to his natural love of power, riches, and ease. But these were ineffectual. At various points in his painful course he might have persuaded himself that he had done enough, and suffered enough, and said enough. What more could he say, it might be urged, than he said in his sermon on the mount? What more could he do after he had fed the multitudes, restored sight to Bartimeus, life to Lazarus and sanity to the demoniac of Gadara, and clamed the waters of Gennesaret? What more of suffering could he be called to endure after he had experienced the rigors of poverty, and the accusations of malignity? Had he not delivered his testimony? Had he not taught his disciples, and founded his kingdom? Was not his work done at most when he had prayed that intercessory prayer for his followers and for his cause, committing all to his Father? Might he not then cease from his labors, and his trials, and spend the remainder of his life in the bosom of his affectionate friends, and die in peace? Nay, nay! This would have been fatal. His work was not yet done’; the hardest part, the most fearful part, remained to be done; but it was the most important part, it was that on which all that went before depended for its completeness and its efficacy. That remained to be done which was to give unity and perfectness to the life of Jesus, which was to crown his extraordinary mission a divine power, a d deathless value to mankind. Interest so important were then pending that he must not falter in the midst of his course. He must fill his appointed work – to the end!
(To be Continued.)