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say, before we go deeper in—I have no right to speak to preachers, for I am less than the least of them ; but I may say a word about methods to Sabbath-school teachers: don't spend much money on books of illustrations. I mention that, because I have wasted money in that direction myself. Only the other day, I bought a bulky and imposing volume on “Illustrations of Scripture Truth from Scientific Teaching." Well, I have no objection to science, or to illustrations either; but, after this, I am going to do my own illustrating; or, I will get the science in one book and the Scripture teaching in another, and mix them myself for my own purposes. The Lord Himself endow us with the seeing eye and the hearing ear! Down in the City, on the top of the 'bus, in the tramcar, and evenand it's surely the utmost verge—even in the underground railway, He will give you such an eye and ear that you will see and hear things that will be "likes," illustrations; in some point or points accurate enough, closefitting enough to let in beams of light on great and eternal themes. My brother and sister, be less concerned about "grand" illustrations. I was brought up in that grand old Church-the Free Church of Scotlandwhen I say old, I refer to its spirit, for it is only since 1843 in actual years, but its spirit dates from any time since the deliverance from Egypt. I think the preaching was a little spoiled by what were, no doubt, considered grand illustrations. They were mostly drawn from the classics. It got to be a hackneyed phrase in the ears of us lads - • You remember in Classic story.” We had never heard of it before, so we could not possibly remember it. But it was a fine, pompous, learnedlooking way of putting things. Then there was not so much in them after all. I remember my father saying to me, after a preacher had begun in that way, “Let me remind you what Horace said so beautifully"; and, of course, he quoted it in Latin, for he was an M.A. of Oxford, and had to justify his degree, and again he “ reminded " us of the translation. My father said, “But, John, there wasn't much in it, in any language!" Nor was there.
Let us come nearer home, and find “Horace in Homespun." Remember Him who, when He saw a sower sowing seed and the birds coming down and taking away what fell on the path, said, “I am sowing seed every day, and the fowls of the air pick it up."
Well, here is a great theme, and the Lord says : This is what it is like; or rather, in some ways, what it is not like; for, of course, it is an illustration not by comparison, but by contrast. The two things are set together, and we are asked to look at them to see where they oppose each other, where they stand out in sharp contradistinction. For us, this illustration I think is most pathetic and powerful. The Lord seems to have had His eye on us.
He looked away down the ages that were coming, when the tug and stress of faith in the invisible God and the invisible Christ, and the Promise of Final Victory that seemed to be always far off as ever, would be a sore strain indeed. He saw His Church and people on their knees; He understood, although He did not say," that praying work would be fainting work”; and to keep us on our knees, and while there to keep us either from fainting through languishing desire and hope deferred, or from falling asleep through formality and sheer drowsiness, He told this crisp, sharp, racy-I had almost said grotesque-illustration. By any means and every means to pitch up high into bold and clear relief this thought : Hope on, pray on, pray ever; "praying breath is never spent in vain."
Now, what is the illustration ? “ Hear what the unjust judge saith,” said our Lord. So we must look at him sharply, and see who he is, and listen to what he says, to get the meaning. “ There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man.” Notice how he is described ; for all Christ's illustrations overlap the particular point sought for. You cannot get your bull's-eye lantern to shine only on the key-hole where you may be fumbling, trying to fit in your key at night; it illuminates the whole door. So with Christ's teaching; while it is meant to shine on the text, it shines upon much more. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” “A man who feared not God, neither regarded man." That is striking that man is well described. I do not want to overpush it, but we all sat for our portrait when that man was described. “ Feared not God.” It is because we broke the first table of the law that we broke the second. Give a deaf ear to all teaching that says you can polish up men on the side that regards their fellow-men, and leave the Godward side alone-if there is such a side at all. The world has never seen a truly fine man who feared not God. We have the Godward and the manward side; and it is from the Godward side that the rust has eaten through; the manward is spoiled and disfigured because the Godward side was previously corrupted. The rust and the blight set in there.
" He feared not God." We are all like him, unless a stupendous change has passed upon us. Because we have broken away from God, therefore we have broken away from our brother. Because, naturally, I do not fear God, therefore button up your pockets, for when it serves myself, I may help myself. That is human nature; there is no reliable inherent good in it. The best men naturally are, as has been shown over and over again, all very fine until they are supremely and severely tried.
Therefore let us have true religion; viz., that which binds a man back to God, restores him to God, and therefore restores him to his brother man. We are told, " To thine own self be true, and it will follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” That is put on too low a level. The ultimate way of saying that should be, “ To thine own God be true, and it will follow, thou shalt not then be false to any man." " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The religion of Christ Jesus is here, to make us anew along the line of our spoiled nature; to begin where we were worst defaced, and to work out through all the ramifications of our complex being and our complex life; to make us love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul, our strength and mind, then our neighbour as our own soul.
“ And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for awhile : but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, and regard not man' - almost the only open thing in him was his open profligacy-"yet because this widow troubleth me, I will ayenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me." There is a difference in the translation. Scholars think the best translation should be, “Lest coming at last she beat me—she break out upon me, and do me personal violence." Now, look at the picture : there is God, holy, just, pure; His law, holy, just, pure; He never did harm to anybody, and He cannot look on sin; He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; there He sits on His holy throne, " Justice and judgment are the habitation thereof, mercy and truth go before His face.” Now, His Son, Jesus Christ, is teaching us how to pray, and He hangs this picture beside that. Here is a corrupt judge, a man who poisons the well of justice and mercy at the fountainhead; and the Lord says to us, “Look at this and at that, and learn at whose feet you kneel, and do at least as well as the widow did, for you have every encouragement, where she had the very opposite."
This judge was corrupt. We almost lose a little of the teaching here; it pales a little in England, because our judges are upright, and the well of justice does flow more or less purely. But you have only to go to Turkey to-day, to Eastern lands, in order to find out how vividly the parable shines as an illustration. At this very hour justice is openly bought and sold. The man who can bribe, the man who can intimidate, the man who can cross the judge's loof with silver and gold, gets the verdict. The prophet Isaiah knew all about it when describing the coming Lord, the only truly righteous King who ever sat on any throne; he says, “ He shall not judge after (or, according to) the sight of the eye.” He will not be daunted in the court, that is to say, from giving a right verdict, because some powerful man in the corner has his eye on Him, and virtually, by his looks, says, “Now, if you "
dare ; remember I am in.” He will not be deflected from uprightness because His eye has lit on somebody whom He fears. “ Neither shall He reprove after the hearing of the ear." Nobody will be able to climb up by back-stair influence and poison justice by whispering false testimony into His ear. Just exactly the opposite was the man whom our Lord describes. I think Jesus was in the