Devotional: June 2nd
" God was in Christ." - 2 Corinthians 1:19.
You have false conceptions of some being, some one that has claims upon your cordial love and heartiest obedience; his claims you cannot recognize, his worth is utterly hidden from you, and your embittered mind will not allow you to behold him otherwise than as invested with dark and forbidding qualities. Knowing the force of your prejudice, he comes to you in the disguise of a mean man, and is hired by you as a servant. Gradually you marvel at the admirable characteristics of this servant. He removes every stone from your path, and does it without ostentation. He garlands your house about with beautiful flowers. He spreads your table with food that angels might eat. He entertains your children by endless devices, and enriches their minds with the best instruction. He is continually averting some danger, saving some life. In some hour of special magnanimity on his part, you shout aloud your admiration of his character, and call Heaven to witness that you will ever love him and ever serve him. At that moment, the disguise falls from him, and your injured lord stands before you. The master against whom you had revolted was in that matchless servant. Your prejudices left him no alternative but thus to approach you, thus to propitiate you. What now can you do but fall at his feet with a contrite heart, deploring your former folly and wickedness, and consecrating yourself unreservedly to the service of such a master.
Here is a province that professes to have a great attachment to the sovereign, yet breaks all his laws without the slightest compunction, affirming either that he had never made the laws, or was indifferent about their execution. When any legate landed on their shores, demanding tribute, they tore him in pieces, affirming that he had come in his own name, and that the sovereign required no tribute at their hands. Perhaps they put a few lame and diseased animals that they knew not what else to do with, on board the vessel, and sent it back to the capital, while they boasted of their munificent fealty and self-sacrificing devotedness. At length a stranger comes and takes up his abode among them. His conduct is very different from theirs, for it is blameless. He teaches and exemplifies neighborly love; refuses to visit the places of amusement which the sovereign had forbidden to be opened, to take anything, do anything, speak anything, contrary to the laws. He speaks of the king, and relates what he has seen at his court and what he has not seen there. He assures the people that if they will repent and unfeignedly submit to their monarch, they shall meet with not only leniency, but boundless kindness; but if they remain obdurate, he will come and overwhelm them with his wrath. The people, from the highest to the lowest, hear all this with shouts of derision, unbelief, and anger; from day to day their anger becomes less and less controllable; at length they seize the stranger, determined to put him to the most barbarous and shameful death. " At last,’’ they then say, " we shall free the earth from the presence of this blasphemer, who can do nothing but asperse the honor of our sovereign." They bring their instruments of torture and proceed to inflict upon him the most fiendish torments. At that moment his imperial cohorts arrive and snatch him from their hands; his nobles re-invest him with the symbols of power, and bow the knee before him; and all the company of the regicides stand appalled and utterly confounded. Their sovereign was in that stranger, and it was the character, the words, the ways of their sovereign, that they had been so in tensely hating. "God was in Christ."
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