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That grace

SPIRITUAL PHOTOGRAPHY. A Sermonette by Bro. John Rose, Aylesbury, Bucks. “ Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him ; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John iii. 2). God's love is crowned by His grace in the gift of His Son. is glorified in our reconeiliation with God. That reconciliation is consummated in our being made heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus.

To be made sons of God is truly an amazing honour conferred upon the sons of men. We are afar off from God by nature and wicked works, but we are brought nigh by the blood of Christ, and a blood relationship made to exist between us, for we are made sons of God by faith in Him. Christ and all true believers are as really joined together as the head and the members are in the human body. Our sonship with God brings us into the nearest relationship with the highest Being; it contains the elements of the highest character; and it lays claim to the highest privileges. The believer has a consciousness that, however unworthy, however feeble, however defective he may be, he is a child of God. And being adopted into the family of God as sons, we are assured that there shall be another change wrought upon us—we shall be like Christ. The full perfection of this change is not to be realised in our mortal state, in this world; but, “ When He shall appear, we shall be like Him." We must be like Him to see Him, and the sight of Him will change us into His perfect likeness. Dwelling with Christ will make us Christ-like. What we see we shall certainly show. Just as we set round a central light sparkling prisms, each of which catches the glow at its own angle, and flashes it back of its own colour, while the sovereign completeness of the perfect wbite radiance comes from the blending of all their separate rays, so they who stand round about the starry throne receive each the light in his own measure and manner, and give forth each a true and perfect, and altogether a complete image of Him that enlightens them all, and is above them all.

Here Christ reveals Himself to all Ilis servants in the measure of their desire after Him. Believers also reflect the image of Christ to others, according to the measure of grace they receive, and the holy lives they live. Look closely into a man's eye, and you will see in it little pictures of what he beholds at the moment. And if our hearts are beholding Christ, Christ will be mirrored and manifested in our hearts; and our characters will show what we are looking at.

Let us call up a floral figure to our aid. There is but little in the bud of a plant to indicate the future glories of the flower, now concealed within its folds. Hidden away in the green casket, there may be brilliant

JULY, 1881.

hues and sweetest perfumes, yea, loveliness itself; but no one, by simply looking upon the exterior, can form any just conception of what the fallblown flower will be like. Nor, indeed, by inspecting the interior. Let any one indulge in the recreation of flower anatomy; let him take the dissecting knife and cut open the green shields which conceal the coming blossom, and display the tightly packed petals; but his skill will reveal no adequate conception of the form, the fragrance, or the many tints of the future flower. Could the bud speak for itself, we might imagine it saying, “ I cannot see how any form of beauty can be developed from me. All I know is that I am held fast fettered by these green wrappers 80 tightly folded round me, and that within the centre of my being there is a cold, hard lump they call my heart. I am told I shall open out into a paragon of loveliness, but I see nothing within myself to warrant so happy an expectation.” What, then, does the bud need, if not the dissecting knife, to force it open? All it requires is to see the sun. Let that bad but live for a little while in the sunlight, and the “parent of day," with its rosy fingers, shall do what the dissecting knife was powerless to accomplish. It will soon roll back the green shields, and give depth of colour to the opening leaves. Let the sun look down upon it, and all the hidden beauties of the bud shall greet its glance in the full-blown flower. So is it with the believer. " Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” There is nothing in the believer lo indicate the future glory that awaits him. Carefully analyse him, and the more you dissect him, the greater will the mystery become that he, of all men, should ever be like Christ. Did I say that if the bud conld speak for itself it would declare its inability to understand how it could become anything glorious ? Aye, and there are thousands of believers who are ready to confess that, as far as their own experience goes, it is limited to finding themselves shut tightly in with bands of worldliness, and feeling within the centre of their being, a cold, hard lump they call their heart; and however that is to be developed into beauty like to Christ's, they cannot understand. What then does the believer need ? He only requires what the bud wanted : To see the sun—the Sun oF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Tbat shall do it all; “ We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” It is seeing Christ as He is that makes the believer as Christ. One glimpse of the Saviour will open the bud. Then shall spring forth, in a moment, all the beauties of Christ that had been hidden and concealed for years. Remember, that when the bud we have adverted to, appeared most commonplace and devoid of beauty, it yet contained within itselfthough hidden—every atom of the coming flower. Every petal, soon to spread its beauty, and send forth its fragrance, was already there. The bud is the flower, but undeveloped, and the frond contains the fern. 80 glory is but the full manifestation of grace. There is within the breast of every believer that which, shone upon by the Sun of Righteousness, shall open out into resplendent loveliness. Each child of God is actually a king, but over the imperial robe there is at present cast the peasant garb; and the crown yet waits on high. All believers are priests; but the glory of the sacerdotal garments is, in a great measure, concealed by everyday apparel, too often bearing earthly stains. When death these mortal eyes shall seal, and still this throbbing heart; when the rending veil reveals Christ in His heavenly beauty, then there shall be other veils rent as well; for all that hid the glory of my priestly robes, and concealed the brilliancy of my kingly garments, shall be done away, and “ I shall be like Him, for I shall see Him as He is."

By taking Christ as our example, and imitating Him in our thoughts and deeds, we shall be transformed into His blessed image. Just as the artist gazes upon the countenance of the person whose features he wishes to delineate, and by touch after touch of bis pencil brings the perfect likeness to view, so the Holy Spirit, by His sanctifying influence, makes the believer like Christ. He, the Spiritual Artist, is continually working in us, and ruling over us, making us more loving, more meek, more holy, more self-denying, and more devoted in His service ; touching this part by adversity, and that by His goodness, and the other by His energy, until the outline of Christ's likeness becomes visibly manifest. Just as the plates of the photographic artist are immersed in the chemicals, so the mind of the believer becomes immersed in the depths of Divine influence, and thus the Spirit of God, like the sun, brings out the image of the living God upon him.

Our likeness to Christ will embrace our whole being, body, soul, and spirit. We shall have a physical likeness. Our purified humanity will bear the image of our blessed Saviour. He “shall change our vile bodies like unto His glorious body.” As our personal Saviour we shall see Him; and it will be a family likeness, for we shall see Him. Christ came to destroy the works of the enemy; and “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death ; " so that, in Christ, we look for a physical triumph over our final foe, and to be raised higher, and to appear grander, and more glorious than we should have been had man never fallen. Our humanity will be transformed into the likeness of Christ, like unto His glorified body. Our bodies will sbine in their full-orbed lustre. We look in vain to infantile or senile age for perfect manhood. Our glorified bodies will, doubtless, bear no mark of either the begivning or the end of the present state of existence. Christ was taken away in the prime of life, in the vigour of His humanity, in the fullness of His strength, when He was thirty-three years old. And " we shall be like Him." There shall be no marks of child-like weakness, nor of feebleness of age, but we shall shine in all the vigour and glory of perfect life.

Our likeness to Christ will also embrace an intellectual resemblance. “As a man thinketh in his heart so is be.” Our thoughts form our character, and make us what we are. "A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine.” Thoughts of beauty, power, and grandeur, make the eye to

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