32649 a holy wonder

We set before you, now, another mode of keeping Christmas, by HOLY
WONDER, ADMIRATION, AND ADORATION. “And all they that heard it
wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” We
shall have little to say of those persons who merely wondered, and did
nothing more. Many are set a wondering by the Gospel. They are content
to hear it, pleased to hear it; if not in itself something new, yet there are
new ways of putting it, and they are glad to be refreshed with the variety.

The preacher’s voice is unto them as the sound of one that gives a goodly
tune upon an instrument. They are glad to listen. They are not sceptics,
they do not cavil, they raise no difficulties; they just say to themselves, “It
is an excellent gospel, it is a wonderful plan of salvation. Here is most
astonishing love, most extraordinary condescension.” Sometimes they
marvel that these things should be told them by shepherds. They can hardly
understand how unlearned and ignorant men should speak of these things,
and how such things should ever get into these shepherds’ heads, where
they can have learned them, how it is that they seem so earnest about them,
what kind of operation they must have passed through to be able to speak
as they do. However, after holding up their hands and opening their mouths for
about nine days, the wonder subsides, and they go their way and think no
more about it.

There are many of you who are set a wondering whenever
you see a work of God in your district. You hear of somebody converted
who was a very extraordinary sinner, and you say, “It is very wonderful!”
There is a revival; you happen to be present at one of the meetings when
the Spirit .of God is working gloriously: you say, “Well, this is a singular
thing! very astonishing!” Even the newspapers can afford a corner at times
for very great and extraordinary works of God the Holy Spirit; but there all
emotion ends; it is all wondering, and nothing more. Now, I trust it will not
be so with any of us; that we shall not think of the Saviour and of the
doctrines of the gospel which he came to preach simply with amazement
and astonishment, for this will work us but little good.

On the other hand, there is another mode of wondering which is akin to adoration, if it be not
adoration. I think it would be very difficult to draw a line between holy
wonder and real worship, for when the soul is overwhelmed with the
majesty of God’s glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even
utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores. I
am inclined to think that the astonishment which sometimes seizes upon the
human intellect at the remembrance of God’s greatness and goodness is,
perhaps, the purest form of adoration which ever rises from mortal men to
the throne of the Most High. This kind of wonder I recommend to those of
you who from the quietness and solitariness of your lives are scarcely able
to imitate the shepherds in telling out the tale to others: you can at least fill
up the circle of the worshippers before the throne by wondering at what
God has done.

Let me suggest to you that holy wonder at what God has done should be
very natural to you. That God should consider his fallen creature, man, and
instead of sweeping him away with the besom of destruction should devise
a wonderful scheme for his redemption, and that he should himself
undertake to be man’s Redeemer, and to pay his ransom price, is, indeed,
marvellous! Probably it is most marvellous to you in its relation to yourself,
that you should be redeemed by blood; that God should forsake the thrones
and royalties above to suffer ignominiously below for you. If you know
yourself you can never see any adequate motive or reason in your own
flesh for such a deed as this. “Why such love to me?” you will say. If David
sitting in his house could only say, “Who am I, 0 Lord God, and what is
mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” what should you and I

Had we been the most meritorious of individuals, and had unceasingly
kept the Lord’s commands, we could not have deserved such a priceless
boon as incarnation; but sinners, offenders, who revolted and went from
God, further and further, what shall we say of this incarnate God dying for
us, but “Herein is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us.” Let
your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder, dear friends, is in this way a
very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship;
being astonished at what God has done, you will pour out your soul with
astonishment at the foot of the golden throne with the song, “Blessing, and
honor, and glory, and majesty, and power, and dominion, and might be
unto Him who sitteth on the throne and doeth these great things to me.”
Filled with this wonder it will cause you a godly watchfulness; you will be
afraid to sin against such love as this.

Feeling the presence of the mighty
God in the gift of his dear Son, you will put off your shoes from off your
feet, because the place whereon you stand is holy ground. You will be
moved at the same time to a glorious hope. If Jesus has given himself to
you, if he has done this marvellous thing on your behalf, you will feel that
heaven itself is not too great for your expectation, and that the rivers of
pleasure at God’s right hand are not too sweet or too deep for you to drink
thereof. Who can be astonished at anything when he has once been
astonished at the manger and the cross? What is there wonderful left after
one has seen the Saviour? The nine wonders of the world! Why, you may
put them all into a nutshell-machinery and modern art can excel them all;
but this one wonder is not the wonder of earth only, but of heaven and
earth, and even hell itself. It is not the wonder of the olden time, but the
wonder of all time and the wonder of eternity. They who see human
wonders a few times, at last cease to be astonished; the noblest pile that
architect ever raised, at last fails to impress the onlooker; but not so this
marvellous temple of incarnate Deity. The more we look the more we are
astonished, the more we become accustomed to it, the more have we a
sense of its surpassing splendour of love and grace. There is more of God,
let us say, to be seen in the manger and the cross, than in the sparkling
stars above, the rolling deep below, the towering mountain, teeming
valleys, the abodes of life, or the abyss of death. Let us then spend some
choice hours of this festive season in holy wonder, such as will produce
gratitude, worship, love, and confidence.





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