D Gibb Mitchell
Then cam Jesus wi them intil a place caad Gethsemene, an says ti the disciples, sit ye here till A gang yonder an pray." An takkin wi Him Peter an Zebedee's twa sons, He grew unco fou o sorrae, an sair pitten aboot. Than says He ti them, A am sad at hert, sad e'en ti daith! Bide ye here an watch wi Me!" An He gaed on, yont a wee bit, an threw Himsel on his face an prayed, sayin "O Faither, gin it be possible, lat this cup be taen frae me ! Yet, no as A will, but as Thoo will." An He comes ti His disciples an finnds them sleepin; an qo He ti Peter, "E'en sae! Couldna ye watch wi me ae oor? Tak ye tent, an pray, gin ye faana inti temptation! The spirit is indeed willin, but the fleesh is waek,"
Again a saicont time He gaed aff, an prayed sayin, "O ma Faither! gin this canna gang by Me unless A drink it, Thy will be duin. An comin again, He fand them sleepin; for their een haed wan heavisome. An he left them again, an gaed awa, an prayed a third time, sayin the same wirds. An He comes ti His disciples, an says He ti them, "Sleepin ar ye nou, an takkin yer rest. Listen! the oor is at haun, an the Son o Man is delivert intil the hauns o evil men. Ryce ye, an lat us be gaun! Leuk! he is at haun that betrays Me.--Matt. xxvi
The Mirk Dale
The sun gaed doun ahint the Hermon hill whan, frae the upper room, the Man an His freends cam furth, lowpit the brook Kedron, an trudged the brae-face, ti pit throu the hinmaist nicht in the Gairden! The time wis eerie, dreich soonds floatit throu the trees, the sky held ower the hill dark lowerin cloods. This is like the bouer whaur man in straits wad gang for quaitness!
This wis the hinmaist nicht He wis ti pit by in that sacred neuk, whilk ti Him haed aye been the grove o paece. He haed langsyne warned His cronies in braid hints what wis ti befaa Him. It didna seep deep eneuch inti their thochts. They ne'er jalouzed it wis sae nar haun, but wis aye lippenin for the comin o their ain projects--the Kingdom they thocht He wis ti get an mak them happy. But in the upper room He luit them ken the end haed come, an driflt the thochts fae their mind that He wad ever hae a passin Kingdom!
Judas haed gane his ain gate. There wis eleeven wi Him,--an yet they wisna wi Him--their herts wisna akin. He kent that. He haed gien them mony a braw wird bi the roadside. But this nicht he spak ti them alane wi mair intent, an atween the upper room an Gethsemene dirled their herts wi truiths--bonnier an swaeter than His tongue haed ever soondit. He haed ti gie them hertnin, an hoose their minds wi promises. "A gang ti busk a place for ye. An if A gang an busk a place for ye, sae come A again an tak ye ti Masel, that whaur A bide, ye mey bide. Yet a wee while an A'll be back. Lo'e ane anither as A hae lo'ed ye. Bi yer likin for ane anither lat folk ken that ye'r Mine." It wis like the Maister's guid hert ti fill their minds wi hope whan He wis gaun awa Himsel.
They wis in nae mood ti tak the solacin, or ken what He ettled ti tell them. At antern times He haed gien them glints o the Cross. It wis only nou an than that He could tak time ti leuk at it Himsel throu His hurried life! But His wark wis ower nou. He stuid ithin the gloomy shade o Calvary, an the heavy wecht o the warld's grudge cam sair upon His hert. It's ill daein an deevilish ploys cam dingin Him doun frae ilka airt! "Bide ye here while A gang yonder an pray."
He's awa bi Himsel ti gaither strength for the onset. Prayer wis the dirk He won wi. It wis prayer that brocht Him aa His Divine paece. It pit Him in a guid fettle. It steedied the trudge o His step. Prayer garred Him faa frae His ain will an tak what God aye likit ti send! His vyce the nicht is saft. There's the souch o daith in't. There's the siech o a broken hert, the sab o a life gaun oot! Ilka wird is waled. His benmaist thochts is uttered in travail!
Whan He begoud His life-wark He haed lurin promises. The warld wis spreed afore Him--wi pouer an galore forby. But his hert didna green for the deevil's fare. He cuist it aside an brocht His ain warld forrit--the buyin back o man frae thirldom, the winnin o him roond ti richt bi His ain guid life. The warst wis afore His face. An nou a pictur o the horrors o the Cross hung ower Him. His speerit wis sair wrocht on, an He amaist cowed at sicht o that awfu Cross. He grudged Himsel ti be heezed on the tree. He wis dumbfoundered whan He thocht it wis for Him. Did the Faither wish that the hale o His life should gang for a sacrifice o Himsel? He wisna sae laith whan he thocht it wis the fee He haed ti pey for a wyteless life. But He kent weel--at ony rate He jalouzed--that hod ahint it aa God haed caukit Him as the scapegoat for the lave o the race!
It mey be that Christ fand it aesy ti live athoot a flaw, kennin that He wis a Saviour. But He stachered at haein ti dee the daith o a sinner. He grued at the wages He haedna earned. The wrangdaeins o the hale warld wis cuist upon His ain guidness.
This wis the bitter waucht he haed ti swallae. His deein wis ti sowther aa, mak paece atween man an God, an still hae juistice duin.
He wis left alane for this. Sic lanesomeness cam ower Him,--jilted bi aa men! Ilka hert cuist Him oot, ilka ee frouned on Him! He wis made a ootral an a forwanderer! Ah, sirse! He wis alane, alane; the lanesomest hert in the warld. E'en His ain breist-men couldna lout bi his side! Their thochts wisna fit ti chime in wi His. Their feelins wis aa wrang set for a warsle like this! He wis wi God, for livin or for deein, for time an for aye. The fate o man wis in the bauks. The guid-farin, or the doom o the race, wis shakin in the scales! What wad He dae wi men that lay wi steekit een while His mirkest oor wis draggin on? He could spaek His mind ti God, an say bi Himsel what they wisna fit ti hear. We mey ne'er ken aathing that the Maister saw an heard that nicht! But we micht hae kent mair haed the men no drowsed the time awa. But Providence mey hae shut their sleepy een an closed their dwaumie ears! The broken snatches o His prayers is unco strainge ti us aa. But we'r telt eneuch ti ken that He wis in the throes, an sair forfochen ti gar His will marrae wi the Faither's. It wis a waesome cry--the waefu strings that steered deepest in His hert! Man, it wis naitral for Him ti spier the Faither ti lat the cup gang by Him!--"Hae A ti thole bein a castawa? Maun A bear alane Yer hidden face while ilka sinner's sin wins at Me? Maun A be cloored upon the widden airms Masel, alane? Maun A gang throu the dowie dark, the mirksome handlin, an the black shame o it aa? Is there nae ither ootgang? Is it for this oor that A wis born? Wis it for Yer earth-folk that A wis wantit? A wumman's bairn sall be the man ti blaud the serpent's heid. Yer ain will, no Mine, be duin."--Weird an strainge wis the plaint o His siechs! That plaint haed ne'er till nou been heard. It wis oot o the ordnar--this unco talk wi God. Heeven herkened ti a new hert wi a unheard-o moan!
Did the angels halt an listen, think ye? Ay, their hairps wis hushed. The chorus o the thrang o heeven ceased, an aa the hosts o the unseen bent doun braithless ti catch the strains o this new Pleader, poorin oot His griefs as they wis waftit up ti the ear o God!
This wis eerie muisic ti heeven! The spirits abuin wis keen ti hear it. It wis the tenderest vyce they haed ever heard, the maist peetifu cry that ever broke on God's hert sin man's thraw in Eden! "Yer will, no Mine, be duin." He wis tethered ti that will, the Faither's will. He haed trampit on, an at ilka cruik o the road gaed straucht bi the Faither's wird. It wis the haun o the Faither that weised Him throu life. Ane ne'er cuist oot wi the ither. Aa that lang spell o obedience wis nou ti be wrocht inti ae muckle throw. An belyve we hear the vyce o a resigned Saviour say, "Gin it's Your likin, no Mine, but what Ye will, lat it be duin."
Lat's gaze ance mair upo Him: a bit o heeven cled in fleesh an bluid: human shapit; Divine as weel! Doutna He fund the wecht o man's guilt a sair load. Sorraes soopin throu His sowel like cauld winds amang bare trees. His is the biggest hert that wis ever wae, the hert that lo'ed aa. An yet His brither men wis cuifs, an backed awa. But He stuid in as staunch as ever in His love for them.
He wis cuist inti a wild warld, wi a fair, fautless mind an perfete likins. He kent what a clean hert wis afore He quat the Faither's haa door. That pure hert made aathing roond Him pure. Hou winsomely He spak o the lily o the field! The spink upo the gressy brae wis bonny ti His ee, an the liltin o the burn wimpled a tuin in His ear! The thrush sang ower its melody, like a hymn at the nichtfaa whan the day wis duin! Gin Christ haed haed ti live wi the bonny sichts an soonds o this warld, He micht hae been happy an weel pleased wi the warks o His ain makkin. But sin haed come an hoosed itsel in ilka man, an the finest piece o God's handiwark--shapit for the lang life ayont the grave--wis the only cratur that Jesus haed a fear at!
Sin wis the hoond efter Him that haed chased Him intil this lanely neuk. No faur awa a wheen o ill-gatit men wis colleaguin ti hae Him pit awa. They could be seen on the road, speelin the brou o the hill, the wild glimmer o their torches flamin in the mirk, the din o ruch vyces howlin throu the silence an the lanesomeness o the weird nicht!
Jesus' cronies haed mistrystit Him: they haed mislippent their watch. Drowsy wi duil, weary-brained an tired, they fell asleep. Heavy-hertit an douncast--the praisent aa raivelt, an the morn bleak an bleary--they sat wi droopin heids. Their boats an fishin taickle aa gane, their says o guid faith an love by; what they haed lippent for, an greened ti get, dashed frae their sicht! They wis oot here in the darkness athoot a freend, doitert an mauchless, leuchen at bi ungratefu folk,-- the end o their ettlins, a bluff o smoke: here, as if dozin aside the aise o a fire that haed warmed them, an the reekin rush o a licht that haed led them throu the gloom! But Jesus wisna pleased wi them for sleepin. "What, Simon! sleepin? Couldna ye keep awake ae oor? Tak tent, an pray, gin ye faana intil temptation." Ah! they haed haed ower mony o this warld's projects in their heids, an fient ane haed come richt. Ti ser a Christ for by-ends, an for the warld's baubles, brocht its ain fairin--sair wrackit herts! There wis a land --faur awa!--they micht hae seen, an kent that the Kingdom wis there--on the ither side o the tomb. They should hae fand it, an kent that that black nicht wis the foreglint o brichter days ti come. Haed they understuid aricht, they micht hae been no only watchin, but prayin, aside the Maister--aa on their knees aboot Him, sabbin ti the Faither abuin.
Can we blame the disciples for sleepin whan we oorsels is sae drowsy an waesome? The Kirk is asleep, an Jesus seems Hislane. An we micht hear the vyce o the Maister sayin ti us, "Can ye no keep wauken wi Me for ae oor?" It mey be that a dreid nicht haes come again on the Kirk. It seems gin Christ haed been driven ance mair inti the Gairden o Gethsemane. The warld is takkin Him throu hauns afore their Pilates, an juidgin Him bi their ain standards. They'v pit Him in the scales, an cuisten Him aside. There's nae pruif for them that He is vera deed the Evangel, the Man come frae God. An nou in this nicht o murky darkness, whaur will we finnd the faithfu few? What is the Christ-folk daein eenou for the Maister? Ar we sleepin or wauken? Or ar we only thinkin o oor fishin gear an nets, thinkin o earthly hichts, coronets an crouns, mairchin wi the thrang, shoutin hurrahs an clappin oor hauns whan He is the folk's Champion, an on the road ti be crouned King; but ah! whan He is doun in the gully o the Gairden Hislane--sad, slichtit--we ar fand wi oor een steekit, dazed an drowsin!
A third time He cam ti them: but the hard warsle wis ower. It wis aa ane nou gin they sleepit, or bade up. He cam as a warrior returnin frae victory. His sad, set face glimmert wi a licht o joy. The fears that but a oor syne haed driven Him ti this dark spot wis gane for aye. He saw Himsel swung ower the cross o pain; but ayont it aa there cam the victor's croun! His aquantances haed got a chance o daein Him a service afore the Judas kiss an the fause palaver. But they haed luiten the oor o their chance slip an buried it in a dwaum. The sleepin men, an the kneelin Christ, wis the portents o this fatefu nicht. It haed sae ti be. The warld wad hae a cross, an God haed fore-ordered a Saviour.
It wis naitral for a man ti feel the facin o a cross. What wad you hae duin, or A, if oor cross wis at haun? Wad we no be in the Gairden wi oor sowel steepit in writhin thochts, oor speerit fechtin atween richt an wrang? Wad it no be that like Him we wad throw up oor cry ti the great God, an beg that it micht gang by? Wad the thocht o oor freends at haun no be some balm ti oor raxed sowel? Ah! we wad be gaun back an forrit atween oor prayer an oor freends--at ae time wi God, an at anither time wi man!
He cam the third time--the Man o Sorraes. It haed taen Him aa that lang ti get throu the swither o life or daith. He wis castin the die o His ain fate--yours an mine, an the warld's ootby. He wis settlin whether man wad get the deevil's doom, or God's blessin. He wis ready nou ti redd the warld o hell, an dee, that grace micht come, an Heeven stap doun an bide on earth wi man!
Is the Kirk o oor folk doverin ti sleep? Is she only taen up wi creeds an forms, sperflin her strength on monotonous craikin, while doun in the city there is a gang o the sects ettlin ti ding the Saviour oot o the warld? They dinna like Him. They ar scunnert wi His haivers. They canna tak His ideals wi them inti their stravaigs an lichtsome gallivantin. There wis ne'er a oor, nor a day, whan we haed ocht ti be glegger than nou. We seem but a haunfu, an their clash an their screeds wad fain brak throu an pit sindry oor beliefs. Insteed o herkenin for the tramp o nearin hosts an spyin the sairchlichts o the sects, we ar drowsin an noddin ithin oor ain weel-pleased casin. The Judas o the day comes forrit wi aa the Pharisee host ahint him, sayin, "Hail, Rabbi!" e'en plantin the kiss on His cheek, as if showin honour ti Him, an daein a service ti the warld. There's nae time mair than this whan the kirk folk should be sittin up watchin an prayin. There's nae time whan we should be mair shouther ti shouther, breistin the onset o Heeven's fae. This is the oor whan we ocht ti show bi oor fealty, oor patience an lang-tholin, that we ar girt aboot wi the same love ti the same Saviour. Lat's be siccar freends, sairin ane an aa wi the best we can, wide awake ti the ills aroond us, an raxin strength ti ane anither for Jesus an His cause.
The Kirk o this day, A fear, wants muckle ti mak her claim guid ti be the keeper o the stoops that Christ biggit His Kirk upon. What for is a God's hoose if it's only a howf for bouin an beckin? What for is the name o a Christian Kirk if the speerit o Christ is no nar her? What uise o this gaitherin frae Sabbath ti Sabbath if it's juist a gaitherin an naething mair? If the Kirk lives only for a name, if she haes naething ti show for her existence--then she haes serred her day, an the suiner the Haun o Providence gies her a backlin stroke the better. She's been gien a chance in her day ti lat the warld ken the strength o her faith. The fremmit folk's leukin for muckle. We ken that their ee glowers ower oor affairs. We dinna like their leuk, gin aiblins we'r no at something ti oor credit. They ar spierin: "Wha ar ye? What ar ye? An whaur's yer pruif?" Oor life is the beuk they ar readin. They dinna tak us throu hauns for what we believe, but for what we ar; no for what we say, but for what we dae; no for the ootward palaver, but for the rael man within. They ar leukin for life.
We'r no richt waukened ti the thocht that we hae Jesus's guid name ti gaird. Chances is brocht ti us for lattin fowk see that we'v meikle likin for Him! Ar we tinin sicht o them? He's worth neeborin wi. He's in the claws o the infidel wolves, the dancin crouds, an the lauchin faces. Pit we forth a haun ti pou Him oot? We canna be ower swippert ti cast aside their dunts o slander. Lat folk ken that there's something in this life for the Saviour mair worth than ony creed this yirth can shove upo's. What hae we tint? What lost sicht o? We'v tint the tide an the time; they'v baith slippit by, an we hear Him comin an sayin in a meanin vyce, "Sleep on nou; yer chances is gane, yer day by, an the warld mey swing in the swirl it haes made!"
Oor chances is gane; naething can bring them back; they canna be recaad. The mountains o duil for mislippenin the tryst canna blot oot the past. They will aye throw their shaidaes inti the valleys o oor day. We hae a dovered an drowsed. Deep in his hert man kens that he only haes ae life, only ae day ti live it in! Ilka thocht an deed maks up the black shaidaes o sorrae, or the licht sklents o joy. Heeven leuks doun ti see if we ar at oor duty; but we'r in sleep. thochtless an thowless, dreamin. An time swings by the gowden chances inti the past that will ne'er come again!
Ar ye coontit a sleeper? Haes life been ti you the magic o a dream, the drowse o a callous fate that you'v haed ti live? Bestir yersel, man! Hear-ye-na the biddin ti Duty? Haud siccar ti it. Time like a flude rins on; there's nae time for idle flummery, for driftin movements, nae time for a daft devotion ti a scoondrel's hazard! We maun climb the hill wi a sturdy stride, we maun brave the road ti a hopefu hert!
The quagmires an bogholes is dark eneuch, an mony eneuch, for us aa ti sink oorsels in. "Come here! an gang there!" shouts the croud. We stap aside ti see if it is worth oor heed an tine oorsels in the stramash. We thocht ti fill oor nieve wi gowd, an fund it naething but crumblin dross. Life's day hauds in it the worth o eternity. Life is the sowel's gala day, the great sawin time for the hinmaist hairst. We canna expeck ti be what we hinna been, nor hae what we hinna socht. God winna slip His decrees, nor lat us back ti live this life ower again! Staun in ti the battle. Lat ilka man be strang in the fecht. Ne'er courie frae wrang; aye haud ti the richt an whan life is by, ye'll be in siccar hauns!
Brither men! We'v been lippent wi the great discipleship. A big trust haes been haunit ower ti us. We fancy Peter sayin ti John, "We canna wonder at the aucht sleepin, but for you an me ti sleep--black shame on us! We'v seen Him lowss the deid. We saw Him glisterin in the Mount, as He spak wi Moses an Elijah fae the Land o Glory. We saw Him walk upo the ragin sea. We'v seen Him unsteek the een that wis blinnd, gie hearin ti the deif, an words ti the tongue-tied. Oh, man! it's awfu that we should hae snoozed an slippit oor watch. Oh, gin we haed that oor back again! Could we no hae sat up ae oor?"
Freends, We hae haed a glint o His face, an herkent ti His vyce, an taen haud o the hem o His goun. We'v caad Him Maister, an sayed we'd follae His fit--be the road stey an staney, or canny an smooth.
He's gane; He's ayont the tomb, an abuin the cloods. The wee whilock will suin be ower, will suin be ower wi us! He's comin throu the gloom ti us an sayin, "Come! lat's be gaun! Come ti the juidgement bar! Yer chances for serrin Me or desertin Me, is by! The beuks is opened. There it's pitten doun whether ye'v watched an prayed; or drowsed an dreamed whan A wis doun-by."
At the beuk-openin day, will it only dawn on us syne what chances we'v lost: what oor watchin an prayin micht hae been ti Him; what we micht hae been? Or time is by, wauken up, an staun in like men, an mak up for the nicht we sleepit in the howe o the hill in the lanely Gairden o Gethsemane.
Time is fleein, an the nicht comes doun. Wha will be the leal anes ti meet Him in the timeless land?
God Abuin,--We come ti Yersel faain low, wi humble an respectfu mind. The shaidaes o the nicht hae come an the day haes gane its gate. We lift oor thochts ti Yersel--thochts o gledness an guidwill. We waukened in the mornin wi a sang in oor herts, sayin ti oorsels that God wis guid. His haun wis fou; we feared nae want; oor freend wis God.
We ar His bairns. His praisence hung oot-ower oor cradle frae auld time, an aa throu life His guidin kept us frae wrang. In paece, oor haun haed a safter touch because o Thee; in war, we wis fearsome as Thy juistice; in victory, we won the day as men o God. Lang mey Yer Almichty haun guide us, gang wi us, an mak us siccar. Lang mey Providence keep the aumrie o life on the fou side. In the maze o life's trials bide nar, that we mey ken whaur richt is richt, an wrang is wrang.
Airt us past the duil road an neebor oor gaeins till we come ti the yetts o paece. Lang is the road an sair is the trauchle o life athoot Thee; but the sichts is bonny an the soonds is swaet whan we ken they ar oor Makar's delite. The burn rins doun wi a blyther sang, the mountain broods ower wi a calmer an mair abidin strength. Hou bonny is the flouers on the brou o the brae whan the glen-land is silent, an God is there.
Mony is wanderin faur oot in the warld, awa frae hame, awa frae freends. There's some in trouble, some in ill-daein, some in hunger an want. Some's dashin a faither's hopes an brakkin a mither's hert. God Abuin,--thole wi them, pou them back, fleg them in their wild shindies. Sair, sair, dae they need Yer warnin. Dinna wait on them: gar them come. Yer licht is stranger than the darkness, Yer hame swaeter than the faur country, Yer love mair winsome than sin.
Man wis lost in the mirk an nane could finnd the richt road. Ane teuk peety an left His Faither's hoose Abuin. He left the Palace o the King an cam doun. He shouthered the hale wecht o sin an cairied it ti Calvary. He didna need ti come ti pent a purer lily, or splash on the sea a finer foam, or busk the stars wi a brichter spark. He cam doun ti redd the warld o sin an cursin. He cam wi paece an guidwill. He brocht the rest for the weary, the hope for them that haed nane. He saftly raised the boued doun. He stappit the road Himsel wi man, airmt him ower the stiff bits, an promised him Heeven whan aa wis duin. Come roond us aa, an pairt us Yer guid. We wad gang Yer road wi siccar feet an dae Yer will wi leal herts. AMEN.