The true test of everyone and every thing is Christ. It was so when He lived and walked on the earth it is so now, though the world seeth Him no more.
It is wonderful how latent principles and concealed thoughts are all elicited, and brought to the surface, before this test. Every man on earth is posted in his true place morally, when tested by Christ, and the importance or the contrary of everything is detected when its relation to Christ is found out. This world, with its motives and principles, its greatness and its littleness, is eminently favourable to questions. Many and varied have been the topics which, from time to time, men have suggested and debated; the din and strife of party clamour has again and again been heard, and when the fury of the fight has subsided, and the battle is over, the question which raised it is still without solution, and is left unanswered.
The present age delights in questions, reasonings, and uncertainties on all subjects, but specially in the region where revelation claims exclusively to be heard. The delight and highest pleasure of philosophy and science, at the present moment, is to tear to fragments every little shred of faith or confidence in God's testimony which has escaped the malignity of Satan's rage against God and His Christ. In truth, man is never so little as in his greatness, and never appears so insignificant or dwarfish as in his puny efforts against Christ. Then it is most of all that man himself, with his own lips, proclaims his folly; then is it that God makes foolish the wisdom of this world. "Where is the wise, where is the scribe, where is the disputer of this world?" The truth is, the great answer to every question is, "Christ" — "Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God;" and the heart that knows His Person, and loves His voice, delights to bear its record to what a final, conclusive, satisfactory answer He, and He alone, is. Christ is God's resource in every crisis, and God's reply to every question. There have been times in the history of God's testimony and people on earth when human ingenuity and ken might do their utmost, to issue only in despair; then it is that God displays the fulness of His resource; with Him the demand is no measure of the supply. In human circumstances, as a rule, the result of a crisis is a panic; but with God difficulties are delighted in, to show how entirely He is above them.
Now it is this which marks what I designedly call "John's dying note." He had spoken much and often ere this; he had testified, too, in earnest and to purpose; there were around him those who loved and valued him; and in this sense the greatest of women born was not alone. Questions between John's followers and the Jews were raised by the latter and an attempt to make John and Christ the leaders of opposite factions and parties was an occasion for John to show where his heart was, and how entirely Christ had settled all questions for him. Observe how blessedly he hides himself behind the Christ of God, and how he makes little of himself in order to make much of Jesus. What was John but a poor creature of the earth? His words, too, what were they but the language of one who was "of the earth earthy?" It was to the bridegroom the bride belonged, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stood and heard Him, as John did Christ, rejoiced greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. How blessed to see a man himself so captivated by Christ, bound with chains of love — embracing as it were his conqueror's feet — that he is ready to break every vessel, and himself first of all among them, if he may but set forth His excellency and His glory, who coming from above, is above all!
But he will not even rest here: he will go beyond his own thoughts of who and what this blessed One is, and hence the Father's thoughts about His Son must form "John's dying note:" he will sing, even on earth, a nobler, sweeter strain; and how simple, yet impressive it is, as the revelation of God in his heart, giving him heaven-born thoughts concerning the beloved Son — "The Father loveth the Son " . . . "He giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him" . . . "He hath given all things into His hand." It is all Christ from first to last; man, Israel, bride, John, are all eclipsed and distanced; the tiny stars all diminish, yea, retire, before the rising Sun, and we are left to sit down and rest our weary hearts beneath His rays, and find our satisfaction in the fact of Jesus being all!
"Hark, the thrilling symphonies,
Seem within to seize us;
Add we to their holy lays,
Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Sweetest name on mortal tongue,
Sweetest note in angels' song,
Sweetest anthem ever known,
Jesus, Jesus reigns alone!"