“Glue Together” and “Scotland’s Green”
“You can learn more in a railway journey if you keep your eyes and ears open than you can by a lot of reading,” remarked a fellow passenger to me on an East Coast express yesterday; and I felt there was truth in the remark. An instance will illustrate. A family came tumbling pell-mell into our compartment, returning from a seaside holiday. They were a healthy crowd of boys and girls with a merry looking father and a somewhat anxious looking mother, she probably had good cause for her anxiety for her young brood looked quite capable of daring deeds. We were en route for Edinburgh and a connection had to be made there by this family for the West; the time between the trains was little enough, and numerous trunks were packed in the luggage van. It was the father’s business to attend to these and as he dashed off to do so he gave instructions to his family, “Glue together” said he “till I come back”.
It was a sensible command, for anyone can see what trouble the father would have had and what time would have been lost if on returning he had found his family scattered, and it was a needed command, for those youngsters had wills of their own, and looked as though they liked to exercise them independently of each other, but the father’s authority controlled them, and I hope they got their train.
The father’s words to his family glued themselves to me. They sounded so much like other words, words that should be for ever sacred and precious to Christian hearts because they fell from the lips of the Lord whom we love. The burden of His parting words to His disciples was, “Love one another till I return”. “Glue together”. Several reasons are given for this. Said He:—
- “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”.
- “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another”.
- “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you”.
- “That they all may be one . . . that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me”.
Cogent reasons these why the followers of the Lord should “glue together” during His absence. Consider them:—
- He commands it.
- Because He loves them.
- That all may know that they are His disciples,
- Because the world hates them because they belong to Him.
- That the world may believe that the Father sent the Son.
Other reasons could be cited, but these are enough surely to incite us who are the objects of the Lord’s love to “glue together”. Some ignore these great reasons for loving cohesion on the part of the saints of God and would substitute rules and regulations; would build again little folds for keeping the sheep together, but these things only militate against true cohesion; they divide the saints instead of binding them together. He is coming back, the time of His absence is drawing to its close; do we not feel that it is an unspeakable shame that His disciples have forgotten His word and not kept it; that they have not “glued together” during His absence, but have quarrelled and divided, and scattered to their loss and dishonour, and to His grief? So much so that if He were not the Lord who knoweth them that are His, and where to find them, He would have much trouble at His coming to gather them together again in one. This sort of thing began very early in the history of the Church as the First Epistle to the Corinthians proves, and if it was easy for the flesh and Satan to work their evil way then we need not marvel at it now, yet the blame is entirely ours. We certainly have no cause for self-congratulation on this line, but plenty of cause for deep heart-searching and self-condemnation as we dwell upon the fact that in spite of His love and His command we have not “glued together”. But in these days it is not so easy as it was in former days to hold together as those who are loved by one great love. We make it harder by our prejudices, as we may learn from another railway lesson. Yes, we make it harder.
Again I was en route for Scotland, specially to visit some fellow Christians whom hitherto I had not seen, and of whom I entertained some notions not altogether favourable to them, or creditable to me. The opposite corner of the compartment was occupied by a little girl not more than nine years old. I discovered that she was travelling alone to Edinburgh and we became good friends. It was the first time that she had gone so far, and when our train crossed the border into Scotland I said, “Now we’re in Scotland”. “No, this isn’t Scotland”, replied the little maid. “Why do you say that?” I asked. “Because Scotland’s yellow”, she said, with the utmost gravity. I lay back and laughed at my dogmatic little friend, and then asked, “Whatever makes you say that Scotland’s yellow?” “Well its yellow on my map”, said she with great assurance, and in a manner which meant that that’s the last word on the subject. And though around us stretched fields of lovely green, it was not Scotland to her because all she knew of Scotland she had learnt from her map. I laughed again and again at the naivety of that little Yorkshire maid; then I grew grave, and the tears forced themselves from my eyes as the lesson forced itself upon me. I, too, had had a map, and on my map my brethren were yellow, and to be avoided; was my map right? I prayed for grace to destroy my map if it proved to be wrong, as it most surely did, for my brethren surprised me by the freshness of their love for our common Lord and His precious truth.
I prayed for grace to discard my prejudices and endeavour henceforward to look upon my brethren as the Lord who loves them looks upon them. It was a needed lesson, and one that has meant much blessing to me, and I shall never forget the little maid who thought that Scotland was yellow; so like to me was she.
Brethren, if we are to obey our Lord’s command, if we are to love all who love the truth and “glue together”, we must be prepared to discard our cherished maps if they prove to be not according to the truth; seek out our brethren and judge them not according to our notions, according to our maps, but as to how they regard the Lord Himself and His Word, then, and only then, shall we “follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart”, which is surely as incumbent upon us as it is that “everyone that names the name of Christ departs from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19-22).