And I looked, and, see, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand…
(with Ephesians 5:19): — The text from St. Paul is the necessary introduction to the one from St. John. They both suggest for us the necessary connection of inner and outer harmony of being. What makes martial music noisy, blatant, offensive? It is when a spirit of mere savage quarrelsomeness is in connection with it. And what makes it majestic and able to marshal and lead hosts? It is the force of national duties and earnestness, giving it commanding power. Our texts give the highest Christian form of this truth, the connection of inner and outer harmony. It declares that no man can learn the new song who has not been redeemed in nature; none can sing it who has not made, first, melody in the heart unto the Lord. First, consider this in connection with the statement that holiness, goodness, is a concord. Every virtue is a harmony. It is the result of combining different and separate tendencies. It is complex. It is, as it were, a chord of the inner music, formed by striking different notes of character together, and combining them in one. And that is what makes virtue so hard of acquisition and a virtuous Christian life such a struggle. The true graces are harmonies of different notes; are chords of character; not merely a single note of character, struck with a single finger, easily, and at once; but each, a combination of various notes of character, revealed only by using all the hand, and both hands of life; including different parts and requiring earnest, anxious toil, before it is harmoniously and truly struck — struck with pleasure to the great Hearer, to whose ear your character makes melody in your heart, the Lord. Look at some of the several virtues, and see if it be not so; that each one is a chord, a combination, a harmony. Take love, or charity, the most winning and prominent of virtues. It is not simple. In its true height it is a combination. It is composed of the union of self-sacrifice and benevolence to others. Passion is never true love, for it is selfish. Or take another human virtue, true human courage, and see its component parts. Who is a brave man, but he who, keenly alive to pain, tingling through and through with sensitiveness of danger and love of life, is yet also full of the sense of duty and the glow of patriotism, and out of those two very different parts constructs the delicate, perfect harmony of his courage? Or again, select a third one out of the catalogue of noble human characteristics; and see how, in its true form, it is harmony, a combination of differing elements. Take freedom, liberality, or liberty of spirit. There is a true and a false freedom. The false freedom is simply license. It has only one thought — to do its own will, to get its own desire, to be unbound by others' will. It has no harmony. It has but a single note, a single tone, and it is easily gained. There is no struggle, no argument to reconcile and combine any differences in a melody. But there is a truer human liberty than this; that which Paul describes when he says, "as free, but as servants"; one which strives, while doing its own will, to be sure that it is also doing the will of God and truth; one which labours to combine obedience with freedom, to be obediently free and to be freely obedient; to make it the freest action of the human will to do God's will, and to obey the commandments of His love and truth. That is a hardly gained, but a very rich harmony. Take still one more example of the fact that every virtue, in its true, essential form, is a concord, a combination of tones. You will find it in the trait of justice. To be just is not a very simple operation. It requires, first, wisdom, judgment, intelligent power of discerning and discriminating. It requires, secondly, courage, freedom to announce the decision of wisdom, without fear or prejudice. It requires, thirdly, temperateness, power of self-restraint, that there be no excess, or passion, or over-statement of one's decisions in the vehemence of his convictions. Every act of justice must include these three. But let us think on a little further. The Bible calls human virtues and graces "fruits of the Spirit." Their harmony is produced by the Spirit of God. Have you ever stood and wondered at the wild, sweet music of an AEolian harp — held by no human hands, resonant under no human fingers, but swayed by the breathing winds of nature, bringing forth its strange combined melodies? Such an instrument is the human soul. Strung and held by no human hands, with the spiritual breath of God the Spirit passing over its strings, seeking to awaken them to speak in those perfect harmonies which we call "virtues," but which the Bible calls "fruits," or results "of the Spirit." Oh, let us not quench the Spirit. It is about us, fraught and laden with all the airs and strains of God; able and waiting to call them out of our hearts, and the materials of our character and nature. By it we may be able to make melody in our hearts to the Lord. By it we may strive to do here what the redeemed shall de by it at last before the throne, in that land of the Spirit. We may learn from the Spirit that perfect new song which can only be sung by a melodious heart and nature.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.