Here is a text for the naturalist and for the Christian, for the student of birds and for the student of Providence. Audubon might introduce it into his Chapter on Eagles ; Spurgeon might make it the theme for a "morning reading'' on God's love for His people. And it is a grand theme, whether for the ornithologist or the child of God.
The passage before us is
a brief and beautiful parable. To get the full benefit of it, we must look
first at its literal facts, and then at its moral and spiritual teachings.
The parable is of the Eagle, the king of all the feathered tribes. What
the majestic sequoia is among the trees, what the gorgeous cactus is among
flowering plants, what the lion of Numidia is
It is sometimes fashioned--a
yard square--of billets of wood, and inlaid with rushes and mountain heather.
Not down among the reeds and grass does the eagle build; not even among
the tree-tops--but far up on the crags of mountain-peaks. When the prophet
Obadiah would denounce the pride of Edom, he says: "Though thou exalt thyself
as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will
I bring thee down, saith the Lord." Up in this airy
She "stirreth up the nest" However cozy and comfortable it may be, however closely the young eaglets may cling to their home, she stirs them out. They are afraid to fly, and sit timidly on the edge of the nest, looking out into the wide air and down into the chasms beneath them. So she spreadeth abroad her ample wings--"taketh them on her wings" as on an aerial car, and soars out for a sail! It is dizzy work up there and dangerous. But to the broad, stalwart wings of the parent bird the little fellows cling, and she transports them safely. This is the first lesson. At length they are thrust out to try their own wings. They may, at first, reel to and fro, flutter about, and catch some rough falls against cliff or tree-top. But they are learning, and without practice they never can fly. They must run some risks, or else be left to starve . in their nests. They improve by each attempt. Their wings grow stronger, and they grow more expert in using them. And ere long the eaglet can fly like the mother bird, and keep her company in all her chase for sport or spoil.
I. This is a picturesque
process that we have been looking at, and we will find it an object-lesson
well worth our studying. We may learn many things from these brute teachers,
with their sagacity of instinct, parental affection, and noble daring.
We may apply this parable--in the first place--to the secular and domestic
life with which many of us are
A wise and thrifty parent
rears his brood around the hearthstone and the family altar. The fireside
is pleasant, and home is dear. But the nest gets full and cannot hold them
all. If the boys and girls nestle all together, as consumers and not producers,
the whole household will soon come to want. So the prudent father " stirs
up the nest." The eldest-born must fly out, and learn to shift for themselves.
The parting from home gives a hard wrench to the heart, and the very thought
of pushing out into the strange world has some terrors in it. As the good
mother--God bless her! packs the trunk of her darling boy, many a tear
falls in upon the lad's wardrobe. She stows in many a useful "knicknacket"
Whoever of you would have
your sons and daughters make your hearts rejoice must not dream that they
can be left at home to shiftless indolence, or enervating self-indulgence.
Next to teaching your children Christ, teach them to work." He who brings
up a child to no trade, brings up a child for the devil," is an old Jewish
proverb worthy of observance in
II. Now, in the second place,
let us advance to a more directly spiritual aspect of this subject. God
deals with His children as the eagle deals with her young. He sees that
His children are too often determined to nestle. They build earthly nests
for themselves; surround themselves with various comforts and luxuries,
and then settle down to enjoy them. Instead
Well, now, if God strikes
in upon that nest with crushing disasters or bereavements, do you wonder?
If bankruptcy bring that splendid establishment to the hammer, or if calamity
sweep away those idols; if Death mount those sumptuous stairways and writes
paleness on some cheek of roses, do you wonder ? God saw that His children
were beginning to nestle and to become too worldly for their soul's health.
So He stirred up that nest of self-indulgence, and in the very way that
they would feel most keenly. Not in revenge does He do it; not in cruelty,
but in love to their souls, and in tender jealousy for the honor of their
Christian name and character. When any member of Christ's flock surrounds
himself--or herself--with worldly idols, and surrenders the heart to them,
and worships them, and robs Christ for them, then he or she may expect
that neglected Saviour to break up that idol-worship--even if sharp chastisements
be employed to accomplish it. Ah! have we not often seen such awakened
and smitten souls start up from their spiritual slumbers and try once more
a flight heavenward? Have we not seen them--with wings that had been weakened
by long disuse--endeavor to soar again? As an eagle taketh her young upon
her wings and beareth them, so the patient love of God has borne up His
backslidden and penitent children. He has taken them on the strong pinions
of His imparted grace. He has kindled by His Holy Spirit fresh desires
after Him, and awakened their torpid affections. They have gone back to
their Bibles and to their knees. To the cross have they gone--in confession
and in tears, and have sought the forgiveness of Him who has been wounded
in the house of His friends. They have laid hold again of long neglected
duties, and honestly confessed, "it is good for me that I have been afflicted;
for before I was chastised I went
' 'And as on eagle's wings
III. Let us now advance to
a third thought suggested by this prolific passage. When God permits any
immortal being to nestle down in worldly possessions or sinful pleasures,
undisturbed, unaroused, and unawakened, is it not a terrible calamity?
Could a greater curse come upon such a person than to be let alone by the
Holy Spirit I Would not that "nest " of selfishness and hardened indifference
to God become the prelude to righteous divine wrath and red burnings? If
the young eaglet would become a sorry weakling in its nest, and finally
be left to starve if it were never trained to fly, how true it is, also,
that any soul that is left alone in guilty indifference and unbelief will
come to eternal ruin. It is divine love that awakens the sinner to his
guilt and danger. Love sends the arrow of conviction into the soul. Love
drives that arrow in deeper and deeper. God so loves the self-condemned
sinner that He not only has sent His only-begotten Son to die for him,
but sends His awakening Spirit with the thrilling appeal, "Awake thou that
sleepest! turn ye; turn ye; for why will ye die?" God stirs him up. The
living gospel comes with strong, fearless hand, and overturns his refuges
of lies--rips to
Say you that this is harsh
or unkind ? Say you that the threatenings of God's holy Word or the utterances
of a faithful pulpit against sin are wanton cruelty? Nay verily. They are
the very essence of loving-kindness, A cathartic medicine may be very nauseous,
but a wise physician often administers it in mercy to his sick patient.
It was a terrible process for our brave "boys in blue" to be bound
to the surgeon' s table and to see the amputating-knife flashed before
their eyes ; but better lose a limb than a life. No one likes to be startled
out of a comfortable sleep at midnight ; but if you see the black smoke
belching out of your neighbor's window you do not hesitate to break into
his house with the cry of " Fire! fire! fire!" and to drag him and his
household out through the suffocating smoke and flame. It were a diabolical
cruelty not to stir up that home-nest on which the flames were kindling.
One of our most heroic Arctic explorers tells us that
An hour of treacherous slumber would have left each one a stiffened corpse. Their leader was compelled to beat them, beg them, threaten them---anything to keep off the fatal lethargy---until the vessel could be reached. Poor fellows! they were delirious with pain and hunger when they staggered over the icy deck of the brig into the cabin with its reviving warmth.
But they were saved. The hand that roused them was the hand that saved them. Every soul in this assembly who ever reaches heaven will be forced to make the same acknowledgment ; the arm that aroused us in our guilt will be the theme of our gratitude in the realms of glory.
Oh, my brethren, is there no resemblance between that Arctic scene and the condition of the Church whose members lie down and freeze together into a spiritual torpor? As their active energies become slowly benumbed, their sense of safety becomes more serene and complacent.
They are satisfied with their preaching and their privileges---satisfied with themselves---and satisfied to let perishing souls stumble over them into perdition ! All they ask for is peace and the quiet enjoyment of their well spread table.
Now into such an orthodox refrigerator---where the only unity consists in their being "frozen solid" --- God has often sent His Holy Spirit to stir them up, and bring them to repentance. Sometimes He has done this by the voice of a fearless ambassador, and sometimes by the voice of a startling Providence. At first the stiffened limbs were slow to move, and the rigid lips were slow to articulate. But the baptism of fire descended----and the love of Jesus, shed abroad in some hearts, enkindled others until the blessed flame of a genuine Revival set the whole Church aglow ! Oh, blessed Jesus! source of all light and life," pour thyself into all our souls as a flame of fire, quickening us to a new life, warming our affections to a sacred glow, consuming our unholy passions and lusts, filling us with the power from on high, and making us all burning and shining lights for Thine own honor and glory!
IV. Before I close let me interject into this discussion a very practical truth suggested by an incident of eagle life. It is said that a shepherd once observed an eagle soar away from the brow of a lofty cliff into the air. The movements of the bird soon became eccentric; it descended in its course; soon one wing dropped and then the other, and in a few moments the noble bird fell rapidly to the ground.
The shepherd picked up the dead bird to examine the cause of its eccentric movements and its fall. He discovered that a small serpent had fastened itself under the bird's wing and pierced its way into the flesh ; and when the deadly fangs reached the heart, the poor eagle fell! This, too, is a parable---with quite too many melancholy fulfillments on every side of us. We have sometimes seen a person rise into a prominent position of influence in the Church and in the community. But presently his conduct began to excite suspicion and then alarm, and ere long he was prostrate in the dust--- a pitiable spectacle for scoffers to jeer at and for charity to weep over. The eye of God saw what we had not suspected--- how some secret sin---some departure from strict integrity, or some indulgence of fleshly lusts, or some concealed crime against conscience, or some other deadly sin against the Holy Spirit, had struck its way into the heart, and brought the eagle down ! Whosoever thinketh that he standeth, let him take heed lest he fall. All sin is deceitful, but never more so than when it fastens itself upon a Christian; and may God in His tender mercy help you and me to beware of the serpent at the heart!
The parable that we have
chosen for our topic to-day is prolific in more suggestion and instruction
than we have time now to consider. There is one, however, that must not
be omitted. When the eagle has stirred up her nest and brought out her
younglings, she teacheth them to soar. Prom the lower atmosphere of earth
she beareth them upward toward the empyrean. It is her congenial atmosphere---for
which she was created. Sparrows may twitter on the house-tops ; wrens may
flit among the shrubbery, and owls may hoot in the midnight forest. But
eagles are children of the skies,
"They that wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength ; they shall mount up with wings as eagles."
God desires that every soul that waits on Him shall not creep, or grovel
in the muck of worldliness, or crouch in wretched bondage to men or devils.
When a soul is joined to Jesus by faith, that soul finds wings. Such an
one has his " citizenship in the heavens." He catches inspiration from
the in-dwelling Spirit. He rises above the chilling fogs of doubt, gains
wide and ennobling outlook, and actually realizes his heirship to a celestial
inheritance. He outflies the petty vexations that worry the worldling,
and the lusts which drag the sensual soul down into the mire. His inner
life is hid with Christ in God. What to
The nearer you and I get to God, the purer will be our spiritual atmosphere, and the more thoroughly, humbly, and earnestly will we discharge every duty to our fellow-men. Nor will we expect to reach heaven before our time. We shall not be "flighty" in our aims or "air-ish" with vain-glory even when we rise into the fullest fellowship with the Unseen and the Eternal. Blessed be the trials, however sharp, that keep us from nestling down into selfishness and sloth!
Blessed be the discipline,
however painful or severe, that stirs up our nests and teaches us to live
as sons and daughters of the Almighty and heirs of our unfading crown !
-Administrator, News For Christians Dot Com
Back to Index Page