Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Here I must pause. The comparison, i feared, 'would be put in a low part of I fear, would prove of no honour to the scale. Christianity. Eagerness after gain, 8th. I must not enter on another speculation to excess, extravagance of branch of what appears to me a sympexpenditure, or mean hoarding, injus- tom of decline in spirituality. The tice, untruthfulness, employment of the great interest taken in politics by prowhole time and all the energies of the fessors, and by professors eminent for mind and body to business, exclusive of character and for influence in the church Christ's service, will be found. And of God. I cannot reconcile this warm not a few worldly men will appear su- part in all political matters which is perior to Christian professors in all the taken and openly defended, with the excellencies of honourable trading and spirit of Christ's kingdom, which is not the substantials of morality.

of this world, nor with the true position 6th. Of one matter where exertions of Christians as strangers and pilgrims are judged to be great, and where so- on earth. Nor have I ever seen one cieties are brought into comparison, i.e., example in which devotedness to polithe amount of income for missionary tics did not injure the spirituality and purposes, let a candid survey be taken. piety of the individual. And this The Bible Society, the Church Mission statement is the fruit of observation ary Society, and others, have £100,000, and experience during a life of conmore or less, annually. And, doubtless, siderable length. If there be a declencontributions from the poor to the sion of true religion, the question may auxiliaries and associations for these in- be put, what is the remedy? What is stitutions, are a sacrifice to them, and to be done ? It is a question affecting honour their profession. But what is each of us. And the question, if we £100,000 a year from thousands who be in earnest, will lead to this inquiry, are wealthy? If contributions be the Am I converted ? Am I a Christian, test of our Christian love and zeal, love and a new creature ? This is the beand zeal are faint.

ginning, the gate into the narrow way, 7th. Another feature in our day is for which there is no substitute in mere the little amount of working by pro- knowledge, or morality, or profession. fessors in doing good. Few who are “ Except ye be converted, ye cannot above want refuse to give money for enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. a benevolent purpose, but time and xviii. 3. labour are mostly withheld, and contributions from such motives are no sacri- What is conversion? deserves a serious fice. By this test many professors, it is reply.

A NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS TO THE ALMOST CHRISTIAN.

BY THE REV. CORNELIUS ELVEN.

That was a remarkable concession to , “ Almost!” not quite! O fatal indethe faithfulness and verity of Paul's cision! A noble vessel was driven by preaching, when his royal hearer ex- the fury of the storm against a rock, claimed, “ Almost thou persuadest me and, ribbed and barred as it was with to be a Christian,” Acts xxvi. 28. oak and iron, it was crushed like a nutshell. Oh, it was an awful night; the we tremble to think you may also designals of distress were hoisted, and a ceive yourselves. You have compunclife-boat was launched upon the foamy tions of conscience, tender emotions, billows. It reached the wreck, and one kindly feelings, and have observed after another stepped into it and were external religious duties; and, we fear, saved. But one poor sailor, lingering that this sort of pseudo-religious expebehind the rest to get something from rience may help you to evade the point the shattered vessel, the boat had put and edge of the most discriminating off for the shore, and although he made ministry. For example, when we insist an effort to reach it, and actually got upon the absolute necessity of repentone hand upon it, and was almost saved, ance, you revert to your natural conyet losing his hold, he plunged into the victions, which, although they have briny deep, and was lost! And many never led you as weeping penitents to of you who have constantly assembled the cross, you set down for the "fruit with the people of God during the past of the Spirit.” year, are in the same state of indecision If the inward conflict of the believer as you were at its commencement, still is described, because you cannot sin so lingering between the wreck and the cheap as others who have no light, and life-boat-the world and Christ.

slavish fear sometimes disturbs your All the year long have Christian self-complacency, although it never leads ministers and friends been regarding you to “ wrestle against flesh and blood,” you with intense and prayerful anxiety. like the true soldiers of Jesus Christ, Many of you are amiable in your out- there is danger of your classing yourward conduct, estimable for your natural self among them. kindness, your constant attendance on Or, if we urge the necessity of love the ministry of the word, your co-ope to the saints, as an evidence of grace, ration with the people of God in Sunday then, because you have a feeling of reschools, distributing tracts, and con- spect and esteem for the “excellent of tributing to the cause of Christ. Yet the earth,” you mistake this for spiritual you have not given your hearts to him. affection. Oh, the innumerable coils of It is recorded of Redwald, king of the the heart's deception, who shall unroll East Saxons, that in the same church them, and show the rottenness at the he had different apartments, in which core ? Oh, ye borderers on Immanuel's there was one altar for the Christian land, your repentance is not unto religion, and another for the heathens. life;" you may have to struggle with And thus, we fear, you would fain divide your convictions, but you know nothing the rooms of your hearts, so as to have of the "holy war.” You may fancy an altar of Christ, if you might also you love the people of God, but you are have a shrine for mammon. But all for quite as happy with the men of the all is a righteous rule, and all or none world ; you seem Christians in the comis the requirement of God. “Son, give pany of Christians, and are equally me thine heart.” And oh, that you agreeable companions in the society of would say at once,

the worldly. You resemble those of

whom the prophet complained, who "Here's my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it from thy courts above.".

“spake half in the speech of Ashdod,

and could not speak in the Jews' lanSome of you have so much that guage, but according to the language of resembles religion, that while you per- each people,” Neh. xiii. 24. You may plex us with alternate hopes and fears, possess many pleasing qualities, but

[ocr errors]

there is “one thing" you lack, and that written, “ If any man love not the Lord is, supreme love to Christ; you have not Jesus Christ, let him be accursed,” i cordially exclaimed,

Cor. xvi. 22. Oh that at the beginning "O Christ, I freely have from thee,

of this new year you would choose “ the Thysell, and all that's thine ;

good part which shall not be taken away And justly thou requir'st of me,

from you.” Thousands, like you, havo Mysell, and all that's mine."

tampered with religion, and trifled with It may be true, then, that you are salvation, till years have slipped impernot swearers, or drunkards, or perse- ceptibly away, and the end of their cutors, or open sabbath breakers or almost Christianity has been eternal adulterers, but you are not lovers of death! “ Oh that men were wise, that Christ, and that seals your character, they understood this, that they would and will seal your doom, for it is consider their latter end."

Bury St. Edmunds.

THE HAPPINESS OF THE MERCIFUL.

BY THE REV, JOHN JORDAN DAVIES.

“ Blessed are the merciful." The merciful are happy. Apart from splendour and for pleasure which seem to the promise which is given to them, divide between them the empire of the and which will assuredly be fulfilled, world. Men are far more ready, also, they are blessed in themselves ; the for the most part, to listen to the voice disposition which they cherish is a of passion, and to obey the dictates of perennial spring of felicity, a source of revenge, than they are to subdue their deep tranquillity and holy joy.

angry feelings, and to yield to the induThat Jesus should pronounce the ence of mercy. But Jesus always merciful happy, will not appear strange taught the way of God in truth : the to us if we have listened to his words merciful are blessed. in the former part of this discourse, for This is true of mercy to the guilty we have already heard him pronounce and the injurious. If some have said “the poor in spirit,” and “those who that “revenge is sweet,” they have said mourn,” and “those who hunger and it ignorantly, and under the influence thirst after righteousness,” happy ; and of a guilty and wretched infatuation. many who would think such assertions It may appear sweet for a moment, but strange and paradoxical, not unfre- afterwards it is bitter as gall, and venoquently admire and commend the mous as the serpent's sting. Unerring benevolent and philanthropic. The wisdom has decided that he who "ruleth sentiment expressed by our Lord in his spirit is better,” in every respect these words is, nevertheless, not in better and happier, “than he that accordance with the practice or with taketh a city.” Anger, envy, hatred, the language of the world. Those who malice, revenge, all the feelings and listen to the dictates of mercy, who act passions which are opposed to a merciful as they are prompted by a spirit of true spirit, are excessively cruel, and neces benevolence, must disregard that love sarily destructive of the peace and of wealth and power, and that taste for happiness of him who indulges thro;

TOL XII..-. POURTA SERIES.

[ocr errors]

he is at once their slave and their vic- divine nature ; “ to forgive is divine ;" tim. But blessed are the merciful; as and with the divine spirit of forgivethey diffuse peace around them, they ness is ever associated the divine enjoy holy tranquillity in their own blessedness. He who is merciful, lives breasts. The voice of mercy is ever above the regions of noise and strife. sweet, and the influence which she He has a shield against the most enexerts is always healthful.

venomed darts of those who seek his How abject and how wretched are hurt, they cannot really harm him. they who are easily and always over- Those injuries which disturb the repose come of evil! How great, on the other and embitter the enjoyments of others, hand, is their moral worth, their real and make them truly wretched for dignity and felicity, who can overcome successive days and nights, scarcely evil with good! Their happiness is move him. He takes them to the cross, not dependent on the state of things he looks to Him who, in the moments around them, their peace is not de- of his greatest agony, prayed for his stroyed, nor are their spirits agitated by murderers, saying, “Father, forgive every wind that blows; cultivating a them, for they know not what they do," merciful spirit, they dwell perpetually and recollects who has said, that Jesus in an element of tranquillity and en- “went before, leaving us an example that joyment. He who when reviled reviles we should follow his steps," and that“ if not again, when suffering from injustice any man have not the Spirit of Christ or malignity seeks not to avenge him- he is none of his.” He takes them to self, but thinks of the greatness of his the mercy-seat, and as he prays for forown sins, and of the abundant mercy giveness, he prays also for grace to to which he owes all his happiness and forgive ; as he seeks mercy for himself, all his hopes, and thus finds every angry he shows mercy to others. Blessed and resentful feeling subdued, and a indeed are they who are thus merciful. spirit of clemency gain the ascendency The Father of mercies is also the God over him, and shed abroad her benignant of all comfort. He who is love and influence on his heart, so that he returns who delighteth in mercy is the Blessed not evil for evil, but blesses those who God. He, on the other hand, who curse him, and prays for those who allows the sun to go down on his wrath, despitefully use him and persecute him. gives place to the devil ; he permits the He must possess within his own breast enemy of all good, the destroyer of all a source of peace and enjoyment which peace, the murderer of souls, to get the the world cannot give, and which it advantage over him, and to injure him. cannot take away. Oh! happy the The same is true of mercy to the man who does not attempt to avenge dependent and the wretched. The himself, but gives place unto wrath, mercy which prompts you to weep with knowing who hath said, “ Vengeance is those that weep, to counsel and to mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” succour the afllicced, and to sympathize Happy he who does good to those who with those whom you cannot comfort ; wish him and who do him evil; who the mercy which prompts you to seek when his enemy hungers gives him out the real distress that pines away in bread, when he thirsts gives him drink, secret, and to contribute to the utmost and thus heaps coals of fire on his head, of your ability to relieve the destitute and melts down the enmity of his mind. and to cheer the disconsolate; the In such a man there is something god mercy which brings you to the chamber like; he is truly a partaker of the of affliction, to the couch of the sick

the *

and the dying, and to the house of disposition ever found in our world ? mourning—to weep and to instruct, to Yes, verily. It was found in Judea comfort and to pray; the mercy which when Jesus was there, who went about prompts your various efforts to teach doing good ; an angel of mercy, the the young, to awaken the careless, to God of love incarnate! Preaching the convince the impenitent, to reclaim the gospel, pardoning the guilty, comforting wanderer, to heal the sick, to feed the the afflicted, healing the sick, raising hungry, to clothe the naked, as you the dead, bestowing all blessings both have opportunity to "do good to all for time and for eternity. It was found men, especially to those who are of the in Judea and Galilee, multiplied exceedhousehold of faith.” This mercy is a ingly, when the twelve apostles, and source of the purest enjoyment to those afterwards the seventy disciples, were who yield to its benign influence. What sent forth on the same embassy of are the pleasures of avarice, or of mercy - to heal the sick, to cleanse the sensuality, of luxurious ease and indo- lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out lence, of prosperity and splendour, of devils, and to preach, saying, “The authority and power, compared with kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was the real satisfaction enjoyed by him who found in the land of Uz when Job was is of a merciful spirit! The happiness there; hence he says, “When the ear of God himself is the happiness of pure heard me, then it blessed me; and when and active benevolence; it is the happi- the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: ness of unbounded mercy incessantly because I delivered the poor that cried, exercised. “My Father worketh hither- and the fatherless, and him that had 1o.” He works constantly, without the none to help him. The blessing of him slightest interruption, and he always that was ready to perish came upon me; rorks good. “ His tender mercies are and I caused the widow's heart to sing over all his works."

for joy. I put on righteousness, and it Blessed, then, are the merciful. They clothed me: my judgment was as a impart much happiness to others, but robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the they realize still more themselves ; for blind, and feet was I to the lame. I “it is more blessed to give than to re- was a father to the poor; and the cause ceive." This is the blessedness which which I knew not I searched out.” It God enjoys, the blessedness of giving, was found in Jericho when Zaccheus not of receiving. He receives from was there, who said to Jesus, “Behold, none, he gives to all, and yet the bless- Lord, the half of my goods I give to edness enjoyed by a universe of intelli- the poor ; and if I have taken anything gent and holy beings is as nothing from any man by false accusation, I compared with the infinite fulness, the restore him fourfold.” It was found in boundless ocean of felicity in which he Jerusalem when “the multitude of dwells—THE BLESSED GOD!

them that believed were of one heart Does any one say that it may be and of one soul: neither said any of pleasing or amusing to indulge in such them that aught of the things which he representations but when may the possessed was his own; but they had all reality be seen? It is one thing to ad- things common. Neither was there any mire a merciful spirit, and quite another among them that lacked ; for as many thing to hear mercy speak, and to see as were possessors of lands or houses merey move and act amongst the chil- sold them, and brought the prices of dren of men. Were these representa- the things that were sold, and laid them tions ever realized ? Was this merciful down at the apostles' feet: and distri

[ocr errors]

« PoprzedniaDalej »