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of Christ Jesus. Catholic and Protestant, Churchman and Dissenter, all have agreed in this one principle, however much they may have differed on many other points. Hence alms profusely distributed at convent doors and castle gates—hence monks and nuns devoting themselves to the instruction of the ignorant and the solace of the miserable-hence hospitals, poor-laws, churches, schools; private and individual efforts, the more or less pure object of which is obedience to the divine law of giving. Men have felt that they were stewards of their earthly possessions, and stewards of the revelation of God-stewards of the natural sympathies of the human heart, and stewards of joy and peace in believing. In some the conviction has been full, in others weak-in some it has acted freely, in others it has had to contend with selfish passions, hindering and often perverting its course; but, amid all that there is to pain us in Christian history, amid all that there is to make us blush for the Christian name, amid all that continually provokes our contempt or indignation among Christian professors, gospel-men are always givers, in some sort or other, of the good which they possess—the divine law triumphs. It triumphs over ignorance, selfishness, sensual indulgence, vanity, pride, ostentation, exclusiveness, bigotry, and every other hateful passion that ever sullies the purity of men's Christian profession, mingles with the sacred offices of their devotion, and weighs them down to earth when they would soar to heaven.
The voice of universal Christian experience is—“Give to others, as you would be blessed yourselves--give to men, as you would rise up to God-give, as you would be true followers of Christ-cultivate both the desire and the determination to give—be as a living fountain pouring out blessedness to others, not as a deep and stagnant pool into which, as much as in you lies, you try to turn every bountiful stream of Heaven." There are some countenances so frank and beautiful, that every expression in them seems to come from within, out of the warm region of a tender and loving heart, and to flow outward in intelligence and kindness to all around; there are other countenances so small, hard and mean, that
every expression in them seems to be born from without, in the selfish world, to creep stealthily home into the narrow heart, and there to bury itself in coldness and mystery ; it is the outward characteristic difference between benevolence and selfishness.
5. What are we to give? What we have and men need, according to our relation towards them and our knowledge of their condition. There is no precise and universal rule that can be laid down; but this one thing is certain, giving must come of having. It is but mockery if, because we have not got or sought bread, we give stones to our neighbour in his sore and pressing need—if we give him wind-bags, blown out with our self-conceit, when he is hungering and thirsting for the words of everlasting salvation. There must be life-sustaining substance in our material gifts, and gospel truth in our spiritual gifts. Giving must come of having; we cannot give of God's
if we ourselves are strangers to it—we cannot give of the spirit of Christ, if we have it not and are none of his—we cannot pour out and give living water, even to a Samaritan woman, if the well of living water be not in us. Let us not believe in merely outward administrations of the gospel of Christ-in any dead mediums through which the oracles of God will speak as effectually as if they flowed from lips glowing with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God is the living God. His instruments are living instruments. The messengers of His salvation are those who have themselves fed upon the divine word. We must then have, if we would partake of the divine blessedness of giving.
God gives out of his infinite and eternal fulness. Christ gives whatever he has received from the Father. The apostles give whatever Christ communicated to them of his Heavenly Father's gifts. We must give what we have gained by the labour of our hands—what we have gathered into the garner of our minds—what has been poured into our souls, opened by humble watchfulness and prayer to the ever-present influences of God's Holy Spirit.
But to give, my brethren, as Christians, is no light and holiday work. We must well consider what we give, when we give, and how we give. We must remember that, with Christ and his apostles, we have to give our whole lives to our fellowmen; nay, that we do give our whole lives, for good or for evil, for blessing or for cursing, towards leading them into the way of eternal life, or seducing them into the outer darkness, where there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Do we lay hold of the full meaning of this ? It is not to be put off with an “I don't know.” We must know, at our peril.
If we have been reconciled unto God by Jesus Christ, then also is given unto us the ministry of reconciliation—then are we ambassadors for Christ, praying men, in Christ's stead, “Be ye reconciled to God.”
ON THE BIRTH OF AN INFANT.
BY REV. JOHN HARRISON, PH. D.
Isaiah ix, 6:
“For unto us a child is born."
The circumstances in the Jewish history to which these words refer, were as follows. Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of Syria, having entered into a confederacy, had seized Elath, a fortified city of Judah, and carried away the inhabitants captives to Damascus. Alarmed at the power and success of his enemies, the apprehensions of Ahaz were excited for the security of Jerusalem and the safety of his own family. At this juncture, the prophet Isaiah is commissioned to approach him with the assurance that the God of his fathers would interpose on behalf of the house of David, and that the counsels of his enemies should not stand. As the prospect on every side was gloomy and discouraging, he is permitted to ask a sign or miracle to support his failing courage, and to assure him of the Divine favour and assistance. This he refuses to do, saying that he is sufficiently satisfied with the word of the prophet, and that he will not ask, or make unnecessary trial of the Lord. The sign, however, is given, and the prophet announces it in the following words : “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.” In their original acceptation, it was, then, to the pious and virtuous Hezekiah that the words of the text. referred, and it was in allusion to his greatness that the lyre of the prophet was tuned to that sublime strain, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
But there is no reason why the language of the text should necessarily be restricted either to the pious Hezekiah, or to that more exalted personage of whom he has been regarded as the prototype. It contains the announcement of an occurrence which I have always regarded as one of the most interesting and solemn events in domestic life; namely, the birth of a little child; and it is in this connection that I am anxious to present these words to consideration.
The first feeling, I had nearly said, which arises in the breast on contemplating a little infant, is that of compassion. But I should be anticipating the succession of our emotions were I to make such a statement. The first feeling is that of gratitude. In the life that is given, the thought of that which is spared. Oh sacred Maternity ! how much nobler the sufferings thou art called upon to endure, how much more venerable thy trials, than that false devotion and spurious selfsacrifice which have led the young and beautiful-woman, with all her generous and godlike excellences, to immure herself in the cloister, and to think that she did God service when she turned a deaf ear to the music of affection, and drew a veil over all the lovely and glorious objects which He has so prodigally scattered around!
To the feeling of gratitude for the danger which is passed,