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It is this fact which shows the real value of life. Some would estimate that value by the amount of money a man can make. Life is important to them only as it multiplies their houses, their ships, their barns, their gold. The Christmas that comes to them with an unfavourable balance sheet brings with it the feeling of a lost year.
Others value life for the opportunities it brings them of acquiring fame. To be known among their compeers as a man of vast knowledge, of profound genius, of statesmanlike ability is the ambition of their souls; and every step in life that brings them no nearer the goal of their desires is regarded as a false step. Others again value life only
for the means it affords of gratifying animal appetites. In their slang, a man knows nothing of life, who has not plunged headlong into the frivolities, and dissipations of an effeminate age. The ball-room, the race-course, the theatre and the fashionable assembly are their favourite resorts. A life of seclusion and of thought would be to them a life of ineffable dulness.
Now, life is valuable, as it results in the originating of holy thought, in the cultivation of pure sentiment, in the development of noble sympathies, and in the performance of benevolent effort; as it contributes to the growth of the soul in all that is praiseworthy; as it is devoted to the glory of God and the good of man.
Life is lost when devoted to selfish ends. It is a boon when it is filled with thoughts of God, and with efforts for the wellbeing of man. I must measure its value by the good I can do to others. O that I may never forget that I am spared to see a new year, in order that I may spend it in communicating blessings to my fellow-beings, and in reflecting the infinite love of the great Jehovah.
WHAT J. BARKER SAYS NOW. Christians ought not to trouble themselves about reforms, about the advancement of natural science, the improvement of the arts, the cure of poverty, the abolition of slavery, the extirpation of disease, the prolongation of of life, the increase of national wealth, the cultivation of taste, &c., &c., if their principles are true. And they cannot do so, if they are impressed with New Testament views of the vanity of the world; the nearness of the world's destruction, and its visions of heaven and hell, as they believe they ought to be. The world in their eyes is a temptation and a snare. Its pleasures are danger and death. Their very
bodies are foes to their souls. Even marriage itself is not safe. The desire to please a wife, even a christian wife disables a man from pleasing God as he ought Even the righteous can scarcely be saved. Many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. For every idle word; for every jest or humourous expression, they must give an account in the day of judginent. All these things are inconsistent with the Christian's calling. Even a smile may damn him for ought he knows. His God is a consuming fire. What, then, can he consistently do for the physical, the temdoral improvement of mankind ? Let the dead bury their dead. Let the Gentiles seek after all these things. This is their country. Their citizenship is here, Ours is in heaven, We are strangers and sojourners; and our journey may end in an hour,
WHAT J. BARKER SAID IN 1842,
WHY WE SHOULD SPREAD THE GOSPEL. While you labour for the spread of religion, you take the best way for reforming and blessing the whole world. Religion is the one thing needful" for nations, as well as for individuals. Some look for happier times to new forms of
government; some talk loudly of regenerating society by the spread of earthly science, and some few are dreaming
of bringing back the days of paradise, by remodelling sociéty on principles of infidelity and licentiousness : but they are
Neither changes in forms of governments, nor the spread of earthly science can bless the nations, any farther than the people are previously leavened with the principles of the religion of Christ. And as for the schemes of infidelity, they can end in nothing but disappointment and shame.
But the Gospel is fitted to regenerate all things, and to spread through the dwellings of mankind both the blessings of earth and the foretastes of heaven. It strikes at the root of all evil. It smites down man's proud and selfish passions; it tames his unruly appetites, and turns his savage dispositions into love. It makes the warrior throw down his arms; it makes the oppressor throw down his scourge; it inspires them with love and tenderness, and transforms them into servants of their brethren. It strikes through the corrupt institutions of society like lightning, shakes them to their foundations, and makes them begin at once to moulder and pass away. It is a new element in society, transforming all things, and filling the earth with new and incorruptible forms of holiness and joy. It dissolves the chains of slavery, it fills up the grave of luxury, it grinds to dust the throne of tyranny, it rends the veil of ignorance, it chases away the phantoms of superstition, it improves the health of the body, it increases the fruitfulness of the earth, it extends man's dominion over the elements, it joins the hearts of men together in the bonds of charity, and converts all nations into one grand scene of harmony, and loveliness, and joy.
O yes, it is the Gospel that is the great reformer and benefactor of mankind. The remedies extolled by noisy and turbulent politicians, and by the dark-mind ed disseminators of infidelity, have no virtue in them. The political and infidel fanatics are alike, blind leaders of the blind; and instead of conducting their followers to wealth, or happiness, or glory, they will lead them to disappointment and ruin. But the Gospel will accomplish all things. This will dry up the fountain of guilt and of tears for ever. It has done wonders already, and it is doing wonders still. It has softened the spirit of nations; it has checked the rage of war; it has broken the fetters of millions, and it has pronounced the sentence of death upon slavery throughout all lands. It has worked millions of miracles which were never held forth to the gaze of the public. It has cured sad hearts, it has healed broken spirits, and it has turned the tears and the sighs of the desponding-into raptures and songs of joy. It has lightened the load of sorrow; it has softened the pangs of affliction; it has sweetened the bread of poverty: it has been a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow, and life and consolation to the dying. It has made dungeons into palaces, and deserts into gardens of paradise. It bas taught the injured to pray for their foes; it has made the persecuted sleep on rocks, as sweetly as on downy pillows; and it has taught martyrs to sing amidst the flames, like çpirits of a better world. It can still work miracles; as it spreads through the earth, it. will work them before the eyes of all nations ; nor will it cease its wonder-working operations, till it has brought down heaven to earth, or lifted up earth to heaven. Who then that loves his fellow-men, and longs to behold a happy world, will not employ his energies to help forward the spread of the Gospel through the world?
The last consideration I shall mention to induce professing Christians to labbut for the conversion of their fellow-men, is, the good which is likely to regult to themselves from such labours. No man can lahour to benefit another, without being benefitted himself. “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mere cy. “ The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth others shall be watered himself.” In no case are these words more applicable, than wlien men ure labouring to do good to the souls of men. The thought of blessing a folletecreature is always pleasant to the truly benevolent; but when the blossing wo
are seeking to bestow is of such worth as the blessing of religion, and when we are thinking of blessing not one or two, but of contributing to the salvation of the whole human race, the thought delights and fills the whole soul. If there were nothing but this comfortable feeling which arises from the thought of helping on the blessedness of the human family, it is a reward more sweet to the soul of the benevolent, than all the pleasures of selfishness that man can enjoy.
But this is not all. We are blessed in our labours. The work of doing good is the most delightful work in which man can be engaged. The happiest days I ever pass, are the days in which I do most for the welfare of my fellow-men. The works in which I find most delight, and on which I look back with greatest satisfaction, are works of charity to the bodies and souls of my fellow-men. Other works are barren and tasteless, and they neither yield much pleasure while we are engaged in them, nor do they give much comfort in the review; but works of charity are the purest enjoyments of life. Doing good is heaven on earth.
There are some professors who are frequently saying, “ There is nothing worth living for here, but I caunot agree with them. There is a great deal worth living
for. This is worth living for, to administer bliss and salvation to perishing souls. Those who think there is nothing worth living for, do not understand the true end of life. They have not found out the work for which they were placed in the world. They are under the old system of selfishness. They are aiming only at their own happiness, and forgetting their brethren; and this is the reason they find nothing worth living for. But let them begin to live to do good, and they will be of another mind. They will find that there is at least one spring in the desert, whose waters can gladden the soul.
While men are ever looking after their own comfort, comfort runs from them; but when they forget their own comfort, and begin to labour heartily for the happiness of others, happiness springs up in their hearts. The man that runs after his shadow, may run far enough, and never overtake it ; his shadow will still be before him: but let him go about his business, and his shadow will run after him. And it is so with the man who is always hunting after something for himself; he is hunting a shadow which he will never be able to overtake : but let him begin to labour for the good of his neighbour, and he will find good to his own soul without further trouble.
God deals with us as we do with our children. There is a father who has several children, and he makes a present to one of them of some fruit. Away the child runs, and seeks out a secret place where he may devour his fruit alone, for fear his little brothers and sisters should want a share. The father will not give his next present to that selfish child. He next bestows some fruit upon another son. No sooner has he received his father's present, than he calls his little brothers and sisters around him, and shares it with them every one. This is the child that the father will love; and this is the child that he will always delight to favour. He will look on the selfish child with pity and grief; but on the generous child, that receives nothing but what it shares with its fellows, he will never think he can bestow too much. So it is with God. The Almighty gives to some of his children wealth, to others he gives learning, and to others he gives the influence and authority of higher station. Some of them apply their wealth, and learning, and influence to their own gratification, or to the aggrandizement of their families. God fixes the mark of his displeasure upon these. Others consecrate their wealth, their learning, and their influence to God, and employ them in lessening the sorrows of their brethren, and spreading through the earth the blessings of salvation. These God sets down as his fa. vourites. These are the men to whom God will entrust further blessings ; for in blessing these he bestows his blessings upon millions. Would you be blest ? Be forward to bless. Would you be cursed? Then shut up the bowels of your compassion from your brethren, and spend your cares and resources upon yourselyes alone.
Even in temporal things God will be generally most liberal to those professors, who are most liberal in their efforts for the good of others; but in spiritual blessings it will also be so. Those souls are always the most happy and flourishing, that do most for the souls of others; and those are always low and languishing, that care for none but themselves. Some will not attend leaders' meetings, where plans are formed for promoting the prosperity of the church, because their minds are sometimes hurt : others will not labour in a Sundayschool, for fear they should not be able enough to take care of their own souls: but the souls of such people can never prosper.
We take the best care of our own souls, when we do the most for the souls of others. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendereth to poverty.” The way to increase our talents is, not to bury them, but to use them. If we want to grow in knowledge, we must teach: if we want to grow in love to God, we must work for him; if we want more love to souls, we must do good: if we want to be a thriving, healthy, happy church, we must "strive together for the faith of the Gospel."
If all professing Christians would take the advice of the Apostle, what a glorious church we should have; and what wonders would be wrought in the world. We should spread on the right hand and on the left, and nothing would have power to resist us. Religion would run through the earth like fire. It would climb the hills, and run through the valleys, and cross the seas, refining and purifying all things; nor would it slacken its pace, or cease its operations, till it had pervaded and renovated the whole earth. If Christians of former ages had taken the advice of the Apostle, the world would not have offered to our view such a mournful spectacle as it offers at present. There would not have been a land without Bibles, or schools, or teachers, on the face of the globe. War would have been almost forgotten before this; and slavery would have been wrapped in its shroud ages ago : knowledge and plenty would have blessed all the ends of the earth, and the millions of mankind would have been enjoying an earthly paradise. And only let professors of the present day take this advice,-let us renounce the dictates of selfishness, and devote ourselves with all our might to the work of regenerating and blessing mankind, and we shall soon see happier days. Let us employ our property, our time, and all the influence of our various talents in the work, let us lay aside the expensive fashions and and the selfish customs of the world, and let us show to mankind an example of perfect temperance and charity,-let us prove to the world that we think it our duty to live, not for ourselves, but for the good of onr fellow-men,- let preachers preach the whole Gospel in all its fulness, and urge it faithfully upon their hearers, and let all the members join them in reducing its precepts to practice, and we shall soon see glorious changes. Infidelity will be shamed out of existence; corrupt systems of religion will be scattered as dust before the winds; the superstitions and idolatries of pagan nations will retire from the earth ; the power of the Gospel will be felt in every human dwelling, and its blessings will be enjoyed by every heart of man. Let us arise, my friends, from our guilty slumbers. Let us try how much we can do. Let those that can preach, preach; let those that can write, write ; let those that can give, give. Let the parent attend to the religious training of his children; let the young bestow their lahours on the Sabbath-school, and assist the operations of the societies for sending through the earth missionaries, and bibles, and tracts; and let us unite our labours, and prayers, and sacrifices as one man, and God will assuredly prosper us. Satan will not be able to hold mankind in his power another generation. The usurper shall be thrown from his throne; his kingdom shall fall like lightning from heaven; and the miserable and perishing millions whom he has held in bondage, shall wake to liberty, and life, and joy. A song shall burst forth from millions upon millions of happy voices; it shall sound through all lands;
and it shall swell to heaven-" Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; and the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.”'
PROPOSED DISCUSSION AT LIVERPOOL.
151, Mill Street,
Liverpool, 10th January, 1855. Mr. John Leyland, SIR,
I sent your note of the 5th instant to Mr. Barker, with the “Defender,” and have this morning received from him the following reply to your note, and also to the article about the Liverpool Free Protestant Association.
January 9th, 1855. My Dear Friend,
I and my wife have made up our mind to leave England for America, about the 24th March, if we can get our business affairs settled by that time. A Discussion with Rutherford in April therefore is out of the question.
What liars the Christians are! How many, and how big lies they have crammed into a couple of pages !
Yours, very respeetfully,
many of either.
P.S. My discussion with Grant is to begin on the 22nd. If this is not a sufficient answer to that lying article in “ The Defender," falsely so called, I beg to refer you to the enclosed copy * of my answer to Dr. Baylee's letter, which more than meets all that is worth replying to in that article.
I have inflicted on myself the lost labour of reading the whole of that worthless paper, the first number of "The Defender," and my opinion of it is, that it is written without talent or judgment; that it defends falsehoods, that its proper name therefore is “ The Offender,” that it will live as many nights as days, and that unless it greatly improves, it will not remain in existence
I believe that Mr. Rutherford will be very glad that he can now escape the infliction of a discussion with Mr. Barker. That we are deprived of this pleasure in Liverpool, is entirely owing to the interference of Dr. Scott's friends, and the delays of your committee, as every possible facility has been afforded for a fair discussion, by the executive of the Liverpool Free Protestant Aasociation.
I am, yours, &c., &c.,
JOHN FINCH. II-MR. LEYLAND TO MR. FINCH.
Liverpool, 10th January, 1855. Mr. John Finch, SIR,
I am in receipt of your letter of yesterday, and regret exceedingly that we are deprived of the pleasure of listening to a discussion between the Rev, Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Barker ; owing to Mr. Barker not being at liberty to hold it at the time proposed by Mr. Rutherford.
*In qur next we shall endeavour to notice this enclosed ; and by and by will enquire who are the liars ?