« السابقةمتابعة »
tion. Such is the miserable end of him who seeks, by the works of the law, to be justified before God.
And who shall then be safe when the quiver of the Almighty is scattered around and the dart of vengeance seems pointed at each guilty bosom ? He shall be safe, who, rejecting all that earth can offer, renouncing all that flesh can do, goes forth into an unsheltered space, and casts himself upon the Lord alone. Does he dread the hand upraised to smite?—the shadow of that hand is his only hiding-place. O, let him but behold in it the hand that was nailed to the cross on Calvary; the hand from which trickled a crimson stream to wash away his sin; and, though it grasp the lightning that shall consume every unbeliever, it has no terrors for him. He knows that the briars and thorns, yea, the oaks and palaces that man confides in, are but set in array against God, provoking him to go through and consume them ; but he who flies to Jesus, and, in the boldness of simple faith, takes hold of his strength, shall find that in him is perfect security. Appointed to be the Judge of all men, Christ is terrible indeed to those who reject his rule. Rocks and mountains shall vainly be invoked to hide from the wrath of the Lamb such as now make light of his message of love. For them, all the terrors of the broken law remain; and from its vengeance nothing can shield them. But equally true it is, that to the humble believer this awful Judge is the surest of advocates; and the very power that makes him terrible to others, seals the confidence of his children. They know him as one mighty to save; they know that, towards them,
hearts by the Holy Spirit, exhibits the danger of such a course; and the believer, strengthened with might by that Spirit in the inner man, goes forth to meet his Lord, seeking no covert but the strong tower of his adorable name.
BOWING AT THE NAME OF JESUS.
AMoNg the innovations that are perpetually creeping in, changing the customs, and invading the institutions of our forefathers, who, after all, were, perhaps a little wiser than their descendants, I am of ten grieved to witness the growing neglect of a most seemly and reverential observance,—bowing at the name of Jesus, when reciting the creeds of our Church. One might naturally expect, that, in days when infidelity rears its brazen front with impudence unparalleled, when blasphemies abound, and scoffers walk on every side insensible to rebuke, the people of Christ would wax more jealous—would become more tenacious of every badge distinguishing them as the worshippers of an insulted Lord. New light, however, seems to have broken in upon some of them, which I do not believe to have come from heaven, whencesoever else it may have emanated; teaching them that now is the time to relax in those points—the season to rob the Lord of those outward demonstrations of respect, which his enemies (who have no idea of spiritual service) delight to see withdrawn from him. “It is too popish,” say some of these defaulters; “it is a mere bodily exercise, which profiteth little.” Craving your pardon, my good sriends, it is not popish. Popery yields little honour to Jesus: his name is not referred to in her services nearly so often as those of other mediators; his work is undervalued---his glory tarnished. He is not even once mentioned either in the confession or the absolution of that unhappy church. It is true, his image, and that of his cross, are exhibited as objects of idolatrous worship, and that to them a genuflexion is performed; but we, when, by doing reverence at the mention of his adorable name, as Jesus Christ, the Father's only Son, and our LoRD, we enter a solemn public protest against the blasphemies of Socinianism, no more approximate to popish superstition, than we do when
verbally acknowledging the grand doc
trine of the Triune Jehovah, which the church of Rome has never renounced. Popery is that which once was Christianity, now corrupted, defiled, and rendered void by man's traditions and commandments. Protestantism is Christianity, rescued and ReforMED upon the perfect model of Scripture. Our beautiful liturgy is no other than the Romish prayer-book, purged of all that the craft and subtlety of the devil, or man, had introduced to pollute a pure worship; and those who object to the beautiful symbol of the liquid cross marked on the brow of the baptised, “in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and mansully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world and the devil; and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end;” they who stiffen the neck and knee when an assembled congregation presses, as it were, into the participation of what, either as a privilege or a menace, is proclaimed to the whole universe, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow---are in some peril of losing a substance, in their eager grasp after a shadowy spirituality. Our rubric enjoins kneeling during the supplicatory portions of the service; and fast and far are our congregations departing from that command. Yet no man can have the face to assert that the bodily exercise of kneeling is not enjoined or implied as a duty throughout the New Testament; enforced, too, by the example of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. I do not know, because I have never tried, and I trust in God I never shall be induced to try, what degree of devotional feeling accompanies a sitting position, during the worship of my heavenly King; but I very much question the advantages of such demeanour. While we remain in the body, we cannot dissever the intimate connexion subsisting between the outward act and inward thought; and it does appear an odd way of obeying the apostolic exhortation, “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are his,” to attempt such disjunction of mind and matter, just where we are admonished specially to unite them in the service, and surely in
the worship of God. To deny, or indeed to curtail, the homage of the body, in order to exalt that of the soul, is going against universal experience, and against the tenor of His injunctions, who knows better what is in man than man himself does.
To me, I confess, it is a very delightful moment of realization, in regard to the privileges of church-membership, when brethren and sisters, with one accord, do outward homage to the name of HIM who, in taking their nature upon him, never ceased to be God over all, blessed for ever. It is very meet that flesh, which he deigned to take into communion with Deity, should, with lowly and external reverence, hail God manifest in the flesh. “Jesus Christ our Lord,” are words of mighty, of immeasurable import. The Saviour, the Anointed, our Saviour, our God, the Captain of our salvation, the Head of his body the church, which body (at least in profession) are we. It was he who wore our form, who bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; who walked our earth a persecuted, afflicted man; who hung on the cross to atone for our sins; descended into the grave, that it might become the gate of life to us; and now, in the majesty of his eternal glory, visits our temples, and hearkens to our prayers. Let those who can, deny him the poor tribute of grateful reverence; so long as I have power to bend a muscle, my knee shall bow, in deep and willing adoration, at the glorious and beloved NAME of Jesus CHR1st my Lord.
THE LOW E OF MONEY.
ONE of several things that are “too hard for me,” and which I cannot by any means comprehend, is the passion thus designated in Scripture, with the awful character superadded, that it is “the root of all evil.” I can readily conceive that money, as a means of procuring other gratifications, may be coveted almost beyond bounds. He who has a full purse may cast his eyes over every stall in Vanity Fair, and select whatever pleases them. He may command all that tends to fulfil “the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” in the worst sense of their
corrupt cravings; he may take a nobler range, and minister out of his substance to the temporal necessities of his poorer brethren; or he may ascend yet higher ground, and, the love of Christ constraining him, scatter the bread of life in the way of famishing souls. That the possession of money, therefore, should appear to men of all characters a desirable good, so far as to render a cautionary injunction needful even to the holiest of God's people, is natural enough. But there is a form sometimes taken by this money-loving principle that equally amazes and disgusts me, when found among those who profess more than nominal Christianity; while, in all cases, it is unspeakably contemptible and revolting to common sense. I mean the passion for hoarding money. When a person lays by a sum, without any intention of spending it, and without any defined object of future usefulness to other individuals, is it, can it be of more value to him than an equal quantity of the dust that lies upon the earth's surface, or of pebbles that glitter in the brook? “Thou fool!” is the recognised title of him who lays up much goods for many years, in order to take his fill, to eat, drink, and be merry. Thou knave may be safely superadded, when the wretched being grasps at gold, that it may lie by and canker, and the rust thereof be a witness against him, while the poor cry unto the Lord for lack of what he hoards in darkness. Still, the miser exercises a species of self-denial—preposterous and wicked indeed, but self-denial nevertheless—and that is a thing not voluntarily submitted to by many. Such characters do cross my path, and I gaze after them and marvel; but the number is fearfully great of those who come within the meaning of the text, and whose love of money, though they hoard it not, is a prolific root of evil, sprouting forth on all sides. When I see a child, with a penny in his hand or pocket, carelessly glance at the half-naked figure and wan countenance of another child, crying for bread, while he retains his penny, in the cherished prospect of the cake or toy-shop, where he hopes to barter it for some superfluous inWOL. ii. 26
dulgence, I behold the unfolding germ of what will become a very evil tree. When I mark a purchaser striving to beat down the humble dealer, who, perhaps, consents to be robbed rather than lose a customer, I find the tree in blossom —and what blossoms' Often have I witnessed a scene that crimsons my cheek with the blush of shame and indignation: some poor, industrious creature offering for sale a few baskets, or some other little work of ingenuity, the pale face and gaunt figure bearing witness how important the trifle at which the article is priced must be to the seller; while the buyer, who would not miss thrice the sum, stands chaffering and “beating down” the distressed vender, until she carries off the article at half its value, and glories in her disgraceful “bargain.” This does not always result from the love of money; for I have seen the pence so unfeelingly withheld from an industrious artizan, carelessly flung, within a few minutes afterwards, to some sturdy vagrant, who roared out his appeal to the very questionable charity of the donor. A scene in a stage-coach I never can forget: we were waiting for the moment of starting, when a poor woman, evidently in the last stage of consumption, offered some fine oranges at the door for sale. One of the passengers commenced bargaining (I hate the very word), and succeeded in tantalising the distressed creature until she emptied her whole store into his lap, with a despairing look, for what I, who had often filled a basket for such perishing outcasts, well knew to be far beneath the prime cost of the fruit; and as, while replacing his weighty purse, he chuckled and bragged over his capital bargain, I could hardly refrain from telling him that, by withholding the little profit on her stock, he had left that almost dying woman destitute of the means of replenishing it; and had, perhaps, wrested the morsel from the lips of a starving family. Oh, the love of money, taking this shape, slays many a victim among the honest poor; driving many more to crime and irretrievable ruin! The love of money, under a very specious form, sometimes creeps into even our best religious societies, inducing their managers to put the tempting idol in the place of God, where their funds are concerned, “Let us secure ample means, and God will bless our labours,” is the, perhaps unconscious, error of those, who ought rather to say, “Let us seek God's blessing, and the means will be given.” For this we have distinct warrant in Scripture; and it is lamentable to observe how little is looked for in simple faith, how much laboured for with confidence in fleshly wisdom and might, where we should expect the very reverse of this rule. If we could but get our minds fully impressed with the conviction, that the love of money is the root of all evil, we should detect and baffle the enemy at many points where he now carries on successful assaults, which we shall only discover by their consequences, when, perhaps, it is too late.
- THE HOU R - GLASS.
THE persection to which our modern mechanics have carried the art of watch and clock-making, with the abundance, and comparative cheapness, of those useful auxiliaries, has rendered the simple and once popular hour-glass quite a rarity among us. Perhaps its scarceness is one recommendation; for our proud, impatient spirits, ever athirst for something new and strange, spurn at what is abundant and common. One of my earliest recollections leads me to the modest dwelling of a worthy old spinister, who followed the employment of a bonnet-maker, occasionally repairing and remodelling chintz dresses, of fabric too valuable to be thrown away, and of fashion too antique to suit the then modern taste. I remember her, a tall, spare figure, seated in fashion as upright as the high back of her wooden chair, and exercising despotic rule over two young damsels, apprenticed to learn the mystery of her calling. A well-boarded floor, strewed with dry yellow sand, a small square bit of carpet laid precisely in front of the white hearth-stone, a little roundtable placed before the mistress and just within arm's length of the girls, and a demure tabby cat, purring on a low threelegged stool—these are all the particulars that I can avouch for, at this distance of
time; save and except an hour-glass of capacious dimensions, standing on the broad ledge of an old-fashioned casement, near the left hand of its owner, who, with quick, careful glance, failed not to detect the last sand in the act of escaping, and to reverse, in the twinkling of an eye, the silent monitor. I was, even at an infantine age, somewhat given to thought; and happy was the day to me, when I could obtain leave to go and ask our civil neighbour for a few snippings of her manycoloured materials, to eke out the wardrobe of a two-penny doll. She was no loser by it; for I was often permitted to carry a basket of fruit, or choice vegetables, from our spacious garden, to regale the old lady; and I took care so to time my visits, as to ensure being present at that adroit and interesting operation, the turning of her hour-glass.
Many years have passed since then, Many changes have I seen ; "
and, from this early recollection being deeply impressed, I cannot now cast my eyes on an old-fashioned hour-glass, but it becomes identified with that of the good sempstress. I seem to view it through the long, checquered vista that lies between me and the scenes of careless childhood; and as a rapid glance scans that intervening space, the hour-glass becomes a memento more touching than any classical association could render it. There is surely something more suitable to the stealthy lapse of time, in the noiseless and almost imperceptible fall of the sands, than in the ticking of chronometers, more practically useful. The deepening vacancy above, the rising heap beneath, and the falling away, from time to time, of that miniature mountain which gathers below—all have a meaning. I observe that the sand in the upper division of the glass, running from the centre, often leaves a hollow, producing deception as to the quantity actually subtracted. Clinging yet to the sides, it makes the vacancy look less; just as we love to deceive ourselves as to the proportion of our numbered days that has escaped. The pyramidical appearance of the sand below, as the last particles that fall produce an eminence, until, displaced by following grains, they sink into the common level, vividly represents the undue importance assumed by events while yet very recent; although, while dwelling on their magnitude, we well know that, displaced by other things, they will soon be mingled with the common mass of recollections. It were easy to moralize at great length on the subject; but I would rather spiritualize, and read the lesson in its highest, holiest sense. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” The days remaining to us we cannot number, for we know not but that our very last sand is escaping while we try to compute; but the days that are gone—O, what a testimony do they bear against us! We may have applied our time and faculties to the acquirement of wisdom, according to the general sense of the word among men; but our hearts—our most secret desires and ardent affections—how far have they been centered in the wisdom that is from above, and in “Christ, the wisdom of God 7”. An honest answer to this question, would send the greater number of us to the throne of grace, with the confession that we still have to be taught this application of heart to the purposes designed by our heavenly Father. Solomon trod the whole round of carnal and intellectual enjoyments, having his fill of all wisdom; yet how late in his long and prosperous life did he sit down to write “vanity of vanities” upon it all, and apply his heart to the God from whom, through the abuse of his abundant gifts, the favoured king had so deeply revolted' Let me number the days that are gone; and seeing how God has hitherto been robbed by me, let me strive to redeem the few that may still remain.
in order to ascertain how far the minds of these teachers are imbued with the truths that they communicate to others. One query, addressed to a very simple, unlearned man, who manifested great love for the sacred book, was to this effect: “If you were threatened with persecution and suffering for retaining your Bible, would you give it up 7" A pause ensued, and the question was repeated, with a demand for some reply. “Please your reverence,” said the poor fellow, “and with submission, I think that question is not rightly put.” “How so? In what way would you have it expressed ?” “Why, then, sir, and begging your reverence's pardon, I think you should ask me, if I was threatened with such things for keeping my Bible, occht I to give it up 1 For, sir, how do I know what I would do if I was tempted 7” Such an instance of self-knowledge, and consequently of self-distrust, in one who had received no teaching but what the Holy Spirit had communicated to his soul, conveys an impressive lesson to many who live in the constant enjoyment of every help to divine study. From whence arise the frequent and harsh judgments that Christians are heard to pass upon their fellows, if not from a condent conceit on the part of the individual, at he, in similar circumstances, would have acted more consistently, more prudently, more decisively, or in some way more suitably, than his neighbour has done? The poor Irish peasant had evidently read his Bible with more profit to himself than such persons seem to do; and a little of his experimental knowledge of the traitor within, would often appear an acquisition worth bartering many of our higher attainments to acquire. What would I do in such or such a case? is, in fact, a question beyond the power of any man to solve: and by flattering himself that he can solve it, he does but nourish the self-confidence of a deceived heart. What ought I to do? is a safe and profitable inquiry. It sends the man to his Bible and to his God. The former teaches him both his duty, and the moral incapa
who are employed to read the Scriptures city under which he lies of fulfilling it, or in Irish to their poor ignorant countrymen, any duty whatever, in his own strength;
a series of questions are propounded by
at the same time it refers him to a power
the clergymen who attend as examiners, , always to be acquired by believing