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neglecting to use the light, the feast, the riches, so freely placed within my reach 3 It is a solemn inquiry; because the Lord will not pass over the neglect of one, while he marks the diligence of another, in respect of his great gift.
And what a plea is here for increased zeal in circulating this blessed book A few pence in the purchase, a little thought and exertion in the giving of a Bible, may bring life to the dead in a whole family— a whole district. Ask the poor, toil-worn labourer, who has found in those pages wine and milk without money and without price, what he will sell them for 7 Ask the desolate widow, who there has found a heavenly husband—the sorrowing mother, who has learned there the way by which she may surely go at last to the child that cannot return to her—the transgressor, who had long felt his sins to be a burden too heavy for him to bear, and who has received in the Gospel the rest which Christ alone can give to the weary and heavy-laden---ask these the same question, and then judge what you are withholding from their companions, in sorrow, by neglecting to give, yea, to force upon them, the blessing which as yet they know not, or value not. Recently, I was reproved by my own earnestness in persuading a person who had received some trifling hurt, to apply a remedy, the efficacy of which I greatly confided in. The thought would occur, “This poor creature has a far deeper and more dangerous wound, which admits but of one cure; I have the recipe, I know its infallible power; and why do I not with equal, or greater importunity, press its application here?” O that we could number our sins of omission, remembering that “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” A multitude of these transgressions are not even acknowledged, far less repented of, so much is the heart hardened and the conscience seared through neglect of that command so repeatedly, so solemnly enforced, “Watch.” How can we suffer one poor fellow-sinner to lack the treasure which would enrich us in the giving, as well as him in the receiving of it?
It is a hackneyed subject, but one of such growing importance in the history of each individual, that too much stress can hardly be laid on it. The simple fact of a past hour being totally irrecoverable, would alone stamp it with awful interest; but when to this is added the equally certain truth that it has not passed unmarked or unrecorded by the Most High, and that what is our loss is also our theft, a robbery committed against Him,--we may well mourn the past, and watch unto prayer for a right use of the future.
Time-losers form a very considerable majority in the upper classes of society, and no small proportion even among those on whose daily labour their daily bread depends. The former, by late rising, by lingering at the toilet and over the breakfast and dinner-table, squander so many hours, that they may almost be said not to live out half their days, such inaction being unworthy of the name of life. When to this is added the frivolous employments of what are termed morning calls, the needless lounging in shops, and the utterly useless occupation of writing letters full of gossip and egotism, it is fearful to calculate the amount of the robbery. Th. humbler sort of people appear, on a comparison with these, to pass a life of incessant labour; but they too are chargeable with much sinful waste of what they are equally bound to improve, though happily exempt from many of the temptations that assail others. Are we, then, to stigmatise as criminal the occasional relaxation of mind and body, that experience shows is necessary to the health of both 2 By no means: we do wrong when neglecting to ensure it to ourselves, and to those under our authority, or within our influence. Rest and recreation too are among the blessings provided for us, and which we have no right to reject. Unbelief alone can lead us to sacrifice them to an over-anxious care for the morrow's supply; and I do not consider the time so spent as being lost, any more than the moments which the mechanic sets apart for sharpening the tools necessary to his especial work, are lost to him. Deduct from all unemployed hours a fair propor
tion for such rest and refreshment, and account only for the remainder, it will prove a formidable arrear. “I am always employed in one way or another,” is the remark frequently heard from busy idlers, who fancy that, so long as their bodies are not stretched on a couch, or their hands folded before them, they may be said to be up and doing. But what is it to be employed ? Johnson defines the word “business,” object of labour. We have, therefore, only to inquire, what is men's business in the world? what is the object pointed out to them as most worthy to be laboured for ? If they be of the Israel of God, the answer is given by him, “This people have I formed for myself, that they may show forth my praise.” If they be not of that Israel, O how awfully startling is the cry of every squandered hour while they linger unmindful of the thrilling call, “Escape for thy life; flee to the mountain!” That is lost time in which the follower of Christ does nothing to glorify his Master; and that is lost time, involving a lost eternity too, wherein the soul that has not yet sound peace through the blood of the cross, does nothing towards seeking and finding it. That the angels of God take a lively interest in the concerns of our world, is unequivocally shown in Scripture; and often do I think with what wonder and indignation these heavenly creatures, who, for ages that we cannot number, have been serving the Lord day and night, with an eternity of such joyous service still before them, must look on man. Limited, at the utmost stretch of his mortal existence, to a few fleeting years, to work out his own salvation, and to glorify God, who works in him both to will and to do, man, who might be expected to number his moments as a miser numbers his golden pieces when compelled to deal them out, will fling away hours, days, months, years, as though he too had an eternity in possession, with no object but to gratify his own capricious will. Surely these two words, Lost time, will be sound engraven on the gates of hell. What is the remedy? For the past, none, save in the cleansing stream of a Saviour's blood, washing out the sin. For the present and suture, “looking unto Je
sus,” in a three-sold light, is the remedy. Look to him as an example; watch his course when on earth, going about doing good; speaking words of heavenly truth, warning, invitation, consolation, to all around; finding it meat and drink to do the will of his Father. Look to him as able to supply all your need, to overcome your besetting sin, to strengthen and cheer you in the struggling race. Look to him as the end and object of that race; as the great arbiter, holding forth the crown of life, not as a reward for the victor's exertion, but as the free gift of his own grace, the purchase of his merit, the token of a love for which the devotion of every energy, feeling, word, and thought to his service, is so poor and mean an acknowledgment, that the same mercy which impels him to confer the boon, can alone induce a reception of our praiseful thanksgivings.
THE CANA DIAN LAKE.
DURING a very severe winter in British North America, I was much delighted to trace all the splendid phenomena of frost and thaw. The intensity of the first was inconceivable by any who have not experienced it; consequently a description would, to some readers, be incredible. The beauty and magnificence displayed in many instances through the operation of the latter, were captivating. On one occasion, I was watching the struggle between a full volume of water flowing in from the sea, through the channel of a noble river, and the blocks of ice that, though broken, still disputed the passage; and tracing the process by which, as I knew, the grand rivers of that region were cleared of their obstructions, I called to mind a small, beautiful lake, embosomed in the woods a few miles from my dwelling, and so completely land-locked, that it was impossible for the broken ice to find an outlet. I also knew the depth and solidity of the congealed mass, and that it must require a length of time to dissolve such a body where woods and hills overshadowed it from the sun's ray. Mentioning this difficulty to a friend, he gave me the following solution:—
“The lake of which you speak, and
others like it, are frozen more deeply and firmly than you suppose; and if no method of removing the ice, except by dispersion or solution, had been provided, the dwellers in their vicinity would be in a pitiable plight. But a most extraordinary phenomenon, such as you would never imagine, is connected with the subject, and l will endeavour to describe it. As the season advances for setting the waters free, the surface of the frozen lake is observed to become porous; and this increases, until it almost resembles a honeycomb. Some indications are then perceived round the edges, so well understood by the surrounding people, that they can calculate with tolerable exactness when the expected event will take place, and many assemble to witness the singular spectacle. It usually occurs in a bright day, when the sun is high. With a mighty crash, the ice at once separates from the banks to which it had adhered ; the water bubbles up through thousands and thousands of the little apertures that I have described; and the ponderous mass, thus broken from its hold and overwhelmed, sinks, with a sound resembling no other that I ever heard, to the bed of the lake. “It is a moment of great joy to thc spectators, who have suffered many inconveniences from the lengthened frost; and the blue waters, dancing freely in the sunshine, seem to participate in their delight. You may imagine what a change passes over the face of the country; bird and beast hastening to quaff the tide, while the Indian prepares to launch his canoe, and the hunter exchanges his weary circuit for a light paddle across the lake. I have stood for an entire day enjoying the scene,—not one of the least wonderful in this land of wintry wonders.” Had circumstances allowed it, I should have been found among the watchers for this enfranchisement of the waters; but I was disappointed. The description, however, made an impression on my mind that I could not afford to lose. Obstructions have often been thrown across my path, as insurmountable by any power of mine as the deep, thick, solid body of ice was unremoveable by human hand; and I have looked around, and seeing no way open, have been on the point of yielding
to despondency, the offspring of unbelief, when a thought of the Canadian lake has revived my confidence, and enabled me to cast anew all my care upon Him, who has given me proofs, as unnumbered as the sands, that he careth for me. Almighty to deliver and to save, there is no restraint with him; but, without causing events to diverge from the wonted calm and orderly course of his providential government, he puts aside whatsoever menaces the security of his people; forcing them to acknowledge that glorious proclamation of his name and attribute, “I am the Lord: I change not.”
And if in the temporary difficulties of this life, how much more strikingly does the type apply to that which is of eternal moment! Tied and bound in the chain of its sins, the soul lies pressed under that ponderous burden; no way of deliverance open, no hope of casting off the frozen setter. The sun may shine on all besides, and all other things may fill their sphere of usefulness; but the spirit, conscious of its own hopeless imprisonment, can neither itself rejoice in the light of heaven, nor minister refreshment to those around. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death 7” is a query that could never be answered, had not the Lord provided a way inconceivably wonderful, perfect, and sure. He speaks the word, and the setter falls: the dark and heavy burden of sins is “cast into the depths of the sea,” no more to be seen or remembered but in connexion with the stupendous deliverance wrought. The freed spirit swells and sparkles in the gladsomeness of unclouded day; and hastens to glorify the God of its salvation, by communicating to others, as a good steward, the manifold gists received from him, this its present and never-failing theme of gratitude and confidence: “Is there any thing too hard for the Lord 7”
T H E CARD IN AL.
TheRE lately came into my possession a very fine bronze medal, of exquisite workinanship, bearing on its obverse the bust, en profile, of a man of noble lineaments, robed, with the tonsure, and, suspended from his neck, a crucifix. The legend runs thus: HEN . Ix. MAG - BRIT . FR . ET. HIB . REX . FID . DEF . CARD . EP . Tusc. The reverse is singularly beautiful. A female figure appears supporting a lofty cross: in her right hand is a book, at her feet a lion couchant; while carelessly scattered around lie a royal crown, a cardinal's hat, and the insignia of various orders. In the distance is seen the city of Rome, with St. Peter's rising majestically above the mass of buildings. On this side the legend is: NoN . DESIDERI is . HOMINUM . SED. . VOLUNTATE . DE1. At the base is recorded the impressively instructive date, AN. MDccLxxxviii. It is needless to add, that this medal commemorates him who was called the Cardinal Duke of York, and who here assumes the regal title of England,-the great-grandson of James II. In contemplating this medal, it is difficult to arrest one among the multitude of thoughts that rush in a rapid current through my mind; but the date is, however, the most striking particular, inasmuch as it marks the revolution of a perfect century from the period of the last open attempt to overthrow the Protestant religion in England; and declares, more emphatically than words could do, the righteous retribution of the Most High. It is impossible to avoid an immediate recurrence to 1688, the year of England's extremest peril, and most providential deliverance—the year when James, bastled in his desperate enterprise of prostrating our country once more beneath the footstool of the papal antichrist, abdicated the throne. The consequence of his attempt was, to use the powerful language of Dr. Croly, that the princely race of Stuart were cast out, “they and their dynasty, for ever: that proud line of kings was destined to wither down into a monk, and that monk living on the alms of England, a stipendiary, and an exile.” That monk is before me; and I cannot, without deep sorrow of heart, contemplate the effigies of the unhappy prince. His great-grandsire, in the pride of power, intoxicated by the contents of the golden cup with which the mother of harlots is represented as making drunk the kings of the earth, raised a sacrilegious hand against those faithful bishops of our church whom the Lord raised up to defend his heritage. In 1688, the seven WOL. II. 28
Protestant bishops were prisoners in the Tower of London, for daring to be true to their first and highest duty; so beautifully expressed by their spokesman, the venerable Archbishop Sancroft: “We are bound to fear God and honour the king; we desire to do both; we will honour you; we must fear God.” In 17SS is chronicled by this singular medal, the infatuation by which the last of his direct line became a tonsured ecclesiastic, voluntarily incurring the prohibition to perpetuate, in legal descent, that royal and renowned family. God hath laid in Zion a chief cornerstone, a sure foundation, expressly declaring that whosoever should fall on that stone must be broken. The Stuarts fell on it; and they are broken, and dispersed, and blotted out from the regal tables of Europe. Through unbelief, they attempted to supersede that divine foundation—disclaiming Christ as the rock, and putting in his stead a sinful mortal, and assuming to build, not on Peter's Lord, but on Peter himself, or rather on the phantom of a darkened understanding, invested with Peter's name. Not content with personally apostatising from the faith, James II. sought to involve a mighty empire in his sin, drawing the sword of persecution on such as resisted the endeavour; and here I see the poor memorial of his descendant given over to the strong delusion which he and his sathers loved, and finally immolating, in his own person, the race of Stuart on the altar of their false faith. In no instance since the blessed and glorious Reformation has a leaning towards popery, on the part of England's rulers, escaped some open mark of the Lord's righteous displeasure. Does not this object speak to us, as a Protestant nation, in the language formerly addressed to the Jews: “Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but towards thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” An humble and obscure individual cannot, indeed, influence the acts of public government; but have I no personal interest in the matter—no individual duty to perform 7 I have, and so have you, whosoever you may be perusing this page, within the confines of free and happy England. We tread the soil over which once ruled and triumphed, in unlimited dominion, the “man of sin,” the “ antichrist,” by whom the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus was shed, and beneath whose souldestroying yoke we, even we, should at this moment be bowed in helpless and hopeless thraldom, only for the sovereign mercy of the Lord, in working for us a deliverance that we could never have achieved. Nations are composed of individuals; and in summing up the amount of national guilt, each one is separately regarded with a view both to present and future retribution. Sinning as a nation, we must as a nation suffer here; because God will not be mocked, but will openly recompense, in the sight of the world, the indignity cast on his holy name. But there is a beautiful and most striking passage in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel, which cannot be too closely or too practically studied in these times—-times of fearful departure from the straight line of Protestant duty—times marked by the daily advances of popery in the church, in the senate, and in other high places of the land; while be
low and around, it spreads on every side, and the cry of Christian alarm is met by the scoff of hoodwinked liberalism, laughing to scorn the peril which it has incapacitated itself from descrying. O that the Lord may be gracious unto his land, and pity his people ! They who can do nothing more, may surely utter that prayer: but more may be done. The duty of each individual is, first to inform himself on this subject, and then to deliver the warning wheresoever his voice or pen can reach. In the domestic circle, and throughout the range of private correspondence, all may do this. When the cholera invaded our shores, none hesitated to caution his neighbour, or to recommend a preventive remedy, if he knew of such. Protestants of England! in your Bibles you will learn the nature of the poison, and find its only antidote; while the history of your country, particularly those pages of it which are written in flames and blood, will furnish an awful application of the subject to yourselves and to your children. The storm is rising—the vessel is beginning to reel under it. “What meanest thou, O
sleeper? arise, call upon thy God!”