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sovereign contempt—regarded as subtle rogues, or half-crazed fanatics. This is mortifying, and the assurance of it renders an avowed follower of Christ ill at ease among those who so behold him. In the presence of a true Christian he is sure to be highly esteemed for his Master's sake; and thus complacency towards the brethren may proceed from unmixed self-love, and wear the semblance even to ourselves of that with which it has no connexion whatever. If a vessel at sea, perhaps weakly armed, descries in time of war a strange sail approaching, no doubt the hoisting of a friendly flag inspires delight and confidence proportioned to the evil that might have accrued from falling in with a powerful enemy; but who will say that the greeting is one of such disinterested love and sympathy as we exchanged with our fellow-voyager, when no peril was apprehended, nor any advantage to be gained by falling in with her cn the broad and peaceful seas Evangelical profession in our day spreads wide; and it is in many places so extremely shallow that those who venture on its seeming uniformity are frequently run aground, and left with damage to deplore their credulity. This I have experienced; for more deep and heartless villany never glared from the world’s most brazen and unblushing front than I have encountered beneath the smooth aspect of sanctimonious piety. It would be well for the glory of God and the gospel, if all who are similarly deceived would raise a beacon on such shoals, to warn their fellow-believers of concealed perils; but the false charity which shrinks from exposing one real hypocrite, lest the world should consider him a fair sample of those among whom he has presumptuously numbered himself. inflicts an injury more deep, more pervading, and more abiding, than the unmasking of a thousand deceivers would do. Christians are aware that such characters exist among godly professors; they know that it requires time and observation to detect them, screened as they are by the culpable weakness already mentioned; and thus a darkening shade of suspicion is cast over the whole body; and the evil is cherished, until it will act as an extinguisher on the last glimmering light of WoL. ii. 32
love “for the brethren.” St. Paul was not uncharitable, when he exhorted the Corinthian church to purge out the leaven from among them: our venerable reformers were not uncharitable when they framed the rubric excluding srom the Lord's table such as, having wronged a neighbour, should neglect to make fitting reparation; but we are truly uncharitable, both to ourselves and others, while we suffer the mere badge of a party, the mere verbal shibboleth of religious phraseology, and the tinkling cymbal of sound doctrines issuing from feigned lips, to deter us from plucking these weeds out of the Lord's garden; or, if we lack power so to do, srom legibly writing “poison” over them, that the children may no longer shrink from wholesome plants, through dread of a concealed sting.
Is then every infirmity of temper, every incautious step, every injudicious proceeding, every lamented inconsistency that the follower of Christ is betrayed into, to be proclaimed, and the stumbling disciple held forth to the church's anathema and the world's contempt? God forbid! “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” It is not to the infirmities of real Christians, but to the worldliness, the covetousness, the malignity, the calumniating bitterness of those who have thrust themselves into their company, that we trace the lack of considing love among God's people. The flesh may so lust against the Spirit in a regenerate man, that he may be betrayed into many inconsistencies, and be a perpetual grief unto himself; he is to be tenderly admonished, prayed over, and assisted in the struggle. But when a man is known by those who have studied him well to be capable of destroying a neighbour's character through envy and malignity, or selling it for filthy lucre's sake— when he has been found to make his religious way of talking a cloak for licentiousness, for ambition, and worldly advantage, he ought to be so dealt with by those who are godly, as either to alarm him from his sin or to shame him out of his false profession.
There may be points of natural weakness in a man's character that prevent our altogether confiding in him; but if the life of God be manifest in his soul, by the simple walk of faith and a holy conversation, are we not bound, yea, constrained to love him The Lord dwells in His church, which is the company of all faithful people: He dwells in them individually; and, as being made temples of the living God, we cannot but honour and love them, for the Deity that abides within. Oh how tender, how respectful should we be to all the brethren, if we rightly considered this! We should not grieve, we should not provoke, we should not dare to malign and contemn them, if we bore in mind that the Lord is there.
Meeting on the troublous waves of life, we should affectionately recollect what storms from above may await their onward course—what enemies may be watching around to swallow them up— what rocks may lurk below to make shipwreck of their faith and conscience. These are touching considerations to such as know the severity of that internal warfare wherein the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, keep the believer tossing and trembling on the waters of a strise that is only to end with his mortal voyage. However incommunicative we may be of our personal experiences, we yet are conscious that fightings without, and fears within, will intrude like the voice of a rising tempest, to mar the gladness of our most joyous hours. Such conflicts as we feel to be in ourselves, we know must belong to our brethren also ; and is not this a plea for the tenderest sympathy Meeting as strangers and pilgrims, uncertain whether we shall ever again behold them until we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, surely we should bear them, and their probable trials, on our hearts before the Lord, in prayer; and extending the hand of cordial salutation, we should follow their track with the eye of sympathizing love, breathing the language of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, “For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good.”
CHA PTER WIII.
“Oh that it were with me as in days past !” is an aspiration which the natural heart of man seems prone to utter, though far apart from the original context. Few, indeed, if any, of God's people can look back upon that spring-tide season of first faith and love without having cause to ask, with tearful regret,
Where is the blessedness I knew When first I saw the Lord 1
But among those who never saw or sought Him, there is a frequent recurrence to past times, as having savoured of happiness comparatively unalloyed. Yet, while that past was still the present, it had, in general, its attendant clouds and discomforts in sufficient abundance to render something antecedent to it a subject of like regrets. It appears that as time rolls on, the anxieties of the day—for the principal drawbacks on our felicity are imaginary evils, and groundless forebodings—pass off, and are forgotten; while the actual enjoyments graciously permitted leave an indelible record on the mind. I have sometimes tried, under the pressure of great uneasiness, to reduce two scriptural precepts to practice. Forgetting those things that are behind, and taking no thought for the morrow—nor even for the succeeding hour—I have viewed the actual present in its naked reality, and found that, like it, my trouble was diminished to a mere point. I perceived that some injury or vexation, recently encountered, was still rankling in my heart: while the anticipation of what was presently to be done or said very much increased the excitement. Banishing both of these, and looking on the passing moment only standing before the Lord a living miracle of His mercy and longsuffering, with no other positive certainty in prospect than that not one word of His good promise should ever fail, I have actually paused in astonishment at finding how large a portion of what, strictly speaking, was non-existent, entered into the composition of my grievance. These little arrests for close self-examination are exceedingly useful: and if conducted on the right principle, as in the presence of him who searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of men, they are of a very humbling tendency. Ingratitude for the mercy that has wafted one cloud away, and mistrust of the love that presides over such as are yet asar off, will be found interwoven with every murmuring thought of our hearts, breathed in every complaint that escapes our lips. Without the gifts of memory and prescience, we should indeed be as the brutes: still it is melancholy to reflect how constantly we use them as weapons of rebellious ingratitude against the Giver. By applying this rule to the events of by-gone days, I am enabled to detect many a grievous act of sin in what, at the time, appeared but well-founded sorrow— sin that would never have been repented of, because never discovered by me. Often, when all has been bright around me, and the mercy of God was most sig, nally manifested in guidance or preservation, has my heart secretly fretted and raged against His decrees, because the past and the probable future were dark to my sight. I can recall such an instance, connected with most endearing recollections, and now looked back upon as thevery door of blessings, temporal and spiritual, which may surnish a theme for songs of everlasting thanksgiving and praise. I will not say exactly how many years since I first bent my way towards the sister isle. It is enough to state that I was then a very fair specimen of national and spiritual pride: both equally groundless. My nationality consisted in a supreme contempt of every thing not exclusively English, with a clause of peculiar scorn and detestation of whatever might happen to be Irish. "My spirituality was a deep conviction of being one of the most deserving people living : I read the Bible very frequently; I was a regular and punctual church-goer; I said prayers in private, did many good works (in my own estimation) and suffered much evil unresistingly. Upon these things I built such a confident hope, or rather claim, for eternal life, that —I shudder to recollect it—I had more than once seen myself in the very jaws of destruction without a single doubt or fear as to my eternal portion. In this state of
mind, I undertook a reluctant journey and voyage, resolved to anticipate only unalloyed miseries. Truth to say, my retrospections were sufficiently dark to throw a fearful gloom over what was to come, in the eyes of one who had not yet seen the purposes of divine love in the chastisement of a proud, self-righteous rebel. With a bitter spirit, and downcast eyes that shunned the very sight of the land, I obeyed the summons to come on deck, when the packet which had been all day sailing against the wind was moored at the pier of Howth. It was two or three hours after midnight; but a most brilliant full moon threw its soft clear light on every object, rendering any artificial aid unnecessary. A plank was laid from the vessel to the shore, by which the passengers landed; and as the tide was then low, the inclination of the plank was very great— at another time I might have hesitated to ascend the steep and slippery way; but I was heedless, reckless of every thing. No principle of willing obedience led me in the path of duty, but a sort of sudden acquiescence that I dignified with the name of resignation, and considered highly meritorious. I had been so tardy, that I was nearly forgotten—a lonely voyager, without one person on whose kindness I had any other claim than what their own generous commiseration spontaneously acknowledged—and I fancy the sailors had commenced withdrawing the plank when my approach caused them to replace it. I mounted the ship's side, and proceeded about three steps along the narrow footing, when a heave of the vessel unsteadied it—the upper part began to slide, and in a second or two I should have been engulphed low in the dark waters between the ship and the pier, with scarcely a human possibility of rescue; but one of the gentlemen flung himself prostrate on the ground, seizing with a powerful grasp the receding plank; while a sailor jumping on the ship's bulwarks caught me round the knees, to support my tottering steps, and another of the passengers, extending his hands, took mine, and drew me forward. I sprang ashore, with a careless laugh, my usual mask for a half-broken heart; and while receiving the fervent welcome of those kind-hearted Irishmen, heightened into agitation by my recent peril and escape, what was the language of my secret thoughts 2 Adoring gratitude 7 No. Neither the watery grave from which I had that moment been snatched, nor the sense of present safety, health, and comfort, nor the soft sweet moon looking down upon the velvet sod, and marking the church tower, gleaming on the white head-stones of many a rustic grave, nor the animated warmth of those who had so promptly interposed to rescue me—could elicit one throb of right feeling. Dark as the depths where I might have been sinking with my ungrateful spirit; and while I courteously thanked my welcoming companions, the breathing of my soul was, “Would that your country were in the depth of the sea, and I anywhere else!” But there was one thing that exceeded my rebellion: and that was the mercy of my long-suffering God. With feelings of undiminished gloom and hatred, I sat down in the parlour of the hotel, until the morning should be sufficiently advanced to admit of our proceeding to Dublin. With two other passengers, I shared a post-chaise; and as we approached the Irish metropolis, even my unwilling looks were attracted and gratified, by the beauty of many white buildings, the country seats of its inhabitants, scattered among plantations of exquisite verdure, and reflecting the early rays of a cloudless sun. While descending a hilly road, the horses took fright, the postillion was thrown, and with fearful velocity we were borne along by the unchecked animals at full gallop. Let those who understand the peril of my deed judge of the reckless feeling that prompted it: I quietly put my hand out, opened the door, and gathering my long riding-habit about me, threw myself from the carriage. Of course, I fell prostrate, but quite unhurt, excepting a graze on the hand; and, jumping up, exclaimed, as I brushed the dust from my face, “Well, I suppose I am to love the soil, after all; for I have kissed it in spite of myself!” And did I not love it?— do I not love it? The Lord knoweth. He who marked my first entrance there by two such awful deliverances, can alone say how deep, how fervent, how all-pervading is the love of Ireland, dear Ireland, in every vein of my heart. The chaise had been stopped immedi
ately after my desperate leap; and I r". turned to it, more amused by the excessive terror that I had occasioned to my com panions, than impressed by the manifesinterposition of divine power in preserving me. I need not pursue the journey, nor relate the deep waters of affliction, through which I proudly and unflinchingly held my way, filled, even from the first, with love for the people whom I had so shamefully prejudged, but not reconciled to Him whom I professed to serve and adore, until he visited me with strange and agonizing convictions of my lost and sinful state, which I divulged to no human being: and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through His own precious word alone, apart from all other instrumentality, showed me the atoning Lamb, filled me with joy and peace in believing, and after months of sweet and blissful communion with him, brought me among His dear children—even those who are now suffering persecution and affliction for His sake and the gospel. Among by-gone days, that is indeed with me a memorable one which welcomed me to the green sod of Ireland. The impatient stamp with which I delighted, as it were, to tread her undersoot, when landing on the northern point of her magnificient bay, contrasted with the heart-broken reluctance that lingered to pick up a pebble from the last jutting little promontory of sand, when re-embarking from its southern side after several years' sojourn—is vivid in my recollection. Deep sorrow was my portion at either period; but, with outward circumstances nearly similar, oh how changed its aspects I had come thither under the impression that human suffering was a suitable atonement for human sin; and while conscience bore me witness that I had, from the earliest dawn of reason, frequently transgressed the known commands of God, I found in the pressure of early and severe affliction not only what I considered a sufficient punishment for those transgressions, but enough even to turn the balance in my favour, and to render me a claimant on the justice of the Most High Because in the particular trial of my life I had not perhaps merited at the hand of man what I was called on to endure, I stood boldly forth as a specimen of injured innocence
often appealing to the Searcher of hearts in the language that even David could not have used, except in a typical character, and prophetic strain. I gathered into one view the sorrows of past years, and many a comfortless anticipation of the future, clouding over with their needless gloom every little interval of sunshine and repose that was graciously permitted for the refreshment of a weary spirit. But this picture is too vile to dwell upon : what was the other ? A lengthened catalogue of sorrows endured; a Parker prospect of threatened woes; a rending asunder of the sweetest ties that Christian friendship ever formed and sanctified—an exile from the country that I had learned to love, as a Beth-el of spiritual enjoyment. and a return to that which had never afforded me a privilege worth having, apart from the endearments of a home no longer mine. Yet, amid many sinful repinings and unbelieving fears, there was a peace, may a joy, passing expression. In all these things I saw the natural consequence of inbred corruptions and actual sin, to which I had learned to trace every blot upon this fair creation ; and in such consequences, I saw the heinousness of that sin, and its eternal wages at the hand of a pure and holy God. I beheld the mighty ransom which had delivered me from going down into the pit; I confessed the hand that had led me so far; and while through a mist of tears I looked northward across the beautiful bay, remembering my first arrival, with all its consequences, my soul responded to the language of dear John Newton— Determin'd to save, he watched o'er my path, When, Satan's blind slave, I sported with wrath,
And would he have taught me to trust in His name, And thus far have brought me, to put me to shame 3
No: the scenes themselves hardly presented such a contrast as the feelings that prevailed. Night, a troubled sea, a dark deep gulf of sullen waters intervening between my ship and the perpendicular side of the pier, with none about me but the casual acquaintances of a day, who knew no more of me and mine than I did of them, and a country that was to me far worse than indifferent—this was my arrival. My departure was on a brilliant summer morning ; my path along the shining sand, that seemed gradually to
melt and mingle in the blue rippling waters, playing beneath the sunbeam, and bearing on their bosom the light boat prepared to convey us to the steamer, which was moored in the bay. Around were some whose eyes, like mine, overflowed with natural sorrow, while their hearts glowed with the delicious anticipation of eternal re-union in a better land. Not a feeling of my soul but was understood and reciprocated: and the tie formed below could not be broken: for a crucified Redeemer formed the connecting link. One who even then was preparing to bid a long farewell to his own sweet isle, on a mission of love to the souls of distant heathen, led my reluctant step into the boat: and at the moment of seating me there, he repeated, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.” Yes, I think I was then humbled under the overpowering conviction that such a vile, guilty, proud, thankless, rebellious atom as I, when embarking on that broad and beauteous water, was and had been from eternity the object of a love which, manifested in due time, had assured me that, whatsoever might be my coming trials, in all—all—I should be more than conqueror through Him who had so loved me. Oh, the depth of the riches of that redeeming love But I was sorrowful still ; and sorrow in one shape or another, yea, sorrow upon sorrow, is blended with every tie that binds me to Ireland. I would not have it otherwise ; I would not forget that this is the day of her calamity, and that to weep over her now is the best token of being one day permitted to rejoice and joy with her. Now, while her faithful witnesses prophesy in sackcloth, and her believing children, who work the works of God in faith and prayer, are discouraged and put to shame; while violence and fraud are connived at, and an idolatrous apostacy cherished, and the wicked walk on every side, and the vilest of men are exalted—it is well that my reminiscences of Ireland should partake in the sombre hue of her destiny—that the dearest spot in her wide boundary should be a grave, and the saddest of my thoughts still wander thitherward.