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But the spiritual mercies vouchsafed to us have been many and various. My friends, we live in a fallen world; but, blessed be God, it is a redeemed world. We live in a revolted world, but it is a world full of the evidences of the power of God. The changing seasons, the succession of day and night, the rippling stream, the flowing river, the ebbing sea, the springing grass, the golden grain waving in the autumnal breeze, all unite to proclaim that this world is full of God. But not only is it full of God, it is full of saving influence. It is not more certain that this world is surrounded by an atmosphere suited to man's physical nature, than that it is surrounded by a spiritual atmosphere in every way suited to his higher spiritual life. Hence, the language of the Psalmist exactly represents our position as to God :-"Whither shall I go from thy presence ? or whither shall I flee from thy Spirit?”
But again, brethren, during the passing year we have had a succession of means of grace. We have had fifty-two Sabbaths, peaceful, happy Sabbath-days. Many of us have heard during that period ono hundred sermons, and in each sermon there was something for us, whether we perceived it or not. The sun shines in yonder heavens day after day, whether we open our eyes to look upon him or not; so the Sun of Righteousness emits his rays from the sacred word, whether we sun ourselves in his radiance or not. We have had also our weekly meetings for prayer our class and fellowship meetings_our sacramental occasions those standing remembrancers of Christ's death for us. Moreover, we have had our bibles in our houses, and on our tables. Had we been born in some parts of Heathendom, we should not have known even of the existence of that sacred volume : had we lived during the past year in Florence or Naples, we should not have dared to possess the sacred scriptures. How exalted then, brethren, have wo been by privileges.
But if these have been our mercies, what, in the second place, have been our sins ? What about our closet ? What about the family altar? Does God class us among the families that “call not upon his name ?” What about our place in the pew-in the prayer meeting—in the class meeting—at the table of our Lord? What about "doing good to the bodies and souls of all men, as we have had opportunity ?" But passing from the outward to the inward life, let us inquire what have been the sins of our hearts? Have we cultivated a child-like, grateful, confiding spirit towards God? And how have we felt towards our neighbours ? Have we cherished malice, hatred, jealousy, revenge, till our spirits have become fiendish? I ask for a response from conscience.
But thirdly, What is our present state? If I were to put the question to some of you that was once put to the Shunammite woman by the prophet, “Is it well with thee?” You could answer in the affirmative, " It is well.” Blessed be God for your happy position in the kingdom of my
Lord. But were I to ask another class the same question, you
would hesitate to reply;or, perhaps, say, “ It is not so well with me as it was twelve months since; then the candle of the Lord shone upon my head-my heart; but I have given way to sin, and brought death into my soul.” Come again, my friend, as when first you came; acknowledge your backslidings: the way is still open; the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin, and consequently, from yours. But there is a third class—the penitent. Were I to put the same inquiry to you, you would reply, “Alas! it is not well, I have been seeking, but have not yet obtained mercy.” Let me relate to you an anecdote. A young Irishman, to all appearance near his end, was visited by a pious individual to whom the dying youth freely communicated his feelings. The pious friend pointed him to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world, prayed with, and left him. Before he saw him again another professor visited him, to whom he put the pointed and all important question,." Is it possible for one to know his sins are forgiven in this world ?” and to this question he received the fatal reply—“That is only the privilege of a few.” The consequence was, earnestness gave place to indifference. In this state of mind his former friend found him when he again visited him. Conscience had again to be aroused and hope excited. He told the sufferer to think for a few minutes of the love of God as manifested in the gift of his Son; and while the young man was silently meditating upon that unparalleled love, his friend quietly and feelingly repeated those sweet lines,
“ See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" The dying man believed the record which God hath given of his Son, was made happy, and exclaimed with rapture, “I have found it.” Do thou likewise.
Fourthly. What is our duty to-night? Our first-our obvious duty in reviewing the mercies of God, is to be grateful. The Jews were a people remarkable for keeping in remembrance the mercies and deliverances that God wrought out for them; and hence you will find in their psalmody and in the writings of the old prophets, the frequent references to the passage of the Red Sea, the journey through the wilderness, the water from the rock, the bread from heaven, the driving out of the old inhabitants of Canaan and planting in their stead the seed of Abraham; and had you passed through that land some two thousand or more years ago, you would have found pillars of stone raised by the pious Israelites in order to commemorate the mercies of Jehovah; and were you to ask, “What meaneth this ?” the reply would be—“This is the pillar Samuel raised, when he said, “Ebenezer, hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.”
Another duty is confession. In reviewing this part who does not feel that in everything he has come short ? Brethren, there is
a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.” Make use of it.
Another duty is at once to make a full and entire consecration of ourselves to the God of our lives and of all our mercies; and may He accept of us for Christ's sake. Amen. Coventry.
“ BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED.”
The balsam-tree is but a type, in the vegetable kingdom, of the holier essential balsam in the divine nature, which was before all trees.
Without incision, balm exudes from the balsam-tree: so also, before the incarnation, did balm flow from the eternal Father to every
child of sorrow, who could apprehend it. For the Jesus-nature is eternal, and prior to manifestation, was hidden in the Father. Though the tree does exude a most valuable balm without incision, when wounded, it yields the balm “more abundantly:" so from the wounds of Christ flows the balm of God, more copiously, for the healing of mankind. The fruit of the tree also, when ripe, yields balm : the fruit of the Lord's sufferings and glorification is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is balm.—“ The Comforter, whom I will send to you from the Father.”
But why must my Lord be wounded for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities? Why must he be chastised for my peace ?
It may help some, if we go round about for our answer, if we appeal to dumb, yet speaking, nature. How is it that the ground has to be wounded by spade and plough, and put, as it were, to the torture, under harrows, before it will produce bread-corn for us? How is it that when the corn is produced, it must also be subjected to torture,-must be bruised under mill-stones, ground and reground, before it will make bread for us? How is it that even then, the bread is not committed to the stomach, before it has been further bruised and mangled by the teeth ? How is it that plants, flowers, and fruits only yield their latent virtues when bruised ? How is it that there can be no wine till the grapes have been pressed, or trodden? Why is vegetable life sacrificed for us? Why is animal life slain for us? Why does every creature come into the world through the gate of sorrow? Why is man born to labour ? Why is the sweat of the brow associated with labour ? Why are labour and sorrow the price which must be paid for knowledge? Why are the holiest things most hidden? Why is God hidden from us? How is it that all things are secreted within chaff, or skin, or shell, and that violence must be done to chaff, skin, and shell, in order to reach the hidden good ? How is it that death is the gate of life? If
you find the answers to these questions, it will help you to the
opening of the higher question : How is it that the Bread of God, the Spirit of Life, the mercy of the eternal Father is not adapted to our need, till it comes to us through the humbled, bruised, tortured, crucified Son of God? If you cannot answer the former questions, you will learn, at least, that the whole of nature labours under the same dificulty as “Christ crucified." You will see that good comes into this world through a strait gate, the better comes in through a still straiter gato, and the best comes in through the straitest gate of all. Indeed the ab solutely best is not known in our world.
Nature will grow thorns and thistles without labour and culture, but if
you will have corn-fields and vineyards, you must chastise nature, and afflict your own body and soul with hard labour. Children will grow up in ignorance and vice, without the care of parents and the labour of teachers; but not in knowledge and virtuo. Still less, without earnest pains-taking, will they grow up for heaven.
The fact is, evil thrives here, but good suffers. The higher and the purer the good, the more it suffers. However it be accounted for, “this whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain," brings forth in labour and sorrow, runs through its brief course of vanity, and ends in death.
Let those, therefore, who turn sulky and grumble because they find the Cross of Christ in the Bible, have the goodness to remove the stumbling-block from Nature. For my part, I find the Cross of Christ, not an untrue revelation of what was a Divine condition, before Jesus was born, or the prophecies written. Upon whose shoulders did the burden of this fallen and degenerate creation rest, from time immemorial ? Who was grieved and smitten to the heart, by the titans of rebellion and wickedness that were before the flood? Is it not always tho head of the house who feels most sorely the disorder, the evils, and the sorrows of his house? And who is the Head of this great house which we call universe ? Is it its own head, or is God its Head? God, certainly. Then the chief pressure of its evil condition must lie upon Him, must it not? Surely. What countenance then, or authority, from nature, have men for objecting to the Cross of Christ? The Cross of Christ did not make a new truth: it was rather the manifestation of a world-old truth.-J. Pulsford.
A SCRUPULOUS CONSCIENCE.-A tender conscience is an unspeakable blessing, as it may save the soul from unutterable woes, both in this world and the next. But a scrupulous conscience is not a blessing; “ rather,” says Mr. Wesley, “it is a sore evil.” It is upon this a malicious tempter likes to alight. Again and again, he will come down upon this sore place, this diseased faculty of the mind, and will irritate and perpetuate the uneasiness arising from that conscientious scruple.Rev. James Caughey.
SOME RECOLLECTIONS OF THE as to pourtray, in few words, the life and
LATE MR. S. SCHOLFIELD, character of a friend-a friend of my OF HEYWOOD.
youth-between whom and myself an DEATH changes the current of our acquaintance, intimate and growing, has thoughts. That current was running
subsisted for more than twenty years. on, keeping pace with the steps of our That acquaintance never yielded anyfriend. As to the past, we were accus
thing but pleasure from the first; and tomed to forget the things that were be- that pleasure was the greatest when his hind; as to the future, all was blank, society was the most frequent. but all was mutual hope. An imperi
Thomas Scholfield was born in 1817, ous decree has now absolutely reversed in the town of Heywood, where also the case, and as to the concerns of time, nearly the whole of his life was spent. with him all is past; we dwell upon the
His mother seems to have been wise, veritable scenes of bygone days, old
discreet, and pious. To her care in very thoughts become new again, and we early imbuing his mind with religious cannot separate these thoughts of the truths, and to the frequent reiteration past from the friend in whom they of little religious lessons, he owed much, seemed to have a personal exponent.
She was a member of the Methodist As certain principles of action of late Society, and a consistent Christian, from seemed to derive much of their vitality
whom her son received a most favour. from him, so now, in turn, he appears
able testimony of Christianity, so that to live in them. Whether the mind he had formed a good opinion of it soon dwells upon these abstract principles,
after his mind was able to institute a or their application, or the institutions comparison, or draw an inference. which rose out of them, or the vigorous Our intimacy arose at school, a disworking of those institutions; in any
tance from home. At that time, he was case, the voice and the attitude of our known as a frank and open-hearted, friend salute us afresh.
generous and affectionate youth. When It is to be remarked, that this is real- in his class, he could not stand mute ised most by the surviving friends of one whilst some other boy answered the whose life has been devoted to the pro- question proposed to himself; and, in jection or carrying out of some useful the play-ground, he must always be enterprise; or one, whose ceaseless consulted--if, indeed, he waited for it activity, impelled by the dictates of a before any boyish enterprise could be benevolent heart, has speeded the pro
matured. If it had not been discovered gress of many useful enterprises, though before, he would have shown the world, it may be only in his own immediate "The boy is father to the man." neighbourhood. The subject of this Notwithstanding the tinge of volamemoir was not very extensively known; tility which was observed in his temperbut in his own town and several popu- ament, religious concern was clearly lous places adjacent he was well known; traceable, at times, in his look and beand of his true worth many have borne
haviour. The writer can never forget a willing testimony.
an evidence of this, afforded on one A document, written by him some Sabbath evening, when the principal of years ago, concerning one who had just the school took occasion, from somedeceased now lies before the writer; in thing which had occurred, to reprove which a combination of natural sympa- us severely for a want of reverence for thy with appropriate sentiment is well the sacred day. Several were quite worthy of imitation; and, if the faculty broken down; and none more so than existed, should be adopted in the few young Scholfield. He wept for hours lines now to be written concerning him- as if his heart would break; and these self. But the object now aimed at, is serious feelings did not pass away with not so much to pronounce an eulogium, the evening.