صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

with these things reluctantly; he did not sigh after them, he did not make much ado about the sacrifices he had made; he did not hold them up before the churches for their admiration, as who should say, Only think what great sacrifices Paul has made for Jesus. No! Paul dwelt in a higher region than that. So elevating were the views which he had of Christ's sacrifice, that all his own melted away into nothing; yea, they seemed to become vile in comparison : For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung. There was the true spirit, to sacrifice all, and yet feel it as worthless. And this renunciation of all—this laying of self on God's altar—this feeling that everything was worthless in comparison of Christ, this was the inward source of all that energy, and consistency, and dignity which threw such a lustre around the path of this apostle. He sacrificed much for Christ, but he gained more than he lost. If he became poor and despised in the eyes of men, his character was raised, and ennobled, and, like a mountain rising out of a plain, stood forth all the more conspicuously from the lowliness of his heart, and the meanness of his condition. If he forfeited the hope of becoming the greatest man among the Jews, he became the greatest of the human race, whose fame will endure as long as the species. His fame! Alas! what is fame to mortal men ? Posthumous fame! one of the merest bubbles, though glittering and gaudy, that ere was blown !-mere wind when touched! But Paul's fame is that of excellence and usefulness—the fame of extraordinary usefulness while living—the fame of usefulness after his death, which shall endure through all the ages of time, and be extended to all the nations of the earth, and yield fruit unto God through all the cycles of an infinite eternity. What is the fame of the greatest men who lived at that time? Titus and Vespasian, and the leaders of the Jewish zealots in that dreadful war, how low, and sordid, and soiled ; how rude and barbarous their renown compared with that of Paul, which has outlived all the civilisations that have hitherto occurredwhich shall outlive all subsequent civilisations, and which shall stand the test even of that period, 'when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun as seven days!' And if we would be useful, if we would obtain true renown, we must, like Paul, disentangle ourselves from all that is human and temporary, and attach ourselves to what is divine and eternal, and be willing to be anything for Christ, to which he calls us. And if that Spirit which moulded the soul of Paul only descend on us, and anoint us with a similar unction, it will augment inconceivably our usefulness and our happiness. In the long run, we will find that every loss for Christ is a gain; that every sacrifice is a deposit in the bank of providence ; that every additional renunciation of self, is a purifying and expanding of the soul, that it may be filled with more of the fulness of God.

The spring and source of the resolution, self-denial, and devotedness of Paul, was the clear, sweet, heart-filling, soul-transforming views which he had of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ :

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.' The wonderful life, the

amazing energy, the unquenchable zeal, that were in Paul, were fed from the inexhaustible fountain of the Saviour's fulness and glory. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was the oil that kept the fire burning in spite of all the waters of affliction and temptation that threatened its extinction. Christ's love was the life-blood of his heart; the mainspring of that incessant activity, the generating principle of that productive power, which made his life so consistent, his labours so abundant, his character so ardent, his usefulness so great. The glory of Christ in his person, offices, and work, transcending all comparison and all conception; the close union which he realised between the Saviour and himself; and the infinite and everlasting state of glory and perfection into which he was to enter, as the consequence of union, this eclipsed all earthly splendour in his eyes; this showed him vanity written on all the things of time; this made him regard all present possessions, enjoyments, distinctions, when separated from Jesus and his cause, as no better than the toys and amusements of childhood, and made him to look intently upward, and press onward with all his might. Much has been written on the character of Paul; but all attempts to realise its living unity and completeness have been unsuccessful. In order to present Paul aright, we must go to the source of his greatness and trace it downwards from Christ. The reverse process will present his skeleton rather than himself. And probably the church must pass onward to a brighter era, before any of the sons of men are able to appreciate fully, or to describe accurately the manner in which Paul was influenced by the realisation of the Saviour.

The greatest sinners may take encouragement from the case of Paul. This man, so noble, so devoted, so almost superhuman and angel-like—this man was once 'a persecutor and a blasphemer.' And the same grace that pardoned him is ready to pardon all who return to God in Christ. And the same grace by which he was sanctified is able to renew the most depraved.

But is there not also great cause of humiliation? What reason have we to be ashamed when we think of the apostle Paul ? How cold our hearts, how feeble our efforts, how languid our resolutions ! We belong to a degenerate race; we live in a colder clime; our dwellings are in the arctic regions; the rays of the Sun of Righteousness make little impression on us; our summers are short, and our winters long, and the snow lies on the summits of our intellects, and oftentimes in the more shaded slopes of our affections, all the year round. Let us mourn over our coldness, our deadness, our apathy. May God enable us to turn our backs to the world, and our faces towards heaven, and our hearts towards the cross; and there let us resolve to make the glory of God in Christ our chief end. And ought we not to seek a new anointing with Paul's spirit for the whole church? ought we not to seek that professors may become as decided, and zealous, and energetic, and throw their whole heart and soul as much into religion as they do into other matters ? What a difference would this make on the characters, the efforts, and the usefulness of the church! She would then, indeed, look forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners ;' then would her young men become as David, and David as the Angel of the Lord;' and before such an army, led on by her great Captain, the cities of the nations would fall,' and 'the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.'


OF SMITH VILLA, AYR. The subject of this memoir was well known to most of the ministers of the Original Secession Church. He was one of a generation, now just disappearing from the church below, whose character imparted moral strength to the Secession cause. For about thirty-six years, he held the office of ruling elder, and, during that long period, exerted no inconsiderable degree of influence in maintaining and promoting the principles of the denomination with which he was connected, and to which he was cordially and warmly attached.

In the year 1816 he attended the General Associate Synod, as ruling elder, for the congregation of Ayr, and on that occasion witnessed proceedings which filled him with astonishment and regret. Better acquainted with the sentiments and practices of the first and second generation of Seceders, than with the growing degeneracy, both in principle and practice, that had begun to manifest itself, particularly in the larger towns and cities of Scotland, and among the more fashionable circles of society, he had little anticipated the vast extent of conformity to the world, in its practices, and amusements, and frivolities, which actually prevailed about that period. A case was brought before the Synod that led to a discussion, in which not a few of the leaders of that court appeared to palliate and excuse partial conformity to the gay and fashionable amusements of the world, and indirectly to advocate practices which Mr Smith considered to be altogether alien to the genuine spirit of christianity, and to the views and practices of the Secession Church. This manifestation of practical declension, led him to watch with holy jealousy over the proceedings of the same parties, in reference to public principles, on occasion of the union of the two leading branches of the Secession in the year 1820.

Viewing the basis on which the United Associate Synod was formed as a virtual renunciation of the Covenanted Reformation, he came to the conclusion, that whatever others might do, he could not enter the Union Church. Such decision on the part of one highly esteemed, contributed not a little to strengthen the hands and encourage the heart of his amiable, faithful, and devoted pastor, in maintaining an undeviating attachment, and cordial adherence to the Reformation cause. His personal character, unfaltering decision, enlightened zeal, and corresponding liberality, contributed largely to the maintenance of the principles of the Original Secession in Ayr and its neighbourhood.

At the first meeting of what was now known as the Associate Synod, or as they were more commonly called, the Protesters, Mr S. took his seat as ruling elder for Ayr. This circumstance, in conjunction with the cause for which they were mutually associated, led him to take an intense interest in the general welfare of his brethren in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, until the end of his life. He survived all the ministers who composed that Synod, and, so far as we know, was also the last of its elders.

His general character and deportment are well known to not a few of the readers of this Magazine. His fidelity to Christ, to the truths of God's

word, and to the cause of godliness, was most conspicuous. His motto practically was, “To the law, and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. What the millions might think, or the tens of millions do, formed no rule either of faith or of duty to him. Whatever bore the stamp of divine authoritywhatever was impressed with the seal and superscription of the Most High God, was sacred in his estimation, and to be maintained and defended at all hazards. In faith, as well as in practice, he considered the standard to be all things whatsoever Christ had commanded.' His zeal was of the most enlightened description. He was ready to give to every man that asked him a reason for the hope that he cherished—for the profession that he made—and for the comparatively isolated position which he occupied in the church of God. He was intimately acquainted with the fountain of sacred knowledge—the word of God; he was conversant with the gradual and grand development of the purposes and plans of the Eternal, in reference to the church; he had studied the philosophy of the plan of salvation, as exhibited in the history of divine Providence, towards the chosen people; he had carefully read and digested the past history of the church, as well as the past history both of ancient and modern times, and particularly that of the church and kingdom of Scotland; and being endowed with superior judgment, was able to apply the lessons of history to questions that were under discussion in his own times. His natural temperament, sanctified by grace, prevented neutrality, indifference, lukewarmness, on his part, towards any cause in which he was engaged. Zeal in him was associated with corresponding liberality in supporting and maintaining divine ordinances, not only in the congregation of which he was a distinguished member, but also in others, when circumstances demanded. He was not guilty of substituting prayers, and good wishes, and flaming professions for money, nor money for prayers. He acted upon


persuasion that, in so far as God had prospered any man, there ought to be a correspondence and proportion betwixi his prayers and his pecuniary efforts for the support of the gospel. His generous spirit was also manifested in granting opportune and seasonable aid to some in prosecuting their studies with a view to the work of the ministry. He was given to hospitality. His house was not unfrequently the abode of students and of preachers of the gospel for weeks and months together. It was a place of habitual resort to many of the ministers who had occasion to visit Ayr. It was, at the same time, a place from which they generally returned refreshed and edified. His piety was of the most unaffected description, being neither obtrusive nor concealed. All affected sentimentality in religion was repugnant to his nature. Enlightened, manly, cheerful, his religion commanded the respect and esteem of all who were thoroughly acquainted with his character. It was not the effect of mere feeling, or sympathy, or external excitement. It was calm, profound, rational, cast in the mould of the gospel. It was not generally of that ecstatic character which consists in deep emotion, and excited feelings; but of that steady affectionate confidence on the Lord Jesus Christ as an all-sufficient Saviour, leading to a pure and heavenly deportment. In early life he was privileged with seasons of high sensible enjoyment; afterwards, however, he found, like many aged disciples, that he must walk more by faith than by sense. He lamented and deplored the comparative coldness of his affection to Christ, and was most solicitous that love to God in Christ might be more abundantly shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him. His integrity was irreproachable. His religon did not evaporate in the smoke of mere profession. It led him to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. It taught him efficaciously to deny ali ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world. Inflexible integrity and uprightness of character were exhibited



in his transactions in the market, as well as in his religious professions. In conduct he wiped away the reproach that is frequently-with some show of reason-brought against professors, What do ye more than others? To uncompromising fidelity, in his religious profession, he united the most liberal sentiments and feelings towards christians of other religious denominations. He was a lover of good men. Wherever he discovered the lineaments and features which characterise the children of God, it was to him a ground of rejoicing. He was accustomed to speak with delight of the personal piety of several of his neighbours and acquaintances who, though separated from him in religious profession, were one with him in spirit. In reference to the unity in the faith which pertains to all the children of God, of every age and of every clime, he often remarked that the work of the Holy Spirit of God, in the word, and the work of the same divine Agent in the heart of the believer, must harmonise; and that, as every believer is the subject of the internal operation of the Spirit, and as the word of God is the instrument of his conversion, so there must be an essential unity in the truth amongst the people of God. While he respected and esteemed good men who differed from him, he was incapable, from the sterling honesty, uprightness, and integrity of his character and purpose, of manifesting the same respect and esteem to those connected with him in the bonds of church fellowship, who, by their sentiments or conduct, were subverting the principles they had solemnly vowed to maintain. He entertained the strongest repugnance to whatever had the appearance of treachery or dishonesty, and especially to treachery in the matters of God. his friendships he was faithful and sincere. He only required to be thoroughly known, in order to his being cordially esteemed. As a husband and parent, he was affectionate and kind. As a master, he enjoyed the long-cherished respect of many who had served under his roof, in different capacities. He enjoyed the regard of his neighbours and acquaintances. To those with whom he was more familiar, and with whom he took sweet counsel, he acted on the maxim, that 'Open rebuke is better than secret love.

The first Sabbath of December, 1849, was the last in which he attended upon public ordinances in the church below. During the ensuing week he was seized with a general debility, from which he never altogether recovered. From the commencement of his trouble, he believed that it would terminate in the dissolution of his mortal life. There was, however, a perceptible change to the better about the beginning of January, which led both physicians and friends to entertain the hope that he might yet recover, and be continued some time longer in the visible church.

Such hopes were often expressed to him, but as one who had the sentence of death in himself, he never appeared to entertain the thought of restoration. Like Moses, who was solicitous to enter Canaan before he was gathered to his fathers, Mr S. was somewhat desirous to give the right hand of fellowship to six individuals who had been elected to the office of the eldership in the congregation—two of whom were his own near and esteemed relatives. It was not, however, his expectation that he would be permitted to enjoy what he desired; for he anticipated that he would either not see the day of ordination, or, if spared, would not be able to attend public ordinances.

When he came to that border land, which lies between this world and the realm of immortal glory, his soul appeared to be irradiated with the light and the glory of the heavenly state. Whilst walking in the valley of the shadow of death, he evidently feared no evil. The Lord his God made darkness light about him. Death appeared to him unstinged, and the grave conquered. His latter days were such as to lead believers to say, 'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. The power of religion was eminently displayed during the whole period of his affliction. He

« السابقةمتابعة »