صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

ments of the Church; that they would faithfully carry them out in their own lives. 'Oh, that they were wise! Oh, that they would consider their latter end!' Would that this maxim of celestial wisdom could be engraven on their hearts, and acted out in their political lives, Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.' Were this mighty axiom received in faith, and obeyed in prayer, yes, in a daily prayer in GoD's house, as the Church requires, and in a constant and weekly attendance on the highest act of worship, the Eucharist,--what a regenerative element would forthwith ennoble our patriotism and exalt our legislature. Then would civil rulers and statesmen perceive, that not in commercial prosperity, not in military prowess, not in political liberty, no, nor in mental culture and scientific progress,-do the solid glory and true bliss of our empire consist. History in this regard is no dumb monument, and no unmeaning past. Dead empires rise, as it were, from the tombs of departed greatness, and tell us with prophetic warning this immutable truth. No kingdom can be really great, and permanently flourish, that does not recognise its personality and discharge its responsibility before GOD. In one word, a Christian nation must derive its political character from the same source whence it professes to draw its religious creed, aud that is, from the Revelation of GOD, disclosed to us in Jesus Christ. Unless it fall back upon divine certainty, as based on revealed truth, sooner or later it must crumble under the curse of heaven, and be rent into ruin by the lawless tyranny of the human will. GOD IS true, but every man may be a liar ; hence, when public opinion becomes the guide of the government and the Pope of a parliament, and an unspiritual press the circulating Church of the country, can we not hear that awful imprecation rolling forth from the throne of offended majesty and grace-Ephraim hath turned unto idols, LET HIM ALONE! He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand.'

The future belongs unto God; and, therefore, it should be with humility and hope, with fear and self-distrust, that we venture to anticipate the awful drama of unfolding providences to come. But be our national future what it may, the faithful Christian, who has made GOD his friend-who has lived in holy obedience to the requirements and ordinances of His Church-' knows WHOM he has believed, and is persuaded that He is able to keep that which he has committed unto Him against THAT DAY.' The thrones of earth may tremble,

empires change, and dynasties pass away; the palms of science, the laurels of literature, and the trophies of all which the busy world is proud of, may vanish like the morning cloud and the evening dew; and, more than this,-a day of battle and of blood may arrive, when not only nations and persons shall combat, but principles and doctrines shall contend, till social convulsion and moral chaos seem to envelope all that we now venerate and hold dear; but still, the obedient believer in the incarnate GOD and crucified Redeemer is secure. He shall be covered by the shadow of Almighty wings, and enter into that Ark of Salvation,' even the CHURCH OF CHRIST, which no tempest can overwhelm, and no shipwreck destroy. Amid the agonies of this dread hour, the dissolution of systems and the wreck of worlds, far above the uproar of elements, and the rush of final conflict, will the believer behold the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN,' and repose on the sublime eternity of His truth, which declares,-' Heaven and earth shall pass away, but MY WORD shall not pass away!'

[ocr errors]


ONE afternoon, Elinor Clifford entered the room where her friend Mildred Lenham was lying on a sofa. It was not an unusual thing for her to do, inasmuch as each week seldom found her less than seven times by the side of her friend; but this particular day Elinor looked fagged and unhappy, and she seated herself on the floor and leaned her head wearily against the pillows of the couch, with a heavy sigh. Mildred had not been able to move herself, or even sit upright for several years. She was very thin and pale, but looked happy and peaceful. She seemed to be some years older than Elinor Clifford. On hearing Elinor's sigh, she turned her head to look at her, and pressing her hand between her wasted fingers, she enquired anxiously, 'What is the matter, dearest, what is vexing you?' 'Oh, the old story,' she answered, 'I am weary and unhappy with the school. Mildred, I really think I must give it all up, I cannot teach, Mildred.' Can you not? but tell me,' said Mildred, 'all about it; what particular point is it that troubles you so very much?" Well, almost every thing-I don't much mind the arithmetic, though they are more stupid over it than any one would suppose possible-and I don't much mind hearing them read. But it is the teaching-giving

[ocr errors]


them actual teaching about religion, that is so impossible to me. And yet I am expected to give them a little every day. Either they read a chapter in the Bible, or there is the Catechism, or once a week a collect and gospel. Every morning there is a certain portion of time to be spent in this. And I know so much ought to be done

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

with them, but I can't do it. It is impossible.' Not quite impossible, I think, dear Elinor,' said her friend. Yes, indeed; for I have really not the power to teach them. I can hear them read their collect or chapter well enough-but then I can do no more. I hear other people go on questioning and preaching fluently enough, but not a word can I say, at least very few words.' 'What does 'can' mean, Elinor?' asked Mildred smiling: 'I think I should substitute another word for that.' "You don't mean that I will not, I hope,' exclaimed Elinor, a little roused by this insinuation. Not exactly, yet I think you could if you would and I think you would if you knew that you could.' 'You are talking riddles-do tell me what you mean? I suppose I know what I can or cannot do,' said Elinor. That is just what I think you do not know at all,' Mildred answered; "I think you are quite able to teach those school-children anything that they ought to learn, only because you don't know your power, you have not the will, and because you have not the will, you do not know your power.' 'I have the will,' said Elinor. 'And I say, you have not the will,' said Mildred, laughing at Elinor's pretended obstinacy. You are very tiresome and disagreeable, and you do not know anything about me,' persisted Elinor. 'I tell you I have the will to teach those children, only I have not the power.' If you had the will, I mean a sufficiently strong will, you would be able,' returned Mildred more seriously; indeed, Elinor dear, there is hardly anything beyond the power of the will to accomplish. Man's will is free; wonderful as it is to think of, and sometimes hard to believe-but it is free; man is free to chuse his own course in life—I do not mean, of course, as far as outward circumstances go, though even so in a measure; but has not each individual free and full power to chuse for himself whether he will go in the narrow path and strait gate, or in the broad road which leadeth to destruction? And if (as is most certainly true) we are altogether free uncontrolled agents in this, the greatest matter, how should not our will be free in lesser matters? Have we not power to chuse in each little insignificant event of life, whether we will follow our own inclination or God's, and is not that free-will? Dear Elinor, it is the will that is in fault

when we say we have no power.' 'It is indeed an awful power to possess,' said Elinor thoughtfully, yet it must be as you say; but after all, Mildred, the will cannot work miracles?' 'I do not know,' said Mildred slowly, 'not bodily miracles-at least not now; I mean it does not-I do not think I would say it cannot. It seems to me that all miracles must be worked by means of a strong will. I will tell you what I mean-it is, I suppose, not possible to will strongly without faith. The will must always be in proportion to the faith. Thus, you will to do something which you are sure that you are able to do, and so it proves that you are able. But if you doubt your own ability that doubt weakens the will-destroys its entireness. It is but a conditional will in that case, I will if I can. That can hardly be called will, it is rather intention. Entire will with entire faith. . . . . that must be the disposition which gives power to work miracles. I will because I know certainly that I can.' You frighten me, dear Mildred,' said Elinor; 'only God can give power to work miracles.' 'True, because only God can give entire will and entire faith. The least want of faith destroys the entireness of the will, as I said; and the least want of will weakens the faith. But perhaps I am getting rather too deep to please you.' 'No, no, go on; but now tell me, do you suppose that you would at once become quite strong and well again if you willed it enough?' Mildred smiled; 'no, I do not at least perhaps I might if I could really will it enough; for then I should I suppose have that entireness of will and faith which would give me power; but it is a difficult question. One thing is certain, that I have not the will or the faith, and that I never could have, because I should fear to ask or wish what might be contrary to God's will for me. Yet I believe bodily miracles have been worked by the mere force of the human will. Have faith in God, for verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith. What prince was it who had been deaf and dumb from his birth, yet on seeing his father about to be killed in battle, found power to speak through the intensity of his will. Is not that a strong point for me? how consistently we hear such expressions as 'fear gave him wings,' 'love gave him strength,' and so on, the fact being that these feelings intensify the will to such strength that it gives power to do all things. I believe much in the great power even of a self-devoted or evil will.

[ocr errors]


We have been amazed to read of the almost miracles brought about by what we call the energy or determination of one man, and if a bad will is so strong, how should a will conformed to, submitted to God's, not be all but omnipotent; for then it is in truth God's will working in man's. Or as it says here,' she went on, taking up a book which lay by her, If the will is subject to God, man becometh God's, and God willeth what he willeth; yea, God subjecteth in a manner His own Almighty will to man's. And again: He vouchsafeth to follow, as it were, the will of man. In act He vouchsafeth to follow our prayers, and doth what, without us, He would not have done. Each prayer of faith worketh miracles. Are not these great words for such as we? And again, man is a free voluntary agent in ill, in that he is led by his own will, not compelled from without to be evil. The liberty of the will remains even where the mind is captive.' 'You see, Elinor, I am not only speaking my own thoughts. Do you not agree now with me, that nothing is too hard for a strong enough will?' 'Yes, I see it must be so-yet it is very dreadful-I mean one is apt to excuse one'self for doing wrong or leaving undone what one ought to do, by saying I cannot help it; and it is awful, very, to think that all these things were done or not done of our own free voluntary choice. But about teaching, Mildred, you have lost sight of what we started with.' 'By no means; I only wanted to convince you of your power. your power. You must confess now that you can teach, that you have full power?' I do not know, I could certainly if I had the will—I see that now; but really, dear Mildred, I dont think I can will strongly enough.' 'Not of your own natural self, I suppose,' said Mildred, Then after a little silence she said, 'What should you say was the most prominent characteristic of the Psalms? what particular thing is it which strikes you in each page, that runs through the whole book? It seems to me that it is just that which we have been talking of; strong will supported by faith, strong faith springing from will. If you have never noticed it before, I think you will be surprised to see how much this is so. Every where one meets with such verses as, I will walk in my house with a perfect heart. I will take no wicked thing in hand. I hate the sins of unfaithfulness,there shall no such cleave unto me; a froward heart shall depart from me: I will walk before the Lord,' and so on-do not these words shew a strong determined will? And how that will arises and is supported you may see in almost each verse. 'They came about me like bees, and are extinct even as the fire among the

« السابقةمتابعة »