« السابقةمتابعة »
longer defend or support her,-spare the young sapling, and take the withered tree!" The chief listened to this earnest appeal of his favourite, and it was done to him according to his own earnest supplication, the old man died for his son!
he was assured, "all the families of the earth should be | less broken-hearted mother,—my palsied arm can no blessed." After a long train of prophecies and supernatural events, Christ, at once the Son of God and the Son of man, was born,-and suffered, and died; the Son of God, because it required a being of absolute perfection to make atonement for sin, the Son of man, because it behoved this atonement to be made in the nature that had offended.
This introduces you to a very mysterious doctrine, but one of unspeakable importance, which is, in fact, the crowning point of Revealed Religion. It would occupy much more time than I can at present spare, to give any thing like a clear and intelligible explanation of all the bearings of this doctrine which have been revealed to us; but I think I may, in a few words, convey to you a simple view of it. God is infinitely just, and such justice must necessarily be unbending and inexorable to transgression. He is also infinitely holy, and such holiness is directly opposed to, and is incapable of reconciliation with sin. It follows from this, that pardon of sin is inconsistent with the nature of the Eternal. But God is also good and merciful, and these attributes plead for fallen man. Here the perfections of God appear to be at variance, but through the incarnation and death of his own eternal Son they are reconciled, for He voluntarily subjected himself to the punishment which our sins had incurred, substituting himself in our stead, and thus displaying, in astonishing union, at once the justice, the holiness, and the mercy of the divine nature. This act of substitution, or of one living creature bearing the punishment due to another, was, by previous Revelation, rendered quite familiar to men's minds; it was, in fact, the principle on which all sacrifices were instituted, the victim being the substitute of the person offering it, and thus typifying, under the Mosaic law, the great sacrifice of Christ, from which all other sacrifices derived their efficacy.
I lately read a story in a publication of Sir John Malcolm, which struck me as illustrative of the atonement. The particulars I do not very distinctly remember, but I can recal as much of them as will answer my purpose. A Persian chief had the mortification to find, that notwithstanding all his zealous efforts to suppress the lawless practices of his subjects, a caravan had been plundered, and the whole band of travellers had been murdered, under the very walls of his castle. He was determined to inflict on them the full rigour of his vengeance, as an example to deter others, and he bound himself publicly by an oath, that if he could discover the perpetrators, not one of them should escape, even although they should be his dearest friends. They were discovered, and it turned out to his great distress, that they belonged to his own immediate dependants, and even to his own household. They were seized, however, and summary punishment was about to be inflicted on them all, when a hoary veteran, a particular favourite of the chief, rushed forward, and embracing his knees, pleaded in the most pathetic terms, that he would spare the life of his only son, who was implicated in this horrid affair, and was doomed to suffer along with his associates. "I know you have sworn," he exclaimed," and the sentence is just, alas, too just; but if ever I found favour, O take me in his stead, my life for the life of my son,-spare him to his family, he is their only prop,--O spare him to his poor help,
You can yourself make the application of this interesting anecdote, and will easily perceive that it would be most unsafe and injurious to run the parallel too close. The cases are analogous only in so far as there was here a substitution of one for another, by which the determined purpose of the chief to punish delinquency was even more strongly marked than if the law had ta ken its usual course; whereas, if he had suffered the young man to escape, without such substitution, he would have been guilty of a weakness, which would have tended materially to diminish the terror and salutary effect of the example, and, by an act of glaring partiality, to relax the hand of justice. As to the right which one human being had thus to deal with another, even at his own earnest request, it is a different question, on which I shall not enter. Here the parallel does
Sin is seen no where to be so tremendous an evil as when viewed in connection with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and, on the other hand, the mercy and grace of God never appear so unspeakably great and lovely as when we remember that he so loved the world as not to spare his only begotten Son, that "whosoever be lieveth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life."
You will observe that the total incompetency of hu. man efforts to entitle to the blessings of salvation, is necessarily involved in this doctrine. Could we have saved ourselves, there would have been no need of an atonement for our sins; and the unqualified declaration of Scripture is, that do what we will, we are still sinful creatures, and, after all our endeavours, have no services to plead, and no rights to demand; and that the only sentiment, befitting the very best of Christians, is that of humility and self-abasement, when the question comes to be as to the attainments which he has wrought out for himself. We must therefore cast ourselves, without reserve, at the foot of the cross of Christ, exclaim. ing "God be merciful to us sinners."
But, then, this, instead of leading us to despair, ought to make us rejoice, and renew our diligence, for we are assured that we shall be enabled to "do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us." We must "work out our own salvation," with fear and trembling indeed, but still with confidence, because "it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
This would naturally lead me to give you some account of the doctrines of faith and repentance, under the operation of the Holy Spirit, but I must, for the present, be excused from entering on these subjects, and from complying with the other requests you make, as I find it is necessary for me now to conclude. You shall, however, certainly hear from me again the first leisure hour I can spare. It will give me pleasure to attend to your wish that I should put in writing a few thoughts which you may make use of in prayer. Meanwhile, you have my most earnest prayers for your spiritual welfare, and especially for the presence of the Comforter in your
heart, who alone can teach you how to pray, and lead you into all truth. Under his enlightening influences, I trust you will have much consolation in pouring out your soul before the Searcher of hearts, although you may not be able to express yourself in a set form of words. It is not the utterance of the lips, but the aspiration of the heart which he regards. I am, &c.
open your mouth wide, and I will fill you with all that heart could wish of worldly things,—only this, you shall never see my face;" would you think you had a No; if heaven fight against us; if the wrath of God hang over good offer? would you accept of the condition? our heads; if he hide his face, and be angry; yea, but a little; happy are all they that put their trust in him. Many say, "Who will shew us any good? Lord! lift thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us." Let our house be a prison-a dungeon; but let the light of Thy Intercessory Prayer. When we consider how pro- countenance shine in at some little opening, and that minent a place in the constitution of our nature has been shall make it a palace, a court, a Leaven! Let our bread assigned by its Divine Author to those affections which be the bread of affliction, and our tears be our drink; link us closely together in all those endearing ties of but let the light of Thy countenance shine upon us, and earthly love, for which "Home is a name so dear;" that bread shall be changed into the food of angels, and and when we reflect how much of our happiness or that water turned into wine! Let friends, and goods, misery depends on the due regulation, and legitimate and life, and all forsake us; but let the Eight of Thy indulgence, of those affections; and also, how fatally countenance shine upon us, and that shall be life, and prone we are to indulge them to an idolatrous excess, friends, and goods, and all unto us! For as Noah, when and thus defeat the gracious purpose for which they the deluge of waters had defaced the great book of were bestowed, perverting what God designed for a nature, had a copy of every kind of creature in that blessing into a curse: Oh, surely it bears a special famous library of the ark, out of which all were restamp of the loving-kindness of our God, that he should printed to the world; so he that hath God hath the have provided, in intercessory prayer, a way by which | original copy of all blessings, out of which, if all perishthe poisonous sting of idolatrous love may be extracted ed, all might easily be restored. God is the best storefrom our hearts; and a channel opened, in which our house that a man can have; the best treasury that a affections may not merely flow in safety to our spiritual kingdom can have. God is the best shield of any welfare, but become a medium of conveying to our souls person, and the best safeguard of any nation; if God a rich supply of spiritual blessings. Yes, it is sweet to be our enemy, nothing can secure us; if God be our think that there is one place at least, even before a friend, nothing can hurt us; for when the enemy girds throne of grace, where our love for those twined round a city round about with the straightest siege, he canour heart-strings cannot be too warmly or tenderly not stop the passage to heaven, and so long as that is cherished where the language of its fond and fervent open, there may come relief and succour from heaven, if feelings cannot be breathed forth with too intense an God be our friend. Let Pharaoh be behind, the Red ardour of affection, or earnestness of entreaty,-where Sea before, the mountains on each side, the Israelites all our happiness, connected with the objects of our can still find a way: and when there is no other way to love, if they are fellow-sharers with us in a Saviour's escape a danger, a Christian can go by heaven! But love, can catch a glow of celestial radiance from that if God be an enemy, for all their walls and bars, God Saviour's smile, and all anxieties on their behalf be lulled could, as he did on Sodom-rain on us fire and brimto rest, by being reposed in the bosom of their Father, stone from heaven.-OLD AUTHOR. and our Father, their God, and our God.-WHITE.
Peace.-Peace of Conscience-which he that hath, all outward losses or crosses cannot make him miserable, no more than all the winds without can shake the earth. A child of God, with a good conscience, even in the midst of the waters of affliction, is as secure as the child that, in a shipwreck, was on a plank with his mother, securely sleeping till she awaked him, and then sweetly smiling he sportingly beat the naughty waves, and at last when they continued boisterous for all that, he began sharply to chide them as though they had been but his play-fellows. O the comfort of peace! the tranquillity of a mind reconciled! And O the rack, the torment, the horror of a guilty conscience !—STOUGH
Peace-peace with God.-An ancient said, that he would rather have the king's countenance than his coin, -a good look from him rather than gold. And I dare say, that a Christian thinks himself richer when he is able to say, God is mine, than if he had a thousand mines of gold. If the sun were wanting, it would be night, for all the stars; so, if the light of God's countenance be wanting, a man may sit in the shadow of death for all the glitter of worldly contentments. I beseech you tell me: Suppose the houses were paved with pearls and walled with diamonds, still, if the roofs were open to the injuries of heaven, would these shelter you from the storm and tempest? Would you chuse to be so lodged in a hard winter? Suppose the king were to set you in the chair of state, at a table richly furnished, royally attended, but with his sword hanging over you by a thin thread, would that honour make you merry Suppose God himself should make you this offer: " crown your head with rose-buds; clothe yourself in purple ; fare_deliciously every day; take your fill of pleasures;
The Privileges of the Believer.-I durst not have thought of the saint's preferment in this life, as Scripture sets it forth, nad it not been the express truth of God. How indecent to talk of being sons of God; speaking to him; having fellowship with him; dwelling in him, and he in us, if this had not been God's own language; how much less durst we have once thought of shining forth as the sun; of being joint heirs of Christ; of judging the world; of sitting on Christ's throne; of being one in Him and the Father, if we had not all this from the mouth, and under the hand of God? But "hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Yes, as the Lord God is true, thus shall it be done to the man whom Christ delighteth to honour. Be of good cheer, Christians, the time is near, when God and thou shalt be near, and as near as thou canst well desire. Thou shalt dwell in his family. Is that enough? It is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Thou shalt ever stand before him, about his throne, in the room with him, in his presencechamber. Wouldst thou yet be nearer? Thou shalt be his child, and he thy father; thou shalt be an heir of his kingdom; yea, more, the spouse of his Son. And what more canst thou desire? Thou shalt be a member of the body of his Son; he shall be thy head; thou shalt be one with him, who is one with the Father, as he himself hath desired for thee of his Father, they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me."—BAXTER,
A SABBATH NIGHT'S REFLECTION. BY THE REV. PETER M'MORLAND, London. Upon the solemn night of God's own day,
When my heart tells me from the heart I've spoken His word, whose blood was shed, whose body broken; How sweetly on my bed myself I lay !
Wearied my frame,-oppress'd my heart may be ;
But when I think it may, perchance, have been,
Oh! when life's short and chequer'd day is past,
In lonely grave, once dark, but now not so;
ON READING A BIBLE SOCIETY REPORT.
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and
By means, ah! how feeble, such splendour is shed,
Comfort in the Work of Christ.-The Rev. John Brown, of Haddington, addressed this exhortation to his sons in the ministry with his dying breath: "0, labour-labour to win souls to Christ! I will say this for your encouragement, that whenever the Lord has led me out to be most diligent this way, he has poured most comfort into my heart, and given me my reward in my bosom. But He is our great example, whose life, as well as lips, said to all his disciples, Work while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can work."
Bishop Jewel. When Bishop Jewel, by his laborious course of life, had much impaired his health, his friends observed a sensible alteration in his appearance, and endeavoured to prevail on him to relax from his incessant application, and to desist for a time, at least, from pulpit services. He replied to their friendly remonstrances, by saying, that "A bishop should die preaching. These words were almost literally fulfilled in his own case; for, a short time before his death, having promised to preach at Lacock, in Wiltshire, he was determined to go, although a friend, who met him on the way, strongly urged him to return home, telling him, that the people had better lose one sermon than be altogether deprived of such a pastor. The bishop could not be prevailed upon to return, but proceeded to the
The heart wrung with anguish, the tear streaming eye, place appointed, and there preached his last sermon, from
A Hint to Christians. For some years before his death, Mr Hervey visited but few persons belonging to the higher classes of society in his neighbourhood; and being asked why he declined visiting those who were always ready to shew him every token of respect, he replied, "I can hardly name a polite family where the conversation turns upon the things of God. I hear much frothy and worldly chit-chat, but not a word of Christ, and I am determined not to visit those companies where there is not room for my Master, as well as for myself."
Missionary Zeal.-Mr Elliot, when near fifty years of age, learned the language of the American Indians in several of its dialects; a language more difficult than any in the world to acquire, on account of the length of its words. He could preach in that language with great facility. He translated the whole Bible into it; and when he had finished the translation, he exclaimed, "Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ, will do any thing!" He went through incredible pains and hardships in visiting the several tribes. "I have not," to use his own words, "been dry night nor day from the third day of the week until the sixth, but so travelled, and at night pulled off my boots, wrung my stockings, and on with them again, and so continue. But God steps in and helps. I have considered the word of God in 2 Tim. ii. 3. Endure hardness." O that Christians had the half of his spirit! All we do and suffer in our work is but trifles to what he did and suffered for Christ.
Galatians v. 16. "Walk in the Spirit," which he finished with great difficulty. He died a few days after.
A Call to the Ministry.-It has frequently been proposed, as a question of considerable practical importance, how a person may know that he has a call to the lived in the twelfth century, may perhaps be useful :ministry: : the following observations, by Bernard, who "He who is called to instruct souls, is called of God, and not by his own ambition; and what is this call, but an inward incentive of love, soliciting us to be zealous for the salvation of our brethren? So often as he who
is engaged in preaching the Word, shall feel his inward man to be excited with divine affections; so often let him assure himself that God is there, and that he is invited by him to seek the good of souls. Truly, I love to hear that preacher, who does not move me to applaud his eloquence, but to groan for my sins. Efficacy will be given to your voice, if you appear to be yourself persuaded of that to which you advise me. That common rebuke will not then at least belong to you, Thou who teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?""
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THOUGHTS ON FAMILY WORSHIP.
and yield the fruit which are suitable to it, after its kind.
Let no one, therefore, whom God has intrusted with the charge of a family, say that he is relieved from the duty in question, merely, because he does not find it written, that, evening and morning, he must meet with his household at the throne of grace. As well might he plead an exemption from the discharge of numberless other duties, which his conscience acknowledges, and which have been recognized as duties by all genuine Christians,-merely, because the Bible has not gone into all the minutia of duty, and taught him, by measure and line, all the individual parts of the service which God requires at his hands. The Bible, especially the New Testament, is a treasury of principles, not a catalogue of rules. It deals with the Christian as an intelligent honest inquirer, who can appreciate a hint, and feel the force of a suggestion, as well as obey an irresistible command. He, therefore, who will do nothing more for God, than he has an express statute to bind him to perform, proves himself insensible to the brightest distinction of the Christian system,-that, namely, of being a dispensation adapted to freemen, not to slaves,-to full If we feel grown men, not to minors or children. duly our privilege as the Lord's freemen, backwardness to recognize the call of duty in any conceivable situation, will be the last tendency to which we shall be in danger of yielding.
THE duty of Family Worship derives its authority, if not from express precepts, at least from the general spirit of the Word of God, conveyed in plain statements, and enforced by many striking examples. If a parent is not told in so many words, that it is his duty to assemble his family daily, and to read to them a portion of the Inspired Volume, and to commend them to God in prayer, he is required to "train up his children in the way in which they should go," to "dwell with his family as heirs together of the grace of life, that their prayers be not hindered," to "give to his servants that which is just and equal," from a consideration that he and they "have a Master in heaven," whom they are equally bound to reverence and obey. And, as if to exhibit in action the principles of domestic duty thus inculcated, we are presented with the examples of Abraham, of David, of Joshua, of Job, and of other saints of God, who were accustomed to instruct and to "bless their household," and to use means, that "whatever others did, as for them and their families, they should serve the Lord." Nor is it difficult to account for this indirect, though sufficiently expressive mode of inculcating the duty of Family Worship. The duty is one of a complex and The duty of Family Worship, then, though not relative nature, which does not admit, under all circumstances, of being equally performed by all formally prescribed, has its root in personal reliChristian heads of families,-which implies op-gion, whence it springs as naturally as a plant portunities and qualifications; and which, in the manner of its performance, allows of variety and modification, under the influence of a sanctified discretion. It affords, therefore, no small proof of divine wisdom, that its obligation is implied, rather than expressly enjoined, in the Sacred Volume; that it has been left as an inference to be deduced from plain and established principles, and that its practical observance has been committed to the guardianship of Christian feeling, which, like good seed in the soil, cannot fail, in due time, to develope its existence by a native and inevitable process, forcing its way to the surface, through all obstructions, and rising, in the form of a living and matured plant, to fill the place,
from the seed, or a stream from the fountain. If a man be deeply impressed with the value of Religion, he will seek a personal interest in it; and if he feel its value for himself, he cannot forget that others have souls no less precious than his own, or fail of experiencing some desire that they should partake of the blessing which is equally of importance to both. He will not, therefore, be satisfied with addressing his Maker in the retirement of his own closet, and using means for his own personal improvement and salvation. While he is on his knees for himself, the divine lesson of love will penetrate his heart, and prompt him, when he comes abroad among immortal beings, needing the direction and support which he has found for
things in which they most require the benefit of his forethought and pains; if he would ensure them in the possession of what will be better for them than fortune and friends, honour and length of days; if he would be a father to them in the sense in which a being, with such a nature as his and theirs, should act the part of a father to his offspring: if, in short, he would give free expression to the instincts, whether of nature or of grace, he will rejoice that the audience-chamber of the King of Kings, is not so crowded that he cannot take his children thither along with him,—that the ear of Deity is not full of his personal petitions, -that he cannot hope to be heard, when he joins their prayers with his own,-that "the fulness which is in Christ" is divine and infinite, so that he may take for himself, and bring others to take, and still leave enough and to spare" for count
less thousands to the close of time.
himself, to endeavour to do something for their | his children, and would provide for them in the spiritual advantage. And as the sphere in which he most directly acts, and in which his endeavours afford the greatest promise of success, is home; home will be the circle in which the divine feeling of benevolence, kindled by the love of Christ to himself, will first and chiefly operate. His wife, his children, his domestics, those loved and accustomed objects, on whom his eye first turns in the morning, and on whom it latest falls at night, -the scene of his best comforts and unreproved joys, the quiet haven in which his heart seeks rest from the tossings of ambition and the tumult of a crowd, will present irresistible claims on his affectionate interest and exertions. To suppose him indifferent here, involves a contradiction which we cannot conceive to be realized, where piety and benevolence retain any hold of the mind. And, if in earnest about the spiritual good of his family, what can be a more obvious direction for his religious concern to take, than to devote a portion of his daily time, to such exercises and exhibitions of Religion, as are included under the denomination of Family Worship? To read aloud the Word of God, for example, is to place all who hear it in the most favourable position for knowledge and growth in religion, to bring the mind into immediate contact with the source of truth, the standard of duty, the medium of divine and saving influence: it is, so far as man's agency is concerned, to open the ear to the oracles of infinite wisdom, to affect it by the powers of the world to come, to surround it by models of celestial excellence, and to invite it onward in the pursuit of glory, honour, and eternal life, by considerations the most awful, and by prospects the most alluring: in a word, it is to unlock the gate within which are "hid all the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge"-to unseal the fountain of "the water of life, the streams whereof make glad all the inhabitants of the city of God." And, if the Word of God have been read to any purpose, what more natural, what more likely to follow, as a matter of course, than to give thanks to God for truths so precious, discoveries so wonderful, gifts so invaluable, prospects and hopes so bright and cheering; and to supplicate from him an interest in blessings so essential to happiness, both in this life and in that which is to come?
In this way, the exercises of Family Worship will be recognised to be a duty, from being felt to be a privilege. The father of a family has but to look around him, and to consult his own heart, in order to feel the responsibility of his situation. He is surrounded by beings who have the strongest and the tenderest claims upon his Christian regard,-intelligent, accountable, immortal beings, who look up to him not only to be clothed and fed, but to be remembered and cared for in the far more interesting relation in which they stand to a Supreme Ruler, and to an unseen but eternal world. If neglected by him, who is to care for them? Who is to guide their feet into the way of peace, if their natural guardian desert them? If he know from experience the worth of the soul; if he love
Nor can similar reflections fail to affect him in relation to the other members of his family. His servants, by the very place they fill, possess a claim upon his friendly consideration and regard. Can he see them from day to day, and receive from them numberless attentions and accessions to his comforts, and never ask himself, if he has no duties to perform to them, besides giving them their food and their stipulated wages? Can he refrain from thinking of their souls-of their moral and spiritual welfare, and of all the consequences which must ensue, both in time and eternity, from a nature such as theirs being left a prey to ignorance and vice? can the thought occur to him, that possibly he may be the destined instrument of doing good to souls as precious as his own, and whose plea of want addresses itself to him every time the customary offices of domestic service are rendered, and not be moved with tender compassion and affectionate solicitude in their behalf? And, if thus impressed, can he refuse them a place at the family altar; or rather, will he not rejoice that there he and they can meet on common ground, and own the tie that, in spite of temporary distinctions of fortune and condition, binds together the whole family of man in subordination to one great common Master in heaven?
How fitly all the exercises of domestic worship correspond to the circumstances of the family relation, it is easy to shew. Family mercies require family acknowledgments: family sins, family con. fessions: family wants, family petitions. It is God who "setteth man in families,"-how suita. ble that God be honoured by the combined prayers and praises of those whom he has united by so close a bond! Christ has revealed himself in a family relation, owning as "brethren, as sisters, as kinsmen, all who do his Father's will,"--how fit, that families who profess to feel the value of so high and honourable a bond of union should own its attracting influence, and court the society of their Elder Brother! The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love, the author and cherisher of all the kindly affection which is to survive the breaking