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A LIGHT is kindling o'er the midnight sky,
Art thou thus graced by splendour not thine own? Say, who and where is he at whose glad birth
Reveal'd the glory of the Lord hath shone? Not thus it kindled when the Law was given,
And through its central caves was startled Sinai riven !
Is it the hoped Deliverer, whose dread sword
Shall smite the heathen hosts in holiest war?
Is it the sceptre now at length restored
To Judah's royal line? The sacred Star
That shall outshine the day's proud orb, and bless Glad Israel's rescued seed-a Sun of Righteousness? 'Tis all, 'tis more! Upon a lowly bed,
Within a lowliest dwelling, there is One Not earthly though on earth, and though the Son Of God, yet born of woman! Round his head Those rays are circling, till they seem to shine With such resplendent blaze as gilds the throne divine! Well may they shine! It is the promised Son, Emmanuel, God with us, revealed on earth, The living image of the viewless One!
Well may they shine! By his auspicious birth Peace comes to dwell on earth-joy reigns in heavenHell trembles-sin is chained-death vanquish'd—man forgiven !
REV. THOMAS DALE.
Then was heard the high command, "Angels, before Him fall, Worship your incarnate God,
And crown him Lord of all."
Glory to God the angels sung
Glory to God we sing; And equal glory be to thee, O Saviour, Lord, and King!
JOHN OF SAXONY.-He took such delight in the Holy Scriptures, that he would frequently have them read to him, by youths of noble families, as much as six hours in the day; an exercise which, with such an example before their eyes, must have tended as much to the benefit of his youthful readers as to his own. He was accustomed also to take down the sermons which he heard, with the greatest accuracy. .... His deadness to the world also was very admirable. When he was informed of the rebellion of the rustics, which led to so afflictive a war in Germany, he said, “If it be the will of God that I should continue a prince, as I have hitherto been, his will be done; but if otherwise, I can descend to a lower station: fewer horses and a humbler equipage will serve me as well."-Scott's History.
HOSEA, iv. 12. "Their staff declareth unto them." -Similar means to learn beforehand the issue of any enterprise are made use of by the Betjuans, a tribe in the south of Africa. Among the few articles which I procured, I must particularly mention a pair of dice, which he wore fastened to a strap about his neck. He made use of these, as I learnt, whenever he was preparing to undertake an important enterprise, and they decided beforehand whether it would turn out successfully or not. They were two bodies cut out of antelope's claws, in the form of an equilateral pyramid, with two small square plates of the same material. Only a few persons (as it appears, only priests) understand how to make them. They are generally inherited from their ancestors; and in this case they are the most to be depended upon. To see how they were used, I begged the owner of them to tell me beforehand, whether we should terminate our journey successfully. He immediately kneeled down, smoothed the ground with his hand, took the dice between the points of the fingers of both hands, and threw them on the ground, after pronouncing some unintelligible words, moving the hands up and down. He then bent over them, seemed carefully to contemplate the situation of each, and their direction towards each other, and in about two minutes answered that we should return home safely.-Lichtenstein's Travels in the South of Africa.
Number XXXII., to be published on the 31st instant, will complete the first Volume of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND MAGAZINE, and will contain a Preface, Title-page, and Index, without additional charge.
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THE LAPSE OF TIME.
BY THE REV. JOHN AYRE, M.A.
THE actual close of the year is a season which usually brings with it some peculiar thoughts. And though there is nothing in nature itself especially to mark one moment as an end, or another as a beginning, yet, in consequence of the divisions of time which we must necessarily adopt, we feel as if a kind of change in our position had occurred, as if a curtain were then in some degree dropped upon the past, and another raised from the future. A talent, which we were using as our own, seems to have slipped from our grasp; and then, if at any time, we are most forcibly impressed with the fact, that " bring our years to an end as it were a tale that is told."
It is common to hear the observation, that time flies faster than ever; but few persons probably are aware that as respects their own sensations, this is, generally speaking, sure to be the case. The year is really felt to be shorter by the man than by the boy, and by the old than by those of middle age. For we judge of almost every thing by comparison. Thus, long and short are words of relative meaning merely, and may to different individuals, as they adopt different standards, convey very different ideas. All our notions of time, which is like the flowing of an endless flood, must of necessity be relative; and the standard which each one naturally assumes is his own past life. Now, to the child of ten years, one year is one-tenth portion of his whole existence, and appears à considerable space; to the youth of twenty, one year is
VOL. I. NO. XXXII.
but one-twentieth of his life, and therefore seems diminished to one-half; and to the aged man of fourscore, one year is only one-eightieth part, and the impression it makes upon the mind is proportionably lessened. Similarly every one must have felt that the first day or week of a journey or illness seems much longer than succeeding equal intervals. It is because we unconsciously adopt these, as, for the time, a standard of computation. The first day of trouble is measured only by the weariness and woe it brings upon us; it is as yet the whole duration of our sorrow: when a second day has passed, that day is but the half; it has therefore seemed to glide away more rapidly. And hence the wheel of human life is set, as it were, in motion on a declivity: turning with comparative slowness at first, at every revolution it runs with accelerated velocity, till it has accomplished fully its downward course; its latest is its most rapid motion.
But time is not merely a flood of increasing rapidity; it sweeps off, in its current, many ancient landmarks. No man who reads these lines is on this last day of the year in the same condition in which he was at its beginning. Some tongue that then welcomed him is mute; some hand that then clasped his in the warmth of friendship is motionless in the grave. Perhaps the loss of substance has come upon him; some cherished possession has been wrested from his grasp; and as he is an older, so he is also a sadder man. Many, again, are ending the year more prosperously than they began it; the flow of time, as of the Nile, has brought with it fertility and increase; their comforts are more numerous,
their wealth is more abundant, their hopes more extensive. But be this as it may, a change of some kind has passed on all, on some for good, on others for ill: nothing has been stationary; and the vicissitudes of things ought to have taught us the important lesson, that "here have we no continuing city," and have instructed us seriously to "seek one to come." The stability of God is hence, by contrast, more observable; just as he who is on board a vessel, while every thing is moving round him, fixes more intently his eye upon the distant landmark that stands unaffected by the tossing of the waves. In this world of changes it is a peculiar blessing to be able to look with humble confidence to One who changeth not, whose "years shall not fail," who, in his mercy, his truth, his power, his love, is "the same yesterday, today, and for ever."
It may be very useful to look back upon the past year, and to reckon up, as well as we can, both the blessings and the trials we have experienced in the course of it. Because these were sent for an especial purpose, to be to us the means of improvement and advance, as respects our religious condition. And just
as the merchant or the tradesman balances his worldly accounts at the close of the year, and computes his gain or loss, and endeavours to win experience by the vicissitudes through which he has passed, so should the professing Christian, who is especially commanded to examine himself, make a strict scrutiny as to what he has gained or lost. Let him weigh himself in the balance of the sanctuary, that he may accurately know his real condition.
The examination of past events has its value, as it acts upon the future. The merchant, to recur to the similitude just used, inspects his books, not for the sake of merely knowing whether their accompts are in his favour or against him, but in order that he may be more circumspect and diligent in his future conduct. Does he find that in one particular branch he has been through the past year eminently successful? He will this next year turn more than ever his attention to it. Does he discover that in any thing he has been venturesome to his own injury? He will be careful to abstain hereafter from such a rash speculation. The ex'perience of the past inspires him with wisdom for the future: in the old year he has learned some important lessons which he will practise in the new. And thus let the Christian connect his retrospect with his prospect. The temptations by which he has fallen in the year just closing, let him especially shun for that he is about to begin. In courses where his soul has met with injury, let him pause the path in which he has found a
blessing, let him vigorously pursue. And especially the aid he has heretofore met with from above may encourage him to rely upon the same arm which has thus far led him. He will not commence the new year with a new friend, but with one whom he has already tried and found most faithful. The seasons of the past year have been studded with "stones of help;" he may therefore, as he looks on them, exclaim with humble confidence, "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
The great lesson we should learn from the lapse of years is, the imperative necessity of "redeeming the time." If it runs so very swiftly, if no hand can stay its march, no wisdom allure it back again, how jealous ought we to be that we improve it! No minute should be permitted to pass to waste. If we were to make a calculation of the periods apportioned during the past year to different employments, perhaps the most thoughtless would be startled at the vast disproportion he would find betwixt that devoted to the world and that consecrated to God. Perhaps the sum of the hours spent in sleep and meals would mount up to several months; the aggregate of those given to pleasure might be an equal mass: while the minutes set apart for holy things, if added all together, would make only a few days. Let the sluggard reckon, and he will find that if he lies in bed but one hour a-day longer than his more industrious neighbour, he has within the year wasted upwards of an entire fortnight. Let him who thinks nothing of the little fragments of time, consider, that if he so throws away one half-hour in the day, he has at the year's end frittered down above an entire week. Let him then ask himself, if he were lying, as he may lie, upon his deathbed, his peace not yet made with God, how many worlds he would gladly give for the sum of the fragments of one year which he has now so heedlessly destroyed?
But I ought not to say, that he has destroyed his time; though persons talk of killing it, it will one day revive to bear its awful testimony against them. The voice with which it will then speak they will strive in vain to stifle. Yes! the moments as they flow come from the hand of God, and to him they return, and range themselves around his throne, ready, when he shall arise to judg ment, to rush forward as swift witnesses against the unfaithful servants who neglected or wasted talents so incalculably precious.
Let it be, then, our earnest prayer to God for grace and strength so to improve time, that when we shall stand in eternity, we may be found accepted in Jesus Christ. May we
know the time of our visitation, and lay hold on the things which make for our everlasting peace, ere they be hidden from our eyes!
HOW WE COME TO KNOW THE
TURES TO BE THE WORD OF GOD.* How come I to know that the works which we call Livy's are indeed his whose name they bear? Hath God left means to know the profane writings of man? hath he left no certain means to know his own records?
can be nothing left unto posterity which can have certain and undoubted credit. The certain and uncontrollable records of miracles are the same to us as the miracles are.
The Church of Rome, when she commends unto us SCRIP-tures, seems only to speak of herself, and that of that the authority of the Church in dijudicating of Scrippart of herself which is at some time existent; whereas we, when we appeal to the Church's testimony, content not ourselves with any part of the Church actually existent, but add unto it the perpetual successive testimony of the Church in all ages, since the apostles' time, viz. since its first beginning; and out of both these draw an argument in this question of that force, as that from it not the subtlest disputer can escape; for who is that can think to gain acceptance and credit with reasonable men by opposing not only the present Church conversing in earth, but to the uniform consent of the Church in all ages?
The first and outward means that brings us to the knowledge of these books is the voice of the Church, notified to us by our teachers and instructors, who first unclasped and opened them unto us, and that common duty which is exacted at the hand of every learner, "Oportet discentem credere" (one who learns should believe). And this remaining in us, peradventure is all the outward means that the ordinary and plainer sort of Christians know.
To those who are conversant among the records of antiquity farther light appears. To find the ancient copies of books bearing these titles, to find in all ages since their being written the universal consent of all the Church still resolving itself upon these writings as sacred and uncontrollable; these cannot choose but be strong motioners unto us to pass our consent unto them, and to conclude, that either these writings are that which they are taken for, or nothing left us from antiquity is true. For whatsoever is that gives any strength or credit to any thing of antiquity left to posterity, whether it be writings and records, or tradition from hand to hand, or what things else soever, they all concur to the authorising of holy Scriptures as amply as they do to any other thing left unto the world. Yea, but will some men reply, this proves indeed strongly that Moses and the prophets, that St. Matthew and St. Paul, &c., writ those books, and about those times which they bear shew of; but this comes not home; for, how proves this that "they are of God?" If I heard St. Paul himself preaching, what makes me believe him that his doctrine is "from God," and his words the words of the Holy Ghost? For answer, There was no outward means to persuade the world at the first rising of Christianity, that it is infallibly from God, but only miracles, such as impossibly were naturally to be done. "Had I not done those things (saith our Saviour) which no man else could do, you had had no sin." Had not the world seen those miracles, which did unavoidably prove the assistance and presence of a Divine power with those who first taught the will of Christ, it had not had sin if it had rejected them; for, though the world, by the light of natural discretion, might easily have discovered that it was not the right way wherein it usually walked; yet that that was the true path which the apostles themselves began to tread, there was no means undoubtedly to prove but miracles; and if the building were at this day to be raised, it could not be founded without miracles. To our forefathers, therefore, whose ears first entertained the word of life, miracles were necessary; and so they are to us, but after another order: for, as the sight of these miracles did confirm the doctrine unto them, so unto us the infallible records of them. For whatsoever evidence there is that the word once began to be preached, the very same confirms unto us that it was accompanied with miracles and wonders; so that as those miracles, by being seen, did prove unanswerably unto our forefathers the truth of the doctrine for the confirmation of which they were intended; so do they unto us never a whit less effectually approve it by being left unto us upon these records, which, if they fail us, then by antiquity there
From Hales's Golden Remains.
So that, in effect, to us of after-ages, the greatest, if not the sole outward mean of our consent to the holy Scriptures, is the voice of the Church (excepting always the copies of the books themselves, bearing from their birth such or such names)-of the Church, I say, and that not only that part of it which is actually existent at any time, but successively of the Church, ever since the time of our blessed Saviour; for all these testimonies, which, from time to time, are left in the writings of our forefathers (as almost every age, ever since the first birth of the Gospel, hath, by God's providence, left us store) are the continued voice of the Church, witnessing unto us the truth of these books, and their authority, well: but this is only "a ground of belief obtained from man's judgment and testimony" what shall we think of "belief infused," of the inward working of the Holy Ghost in the consciences of every believer? How far it is a persuader unto us of the authority of these books, I have not much to say: only thus much in general, that doubtless the Holy Ghost doth so work in the heart of every true believer, that it leaves a farther assurance, strong and sufficient, to ground and stay itself upon. But this, because it is private to every one, and no way subject to sense, is unfit to yield argument, by way of dispute, to stop the captious curiosity of wits disposed to wrangle; and by so much the more unfit it is, by how much by experience we have learned that men are very apt to call their own private conceit the Spirit. To oppose unto these men, to reform them, our own private conceits, under the name likewise of the Spirit, were madness; so that to judge upon presumption of the Spirit in private can be no way to bring either this, or any other controversy to an end. If it should please God at this day to add any thing more unto the canon of faith, it were necessary it should be confirmed by miracles.
HUGH LATIMER was born in the year 1470, at Thurcaston, near Mountsorrel, in Leicestershire. His father was a farmer of good estimation, who, perceiving that this, then his only son (he had also six daughters) was a child of quick and ready parts, resolved, when he was but four years old, to train him up to learning. Accordingly, after passing, with much credit, through the common schools of the country, he was sent, at the age of fourteen years, to the university of Cambridge, and became, it is said, a member of Christ's College. Here, besides the usual studies of the place, he gave himself to the pursuit of the school divinity which was then in vogue. Latimer was at this time a most zealous and tho
See Fox, vol. iii.; Strype's Memorials, vols. i. and iii.
roughly superstitious papist. For instance, he attached such virtue to the forms and ceremonies of religion, that, as he afterwards acknowledged, he for a long time thought that if he became a friar and wore a cowl, he should be sure of eternal salvation. In celebrating mass also, his great fear was, lest he should not sufficiently mix the wine with water; and much trouble of conscience he endured on this account. And when he was to be made bachelor of divinity, his public exercise was occupied chiefly with an endeavour to refute the opinions of Philip Melancthon, which he stigmatised as impious innovations in religion. His evident sincerity and marked devotion to the Romish faith recommended him to the office of university cross-bearer. And then when he perceived any of the students inclined to the reading of the Scriptures, he used to meet them at the schools, and, with all the eloquence he was master of, dissuade them from this new-fangled kind of learning, as he called it, and advise them to the study of the school authors.
At length, however, it pleased God to separate this violent opposer of the truth to be a chosen vessel to himself, and to make him, like another Paul, ready to preach that faith which he once had laboured to destroy. This change was effected partly by the instrumentality of George Stafford, then reader of divinity lectures in Cambridge, whom he had before most spitefully railed against, but more especially by means of the celebrated Bilney, afterwards (1531) martyred at Norwich. Latimer's own words are here worth quoting: "Master Bilney," says he, in one of his sermons, or rather Saint Bilney, that suffered death for God's word sake, the same Bilney was the instrument whereby God called me to knowledge; for I may thank him, next to God, for that knowledge I have in the word of God. For I was as obstinate a papist as any was in England. . . . Bilney... perceived that I was zealous without knowledge, and he came to me... in my study, and desired me, for God's sake, to hear his confession. I did so: and, to say the truth, by his confession I learned more than before in many years. So from that time forward I began to smell the word of God, and forsook the school doctors and such fooleries."
Latimer became now as zealous for the reformed doctrine as ever he had been against it. He found it the power of God to his own salvation; and he was eager to testify of truth in the place where he had disseminated error. His preaching excited great attention at Cambridge. The character of his pulpit eloquence may be learned from the testimony of one of his contemporaries, as recorded by Strype. "Did there ever any man flourish, I say, not in England only, but in any nation in the world, after the apostles, who preached the Gospel more sincerely, purely, and honestly, than Hugh Latimer? . . . The... course of his doctrine was to set the law of Moses before the eyes of the people, in all the severities... of it, thereby to put them the more in fear of sin; and to beat down their confidence in their own performances, and so to bring them to Christ, convincing them thereby of their need of him, and of flying to him by an evangelical faith... He taught... that one Christ was the author of salvation, and that he, by the one only oblation of his body, did sanctify for ever all those that believe that to him was given the key of David, and that he opened, and none could shut, and that he shut, and none could open. He preached how God loved the world, and so loved it, that he delivered his only Son to be slain, that all that from henceforth believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: that he was a propitiation for our sins; and that therefore upon him alone we must cast all our hopes; and that, however men were loaden with sins, they should never perish, to whom he imputed not sin; and that none of them should fail that believed in him. These were the spiritual and sound contents of his sermons
quite different from the insipid, unprofitable preachings of the priests, the monks, and friars."
Latimer continued preaching at Cambridge about the space of three years. It could not be expected that one so bold as he was for the truth should be permitted, in those perilous days, to escape persecution; and accordingly we find that he met with many opponents. It appears that about Christmas, 1529, he had preached a sermon, in the style of the times, upon cards, applying the terms made use of at cards to illustrate the doctrine, that the Lord must be worshipped in simplicity of heart, and not in the shew of man's traditions and ceremonies. This sermon particularly offended Dr. Buckingham, prior of the Black Friars, who undertook to answer it from the pulpit. He also employed terms taken from certain games, and endeavoured to shew the evil consequences of translating the Scriptures into English; for, he argued, unlearned men would interpret the New Testament literally: when they heard in the Gospel, "if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee," they would make themselves blind, and so fill the world with beggars. Latimer was not slow in replying to such notable reasoning as this. Coming to the church, which was, as it might be expected, crowded by both the university and town, he first recapitulated the prior's arguments, and then, with great address, exposed the absurdity of them. A figurative manner of speech, he said, was readily understood by all nations
as, for example, looking full at Buckingham, who sat over against him with his friar's cowl about his shoulders, "when they paint a fox preaching out of a friar's cowl, none is so mad to take this to be a fox that preacheth, but know well enough the meaning of the matter, which is to paint out unto us what hypocrisy, craft, and subtle dissimulation, lieth hid many times in these friars' cowls, willing us thereby to beware of them." It will be readily believed that the unlucky Buckingham never ventured again to preach against Latimer.
Many others, however, were loud in their opposi tion; and their complaints at length reached the ears of West, bishop of Ely. The bishop having resolved to come and hear for himself, appeared one day unexpectedly in the university church, when Latimer had already begun his sermon. He paused till the prelate and his attendants were seated; and then, addressing the congregation, told them, that a new auditory required a new theme, and that he would treat of the honourable estate of a bishop. Let this, therefore, be the theme, said he, "Christ being come a highpriest of good things to come," and so expounded it, setting forth the office of Christ as the pattern of all bishops. West, after the sermon was concluded, called to the preacher, and said" Mr. Latimer, I heartily thank you for your good sermon, assuring you, that if you will do one thing at my request, I will kneel down and kiss your foot for the good admonition that I have received of your sermon." "What is your lordship's pleasure that I should do for you?" Marry, that you will preach me in this place one sermon against Martin Luther and his doctrine." "My lord," said Latimer, "I am not acquainted with the doctrine of Luther, nor are we permitted here to read his works; and therefore it were but a vain thing for me to refute his doctrine, not understanding what he hath writ ten, nor what opinion he holdeth. Sure I am that I have preached before you this day no man's doctrine, but only the doctrine of God out of the Scriptures. And if Luther do none otherwise than I have done, there needeth no confutation of his doctrine. Otherwise, when I understand he doth teach against the Scripture, I will be ready with all my heart to con found his doctrine as much as lieth in me." "Well, well, Mr. Latimer," said the bishop, "I perceive that you somewhat smell of the pan; you will repent this gear one day." From that time the bishop bore a