صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

"Is there anything more that we can do?" "You know very well, sir, that we can do no more."

"Then now is the time to prove God; let us pray."

"So we knelt down on the deck, the men kneeling also; and amid the howling of the wind and the roaring of the waters, I poured out my soul to God, and besought Him to manifest his glory, and prove to us a refuge from the storm, a hiding-place from the tempest," and if it was his will, to save us.

66

As we were yet speaking, God heard. The wind, which was driving us on the rocks with such fury, veered completely round, and but a very short time had elapsed when our ship was standing off the rocks, with her head out to sea. were saved.

We

'Ah, yes!' continued Mr. A., 'He is the same Jesus still that arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, "Peace, be still."

That night, at worship, we sang Mr. A.'s favourite chant, and never before did it to me scem so full of meaning ::

They who descend to the sea in ships,
Who prosecute business in many waters:
These behold the works of Jehovah,
Even his wonders in the deep.

He speaketh, and raiseth the spirit of the tempest,
And He exalteth the waves thereof.

They climb into the heavens, they sink into the abyss,
Their soul is melted because of trouble;
They reel and stagger like a drunken man,
And all their wisdom is swallowed up.
Then they cry unto Jehovah in their trouble,
And out of their affliction He delivereth them.
He maketh a tempest a calm,

And the waves thereof are still;

When He hath brought them to the haven of their
Then they rejoice because of the stillness.
wishes,

Let them praise Jehovah for his mercy,
And his wonders wrought in favour of men.
And let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people,
And in the counsel of the elders let them extol Him.

THE PRAYER OF THE WEARY CHILD.

'Father, I am so tired. . . . It is time; let us rest.'—Last words of Olivia A. P.

'FATHER, I am tired!'

Was there no meaning there?

The lips that moved unconsciouslyThe eyes upraised that did not seeWas it mere motion-empty air? Or was it prayer?

'Now let us rest!' Was it an accident?

The unmeant sweep of angel wings Across abandoned lyre strings, While she, unheeding, upward went, On heaven bent?

'Father, I am tired!' Ah! there was meaning there!

The spirit, waiting, weary spake; Waiting for cord by cord to break; Wearied by waiting, still bound here. It was a prayer.

'Now let us rest!'

Call these mere wanderings?

The first pearls, found by pearly gate, And dropped to us who weary wait! The first notes, as she upward wings, An angel sings!

Through all the earth there sounds a dirge,
Beating, beating like the surge;
A melancholy, changeless rhyme
Against the shores of Time:

Tired, O God! O Father, tired we!

When shall we rest from toil? when find surcease? When shall we cease to suffer? when find peace? Tired, O God!

Tired, O God! Tired of seeking Thee Through heathen myths, to find no FATHER there; Through reason's maze, to find no place for prayer! Tired, O God!

Tired, O God! Tired of leaving Thee: Of finding but to wander from Thee; then To toil, and weep, and toil to come again! Tired, O God!

Tired, O God! O FATHER, tired we ! When shall we find Thee, never to remove? When shall we see Thee, evermore to love? Tired, O God! waiting to rest in Thee.

'Father, I am tired!'

Was there no meaning then?

"Twas human nature issuing there,
Through lips half-sealed, its last sad
prayer,

One sigh of earth-and never then
To sigh again.

'Now let us rest!'

It was the voice of earth

No, no-the voice of heaven-of each! Words first-last; living-dying speech; All hail to heaven !-farewell to earth! A death-a birth. W. P. L.

Words in Season.

BIBLE THOUGHTS.

BY THE EDITOR.

1 COR. XVI. 13, 14.

en

HERE are five closing words of warning and counsel to the saints of Corinth. If they, who were riched in all utterance and in all knowledge,' and who came behind in no gift,' needed such words, how much more we!

I. Watch ye.-The servant takes up the master's words, for these are specially Christ's words; and of the twenty-one times that they occur in the New Testament, twelve are in the Gospels. The Lord saw that his church would need such a word as her watchword and motto. Our tendency is to be off our guard, to fall asleep; therefore we are exhorted to watch. We are to watch against things both within and without. We are to watch constantly; one unwatchful hour may work unspeakable evil, to ourselves and to others. Were a pilot to fall asleep at the helm, or the keeper of the lighthouse, or the engine-man on one of our expresses, what would be the consequences? We are to watch-(1.) Against ourselves; our unbelief, our carnality, our indolence, our selfishness, our covetousness, our bad temper, our vanity, our worldliness. (2.) Against the world; its errors, its follies, its gaieties, its temptations, its open sins, its novels, its theatres, its ball-rooms, its parties of pleasure, its idle companionships. (3.) Against | Satan; his sophistries, wiles, delusions, arguments, fiery darts. Against all these there must be vigorous, honest, brave, incessant, uncompromising watchfulness. No truce with the enemies of Christ; no friendship with the seed of the serpent; no alliance with this present evil world.

II. Stand fast in the faith.-The word here is simply 'stand,' maintain your position; and the stress is laid on the faith, the things most surely believed. The exhortation takes for granted that we have believed; and it calls on us to adhere to the truths which we have thus received. It is not of the quantity or quality of our own faith that the apostle is speaking, but of the excellency, and fulness, and trueness, and sufficiency of the things believed. For it is out of these, and not out of our own acts of faith, that we extract all the peace, and strength, and holiness to which we are called by the gospel. This 'standing' is not founded on ignorance, but on knowledge. It is intelligent and reasonable. It is not obstinacy, nor crotchety adhesion to one's own notions. It is large-minded, large-hearted cleaving to what is revealed, and so ascertained to be true-divinely true. 'Stand fast' in these days, when so many are falling, or stumbling, or departing from the foundation. 'Stand fast,' but be sure that it is in the faiththe old apostolic faith. The church's creed is not moveable, but fixed; for it is made up of the truth of the unchanging God, not of the opinions of man or the speculations of the age.

III. Quit you like men.-This literally means, 'Be men,' or 'Be manly;' very different from muscular' or materialized Christianity. Your creed is the creed of men, not of babes; so let your walk and bearing be,-your whole life, your conversation, your recreations, your literature,

|

your tones and looks. No cant, no whining, no simpering, no effeminacy, no sentimentalism. Let all about you be erect and manly. Be manly, yet calm; be manly, yet gentle; be manly, yet polite and courteous. A true Christian should be the manliest of men. Such was Paul, such was John,

such was Peter. Such was Knox, and Calvin, and Luther. Men walking in the footsteps of these should be, in the best sense of the word, 'masculine.' No duplicity, no shuffling, no insincerity. Well wrote the poet: There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.' God's design in conversion, and the Holy Spirit's work in indwelling, is to make us thoroughly what God, when creating us, meant us to be,-men, true men, in dignity, in integrity, in nobleness of bearing, whether of soul or body. I remember the remark of one regarding a young man newly converted: he said 'his conversion had improved his very gait, and given him a free and noble bearing, which he had not before.' So let it be with us. Popish saints are all pictured as hanging the head to one side, looking demurely on the ground: so let us not be; but erect, looking upward with joyous, stedfast eye.

IV. Be strong.-The word denotes vigour and power, whether of soul or body. It is the word used of John: The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit' (Luke i. 80). It is the word used of Jesus: The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit' (Luke ii. 40). We are to be strong in every way and in every sense: strong in mind, strong in will, strong in purpose, strong in faith. Not feeble, cowardly, compromising, yielding, vacillating, changeable, timid, and afraid to face danger, or difficulty, or toil, or loss, or shame. A true saint is no coward; no mere soldier on parade, but ever ready for the field; not turning back in the day of battle. Christian strength is a real thing. Christian vigour is one of those things by which we glorify God. Christian bravery is that in which we are true followers of primitive saints, of martyrs, reformers, covenanters, and confessors. While men deride us as professors of the 'soft theology,' let us show to all what true strength is,-enduring hardness, and fearing no foe.

V. Let all your things be done with charity.— Solomon's exhortation is: 'Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;' Paul's is, 'with charity. Both must be remembered. The love and the might must go together. Let love pervade everything, even your strongest words and most energetic deeds. The one need not exclude the other; nay, they mutually help: the love makes the might the mightier, and the might makes the love more loving. Love one another. Love the brethren. Love all men. Let us go forth each day in love to work the works and speak the words of God. Let all men see that we love, and that the love of God reigneth within. Watch, stand fast, be men, be strong; yet, above all, be loving! This is the best of gifts, the more excellent way. We have been loved, let us love. Let us put away all hatred, strife, variance, malice, envy, wrath, unbrotherliness. Let us be kindly affectioned one to another. Let love make us brave, true, fervent, liberal, noble; yet not soft, timid, effeminate, childish, either in word or deed.

T

[blocks in formation]

HE place assigned to her whose varying experiences are the subjects of this Song, was not the city. There, man had collocated his strength, and stamped the impress of his own name; that, therefore, was not the place designed for her, whose distinctive blessing was companionship with her rejected Lord. Like Him, she was called 'to go without the gate, bearing his reproach.' She was to find the place of her rest and her occupation far away from man's city; in the vineyards or at the sheepfolds, or in some garden enclosed,' where plants of heavenly fragrance could be trained by her for the Lord.

[ocr errors]

In the previous chapter, we find her in one of her highest positions of honour and blessing. We see her encompassed by plants of pleasant fragrance that had sprung up under the culture of her hand-herself rejoicing in the presence of her Lord, and acknowledged by Him as one that was ministering to his joy. She had asked Him to come into his garden, and He had come and tasted of its honeycomb, and spices, and pleasant fruits. He had commended her, and they had rejoiced together.

But now, how changed the scene! She had forsaken the sheepfold, and the vineyard, and the garden; she was no longer a sojourner without the gate;' she had wandered into the city, and found her way into one of its palaces; she had encompassed herself with its delicacies (for she speaks of her fingers dropping with sweet-smelling myrrh), and there she had lain down to rest. Her pilgrim-garb was laid aside. She was no longer the despised shepherdess, or the keeper of the vineyards, but rather a princess, treading delicately kings' courts. She no longer said, as once she had done, 'Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest thy flock to rest at noon; for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?' Her companionship with her Lord had ceased, and she sought not to renew it. He still remained unsheltered-'his head filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night;' whilst she was resting, or seeking to rest, in the midst of luxuries and refinements which could never have been hers, unless she had abandoned the true place of her service, and had ceased to be a sojourner' without the gate.'

From Mr. B. W. Newton's Occasional Papers.'

|

'I sleep, but my heart waketh.' Such was her apology-such the plea by which she would fain have hidden from herself, as well as excused to others, the truth of her condition. But why this difference between her outward circumstances and her inward feelings? Was it needful? Was it right? And could such discrepancy continue? Would the heart long remain wakeful, if the eye and the ear ceased to watch, and the hand to act? And even if the heart could so watch, what use would there be in such vigilance, if no outward development followed? Who would credit her tale respecting her heart's wakefulness, if all surrounding circumstances contradicted her saying, and proved that her activity had wholly given place to slumber? Yet, false as is the plea, it is one by which believers have not unfrequently deceived themselves; until their slumber has become so deep as to preclude the possibility of arousing them even to a sense of the delusion.

She, however, whose history we are here considering, was not to be allowed to sink into such depth of slumber. Her course was to be arrested. She was speedily to be summoned from her restingplace, and brought back to the side of her Lord; for her heart had not yet so lapsed as to be altogether deaf to his voice, or indifferent to its call. Accordingly, when He drew nigh and knocked at the closed door-the door which herself had closed against Him; as soon as she heard his call, as the call of one who was seeking for himself shelter from the cold and darkness and dew of night, she instantly recognised his well-known voice. It is the voice,' said she, of my Beloved that knocketh.' Yet she was slow, and even reluctant, to unlock the closed door. 'I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?' Such were the words with which, at first, she responded to his call. Was it that she was really unwilling to reassume, for a brief moment, the garment she had put off? Did she really fear that her feet, which she had washed, would be defiled by crossing, for a moment, the chamber of her luxury? Or, did her heart tell her that if her Lord entered that chamber, He would refuse to share with her the shelter she had chosen, and would surely summon her from it; and that thus, drawn from her resting-place, she too would have to say that her 'head also was filled with dew, and her locks with the drops of the night?' Conscience is quick, under certain circumstances, in anticipating results, though its

anticipations are not unfrequently wrong; because though discerning, perhaps, the path of duty and its difficulties, it fails with equal clearness to apprehend the grace and lovingkindness which sustains in that path, and removes or overcomes its difficulties.

Doubtless she anticipated that she would be called away from her rest; and hence her reluctance. Yet her folly was not permitted to turn aside the persistency of his grace. He had before knocked; He now sought to open the closed door. Her heart was touched; and she arose to unlock it-her 'hands dropping with myrrh, and her fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.' Here was the evidence of the luxuriousness of her rest. It was a condition very unlike that of the shepherdess whom the sun had looked upon and blackened, or that of the outcast in the vineyards, despised and spurned by her own mother's children. She opened the door, however; but it was too late. He was gone. I opened to my Beloved; but my Beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone; my soul failed when He spake: I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.' Indeed, He had never designed to enter that chamber, nor to rest where she rested. He had only come there to arouse her. If she desired to find Him, she must thread her way back through the streets of that city into which she never ought to have wandered. She must again go without the gate, and seek Him there.

And she did seck Him; for her heart was really true to her Lord. She returned not to her forbidden rest; but forsaking that goodly chamber, she went forth even at that midnight hour into the dark city, helpless and alone. No voice of love greeted her, no kindly hand sustained, no friendly voice directed her. She was to be chastened, and to know many sorrows, ere she again found herself by the side of Him from whom she had wandered. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.' Such is her own narrative of her sorrows. The watchmen of man's city, and the keepers of its walls, can have no sympathy with any one who is unattracted by that city's glories, and refuses to labour for its interests having an ear deaf to its melodies, an eye closed to its beauties. 'Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant ? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.' Such was the character of the one faithful and true Witness; and such, in measure, is the character of all who

[ocr errors]

remember his example, and follow his steps; for they know that from the days of Cain and of Nimrod to the present hour, unregenerate man under Satan has been lord of the earth, and has stamped upon it the impress of his evil hand. They know, too, that in this there will be no change, except indeed for advance in rebellion, until the Lord shall be revealed in the brightness of his destroying glory. 'Human progress,' therefore, is to them only another name for the advance of unregeneracy to its doom. Antichrist,' 'Babylon,' 'Armageddon,' 'the winepress of the wrath of God,' 'the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone,'-such are the names that indicate to the eye of faith the end and the goal of all present human progress. The more, therefore, the city of man strengthens itself, the more it illumines itself with brightness, the more the instructed heart trembles; for it knows what will be in the end thereof.' What place, then, more fearful than that held by those who are the watchmen of man's city-the strengtheners of its greatness—the defenders of its walls?

If that place had been held only by the Nimrods, and Cæsars, and Caiaphases of earth, and their servants; if the world's religiousness had always worn its Pagan or its Jewish garb, and had never assumed the profession of the name of Jesus; if none of Christ's servants had been seduced into the belief that the city of man is being gradually transformed into the city of God, the danger would not be what it at present is. But nominal Christianity has undertaken to sanctify the world's energies. It has encouraged those who give themselves, body and soul, to the advancement and glorification of man's city, and has told them that in so doing they glorify God. It has put the name of Christ upon Christ's enemies; and has striven to identify before the thoughts of men, the city of God and the city of man. And it has wonderfully succeeded. Few recognise that the relation held by the Lord Jesus and his servants the apostles towards Caiaphas and Cæsar, and all that morally characterized Jerusalem or Rome, is still the relation in which truth and its servants stand toward every system, secular or religious, that is formed by the hand or controlled by the will of unregenerate man. Doubtless the acknowledgment of this narrows greatly the path of Christ's servants; but is not the way narrow that leadeth unto life? Is the exhortation to go without the camp, bearing his reproach,' limited to any especial time or place? Is it not a commandment addressed to all who own the sanctifying blood of Jesus? 'Jesus, that He might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth

therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.' Can any words more plainly mark the everlasting difference between the city of God and the city of man? And as the hour of Antichrist draws nigh, this difference becomes, not indeed more real, but more marked, every day.

We cannot wonder that they whose view is bounded by the horizon of earth should greatly glory in man's present progress. The leaders of the world's energies have not laboured in vain. The city of man grows and waxes stronger and stronger every day; and even professed servants of Christ consent to guard it, and to become the watchmen of its walls. We can well conceive how, like Nebuchadnezzar of old, they walk about upon its battlements, and look forth upon its greatness, and say, 'Is not this the city which our hands have formed, and which our skill and wisdom preserve?' Religiously and secularly they glory in it; and woe to the pilgrim stranger that comes across their path, and tells them that her Lord whom she worships, is not only distant from, but AGAINST them and it. We might expect that their wrath would wax hot against her-that they would smite and wound her; for what more hateful in their sight than such thoughts and ways and testimonies as hers? But why did she draw nigh them? Did she indeed expect to find in them sympathy, or to obtain from them direction? Did she imagine that they could tell her where to find her Lord; or that they would be willing to seek Him with her? She may, perhaps, have thought so; for when the people of God with perplexed heart and uneasy conscience find themselves treading a wrong path, surrounded too by the results of their disobedience, it is not often that they view the circumstances around them with calm sobriety of mind. Impulse and excitement for the most part rule their steps; and they earn by their own foolishness, chastisement and sorrow. So was it with her. If, commissioned by her Lord, and coming as from his side, she had met these watchmen and keepers of the city, she might have confronted them and triumphed. At any rate, she would have been sustained by his strength. But it was far otherwise now. She appeared before them not only as an alien (that she must ever have been), but as an alien, weak, sorrowful, deserted, and needing, perhaps claiming, help. Were they to be the helpers of that which they abominated? They helped her not, but they smote her.

In human life, however, they who have power and energy to act upon others, are far fewer than those who are acted on. Men for the most part are the ready subjects of others' influence.

Multitudes dwell in man's city who are neither its 'watchmen,' nor the keepers of its walls,' but its 'daughters.' Trained under its influences, and unresistingly imbibing from their earliest years its principles, they readily receive from the institutions of society around them an abiding impress. Society prepares the mould, and their characters, like plastic clay, are formed therein. Having little ability, and less desire, to test the principles and practices that prevail around them, they find it far more easy to favour what others favour, than to incur the labour and painfulness of examination. Prosperity, success, numerical increase, popular approbation, and the like, are their tests; and anything that answers thereunto is readily accepted by them as good and true. 'Securus judicat orbis terrarum.' The universal verdict of society is, in their judgment, a sufficient warrant for truth. How can that be wrong which the whole world judges to be right? They know that it is more easy to float with the current than to struggle against it; more pleasant to consort with that which is honoured and dignified, than with that which is outcast and despised. To look too searchingly into anything is in their estimate the part of folly rather than of wisdom. They know that as the foot moves most pleasantly when it lightly skims over the ground's surface, so does the heart know least of sorrow when it thinks and feels superficially. Carelessly, therefore, they bow down before anything that educationally they have learned to reverence. When not swayed by habit, they are guided by expediency. Where the multitude leads, they follow. Such is the character of the 'daughters of Jerusalem.' They are the children of the city of man. It is their parent and their home. They love it-cleave to it-rejoice in it. Nothing is more abhorrent to their hearts than the thought of going without the gate, bearing reproach. If not sensitive to the appeals of truth, they are very sensitive to ignominy, and dread the scorn of men even more than they covet their approbation. Truth, or such portions of it as admit of being established in a place of dignity and honour, they are not unwilling to accept; but the reproach of truth they fear. Is not this the condition of myriads in Christendom now? Floating carelessly on the surface of the stream, they are the sport of every casual influence, and are thus being prepared as a ready prey for that coming hour of delusion, before whose potency none but those who have really the spirit of Christ will stand. In proportion as the bonds which have hitherto bound human society together are dissolved, and as men become more like unto fishes of the sea that have no ruler over them,' so will they become a more ready prey to the influence of those

« السابقةمتابعة »