صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

urging upon the persons to whom he addressed this epistle to "labour to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief;" for they only who shall have put on the Lord Jesus, and become conformed to his image, shall participate in this; for it is expressly asserted that it remains for his "people;" and such are his "people," as I have before endeavoured to show you, who have received the Spirit of adoption.

But let us more particularly consider this second part of our subject.

dwell with Christ, who is our life, and in whom alone we are complete; with whose presence we shall for ever be satisfied, when we awake after his likeness. It will be a complete rest, because there shall be admitted there nothing that would tend to render it wearisome; for there shall enter into heaven nothing that doeth abomination or impurity, but all and every thing around God's people will be as themselves, pure and holy. They that shall be "counted worthy" to enter therein shall, when summoned out of the dust of the grave, mount up with joy to meet the Lord In the margin of our bibles we have this in the air, being enabled, though all around passage thus rendered : "There remaineth be in ruins, to look up to him who shall be therefore the keeping of a sabbath to the peo-seated on the throne of his glory, with courage ple of God;" thus leading us to believe that and boldness, knowing that their Redeemer the sabbath, which we are now permitted to liveth, and that in the perilous day he will enjoy, is typical of this keeping of the sab- not desert those that have put their trust in bath-this everlasting sabbath-which shall him. As for the judgment which shall then sooner or later set in upon his redeemed in be set, when the books shall be opened, heaven. It would be possible for us, breth- and every man judged therefrom, this shall ren, by expatiating upon the various manners not inspire them with terror; for, having gone in which the one is typical of the other, to down to the dust of the grave clothed with extend this disconrse; but I shall only that garment which was wrought by the mention how the shadow of the present sab- cross and passion of the Redeemer, they shall bath would seem to extend itself to that which come up from the same arrayed in that which is to come. The earthly sabbath brings with shall for ever screen them from shame and it a cessation from all labour; so does the confusion of face. heavenly likewise; "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works." The earthly sabbath invites us to go up to the house of God in company, to offer unto him praises and thanksgivings, which are justly due unto his holy name. The heavenly sabbath shall be that in which an innumerable company of saints and angels shall for ever stand before his throne, and sing aloud, "Salvation to our God and to the Lamb for ever." The earthly sabbath leads us to contemplate the Rock that is higher than ourselves; while the heavenly will introduce us for ever beneath his shadow, where we shall remain in perfect security.

Such are a few of the ways in which the one typifies the other; and hence may we faintly discover the superiority of the latter, which will be more clearly seen if we do but consider the completeness of that rest which awaiteth the people of God. The very circumstance of this being a rest in prospect for such as love God, would of itself show their present state to be one of labour and toil, To the same effect the beloved disciple St. John heard a voice saying unto him, "Write from henceforth, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Even so, saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours." This is a complete rest, because toil and labour, sorrow and pain, shall be unknown there. It will be a complete rest, because we shall for ever

This will be a complete rest; for it will for ever be free from every thing that is opposed to rest: however much the delights and comforts of this present world may be mixed up with what is bitter and grievous to the Christian, there, there shall be known nought else save fulness of joy at God's right hand for evermore. Here, the Christian may, from many untoward circumstances, often feel inclined to cry ont in the language of the sweet psalmist of Israel, "O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away and be at rest;" but there will there be an entire absence of every thing calculated to prey upon and weigh down the believer's mind: here, while dwelling in a tabernacle of flesh, and clothed with mortality, we are now and again reminded, by occasional visitations of God's hand in removing far from us health and strength, that here we have no continuing city, and stirred up thereby to seek one that is to come; but in the new Jerusalem, that "rest," sickness, or any other infirmity, shall never be known; for " the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; and the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.'

If the present state of man is that to which affliction, pain, and sickness are peculiar, the "rest" which "remaineth for the" sincere follower of Christ is that upon which these shall never break. Instead of pain, we shall ex

perience ease and comfort: instead of affliction, we shall enjoy peace and tranquillity; instead of sickness, undisturbed and continued health instead of tribulation, glory shall be our eternal inheritance: instead of being harassed with continual fears within, and fightings without, conflicts shall then be unknown; for, having fought the good fight of faith, and finished our course with joy, we shall stand in our lot in the end of our days.

Such, then, beloved brethren, are a few of the things calculated to render this "rest" a complete one. But the completeness of it will consist in this likewise, that the inhabitant of it shall dwell for ever in the presence of Christ; and we know that whosoever dwelleth with him dwelleth in peace. To behold him face to face, whom, though not having seen, we have loved, and to be for ever satisfied with his presence-this will constitute that happiness of which St. Paul testified, that it hath not" entered into the heart of man to conceive" it. Many of those, whom I am now addressing, have, I trust, known experimentally what it is to enjoy Christ in his ordinances, and have frequently felt inclined to say: Master, it is good for us to be here: abide with us yet awhile." But this is but as a shadow of good things to come; for the body is of Christ. While worshipping him in the beauty of holiness, we have known what it is to do so with a load of doubts and fears, and, even in our highest season of enjoyment, have been enabled to view him only with the eye of faith; but there, in that "rest," fears and doubts shall be alike unknown; and we shall, moreover, see him face to face. This will be rest indeed to the wearied soul !

[ocr errors]

But another thing to be noticed, in connexion with this "rest," is, that it is eternal; which may be said to add to it peculiar value. To be for a limited season only freed from anxiety and care would be esteemed by all a privilege not to be despised, and would be sought after with much eager pains, but to no purpose, as long as man is compassed about with a load of infirmities; for, though he may strive hard to flee them, yet will they, despite all, throw themselves across his path from time to eternity, and bring continually to his mind that truth, that man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards." But the rest of heaven shall be, not for a season only, but as long as eternity itself. Ages may roll on after ages, as the waves of the sea succeed each other; and yet may it be said of this, that it is, as it were, but in its infancy, ever commencing, ever new, and yet never wearying: there shall be no relinquishing of this, to go forth again to eat bread in the sweat of the brow; for he that is entered

in is entered in once for ever, never again to come out.

It is indeed a complete and eternal "rest," and as such worth a severe conflict on your part against sin, the world, and the devil; for, although there shall hereafter be admitted into it an innumerable multitude, who shall rest from their labours, and whose works shall follow them, yet let it not be forgotten that this happy state is limited to a certain class of persons, "the people of God," who shall hereafter be seen to stand gloriously upon the sea of glass mingled with fire, singing the song of him who died to redeem them and all mankind from iniquity.

Suffer me, in conclusion, brethren, to bring this subject, which has been under our consideration, to bear more immediately upon yourselves. You may perhaps hitherto have never thought it worth your while to seek after being admitted into this rest which remaineth for the people of God." If such be your state in this respect, I would solemnly ask you, Are you content to live, knowing nothing of God and his righteousness, which alone will admit you there? Are you content to die (should you be summoned away hence at an hour that ye think not) with the Spirit not bearing witness with your spirits that you are children of God, and that, consequently, you have no hope of ever seeing God face to face?

If such be your condition, beloved brethren, alas! would I say for each such individual; for, instead of the day of your death being better than the day of your birth, in causing you to be, while absent from the body, present with the Lord, the reverse of this shall be fearfully manifested in you, the day of your death being worse than the day of your birth, inasmuch as God shall be magnified in your destruction rather than glorified in your salvation. Can it be that you shall hereafter be driven from the presence of God as chaff before the wind, instead of being firmly grounded upon the Rock of ages, which was cleft for you, and upon which whosoever shall have rested his whole strength while here shall not in that perilous day be put to confusion? for they that have followed him amidst persecution for righteonsness' sake here shall also follow him into "the glory hereafter to be revealed."


And now, ere the small silver cord be loosed, we must become reconciled unto him, if we would enter into his rest; now, ere the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern," and ourselves be as though we had not been, our places knowing us no more, we must seek earnestly after God, that we may be owned of him in the day when he maketh up his jewels; otherwise will he say unto us, as

he said to the foolish virgins, when they sought admittance to the marriage, "I never knew you," and we shall be sent to that place whence we shall not come out till we shall have paid the uttermost farthing. You, if you are wise, will "strive now to enter in at the strait gate, which leadeth unto everlasting life", that you may obtain your reward of the righteous Judge, who shall distribute to every man according to that he hath done in the flesh : you, if you are wise respecting that concerning which many wise men according to the flesh have made shipwreck, will now so run the race that is set before you, that, when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, an entrance may be ministered abundantly unto you into Christ's everlasting kingdom, where you shall for ever dwell, your bodies being made like unto his own glorious body, and with whose presence you shall for ever be satisfied when you awake after his likeness. Amen.


this life! They exhaust their eloquence in describing a picture, and carry you away with them as they tell you their admiration of some renowned singer. We can find ready companions in speech when we talk of poetry, or painting, or music; but lead on from these to speak of the poetry of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," or of the imagined beauties of a world "yet to be revealed," or of "harpers harping upon their harps" in the regions of heaven's glory, and you will strike these same companions dumb. They will stop, and look so ject possible; and it is to their evident joy when grave as if you had hit upon the most dismal subyou come back again to the "Shakespeare, taste, and the musical-glasses," which had so enlivened them before. Yet these same people are expecting hereafter to enjoy these wonders, which now they so dislike to mention! How strange, indeed! If we are looking forward to any earthly pleasure or benefit, why, we think and speak of nothing else: it is not only that we think much of it, and say much about it when in possession of it, but long before, when it is just as much a matter of faith as is the prospect of heaven's delight after death. Of course we do not wonder at religious conversation being set aside by the general run of people, because religion itself is; but it must be a matter of surprise that, among those who make the profession of faith and hope, religion, with the many topics it offers for conversation, is so completely

"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt." shelved. -Col. iv. 6.


We very much forget, I fear, that in the first place it must be very wrong to be thus silent; and in the next, that we thereby lose a most profitable exercise.

and say

"Hush!" to that subject which they pretend is, after all, the only one of any value.

THERE is one very striking error to be observed among professing Christians, and much to be lamented while censured. It is the unwillingness to make religion a subject of conversation at their For is it grateful to Almighty God, when associal meetings. In many places that subject seems sembled round the comforts and luxuries with to be by agreement quite thrown aside, except which he so liberally supplies us, to shut out all some controversial point is started, when, truly, mention of his goodness? But is it consistent religion is much talked of, and much ill-used too. for Christians to meet together, and yet not once But we complain that so seldom are those points mention the greatest object of their lives? We in common with all Christians, which do not admit observe that, if soldiers meet, they are sure to talk of controversy or dispute, either discussed or men- of the army; and so also men of the other profestioned. People meet together in the most friendly sions of the world. Observe the energy, the delight way, and in the most proper manner indulge in the with which these men of common interest and hospitalities of life, yet seem to think that such similar vocation will converse on some chief subseasons are not suited for the conversation on reli-ject; yet Christian professors will assemble together, gious topics. Now this cannot be right. surely, as pilgrims, all professing to be on the same great journey, and travelling on the same road, ought, when we meet together, to use some of our powers of conversation in mentioning the dearest and most important subject which can occupy our minds. I do not mean by this that religion should necessarily be talked of, nor that it should form the matter for all the conversation; but I think it cannot be right that always, on such occasions of our meeting together, the gospel should be quite forgotten, or, if mentioned, that the subject should be changed as soon as possible. We imagine that young people are very apt to fancy there is something gloomy in talking of religion. Strange idea! How sadly deficient must our faith be, and how waning our Christian exercise of it, and how feeble our love for our Saviour, when we can consider it gloomy to converse on such a subject as redemption, such a prospect as heaven! How often do we observe the rapture with which people talk of the refined pleasures of

Our blessed Saviour speaks of a certain class of professors in these terms: "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words." Now, I wonder whether many people, who are so silent on the subject of the gospel, do not come under this censure? They cannot say, as St. Paul did: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." No doubt they would be mightily angry if you charged them with being ashamed of the cross; but does it not look very much as if they were, when they will not speak of it? The worldly-minded man of course is ashamed to speak of it, and cannot confess Christ before men, because he knows how by so doing he would condemn himself; and he therefore hates it in his heart. It is the death-blow to all his worldliness, in business and in pleasure: he must renounce the one or the other; so, being a fool, as all Satan's votaries must be, he chooses time before eternity, and, in a kind of self-defence, holds his tongue on the truth he dares not to

deny, yet dares to disobey, and is therefore afraid

to utter.

And another reason why the silence on religion must be culpable is, that we use our talents and abilities more for our own pleasure than God's glory. We are commanded to glorify God in all we do; and therefore, surely, when met together in the friendly circle, it ill becomes us to exercise our conversational powers to the utmost in talking of the fleeting things of the world, and remain dumb on the events of the future. And, if a digression might be pardoned, might I not remind many professors of the gospel how they fail in glorifying God when they use all their talents only on earthly matters? We see, for example, one person gifted with the natural taste for some refined art, which is brought to perfection by a laudable diligence. But what is done with it then? How often cast aside! or, if not thus disregarded, how is it used? merely to kill time, or to gratify vanity. A piece of music is bought, learned, and put out of the way: portfolios are crammed with tasteful drawings, and there left as quite useless: fingers are employed, hour after hour, in fashioning some filigree work, which in many cases is of no use, in others certainly not of sufficient use to repay for the time expended on it. Now, no professing Christian would like to say that he or she is not bound, by the profession of a Christian, to use the talents given, of whatever kind they may be, to God's glory, if possible. Let us ask, then, whether it is right for those who love and indulge in the delights of music, to devote all their talents of this kind to mere secular compositions, and especially the trashy compositions of this age, so overflowing with levity? What if they sang hymns occasionally before retiring to rest, instead of such miserable and mawkish stuff as we find, called songs? What if they in earnest set to work to study the knowledge of sacred music, that when in the house of God they might sing to his praise, and thus set a good example to others, and lead the timid ones to follow it?

And, when we observe other accomplishments, could not some method easily be devised for turning them to some account? I once met with a lady possessed of a great taste and talent for painting, and I was told that she had at one time devoted her talents to the glory of God, by selling some paintings, and building a schoolroom with the proceeds. I met with another lady, who has a most remarkable gift for a peculiar kind of drawing; and I suggested to her a somewhat similar application of her talents; for the thought had evidently never struck her that there are missionary societies, and school societies, and other charitable institutions, asking people to use their time and exertions to help them on.

But to return: I would, secondly, remind the Christian that a most profitable exercise is lost by observing so total a silence on religious subjects when we are met together. It is the same in religion as in other engagements of the mind. The mind is enlarged, expanded, confirmed by practice in all those topics which occupy it. It is our nature to impart what knowledge we have, and so to add our quota to the enlightenment of those we meet. Was it not Cicero who made the remark that, “if you let me light my torch at yours, I

[ocr errors]

shall not rob you of your light, yet you will give light to me"? In all matters relating to this world, we observe how profitably men converse. In short, do they not often meet on purpose to discuss some one subject? and, not content with this, they will talk of whatever most interests them, at all times, on all occasions. This is not only natural and agreeable, but it is most useful: men find it so. Practical men do not so much gain their experience and knowledge from books as from men; from their intercourse with others more or less observant and clever than themselves. Shall religion, then, be the only subject which admits of no improvement in this way? No; the importance and value of religious conversation carried on, that is free from all bitterness, or animosity, or controversy, must not be decried: it is one of the most refreshing, and cheering, and comforting exercises which we meet with. Alas! that we do not more often meet with it! It is important; for the mind is brightened, like metal, by attrition; and, when Christians are as united in their friendly discussions and reflections, speaking, by comparison, on the various subjects of the gospel, as they are in their discussions about the business and pleasures of this world, they edify, they comfort, they improve each other far more than they are apt to imagine. Those advanced in life bring their mutual experience to bear, and lend a helping light to the young or the weak in faith: the young, if they would encourage more amongst themselves the habit of occasionally conversing on the duties as well as the amusements of their youth, would daily find the practical benefit of such a course. It need not be that they should have stated occasions for religious discussions; but let them never lose sight of the great subject altogether. May it not often happen that young people are rendered timid by a want of habit in mentioning the subject of religion, which timidity would speedily vanish if, without intruding their opinions, they would give utterance to the remarks already in their minds, or at once ask those more competent to explain any difficulty which might suggest itself?

We are told by the apostle to " grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Now, in furthering this growth many means are to be used. There are the greater and the smaller means, as there are greater and less means used in nature for bringing the fruits of the earth to their perfection. The proper growth will not be attained without the use of the smaller means, though the greater means may have been fully applied. In the cultivation, then, of that knowledge just spoken of, the same argument holds good; and if so, must not religious conversation be a very important help to the proper nourishment and increase of it? Of course; for as I remarked just now, if one kind of knowledge is thus improved, so must another be. I said practical men gain their experience and knowledge from their intercourse with others: why not practical Christians, then? Yes, and so they do: they not only love to talk on the great subject because they love their Master, and delight to hear his name praised, but because they know how many a step is gained by attention to the opinions and remarks and experience of others engaged in

'the same cause, and probably with more earnestness than themselves. If, then, Christian reader, there is one good habit more neglected than another, and which I would urge you to cultivate, it is this one of social religious conversation. Do not be afraid, when in the company of those who profess to "love the Lord Jesus in sincerity," to speak of his holy cause; but rather strive to lead whomever you may be conversing with away from the mere dry barren subjects of earth's business, or cares, or follies, into the more fertile pastures where the sheep and lambs of Christ ought to feed. It is far more easy to do this than we think. But the opportunity is frequently lost, and with it a whole train of serious thought, and perhaps valuable conversation, either from timidity or from fear of giving offence, or from a worldly spirit pressing upon us at the moment. But timidity is not to be encouraged: we surely cannot give offence to Christian professors by talking of him they profess to love; and, of course, it is our most positive duty to struggle against the oppression of a worldly spirit, though the contest may be disagreeable and severe. Let us guard most watchfully against this strange inconsistency, that, although we make a profession of religion, we are afraid or unwilling to speak of it when we ought to be most anxious to do so, both for our own good and the good of our friends and neigh-breathe; to be obliged to let her die; to come

They forget that it is easy to be useless, and that it needs no talent to cumber the ground. But the Lord Jesus knew that it is best for the world when all are workers; and he conformed to the good rule of Palestine, which required every citizen to pursue some employment. And, instead of selecting a brilliant occupation, he gave himself to one humble and common-place, that we might learn how possible it is to do extraordinary good in a very inconspicuous station.


West Lexham, Norfolk.


I THINK it should be interesting to you, to remember the lot in human life which the Saviour selected. He had his choice. He might have chosen for his residence a mansion or a palace; but he chose for his domicile, so long as he had one, the cottage of a carpenter. He cast his earthly lot alongside of the labouring man; and, besides the intentional lowlihood, there were other ends it answered. It lent new dignity to labour. Some silly people feel it a disgrace to work: they blush to be detected in an act of industry. They fancy that it is dignity to have nothing to do, and a token of refinement to be able to do nothing.

From "The Happy Home." London: Bogue. This little tract is the first of a series written for the working peocations issue every year from the press opposed to religion,

ple. It appears that, whereas twenty-seven millions of publi

there are but twenty-two millions in behalf of the truth. It becomes, therefore, right-minded persons to use every means of circulating wholesome books and tracts among our population. In order to promote Christian principles the author of this series has taken up his pen; and we give our approval, so far as we have examined, to the temper and principles of what he has written. But let us also give him an earnest admonition. If he would hope that his tracts should be widely read by the working-classes, he must altogether remodel his style. He must not write in long sentences (one we observe is just a page), or employ out-of-the-way words. Let him strive to produce good Saxon English, and eschew for ever such nonsense as "returnless portals," "intentional lowli

hood," &c., &c.; else working men will never read him. If he will take this word of warning in good part, he may, by the divine blessing, be useful; and we shall wish him God speed.-We may here notice another publication we have received, intended for the amelioration of the working classes, viz., "The Drunkard's Children;" eight plates, by G. Cruikshank; with illustrative poem, by Dr. Mackay. The evils of intemperance are vividly depicted.-ED.

And by this selection he left an example to working men. Rough work is no reason for rude. manners, or a vulgar mind. And, by choosing this humble lot, the Saviour learned to sympathize with penury. Whatever wealthy bards may sing of the sweets of poverty, it is a painful thing to be very poor. To be a poor man's child, and look through the rails of the play-ground, and envy richer boys for the sake of their many books, and yet be doomed to ignorance; to be apprenticed to some harsh stranger, and feel for ever banished from a mother's tenderness and a sister's love; to work when very weary; to work when the heart is sick, and the head is sore; to see a wife, or a darling child wasting away, and not be able to get the best advice; to hope that better food or purer air might set her up again, but that food you cannot buy, that air you must never hope to

home from the daily task some evening, and see her sinking; to sit up all night, in hope to catch again those precious words you might have heard could you have afforded to stay at home all day, but never hear them; to have no mourners at the funeral, or even carry on your own shoulder through the merry streets the light deal coffin; to see huddled into a promiscuous hole the dust which is so dear to you, and not venture to mark the spot by planted flower or lowliest stone; some bitter winter or some costly spring to barter for food the clock, or the curious cupboard, or the "Henry's Commentary," on which you prided yourself, as the heir-loom of a frugal family, and never be able to redeem it; to feel that you are getting old, nothing laid aside, and present earnfor the top story, and the top story for a single ings scarce sufficient; to change the parlour floor these and a thousand privations are the pains of attic, and wonder what change will be the next: poverty. And in the days when the world's Redeemer occupied the poor man's home, he was fathem. He entered into them. He shared them. miliar with sights the parallels of these. He noted Even at the time he did somewhat to relieve them. It was in such a scene that he let forth of wine had failed at a marriage-feast; and, to rethe first glimpse of his glory. The scanty store lieve the embarrassment of his humble entertainers, he created a new supply. And it was in a similar scene that the second of his healing miracles was wrought; and his entrance to Simon's fishing-hut was signalized by restoring from a fever his sick mother-in-law. And, not to dwell on the miracles of mercy which restored to the widow of Nain her only son, and to the sisters of Bethany their only brother, it is worth while to notice how many of his wonders were presents to the poor. A weary boatman has swept the wave all night, and captured not a single fin. Jesu bids him drop the net in a particular spot, and in

« السابقةمتابعة »