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The proud Pharisees were displeased because Jesus had gone to dine with Zaccheus. But Jesus had changed the heart of Zaccheus that day; and he said to the proud Jews, "This day salvation is
come to this house. Zaccheus also is a son of Abraham."
How do we know that the heart of Zaccheus was changed? Because the love of money was taken out of his heart. He stood up at his table before all the people, and said to Jesus that he wished from that day to give half of all he had to the poor; and, as for the poor people whom he had falsely accused, he would give them four times as much money as he had taken from them to make it up. He wished to be one of the disciples of Jesus, and to have treasure in heaven. My dear children, how shall we know whether Jesus has changed your hearts? I will tell you one way by which we shall know. If you have been passionate, you will grow gentle and mild. If you have told lies, you will leave it off, and only speak the truth. If you have been disobedient to your parents, you will run to do every thing they tell you. If you have had any naughty ways, we shall see that you are trying and praying to get rid of them all.
And O! remember, my dear little readers, that, if your hearts are not changed, you can never be where Jesus is. You must have new and holy hearts given you, to make you fit for heaven. Jesus calls this being born again; and these are his words; "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John iii. 3). And you do not need to be very rich, or great, or wise, in order to get this new heart. God says, "A new heart will I give you :" "Ask, and ye shall receive."
THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD IN ALL
BY THE REV. M. M. PRESTON, M.A.,
PROV. iii. 5, 6.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him; and he shall direct thy paths." HABITUAL dependence upon himself is the state of mind to which it is the design of God by his word, and by his Spirit and providence conspiring with it, to bring us, as the state most conducive to our own happiness.
Nothing can be more contrary than this, as to the state of mind which is natural to us, and which is likely to be confirmed by an unguarded intercourse with the world; for to forget God, as to acknowledge him only at such times and only so far as we are constrained to do so, is manifestly more in agreement with the spirit and the practice of men in general.
These considerations will account for the frequent recurrence in the scriptures of precepts of the same import as that set before On such a subject we need to have line upon line and precept upon precept. Even they who do in the general feel, and wish to feel more, their dependence upon God, yet need to be reminded of this which is both their duty and privilege, and to be specially cautioned against that self-dependence to which we are naturally prone.
Cases of doubt are frequently occurring in the experience of all men, in which the reasons for pursuing opposite lines of conduct appear to be almost equally balanced. The true servant of God is by no means exempt from such trials. He is indeed delivered from the perplexity felt by those who deliberate continually whether they shall obey God or man; whether they shall follow a multitude to do evil, or stand forth on the Lord's side. Only let him know what is the command or will of God concerning the matter in question, and he will obey it. But his perplexity is of another kind, viz., to ascertain what is the will of God. Wishing as he does to decide and act in the manner most conducive to the glory of God, and agreeable to his Christian profession, he is drawn towards different courses by reasons which appear to be almost equally balanced. Now what says the wisest of men, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to such persons? "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.
The first thing to be done in any case of doubt is to look to the Lord. We cannot, it is true, at all times or in all places bow the knee in solemn supplication to God, though this would be the best preparation before entering upon any important decision or undertaking; but we are never debarred from that sort of prayer which may be equally efficacious-the silent lifting up of the heart to the Father of our spirits. We should cultivate such a continual regard to God that the reference of every doubt to him should be made at once spontaneously, without an effort, as a thing of course. Such appears to have been the habit of the holy men of old, whose conduct is recorded in scripture for our imitation. David says: I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved;" and many particular instances are specified in his history which denote his usual practice. Before he attempted the deliverance of the city of Keilah from the Philistines (1 Sam. xxiii.), "he inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah?" And afterwards, when he
had saved the inhabitants, and might therefore reasonably have expected them to protect him from the designs of Saul, still, instead of trusting to their word, or to his own reasoning respecting them, he again consulted his God. He said: "O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant! And the Lord said, He will come down. They will deliver thee up." And so again, while he abode with his men at Ziklag, he did not venture upon the pursuit of the Amalekites, who had carried off their wives and children into captivity, without first asking counsel of the Lord. He was greatly distressed by the murmurings of his people, who talked of stoning him; but (we read)" David encouraged himself in the Lord his God". And he inquired," Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue; for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all."
Many similar examples might be mentioned, but one which seems particularly deserving of selection is that of Nehemiah. When he heard at the court of king Artaxerxes, to whom he was cup-bearer, of the deep affliction of his brethren, who were returned from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem, and conceived the design of exerting his influence with the king in their behalf, he did not rush at once to the execution of his purpose, but first made solemn confession and supplication before the God of heaven. He concluded his prayer with these words: "O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servants who desire to fear thy name; and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man," meaning the king on whom he was going to attend. And, when the king, perceiving from his countenance that something lay heavy upon his spirits, said, "Why is thy countenance sad?" and added, "For what dost thou make request?" he did not reply to this question without first looking up to the King of kings. "So I prayed," says he, "to the God of heaven; and I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it."
I have brought before you these examples, because they show us more of what is meant by trusting in the Lord than a thousand pre
We see here
cepts would without them. trust in God in actual operation; not the profession of it only, which is easily made by a person reposing at his ease, but the real exercise of it in trying emergencies.
It is in this way that we should cultivate habitual dependence upon God for direction; and our dependence upon him should not be partial and faint-hearted, but cordial and unreserved: "Trust in the Lord," says the text, "with all thine heart.” This addition to the precept shows us what our trust in God too commonly is, and instructs us what it should be. Too commonly we trust in God not with all our heart. We half believe that he is to be trusted: we think of him as if he were like ourselves-sometimes unwilling, sometimes unable to direct us; or we join to our confidence in him, such as it is, an undue dependence upon some device of our own; or we expect direction to be afforded to us in one particular way, and despair of receiving it in any other way; and what is the consequence? When matters do not proceed smoothly, and in the expected course; when we find our path hedged up, and no light shining upon it, we are apt to renounce our trust in God, and to make it manifest that our boasted confidence was mainly supported, not by the promise of God, but by some human means which we deemed adequate to the accomplishment of our wishes, but which have disappointed us. Our heart has been divided between selfdependence and dependence upon God. I we trusted in God with all our heart, we should not faint and be discouraged by appearances contrary to our hopes, but should look beyond them. We should chide ourselves for rising unbelief, and say, as the psalmist said, under frowning providences:
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I will yet praise him who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
We should consider that there are many ways unknown to us, in which the Almighty can accomplish his own will. His settled purpose is to make all things work together for good to them that love him. If therefore we have committed the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing, we need not doubt. We should add with Job: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."
This should be the frame of our mind towards God; and, if it were, he would never disappoint any expectation founded upon his own promise; but alas! how seldom is it that our faith in him rises with the difficulties which are appointed to prove it! Too
often, after having experienced on many occasions the faithfulness of God in a manner which has even astonished and made us ashamed of our unbelief, we have trembled and fainted under very inferior trials; as if now at length we should be forsaken; as if the arm of the Lord were at last shortened, or his ear heavy, so that he could not hear. It was after the Lord had repeatedly delivered David, not only out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, and from the sword of Goliath, but from the more dangerous designs and pursuits of Saul and the many courtiers of Saul who sought his life, that David said in his heart (1 Sam. xxvii. 1), I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul"; and then, without asking counsel of the Lord, treacherously allied himself with Achish, king of Gath, and thereby brought himself into such perplexity, that nothing but the intervention of the Lord, influencing, contrary to expectation, the minds of the lords of the Philistines, rescued him from dishonour and destruction. So too, when Jehoshaphat, who had for form's sake caused Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord, to be consulted, yet went, against counsel, with Ahab to the battle of Ramoth Gilead; it was only by God moving the captains of the chariots to depart from him that he narrowly escaped from the snare laid for him by his treacherous ally.
The great hindrance to a simple and unreserved trust in God is that against which we are particularly cautioned in the text, "the leaning to our own understanding;" to which we are the more prone, because, though our own understanding must not be depended upon as an infallible guide, it must not be neglected. This would be to put out what is called in scripture the " candle of the Lord in man".
What then, you will say, is meant by the precept, "Lean not to thine own understanding"? This, we conceive, is meant: Do not put it in the place of God: do not consult it without first supplicating, at least without habitually supplicating direction from God; and use it only in dependence upon him and in subordination to his teaching. By first having recourse, as we are commanded, to God, we do not renounce the use of our understanding, but we turn our understanding, as it were, to the light. While turned away from God, which it is naturally, it is in darkness in every thing relating to the will of God: like the part of the earth which is turned away from the sun, it gropes and stumbles in the plainest matters; but, when turned towards God, the Source of all light, it is set at liberty to act, it moves as in its proper
element, and performs its proper office. Its proper office is to act as the minister, the servant, not the director, of the Spirit and word of God. When the understanding is thus brought into its proper place, God commonly works by means of it. Its decisions indeed are never to be trusted when they are contrary to the written word of God; but in answer to prayer it is often made to perceive, as it would not otherwise, the applicability of scriptural directions to the case in point, and to proceed with a promptitude and vigour combined with humility, from a consciousness of the divine presence and favour, which it could not attain to in any other way. The peace of mind which naturally flows from the consideration that we have, according to the divine command, committed our way unto the Lord, is certainly very favourable to the right exercise of the understanding, besides that God does sometimes put peculiar honour upon those who have honoured him by renouncing all dependence upon their own wisdom and might, and praying to him for direction and help. Of this we have some interesting examples in the history of Daniel. We find him carrying all his difficulties to the throne of God, ascribing to him alone wisdom and might, both while his doubts were pending and after they were resolved; and accordingly we find him pre-eminently favoured, not only with a high reputation for excellency of understanding, but with visions and revelations where human understanding failed.
Now it may be thought that it is only on great occasions that we are at liberty to exercise trust in God. But what says the text? “In all thy ways acknowledge him." Here is a great encouragement to those of us, my friends, who cannot but feel that our concerns, though important and interesting to ourselves, are little indeed as compared with the concerns in which many other men are engaged; and how much less we might be apt to think in the sight of that God who is so far exalted above all that we can conceive of him. The scripture, however, has not left us in doubt on a point so interesting to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ has assured us that not a hair of our head falls to the ground without the permission of our heavenly Father: we are privileged and commanded to regard every event as subject to his control and appointment; and we are permitted to carry all our doubts and anxieties, arising out of our various circumstances and relations in life, to him, as we would do to a wise and affectionate parent, in whose power and willingness to counsel and help us we had the fullest confidence. Though God is so highly exalted,
he is not too high to listen to the prayer of the humblest supplicant, and on the most trifling occasion that can affect his happiness. The readiness of a parent to grant the requests of a child does not depend only on the importance of the occasion on which his aid is solicited, but rather proceeds from an habitual tenderness, which inclines him to attend to every thing which even appears to the child himself to be important. And such are the kindness and condescension of our heavenly Father: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." And, in truth, things which appear to us to be comparatively important or unimportant are frequently quite the contrary; for the most trifling things, as we account them, often lead to the most interesting results; and, on the other hand, things which appear to us to be vastly important end in what seems to be of no moment.
Let us, my friends, charge ourselves to acknowledge God more than we have done. He is graciously pleased to regard the acknowledgment of his hand on all occasions as an honour done to himself; and surely nothing would so secure our own happiness. Which must be the happiest man-he, who thinks that he is driven at random upon a tempestuous sea by winds, which sometimes bring him near, but more frequently bear him away from the object of his wishes? or he, who believes that God, who commands both the winds and the waves, is sitting at the helm of his bark, and will bring him in safety to the haven where he would be? Many rocks and quicksands may be near the course of navigation; but the Pilot well knows how to steer in the midst of them; and nothing can happen which has not been foreseen and provided for by him. This happiness, Christian brethren, is yours. Why should you not more fully realize it? The promise of God in the text-and there are many others equally explicit-is, that, if you acknowledge God in all your ways, he will direct your paths. Rest, brethren, upon that promise. Are you perplexed and be wildered-sometimes at your very wits' end? Can you see no possibility of being extricated from your difficulty without having recourse to some measure of a sinful, or, at best, of a doubtful character? Hear again the word of the Lord: "Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil :" "Trust in the Lord, and do good:" "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him :" "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way thou shall go: I will guide thee with mine eye." There are many
ways unknown to you, in which Almighty God can direct you, without any thing approaching to a miracle or an immediate revelation, which in these days we have no reason to expect. After praying to him for direction, you must consult his written word, observe the leadings of his Providence, listen to the suggestions of his Spirit, and the advice of Christian friends; and, generally by means of these, sometimes perhaps by means which cannot be distinctly defined, you will in due time be enabled to decide and act so far as it shall be necessary for you to decide and act. Sometimes your strength may be to "stand still, and see what the Lord himself will do." You may observe probably, in reflecting upon the past dealings of the Lord with you, that you have frequently had little to do personally in the measures or events which have at last made your path of duty abundantly clear. A sudden turn, over which you have had no control, has given a perfectly new complexion to a long course of events, and thus enabled you to come at once to a conclusion which you believed to be very distant. Such unexpected turns may again occur, and at once cut short a long chain of anxious thought.
Permit me, however, to caution you against the expectation or the wish that you should ever be brought into such circumstances during your continuance in this world, that you should cease to feel the need of continual direction and help from above. It is chiefly perhaps by means of continually recurring difficulties of one kind or another that our heavenly Father keeps us in that state of dependence upon himself, which is most desirable, and, indeed, is necessary to our present and everlasting welfare. It is observable that the instances which we have noticed in David's history occurred during that period of his life when he was in perpetual danger from the designs of his enemies. Then he lived near to Gol: then he wrote many of those divine hymns, by which the souls of many have been brought near to God in all succeeding ages. But it was when the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about, when there were comparatively no troubles and doubts to drive him to a throne of grace, that he forgat for a time what the Lord his God had done for him, and brought that foul reproach upon his otherwise noble and exalted character.
Let this consideration reconcile you, my friends, to the continuance of trials which cost you much doubt and anxiety. It is not necessary that you should see far beforehand the path in which you are to tread. It is enough to feel assured, as you may, that,
when the time for you to move forward
That God may be glorified, not by the condemnation of any, but by the salvation of every one of you; that you may all commit yourselves to the guidance and protection of the good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and by him be led unto the Father, and to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to walk for ever in the light of his countenance, is my earnest wish and prayer. May none of you frustrate that prayer by rejecting him who is the way, the truth, and the life!
sweetened our entertainment; and fervent prayer for the divine blessing made all our labours light. After meeting in dismal and ill-lighted schoolrooms (which were all the offices we could then boast of), and feeling the varied disappointments incident to our first attempt to extend the operations of the society, it was delightful to recruit our wasted spirits on the occasions just described. To every committee of a branch such meetings may, with great propriety, be recommended for imitation, care being taken that they are conducted in such a frugal manner as not to entail expense on poorer members. "Better is a feast of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." The names of two departed friends, William Flood and Lewis Teulon, are associated with these meetings. Their memory is still affectionately cherished by all who knew called, however, from their labours on behalf of their piety and Christian worth. They were early the society to a better world.
Another of my recollections is, the evening on which our association received its present title, and when a junction was formed between the two societies which had previously existed under the names of the London and Westminster Society, The rev. Baptist Noel's school-room had been lent and the City of London Young Men's Society. for the occasion, and was crowded with young men. Love and harmony were delightfully prevalent on that occasion; and the divine blessing was earnestly implored to cement the connexion which had just been formed. Many dear brethren, before strangers to each other, were then brought together for the first time; but a lesson of the danger of division was to be taught. One section would not yield to the terms of union pro
REMINISCENCES OF THE CHURCH OF posed, but determined, in spite of all solicitations,
ENGLAND YOUNG MEN'S SOCIETY*.
BY ONE OF ITS EARLY MEMBERS.
My first recollections of the society are in con-
Another of my recollections in connexion with the society is, the early meetings which used to be held by the original members of the parent sub-committee at each other's house, to arrange the leading business, and to pray for the divine blessing upon their labours. A frugal repast generally concluded these meetings, but with far more propriety than Horace did may I speak of them as having been
to set up as an independent society. Deprived of the support which it would have had by connection with the parent stem, it gradually withered away and ceased to exist. "Be ye perfectly joined together in one mind," is surely a lesson taught by this little incident.
Another of my recollections is that of our first social meeting. A few friends had resolved to drink tea together, and converse on the progress of the society; but, to the surprise of those who had planned this simple re-union, instead of a dozen friends or so, as had been expected, the apartment in which we met was crowded with visitors. This success was quite disconcerting, as no preparations for a meeting had been made. All, however, came off better than the most sanguine could have hoped. A holy and a heavenly fragrance pervaded that meeting, which showed that the devotional services were accompanied with an unction from above. This was the commencement of those delightful social re-unions which are now held each half-year in the metropolis. How refreshing and how cheering such meetings have proved, let those who have attended them say!
Many other reminiscences of our society's early history I might detail for the encouragement of our youthful members. I might speak of how our hopes alternately rose and fell; of the selfdenying labours imany beloved brethren whom we may no nam four struggles and difficulChristian love was the grand element which ties; of the silent progress which in spite of ob* From the "Quarterly Paper" of the Society.
Noctes, cœnæque Deûm."
stacles, the society insensibly mad but I hasten