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detail of preservations and deliver- | alas, small was their number! Humances, invitations and warnings, ble as I had been accustomed to think privileges and bestowments! I re the estimate of good works, I was member that SABBATHS stood out in greatly disappointed to perceive that very prominent characters, as if they many performances on which I had had been among the greatest benefits. looked back with pride were omitted, In observing the recapitulations, I because, my visitor informed me, could not but be struck with one “the motive was impure.” It was, circumstance—it was, that many dis however with feelings of the most pensations which I had considered affecting gratification that I read becurses were here enumerated blessings. neath this record, small as it was, Many a blow which had riven the “Inasmuch as ye did it unto the heart, many a cup whose bitterness least of these my brethren, ye did it seemed to designate it as poison, was unto me.” “Whosoever shall give there, verifying the language of the a cup of cold water in the name of a poet
disciple, shall in no wise lose his re
ward.” “E'en crosses from his sovereign band
While I gazed on these and similar Are blessings in disguise.”
records, such was the intense interest Another catalogue was therethe awakened within me, that my brain enumerations of “Transgressions.” grew dizzy, my eyes became dim. I My hand trembles as I remember was roused from this state by the them. What an immense variety of touch of my supernatural instructor, classes : indifference, thoughtlessness, who pointed me to the volume in formality, ingratitude, unbelief, sins | which I had been reading my own against the Father, against the Sa- terrible history, now closed, and viour, against the Sanctifier, stood at bearing a seal with this awful inthe head of their crowded battalions, scription, “ Reserved until the Day as if for the purpose of driving me of Judgment.” to despair. Not one sin was for “And now," said he, “my comgotten there : neglected Sabbaths, mission is completed: thou hast been abused ordinances, misimproved time, permitted what never was granted to encouraged temptations,—there they man before ; what thinkest thou of stood, with no extenuation. There these words ; dost thou not justly was one very long class, I well re tremble? How many a line is here, member,-"Idle Words ;” and the | which, dying, thou, wouldest wish passage flashed across my mind, to blot ? I see thee already shud* For every idle word that man shall dering at the thought of the disclospeak, he shall give an account sures of this volume, when its conthereof at the day of judgment.” My tents shall be made known to an assupernatural visitant here addressed sembled world; and if such be the me
record of one year, what must be the “ Dost thou observe how small a guilt of a whole life? Seek, then, proportion thy sins of commission an interest in the blood of Christ, bear to those of omission ?”
justified by which, though thou mayAs he spoke he pointed me to in est hear the repetition, thou shalt be stances like the following: “I was free from the condemnation. Pray hungry, and ye gave me no meat; that, when the other books are opened, I was thirsty, and ye gave me no thy name may be found in the Book drink; I was sick, and ye did not of Life. And, see, the volume previsit me."
pared for another year; as yet its I was conscience-stricken.
pages are unsullied ; time is before In another part of the record I thee, seek to improve it; privileges read the title, " Duties performed;" | are before thee, may they prove the
gate of heaven; judgment is before the rustling which announced his thee, prepare to meet thy God.” | flight, I awoke.
He turned to depart; and as I heard! Was it all a dream ?
“A MIND TO WORK.”
A SERMON TO MY PEOPLE FOR THF. NEW YEAR. “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof; for the people had a mind to work.”—Nehemiah iv. 6.
THESE words occur, as you will remember, in the account of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah and the Jews. The period of the captivity was now over, and many of the Jews had returned to their native land; but the “ city of their solemnities” was still desolate, its walls were broken down and its gates burnt, as they had been left by Nebuchadnezzar ; and the remnant, that were left of the captivity, were in great affliction and reproach. The news of this was brought to Nehemiah, who was at that time in high office in the court of the King of Persia ; and it is needless to say that the thought that “the city, the place of his fathers' sepulchres, lay waste," was, to the pious Jew, a source of deep sorrow and anguish. Accordingly, when the news came to Nehemiah," he sat down,” we are told, “and wept, and mourned, and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven.” Of course, this was a very natural thing to do—a very proper thing to do ; just as it would be a very natural thing for us—a very proper thing for us—if the homes of our childhood were torn down, if the sanctuaries of our fathers and the graves of our loved ones were laid waste and made desolate. But Nehemiah might have wept and mourned for ever— he might even have prayed for ever—and very little good would have been effected. He determined to work, as well as to weep and to pray. He obtained leave from his royal master to absent himself from the court. A few days saw him with his face turned to Jerusalem, “ the city of the Great King ;" and, on his arrival in Jerusalem, he addressed himself in burning words to the priests and rulers and to the people :-“ Ye see the distress that we are in, how that Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. Come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” Nor was his appeal in any measure unsuccessful. So successfully did he appeal to his brethren, that “ they strengthened their hands for the good work ;" and shortly," the wall was built—all the wall was joined together to the half thereof-for the people had a mind to work."
I propose this morning to address you, my brethren, on having “a mind to work” in reference to our operations as a church and congregation. In looking forward to the New Year, I cannot but express my deep anxiety that we should do more than we have done for God and for
Christ. How little have we done! How little are we doing! I am sure I shall help you to a happier New Year, a year in which you will realise more fully the blessedness of the Christian life, if I can induce in you, at the beginning of the year, a disposition and “a mind to work.”
I. In the first place, then, let me say, that having “a mind to work” implies and includes a recognition of the DUTY of work. I suppose that when these Jews listened to Nehemiah, they recognised the work to which he called them as a duty. How could it be other than a duty, when they were called to it, to rebuild the walls of their beloved Jerusalem ? There were the sepulchres of their fathers—there were the tombs of the prophets—there, above all, was the despoiled temple, where had been the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, and where “the glory of Jehovah liad filled the House of Jehovah." My brethren, let me say at once, that to work is the duty of all men. In various ways, and under different circumstances, all men are called to contribute their share to the great processes by which life and happiness are sustained. “By ceaseless action," as the poet says, “all that is subsists ;" and, to quote the words of a great writer, whose words are always full of meaning, “Two men I honour, and no third : first, the toilworn craftsman, that with earth-made implement laboriously conquers the earth and makes her man's; secondly, him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable, the Bread of Life: unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both dignities united, and he that must toil outwardly for the lowest of man's wants is also toiling inwardly for the highest.” My friend, be never ashamed of your hard hand and rugged brow. They are your scutcheon. I know no dignity more real, than that of doing daily, honestly and faithfully, the daily work; and whether I see it in the man toiling in the factory, the workshop, or the field—in the woman slaving in her house or among her children-or in those fields of effort that we call higher, where men work for their neighbourhood, for their country, or for the world-in all alike I recognise that truest dignity, that is connected with work well and faithfully done.
But the kind of work of which I would speak to you to-day is that which we call especially Christian work: not that all work is not Christian — in harmony with Christ's purposes — but that this work is done specially for Christ, specially for God, specially for that which God and Christ most care for — the immortal souls of men. My brethren, it is to this kind of work that I summon you as a Christian people to-day; and, if you recognise at all the high purposes for which you are collected as a Christian congregation, it will not need many words to show that this kind of work is work especially for you. For, for what purpose were we called ? Why were we called, if we have been called, out of darkness into marvellous light? It was that we “might show forth the praise of Him who called us” that we were called : it is for this, if for anything, according to St.
Peter, that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthond, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” There are many persons, indeed, who appear to think that the whole purpose of the Christian dispensation is effected when their souls are saved. If their sins have been forgiven, if they have been enabled to commit themselves to the Saviour, if they have received the peace that passeth all understanding, it would seem as if they thought that all the purposes of God had been accomplished, and that they had nothing to do henceforth but sing songs of consolation, and offer to God psalms of praise, But, if this were indeed so, why should they not have been taken long since to Heaven? Heaven would be the rieher for their presence-earth would be no poorer for their being taken away. The truth is, my brethren, that we are continued in the world, first, that we may exemplify to the world the Christian character ; secondly, that we may do in the world the Christian work. We are continued here that we, like the apostle, may “fill up that which is lacking of the sufferings of Christ, for his body's sake, which is the Church.” Do we need to be told what is the object which Christian work has in view } It is to accomplish all the purposes which CHRIST himself had in view in his life and in his sacrificial death. Do we need to be told, further and more particularly, what those purposes are? They are nothing less than to bring the whole world to the obedience of faith
- nothing less than to reclaim the whole world for God nothing less than to win every human heart for Christ, and to call back, and bring back, every wanderer to the Saviour. Oh, my brethren, this is a GREAT work! The world is dark; we are to be its lights. The world is rebellious and disobedient; we are the soldiers to conquer it for its king. The world is hungry and in want; we are the agents to supply its needs, and to give it that food which alone can satisfy its deepest longings. And to do this is the duty of every Christian. Not of the minister only.-not of the missionary only : the minister and the missionary are intended to do the work which you cannot do they are not intended to relieve you of a još of your responsibility, or to do a tittle of the work that belongs to your sphere, and is within your compass. You cannot, like the missionary, “ go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature ;' but you can tell of Christ's love and power to your neighbours and to your friends. You cannot, like the minister, stand up in the pulpit, and proclaim the Gospel to listening hundreds ; but you can tell your little children about Him who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me," and who declared that of such of such as the little children of such is the kingdom of heaven." Do not tell me that you cannot work for Christ! I tell you that it is your DUTY to do so! It is not your duty to do that which is impossible! Nor is it your duty to do anything in the name of Christ that would withdraw you from other and obvious duties. It is not the duty of the workman to neglect his work and to starve his family, that he may go about preaching the Gospel. It is not the duty of the mother to leave her children unwashed and untended, that she may go from house to house to collect money to
send missionaries to Hindostan. Do the duty that lies NEAREST thee, my brother! It may be a very humble duty-it may be a duty that brings little applause from your fellow men, or even from your fellow Christians -it may be no higher duty than “ building the wall opposite your own house !”—but, whatever it be, do it - DO IT! Do it as to the Lord, and not as to men! And remember, that he who accepts little duties as readily as great ones, if done for Him, will surely receive your servic es while to those who stand all the day idle, or who allow their one talent to remain in a napkin or bury it in the earth, he may say—as he will say—“Take the talent from him; and cast ye the unprofitable servant” — not the enemy, not the alien, simply the unprofitable servant—"cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness—there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
I have spoken hitherto of the having “a mind to work” as implying and including a recognition of the duty of work. Let me say, in the second place, that having“ a mind to work,” implies and indicates a recognition of the PRIVILEGE of work. Can we doubt that the Jews esteemed it a privilege to join in the work to which they were called by Nehemiah ? The words of my text seem to intimate that they joined in it even with enthusiasm ; and it was this enthusiasm-enthusiasm arising out of a sense of privilege-that enabled them so speedily and so successfully to complete their difficult task. My brethren, it is this spirit of enthusiasm that I want to awaken in my own mind and in yours; and it is in order to do so that I remind you how blessed a privilege it is to be permitted to do anything for Christ at all. For, it is to work FOR CHRIST. To work for Him to whom we owe all ; to work for Him who gave himself for us; to work for Him who, having given himself for us, desires, as the sole return, that we should give ourselves to Him. My hearers, it strikes me at this moment as almost ludicrous, that I should have to present you with arguments why you should work for Christ. What should we think of an army that should require its general to argue with it why it should fight? Why, what is it for but to fight? If it will not fight, or if it needs arguing with about it, it had better disband at once, and leave the work to be done by better and braver men. And the Church is Christ's army. It is enlisted and appointed to fight Christ's battles, and to do Christ's work. I think we most of us make a great mistake as to the purpose for which we have had given us the exalted privilege of being connected with the Church of Christ. We seem to think-from our practice it would appear as if we thought—that that privilege was given us for our own sakes alone. Now, I wish to give that idea an utter denial. I wish emphatically and earnestly and altogether to repudiate it. There are some here amongst us—and I thank God for it—who are anxious to unite themselves with God's people. I entreat them to learn the significance of their act, not from