« 上一页继续 »
of conduct. Sinful habits are abandoned, sin is mortified, and Christian holiness adorns the character. Humiliation for sin leads us to cultivate purity of heart and life, and thus promotes our exaltation. What dignity is equal to that which arises from Christian holiness? Obedience to the will of God? Assimilation to the moral image of Christ? The humble are exalted by their relationship to God. They are His adopted children. They are His friends. They are in covenant with Him. They may cry, "Abba, Father." They are the children of the supreme Monarch, the King of kings, the Lord of all. He will be a Father unto them for ever. They are exalted by the joys of His salvation, living in communion with Him, and by being employed in His service. They are exalted in the esteem of the righteous, by their admission into an eternal Paradise, and by their interest in vast promises. The Great Teacher says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." They will be exalted when they leave this world. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." They will be exalted at the last day, when their bodies shall be raised from their graves, and made like to the glorious body of Christ. They will be exalted in the presence of angels, in the presence of the redeemed, and in the presence of the Saviour for ever. The exaltation of the humble penitent is sure, for it is promised by Him who cannot lie. The Great Teacher is the true witness. Then how wise to cultivate sclf-knowledge, sincere repentance, true humiliation of soul before God. The lower you sink in self-abasement before the Eternal on account of your sins, the higher you will rise in spiritual excellence and in meetness for glory. This humiliation must begin here. The Publican is now exalted. The Spirit will help us to cultivate this humility. "He giveth more grace." H. H.
ESTABLISH THOU THE WORK OF OUR HANDS UPON US."
"THE work of our hands!" Behold in what stupendous undertakings do those engage, who are but passing travellers in the wilderness. How do they labour and toil, to establish the works of their hands! But, while the spirit of the Babelbuilders still animates them, let it,
fellow-traveller, as we pass along, be your humbler aim and mine, amid our other works, to set up way-marks, from our own experience: instructing the ignorant, and warning the incautious, by every means in our power. These will be the most durable monuments; for
they are erected with materials which shall not decay. Let us not then substitute "brick for stone, and slime for mortar." Our hands, the servants of the head and heart, may perform much good: nevertheless, it depends on the secret motives by which the heart was influenced, to determine whether the works they perform shall be established in that day when every man's work will be tried, of what kind it is. It behoves us, therefore, to be solicitous, that ours shall not be added to the conflagration of a blazing world.
Traveller, permit the important question-What are the works already performed by you during the various stages of your journey; especially, for instance, during the past year? So recent a period must be fresh in your memory. Was nothing during that fleeting term done, or said, which, so far from wishing it to be established, you would wish it to be unsaid-undone? Even with reference to the past week, or day, could you conscientiously offer up this petition on behalf of all your actions? Have you, indeed, walked in the ways of His commandments with a perfect heart? Can you appeal to those around you -those who have had the best opportunities of observing your conduct-those whose happiness is most affected by it? Can they cordially unite in the petition, that your works may be established?
What works, what spiritual works have you performed? Can you wish the style of petitioning the court of heaven which you adopted yesterday, to be established as your customary mode of performing that
solemn duty? What benefit do you derive from public ordinances? Are the feelings with which you return to the world, such as your conscience approves such as you hope He will approve, to whom the appeal should be made?
What further progress have you made in your spiritual course? Have you gained no ground; conquered no enemies; surmounted no difficulties? You know that "the path of the just is as a shining light, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day." Should your path be thus luminous, go on your way and prosper; if otherwise, make a pause, and consider your ways, and whither they lead, lest He establish your works, by suffering a careless, worldly frame to degenerate into a fixed habit which shall finally lead to destruction.
What are your plans of operation for the future? Are you of those who act but from the impulse of the present moment, without any settled plan at all? This will not do, even in your earthly concerns; for our temporal interests can never be established, unless we guide our affairs with discretion;" much less may those all-important concerns, on which our eternal well-being depends, be thus managed at random, and left to hazard.
If they occupy no portion of your time or thoughts, permit the question, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Behold, the night is fast approaching, "when no man can work." Oh, bestir yourself; for verily this is an important timean eventful day! Do you inquire, what, of all days, is this day-of all
times, is this time? Know, then, O lingering mortal, that this very time is "the accepted time,"-this very day is "the day of salvation."
MERCY AND JUSTICE. THE doctrine of Divine sovereignty is full of comfort to godly men. As taught by the Apostles it is eminently fitted to strengthen weak hands, and confirm feeble knees. It is often perverted by the ignorant and the wicked, but its truth remains unshaken.
We understand by this doctrine the sovereign pleasure and eternal purpose of God to save a portion of the human family, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, in distinction from the remaining portion, who, in consequence of their voluntary rejection of the offer of salvation, and their continued impenitence and unbelief, will suffer the just penalty of the Divine law. We accept Webster's definition of the theological term, which seems to us very felicitous:-" Election-Divine choice; predetermination of God, by which persons are distinguished as objects of mercy, become subjects of grace, are sanctified and prepared for heaven." "Elect-chosen, or designated by God to salvation; predestinated to glory as the end, and to sanctification as the means." It is simply the determination of God to save sinners, and to save whom He will, to save them in the only way in which any sinner can be savedthrough repentance for sin, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The counsels of the Almighty are unfathomable by His creatures, but we know that the Being from whom
we derive all our notions of justice and goodness must possess these qualities in infinite perfection. We would commend to our readers the words of that most excellent divine, the devout Leighton, who in his comment on that passage in Peter which speaks of those who "stumble at the word: being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed," says:"Here it were easier to lead you into a deep, than to lead you forth again. I will rather stand on the shore, and silently admire it, than enter into it. This is certain, that the thoughts of God are all not less just in themselves than deep and unsoundable by us. His justice appears clear, in that man's destruction is always the fruit of his own sin. But to give causes of God's decrees without Himself, is neither agreeable with the primitive being of the nature of God, nor with the doctrine of the Scriptures. This is sure, that God is not bound to give us further account of these things, and we are bound not to ask it. Let these two words, as Augustine says, answer all: 'What art thou,, O man?' and 'Oh, the depth!'"
Our sole and only guide in this matter is the Word of God, but the writings of wise and holy men may be useful. Among these, we attach special importance to Call, on "Divine Sovereignty."
I HAVE noticed how strangely on some days one idea clings to me, and how all that. I hear and see: seems to prevent my forgetting it. Thus it was the other day, when I happened to be at a large railway station in
the country. The train was expected, and great was the bustle and excitement amongst the passengers on the crowded platform. Suddenly the bell rang, and the long train drew slowly in. I always find special pleasure in studying the countenances of travellers, even in the bustle of these railroad days. I wonder where they have come from, and where they are bound for; why one looks so sad, and why another is so joyous. What a busy, strange world this is! And so I was going off into a waking dream, when the guard's loud voice and shrill whistle roused me. There are my friends waving their hands-" Good bye, good bye" -and I am slowly walking away. In a moment I am almost carried off my legs by a man running in at the door, breathless and excited. "Just too late, Sir," says the porter. An angry, impatient expression burst from his lips, and then he hurriedly added, "When's the next train?" "In an hour's time, Sir," quietly replied the porter, as he walked off to his business. I watched the gentleman. He walked up and down, drew his hand over his brow, as if to rub off some unpleasant weight, looked at his watch, muttered to himself, took a letter from his pocket, read it, stopped, walked on again, and then I heard him say, 66 Perhaps I may do it yet." And so I left the station, pondering on these words, "Too late." My walk took me past the post-office, where many people were thronging for three minutes more, and the box would be closed. I stood quietly by to make my observations. Poor and rich, masters and servants, hurried to post
their letters. But the time is up; the door closed; and now stare me in the face two words, speaking hopelessly to all comers-"Too late!"
Again I walked on, thinking of all those words meant. What a far better and happier world this would be, what trouble would be spared, how much might we go through, if we were never "too late!"
But this "one idea" was to be impressed still more deeply upon me. The same afternoon I went into a cottage near my home to visit a child, who I had heard was dangerously ill. I found the family in deep distress, for the little one, they told me, was suddenly worse and dying. I went up stairs, stood by the bed, and saw that even then the hand of death was upon her. In a few minutes the doctor, having been sent for, came hastily into the house. I heard the mother say, as he came softly up the stairs, "I am afraid it is too late, Sir." He came into the room, touched the child's wrist, shook his head, and said in a whisper, "I can do nothing; it is too late." He was right, for presently the little one's spirit went to the God who gave it.
Can you wonder that, during that day, and for many a day afterwards, those words, "too late," seemed to be ever ringing in my ears; and that many solemn thoughts filled my mind?
Reader, how is it with your soul? It is bad to be too late in earthly matters; many a man has thus been ruined as far as worldly things go. It is possible to be "too late" in reference to your soul. What then? Why, there is no hope left. "Another train in an hour's time." "The post
will go out again." Yes, that was true. But go to that bed where I stood; try and bring that child back; look in the 25th chapter of St. Matthew, and read this: "They that were ready, went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the others, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open unto us. It was too late.
For you, reader, it is not too late yet. Still the voice of mercy sounds in your ear; still the calls to repent and believe the Gospel are addressed to you; still the precious promises of God's Word are before you; still God waits to be gracious; still "the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Rev. xxii. 17. But what if present opportunities should be cut short? What if you should be surprised by death in the midst of your indifference? Remember, "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Eccles. ix. 10.
Then make up your mind to say with David, "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments." Ps. cxix. 60. And especially may that commandment of the New Testament be laid on your heart, "that you should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another." 1 John iii. 23. This is not hard service, but "perfect freedom;" not drudgery, for "Christ's yoke is easy, and His burden is light." "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Ps.
ASHAMED OF CHRIST. DR. SPENCER, in his "Pastor's Sketches," published a few years since, relates a striking instance of the power of attachment to human tradition to lead even good men to annul the commandments of God.
He says that a woman of strong affections and decided character had been for several months anxious and prayerful, willing, so far as he could learn, to perform every duty, yet found no peace in Christ. At length he very earnestly asked her what kept her from coming to Christ? She replied that she had not been baptized. If she should become a Christian, she must be baptized before her husband and children. This she could not do. Dr. Spencer said to her, "I am amazed beyond possible that a
measure. Is it woman of your sense, of your character and decision, can be hindered by such an idea? Are you not ashamed of it?" She replied, I know it seems foolish, and that is the reason why did not tell you before." She wept bitterly, while he reminded her that Christ has said, "He that is ashamed of me, of him will I be ashamed."
After reasoning the case with her still further, she shook her head in a determined manner, as if she disbelieved what he said, or else had resolved to dismiss the thought of a religious profession altogether.
Dr. Spencer then said to her "Well, then, since you feel so, I will remove all that difficulty,-you need not be baptized at all, if you do not wish to be."
"Do you mean," she asked, "that I need never be baptized?"