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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, "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 66 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
For you, reader, it is not too late yet. Still the voice of mercy sounds Fin 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 I should be cut short? What if you 31 should be surprised by death in the
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.
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. XCV. 8.
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 measure. Is it possible that a 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 I 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?"
He answered, "Yes, I mean exactly that; you need not be baptized unless you choose to be, after you have come to repentance and faith in the Redeemer. I will never mention the subject to you. And now, will you seek the Lord with all your heart, and let baptism alone?"
She replied, "I hope I shall be enabled to do so, if I can be a Christian without being baptized."
She soon, says Dr. Spencer, found peace, and a few months later desired to be baptized, and presented her children to be sprinkled, saying, "She did not wish her children to be tormented as she had been," when in after years they might read the command of Christ to be baptized, and remember that they had not passed through that ordinance before they were old enough to be conscious of the stigma of thus owning His name.
After narrating the above case much more at length, Dr. Spencer remarks:-"Many convicted sinners are kept from Christ by some mere trifle. It is important to remove the obstacle."
When men were pricked in the heart under the preaching of Peter, and said, "What shall we do?" that apostle replied, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you." And Christ says, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." But a Christian pastor of the present age dares to tell a convicted sinner, who cannot brook the thought of submitting to baptism, "You need not be baptized; you need not join the church. Only repent. Give God your heart now, before He leaves you to your own way."
The Convert's Corner.
In a most picturesque and beautiful village, some four miles from Belfast, lived a butcher of the name of Moore. A naval officer, who resided in the same place, and who knew the man well, assured me that he had been, until very lately, a most awfully wicked character-that he had been a notorious drunkard, often drunk
Such counsel may be called an innocently shrewd way of turning the inquirer's mind from an apparent obstacle to her conversion, and of directing it to the "one thing needful;" but the New Testament never prescribes such a mode of dealing with sinners. Sophistry, and shrewdness, and trickery, as the world goes at present, may be deemed admissible in a lawyer's plea, but can never be acceptable to God, either in the court-room, or when used in directing a sinner to Christ.
MOORE THE BUTCHER.
the whole of Sunday-that he had been a dreadful blasphemer, and his language, moreover, so obscene, that the woman who lived in the next house had often to close her door, to avoid hearing the foul expressions that were pouring forth from his lips; in a word, he seemed to be abandoned by God and man.
When the great awakening began to be felt in that locality, a young woman was "stricken" not many doors off; her friends being unable to read, and longing to relieve if possible her agony of mind, sent in their extremity for Moore, who was reputed to be a good scholar. Much to his annoyance he went, and read a portion of the Bible; but mark the power of the Spirit of God! While reading the Scriptures, he was himself overcome by a sense of his sinfulness; however, he tried, but in vain, to shake the impressions off. Three weeks afterwards he attended an open-air service, and was very much affected by what he heard; the emotions of his soul so weakened his physical powers, that he could hardly return home. After earnest supplications for mercy, he realized the forgiveness of his sins, and with that realization he obtained peace.
I went to this man's house, and after he had given me an account of his conversion, I inquired,—
"Did you ever pray before?" "No, Sir, never, except when I took God's name in vain; indeed, I could not have known how to have prayed, but now I have no difficulty in speaking to Jesus."
"Should you have known," said I, "before your conversion, how a sinner might be saved?"
"No, Sir, I could not have explained the plan of salvation, but I could now; the whole scheme was revealed to me independently of and then he dwelt most clearly and scripturally on the part which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost respectively take in man's redemption.
In speaking of his happiness in Christ, he made this remark:"The so-called pleasures of sin were mixed with bitterness before, but now I have constant peace and joy."
I may observe, in passing, that one of the most remarkable characteristics of the present Revival is, that at the moment of being stricken down, at the moment of conversion, God seems in the most wonderful manner to reveal Himself (Gal. i. 16); so that, when those who are affected have obtained peace, they come into the possession of such views of Christ, and of His finished work, and of the whole Gospel scheme of salvation, as are truly marvellous, and of a nature rarely to be met with, except in the case of very advanced and long-tried Christians.
I learnt that this man rose every morning at five o'clock, in order that, before he went to his work, he might have a clear hour for prayer, and for reading God's word; and such was his love for the Bible, that he always carried in his pocket a little Testament, to which he often referred.