[blocks in formation]


A GENTLEMAN in Massachusetts offered several prizes of Bibles to those, old or young, who should commit to memory and repeat the largest portion of the Bible. The following reports of passages have been received, certified by the superintendent or pastor. Mrs. Betsy Conant, who has been residing in Melrose, a lady sixty-eight years of age, has committed to memory the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, reciting each day in the week. This is certified by her daughter, and also by the superintendent of the Sabbath school; and the lady is entitled to the first Bible. An irish servant-girl repeated nearly 10,000 verses; three other females repeated above that number; and a list is appended of some twenty more who were able to repeat from 3,000 to 9,000 verses.


LET us not be over-curious about the failings of others, but take account of our own; let us bear in mind the excellences of other men, while we reckon up our own faults, for then shall we be well-pleasing to God. For he who looks at the faults of others, and at his own excellences, is injured in two ways; by the latter he is carried up to arrogance, through the former he falls into listlessness. For when he perceives that such an one hath sinned, very easily be will sin himself; when he perceives he hath in aught excelled, very easily he becometh arrogant. He who consigns to oblivion his own excellences, and looks at his failings only, whilst he is a curious engineer of the excellences, not the sins of others, is profitable in many ways. And how? I will tell you. When he sees that such an one hath done excellently, he is raised to emulate the same; when he sees that he himself hath sinned, he is rendered humble and modest. If we act thus, if we thus regulate ourselves, we shall be able to obtain the good things which we are promised through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.-St. Chrysostom.

"I SHALL BE A KING." THE late Duke of Hamilton had two sons. The youngest fell into a consumption, when yet a boy, which ended in his death. Two ministers went to see him at the family seat, near Glasgow, where he lay. After prayer, the youth took his Bible from under his pillow, and turned to 2 Tim. iv. 7: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness;" and added, "this, Sirs, is my comfort!" When his death approached, he called his younger brother to his bed, and spoke to him with great affection. He ended with these remarkable words: "And now, Douglass, in a little time you will be a Duke, but I shall be a King!"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Christian Instruction.


"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you,"-JOHN xv. 14. THE word “friend" is one of the most endearing and attractive words in human language. It stands next in value and suggestiveness to those dearest of all words, "Father," "mother," brethren," and thus forms one of the three great pillars on which the social fabric is built: namely, parents, kindred, friends. It meets us when we leave the sacred precincts of home to mingle with the world of strangers who stand outside, and presents us with affection, sympathy, and devotedness, as real, although not so intense, as that which springs up in the parental fold, encouraging us in laborious undertakings, cheering us when despondent, and calming the tumult of an agitated, troubled breast, by the still small voice of its sympathy and its love. Oh, how much does the world, as well as the church, owe to its friends! We have a scene depicted in this chapter of John's Gospel, which presents an aspect of friendship of the most elevated and sacred character. In it we behold Jesus surrounded by His friends. He had many false ones, but they in the hour of His trial have disappeared. In the sifting process which is taking place the chaff is scattered by the winds, but the precious corn remains; and all this Jesus feels and knows, as, looking upon His disciples, He exclaims, "Ye are my friends."

And honest friends, indeed, they are- -these eleven men-as they gather around Him, wondering at His myterions words, awed by His wonderful works, and drawn closely towards Him by the constraining force of His amazing love. They are infinitely beneath Him in knowledge, but friendship does not depend on the mere possession of knowledge. They are immeasurably inferior to Him in power, but friendship does not depend on mere power. They are incalculably below Him in station, but friendship does not always depend on station. The bonds which unite them are stronger than all these-they are the bonds of suffering and love; and painful as that suffering must have been, how was its sharpness mitigated by the loving assurance, Ye are my friends."




We divide the entire sentence-" Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you,"-into two portions.

1st. The recognition of the disciples' relation to Christ :—“ Ye are my friends;" and

2nd. The test or pledge of the sincerity of that relation :—“ If ye do," &c.

1st. The recognition of the disciples' relation to Christ. This relation suggests many powerful contrasts.

First. It suggests a contrast between the actual position of men in relation to Christ now, and that which they are destined ultimately to sustain.

How strange that the number of Christ's friends, at the time of His suffering, should have been so small. It is amazing that to neither the multitude, nor their rulers, nor any proportionate fraction of the multitude, could Christ address these words, but only to the few whom he had gathered around himself from the villages and towns of Galilee. He stands in His own world, surrounded by the people of His own race, to whom He had proved himself a friend in every form of calamity which had oppressed them; yet He looks among them in vain for any tokens of goodwill or love-it is found only among the few disciples.

It might have been otherwise. We can imagine the possibility of the disparity being on the other side, and that man, from the moment of his expulsion from Eden, having been so vigilant against evil, and so energetic and successful in the work of circumscribing its growth, that the greater number of his descendants should have been the friends of the Redeemer, and the few only His foes. But, alas! it is not so. We see not yet all things put under Him." We see not yet all things brought into harmony with Him; but we see the many estranged, indifferent, or openly hostile to Him, while hitherto it has been to the few only of human generations that Christ can say, "Ye are my friends."


But the time is coming when all this will be changed. The friends of Jesus are increasing in number as the years roll on; and in these few words of gracious recognition we have an earnest of the fulfilment of the prophecy, "There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon, and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth."-Rev. iii. 20.

Second. It suggests contrasts between friendship with Christ on earth, and friendship with Him in heaven.

In heaven, friendship with Christ is universal; on earth it is partial.

Among the thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands who sing and serve in heaven, every spirit is full of deep, thrilling, unutterable love to Christ. Not one is indifferent to His presence, or cold in His service. To each and to all, whether unfallen angel or redeemed man, He can declare, in the fullest and most absolute sense, "Ye are my friends." But on this earth He stands, in relation to human affection and sympathy, well nigh alone. Friendship to him has been the exception and not the rule. It wells up in the hearts of the few, and not of the many, and yet on these few the Saviour pours out the affluence of His love, and the glories of His grace. "I call you not servants, but I have called you friends." "Ye are my friends." Again: In heaven, friendship with Christ is perfect; on earth it is imperfect.

Everything is perfect in heaven. Intellect, affection, service; all are perfect there.

There are those of its inhabitants who have never been otherwise than perfect; and there, too, are those who, through grace, have been "made perfect." There friendship with Christ is perfect. Connected with that friendship there is neither hesitancy, reserve, nor doubt.

It is in its own congenial soil, and based on perfect knowledge and perfect sympathy it is ever true to its object.

"Ye are my

It is far otherwise with Christ's friends on earth. friends," involves many shades of intensity, when addressed to the disciples and to us. It covers a multitude of imperfections. There is the imperfect view of His work: "We know not whither thou goest, how can we know the way?" There is the imperfect sympathy with the great objects of His mission: "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" There is the imperfect faith in Him as the revealer of the Father's glory: "Show us the Father and it sufficeth us." There is the imperfect endurance: "What, could not ye—my friends-watch with me one hour?" They sleep instead of watching. One hesitatingly follows Him into the house of Caiaphas, and denies Him on the first temptation; while all forsake Him as the heavens grow black, and His human foes thunder out their rage. Yet they are His

friends. He has chosen them out of the world; He loves them unto the end; and the same Divine love which chose them at first, forgives their transgressions, heals their infirmities, restores their wanderings, and brings them at last to occupy the foremost place among those redeemed ones to whom he declares" Ye are my friends."

Second. The test or pledge of the sincerity of the relation. “If ye do whatsoever I command you."

1st. It must assume a practical character. It is not a mere assertion, but a living principle expanding into holy and constant activity. It is not an elective cordial, to be sipped and enjoyed on beds of ease. It is a mighty force, stimulating, energising, and directing all the powers of a renewed nature. It is like the call of the general who summons his friends to go with him to the battle, honouring them, indeed, by the call, but sending them into the field where they may best prove their attachment to him, and justify by their fidelity the distinction which he has put upon them. Or it is like the call of the philanthropist, who gathers around him men whose hearts beat responsive to his own, to aid him in some crusade against misery and sin-honouring them by the selection, but sending them forth to scenes of wretchedness, in order that they may prove the rectitude of the choice by their long-suffering, patience, and self-denial.


Thus Christ makes privilege and duty, honour and labour, go hand in hand together; a principle which is fully recognized in Matthew xxv., where the Judge welcomes his friends" into the everlasting kingdom with the words, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

We do the commands of Jesus because we are his friends, and not in order that we may become his friends.

2nd. It is practical service, having Christ's will for its supreme law. "Whatsoever I command you."

In human friendships men meet as equals; we suggest, propose, or invite. It is not so with Christ in relation to His friends. He is their King as well as their Friend. He has the right to command, as well as the grace to love; and yet what an illimitable scope for command as well as for obedience is presented in the simple word," whatsoever." We dare not invest our dearest or wisest friend with the absolute power implied in that word. It might include requirements utterly beyond our ability to meet.

« 上一页继续 »