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SCOTTISH CHRISTIAN JOURNAL.
THE FALLING LEAVES.
THE shortened day and the general of man's existence as is obtained from a change observable on the face of nature, tell knowledge of the proximate cause of it. us that another season of the year is over, Leaves vary in their character in proporand that the year itself is fast hastening tion to the nature of the climate, and do to join those of the past, and to have its not all fall together. Those in this country events, and the thoughts, feelings, and may, however, be classed under three impulses out of which they sprung, in- heads—the deciduous, the annual, and the scribed and sealed up in the archives of persistent leaves. Each of these has a heaven. We note these changes, but not distinct reference to a certain progress in always as they should be noted. They | the growth of the tree, and only quits it read us sad homilies of our mortal exist when that progress has been attained. The ence, brief almost as a spring day with its deciduous leaf is directly connected with alternations of clouds and sunshine, but the ripening of the bud; the annual exernot less vividly and forcibly do they incul. cises its functions until new leaves are cate lessons of a stimulating and inspiring produced ; and the persistent has a longer character. The yellow leaves of autumn and less noticeable duty to discharge, numfall rustling in showers around us, and we bers of them dropping away as early as deplore the passing away of the summer's midsummer, while others maintain their freshness, and beauty, and brightness, the freshness and sap even when a new genecool umbrageous shadow in the noontide ration, so to speak, has sprung up around hour, the calm quiet fancy-awakening twi. them. From this it will be seen, that the light. Not for themselves alone do we re- falling leaf is less an emblem of man's fragret the passing a way of the glory from the I gility. than of what life in its truest and grass, and the splendour from the flower. I highest sense ought to be. It were no Natural forms, and the changes through difficult matter to institute a fanciful comwhich they pass, are to us only the types parison between the different classes of of changes which we feel within ourselves, leaves, and some of the varied pursuits and note within the circle of human society which occupy our attention, and go to in which we move. The flower associates make up the life of each one of us. But itself, as it were, with our affections, and the truth conveyed in the natural phenoelicits a sympathy somewhat akin to that mena generally, is like all the lessons which which we feel towards the frail and fading | God gives us in his natural revelation, humanity, of which we are partakers. And I stimulating and cheering. We all do fade yet we know that the flower does not fade as doth a leaf, but there is given to each until it has served the end for which it of us ample time for the discharge of those was created, and that not one leaf that falls several duties to each other, for that perthrough the silence of the wide forest withers fecting of enduring fruit for God's glory, and loses its hold upon the bough, without and that forwarding of the general weal, having first performed its specific duties. while under His divine law our own natures It is a very general supposition that the are developed in relation to these things falling leaves are not only an indication | which go to constitute the end of our being. but a consequence of the approach of win-And in those instances where the leaf of ter. This view of the interesting natural life is to our faint perceptions prematurely phenomena, is the one most generally taken shaken from the tree of human society, we in any analogy between it and the course know not always what constitutes in God's of human life. It is not, however, the sight the performance of duty. Mystecorrect one, and does not, we think, furnish riously, but to faith most wisely and well, so complete and impressive an illustration does he compress the lives of some into No. 1.–NEW SERIES.
what we conceive to be the mere begin the summer's glory, we may be called nings thereof; and removes from the per- away in the manhood of our existence ? formance of duty here, when in our esti- Does not this consideration of the duty to mation the bad is yet unbroken, or the be done, and the uncertainty as to the fruit but half formed.
duration of the season for doing it, magThe creatures of the vegetable world nify every moment of our being ? Each are, in relation to this world, the objects day is affecting the eternity to which it of the same divine economy in which we bears us; and life, when thus regarded as are called upon to labour. We, gifted with the opening cycle, so to speak, of an unthe glory, and bearing the burden of in- ending existence, becomes a thing so telligent responsibility, invested too with awfully solemn that trifling and indolence that awfully solemn thing, an undying seem the very height of folly. But let us spirit, may learn not inaptly from those also learn that He who ordains to every objects of our Maker's care, whose it is leaf its duty has also assigned to us a only to spring up, put forth their beauty mission of which we cannot know the as ministers of his beneficence, his wisdom extent. We only know that He will not and his power, and passing away when they gather where he has not strawed; and that have done so. To us there are few sights if He cuts short the term of our existence in the wide domain of nature more beauti. here, He has also abridged the duties of it. fully suggestive than the wild flower on And we know, moreover, that at its longest therock, blowing and withering in solitude, term this life is but a passing shadow, unnoticed, save by the eye of Him who when thought of in connexion with that made it. It lives only in the sight of nature, to which it tends. It ought, then, to be which, in the strictest sense, is the mani ever present to our mind that we are here, festation of God's wisdom. It wastes not not for the things of this mortal state, but its sweetness, for its aroma is incense, and for those of the eternal one, and that only its beauty praise. We, then, who are the in proportion as we realize this truth in conscious recipients of His bounty and the our daily walk and conversation, can we conscious objects of his care, may find in be said to be living truly. this one type a call to duty. Who among
H. the most highly gifted lives as he ought, in the constant remembrance of the great truth that we are here to work for Him
SOURCES OF INFIDELITY. who gave us the duty to do, and the capacities wherewithal to do it; who among the The first source of infidelity is the cormeanest ought not to feel that, being placed ruption of the heart; the weakness of the in the sphere of duty, he is honoured with understanding is only the second. The a call to do that work, and to know that silence which infidels in general observe often in His sight, they also serve, who respecting the direct and positive proof of only stand and wait.
Christianity, is a sufficient evidence that The falling leaves remind us of duty they are aware of its strength. They candone, and that the season for doing ours not but know that works exist, containing, is rapidly passing away. Who that allows in a very moderate compass too, the the thought of the future, beyond this brief essence of the argument for Christianity, and transient present, to cross his mind by refuting which, or even by invalidating even in an instantaneous flash, does not which, they would be held as the oracles feel at once its effect in magnifying as well of the world. Yet they decline the trial, as in narrowing our estimate of life's dura- | not from any diffidence certainly in their tion? On the one hand, we are taught to see own abilities, but from a secret, though that our troubles here are merely passing | deep-seated, consciousness that the argugusts, sent to shake away the dust which ments for Christianity are invincible. impairs our energies and impedes the Christians are always ready to meet them working of the vital principle of eternal life in the open field, but they refuse the main within us. We know that we live in this combat, and betake themselves to a petty world as the reasonable and responsible and lingering warfare of detail. They agents of God's designs, and that our office shrink from the face of the direct evidence and our functions are clearly to work for of Christianity, and spend their time in him while it is called to-day. The night | raising objections to its doctrines. Thus, cometh when no man can work-when it , it is evident, that if infidels neglect the may come we know not. It may be that, I proof of Christianity contained in the writlike the leaves, which were suggestive of ings of Paley and other standard authors, freshness and beauty only a few weeks | it is not that the arguments are too weak ago, and which now lie withered and dry to engage their attention, but that they beneath our feet, we may live on to the are too strong; and that if they were more autumn of life. But how probable is it easily refuted they would be more frethat, like those which dropped off amid quently studied. It is the heart that first forsakes revelation, the head only follows generations. But it is evident by this conits lead. The purity of Christianity is stitution of the moral world, that no age still more opposed to the lives of infidels, enjoys exactly the same degree of informathan the doctrines of Christianity are to tion as another, the system of science which their understandings.
is fitted for one period is unfitted for a sucThe second source of infidelity is the ceeding one, and the form of knowledge narrowness of the human understanding, is ever changing, because continually exunited to the presumption which naturally panding. proceeds from contracted views, for the This condition of society precludes reless any one knows, the more disposed he ligion from giving either a perfect or imis to draw bold and sweeping inferences perfect disclosure of science. A full refrom his own narrow field of information. velation of science would be unintelligible There is a necessary difference between the to the persons to whom it was immediately views of the finite, and the infinite under addressed, and would supersede, as soon standing. My thoughts are not as your as it was understood, the natural use of thoughts.' says God. The vision which at I faculities. An imperfect revelation of a glance takes in the whole of immensity. science could only be fitted to the circumand the vision which is confined to a mere | stances of the generation to which it was point, of course, cannot form the same re-first communicated, while its partial dispresentation of existence. If our narrow coveries would appear like antiquated and limited mind constitutes itself the errors to the succeeding ages, which were judge of the revelation which God has ascending to higher eminences of truth. vouchsafed to give us, whether of his own Thus while human science is in its nature character or of our future destiny, error progressive and changing, and revelation must unavoidably result from all our rea- is absolute and determined: while the one sonings and inquiries. Whether we seek is intended as the exercise of our faculties, to modify revelation to our own compre and the other as the assistant of our weakhension, with rational divines, or reject it ness, it is necessary that each be kept disaltogether as utterly incomprehensible, tinct from the other, and that religion with the philosophic infidel, we carry along should employ the universal and permawith us à principle of endless wandering nent language of natural appearances, from the truth, which will only bewilder and not the mutable phraseology of scienus the more, the more closely we reason tific theories. upon it, and precipitate us from mistake When religion therefore describes the to mistake till we loose the last glimmer creation, it describes it as it is pictured to of light, and reach the confines of utter the eye of sense, not as it is conceived by darkness. Infidelity has no facts nor prin- the changing systems of philosophy. The ciples to rest upon; like the reveries of expressions of the Bible are thus equally ancient philosophy, it has nothing but a intelligible to men in every period of time, priori reasonings to support it, objections provided they do not perplex themselves by drawn from ignorance, and arguments endeavouring to accommodate the terms borrowed from preconceived opinions and of Scripture to their own theories. This prejudices. But Christianity, like induc- difference, however, between science and tive philosophy, is established wholly upon revelation is perhaps the greatest source facts and experience, it appeals to no of infidel objections. While the rude principles but those which are in every systems of early astronomy were conforday operation, and it rests upon the same mable to the appearance of the heavens, evidence as all the other useful knowledge the language of the Bible and of science which we possess; and if there be any was nearly the same; but the language of difference it is merely this, that the evi Copernicus, which was conformable to the dence for Christianity has been more real, and not the apparent movement of strongly objected to, examined and proved, the heavens, sounded harsh to many who than any other evidence whatsoever. looked for philosophic accuracy, instead of
The third source of infidelity is the im universal intelligibility, as the characterperfection of our knowledge, which, in its istic of the language of divine inspiration. best estate is progressive, but never full | Hence many divines opposed the system and perfect. It is evidently the intention of Corpernicus, and many infidels adopted of Providence that society should be ad- it, for the same reason, that it was supvancing in knowledge; that one generation posed to be inimical to the Bible. How should outstrip another, and that mankind | much zeal on both sides was expended in are never to rest in any present attain- idle discussion, while all will now allow, ment but are ever to be pressing forward that the sun may rise and set in popular to some future discovery. Thus the and scriptural language, without any queshuman faculties have scope for perpetualtion of the fact that he remains for ever in activity, and none are precluded from ex- | the centre of his system! It is greatly to ertion by the labours and success of former be lamented that any pretended defenders of Christianity should be ignorant of this plication to you? O no—it is not, of course, popular use of language in the Scriptures; with you, that you keep your promises it is they who give its venom to the op: with your best friend. 'You break them position of infidelity. The Bible may daily : and so far from labouring to pay easily be defended from the open attack's him what you owe, you defraud him of of its enemies, but not so easily from the every farthing—that is, you keep him out fallacious support of its mistaken friends. of all your thoughts, and suffer none of his It would be well that all divines had upon | mind to influence yours. Rest assured similar subjects the observation of Calvin | that you are watched. Of course, God exever present with them :- Moses popu pects you to be holy, and fearful must be lariter seripsit, nos potius respexit quam the consequence to you when He is sursidera.'--Douglas's Errors regarding Reli prised (I speak as a man,') at the disgion.
covery of your ungodliness-no plea will avail you in the judgment. If you try
one, He will say, did you not owe all your "OF COURSE
mercies to me?-did you not promise to
serve me in consequence ?” Unless you In common conversation, this expression are an Atheist, you must reply in the affir(of course,' is much used. Its meaning de- mative. If so, his answer to you must be, pends on its connection. If one man shall Of course, I took you at your word—I exsay to another, “I promised to pay you pected that you would live soberly, righsuch an account at such a time, do you teously, and godly' in the world : but seeexpect me to pay it?' the reply would be, ing that it is not so, I must, of course, leave
of course and here its meaning is just you to the consequences,' O reader, be tantamount to a declaration that the debtor not deceived; God is not mocked: whatcould not break his promise, and that the soever a man soweth, that shall he also creditor had the fullest confidence in his reap. honour. If another man shall say to his OF COURSE means, in the second place, fellow, 'I have lost my all-I cannot that it is the dictate of common sense: pay my debts, but a friend has offered to yea, of ordinary gratitude, for a man indefray them for me, on condition that I volved in misfortunes, to accept of efficient accept of his suretyship.' 'Do you mean assistance in order to being extricated from to accept of it then asks the other them. Can the reader, in this view, make
of course,' replies the bankrupt. Its mean the application ?-you are guilty and coning here is, that to accept of the proffered demned-you owe God everything, and suretyship, is, at once, the dictate of grati- you can pay him nothing. He has sent tude and of necessity—that not to do so, his only begotten Son to obey all his comwould be madness or crime. If a third mandments in your stead, and to bear all individual shall say, 'I owe my present the punishment due to you for your sins. prosperity-yea, my life itself—to the skil. He tells you, that if you will accept of ful interposition of my generous physician Christ's suretyship, all your sins shall be -what shall I render to him?' 'Your forgiven, and you shall be dealt by the lawthanks, of course—and as much as in you giver as if you never had sinned at all-yea, lies, your substantial services during life.' | that by-and-by he will call you up to the Its meaning here is, that to be ungrateful enjoyment of a life of inconceivable blessand maligning to such a friend, would be edness. Well, then, is it of course with unprincipled and heartless.
you here? Have you closed with the great *OF COURSE,' then, means, in the first | God in these overtures? Do you now beplace, that a man must keep his word. He lieve? Do you consciously offer him and has made a promise to pay an account, | his righteousness to God every day that and he will do it. Not to do so, is out of your sins may be blotted out, and your the question-he is truth-loving and trust- services accepted ? O would to God, you worthy: of course, he will pay his account. could in sincerity reply, of course,' I do. Now, reader, can you make the application / What! do you take me for a fool ? I am a here? You are a believer in the existence child of wrath, and Christ is a deliverer of God, and of course, in the obligation from the wrath to come-of course, I flee resting upon you, to pay him all obedience. to him. I am a worthless creature, with You have said that you will do this-he scarce a rag upon me to cover my nakedexpects you to do it. Can it be said of you, ness, and the everlasting Father himself of course, the word is kept, the debt is has given commandment, and the best robe honoured ? We fear much that the use of is brought forth-of course I must 'put it these simple words, inay, in your case, be on. I have no atonement of my own to quite misapplied. OF COURSE, certainly it offer-of course, if I accept not Christ's I ought to be-but very often it is not so. If must die and be for ever lost—but, God your life be a worldly one, do you not feel forbid, Christ's is freely affered to me, and, disposed to smile at the idea of their ap- of course, I make it my owu by faith. The blessing of the Lord be upon thee, reader, so while you live, and when you die God if all this be indeed and in truth, of course will cast you off, and, of course, you will be with the exercises and experiences of thy tor ever damned. Be entreated, then, to soul. But I would have thee examine and ponder the path of thy feet. Yield thy search whether it really be so-if so, well heart and soul up to Jesus-live for him -if not so, then art thou living under a —say, 'Thine I am, Jesus, and on thy side, wild delusion-of course. Of course,' in thou Son of God ;-live, o live for him this instance, it ought to be-but is it who lived for thee a life of sorrows, and so ? Reader, o ascertain this without then died. O see to it that you die in him delay.
who died for thee an accursed death, and OF COURSE means, in the third place, that then, OF COURSE, you will die in peace, to be grateful and serviceable to a generous and your happy soul shall go to be for ever benefactor, is one of the issues of a well- with the Lord.
J. MʻF. principled heart. Does the reader apply this ? " Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners-He loved them from eternity-He
CARLYLE'S LIFE OF STERLING.* came into this world, and submitted to agony and death that they might live. ! We must express our surprise that CarHence he asks of all that take the benefit lyle should have become the biographer of his righteousness, that they love him of a literateur, to celebrate or judge the in return, and prove their love by living | daily running of a tasked journalist's pen for him, and on him, and to him--by con- hither and thither. Obviously, this is a sidering themselves ‘not their own, but descent, not only from his mission,' which, bought with a price,' and, therefore, bound in his own estimation, has been regularly to take an active part in any scheme that culminating to some point of yet unapseeks the conversion of men by the spread proached and hitherto unknown grandeur of the Gospel. Reader ! what is thy an- of usefulness to mankind: but also a deswer to all this? Is it, of course I scent from the themes of all his later prowas dying of the spiritual distem per of ductions. The prophet and harbinger of sin, and Jesus healed me. I was rapidly a New RELIGION for the world, to step sinking into irretrievable ruin, and Jesus aside, when the coming blessing was al. rescued me. He made me rich in the most, if we could believe him, at his heels, blessings of his grace, and actually gave and be the evangelist of John Sterling, me a title to an inheritance in heaven. To who was the author of a play, several tales such a physician and benefactor I am,' of and poems, and a few critical articles ! The course,' I must be, very thankful-my re-builder of a new temple for man, to interstored health, my renewed faculties, my mit the sublime work, and devote himself extended opportunity are all, of course, sure to the execution of a tombstone for a young rendered to him—they are his, not mine; literary man, who had more than a hunand I am not my own, but his also. All dred superiors among his contemporaries! these, certainly, ought to be matters, of Carlyle has, for years, been busy in finding course; for if ever there was imposed upon a God for those whose religious faith he man the obligation to be passionately at- had destroyed, and for all Christendom, tached to any one, or to any cause under whose Deity he vehemently wishes to be the sun, it is imposed upon him who pro- thrown away amid the rubbish of Pagan fesses to be a believer in the Lord Jesus idols, long ago discarded : and certainly, Christ. What ought to be, however, in for him—when so much was expected many cases, is not. Reader, perhaps, of from his researches in the 'Silences, the course, in this mind belies your state. 'Immensities, and the ‘ Eternities,' from You are not grateful to Jesus Christ-you the awful recesses of which he was looked do not crucify your flesh-you do not live for each day with a God in his hand-to in endearing communion with God-you appear with an image of John Sterling, is conform to the world-you gratify the discreditable to himself, and cruelly tancravings of the flesh--you yield to the rules talizing to his followers. of the devil-you grudge that dear Lord We took the same objection to Mr Car. your time, zeal, silver, and, so far as you lyle, when he published his 'Latter-day are concerned, satisfaction would never be Pamphlets :' but of course, not with the given to Christ's soul, nor salvation her- same emphasis as in the present case. alded either near or far away to the per-| When he was understood to be earnestly ishing. If it be so, and if you so live and occupied in preparing for universal adopdie, then, OF COURSE, you are a heartless tion a new religion, it was a descent for creature whatever others may think of you him to issue a new national policy, and to -a sordid being you are-amiable and prescribe what the Queen, Governments, agreeable in the eyes of others, but in the Parliaments, jailers, executioners, and eye of God pitiful and unhappy. OF * Second Edition. London : Chapman & Hall. COURSE you will become more and more | 1852.