ePub 版

me to express my views with regard to this subject? I am one of those who believe that the grace of God bringeth salvation; I am one of those who believe in the renewing and sanctifying influences of the grace of God on the human heart. I am one of those who believe that man cannot work his way to heaven, because if he did, I do not know how he could join in the song of "Worthy the Lamb," because the Lamb would have nothing to do with his salvation if he worked it out himself; I am one of those who believe that a man may be a reformed liar, a reformed cheat, a reformed drunkard; and in so far as he is reformed in these respects, so far good; but he may be no more a reformed man than Judas was when he betrayed the Saviour. The grace of God alone operating upon his heart by the influences of his Spirit can reform the man. But suppose I go into yon cellar, and see, as I did see, a man lying on a heap of rotten straw, with a bundle of rags for his pillow, naked, hungry, drunken; I go there, if you please, without my Bible, without a tract, without a homily, with no intention of offering a prayer; I go with a purely human agency -soap and water; I cleanse him of his filth; I go with a suit of clothes and I clothe him; a loaf of bread, and I feed him; the abstinence principle, and I make him sober; I bring him out clean, clothed, fed, and sober. Have not I done a good work? As far as it goes, yes; but these people say, "It does not go far enough to suit us." It goes as far as we ever said our principle would go; but I ask any Christian man, I appeal to any Christian minister, is not that man better prepared to understand and appreciate the truth which he must hear and receive to be saved than he was down there? And have not I, by the mere act of bringing him out of that position, done a good work? and may I not pray to God to sanctify these means to a higher end than merely making the man sober, and putting good clothes

upon his back? Can I not look at this movement I advocate in this light? I tell you, if I did not, I should lose faith in it, I should lose my courage, I should lose my energy. When I feel sad, and dispirited, and weary and worn, I think of the temperance movement as a handmaid to Christianity, and I then get nerve and strength to go to the battle against this terrific evil with tenfold more vigour. A gentleman once said to me, "If you are a Christian you have the grace of God, and that is able to keep you from drunkenness, without abstinence. Teetotalism is not necessary if you have the grace of God." Now, why will not men look at this evil of drunkenness as produced by a physical agency? It is produced by an effect on the brain and nervous system. I say it is dishonouring to the grace of God to use such an argument as that. His grace will no more prevent drink from affecting my brain and nervous system if I take it, than it will prevent laudanum from affecting me if I take it. If I have any grace in my heart, it prompts me to pray in the language of the admirable pattern prayer, "Lead us not into temptation." If for the trial of my faith and patience He sees fit that I shall be tempted, I have His word for it that I shall not be tempted more than I am able to bear, and that in every case there shall be a way of escape; but if I, trusting to what I think I have got of the grace of God, walk voluntarily into temptation, I shut myself out of the pale of that promise, and render it amazingly doubtful whether I have got any grace or not. The evidence that I have the grace of God in my heart is when I abstain from all appearance of evil, and shrink from it in abhorrence.

I told you when I commenced that I had not time to arrange thoughts and ideas with regard to this matter. I want, if possible, to say something that shall make all these young men and old, ministers and laymen, feel that there is

an amount of degradation in the land, and that they are responsible for it. A man is responsible if he does not protest. You hold us in America responsible for slavery, unless we hold up our hand against it. Every man in the north who does not, you say he is sympathising with slavery; he is a pro-slavery man; there is no half and half; it must be either anti-slavery or pro-slavery; so, unless we protest against the cause that produces these fearful effects, we are in some degree guilty. But I will say that all our individual efforts are wanted. If we are permitted to do anything for the benefit of our fellow-men, it is a privilege; the highest position a man can occupy in this world is to stand as a machine connected with his Maker by a bond of living faith, willing to work, and leave the results with him. Our part is to do all in our power. Work, pray, and believe; have faith, yes, faith; and when we say faith, we mean faith; we do not mean what some people call trust. Allow me to mention a story, although it is an absurd one; I do not know that I can find anything better to express my idea; a minister related it, and so I may. He said, "A great many people's faith is like the old woman's trust. A horse ran away with a waggon, in which she was seated, and she was in imminent peril; but she was rescued, and some one said to her, 'Madam, how did you feel when the horses ran away ?' 'Well,' said she, 'I hardly know how I felt. You see, I trusted in Providence at first, but when the harness broke, then I gave up.'" That is it; that is not faith; faith is not dependent on results. Suppose you work, and see no results; then you must exercise faith, and work on. Faith is to walk right into the black cloud, though you see no sign of daylight beyond, though you see no silver lining. Faith is, to walk to the edge of the precipice, and then-stop? No, but to set your foot right into the void, to find a solid rock rising up to rest upon, and so

onward. That is faith. Now, let us have faith when we work for Him, believing that He approves every effort put forth in His name and in His fear. We of ourselves can do nothing; that I have become aware of a great many years since; of myself I can do nothing; my words are simply breath, and will effect nothing. I rode last winter across the great prairies for about two hours, in a railway train, and could see neither hill, nor bush, nor house, nor tree; it is like being out of sight of land, as they say, only you can see nothing but land-nothing but the land and the sky; and the tall, rank, heavy grass grows there in such luxuriance as would astonish you, Sometimes there is a fire in the prairie, and those who are acquainted with it know when they see the red glare in the sky that they must work; and they fight fire with fire. They pull up the grass in a large circle, then they lay it down by the standing grass and set fire to it. The flame blows from them in every direction, and by the time the flood of fire comes up they are removed from it. A missionary party was passing across the prairie to go to their destination, when they balted for a while, and some one cried, "Look, look yonder, -see, what is that?" A trapper, shading his eyes with his hand, said, "The prairie is on fire-we are lost, lost! The fire travels twenty miles an hour, and nothing will remain of us but our blackened corpses." Hist, hist," said be, "we must fight fire with fire. Every man, woman, and child of you, work, work for your lives! Pull up the grass in a circle; larger yet-larger yet. Pull it up; quick, quick! Lay it by the standing grass. I feel the first flush of the heat upon my brow, like the hot breath of the simoom. Work, work for your lives; within half an hour the fire will be upon us. Bring the fire apparatus." The apparatus was brought, and there were but two matches; they hastily struck one, and it failed; and they had but one

match left. That is their last earthly hope; the fire is raging within twenty miles of them. Hush! Pressing his hand upon his brow, the missionary said, "God, help us in this our extremity-help us, if it be Thy will! This is our last hope; our last hope, but in Thee; our last human agency." And reverently bowing and praying, they struck the match-it caught fire-the grass was ignited, and the flames went away from them in every direction; and when the waves of fire met the flood of flame, they mingled together, and leaped up, as if in joy, to heaven, that the noble band had escaped. Brethren, our instruments in themselves are as feeble as that match; ere we put them forth, let us say, "God, help us, for His great name's sake; help us, if it be Thy will, and we shall yet stand in a circle, while the flames rage harmlessly around us and those saved by our agency." Then we say to you, Will you look unon this movement as one of the great instrumentalities for oevating the degraded and the debased in this land? Give it your prayerful, serious consideration; and may God help you to judge according to the dictates of a pure conscience, and His WON!

« 上一頁繼續 »