« PreviousContinue »
doctrines ; and the unmutilated Scriptures, and they only, can make men“ wise unto salvation."
2. Juvenile and domestic instruction is a means of recovering fallen man to God. The elder members of the family, especially parents, are charged, “ These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut. vi. 6, 7.) The knowledge of the fallen state ; the fear of God's anger, and of his power, when angry; the hope of his mercy, the knowledge of Christ Jesus as the way to God, of faith in Jesus, and of the salvation which is by faith : these are the “words,” eminently, which the elder are to teach the young. “He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children ;” (all 6 his wonderful works that he hath done” for the redemption and salvation of mankind ;) “that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children ; that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Psalm lxxviii. 5—7.) Where it is known that this duty will be neglected, through the ignorance and irreligion of the parents, neighbours and friends must perform it; the infant, the child, must not be abandoned to a depraved nature and to the enemy,—some one must step forward and address the call, “ Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Psalm xxxiv. 11.) Thus, “one generation shall praise the works of God to another, and shall declare his mighty acts.” (Psalm cxlv. 4.) No efforts can be too earnest to prevent the rising generation from being corrupted,-most of all to prevent their principles from being corrupted : every advantage should be taken of early susceptibility and frankness to inculcate truth, which, instead of giving a sanction, will supply a check to every irregular action of the heart, and to an evil conduct. If the young plant shoot luxuriantly and wildly, as it will ; and if it throw out its tendrils, and they catch hold of the first substance in its way and cling to it, however unfit to support and guide it; you must disengage it from its hold, and attach it to what will prove its strength and stay as long as it shall live. The child, thus trained in youth, will show in age the evidence and the fruit of your early attention.
3. The Christian ministry is a means which God has appointed in aid of his gracious purpose. Its function is to preach the Gospel in “ all the world,” “ to every creature.” It is provided by this institution that no human being, in any country under heaven, shall remain ignorant of the Christian revelation. The “word of salvation” is to be preached; its statements are to be clearly made, its doctrines plainly and forcibly exhibited, its invitations and threatenings faithfully addressed; copi
and depraved perform it, he irreligion that this
actio ad of eiturly susceles from
pel bas brous its full designce existed in the during their philst in
the corrupti the lowest God and be the church moral qualis saving
aus illustration is to be poured on every subject, by the vigorous enunciation of " the truth as it is in Jesus." This ministry, thus exercised, is the appointed means of removing men's prejudices, subduing the hardness of their hearts, conciliating their regards to Christ and his Gospel, encouraging and assisting their faith, of saving their souls, l'pon this service every one is not permitted to enter, however desirous a person may be of promoting the divine purpose with respect to men's salvation. “ No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron,” except at his peril. To call men to this ministry and endow them, is a 'work which he has reserved solely to himself; but when called and appointed, the utmost zeal and diligence are required for the due fulfilment of the sacred service.
4. The Christian church is a means of bringing a lost world to God. The church is the persons co-elected into society whom the Gospel has brought to believe in Christ, and whom it has saved. When it answers its full design, it displays the effects of his saving power. Every kind of difference existed in the moral qualities and character of the persons constituting the church during their previous state; all were fallen from God, and become corrupt of heart; whilst in their fall into the lowest depth” some had found “a lower deep," and the corruption of nature had undergone various aggravations, and assumed every diversity of manifestation. But the salvation is “common:” there is “ one Lord," " one faith," the same renewal of the heart,“ one spirit" of devotion to the Lord; and, towards one another, a common, reigning affection. These same divine principles, implanted in minds of different constitution as to natural tempers and tastes, assume, and, in their developement, exhibit, every variety of excellence. All are stars; but “ one star differeth from another star in glory." The aggregation of these lights in the Christian church constitutes that church eminently " the light of the world.” This glory, shining on the surrounding darkness, is designed to strike attention and to attract; so that every man shall eagerly desire to escape from the obscurity and gloom in the midst of which he dwells, into the light and glory of the church.
5. Christian ordinances are means to the same end. These are institutions for the public worship of God, for prayer and praise, for instruction in the word of God, for communion of saints, and for the commemoration of “the Lord's death.” Their immediate design is the service which they are adapted to afford the church. In the regular and devout use of these ordinances, its members are to acquire spirituality of mind ; their thoughts and affections, and their principles, are to reach and preserve a high tone; they are to “live by faith," and “ walk with God,” and “endure as seeing him who is invisible;" they are to be nourished to such vigorous strength that “they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” Thus all the excellencies that
to the light and glory of the church.
" the Lord for communitor prayer and p
sparkle to the eye, and which constitute the church the “ light of the world,” will be preserved and brightened to a purer lustre. The ordinances of the church have another important use. When a person enters, and is not washed from his sin, here he finds the laver. He beholds the fountain open; in every divine service he is shown that he may wash and be clean; and every member of the sanctified community urges him to plunge in and share the general sanctity.
We may now perhaps perceive where the true answer to the questions lies: “Why is not the Gospel of Christ known to a greater number of people ?” “When Christ is known, why is not the effect more direct and marked ?" If Almighty God has made indispensable the use of these means, the active labours of these agents, have these means been used ? have these agents acted ? If the oil which is to light up this dark world must flow through pipes, have the pipes been placed, and are they in a condition to be of service? If the oil must be given forth from trees, have the trees been planted, and set in their proper situation? “ The nations have not received the faith of Christ!” one exclaims. True: “ but how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a Preacher ?” To preach Christ is a work which Christ himself has assigned to men. If men decline to preach, the progress of the Gospel stops, the building of the Christian temple is at a stand for want of builders. “The saving effect of the truth at home is partial !” exclaims another. True : but if means are not contrived; if exertion languishes; if houses of prayer are not opened, and Preachers are not sent; or, being sent, if they preach “a vain philosophy," or "science falsely," or even truly, “ so called ;” if they preach precept and not doctrine, man's sinfulness, the atonement made for sin by the death of Christ, the justification of a sinner by faith alone, with the fruits of pardon and the new birth ; there wants the appointed means by which God's saving influence flows forth to save mankind. If the church, which its divine Head ordained to be “ a burning and a shining light," radiating through all the world, is a “ great opaque," or a “dim obscure," it is accounted for at once why it does not gather men more numerously from the world; why the whole tide of our population does not come streaming into its communion. It is when the sons of God are “ blameless and harmless," and " without rebuke,” that they “ shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life;" it is when “the glory of the Lord is seen upon it," that “the Gentiles shall come to its light, and Kings to the brightness of its rising."
It is not denied, however, that even where means are in use and appropriate, and where agents are in great activity, the progress of religion does not, in every case, answer the expectations which it would seem just to indulge. Can we account for this ? This brings us to the next great principle taught in this passage.
(To be concluded in our next.)
THE PEACE OF HUMILITY. As humble estimate of ourselves does not merely remove many obstacles to our advancement in life : it gives a freshness to the current of our being, which a soul so tempered alone can feel. In this respect, the meek, in a peculiar sense, inherit the earth. They enjoy habitually what others never can experience, but on some new, unexpected change of circumstances. All that they have, and all that they are, whatever it may be, exceeds their calculations; and while others are wondering why fortune has not sent them more, they are filled with mingled gratitude and surprise that God should have blessed them with so much. All true relish for life is lost by him who has been taught the habit of unreasonable expectation. 'He knows not how good and how pleasant a thing it is to be thankful; nor hath it entered into his heart to conceive in what a spirit the Patriarch thus cast the sunshine of his own mind upon the path by which the hand of God had led him. “ I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant: for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands." In life, as in the landscape, it is not so much the objects we contem. plate, as the light in which we view them, that touches the springs of joy within us, and fills the soul with gladness. In vain does nature open out her fairest scenes, and group her finest features in every felicity of combination, if clouds obscure the day, and damp ungenial vapours load the atmosphere, and hover in the air. While, on the other hand, the simplest prospect that meets our view, the general landscape, the common fields of universal nature, can brighten into paradise at the presence of the sun, when his beams give warmth and elasticity to the air, and when his light is poured along the plains, and scattered upon the hills. So it is with the life of man. No circumstances can make him happy. He may be surrounded with every outward blessing; but they will be no blessings to him, unless he is disposed to think them such. On the other hand, though no outward distinctions may exalt his destiny above the average condition of his kind, yet if contentment dwell within, he feels his deserts to be below the level of his lot; all around will take the colouring he gives, and catch, as it were, the illumination of his own mind.-From “ The Shunammite," by the Rev. Henry Woodward.
THE ATONEMENT. SINNERS must repent, or they are incapable of being pardoned; but that God might, even when he declares his mercy in forgiving the penitent, testify his just displeasure against sin, that we may not make light of it, God would not pardon it, even to repenting sinners, but by the intervening death of Jesus Christ.—Dr. Worthington.
THE WESLEYAN METHODIST. (No. LXXXIV.) NARRATIVE OF A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN ST. IVES,
(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) In the present period, the atten. it feels as it never felt before; if he tion of the Christian church ap- would compare the permanent repears to be direeted, with deep inter- sults of that earnest wrestling with est, to the subject of revivals of God for salvation, which is then religion ; and it is a fact which put forth, with the statements of calls for lively gratitude to God, Christian feeling, and principle, that different parts of our land have and conduct, contained in the holy been recently favoured with seasons Scriptures ; even he must admit the of extraordinary spiritual influence. reality and the importance of the The events which are now passing great moral changes which are then in Scotland, have excited the holy effected. He who is regardless of joy of thousands of the people of his own immortal interests, may Christ; and it will increase that turn aside from contemplating a rejoy, and encourage an expectation vival of religion, and satisfy himself of larger communications of spi. by referring it to excitement; but ritual good, for them to be assured, the important fact remains, that the that the south-western extremity of excitement felt, is the excitement of our island has lately been blessed truth,-truth powerfully applied by with a copious effusion of divine in the Holy Spirit to the understand. fluence, the results of which are ing, the conscience, and the heart; evident in the Christian graces of truth, the importance of which is hundreds of individuals, who "have incalculable, embracing, as it does, fled for refuge," under a conscious our relations to God, and our eterness of their guilt and pollution, nal prospects, and which can never “ to lay hold on the hope set before excite emotions too vivid or influen
tial. The man of the world is living It is not to be expected that the in the midst of spiritual realities natural man will dismiss his preju. which he regards not; he stands in dices against revivals; prejudices the most important relations to the which result, to a great extent, from divine Being, towards whom, neverhis aversion to spiritual religion, theless, his heart is cold, and from and from his never having expe- the contemplation of whose purity rienced those sorrows of heart which and justice he turns away; his are connected with a vivid percep. principles, his affections, bis contion of the baseness and ingratitude duct, are all carrying forward an inof sin, or that peace of mind, and fluence to eternity, while he practithat pure and active love to God, cally disregards the probationary to which the Gospel is designed to character of the present life, and lead us. Yet if even the natural gives up himself to its pursuits man would seriously inquire into the and pleasures; and he is encircled facts which a revival presents; if with the light of the perfect Chris. he would examine the states of tian dispensation, revealing to him mind, which those who are affected the spirituality of that obedience under it experience; if he would which God demands, and unfolding trace the proximate causes of the to him the sacrifice, the intercession, emotions which are felt, the truths and the mediatorial reign of the Son of which the mind takes a firm bold, of God; and yet he admits not that and under the impression of which light to disclose the pollutions of