« PreviousContinue »
violence no help was at hand. The travellers told their fears to each other, and resolved that on going to their part of the hut, in which there were two rooms, they would secure it as well as they could against the entrance of their host, would have their weapons of defence at hand, and would watch one at a time through the night, so that one should be always on guard, while the other slept.
“Having made their arrangements, they joined the family, partook of their homely fare, and as the evening advanced spoke of retiring to rest. The old man said it had been his practice, in better times, to commend his family to God before they went to rest at night; that he still continued the practice, and, if the strangers had no objection, would do it now. The Christian rejoiced to find a brother in the wilderness, and even the infidel could not conceal his satisfaction at the proposal. The poor man took down a well-worn Bible, on which no dust had gathered, though age had marked it, and reverently read a portion from its sacred pages. He then prayed. He acknowledged the goodness of God, supplicated his protection, and implored pardon, guidance, grace, and salvation by the atonement of Christ. He prayed also for the strangers, that they might be prospered on their journey, and at the close of their earthly journey might, through faith in Jesus Christ, find a home in heaven. He was evidently a man of prayer, and his humble cottage was a place where prayer was wont to be made.
“ The travellers retired to their room. According to their previous arrangement, the infidel was to keep watch first, but instead of priming his pistols, and preparing for an attack, he wrapped himself up in his great coat, and covered himself in a blanket as quietly as if he never thought of danger. His friend reminded him of their plan, and asked how he had lost his fears. He felt the force of the question and of all it meant, and had the frankness to acknowledge that he could not but feel himself as safe as at a New England fireside, in any hut in a forest where the Bible was read as the old man had read it, and where prayer was offered as he prayed."
How blessed is the book which thus, by its revelation of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, imparts security and comfort, and promotes peace on earth and goodwill towards men !
Precious Bible ! what a treasure
Does the word of God afford !
Food and med'cine, shield and sword :
THINGS THAT MAY BE, AND THINGS THAT
MUST BE. We need no books or sermons to tell us that everything in this world is subject to change and uncertainty. It is plain matter of fact, which no man in his senses can dispute. If we are young now, we may live to be old, or we may not. We are in health now, but days of sickness and wearisome nights may be our lot hereafter. We are rich now, but we may some day be poor; or we are poor, and may some day be rich. We may prosper in our business, or we may fail. We may gain new friends and connexions, or we may lose our old ones. In short, if a man look forward to ten years, as it regards himself, his family, his friends, his neighbours, his country, and the world at large, there is no end to the “ may be's " which will occur to his mind. Of hardly anything can he say this must be, or this certainly will be.
Nevertheless, how do men act under these circumstances with regard to their worldly affairs? Because certain events may or may not take place, do they take no care at all to provide for or against them? Do they never look forward as well as backward ? If possessed of the slightest degree of wisdom, do they give themselves up to the pleasures of the day, regarding that alone, and being wholly reckless of the morrow? See the busy multitude which throngs the streets of London, and our large towns. How many are toiling, not to gain the means of present subsistence—that they possess—but to be rich hereafter! Now, judging by the experience of all past ages, not one in a hundred will ever gain the object he is in pursuit of. The possession of wealth-to say nothing of its unsatisfying nature when acquired -is the merest “ may be" in the world. And yet men rise early and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, just as if such a course would lead them, infallibly, to the object they have in view. · But to come to matters in which interest, and sometimes duty are concerned. A man is in the prime of life. Now when we consider the comparatively small number of our race who attain old age, it is not only extremely doubtful whether he will live to be old, but the probability is against it. Yet what is thought of his prudence or common sense, who, while he has a fair and full opportunity of making a provision for his declining years, neglects to do so ? Another man is in the enjoyment of perfect health, and, judging from the vigour of his constitution, it may be unimpaired for many years; yet, if it should fail, and death overtake him, the resources of his family would be at once cut off; and he, too, has now ample means of at least effecting a life assurance. Many would think he showed little wisdom if he neglected so easy an expedient. Or—to take a case still more in point-a third individual possesses very valuable household property. Now, in this case, his houses may be consumed by fire; the chances, however, are perhaps as ten thousand to one that this will never happen; yet to neglect insurance would be generally thought reckless in the extreme. The probabilities are against the occurrence of the calamity; but as the loss, if sustained, would be most severe, and the means of security are placed so readily within his reach, he delays not a day to avail himself of it.
But now let us suppose that some future “may be" were all at once converted into a " must be." Let us imagine that, in the case of a particular individual, the uncertainty which shrouds that which is to come were suddenly broken in upon by some heavenly messenger. Let us suppose that he brought tidings, in a manner which could not be mistaken, that, unless measures were taken to prevent it, fire would very soon consume this man's house so suddenly and so rapidly that he would be unable to rescue one article of his valued store; and unless he were to provide beforehand some very easy method of escape, both himself and his family would alike perish. If, after such a plain intimation as this, he were to neglect to provide against the danger, what language could express his folly and infatuation?
THINGS THAT MAY BE, AND THINGS THAT MUST BE.
reader of these lines it may possibly be said, Thou, even “ thou art the man ?” Is there, not to say no “ may be"-is there no “ must be" against which you have not as yet made provision? What is your future? Surely not a few years merely, and then to sink into nothing. Is there not an existence beyond this-imperishable, everlasting ? Has no messenger actually come down from heaven to earth, to give you some certain information respecting it? Has no voice ever fallen upon your ear such as this, “ Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter ?" You have made provision, perhaps, as to all the “ may be's” of this short, fleeting life--this childhood of your existence; but are you quite sure you are equally well provided as to the unspeakably more important life that is yet to come ?
" WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF Christ,” 2 Cor. v. 10.
What a " must be " is this! Death seems so certain, that it has become a common adage, “ All must die.” The Bible does not, however, say even that; it tells us of some at least that will not die, 1 Thess. iv, 15, 17. But as to the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord, there is no shadow of uncertainty; no created power can avert or delay it; no created vigilance or subtlety can elude or escape from it. “ We MUST appear.” Mark how it is announced : “ I have sworn by myself;" “ As I live, saith the Lord.” (See and compare Isa. xlv. 23; Rom. xiv. 10, 11.) As surely then as there is a God in heaven, which all the wondrous works with which we are surrounded testify beyond the possibility of a doubt, so certainly shall “ the great white throne" be erected, and “ the judgment be set,” and “ the books opened," and the reader and the writer of this paper must " give account of himself unto God," and every one must be “judged according to his works.” For, “Behold He cometh with clouds ; and every eye shall see him." Now take, in connexion with this, one other thing that must be.
“HE MUST REIGN, TILL HE HATH PUT ALL ENEMIĖS UNDER HIS FEET," 1 Cor. xv. 25.
Of whom are these words spoken? Of the same Divine Person doubtless—the Creator of the heavens and the earth--the Saviour of the world—the Judge of all. What lesson do they teach us? If there be meaning in words, we may learn from them, that unless He now reign in our hearts by the power of his grace, unless we now take upon us his easy yoke and light burden, depending upon his merit exclusively as our Saviour, and resigning ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, we are, we must be, of the number of those to whom he will 6 at that day" issue the command" Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,
prepared for the devil and his angels ;" Luke xix. 27; Matt. xxv. 41.
If then, reader, eternity should break suddenly upon your astonished soul, and you should at once enter upon that unchanging state in which you will be found when - He appeareth," have you a good hope, built upon God's word, that you would have confidence, and “not be ashamed before him at his coming ;" that you would " be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless ?” If not, be sure of this,- the folly of the man who neglects to insure his earthly possessions, is not worthy of being mentioned in comparison with yours. How plain is this to the commonest understanding! The risk which he runs is merely that of the loss of some perishable commodities, from which he must very soon part, whether he lose them in this manner or not. Your loss will be of your soul's happiness for eternity! He does but neglect to provide against one of the merest “may be's." of this uncertain world. You neglect to insure yourself—and that when you may do it freely, without money and without priceagainst the most absolute "must be” that the God of heaven himself has pre-ordained as sure to come to pass.
We read in God's word that " fools make a mock at sin;" that "he that trusteth to his own heart is a fool;" that “ fools despise wisdom and instruction;" that certain persons “professing themselves to be wise, became fools." We read of some who “ were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures;" of " foolish virgins," who took no oil in their lamps when they went forth to meet the bridegroom; of some who shall hereafter awake " to shame and everlasting contempt;" Prov. xiv. 9, xxviii. 26, i. 7; Rom. i. 22; Tit. iii. 3; Matt. xxv. 3; Dan. xii. 2. We read on the other hand that “ the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ;" the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and “ to depart from evil is understanding ;' that he that heareth Christ's sayings, and doeth them, is like unto “ a wise man, who built his house upon a rock;" that “the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." We read of being “made wise unto salvation;" of " the disobedient being turned to the wisdom of the just;" we read that “the wise shall inherit glory;" that " they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever;" Psa. cxi. 10; Job xxviii. 28; Matt. vii. 24, xxv. 42; Tim. iii. 15; Luke i. 17; Prov. iii. 35; Dan. xii. 3.
“ Hear instruction then and be wise, and refuse it not." Seek to “win Christ, and be found in him.” He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but HAVE everlasting life," John iii. 16.