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LAY ASIDE MALICE.
band, a tender father, and a kind neighbour, is known to Him who " searcheth the heart and trieth the reins," as a malicious man. For, with all this tenderness and kindness toward many, there is also revenge or hatred cherished against a few. The many whom he loves do not fix the man's character; but the few whom he hates.
What can be plainer than the words of the Lord Jesus Christ on this point? “ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so ?” Matt. v. 43–47.
It should be noted that the Lord requires not merely the absence of malice against those who curse and persecute his people: there must be something more ; there must be actual kindness; not only felt and professed, but verily shown in deeds. He teaches his people in the prayer, given as a model for their use, to affirm always that they forgive those who trespass against them; and adds, while he leaves the rest of the prayer without any remark, on this subject : “ If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” Matt. vi. 15. · In like manner, in replying to Peter, when asked how often an offending brother must be forgiven, Jesus describes the wrath of the king who delivered the unforgiving servant to the tormentors, and closes the matter with this solemn warning, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses,” Matt. xviii. 35.
What, then, will become of those who, from religious, or political, or personal causes, lie in wait for the blood of their fellow-men, or seek to injure them? If there be faithfulness in God, such cruel men shall be for ever with the devil and his angels; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Except they repent and become converted, without doubt they shall perish everlastingly.
The violent doings of malicious men are often terrible in this life; but their sufferings will be far more terrible in the life to come. Oh that men were wise! that they would consider these things! Sad it is to think that men, for the sake of indulging malice for a few years, or even less, will gratify the malice of devils, who will torment them for ever, and ever. Miserable satisfaction at a terrible cost! Evil men say that revenge is sweet; surely wise men will think that its fruits are bitter.
How forcibly does the apostle Paul set forth the duty of Christians, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, WITH ALL MALICE: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you,” Eph. iv. 31, 32. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any : even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye,” Col. iii. 12, 13.
Happy those who walk in the pleasant paths of holy peace and heavenly love! Such, and such alone, are Christians. The word of God assures us concerning wrath, strife, seditions, enryings, murders, and such like, " that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” Gal. v. 20, 21. But Jesus Christ himself has said concerning his own believing people, “ Blessed are the peace-makers : for they shall be called the children of God,” Matt. v. 9.
Reader, what art thou ? A man of peace ?-at peace with God, being justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ?-at peace with all mankind, even with your enemies? Can you pray for your enemies, like Jesus, who said when dying, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ?" And like Stephen, who said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge ?" If so, the Bible sets before you, as your portion in the world to come, “eternal life;" if not, God himself forewarns you of “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish!”
Let, then, Jesus Christ himself be the pattern of your life, 1 " who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered,
he threatened not: but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously," 1 Pet. ii. 23. Listen to his council: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,” (Matt. xi. 29,) and thus adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour with “ the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price,” 1 Pet. iii. 4. Thus may you glorify God in your life and temper, spread love and kindness among your neighbours, and cherish that inward peace which passeth all understanding.
THE NEW-MADE GRAVE. It was a bright sunny evening in June, when, tired with business, I went out to seek refreshment for mind and body, and feeling disposed for quiet and meditation, I followed a path which led through several meadows (o a rural village.
Everything I saw drew me to reflect upon the bounty, and mercy, as vell as the wonder-working power of a gracious God. The rich crops of grass were waving in the meadows around, while at a distance the bright green of many fields told that we might look forward to an abundant harvest of the corn which God has given for the use of man. The hedgerows sent forth the rich perfume of the white hawthorn, and thousands of shining insects were sporting in the air, or floating on the water. How widely spread and abundant are the mercies and benevolence of God towards all his creatures, and especially to undeserving man. I soon reached the village church, where I sat down on the low wall surrounding the church-yard. I found myself close to a new-made grave, which the dry withered appearance of the turf showed to have been lately opened to receive the body of some one departed. Whoever he might have been-and it was unknown to me whether he were young or old, whether he had been loved and respected as a true Christian, or whether,
unmourned, he had been called from scenes of vice and misery to fill the narrow coffin-one thing was certain, that the fellowcreature by whose grave I sat, must “ appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,” to “receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad," 2 Cor. v. 10. “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works," Rev. xx. 12.
Whilst these thoughts were passing through my mind, I saw an elderly woman approaching; she curtsied civilly, and this encouraged me to ask her, “Whose grave is that?”
“Ah, sir," she replied, " that is a sad story;" and as she spoke she came up, and leaning against the wall, looked over at the new-made grave, “ Poor gentleman!” she continued, “he little thought his end was so near. You know, sir, one of the Hall farnis is to let, and it is supposed that this gentleman came to look at it. The coach set him down at the Plough Inn, one evening, about ten days ago; he ordered a bed, and then walked out. When he came back he had supper, inquired about the farm, asked when was a likely time for him to find the squire at home, and after chatting very pleasantly with the landlady, went up-stairs. The next morning, when she went to his door to call him, he did not answer, so at last she went in, and there he was, sir, leaning over the bed, with some of his clothes on. She ran up to him, but-he was dead! She sent for the doctor, but all in vain; he thought the gentleman must have died in a fit as soon as he went up-stairs the night before." “ This is indeed an awful instance of sudden death," I said, as the woman paused; "and did no one know who this stranger was ?” “Why, sir,” she replied, “they searched his pockets, and found some papers, and part of a letter; but they had to wait for further information till the coach came through again, and then the coachman told them who he was. They wrote to tell his friends what had happened, but when they came it was too late to take him away, so they buried him very decently here, and one of the gentlemen that attended the funeral ordered a stone for his grave. Ah, sir,” she added in a solemn tone, as she turned slowly away, “I hope he was prepared for this sudden change, for where the tree falleth, there it shall be.'"
Once more left alone, I returned to my reflections. Perhaps, thought I, my turn may be next; to-morrow I may be found, like this my fellow-sinner, a corpse. He was seeking after this world's necessities and comforts; he was providing for the bodv; had he provided for the soul ? But am I myself prepared to THÉ NEW-MADE GRAVE.
in the night?” Shall I then be found among those unhappy beings of whom our Lord says, “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment,” or among those whom he has promised to welcome with these precious words, “ Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?” The same question is equally important to every fellow-sinner: Are you prepared for instant death, and for the day of judgment? You know not that you will be spared to see to-morrow's sun; the finger of the Lord may now be singling you out, and before this day is ended, an accident, or the sudden stroke of disease, may cry aloud to you, “ This night thy soul shall be required of thee." Rest not till you have searched your own hearts, and discovered whether you have received Christ as all your salvation, and all your hope, or whether you have been going on from day to day, hoping that mercy and pardon will be granted to you, though you still refuse to come to Christ, and are still living without God in the world. There is but one way whereby we may escape the condemnation we deserve: Jesus pointed it out to us when he said, “I am the way.” John xiv. 6.
Is the aged reader living for God, or still grasping after the vanities of earth ? Are your days spent in sinful indulgence, in drunkenness, gaming, idle talking and jesting; or are you feeding on the bread of life, and finding all your joy in Christ, and making him known to others? If your soul should this night be required of you, would it be found ready for the presence of the Lord ?
Fathers and mothers, who are earning bread for your families by the sweat of your brow, what is it you live for? what are you seeking for your children? Only the things that “perish with the using," or that “ pearl of great price” which can never be taken from them? What are you teaching them by your word and example; to serve God, or to serve Satan? What, too, is the state of your own souls? is the good seed choked by the cares and anxieties which surround you ? Oh, commit your way unto the Lord, trust in him, fret not yourselves about earthly evil that may never come; gird up your loins and have your lights burning, for the word may have already gone forth, and before another morning dawns, you may be numbered with the dead.
Ye young men and maidens, who are so apt to say, " There is time enough, we will prepare for judgment when our youth is past, let us enjoy the world a little longer,” it becomes you also to reflect. How can you make sure of a single day? Have you never missed a brother, a sister, a companion from your side, younger perhaps than yourselves, and yet cut off by the stroke of death? Have not many of you, when told that some friend or