« AnteriorContinuar »
SUBJECT :-A Photogram of Spiritual Indolence.
" I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well : I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty' come as one that travelleth ; and thy want as an armed man.”—Prov. xxiv. 30–34.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Forty-seventh.
We have here indolence portrayed by the hand of a master; and as it stands before us on the canvass, certain facts strike us concerning it-namely, that it is foolish, procrastinating, and ruinous.-I. IT IS FOOLISH. Solomon characterizes this indolent man as one "void of understanding.” Wherein do you see this man's folly? In the flagrant neglect of his own interests. Unlike the condition of millions who have not one yard of green sod, which they can call their own, this man held a little estate in his possession. He had a "field” and a “vineyard," and upon the cultivation of this depended his bread. But he neglected it, and it was grown over with thorns. Morally this vineyard may signifiy our spiritual natures, with all their faculties and potential powers, and which it is both our manifest interest and bounden duty to cultivate. There is one noticeable point of distinction between material and spiritual cultivation. You may cultivate your field by proxy, but you can only cultivate your soul yourself.-II. IT IS PROCRASTINATING. Solomon observed that indolence in this man led to constant procrastination. “I saw and considered it well, I looked upon it and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” To the indolent man duty is always for the morrow. The idea of working is not given up, but postponed from day to day; and the longer it is postponed the more indisposed the mind grows for its performance. It is always
a little more," or always looking to a “more convenient season.” III. IT IS RUINOUS. First; Consider the wretched com
dition to which his estate was reduced. “Lo, it was all grown over with thorns,” &c. It might have waved in golden grain, -it might have been a scene of loveliness and plenty; but it is an unsightly wilderness, unprotected, open to the foot of every intruder. It is noteworthy that, ruin comes not by cultivation but by neglect. Your garden will soon become a wilderness if you neglect it. Heaven's kind arrangement this, to stimulate labor. It is so with the soul. You need not strive to ruin yourselves :—do nothing, and you will be damned. Secondly : Consider the utter destitution to which it must inevitably conduct. By this indolence, “thy poverty shall come as one that travelleth,” &c. Two things are suggested by the words :-(1) That the ruin is gradual in its approach. “Thy poverty shall come.” It does not burst on you at once, like a thunder storm. The punishment of the indolent farmer takes all the months from spring-time to harvest to approach him. Full and adequate retribution does not come at once. “There is a treasuring up." It is coming now “as one that travelleth,”-it is on the road. (2) The ruin is terrible in its consummation. “ As an armed man." It will seize you as with the grasp of an indignant warrior. Indolence brings ruin.*
Brother, thou hast a momentous work to do, thou hast to cultivate the wilderness of thy nature, thou hast to repair the moral fences of thy soul. In other words, thou hast to rebuild the ruined temple of thy being. Thou hast no time to lose. · Thou hast slept already too long. “ Resolve and do” at once.
Lay firmly every stone ; long years may be,
And stormy winds may rend, ere all be done ;
* See Homilist, Vol. v. p. 117.
Theological Notes and Queries.
[The utmost freedom of independent thought is permitted in this department. The reader must therefore use his own discriminating faculties, and the Editor must be allowed to claim freedom from responsibility.]
MAN'S POWER OF RESISTING
TEMPTATION. REPLICANT. In answer to QUERIST, No. 13, p. 269 and 316. It is REPLICANT. In answer to QUERmuch to my surprise that I am IST, No. 16, p. 270. The query of referred to the Article on Matt. P. M. H. is one which may fairly xvii. 24–27, for a reply to my in- be discussed. The Querist eviquiry. On the contrary, it was dently assumes that man has the this Article that suggested the power of resisting temptation. question; for I there read (page | Believing that such a doctrine is 183) “It (the Temple tax] was a thoroughly Biblical one and not the tax of a heathen despot, that it is only the reasonable act of to support a pagan temple, or to an intelligent being to state the carry on the horrid trade of war.
grounds of his faith, perhaps you I cannot suppose that Christ will permit me to make a few would have yielded to such impi- remarks in reference to the sugous and unrighteous imposts, * * gestions on pages 316, 17. He would have resisted such
To every sane man in all climes iniquitous demands.” Now, as and ages, the Great Creator has the Cæsars were certainly heathen given a moral compass to enable despots; and as the Roman re- him to avoid the wrong and folvenues did certainly go to main- low the right. This moral comtain an idolatrous religion, and a pass we call conscience. The gigantic system of military con- Decalogue was clearly declared quest; it seems to me that, either to man in the full recognition of our Lord's sentence respecting his possessing this inward monithe payment of the Tribute money tor. It is the office of conscience (Matt. xxvii. 17.)* must be un- to guide and to govern the volition derstood as prohibitory; or, sup- and actions of man. “It was upon posing it undecisive, some other the authority of the law of natuScripture must contain such a ral conscience that Paul appealed prohibition; or the writer of the to the Romans.” The whole Bible Article referred to has assumed in fact is one grand continuous an untenable position. The ques. argument in favor of the moral tion is one of immense practical freedom and independence of importance; and it challenges a man. direct and definite reply.
It is trite to call this world E. J. J.
a probationary state, but it is * Numisma census.
one in the fullest sense of the
words. As the material world is and holiness in man? I am liv. beautifully and wonderfully adap- ing under a moral government in ted to develop and meet the re- which I find temptation is essenquirements of man's physical na- tial to my spiritual well-being. ture, so is the moral system Unless temptation assails me in devised by the Almighty, marvel- an alluring and powerful form, it lously fitted to meet all the wants does not probe and try my moral of, and to test and strengthen, nature, and therefore can prove of man's spiritual nature.
no earthly or heavenly virtue to Between the cradle and the me.—How true is the remark that grave we are daily, on this re- has been made by one of our livvolving planet, undergoing a great ing preachers thattraining process.
Our highest faculties and deepest feelings are
« The virtue of many men is but vice
sleeping," continually being appealed to. It is ever onwards and upwards, or Temptation is the only effeconwards and downwards. We tual instrumentality for qualifyhave no stand-point in time. For ing man for a higher state of every thought, word and deed we
existence. It brings out his chaare held accountable.
racter, and by it alone is a man Cowper in the lines
found to be just or unjust, pure
or unclean, true or false. Job's “ Binding nature fast in fate Left free the human will,"
history strikingly illustrates the
truth of this view. Temptation forcibly expresses the respon- brought out the triumphant godsibility of man. With all our liness of the man. Sin is temptafreedom and accountability we tion yielded to. How incumbent are nevertheless by no means in upon us it is to be ever vigilant ; a state of isolation.
for whilst we have here no abidThe thought of the resources ing city, an active, deadly influwhich are within the reach of ence, that never slumbers or rests, every one of us is almost over- is unceasingly trying and proving whelming. There is the Great us. Father, the loving Redeemer, the In ethics as in physics the Great Guiding Spirit around us Father of all maintains a due reand above us. Man has only to lation between cause and effect. give an upward, earnest, appeal. He who tempers the wind to the ing, glance for aid, and he secures shorn lamb will assuredly never it.
allow a man to be tempted in any Almighty love and wisdom called way beyond his power-that is, us into being, and God's ways beyond his ability or strength to are, and ever have been, just to resist. man. Our moral dignity is in our To speak of irresistible temp. own hands and under a mercifultation, is to utter a solecism and discipline we must work out our to involve the speaker in inextriown salvation by availing our- cable difficulties. If a temptation selves of the ordained means and be possibly irresistible-man's rekeeping the divine law.
sponsibility terminates, and the Without diverging into the government of God would not question of the origin of evil, I harmonize with the principles of would ask whether its existence eternal justice. is not absolutely necessary to the Poor man if he cannot but development and growth of virtuel yield, verily God's law is too hard
for him. Temptations beset him to which he must succumb Man is tempted beyond his strength to withstand, and to be overcome by temptation becomes literally a legitimate mode of expression.
In such a case man is clearly reduced to the creature of circumstances. His will is governed by his motives, and his motives have their origin in the influences and events of the hour.
Now the experience of all men will oppose this and declare it counterfeit. God is always good ; and although every one of us has had to do battle with dark thoughts and knows the potent influence of temptation we must all confess that no sin has been committed by us that we were compelled to commit.
Sin is the transgression of law; and whenever we have been tempted to do the wrong, we have always had the power, the strength, the ability to say—no. When we have yielded and sinned, in the sad hour of sin we were exercising the fearful prerogative of our nature, and there was the right path before us.
Conscience moreover tells us that inasmuch as the deed was wrong, not a compulsory one, it was indeed our own act and avoidable.
Pulpit and its Three Handmaids.
HISTORY, SCIENCE, ART.
THE EVILS OF VANITY AS ILLUSTRATED IN HAYDON THE ARTIST.
The life of Haydon, a modern painter of considerable celebrity, furnishes a painful example of the mischief which results from an over estimation of our own abili. ties. The autobiography of the
The goodness of the Creator and the freedom of the creature are deduced from the doctrine of the querist, and it subordinates temptation to the welfare of man and the glory of God.
The doctrine specially manifests the necessity for cultivating good principles and a prayerful and watchful spirit. Life is short and uncertain, and our warfare a spiritual one. “Resist the devil and he will flee." Let us glory in our freedom; and whilst realizing the momentous responsibilities which weigh upon us, may we not rely upon our own arm of flesh, but rely upon Him who is King over all now and for ever.
The doctrine is a scriptural one. May it conduce to our progress in Christian truth and excellence. “By their fruits shall ye know them.” ORA ET LABORA. Queries to be answered in our next
number. 21. Is the Magisterial character of God as distinguished from His Parental anything more than a theological fiction? If so, Is there any just reason for supposing that He ever does, or ever can do in that capacity anything different to what His Love as the Infinite Father would dictate!
unfortunate artist is written with much honesty, and discloses the source of his deep sorrows, whilst it records them. In early life he manifested a great aversion to the ordinary duties of life. When he commenced his career as a painter, he adopted what he loved