Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CITY-ROAD MAGAZINE.

MARCH, 1876.

DIRECT TRUST IN GOD. THE METHODIST QUARTERLY TICKET FOR MARCH, 1876. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses : but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”—PSALM XX, 7. THERE was probably some difference of opinion in David's time as to the relative value of cavalry and chariots, but whichever they preferred, all were agreed that these two were the most important arms in the service. The military power of a nation consisted mainly in chariots and horses. The cavalry have always formed the strength of Oriental armies; the Ottoman conquests bear witness to their terrible effectiveness. The appallingly destructive energies of modern artillery* have lessened their utility in actual battle, but when this psalm was first sung, a well directed and well executed charge of cavalry was almost irresistible, except by an equally matched body of opposing horse. But the Israelites were forbidden to avail themselves of this force (see Deut. xx. 16), and in fact David possessed little or no cavalry. The prohibition was subsequently disregarded, the example of disobedience being set by Solomon. But to go down to Egypt for horses was always rebellion against God, and was regarded by the prophets as the strongest expression of unbelief in His protection : Isaiah xxx. 1–3; 15, 16 : xxxi. 1-3. For, positive promise of help and victory had been given : “ When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thoa, be not afraid of them : for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” (Deut. xx. 1.) The promise had been repeatedly fulfilled, as when God turned the iron chariots of Sisera into his confusion, and when Pharaoh's chariots and horsemen were sunk in the sea. David, then, could allege the surest grounds for his confidence in Jehovah, though his foes, the Syrians and Ammonites (2 Samuel x.), were strongest in that highly-prized force in which he was weakest. It is needless to add that the issue justified his faith.

For us, chariots and horses may be taken as types of material power, of

* The Okehampton experiments have shown that a brigade of cavalry charging would be simply annihilated before it could reach the guns. We rejoice, in the interests of peace, in the development of such destructive agencies. The day, prophesied by De Quincey when arms of precision were hardly dreamt of, seems rapidly approaching when war will be too fearful and costly for any nation to dare to wage.

VOL. VI. FIRST SERIES.

all those things that men naturally trust to-health, talent, wealth, friends: or even, of those subtler powers upon which Christians are tempted to rely for deliverance from spiritual danger, for ultimate salvation-our own works and righteousness, our own faith and prayer, our own selves, or in this one aspect of them, the Sacraments and means of grace in general. For to the exclusion of all these, as objects of confidence, we choose “ the name of the Lord our God.” Men are known by their names; by his name the individual is distinguished from the species. Originally names were descriptive. In an ideal language they would perfectly represent; so that the name being spoken no further account of the person or thing denoted would be necessary. The names of God are revelations of God not mere arbitrary signs (see Exodus vi. 3; Isaiah ix. 6; Matthew i. 21, 23). “ The name of the Lord our God,” signifies God as He is known to as, God manifest to us either by word or deed.

Hence branch out lines of thought too numerous and too far-reaching for us to follow : thoughts about the character of God, His power, His love, His faithfulness; about God as declared to us in the Scriptures, by promises and by history: I., Thoughts about each of the many other objects of reliance and why “some trust in ” them; and then, II., The exact sense in which “ the name of the Lord our God” is to be opposed to these “chariots” and “horses;" how and how far our acceptance of the one involves our rejection of the other. Out of the points whereon we might ponder profitably, let us select two: one that springs out of the first part of the verse, and one that is suggested by the second. Perhaps they may serve to illustrate the rest.

It will be observed that there is an important distinction noticed between two classes of powers symbolised by chariots and horses. There are powers which a Christian is not forbidden to employ, but only to trust in; and there are powers, legitimate to the world, of which he must not avail himself at all. As an example of the first class we may take the Sacraments. Their observance is enjoined on the believer. Yet to put the Sacraments in the place of the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity is the very essence of Ritualism. Good works, again, must be maintained with all carefulness; but to trust in them as meritorious is anti-evangelical legalism. A closer analogy is supplied by human forces, such as wealth or intellect. The minister who should refuse to devote all his mental energies to the preparation of his sermon would be guilty of criminal negligence; yet were he to trust to his own intellect or oratory for spiritual success, he would be more blameworthy still. A stricter analogue may be found : Two heathen nations at war might array against each other as vast a multitude of chariots and horses as either could collect; and in all likelihood victory would incline to that army which had brought the largest number into the field. These arms were truly formidable : it was a distinct and avowed disadvantage to Israel to be

his purse.

without them. That disadvantage the Hebrews bore, just because they were God's people. It was part of the price paid for their relation to Jehovah ; and they cheerfully accepted Divine protection in lieu of military strength. In his struggle for wealth, for temporal prosperity, the Christian labours under a precisely similar inequality. He does not meet the men of the world upon equal terms. It is not merely that he cannot stoop to tricks of trade, sharp practices, hard bargains with needy people, harsh and ungenerous treatment of inferiors and competitors; that he must be scrupulously honest and fair dealing; that he must not avail himself of unlawful weapons; but that as compared with an accurately honourable but irreligious man of business, he is from a worldly point of view at a disadvantage. His unbelieving rival has but one object in life, to it he can apply himself without compunction or stint; every energy of mind and body can be consecrated to his business, every penny he owns may be turned to pecuniary profit. Not so the Christian : with him “the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness” stand first ;first in order of time, first in order of importance. Hours must be snatched from business and devoted to communion with God, to public and private worship, to reading and meditation. The Church to which he belongs makes imperative claims upon his time and upon

His sensitive conscience is a severer restraint than the nicest worldly honour. He dares not set his heart upon

riches; not improbably he may be compelled to check his pursuit of them lest he should damage his soul. These are no light weights to carry in the race for affluence. Or to vary the figure, he is running another race besides, and the two courses frequently diverge. Very suggestive is our Lord's comparison of His disciples to sheep, and other men to wolves or, at best, to goats. The wolf can provide for and protect himself; sheep are his natural prey. The goat is a hardier, stronger, bolder, more active animal than the timid, helpless sheep. “ The children of this world” must infallibly be “in their generation wiser than the children of light.” The owl and the bat can fly more swiftly and securely at night than the lark or the eagle. Hence proceed many and heavy trials of the faith and patience.

But what, in this matter, of “the name of the Lord our God”? Instances might easily be adduced of the eminent success in business of eminently pious men; examples will readily occur to the reader. might be written, much has been well written, about the advantages of religion as an aid to earthly prosperity. That “godliness is profitable .. having promise of the life that now is,” is a familiar truth with divers aspects. Certainly, lofty spirituality is compatible with money-making. The Christian business-man may anticipate confidently marked success, such success will be beneficial to his highest interests. But there is that qualification, and there is Christ's proverb about the camel and the eye of

if Can you, my brother, contentedly and cheerfully accept the drawbacks of your Christianity ? Have you forgotten your Covenantthat God should appoint you your station ? Is it not well that your position in this world should be subordinate and subservient to your welfare in the world to come ?

The words we will remember the name of the Lord our God” may start a totally different train of thought. They imply an experience of God; that not only is He known to us by the revelation of His Word and by the testimony of others, but also by that which is peculiar and personal to ourselves. What is our Christian life but a continually increasing knowledge of God and an exactly proportionate increase of loving trust in Him? The "little children," writes St. John, “know the Father;" the “old men ” know " Him that is from the beginning.” “And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.The new-born child of God has an experience which grows with his growth. Experience is the outcome of patience, and patience is wrought by tribulation (Romans v. 3, 4). The Christian's first trial, how hard to bear ! how strong the temptation to doubt the Father's faithfulness and love! It is endured : it has passed : the sufferer emerges from it wiser and more trustful : when trouble next overtakes him, he has an experience to look back to—an experience that is the sure foundation for hope of deliverance. It may be, as a great English statesman has said, that “confidence is a plant of slow growth,” but once grown, like the oak, it can defy the fiercest tempests. Every moment of the Christian's life is nourishment for his confidence. An aged believer was at the point of death. A young minister, to whom such scenes were new, stood by her bedside in doubt what words to speak to her. Thinking she might need encouragement for her final conflict, he told how stanch and true a friend is God, how certain she might be that He would not forsake her at the last. “No, Sir,” she replied; “ He won't forsake me; I've known the Lord the last fifty years; and I know He will not forsake me now.” Experience worketh hope, that rises into absolute assurance. Upon a young preacher there fell a heavy sorrow; scarcely was he ordained to the full work of the ministry, when health suddenly failed, prolonged life seemed worse than doubtful, his country, work and friends must be left that he might seek a more genial climate. This was his testimony : “It has never cost me a moment's doubt. If it had come immediately after my conversion, it would have crushed me; but now I know in “Whom I have believed.'” Such cases are not exceptional. Who is there of us who cannot base his faith for the future upon his memory of the past ?

To “remember the name of the Lord our God” is of wondrous efficacy in severe temptation. “ The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." I have fought and conquered before against

hopeless odds; by the grace of God I can fight and conquer again. “By Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.” And shall I quail before these foes that Satan marshals against me? shall I count this hindrance an impassable barrier to my progress heavenward ? Half the power of a temptation consists in its audacious pretence to invincibility. Let the adversary of our souls catch the gleam of triumph from our eyes as he approaches to the attack, and he will slink away abashed and discomfited. Only let us see to it, that our confidence is not vain-glory; for Satan is quick to perceive the faintest trace of self and to push his advantage to the uttermost. Always a potent weapon, a promise gains tenfold force when we have proved it. Then is it ours as it has never been before. As experience accumulates so also should courage and strength. For a veteran in Christ's army to be timorous and weakly is almost a contradiction in terms. Review, my brother, your experience for the last quarter,—since the day of your second birth. Are there no victories ? Is there nothing to encourage ? Failures many and grievous, -much to regret, much to amend, is doubtless to be found there. But have you no memories of the omnipotence of the name of the Lord your God ? Indeed is not this the secret of every fall and failure, that for that moment, at least, God's name had been forgotten ? Gather up the experience of the past, and with holy boldness and holy humility, start anew upon a career of conquest.

"Jesu's tremendous name

Puts all our foes to flight :
Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb,

A Lion is in fight.
By all hell's host withstood,

We all hell's host o'erthrow ;
And conquering them, through Jesu's blood,

We still to conquer go."

GAMMA.

MEMORIAL SKETCH OF MRS. HANNAH ELIZABETH

LAWTON.

BY MISS BUTTERWORTH. Hannah ELIZABETH LAWTON was born in the year 1845. She was the daughter of J. Robinson and Elizabeth Symm, of Oxford. As a child she was chiefly characterised by docility and warm love of truth. She had a strong will of her own, but her occasional outbursts of temper would be followed by repentant tears and a quick longing for the kiss of forgiveness. If she had grieved her parents ever so slightly, she knew no rest until satisfied that reconciliation was perfect. The fact of her being her parents' only surviving child, and thus secluded in an unusual degree from association

« AnteriorContinuar »