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While some say they are of Apollos, and others of Cephas, are ye not carnal and walk as men? Are ye better than the Corinthians of old? Our blessed Lord pronounces himself to be " the truth," and all, more or less, that have received a Christian education confess that there is a God :—Nature itself, in fact, the whole creation the leaf, the bud, the fruit, are all signs and proofs that there is a Maker; but there has arisen so much dissent in the mode of believing religious principles and doctrines, that at last the fundamental part of the truth which he came on earth to inculcate and to establish is almost lost sight of, viz: the doctrine of Christ crucified, Obedience and love to God and love to Man, which he pronounced to be life itself,—" this do, and thou shalt live. (See Luke x. 25th verse.) Thus, whilst the truth has been given us, (see John xiv. 16—17th verses.) men have devised methods of their own in receiving it—have adopted customs and formed modes of worship for believing it, and preaching it according as each thinks to be the right—whilst centuries have passed, and a march taken place in intellect—an increasing thirst for knowledge pacing with time has arisen, and it has become a legislative question in what way such knowledge is to be imparted? under what form it is to be administered? I am quite convinced that knowledge must have for its basis religious principles—and a daily practise of moral duties flowing therefrom; in order to ensure happiness here and bliss hereafter. "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Lord Bacon has told us that knowledge is power, but knowledge must be converted into wisdom, and this can only emanate from Religion, "whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." It will be well to bear in mind the language of one of the most elegant, as well as the most pious of our English poets,
"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
And with all that has been done, and is doing, with all the erections of places of worship for the people's spiritual edification, yet sin prevails, and it is naturally asked, Why is it so? And in the century to come, children yet unborn may have to look in vain for unity and love, so little is the spirit of the doctrines of our Church carried out,—so little does "the word preached profit them not being mixed with faith in them that hear it." Who cannot but admire the beautiful service of our Church, and regret that her inculcations are not followed, and that there is not more practical Christianity. St. Peter has taught us to expect a day of " heresies and swift destruction;" and elsewhere we are warned of the latter days when there shall be " deceivers speaking great swelling words of vanity, promising liberty, and yet are the servants of corruption." And that these times may not be afar off, is very probable; we however, have one great and all-powerful consolation, "he that endureth unto the end the same shall be saved." In quietness and confidence shall be your strength!
Reader,—It is your highest privilege to enjoy the benign influences of this blessed doctrine of Christ Crucified. Let it not be lost upon you; but by it may your hope be kept stedfast, your faith more firm, and your zeal in his service unabated. As the Jews doubted Christ crucified, so earnestly must you believe in it, imparting as it does comfort and peace to the troubled mind, coinciding with christian sobriety and charity, inculcating those precepts which are holy, holy in themselves as well as in their purpose —a doctrine which contains all that is lawful and innocent. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, he is a just God and a Saviour there is none like unto Him; blessed is he who is not offended in me. Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
It may be that this doctrine is being lost sight of now by many; therefore christian reader be on your guard; lest you become corrupted by your desires,—lest you like the Jews and Greeks, make it a stumbling-block and foolishness to you, who are "wise in your own conceits," and fall in your wickedness. There are some who receive it not with its simplicity, for it shows where it is received, and is made manifest in its true followers; and its moral effects are seen with individuals as well as with nations. Ever bear in mind that without the cross, you are living day by day in sin. Are you carrying it, and so preparing for future glory and happiness? Have you fulfilled your baptismal vow and covenant? have you the sign of a regenerate heart bearing testimony to Christ, binding you more strongly to learn and to keep his commandments? Whilst it cheers the heart, it influences the mind,—it sets the occupier to forsake the world and embrace all things spiritual, to become fools in order that you may be wise. It is a gift which the Holy Spirit imparts to all christian believers; it is " the power of God" to the salvation of your souls.
Let us then ask ourselves whether we individually have this sign, and whether we labour to attain its possession. Do we seek and achieve Christ Crucified, for it is the greatest work of redemption. There is much to excite our admiration and stir our motion; it is the deep and lasting wisdom which gains the praise of Christ, and the honor of God. Therefore be on your guard, and seek it while you have the time. Then wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times and strength of salvation. For how shall we answer, if with the faculties with which he has endowed us, and in the field of heavenly knowledge, we are found ignorant and blind, immersed in worldly pleasures. Through the redemption of Christ only you will be saved. Covet not then, like the Greeks, worldly wisdom, for there is a practical wisdom from above, which will assist you in preparing for heavenly felicities !" Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his lord shall make ruler over his household to give them their portion of meat in due season? blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing."
THE ONE THING NEEDFUL
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careJul and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. 10th chap. Luke, 41st & 42nd verses.
In this passage we are taught two things: 1st.—That we should not be over-careful in worldly matters; 2nd.—The reason why .— because, there is something more important to attend to, "needful" for our souls as well as our bodies. These two points we see carried out in the character of Martha and Mary. The former was busying herself in order to make a meet reception for her blessed Lord, "she was cumbered about with much serving," and lamented her sister's apparent neglect in leaving her to attend to all the honours which she wished to have paid her divine Guest, and requested of the latter to spare her for assistance, as we read in the 40th verse, "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore, that she help me." Although it may be admitted that Martha was only acting right in wishing to entertain her holy Master as became his honored station, yet her error lie in over-carefulness, and in troubling herself about many things, which were unnecessary, at any rate; though perhaps of importance in her eyes, were perfect insignificance in our Lord's. Hence he kindly and tenderly reproved her, and bade her remember, that " one thing is needful;" then drawing a contrast between herself and sister, who had chosen that good part, declared the same should not "be taken away from her." All the over-carefulness Martha had, was in things that were to no profit; worldly trifles engrossed her attention, and so she forgot "the one thing needful." On the contrary, Mary, doubtless, gave a proper con