« AnteriorContinuar »
CONSECRATION TO GOD, THE FIRST DUTY OF THE YEAR.
"Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord."-EXODUS xxxii. 29.
It is by no means an easy thing to lead these trifling and wayward hearts of ours to that serious consideration of their state before God, which so well befits them. Many voices, both from without and from within, are ever and anon calling us to solemn thoughtfulness, but those voices are too often unheard and unheeded. Men at large are so absorbed and engrossed with the busy pursuits of this world, that they imagine they have no time to give to the concerns of the world to come. Even those who profess to be influenced by a better hope, are too prone to chime in with the ordinary thinkings of their fellowmen, to have but little real sympathy with spiritual objects, to refuse to pay any earnest attention to God's teachings, and to manifest in spiritual things an indisposition to act on those views of common sense and self-interest which they uniformly act upon in all temporal matters. Many are the means which God, in his love and wisdom, employs for the purpose of rousing us from this state of dangerous apathy, and inducing us to think and act as we ought. Not only does he speak to us in his word and in his gospel, by his Spirit and by his providence; but his voice is heard in all the revolutions and alternations of seasons, in time's rapid and resistless progress, as it speeds onwards to its final close. The first day of a new year is surely a day that suggests many deeply impressive and most important thoughts to all of us. The mind that gives itself at all to reflection, if it has any measure of true sensibility in it,
can scarcely fail to be somewhat soft-consecration by that baptism of blood
which Jesus underwent. It is when coming to God through him, we are accepted of God, for his sake, that our consecration to God begins; and when his Spirit descends upon us, and dwells within us, and our natures undergo a
our heads, and how many changes have those years witnessed! How much goodness and mercy have we experiencd every year that we have lived, and how imperfectly have we acknowledged that goodness and mercy! How many sins and shortcomings have we been chargeable with in bygone years, and how little have we mourned over them before God! How many opportunities for usefulness have passing years afforded us, and how little have we really improved those opportunities! These are self-inspections and self-inquiries demanded of us to-day, to which we do well to betake ourselves. All of them urge us to consecrate ourselves to God.
ened and chastened on such a day. Many remembrances, chequered as everything earthly is, but fraught with valuable instruction, as all God's teachings are, suggest themselves to us. How many years have rolled over
There is such a thing as consecration to God. In the very act of creating us, God, in the highest sense, consecrated us to himself. Desecration, the result of satanic malignity and human depravity, too soon followed this original consecration. That desecration is universal. All the human race now come into the world the possessors of depraved and perverse hearts, and they make it abundantly manifest, that in the whole tenor of their lives they are alienated from God. It is God's gracious purpose, however, to reconcile us to himself, and in doing so to bring us back again to the state from which we have departed, and to restore us to the enjoyment of the privileges which we have forfeited. In the carrying out of his own infinitely wise purposes for bringing about this end, he consecrates his own Son to the work of our Surety and Saviour, and ratifies the act of
divine change, and our lives are brought | and hindering all efforts for its reinto a measure of conformity to the will and image of God, the consecration becomes more perfect and more complete.
There is a personal consecration to which God calls us, a consecration which involves in it much that is connected with our soul's highest interests. It is the more unreserved surrender of the heart to God. It is the obtaining of more realizing discoveries of all the truths of God's holy word. It is the manifestation of more thorough dedication to every active service and duty to which God is pleased to call us.
If there is a consecration that is personal, there is also one that is social. It is the consecration of God's people'in their spiritual association with each other. It is the Church becoming to the fullest extent what it ought to be the pillar and ground of the truth. It is the more entire devotedness of churches to Him who is the "head of the body -the Church." It is the enjoyment by churches of "times of refreshing," not at long intervals, but frequently, if not constantly. It is every church becoming a witness for Christ, and giving its testimony so clearly and so decidedly that none can challenge it. This consecration will manifest itself in various ways. We must hold fast the truths of Christ's Gospel, ever remembering that it is only by their faithful maintenance, that the real prosperity of churches can be secured.
Could we but know the blessedness which is connected with such an advancement in God's ways, the attainment of such nearness to God, such intimate union and communion with Him, we should surely be led at once to seek blessings so desirable, and to secure them in immediate and thorough consecration of heart to His service.
There are many considerations sug gested by the arrival of this day which are well fitted to lead to immediate consecration to God, in order that we may enjoy the blessings which God has promised to bestow upon us.
The thought of years that have passed away, and that have borne a record in reference to us, which we may well mourn over, should prompt us to immediate consecration to God. Some of us have seen many years. All of us can number several years. Those years will now and then, as memory does its work, rise up before us and invite us to examine them. Many are the favours which in the course of bygone years a gracious God has conferred upon us. Not a few trials and troubles have perhaps been allotted to us-of sins, many and great, we can scarcely fail to be conscious. How much wiser and better might we have been than we now are! How much more might we have done, both for God and for man, than we have yet done! Many a duty which we might once have discharged, and which we may deeply lament our neglect of, it is impossible for us to discharge now. Many a false step which we might once
This consecration to God, both in its personal and social aspects, is very apt to be looked at as a thing that is desirable, but impracticable, a sort of attain-have avoided, and which we may now ment which it is all very well to talk about, but which it is really impossible to reach ; a virtue which we would, no doubt, be the better of, but which after all we may contrive to do without. Such notions, common as they may be, are at utter variance with the spirit of true religion, are indicative of a fearfully low state of piety in the soul, and are calculated to continue and confirm the evil by repressing all desire,
bitterly regret ever having taken, it is impossible for us to retrace now. But while we cannot alter the past, we may learn from it to be more wise and holy, more faithful and consistent, more spiritual and devoted for the future. Let the time that is past suffice, and more than suffice for the life so carnal and worldly, which we have heretofore led. To-day let each one of us mingle with adoring praise of God's great good
be contaminated by the wide-spread evils that are round about us-keeping ourselves pure, being clean in heart and hand. This is what God claims from us. This is what is demanded of us by the church and the world. We shall be enabled to exemplify it only as we cultivate the spirit of consecration to God, and are richly and largely imbued with that spirit. Giving ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant, we shall be enabled to serve him faithfully and acceptably," discerning the signs of the times," and "knowing that now it is high time to awake out of sleep."
The thought that as time rolls on we are every year and every day advancing towards eternity, and must be introduced into it ere long, should prompt us to immediate consecration to God. We live for eternity. The life that does not prepare its possessor for a blissful eternity is not such a life as a rational and immortal being ought to live. Between time and eternity there may seem to our ordinary view to be a vast distance. We are too much inclined to think of future things as far off. They may, however, be very near, and cannot under any circumstances be very distant. Life passes rapidly away, so that childhood is soon exchanged for youth, and youth for manhood, and manhood for old age. Death comes at last to the longest liver. To many he comes long before old age has come. None of us can tell when he may come to us. All of us know, however, that sooner or later he will come. Every rolling year brings him nearer. Every fleeting day, as it passes heedlessly by, abridges the appointed time that is given to us on the earth. Time is now coming to an end. Perhaps it may be said to us by that God who has life and death at his disposal-"This year thou shalt die." If we had the assurance that on a particular day, ere this year had completed its circuit, our souls should be required by us; what deep and strong feeling would rise up in our
hearts; how anxious should we be to set our houses in order; how vain and little would earthly things begin to appear in our estimation! Ought we not, as the case stands, to keep heaven constantly before us, to endeavour always to grow in preparation for it, to seek daily the abundant entrance into it which God has promised? And we can only set our affections with growing intenseness on things above as we are truly consecrated to God, and as the love of God is thus shed abroad in our hearts. Thus it is that we shall live for heaven amid all the vicissitudes of earth -"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which aro not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
May we all begin this year aright, and spend it aright. May it not be added to years which we shall have to mourn over when we stand before God. May it be, whatever it is as regards our earthly circumstances, a year of spiritual peace and prosperity, of growing holiness and increasing usefulness. May it be a year which we shall look back upon, not only in time but in eternity, with devout thankfulness to God for all that he enables us to realize and accomplish in it.
We may resolve, as we have done in former years, to devote it to God, and the resolution may be forgotten. We may determine, as we have done in past years, to improve and advance in it in all that is well-pleasing to God, and the determination may exert no abiding influence upon us. If we trust to our own resolutions and determinations, this will be the case. Let us, however, look to God himself, that he may strengthen us. Oh thou Spirit of light and love, of truth and power, come down upon us; dwell in us; so shall we learn aright to obey the command, "Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord." A. R.
ANECDOTES, FACTS, AND APHORISMS.
THE CONVERTED CAFFRE.
AMONG the most savage and seemingly incorrigible of the human race the Gospel gains some of its most signal triumphs. An instance of this occurred in South Africa, at one of the stations of the London Missionary Society. A Caffre, who had heard a missionary preach on the wrath to come, was much troubled in mind, though he did not understand fully the meaning of the language. He was therefore brought to the missionary, from whom he obtained more just views of his lost state, and asked what he must do. Mr.
Hood preached to him Christ crucified, the Saviour of sinners. The awakened Caffre listened with eagerness, and fixing an anxious eye on the preacher, said; Sir, I am old and stupid-tell me again." And being told again, tears rolled down the sable cheek of this man of noble and athletic frame, and he confessed his astonishment at the love of God and the compassion of the Saviour. He resolved to come and live near the missionary, that he might hear again and again the glad tidings. But his property consisted in cattle, and there was no ground for grazing near the station. What could he do? He told his difficulty to the Missionary, and added: "I am a Caffre, and I love my cattle; but I'll part with the last one I have if that stands in the way of my coming to hear the word." Matters were arranged, and he took up his abode on missionary ground, where he was regarded as a consistent and devoted follower of Christ. "I'll part with the last one I have." Noble resolve! Just like a true Christian.
The Caffres have been termed "a race of irreclaimable and treacherous savages." But here is one of them acting much less like a savage and a heathen, probably, than many of his accusers. And such have hundreds of
them become since, under the preaching of Christ crucified.
CONFIDE IN GOD.
THERE once lived in an old brown cottage, a solitary woman, about thirty years of age. She earned a living by knitting and spinning, and the produce of her little garden, which she carefully cultivated. She was known everywhere, from village to village, by the name of "Happy Nancy." She had no money, no family, no relatives; and was halfblind, quite lame, and very crooked. There was no comeliness in her, and yet there, in that homely, deformed body, the great God, who loves to bring strength out of weakness, had set His royal seal.
"Well, Nancy, singing again," would the chance visitor say, as he stopped at her door.
"Oh, yes, I'm for ever at it."
"I wish you'd tell me your secret, Nancy-you are all alone, you work hard, you have nothing very pleasant surrounding you-what is the reason you're so happy ?"
"Perhaps it's because I haven't got anybody but God," replied the good creature, looking up. "You see, rich folks like you depend upon their families and their houses; they've got to thinking of their business, of their wives and children, and then they're always mighty afraid of troubles ahead. I an't got anything to trouble myself about, you see, 'cause I leave it all to the Lord. I think, Well, if He can keep this great world in such good order, the sun rolling day after day, and the stars a shining night after night, make my garden things come up just the same, season after season, He can sartainly take care of such a poor, simple thing as I am; and so, you see, I leave it all to the Lord, and the Lord takes care of me."