« AnteriorContinuar »
ness, an humble confession of our own great unworthiness, and the resolution, so becoming always, and to-day so peeuliarly becoming-"I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living." "As for me, I will serve the Lord."
The thought of God's forbearance towards us manifested in sparing us till now, notwithstanding all our unworthiness, should prompt us to immediate consecration to God. None of us can look back without seeing the ravages which death has made. He has cut down one and another of those with whom we were once intimately associated, and has thus made the world appear to us as a place of sepulchres. That we have been spared when so many have fallen around us, cannot fail when we think of it to fill us with wonder and thankfulness. That it is entirely of the Lord's mercies that we are spared, none of us can doubt. Many a time have we by our departures from God, and our rebellions against him, done much to provoke him to cut us down. Again and again has he spared us that we might bear fruit to him, but we are still cumberers of the ground. He has borne with all our past unprofitableness and unworthiness, and thus it is that we are alive this day. Shall we abuse his goodness any more? Shall we resist his grace any longer? Shall we continue to possess his Gospel without prizing it as we ought? Shall we continue to profess his truth without seeking to walk in strict accordance with its requirements? To do so is to act a most ungrateful and unworthy part. Let us rather regard all his goodness as at once calculated and intended to lead us to repentence, the repentence which will yield meet fruits in future holiness of heart and life, that henceforth we may not walk as others do, and as we have before done, but as God requires us ever to walk. With death before us, and the great realities of the day of final account in prospect, and eternity in all its grandeur opening up to our view-feeling that the time is short, and that the end of all things is at
hand-let us determine as it regards the unknown future," whether we live, to live to the Lord, or whether we die, to die to the Lord," that "Christ may be magnified in us, whether it be by life or by death."
The thought that we live in peculiar times, and that these times have peculiar claims upon us, in whatever sphere of life we happen to move, should prompt us to immediate consecration to God. Many things concur to invest our times with importance. They are times of unwonted activity, and of unceasing excitement-times when great changes are manifestly taking place in the world, and when the judgments of God in various forms are abroad in the earthtimes when unprecedented facilities for the diffusion of divine truth are opening up everywhere, and when in all places there is a sighing and a longing on the part of men for the true and the good, much as they may be mistaken as to the way of obtaining them. War has been raging with intense fury, and it is likely still to lead to much carnage and Commercial distress has desolation. prevailed to a fearful extent, and it is now involving thousands in deep anxiety. Pestilence has been cutting down its thousands in some lands, but our land has been exempted from its ravages. In such times, we as God's people have a most important part to act. We must be as the guides of the erring, and the instructors of the ignorant. We must show the bewildered mind that there is One who is ready to deliver it from all its struggles, and to lead it into all truth. We must cheer the sinking heart by exhibiting to it the and power love of Him who is a refuge from every storm, and a covert from every tempest. We must be prepared to give to all around us a fair and a just exhibition of the spirit and object, the character and influence of our holy religion, and to carry out fairly and thoroughly its great and beneficent requirements. But in order to this we must seek to be ourselves eminently devoted to Godguarding against allowing ourselves to
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 are 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. Wo 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."
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."
"Well, but, Nancy, suppose a frost should come after your fruit-trees are all in blossom, and your little plants out, suppose—”
"But I don't suppose; I never can suppose; I don't want to suppose, except that the Lord will do everything right. That's what makes young people unhappy; you're all the time supposing. Now why can't you wait till the suppose comes, as I do, and then make the best of it ?"
It would be well for us to imitate happy Nancy, and "never suppose." Be more childlike toward your heavenly Father; believe in His love; learn to confide in His wisdom, and not in your own; and, above all, "wait till the 'suppose' comes, and then make the best of it." Depend upon it, earth would seem an Eden if you would follow happy Nancy's rule, and never give place in your bosom to imaginary evils.
AN INCIDENT OF THE BATTLE-FIELD.
A SOLDIER was wounded in one of the battles of the Crimea, and was carried out of the field. He felt that his wound was mortal—that life was quickly ebbing away—and he said to his comrades who were carrying him,—
"Put me down; do not take the trouble to carry me any further. I am dying."
They then put him down, and returned to the field. A few minutes after, an officer saw the man weltering in his blood, and asked him if he could do anything for him.
"Nothing, thank you."
"Is there nothing I can do for you? Shall I write to your friends? "
"I have no friends you can write to. But there is one thing for which I would be much obliged. In my knapsack you will find a Testament; will you open it at the 14th of John, and near the end of the chapter you will find a verse begins with 'Peace.' Will you read it ?" The officer did so, and read the words, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
"Thank you, Sir," said the dying man, "I have that peace; I am going to that Saviour; God is with me; I want no more ;" and instantly expired.
DR. JOHN M. MASON, while preaching on the text, "What shall it profit a man," &c., referring to the apologies given by the impenitent for refusing to accept the gift of eternal life, mentioned the common plea, "We do not want to profess Christianity, because many dishonour the profession; we do not want to be hypocrites; we are candid men.” "And so," said the eloquent preacher, "you are willing to go to hell as gentlemen of candour." It is said that a distinguished lawyer in the city was led by this pointed rebuke to renounce the hypocrisy of unbelief for a sincere faith in the Son of God.
REVERENCE the writings of holy
"Shall I get you a little water ?" men, but lodge not thy faith upon them,
said the kind-hearted officer.
"No, thank you; I am dying."
because they were but men. They are
good pools, but not fountains.
BERNARD'S HYMN ON THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS.
TRANSLATED BY REV. E. CASWALL, M.A.
JESU! the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy presence rest.
O Jesu! Light of all below,
Thou Fount of life and fire, Surpassing all the joys we know, All that we can desire.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, May every heart confess Thy name
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
But what to those who find? ah, this,
Jesu! our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize wilt be. Jesu! be Thou our glory now, And through eternity.
Oh, Jesu! King most wonderful! Thou Conqueror renown'd! Thou Sweetness most ineffable! In whom all joys are found!
When once Thou visitest the heart Then truth begins to shine; Then earthly vanities depart; Then kindles love divine.
And ever Thee adore;
And seeking Thee itself inflame To seek Thee more and more.
Thee may our tongues for ever bless,
The image of Thine own.
O Jesu! Thou the beauty art
Celestial sweetness unalloy'd!
Who eat Thee hunger still;
Oh, my sweet Jesu! hear the sighs
My being's hope and end!
Stay with us, Lord, and with Thy light
Scatter the darkness of our night
OPENING OF THE YEAR.*
A HAPPY, happy Christmas! and
We heard them in our childhood, when With spirits light and gay,
A merry, bright New Year!
How sweet the kind old greetings sound We dreamt not that life's joyfulness
To every heart and ear:
No matter how care-burden'd, and
No matter how deprest;
A something in their welcome makes Them dear to every breast.
Could ever pass away;
And though long years of carelessness Have sober'd many a heart;
A joy still lingers round them, which Can never quite depart.
From "Spiritual Songs," a most admirable volume of original Hymns, by J. S. B. Mousell, LL.D.