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viewing it under the guise of other names, worldly professors persuade themselves, and try to persuade others, that their worldliness is not worldliness at all, but something very different. Take the case of a man whose heart is set upon the accumulation of money. His spiritual life may be down at zero; his attention to spiritual duties and privileges almost entirely a matter of routine; his first thoughts in the morning and his last at night, as a rule, are about the world; and what he is pleased to call his prayers, are almost as mechanical as those supposed to be offered to Heaven by the praying-machines of certain heathens. Yet this man would be mightily offended were we to insinuate that his soul was not prospering and in health. He would, perhaps, with some warmth, remind us that he was converted so many years ago; that his "views" are strictly orthodox; that his morals are unimpeachable; that he is in his pew with unfailing regularity every Lord's-day; and that he gives of his means towards the support of "the cause:" and if all that does not indicate a reasonable degree of spirituality, he is at a loss to know what we would be at. Are men to become hermits? Must a man, to afford what some people regard as sufficient evidence of genuine piety, neglect his business and take to Bible-reading and prayermeetings instead? His humble opinion is that such a course would be a gross violation of the dictates both of Scripture and of common sense. He has made the profound discovery that as long as we are in the body we must give the world its proper place. And he finds, moreover, that if a man is to succeed in life he must give due attention to business. In a word, he tells us that his motto is "Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God the things that are God's." All this, it must be admitted, wears an air of plausibility; but a little reflection ought surely to show that it is mere sophistry, and that of the most dangerous character. All the things on which he plumes himself may be quite true, and yet his soul be in a famishing condition; while all the attention to the things of this life which his utterances need imply, may consist with the loftiest spirituality. There may on the one hand be a form of godliness without its power; and, on the other, while "not slothful in business" a man may be "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." It is at bottom a heart question. If a man "will be rich," ie., is resolved to be rich, he will fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. It is the love of money-not the money itself-which is the "root of all evil;" and "while some coveted after it, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." There cannot be two "ruling passions" in the soul. We "cannot serve God and mammon." What, then, is the "proper place" for the world? and what should be regarded as giving it "due attention ?" Let the great Teacher answer:-"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Bunyan's "brave picture" of the faithful Christian pastor should, in fact, be the picture of every Christian. "It had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over his head." That is the "proper place" for the
world if we would, one day, find the "crown of gold" placed upon our
Here is another of Bunyan's pictures; and how many professors of religion might put it in their albums as the best photograph of themselves that has yet been taken by uninspired man: "The Interpreter takes them apart again, and has them first into a room where was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck-rake in his hand. There stood also one over his head with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered him that crown for his muck-rake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and the dust of the floor." Who would not pray with "Christiana," "O deliver me from this muck-rake!"
We plead for no asceticism. Let men enthusiastically prosecute their avocations if they find that they can truthfully say that "whether they eat or drink or whatsoever they do, they do all to the glory of God." But if a man cannot say that, then, the sooner he looks to his motives and his aims the better. It cannot be done too soon. Life is fast fleeting away, and the solemn hour may any moment come when the business which now engrosses the attention must be relinquished, and the silver and the gold pass into the hands of others. No clever fencing will ward off the stroke of death, and no sophistry will then silence an accusing conscience. What, reader, if you should then discover that what you call your conversion" has been a delusion, and your whole life-a mistake!
Let it not, however, be supposed that worldliness is confined to men of business. The man who "will be rich" furnishes only one out of a thousand illustrations which could easily be adduced. Conformity to the world may, in fact, manifest itself in any of our actions, whatever our station in life, or our position in the church may be. We meet with it, for example, in the case of the preacher who can make havoc of the truths of our most holy faith, and trifle with the eternal interests of his hearers, for the sake of popularity or pelf-in that of the donor who gives only when he is certain that his name will occupy a prominent place on a subscription list, so "that it may be seen of men"-in that of the man or woman whose intercourse with his or her associates mainly consists in retailing scandal or idle gossip-in that of the Church-member who finds spiritual exercises so uninteresting that they must be compressed into the narrowest compass consistent with outward decency, while, perhaps, he can spend the live-long night with unflagging interest and animation in the unhallowed atmosphere of the ball-room-in that of the professed Christian who can deliberately choose for his or her companion for life one who does not profess to love the Saviour: in all these cases we have so many illustrations of worldliness.
But, then, the parties concerned take a very different view of the matter. The worldly preacher maintains that he is only endeavouring, as all thoughtful men do, to keep abreast of "the culture of the age; whatever that may mean. The worldly giver in sounding his trumpet declares he does so in order that, haply, he may induce others to imitate his laudable example. The gossip is only putting a brother on his guard against some dangerous neighbour. The ball-room frequenter
would have us believe that he is anxious above everything to let "the world" know that religion is not a gloomy thing. And the party who marries a worldling is of opinion that there is nothing wrong in such alliances now-a-days, seeing unconverted people, in so-called Christian lands, do not worship stocks and stones, but are, as a rule, ready to accompany their partners to a place of worship.
Thus the broad line of demarcation between the church and the world has, in too many instances, all but disappeared; and the consequence is that our land is swarming with Laodicean professors. O for some Elijah-like man of God to go through the length and breadth of the land calling, as with trumpet voice unto men : "If the Lord be God follow him but if Baal, then follow him."
How often do we meet with the spirit of the world in our church meetings? Petty jealousies and private spites not unfrequently underlie much of what goes under the name of zeal for the exercise of scriptural discipline. The people who gather around the same table to commemorate the Saviour's death, professedly because of their love to him and one another, have, alas! been known-let us hope that it is a rare thing-to conduct themselves, ere they have left their pews, in such a manner as to suggest the humiliating query-Would an equal number of the men of the world show a more unchristian spirit than these display? How can such a community expect to enjoy the divine blessing? They scare away the Holy Dove of peace from their midst ; and he will not return until they learn "with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering to forbear one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." To all such the Scripture exhortation is :-" Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the
bond of perfectness."
A Story of Convict Reclamation.
EXHIBITING THE WONDERS OF DIVINE GRACE.
THE THE problem of convict management, in its connection with the repression of crime, awaited solution from statesmen and philanthropists through many long years. Various have been the methods tried, and many the suggestions offered, for purifying the social arena. During one stage of our national history, the most summary, and at best the most unsatisfactory manner of treating criminals was practically illustrated on each weekly hanging morning at Tyburn. This "shortest way," though characteristic of the good old Georgian days was as ineffective as it was sharp. As things on earth produce their like, an evil fascination apparently surrounded the gallows, and wretched creatures by their death-throes seemed to attract other victims. When Parliament consented to curtail the number of hangings, politicians, moralists, and social reformers were quite as dumbfoundered at the difficulties
inseparable from the reformation of prisoners as ever they were, and the only true light upon the subject came from those Christian workers who, influenced by Bible principles, altered the great question of "what shall be done with our convicts?" into "What shall be done for our convicts?"
To our knowledge, this question, a sadly important one, has never been so fully and satisfactorily answered as in the self-denying and philanthropic toils of Dr. Browning, a government surgeon, whose experience among felons commenced about forty years ago, and who published a record of his success in "The Convict Ship," a work which finely testifies to the results which devotion and zeal are capable of commanding in a good cause. We condense the story for the encouragement of others who may have to preach Christ among the degraded classes.
The convict ship, when it was an institution of England, was no inconsiderable drawback to our civilization. It was a sight even more humiliating and saddening than that presented by the repelling sombreness of a prison interior. It was sad to see a freight of beings with intellects and moral attributes capable of infinite culture, borne får away to a shore on which they would land as an unwelcome addition to the population, and whence not one in a hundred would be likely to return.
Perhaps we shall best effect the purpose in hand by casually looking into the good ship "Earl Grey," which sailed with her cargo of criminals to Hobart Town in 1842. It should be remembered that the reformatory agency centred in Dr. Browning, the surgeon-superintendent.
In the opinion of the Doctor, the embarkation of a number of convicts should be recognised as a mournful business, and should accordingly be conducted amid becoming silence. Such a procedure certainly commands far more of our approval than the unseemly mirth and bravado which too often characterised such occasions.
When the entire band of transports were shipped, they were, preliminarily to future operations, assembled on deck to hear an address specially adapted to their peculiar and humiliating situation, and in the course of this speech it was thought advisable to appeal to the better nature of the culprits. On the day following the introductory service, the men were again gathered together to hear an explanation of the Christian and educational discipline which would be maintained during the voyage, for their own personal convenience and benefit, as well as for the comfort of those in charge. They also heard the rules or bye-laws which were to be enforced; and, on account of those who were unable to read, it was thought necessary to allude to the advantages attached to an acquaintance with letters in some such language as the following:
"Reflect for a moment on the advantages you secure to yourselves by learning to read. You gain access to every kind of useful reading; you can acquaint yourselves with geography, history, voyages, and travels, and peruse descriptions of the wonderful operations of God. Above all, you obtain access, at all times, to the written Word of God, which is able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. For I need not tell you that it is not merely the power of
reading for its own sake, which I am so extremely anxious you should possess, but the power to read fit and profitable books and nothing else. Í faithfully tell you that the man who shall pervert or misapply the education he shall receive on board this transport, by reading unprofitable or pernicious works, must be considered not only to have broken faith with me, but to be chargeable with a base perversion of his instruction; a most wicked conversion to the greatest evil of a gift he was bound to turn to the greatest good-the only end for which that gift was bestowed. Do not imagine that the mere power of reading deserves to be called education. To teach a man to read, and to add no profitable instruction, to generate in his heart no sound principles, no decided preference for useful knowledge, is just to put into his hand a most powerful weapon, which must prove a good or an evil, a blessing or a curse, according to the use he makes of it. My aim in teaching you to read is to make you better, happier, and more useful men. I do then require and expect that you will keep this momentous end ever in view; and that at no period of your existence, you will so forget my design in teaching you, as to read books calculated to defeat my most anxious wishes for your welfare."
The instruction which followed was not, however, exclusively religious. The learners' studies were enlivened by a due proportion of secular knowledge-things pertaining to every-day life, and such as are useful in our battle with the world, or which reveal the glory of God. Nevertheless, as Dr. Browning says, "Our main business is with the Bible; its evidences, external and internal, its momentous doctrines and holy precepts, its appalling, yet righteous and merciful threatenings, and its exceeding great and precious promises."
The criminals being all on board the vessel, their general condition and educational acquirements were looked into, when out of a total of two hundred and sixty-four, one hundred and eighty-eight were returned as quite illiterate, many being unable even to read the alphabet. To reach the hearts of such a motley company, and to impress them for good would, at first sight, seem to be attempting to impart life to dry bones; but the work was not so hopeless as it appeared. The good Doctor knew from experience, that personally he could not hope directly to reach so large a number as required Christian instruction and educational discipline; but the happy thought occurred to him that he could make them benefit one another. A beginning was made by forming twenty-four classes, and by appointing suitable teachers and an inspector. Sitting down earnestly to work, the company soon found itself completely occupied. Idleness was condemned on principle, and not only opposed in theory, but also by the daily round of study and other exercises being made as pleasant as circumstances would allow. While this was so, however, the truth about their deplorable and disgraceful condition was never concealed from the convicts. On the contrary, their fallen state was made the basis on which the urgent need of reclamation was founded. In the classes the best works of their kind were used, while the chief daily readingbook was the Bible. The entire atmosphere of the vessel in a short time became Christianised; the superintendent letting it plainly appear that he regarded Christianity as the only restorative for fallen humanity.