Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

as

love of prayer, the love of the sanctuary, the love of Christ's kingdom, and the love of eternal realities. Mammon sells the great Teacher. Oh! how many through the Silver Mines, the By-path Meadows, and the pleasant, sensual scenes of lifehe tavern, the ball-room, and the convivial joard—bave made a shipwreck of faith ind of a good conscience. So true is it* * The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas

With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril.”

Bat this in difference to the soul's wel. fare may arise from perverted views of Divine truth. The doctrine of election on the one hand, and that which teaches the impotence of man on the other, have been often so misunderstood and so abused, as o excite a prejudice in the minds of many gainst the very goodness and mercy of Hod. He is regarded as partial in the distribution of his grace, and unjust in de. manding what the impotence of man unfits him to render. But the Redeemer puts the fact of the case in its true light"This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love dark

ness rather than light, because their deeds sure evil.” It is this perversity of man's

will and the depravity of his heart which prevents his becoming a partaker of salvation. It is not merely the Scriptures, but - A man's own consciousness also tells him that he is guilty, and has no inclination to come to Christ.

Hence the ground of fature punishments is resistance to the Saviour: “Bring these, mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before my face."

Then again, the notions which many en. tertain of self-goodness act as a barrier to

“ One of the most subtle poisons of the age,” says Dr. Cheever," is the doctrine of human merit, which, like a cloud from the bottomless pit, or thick Tapour from the caves of Antichrist, darkens the Gospel, and sends the soul wandering in the mazes of pride and error.” If there be an external conformity to the moral law, and a character which the law of man does not condemn, it is thought the soul Dust be justified before God. No account is taken of the

fact that the claims of Heaven apply to the heart, the thoughts, the affections, the inward springs of action ; and that if there be the least defect here, our whole character is imperfect, and the notion of men's righteousness can no longer be retained. But beyond this, present

obedience, however perfect, will never liquidate past obligations. Were we holy as Adam before the fall, or pure as a seraph before the throne, yet past transgressions would hang as a millstone on the soul, and sink it into the sea of eternal perdition. Remember this, ye that are puffed up with notions of self-goodness, and throw off the filthy attire of your own works, and seek the righteousness of Christ, as the only robe in which you can stand with acceptance before a pure and om. piscient God.

And then finally, how many who assent to the terms of salvation are constantly procrastinating the safety of their immortal interests. Theirs is the conduct of Felix : “Go thy way this time ; at a more convenient season I will call for thee." But alas ! how long is this convenient season in coming! Youth puts it off to middle age, and those in the zenith of their days to the period when the cares of a family and business shall be less than they aro at present. Thus old age creeps on, threescore years and ten are attained, and soon infirmities so multiply, that man becomes weary of himself. What consummate folly to defer salvation to auch a period as this ! When the retrospect of life is so unsatisfactory ; when the awful future is so near ; when the pains of the body and the weakness of the mind unfit the man for serious thought and prayer - how unsuited the hour of death to obtain the requisites for the kingdom of heaven. Surely no infatuation can be greater than his who

" To the mercies of a moment leaves

The vast concerns of an eternal scene." III. But this period of existence, so invaluable, when once gone can never be reclaimed.

The summer and harvest may pass away to some farmers, and yield them, through negligence, no crop; and yet prudence and diligence for the future may compensate for the past. But if we allow this life to pass, and derive no benefit from its privileges, the favoured season will never be renewed.

Only in this life is salvation promised to those who seek it. “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.” Now we may exercise penitence and prayer, but all this is unavailing when once we have passed the threshold of the grave. Only in this life does the Spirit of God operate. His agency is always in close ageociation

their salvation.

ever.

with the means of grace, but there are no distress of the sinner, when he stands a such means amongst the inhabitants of naked, defenceless spirit before the bar of Tophet. In the world of lost spirits there his incensed Judge? The God who made are no sanctuaries, no ministers preaching him will receive him with a frown, and He the Gospel, no domiciliary visitation, no who created him will show him no favour, tract distribution, no methods of any kind What will such do in the day of righteous for the instruction and conversion of man. retribution ? Whither can they betake But no seed being in the ground, it were themselves for abelter and defence ? Alas! in vain for the rain to descend and the sun rocks will not hide them, and mountains to shine. Hence, in the absence of such will not cover them. Friends and comdivine influences, all the wicked passions panions are impotent to relieve ; men and and corrupt habits of the sinner will remain angels abandon them to their doom ; even in full force and become stereotyped for Christ himself will become an adversary,

Death will make no alteration in our and armed with a two-edged fiery sword. character, but simply in our condition. It What will they do? To escape will be imtranslates us from time into eternity, but possible, for they are surrounded by the not from sin to holiness, or from a hatred arm of God; justify themselves they canof God to a love of him. Thus, if death not, for their iniquities testify against them; comes and finds us unprepared, our ruin is to make supplication to their Judge will be sealed for ever. Nothing can avert it, no- of no avail, for the day of mercy is gone. thing can give us redemption. As the tree Hence, with no prospect of relief, and no falls so it lies ; and as the sinner dies so hope of salvation, the bitter, heart-rending, will he remain. There is often a presage of doleful exclamation will be rd, “The this as eternity draws nigh. The death- harvest is past, the summer is ended, and bed presents an awful retrospect. How we are not saved !"

What is the applica. many sins committed! How many mercies tion of all this? It is just that which the abused! How have the servants of God poet says, and with which we close this been despised! How bas the Saviour been

paper :crucified afresh, and the monitions of the

“Stop, poor sinner, stop and think, before you Holy Spirit contemned! Ministers have reasoned, friends have besought, fathers Will you sport upon the brink of everlasting woe? have counselled, and mothers have wept

Say, have you an arm like God, that

you

his will and prayed, but all in vain. They have

Fear you not that iron rod, with which he breaks loved their idols, and after them they would his foes ? go. And now has come the time for re- Can you stand in that great day, when he

judgment shall proclaim ? flection, when the reminiscences of the

And the earth shall melt away, like wax before dying hour are as so many daggers to the the flame? sinner, or as a worm gnawing at his soul. But as yet there is a hope, you may his mercy

know; But if hope fails before death has done his

For though his arm be lifted up, he still forbears work, who can picture the confusion and

the blow."

further go;

oppose ?

THE POWER OF DARKNESS.

BY THE REV. JAMES DAVIS.

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness."-Col. i. 13. THERE are two rival kingdoms in the world-the one of light, the other of darkness; the one established by God and ruled by the “Son of his love,” the other set up and sustained by "the ruler of the darkness of this world,” who is also styled" the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.' These Christians in Colosse were once the wretched slaves of this arch-despot, but having been snatched from his iron grasp by an arm "mighty to save," and translated into the kingdom of light and love, they were “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." The Apostle, whilst congratulating them upon their blessedness

Before

[ocr errors]

aa heirs of this celestial heritage, seeks to awaken their gratitude by reminding them of their former miserable state. Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.". A deliverance this not to be measured by human thought or sung by seraph tongue ! " The power of darkness!" Let us think of it for a moment as we have sometimes shudderingly thought of some terrible peril barely escaped. Let those still enthralled by this dreadful power pause and ponder. 1. Darkness has a power to hide. Beauty and deformity are alike invisible in the dark. When a darkness that might be felt turned the earth and air of Egypt into one black mass, whose eye was then charmed by the splendour of its palaces or the sublimity of its pyramids ? Grope your way through a pieture gallery in the dark, --will the creations of genius around delight you now?

you may be that masterpiece of Rubens, “ The Elevation of Christ upon the Cross; " but whilst unseen, its power is unfelt. So the exhibition of Christ crucified calls forth no emotion from men in spiritual darkness. “The place that is called Calvary" has no more charm than some unknown spot in a far-off world. Never until the “power of darkness” has been broken will any dne sing from the heart,

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to his blood.” And as darkness hides beauty, so it also hides deformity. In the dark you might enter a dissecting-room where human corpses lie in ghastly array, and, all unconscious of their presence, feel none of that awe and even horror which you would experience were those ghastly forms visible. So the man who, notwithstanding his pretensions to piety, is but “a whited sepulchre,” abhors not himself

, because he sees not the rottenness and dead' men's bones within his unhallowed heart. In both these respects, when the “power of darkness is taken away, what a mighty change follows! The deformity of sin on the one hand

, and the glory of the sinner's Friend on the other, are clearly seen ; sin is seen to be exceeding sinful, and the Saviour appears invested with a glory before Unseen and unimagined. 2. Darkness has a power to soothe. It is difficult to sleep in the broad glare of day ; hence God himself draws the curtains of night, and sheds down sweet repose on weary mortals. In the soothing shade beast and bird and masect are lulled to rest. But what is a blessing in the physical world is destructive in the spiritual world. By “the power of darkness men are lulled to sleep, and dwell in the region of dreams. Not a few there are who dream away life, who slumber and sleep till they are awakened rudely by the

“Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!” Let it be ours to seek deliverance from this fatal power by crying mightily to Him who alone can save.

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead

, and Christ shall give thee light.” 3. Darkness has a power to deceive. The benighted traveller, when neither moon nor stars are visible, is very apt to lose his way ; after wandering for males he may find himself farther from his destination than when he started. So bere are some who think themselves pilgrims to heaven, who yet are so thoroughly sceived by " the power of darkness” that they know not they are travelling in

way to death. Like passengers who by mistake have got into the wrong main, it is to be feared that many at the end of their journey find themselves heigions is a striking instance of the power of darkness to deceive. Let the imposture be ever 80 palpable, let the superstition be ever so silly, let the idol be eter so wooden, priests and worshippers will not be wanting.

The biography

[ocr errors]

9

towelcome

of each deluded devotee may be written in a single sentence, "A deceived heart hath turned him aside."

4. Darkness has a power to destroy. Ages ago, in a city then the most magnificent in the world, a spectacle might have been seen, as imposing as it was impious. In the palace of Babylon a king and his nobles are feasting. Infatuated by the splendour of his seeming power, the insensate monarch dares to insult the Most High, by praising other gods, and by bringing out the sacred vessels of the sanctuary to grace his banquet. Fast flows the wine, high rises the mirth, bold flashes the blasphemy! All know an enemy is near, but with the broad Euphrates between them they fear him not. But in the darkness the current of that river is turned; the battalions of Darius surround the scene of revelry; soon those palace walls resound with the clash of arms, and with the shrieks of the wounded and dying ; nor does the chief criminal escape the sword of avenging justice, for “ in that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain." Like Belshazzar many a sinner, whilst not dreaming of danger, is cut down just as he is aroused from his false security, destroyed by “the power of darkness," and dying in the dark !

In the darkness many a noble vessel has gone down, shattered by some unseen rock, or struck by another ship seen too late. If the vast host who lie unburied in the caves of the ocean could speak, what graphic testimony would they bear to "the power of darkness;" and if from an abyss deeper and darker still, the spirits of the lost could up and speak, how appalling would be their testimony to "the power of darkness” Can we, then, who have been delivered, be too grateful to our Deliverer ? Can those still in darkness seek deliverance too earnestly? Those who put off repentance until the hour of death often awake to a sense of their danger when there is no place for repentance.". At Inkermann our brave soldiers, attacked by the Russian host under cover of a thick fog, were almost lost before they became aware of their peril; and thousands of stout hearts that beat high and fast that morning were stilled in death before victory crowned the British flag. To be taken by surprise is to be taken at a disadvantage.

"Be

ye therefore ready also ; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when

ye

think not.” The Pithay, Bristol.

THE SAVIOUR'S DEPARTURE.

It is expedient for you that I go away.John rri.

My Saviour, can it ever be
That I should gain by losing thee?
The watchful mother tarries nigh,
Though sleep has closed her infant's eye;
But I am weaker than a child,

And thou art more than mother dear;
Without thee heaven were but a wild:

How shall I live without thee here?

O fainting soul, arise and sing;
Mount, but be sober on the wing;
Mount up, for heaven is won by prayer;
Be sober, for thou art not there;
Walk thou by faith and not by sight;

Take it on trust a little while ;
Soon sbalt thou read the mystery right

In tne full sunshine of his smile,

Tales and Sketches

.

THE DREAMS THAT CAME TRUE.

JUSTICE WILVERMORE was lying in a comfortable chamber; the heavy damask curtains were drawn on each side of him, and a down quilt was spread over him.

It was a bitter, bitter night, but a clear wood fire burnt upon the hearth; and though he could hear the wind moaning outside among the leafless trees, and the sharp sleet driving against his windows, not a waft of the first came through to make him shiver; and as for snow or sleet, he was not troubled with the sight of them; for when he looked towards his window, he only saw the dancing, flickering flame shining on his crimson curtains.

As he lay awake that night do you think he was occupied in reflecting on what a good thing it was for him that a warm roof, an ample supper, and abundant clothing, were protecting him from the wind and cold ?

Nothing of the kind. He had all his life been accustomed to live in abundance and luxury. If his fire had burnt badly, his curtains been left undrawn, or his supper ill cooked, he would no doubt have been very angry, and would have occupied himself for a long time in thinking of the neglect, ignorance, and stupidity of his servants. As it was, they had merely done their duty; and as for him, he had a right to be waited on, for he could pay his attendants. He had a right to eat, wear, and use the best of everything, for the same reason. He had been born to a good estate, and could not remember the time when these things had been otherwise. Therefore, when he heard the wind and the sleet, he never considered what a good thing it was that he was not exposed to them.

What, then, did he think about ?

Did he think what a sad thing it was, that along the valley which stretched away under his windows, and up the bleak hill-side beyond it, and on either side the frozen sheet of water, should stand those old halfruined cottages, whose rattling casements and ill-thatched roofs let in both wind and snow to the half.clad, half-fed inmates ? No, certainly not. Why should he have been occupied with them on that particular night more than on all other nights ? He had always been accustomed to res them.

Of course, the people who inhabited them were poor; he could never remember the time when some of them had not been sick and complaining. The hovels were quite an eyesore—so shabby and forlorn ; but it was not worth his while to build better onesthat would only encourage more paupers to come to his estate. What reason could there be for his thinking of them just then? They had been born to poverty, and if they had not provided against the cold and the snow, they were at least well accustomed to endure their rigour. Nothing new had come upon them.

I cannot tell what he was thinking about, I only know that while the little flames were still creeping over the logs of his fire he fell asleep, and after a while he began to dream.

He dreamt that some person was kneeling in front of his fire. He could not see tho figure very distinctly; but it seemed to shiver, and spread out two trembling hands towards the flame. It was clad in a thin and scanty cloak.

“ Dear me !” exclaimed the Justice, in his dream ; " that's old Susan Morley ! What business has she to intrude here in those faded tatters, and warm herself at

my fire ? How dare she ? I'll ring the bell."

He was just putting out his hand when he perceived another figure close at his side.

“ Who are you ? " exclaimed the Justice, very much startled; for the fire had burnt low, and he could only discern the dark outline of this new intruder.

He thought, in his dreamn, that the figure moved a step backward, but made no answer.

* Who are you?" shouted the Justice, in a great passion; “how dare

you
disturb

my rest? I'll make you pay dearly for it. Who are you?”

Instead of answering, the figure turned towards the fire, and pointing to the old woman, said, in a calm cold voice, “Who is that ?"

“Who is that ! repeated the Justice, somewhat awed by the solemn manner : “ that is old Susan Morley, a pauper, and one of my tenants. I sent her to prison some time ago for stealing wood. I'll take her up again to-morrow for breaking into my house at night.”

P

« AnteriorContinuar »