Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Oh, bow we all need such an increase of this grace as to be able to say, “The love a Christ constraineth us!"

In conclusion, let us reflect that both in order to the sustaining and increase a grace we need constant supplies from the "fulness of Christ.” Grace in the hear of a believer is not like the light of the sun that emanates from itself, but like th light of a lamp that is continually fed with fresh supplies of oil, without which i would expire. Our natural life is maintained by continued acts of breathing an daily supplies of food—suspend these and we die; even so with our spiritual life. Le this thought stir us up to a diligent use of all the appointed means, for if we do no stir up our graces, Satan will stir up our corruptions. In private devotions, then in social religion, in attendance on the appointed means of grace, in the prayerfu study of the word, and in active consecration to the Redeemer's cause, may we s wait

upon the Lord that we may renew our strength, mount up with wings a eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint,” for if “ these things be in u and abound, they will make us that we shall be neither barren por unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bury St. Edmunds.

66

2

BROTHERLY ADMONITION.

BY THE REV. JOHN BROWN, A.M.

“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart not suffer sin upon him."-Lev. xix. 17.

thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and

This passage of Scripture teaches us that brotherly admonition is the mutual duty of Christians. It is no doubt the special duty of Christian ministers. Paul, in writing to Timothy, directs him, as a minister of the Gospel, to “reprove, re: buke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine." But it is a duty which ought not to be limited to the ministerial office, nor, indeed, to office of any kind. It is a duty which we mutually owe to each other as brethren, and which we ought to feel incumbent on us as often as circumstances may require its discharge. Hence Paul, in writing to the members of the church at Rome in general, expresses his charitable persuasion of them that they were of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” (Romans xv. 14.)

In order, then, the more to secure success in the discharge of this delicate and difficult duty, let us

I. Advert to some of the rules that are laid down in Scripture for its right manage. ment.

1. We should select a proper time. “To everything there is

season," says Solomon, “and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ill-timed reproof

generally defeats its object. It would be
toolish to reprove a drunkard while in a
state of intoxication, because being bereft
of reason he would be incapable of re
flection. Reproof would do him no good
and would only expose the reprover to con
tempt. It would be a yiolation of ou
Lord's rule, “Give not that which is holy
unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearl
before swine, lest they trample them unde
their feet, and turn again and rend you.
(Matt. vii. 6.) For the same reason i
would be unreasonable to reprove a mai
when he is under the influence of ang
strong passion, especially that of anger
An angry man is not in a state of mind
to benefit by reproof. On the contrary, in
all probability the reproof would only in-
crease the irritation; nor is that all, there
is danger of the reprover's spirit being
enkindled by that of the reproved party
and the whole matter ending in a personal
quarrel.

The first opportunity, however, ought to be embraced." No time ought to be an necessarily lost.

Delays are dangerous," and as much so in this as in any other matter ; especially if the sin be of the nature of a personal offence, there is danger, if it be not speedily removed, of

“ full

а

its becoming the subject of secret resent. ment or deliberate ill-will, and the difficulty of effecting a reconciliation on both sides will be increased in proportion to the length of time that is allowed to elapse. Hence the importance of the precept of the text, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any

wise rebuke thy neighbour,” which implies that - if the offended party smother the offence

in his breast, he will come to “ bate” his “brother" in his “ heart ;'' whereas, if he rebuke him, and thus afford an opportunity of explanation or apology, a reconciliation may be easily effected.

The fittest season for reproof is when the mind is most composed and free from all perturbation; and it is the part of prudence to discern and embrace that time. *A wise man's heart,” says Solomon, “discerneth both time and judgment.” It is when this golden opportunity is seized that reproof is valued. It is then that "a man hath joy by the answer of his mouth : and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Prov. xv. 23.)

2. We should select a proper place. Private offences ought to be reproved in private. This admirable rule is laid down by the Saviour Himself as the fundamental principle of the discipline of His Church. * Moreover,” says He, “if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.(Matt. xviii. 15.) Solomon also recommends this course as the dictate of friend. ship and love. “Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not the secret to another.”' (Prov. xxv. 9.) Privacy in reproving is necessary.

First, to give the offender an opportunity of explaining matters; for, after all, it is possible that there may be no real cause of offence -it may be only a misunderstanding, which a little friendly conversation will at once adjust. Secondly, that his reputation may not be injured. We should always be tender of character; our aim should not be to expose but to heal. Thirdly, that we may not defeat the object we have in view,

brother," and lead him to repentance; but should we give publicity to the fault, the tendency of our conduct will be to direct his attention to the injury we have done to him rather than to his own sin ; and fourthly, that we may preserve the reputation of religion itself, which might be made the subject of re

means of the inconsistency of

For all these reasons reproof should be tendered as privately as the circumstances will warrant. Public sins ought, indeed, to be reproved publicly. So says the Apostle : “ Them that sin (i.e., openly), rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (1 Tim. v. 20.) But this “rebuke” is to be administered by an official person only, and in regular form, and, consequently, does not fall immediately under the rule of the text. In cases of private offence the reproof should ordinarily be as private as the fault.

3. We should use sound argument. We must not assume that the object of reproof sees his sin in the same light that we do. Our aim, therefore, ought not to be to upbraid, but to convince. The Hebrew word which is rendered “rebuke” in the text also means to convince, and the Greek word by which it is translated in the LXX. is often so rendered. An example of this occurs in Tit. i. 9, in which it is said that a Christian bishop must be “able by sound doctrine both to exhort, and to convince the gainsayers." Reproof, therefore, must be accompanied with argument or instruction so as to produce conviction. Without this all our labour will be lost, as a sensible man will never be brought to acknowledge a fault until he is convinced in his conscience that he is in the wrong. It was here where Job's friends failed. Excellent as their speeches were, considered in themselves, yet Job's conscience told him that they had misunderstood his character, and that their arguments did not apply to his case. Accordingly he replied, with all the indignity of an injured man, “ Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing. reprove ?? (Job vi. 24, 25.) And again, “But ye are forgers of lies, ye are phy. sicians of no value. O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.” (Job xiii. 4, 5.) It is quite possible that we ourselves may be mistaken, and if we cannot bring guilt home to the conscience, we must of course fail in producing conviction. Hence the wisdom of reasoning over the matter with candour and fairness, and thus disarming the opponent of all prejudice, and securing a favourable hearing. “A word fitly spoken" will thus prove “like apples of gold in silver baskets. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so will a wize

viz., to “gain

our

66

proach by is professors.

will."

reprover be upon an obedient ear." (Prov. xxv. 11, 12.)

4. Reproof should be given in a mild and gentle spirit. “ Brethren,” says Paul, “ if a man be overtaken in a fault "(as any man may be), “ye who are spiritual” (and who consequently possess most of the “meekness and gentleness of Christ") restore such an one in the spirit of meekness" (using the skill and tenderness which a surgeon would do in restoring a dislocated joint); "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted,” and in thy turn require a similar kindness to be done to thyself. (Gal. vi. 1.) Do not assume a tone of superiority, as if ye were yourselves faultless ; but remembering that you are still in the body, and subject to many temptations, let your language be that of humility. “ The servant of the Lord must not strive ; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves"; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his

(2 Tim. i, 24–26.) It is here implied that we may meet with opposition in our friendly endeavours, but we must " in meekness instruct those that oppose themselves." We may oppose arguments to arguments, but we must not oppose railing to railing—"not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing ; but contrariwise blessing, "-imitating the example of Jesus, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Pet. ii. 23.)

5. Reproof, however, ought to be administered with plainness, firmness, and decision. Reproof ought to be plain and intelligible. It ought not to be expressed in the form of a hint or insinuation, as it often done. This method is so far from softening the rebuke, that it generally offends the more; because the reproved person perceives a want of manliness on the part of the reprover; and besides, he feels that he is very unjustly dealt with, as he is left merely to infer bis offence from some obscure expression, and, consequently, can neither deny, explain, nor apologize. Honesty demands that the offence should be explicitly stated, and that the reproof should be plain and intelligible.

We ought also to be firin and decided

We must not flatter men's vices; we mus not extenuate their sins; we must no deal with them as if we were in sport. tame reproof is calculated rather to increas the evil, as seems to have been the cas with good old Eli, whose reproofs fell s softly from his lips that his wicked son would appear to have interpreted them a giving a kind of half consent. Paul direct Titus to “rebuke” the Cretians “sharply, that they might be “sound in the faith; and Jehovah complains of the false pro phets that they “healed the hurt of the daughter of His people slightly, saying Peace, peace;

when there was no peace." (Jer. vi. 14.)

6. We should reprove by our conduct. We should show “a more excellent way" by a holy example. If our practice be inconsistent with our precepts, we shall only bring reproach upon ourselves, and do no good. It sometimes happens that persons who are by no means very exemplary themselves, become the officious censors of others; as if they would make atonement for their own want of circumspection, by the acrimony and bitterness with which they reprove the imperfections of their brethren. Such censures cannot be expected to produce any good result. On the contrary, they may be expected to provoke the retort which the apostle anticipates under such circumstances. “Thou, therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost Thou steal ? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thon commit adultery ? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?" (Rom. ii. 21, 23.) If we “ have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, we cannot with any consistency " reprove" them. It is only when we are “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation," that we shine as “lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” David would have made but an awkward preacher during the period of his guilty fall. Hence his desire to be restored from sin, in order to be restored to usefulness. “ Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold

Restore unto

sense.

as

[ocr errors]

me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." (Psa. li. 10-13). II. Let us now

notice some of the benefits of reproof both to the reprover and the reproved, which may serve motives to stimulate us in the exercise of this branch of Christian practice.

1. We may thereby become the means of saving souls. “ Brethren,” says James, “if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he

who converteth the sinner from the error 1.s of his way shall save a soul from death, e and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James

v. 19, 20.) It is the peculiar office of the I Holy Spirit to produce a saving change of

heart; but He honours not only the it ministers of the Gospel, but also private

Christians, by making them instrumental x in His hands of saving souls. Hence conme version is sometimes attributed to God F and sometimes to man, according to the

light in which it is viewed at the time. In the passage just quoted, the Christian i supposed by faithful admonition to “convert the sinner from the error of his way,” to " save a soul from death,” and to "hide a multitude of sins,” by leading the backslider to the blood of Jesus, which “cleanseth us from all sin." And what an honour is this! The salvation of a body

from temporal death would justly be E esteemed a great matter ; but how much

more momentous must be the salvation of a soul from death eternal- the death that never dies! If a soul be of more value than the whole world, what an honour must it be to be made the means of saving a soul!

2. Faithful reproof will secure the gratitude of the party who is benefited thereby, and thus lay the basis of a holy and lasting friendship--a friendship which shall endure throughout eternity. Many are deterred from the faithful discharge of this duty by the fear of gaining ill-will to themselves; but, though this may happen in some instances, perhaps in many

(Prov. ix. 7), yet if it be gone about in a i proper manner,

the opposite may be expected. “He that rebuketh a man,” says

“afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue." (Prov. xxviii. 23.) A faithful reproof may produce some irritation, even in the mind of a good man, at first; but " afterwards," when time is allowed for reflection, most men will prefer a faithful

reprover to a soothing flatterer. The faith. ful man, even though he may occasion wounds, will be regarded as a friend, in accordance with the dictates of common

“Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Pro. xxvii. 5, 6.) “ Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.” (Psa. cxli. 5.)

3. This act of faithful reproof will be remembered at the resurrection of the just. Then “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan, xii. 3.) But

4. Should we be unsuccessful in our attempts, we shall at least deliver our own souls. By allowing the sinner to go on in transgression unwarned we suffer sin upon him," and thus becoming accessory to his guilt, we shall “ bear sin for him," as the margin reads. This is one way in which we become “partakers of other men’s sins,” yiz., by winking or conniving at them. Not rebuking a brother is represented in the text as hating him, and

" Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." (1 John iii. 15.) By suffering sin upon him, we so far aid in murdering his soul ; but by faithful dealing with him, even should he persist in sin, and eventually perish, we clear ourselves of his blood. “When I say unto the wicked,” saith Jehovah, “ Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die : because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou haste delivered thy soul," (Ezek. iii. 18-21.)

John says,

Solomon,

Tales and Sketches .

LITTLE ANNIE. ONE night in my hospital experience stands out in my remembrance pre-eminent above the rest. Christinas.day was but, just passed, and it had been bitter, chilling weather ever since, with a keen and hungry wind stealing noiselessly but cruelly down from the north-east, when, in the middle of the long winter evening_about seven, I think-a tall man in a working dress was ushered by the hospital porter into the children's ward, with the brief words, addressed to myself, “A burn case, ma'am.”

In the tall stranger's arms, huddled hastily up in a single thin blanket, was a little girl of some seven years of age, with one of the most beautiful faces that I ever remember to have seen. It was not only that the little round face was delicately fashioned and fairly tinted, and lighted up by singularly large, deep violet eyes ; it was the great loveliness of a beautiful soul shining very clearly through the garment of the body, that attracted and rivetted the admiration.

She was quickly placed on a bed close to the fire, and while we hurried to do all that was suitable for her case the man who brought her-no relative, but only a kindly neighbour-told us the history of the accident. A simple story, and very like that of most of the burnt children brought to us. She had been left alone for a few hours in charge of her year-old babybrother, while her mother was out at work, and in trying to reach down a toy for him from off the high chimney-piece her little pinafore had been flouted out in front by the draught of the fire, and touching the flame, had instantly blazed up. Her face had altogether escaped, but there was an extensive though not very deep burn over the greater part of the chest, the left shoulder, and both arms.

Never was a more patient little thing put into our hands. Quickly and tenderly as you may dress a burn, yet the removal of the clothes and the first application of the dressings necessarily give a frightful amount of pain; but not a murmur nor an

impatient word escaped little Annie; not a single restless or perverse gesture hindered our proceedings.

Her whole little mind seemed fixed upon her mother and her brother. “My baby is quite safe -baby quite safe,” were the first words she said, in a half-bewildered way. After a little she seemed to collect her dazed senses and scattered thought somewhat, and spoke again in a soft, pleading tone “ Please somebody tell mother that dear baby is quite safe.” And again, “ I set baby on the floor safe in the middle of the room, and he isn't hurt a bit.” And presently, “ Please don't let mother be frightened. Oh, I'm so glad baby's safe !"

Only just at the last, as I was wrapping on the final piece of wool, did her fortitude break down for a moment, and with a con: vulsive sob and shiver, she suddenly cried out in a sharp, bitter tone of suffering, Oh, I'm so cold. Put me into bed.". Poor little gentle lassie!

We put her into bed, we heaped her with hot blankets, surrounded her with hot bottles and hot bricks, and gave her, with due caution, such stimulants, remedies, and nourishment, as were prescribed by medical authority. But that deadly chill was not to be conquered. Stone-cold were her little bare feet and hands when she was brought in, and stone-cold they remained, in spite of all our efforts-warming externally as a stone might by much application of outward heat, but never responding with any return of their own internal, vital warmth

. The little fragile frame could not rally from the shock of the burn, succeeded by that chill transit through the cruel, frosty wind.

After awhile her mother, who had been fetched from her work, came in. But Annie did not know her; she was wandering, and unconscious of external things. And in her wanderings all her thoughts seemed tending onward to the land whither she was hastening. Never -if I may use the expression, albeit it sounds somewhat strange sweeter or more touching delirious talk

already

never was

« AnteriorContinuar »