Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

We are

same mind, and in the same judgment.” While it is well known that offences between brethren, and especially when they have not been dealt with according to the Scripture rule, have often tended to disturb and divide the Church, it must be evident that the cultivation of the spirit of the Gospel of Christ, tending as it must to cement the bonds of individual love and friendship, will contribute to the keeping away of divisions from the body, and the securing of its oneness unbroken. Therefore, brethren in Christ, seek that spirit of humility which in the sight of God is of great price. Seek that charity which suffereth long, and is kind; which envieth not; which doth not bebave itself unseemly; which is not easily provoked ; which thinketh no evil; which beareth all things; believeth all things; hopeth all things; endureth all things. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a seryart. And the rather let us all do this, seeing that we ourselves are imperfect, compassed

many infirmities, and therefore it is bureasonable to expect that perfection in others which we ourselves do not exhibit. God exercises forbearance to us; He is full of long-suffering and kindness to us. Our conduct to our brethren, then, who are so much less indebted to us than we are to our Heavenly Father, may well be of like character. God also hath not dealt with 3 after our sins; but as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. therefore, well be kind, tender-hearted, forgiring one another, as God for Christ's

The graces of the Christian character, the spirit of the

Christian religion, the example of its great Author, the hopes it inspires, the precepts it inculcates, alike call upon us to live in peace and love one with another. More. over, we are brethren: not only as constituting parts of the great brotherhood of humanity, being made of one flesh and one blood; but as believers in Christ, we are children of God by faith; being joined unto the Lord, we are of one spirit with Him and with one another; and thus constitute parts of a purer, holier brotherbood, chosen out of the world, which knows us not, even as it knew Him not. brethren : : one is our Father, even God; we are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ; and thus constitute parts of a family redeemed from the fallen and corrupt family of man; on one foundation we rest our hopes, in one fountain we wash away our sins and transgressions, by the righteousness of One we are justified. We are brethren : we constitute but one body ; by one Spirit we are sanctified; we are called in one hope of our calling ; we have one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. brethren : we are travelling together in one path; one voice, that of the Author and Finisher of our faith, bids us faint not, but be faithful unto death; one promise animates us all, “ I will give you a crown of life.” Together we trust we shall share His glory, together sing His praises, and cast our

at His feet, saying, Worthy the Lamb. Brethren, then, fellowtravellers, saints of the Most High, fellowheirs of the grace of life, we beseech you that ye fall not out by the way; that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We are

with

crowns

We may,

zake hath forgiven us.

Stratford.

JUDAS-NOT ISCARIOT,

BY THE REV. H. ASHBERY.

JOHN XIV, 22.

What is there in a name? Little, perhaps, to influence an honest, a strong, and a thoughtful mind; and yet there is a sort of influence even in a name. We often form an idea, or receive an impression, involuntarily, respecting those with whom we have no personal acquaintance, and of whose moral qualities we are ignorant, from the hearing of their names. It is so ; and there are names for which on account of their associations we have an almost instinctive and unconquerable dislike, which dislike we sometimes transfer to the wearers of those names, as was lately proved to his sorrow by the wearer of a murderer's name, who sought in vain by good behaviour to secure the confidence of his fellow countrymen. A name often does, despite our sober judgment, prejudice us against, or prepossess us in favour of a person.

There are names which we should be horrified at being called by, and which we should shudder at calling our friends by, so great is the infamy which has gathered around them. Who ever heard of a mother calling her child Simon Magus? Yet we should sooner expect to hear of such a mother, than of one who would call her child Judas Iscariot.

The text speaks of another Jadas than Iscariot, who was so called before the name of Judas became infamous. Of this Judas we know next to nothing. In addition to the fact that he was the author of the epistle of Jude, that he was the same with Lebbæus and Thaddæus, and that he was an apostle, the text is the only glimpse

we get of him. He was an apostle, his name was Judas, but not Iscariot. He was not the traitor, was not a traitor, but a faithful man who truly loved and honourably served Cbrist.

Thinking of Judas Iscariot, and feeling humbled by the thought that such a man should have been found among the apostles, we are led to seek relief, not unnaturally, in the reflection that he was not the only Judas among them; there was another Judas, not Iscariot, who had not Iscariot's character. And the circumstance that this Judas is mentioned in careful distinction from the traitor, is not without its useful moral and practical suggestions, which, as they have occurred to us, we present to the reader.

1. Different men should be carefully distinguished from each other. Judas, the brother of James, the Judas of my text, is carefully distinguished from Judas the traitor ; in like manner we should distinguish between inen, between whom a moral difference exists. Much injustice and injury is done by confounding different indi

. viduals ; and we should be careful hɔw we associate men together in our judgment and speech. The condemnation of men in masses is scarcely ever just; and yet many are addicted to this kind of thing.

The publicans of old time were a very immoral, extortionate, and oppressive class, no doubt, but there was an upright Zaccheus among them; and in many of them there was a sense of sin, a true humility, which made them much more God than many men of higher conventional repute. There are publicans in our day—though their occupation is widely different-who like their predecessors in name come in for a large share of odium from certain parties. We believe them to be, as a class, not only worthless, but positively injurious to society; but there are amongst them, as we have good reason for thinking, good men and true, and certainly much more sober than their wholesale censors. In like manner we sometimes hear "

peace men ” denounce soldiers-certainly not with the meekness of wisdom, nor in striking harmony with their “ peace principles

“unchristian set,” in which you would look in vain for a good

acceptable to

men

Of

as an

man.

course, the benevolent centurion of the Gospels, Gardiner, Havelock, Vicars, and others of similar stamp, were self-deluded men.

In like manner, too, do some Protestants condemn Roman Catholics, with a hatred which ought to be protested against. In detestation of Popery as a system we yield to none; but we cannot join in spirit or cry with those fierce Protestants who, with super-Lutheran fury, consign to hopeless perdition all Roman Catholics. There will be many, we thankfully believe, from the corruptest church in Christendom, amongst the finally redeemed, who will sing more loudly than many screaming Protestants, the song of the Lamb, which all Christians will join in, when their sectarian shouting shall have been hushed for ever.

We give the above as examples of that indiscriminate condemnation against which we should guard, and which is opposed to the spirit of the text; and to which, as unchristian, unreasonable, and unjust, we decidedly object. Again we say, all Judases. are not Iscariots; distinguish men who differ.

2. Secondary resemblances between men are compatible with a radical difference. Men may resemble eaeh other nominally, for instance, while totally different morally: Nor is the nominal the only secondary resemblance that may consist with a radical difference. Men may resemble each other in physique, so that apart, and even together, you shall hardly tell them from each other ; men may resemble each other in social status, moving in the same high or low circle ; they may resemble each in attainments and practical usefulness, and yet be men of totally different character.

Now, character, so far as we can ascertain it, should be the basis of our moral judgment of each other, as it is of God's, and not any shallow and accidental analogies; character which is the result of free choice and voluntary culture. We should not condemn one man of whom we know nothing morally, because, forsooth, he has the gait, facial expression, position, or attainments of another man, whom we know to be a consummate rascal, a cunning hypocrite, or a deceitful friend. Two houses may have the same description of doors, shutters, and windows, and yet be very different houses, because the foundations, walls, and internal fittings are different.. Likewise men may resemble each other in many minor particulars, and yet be totally different men as to the grand realities of manhood, because different in moral character, which is God's criterion of judgment, and should, as much as possible, be ours. To judge righteous judgment we should judge carefully-deeply. We should not be content with just glancing at men, we should behold them---nay, if possible, look into them. So shall we find that while some men resemble showy shops, having about them much gilt, plate glass, and staring signs, other men are like those unpretending warehouses to be found by seeking in the dingy lanes of our large cities--warehouses which, while “nothing to look at,” have in their cellars and upper rooms stores of wealth almost boundless. There are men who make little show and less noise, but look into them, and you shall find such treasures of wisdom and excellence as shall infinitely more than repay you for the trouble of the search. 3. Men should not be condemned. or censured for what to them is involuntary and unavoidable. We do not determine our own names; as a rule, at any rate, they are not assumed by us, but given to and fastened upon us by others. If a man have 4.name which has been disgraced by some other wearer, it is not his fault. The Bible does not condemn Judas because he is called Judas.

I know that men do constantly suffer for what they cannot help, for what they never could have helped; but this is one of the mysteries of Providence which the future will explain, and which, as Earl Russell said of the prophecies of Scripture, are not to be our rule of action towards each other. Because men do suffer in consequence of what they are not morally responsible for, is surely no reason why we should make them do so unnecessarily.

We have known men treated with odium and contempt on account of the sins of their parents, on account of their country, and even on account of their complexion ; but they had not the determining of these things, and, therefore, should not have

een held responsible for them. For what a man is voluntarily, for what he chooses to be, he should be held responsible; but to accuse a man, or to condemn him, for what he cannot help, for what he never had any control over, is wrong, and evinces something wrong on their part wh do it.

4. In our treatment of men we would guard against the influence of mere prejudice. Had the other apostles shunned Judas, not Iscariot, because he had the name of the traitor, they would have been influenced by a foolish prejudice; but they had too inuch manly sense, not to say Christian grace, to commit such an error.

Yet are there prejudices amongst men as absurd as the supposed one, and to admonish against such prejudices cannot be unworthy of a moral teacher.

We may mention prejudices of a local kind, prejudices that are local in their objects. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?” The prejudice, you see, is an old one.

No doubt there are local moral characteristics, but in no case are they universal ; at most, they are but general. Let us not judge men by the locality where they were brought up, and whence they come to us. Good can come from Nazareth, or elsewhere. Let us receive it gladly come whence it may.

The prejudice of the world against religionists is weak and foolish. There are people who think worse of a man rather than better, because he professes religion ; so in many cases the innocent are made to suffer for the guilty. To say that all are false because all are not true is to show great weakness; and yet there are circles into which a real Christian cannot go without being surveyed with greeneyed jealousy and suspicion. Such judges fancy themselves very manly, and not to be easily imposed upon, like children, and yet are they imposed upon by their unworthy prejudice, which is literally childish. I do not say, trust a man because he professes religion; if you do so in fact you will smart for it'; but I do say, do not despise or distrust a man on that account.

Denominational prejudices are frequently as much opposed to common sense as to Christianity. There are churchmen, in these sectarian days, who would not on any account be seen on the same platform or have their names on the same bills with vulgar and schismatic dissenters, or ranting methodists; and there are dissenters :30 spiritual in their own conceit that they write down “formalist” to every man's name, and consider all fraternization with churchmen as fellowship with the world.

The Baptists have always had much to suffer from prejudice ; they are looked upon as being, what some undoubtedly are, a queer people ;" and that prejudice has produced its natural fruit, as our history will only too painfully testify.

That men of the world should be prejudiced against the Church we can easily understand, but that the sons of the Church should be prejudiced against each other, in consequence of the different names they bear, is something to be equally regretted and wondered at.

Unreasonable, mostly, and injurious, are those social prejudices which sunder different classes of society. In the estimation of some poor men all the rich are proud and selfish ; in the estimation of some rich men all

the poor are mean and degraded: whereas neither are all the rich proud and selfish, nor (all the poor mean and degraded. Thank God there, perhaps, never was less of this conventional or social prejudice than at present.

Let us guard against all mere prejudice, and look at all men, as far as we can, a truthful, honest, and charitable light. Although we find in the text no exhibition of, or warning against, prejudice, yet has the thought of it been suggested (and suggestion is the highest claim we set up for our rambling thoughts, as arising from the text) to our minds by the text; and baviug the thought we can find abundant examples of it (for prejudice is a Protæan and most prevalent evil) in daily life

, and warnings against it in the Scriptures, and the experience of men who are constantly reaping its bitter fruits.

5. Honour the honourable. This is our last suggestion-a far-fetched one, as my

church

in

amiable critic will say. But never mind how far I have fetched it, so that I can bring it home to my indulgent reader. Honour the honourable, as the Bible does by recording the name of Judas, and distinguishing him from his foul namesake. Honour a. Judas if he be worthy of honour, and do it ungrudgingly.

We are not amongst those whom a living writer speaks, who if you presented to them Diabolus himself would only call him “poor creature," and suggest that his temper must have been aggravated by the unpleasant place he has to live in, and set about some plan for improving his complexion, and hiding his horns anú his tail; but there is a good old proverb (for which we have a sincere respect) which instructs us to give even Satan his due, and if Satan is to have his due, surely they who are opposed to him ought to have theirs ; and depend upon it we help Satan80 giving him more than his due—by withholding the honour due to God's servants. It is a grand thing, a holy duty, a great source of pure enjoyment, to respect and distinguish the good. So we become like them. It is better than reproaching the evil; it gives rise to better feelings, and awakens nobler aspirations. To raise ourselves we must lift an admiring eye to those above us; it is far better than looking censoriously upon those beneath us.

sure way to gain God's grace to honour it in His children; and if we honour God He will honour us, and lift us up to dwell among His “holy ones,” whom “the king delighteth to honour."

Luton.

It is a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

As I have already hinted, those upon whom we most depend for the real charities of the church, are not those who are naturally generous. They are the men who naturally love money, and to whom giving is not easy. This desire for property makes them economical, saving, and industrious. Every tendency of their nature and life is to retain and keep what they acquire. And yet another principle may and does come in, that of love to Christ, and that of conscience, which opens the heart and the purse, and makes it easy to become benevolent. The stronger man comes in and spoils the goods.

Let no one think, then, because he is naturally covetons, he can never learn to be cheerful giver," and give easily. Now for

1. Don't feel that you must be sure you are doing for worthy objects when you give.

It would be easier to give if we knew that every one whom we benefited was worthy, or would be thankful, or would make a good use of our benefaction. But it is not on this principle that Christ teaches us to act. Among the five thousand

whom He fed with a miracle, were there not probably many who were unworthy ? Nay, so far from making a good use of it, they perverted it, and wanted to make Him a king, so that they might be fed on miracles, and live without work. And when He says, “The poor ye have always with you,” does He mean to teach that these poor will always be worthy-be deserving, be thankful ? We are to give as God gives us air, and water, and light, and space-not to the just and thankful only, but to the evil and unthankful. What if, in some cases, they do abuse what you give, it is not your property they abuse, it is Christ's. You have given it to Him. Did not our Saviour work miracles for the nine who returned not to give thanks, and doubtless for multitudes who would and did scorn Him-or certainly never thanked Him ? Don't worry as to what: becomes of your money, after it is gone out of your hands. It may go directly into Bibles, or it may make boxes to put Bibles in. It may feed the missionary who is preaching salvation, and it may go into the coffin that encloses his body. It may

66

a

a few hints.

« AnteriorContinuar »