Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

666

and the disappointment it occasions is by no means the worst part of it. It interposes between the just standard of right and ourselves, and leads us away from the only proper rule of action

-the judge that ends the strife

When wit and reason fail,'" “I should not follow it,' said my young friend, ' in matters of religion ; but I cannot see that in the present case it asks for any compromise of principle."

“I think you are wrong there,' I added, all matters are matters of religion—whether you eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all for the glory of God.' Time makes life: that life is limited to threescore years and ten, and more than the whole world hangs upon the proper use of this period. It was this same principle : a readiness to do as others do—that introduced heresies into the church, and as I have watched its rise, history, and progress better than your limited sojourn here has enabled you to do, you will perhaps give me leave to close our present colloquy with this impeachment of

EXPEDIENCY.
“ I saw a river in my dream,
And by its fountain stood
A multitude of holy men,
Just, wise, devout, and good;
And ever and anon they bent
O’er the refreshing flood,
And as they drank, they seemed to gain
Newness of life in every vein.
“ There · Paul the aged' stood, and though
His brow was seamed with care,
And bonds, imprisonments, and stripes
Had been his daily fare :
He stooped amidst the saintly throng
And gained such solace there,
As o'er his marred, but manly face
Shed tenfold dignity and grace.
“ Bishops and elders thronged around,
Who counted all things loss
For His dear sake, and His alone,
Who died upon the cross;

They deemed all worldly honors vain,
All worldly riches dross,-
Determined to know nought beside,
But Jesus and him crucified.
" In visions of my head, I passed
Along that river's brink,
Till all the train had disappeared,
And others came to drink,
Their thirst was not so keen, I thought,
And still incline to think ;
For in they rushed with haste unmeet,
And fouled the waters with their feet,
"Now let us taste the sacred stream,'
These holy fathers' said ;
Then stooped with very proper care,
And from its troubled bed
Drew such a draught, that each in turn
Looked grave, and shook his head;
And one of them exclaimed, • 'tis true
This' deadly mixture' will not do.”
« On either side dispute ran high,
For much of human pride
Had mingled with the purer faith,
For which their fathers died;
And statements made in anger there,
Were angrily denied;
For if I must the truth declare,
Methought I saw Sabellius there,
“ And other grievous wolves,' of whom
The Word of Truth foretold,
Denying Him who died for them,
Had trespassed on the fold.
Valens, and Arius the priest,
It pained me to behold,
For there amidst the wavering crowd,
They pleaded long, and pleaded loud.
“ Now while I gazed there came a man,
And joined the jarring throng,
He stood amidst them all, and heard
Their consultations long-

Till thinking it was time to speak,
He said, as says my song,
• I've wandered here to seek advice,
And want your answer in a trice.'”

"Take it at once,' the crowd rejoined,
· The Word of God alone
Says all that may be safely said,
Or may be surely known.
The truth is his whose name it bears,
The errors are our own;
And
may

be yours, if you can see
The worth of our authority.'

I'll not dig there for truth,' said he;
And there was little cause,
For in my dream, that form august,
Rose at the awful pause,
Amidst what seemed disgraceful mirth
And long and loud ha-has,-
But when I gazed, I joined the crew,
And heartily I tittered too.

“ He was so very oddly drest,
'Twas laughter to behold,
His fine, majestic, manly form
So ' covered from the cold,'
For it was stuck from head to foot
As full as it could hold,
With things of glitter and of glow,
Like spangles in a puppet-shew !

“ He sleeked his rags and thundered out,
If you my friendship prize,
Seek higher up the stream, for here,
You see me in disguise.'
We do,' said I, and as I felt
My mirth again arise,
• Hush !' said the indignant sprite, and chid it,
It was EXPEDIENCY that did it.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

ON THE HEARING OF THE WORD. The preaching of the Gospel is the chief means appointed by God for the conversion of sinners, and the spiritual edification of His people. For this purpose an order of men has been set apart in all ages of the church, who are qualified by previous education and study (accompanied with God's blessing) to declare to their hearers those truths which the Scriptures contain. In intimate harmony with this appointment is the weekly ordinance of Godthe Sabbath. Accordingly, in this favored land, our pulpits are weekly occupied by God's ordained servants, who comment upon a certain portion of the word. It is, therefore, an easy thing to hear, the difficulty is to hear aright. As rational beings—as those who are accountable for every thought, word, and action, it is necessary that we deeply ponder what we hear, and how we hear. Our Lord, in the parable of the sower and the seed, has clearly pointed out various classes of hearers. The ignorant—the un. steady--the worldly-minded--the understanding and obeying hearer, are briefly, yet most impressively delineated.

1. It is necessary that we should understand what we hear. But, as we, by the original depravity of our nature, have our understandings darkened as to spiritual things (however clear-sighted as to worldly matters,) and are alienated from the life of God, we must obtain extraneous assistance to hear aright, and this assistance can only come from God. Christ has declared “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” We ought, therefore, to ask the blessing of God upon our hearing. As we cannot understand the written word without the aid of the Holy Spirit, so, without His Divine assistance, we cannot understand the preached word to edification. The persuasion of this will make us humble hearers.

2. We ought to hear with a sincere wish for spiritual improvement. It is to be feared that, many are too anxious about the gratification of their tastes, and deriving intellectual benefit from the preachers they hear. Such persons would willingly attend upon the ministry of a Chalmers or a Hall; but they are dissatisfied with a clergyman who does not possess genius or eloquence. This is a morbid condition of the mind, and shows in general, that their regard for Gospel truth requires to be stimulated and

kept vigorous by adventitious circumstances. “The religion of taste,” says Dr. Chalmers, “is one thing, the religion of conscience is another." Do the sublime doctrines--the soul-humbling, yet soul-inspiring views—the pure and holy precepts of the Gospel, stand in need of creature-excellence to enhance their value? Far be it from us to undervalue genius, learning, or eloquence. We rejoice when we see eminent abilities and acquirements dedicated to the service of the sanctuary. But we deprecate their being set up as idols to fall down to and worship.

3. A morbid appetite for intellectual preaching is too often accompanied with a spirit of sarcastic criticism. We do not think that criticism upon ministers is always to be deprecated. It may in some cases be profitable, nay even necessary. But it should always be conducted with caution, and in the spirit of Christian charity. A Aippant tone of reflection upon a minister's manner and style is highly destructive of religious feelings. There is great danger that if the earthen vessels are looked upon with contempt, the treasure which they may contain will likewise be scorned. It is in some measure an insult to God, and a reflection upon His providence, to think and speak lightly of the individual whom He has appointed to minister to us in holy things. There are few, if any, evangelical sermons, from which the most intellectual hearer may not reap much benefit.

4. There is also a sickly appetite for novelty, too frequently to be found among hearers of the word. Some persons run from church to church, and from chapel to chapel, to hear the most recently arrived minister. This volatile disposition is most baneful to the mind, which is enfeebled by the perpetual stimulus, in the same way as by continual novel-reading. It exposes its possessors to ridicule; but it also exposes them to great spiritual danger. Benefit can scarcely be expected from such hearing. It is generally the most careless and indifferent who are most fond of novelty. By them the creature is exalted above the Creator, and instead of considering the preacher as A messenger

to guilty men,” he is regarded as a mere furnisher of entertainment, and the church is virtually converted into a theatre, and the pulpit into a stage. In such circumstances what wonder if the one affords as little profit as the other ?

of grace

« ZurückWeiter »