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5. The word to profit the soul must be heard with faith. St. Paul says of the Jews, “the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith.” And, as “faith without works is dead,” we must not only be “hearers” but “ doers” of the word. We must obey the precepts, as well as believe the doctrines of the Gospel. Although we are not saved by works, they are the necessary consequence and evidence of faith. While the New Testament teaches us to rest upon the merits and atonement of Christ, as our only grounds of justification before God, it strongly inculcates practical holiness. Speculative orthodoxy will be found insufficient at the day of judgment. There are, it is to be feared, many persons who, with an apparently flaming zeal for the doctrines of Christianity, nevertheless dislike practical preaching. But such persons are no less than those who run to the other extreme, and care little for the doctrines of the New Testament, if its precepts are inculcated. Each of these parties fix their attention upon one part of the Christian system, to the exclusion of the other. A preacher who rightly divides the word of God, always unites doctrine and precept. His particular subject may demand that one or other be most dwelt upon, yet it can never require that either should usurp his whole attention. St. Paul in his directions to Timothy and Titus, strongly inculcates the union of doctrine and precept.
6. We should listen to every sermon, as if it were the last we should hear—as if before it were finished we should appear in the presence of our Maker and Judge. Were this solemn thought present to the mind of every hearer, what a different spectacle would a place of worship present. There would be no drowsinessidleness—no glancing at fellow-worshippers--no consideration of the secularities of the bygone or ensuing week: every eye would be fixed on the preacher-every ear would listen with deep attentionevery unhallowed or unsuitable thought would be repelled-every mind would be bent upon the things which concerned its everlasting peace. There would be no room for finding fault with the minister-censure would be transferred to ourselves. This picture, though its scene were but a little insignificant place of worship, would far sooner attract the eye of a holy spirit than the most splendid temple, where every external means of awakening devotion was conspicuous, but where superstition or formality had usurped the place of pure and undefiled religion. Such a heartgladdening scene would be a foretaste of the spiritual happiness of heaven.
Reader! do you go to hear the Gospel with a humble and fervent desire to profit by what you hear? Do you ask the blessing of God, and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to enable you to understand aright? Do you receive the word with faith and love? Do you consider the matter of a discourse more than its manner? Is your favorite minister he who most faithfully preaches Jesus Christ, and him crucified, as the way, the truth, and the life; and who most steadily inculcates the duties which necessarily flow from faith in him? If it is not so with you, be assured that there is some disease in your moral constitution, and earnestly implore the great Physician of souls that He would apply the proper remedies; that He would give you a more single eye to His glory and your own eternal welfare. Strive to improve the discourses you may yet hear, for you know not what a day, or even an hour, may bring forth. Neglected offers of mercy will add fearfully to the horrors of a deathbed, and a future state of punishment.
THE SHABBY SURTOUT.
I HAD taken a place on the top of one of the coaches, which run between Edinburgh and Glasgow, for the purpose of commencing a short tour in the Highlands of Scotland. It was in the month of June, a season when travellers of various descriptions flock towards the modern Athens, and thence betake themselves to the northern or western counties, as their business or fancy leads. As we rattled along Princes-street, I had leisure to survey my fellow-travellers. Immediately opposite to me sat two dandies of the first water, dressed in white great-coats and Belcher handkerchiefs, and each with a cigar in his mouth, which he puffed away with marvellous self-complacency. Beside me sat a modest and comely young woman in a widow's dress, and with an infant about nine months old in her arms. The appearance of this youthful mourner and her baby indicated that they belonged to the lower class of society; and though the dandies occasionally cast a rude glance at the mother, the look of calm and settled sorrow
which she invariably at such times cast upon her child seemed to touch even them, and to disarm their coarseness. On the other side of the widow sat a young gentleman of plain, yet prepossessing exterior, who seemed especially to attract the notice of the dandies. His surtout was not absolutely threadbare, but it had evidently seen more than one season, and I could perceive many contemptuous looks thrown upon it by the gentlemen in the Belcher handkerchiefs. The young gentleman carried a small portmanteau in his hand, so small indeed that it could not possibly have contained more than a change of linen. This article also appeared to arrest the eyes of the sprigs of fashion opposite, whose wardrobes in all probability were more voluminous; whether they were paid for or not might be another question:
The coach having stopped at the village of Corstorphine, for the purpose of taking up an inside passenger; the guard, observing that the young gentleman carried his portmanteau in his hand, asked leave to put into the boot, to which he immediately assented. “ Put it fairly in the centre, guard,” said one of the dandies; “Why so, Tom?” inquired his companion. “ It may capsize the coach,” rejoined the first,—a sally at which both indulged in a burst of laughter; but of which the owner of the portmanteau, though the blood mounted slightly into his cheek, took no notice whatever.
The morning being fine at our first setting out, the ride was peculiarly pleasant. The dandies talked of horses and dogs, and fowling-pieces, and percussion-caps; every now and then mentioning the names of Lord John and Sir Harry, as if their acquaintance lay among the great ones of the land. Once or twice I thought I saw an expression of contempt in the countenance of the young gentleman in the surtout, but in this I might be mistaken. His attention was evidently most directed to the mourner beside him, with whom he appeared anxious to get into conversation, but to lack for a time a favorable opportunity.
While we were changing horses at the little village of Uphall, an aged beggar approached, and held out his hat for alms. The dandies looked at him with scorn. I gave
him a few half-pence; and the young widow, poor as she seemed, was about to do the same, when the young gentleman in the surtout laid his hand gently on her arm, and dropping a half-crown into the beggar's
hat, made a sign for him to depart. The dandies looked at each other. Shewing off, Jack," said the one, “ Ay, ay, successful at our last benefit, you know,” rejoined the other, and both again burst into a horse-laugh. At this allusion to his supposed profession, the blood again mounted into the young gentleman's cheek, but it was only for a moment, and he continued silent.
We had not left Uphall many miles behind us, when the wind began to rise, and the gathering clouds indicated an approaching shower. The dandies began to prepare their umbrellas; and the young gentleman in the surtout surveying the dress of the widow, and perceiving that she was but indifferently provided against a change of weather, inquired of the guard if the coach was full inside. Being answered in the affirmative, he addressed the mourner in a tone of sympathy ; told her that there was every appearance of a smart shower; expressed his regret that she could not be taken into the coach ; and concluded by offering her the use of his cloak. “It will protect you so far,” said he, “and at all events it will protect the baby.” The widow thanked him in a modest and respectful manner, and said that for the sake of her infant she should be glad to have the cloak, if he would not suffer from the want of it himself. He assured her that he should not, being accustomed to all kinds of weather. “ His surtout won't spoil,” said one of the dandies, in a voice of affected tenderness, “and besides, my dear, the cloak will hold you both.” The widow blushed; and the young gentleman turning quickly round, addressed the speaker in a tone of dignity which I shall never forget. “ I am not naturally quarrelsome, Sir; but yet it is quite possible you may provoke me too far.” Both the exquisites immediately turned as pale as death; shrunk in spite of themselves into their natural insignificance; and scarcely opened their lips, even to each other, during the remainder of the journey.
In the meantime the young gentleman, with the same politeness and delicacy as if he had been assisting a lady of quality with her shawl, proceeded to wrap the widow and her baby in his cloak. He had hardly accomplished this when a smart shower of rain, mingled with hail, commenced. Being myself provided with a cloak, the cape of which was sufficiently large to envelop and protect my head, I offered the young gentleman my umbrella, which
he readily accepted, but held it, as I remarked, in a manner better calculated to defend the widow than himself.
When we reached West Craigs Inn, the second stage from Edinburgh, the rain had ceased; and the young gentleman, politely returning me my umbrella, began to relieve the widow of his now dripping cloak, which he shook over the side of the coach, and afterwards hung on the rail to dry. Then turning to the widow, he inquired if she would take any refreshment; and upon her answering in the negative, he proceeded to enter into conversation with her as follows :
travel far on this road, ma'am ?” “ About sixteen miles farther, sir. I leave the coach six miles on the other side of Airdrie."
“Do your friends dwell thereabouts ?"
“Yes, sir, they do. Indeed, I am on the way home to my father's house." “In affliction, I fear?
Yes, sir,” said the poor young woman, raising her handkerchief to her eyes, and sobbing audibly, “ I am returning to him a disconsolate widow, after a short absence of two years.”
“ Is your father in good circumstances ?”
“ He will never suffer me or my baby to want, sir, while he has strength to labor for us; but he is himself in poverty, a daylabourer on the estate of the Earl of H.”
At the mention of this nobleman's name, the young gentleman colored a little, but it was evident that his emotion was not of an unpleasant nature. “What is your father's name?” said he.
" James Anderson, sir."
“Well, I trust, that though desolate as far as this world is concerned, you know something of Him, who is the father of the fatherless and the judge of the widow. If so, your Maker is your husband, and the Lord of Hosts is his name."
“O! yes, sir, I bless God, that through a pious parent's care, I know something of the power of divine grace, and the consolations of the gospel. My husband, too, though but a tradesman, was a man who feared God above many."