« PreviousContinue »
of his earthly existence will be etherialized and irradiated by the touch of death, and he will mingle in the fellowship of the blessed, arrayed in regal and sacerdotal pomp. Nor will his crown ever lose its radiance, or his mitre its whiteness: the hand that placed them on his head will sus. tain its own workmanship; those whom God has exalted need never fear
V. Another peculiarity to be noticed is, that the wood of the cedar is efficacious in preventing putrefaction; and was, on this account, formerly used for embalming. And did not the holy Jesus declare of His disciples that they were the salt of the earth? The
of the righteous keep back the wrath of heaven when ready to burst on the earth: and for their sake God does not inflict on the world the punishment its sins seem to demand. We may readily imagine what a mass of putrefaction the social state would be, were it not for the righteous scattered over the earth, by perusing the history and literary remains of those times which immediately preceded and followed the birth of Christ. Let us look at the assemblage of iniquity that lay putrefying at Rome: let us consider the brutal sensuality to which all classes abandoned themselves with the recklessness of despair: and we may then see what men would be were there no counteracting influence at work among them. By means of the admixture of saints in the great mass of human society, the tendency to corruption is checked, and wickedness is vented from reaching to a height which should over-tower the mercy of God.
VI. It is worthy of notice that the wood of the cedar, when burnt, yields a delightful perfume. This circumstance may, by an apt comparison, be transferred to the Christian life. The purifying fires of persecution and sorrow extract the rich odours of evangelical graces; display to the world those virtues which might otherwise have remained in concealment. But for this, the justice of God might seem to be impugned by the sufferings to which good men are so generally exposed. Not often are they found to be the possessors of rank or wealth: yet not seldom has it been their lot to undergo tortures and punishments like the vilest of criminals. But when we reflect that by such means it is that they are rendered meet for heaven, the Divine purpose becomes discernible. The advantages of this world are hazardous to their possessor, who is very often rather loaded than adorned by them: but of the utility of sanctified affliction there can be no doubt, when it conducts the soul to a renunciation of everything for the sake of Christ. Nor is it alone in the believer himself that the ameliorating influence of suffering is displayed: the fragrance of the consuming cedar-wood spreads afar; the multitude are attracted and charmed: converts are made, and new heroes added to the ranks of righteousness. The blood of the martyrs, it has often been said, is the seed of the Church. And if there did not literally arise from the burnt body of every martyr, as is said to have been actually the case at the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, a peculiar fragrancy to charm the bodily senses of the bystanders, yet the odour of his victorious faith always pervaded the scene of his sufferings, and many were induced to hear and worship the martyr's God.
VII. Again: the cedar exudes a useful secretion; and to this may be compared the good works which are the necessary attendants of piety. True religion is not a mere enlargement of the intellectual powers; it is not
solely a mental adherence to certain tenets, true and excellent in themselves; but it is a course of active or passive virtue, founded on true and divinely-implanted principles, and producing fruits not to be mistaken. Christianity does not consist in a creed skilfully framed and correctly pronounced, but in a renewed heart, producing a holy and useful life. Non eloquimur magna, sed vivimus, said an ancient apologist:* “our eloquence is not in our words but in our lives.”
In these respects, then, the Christian may be said to “grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” And if this king of the forest be a fitting emblem of the believer, to it also we may (with humility) compare the Saviour Himself. For if the virtues here mentioned be displayed in any degree in Christians, in a supreme degree are they developed in Him who is not ashamed to call them brethren. The graces of the believer are all derived from Christ. They are but as some scatterings of spray flung from the immense ocean of His goodness; and if we would see them in perfection, we must turn our eyes to Him from whom “every good and perfect gift cometh down.' “The durable felicity of the righteous," says Bishop Horne in his commentary on this place, “is here likened to the lasting strength and beauty of palms,' and .cedars.' But chiefly is the comparison applicable to that Just One, the King of Righteousness, and Tree of Life; eminent and upright; ever verdant and fragrant; under the greatest pressure and weight of sufferings, still ascending towards heaven; affording both fruit and protection, incorruptible and immortal.”
O Jesus! Thou celestial and immortal Cedar! how delightful thy shadow to the weary soul! When the rays of temptation or the storms of sorrow beat upon me, let me find a refuge beneath thy branches. May that hallowed spot ever my resting-place and my home, for there I shall be in safety and at peace!
SABBATH DESECRATION ON THE RAILWAYS.
It is a grievous drawback to the enjoyment of railway travellers, to reflect that the system has hanging over it the curse of Sabbath desecration. It cannot be said that matters are no worse than they were before with the coaches; for the increased speed diminishes the plea for such transgression, and renders the present state of things the more inexcusable. I have occasionally, while waiting for a train, conversed with the clerks and porters on the subject, and I never met with one who did not feelingly regret the serious evil to themselves, and at the same time acknowledge the non-necessity for Sunday running of the trains. If such men may not be considered the best judges of the moral and religious part of the question, they certainly are not the worst judges of its practical working. Happily God does not leave himself without witness in influential quarters. There are those amongst directors and shareholders, who are not ashamed to shew that the fear and love of God are with them paramount principles of action. Not a few have sold out of a railway because they could not carry the point of Sabbath observance, and because they could not conscientiously receive the wages of iniquity. Some have retained their shares, but devoted the portion of gain attaching to the Sabbath work, to charitable purposes: while others, including many godly directors, are maintaining a vigilant eye, and embracing opportunities for advancing the good work, which every right-minded Christian most anxiously and prayerfully has at heart.
* Minucius Felix.
And let us not disparage the value of respectable minorities. They may exhibit their seeming powerlessness again and again, but they are not powerless. Where truth is with a minority, and unflinching, persevering diligence, it will eventually succeed. Witness the whole history of the Slave Trade, as well as other measures connected with our Houses of Parliament. Nor can we for a moment doubt but that the Sabbath question, as a whole, is substantially gaining ground. Our Christian senators may meet with repeated failures and rebuffs, but how differently are Sabbath measures met in the House of Commons now, to what they were a few years ago; and do we not see in all directions the practical benefit of the agitation of the question? Witness the abandonment of Sunday Cabinet dinners, and many other symptoms of improvement in the habits of the higher classes of society. Truth is omnipotent, and must eventually prevail.
Let our Christian directors and shareholders never tire in their efforts to assert the rights and honour of their God. Let them resolve, in the strength of Heaven, not to yield the ground in despair to the sordid cupidity of worldly and ungodly men, and they may depend upon it "in due season they shall reap if they faint not.”
And in the meanwhile, who can tell the blessings to a country, even of minorities, in favour of truth? I have lately been much struck with the applicableness of Abraham's intercession for Sodom to this subject. Ten righteous would have saved the city. What were ten, or even fifty righteous, compared with the hundreds and thousands of ungodly inhabitants! And yet ten righteous would have saved the city from destruction! And so, amidst all that may well fill us with fear for our beloved country on the ground of systematic, and newly-admitted, and even legalized desecration of the Sabbath, (a point almost more than any other, touching Jehovah's honour, and therefore most likely to provoke his jealousy, and bring down his anger,) amidst all let us cling with hope and thankfulness to our handful of righteous men, who not only sigh and cry in secret over the abomination, but fearlessly and unceasingly stand forward to protest against the evil, and to check its progress.
It requires humility and it requires faith to persevere amidst the scoffs and ridicule of the cold, heartless, calculating men of the world; but we confess we cannot well convey an adequate idea of the honour and love in which we hold such confessors for God. They are indeed the salt of the land, keeping it from entire destruction. And they may well be encouraged to go forward, even though they knew that they should never successfully carry their measures, and purge the railways of this foul stain: they may well be encouraged to persevere under the thought, that in that very perseverance they are presenting the front of the righteous few, who are saving the nation from its merited judgments.
We have much pleasure in laying before our readers a specimen of the efforts which are making in the good cause amongst persons responsibly connected with railways.
Few men would have had the courage to attack the evil in such a quarter. But the greater the name and the higher the authority, the more dangerous the influence and the more urgent the necessity to counteract it. And Mr. Newton well knew what the stripling David could effect with the God of Truth on his side, even against the giant of Gath. We cannot but wonder and regret that so good a man as Dr. Arnold should have been led to adopt such laxity of system with regard to the Sabbath.' We believe that the very last time he left his lovely place near Grasmere, he commenced his journey on the Lord's Day. It is painful to have regret diminished, at his removal from his post at Rugby, which he filled, in most respects, so beneficially, by the consideration that his laxity must have largely counteracted the good that he was otherwise effecting.
We do trust, notwithstanding all the retrograde movements in our Church which would assimilate us more and more with Popish countries in regard to Sabbath observances, that there is a growing desire amongst us to maintain the Divine honour in the sanctity of His Day, and a growing conviction in favour of an institution which must be acknowledged to be as conducive to the present comfort and welfare of a community, as it is to our spiritual and eternal interests.
The following Letters, on the subject of Sunday travelling on railways, were addressed to the late Dr. Arnold, in reply to letters written by him to Mr. Newton, on occasion of the resolution which the latter (one of the directors of the North Midland Railway Company) submitted to the proprietors previous to the first opening of the Line.
Leylands, Feb. 20th, 1840. Commandment (which I presume SIR.--I beg to thank you for the you allude to as the Jewish, as concourteous terms in which you have tradistinguished from the Christian had the kindness to convey the refu- Sabbath,) to be no longer the Chrissal of your proxy. I the more regret
tian rule of conduct. If I could your inability to comply with my bring my mind to think that that request, because we make such near commandment alone might with proapproximation to each other in opin- priety be expunged from the moral ion, and because I should have felt law, whilst all the rest are left in their greatly strengthened in my efforts, by full force, I could then immediately the support of one, whose sentiments adopt your view. But whilst I am carry so much weight as yours. I do required by the service of our Church not now write for the purpose of en- on every returning Sabbath to make croaching on your valuable time with
“ Lord have mercy upany controversial discussion of this on us, and incline our hearts to keep question: still less with the feeling this law,” I confess it would appear that anything I could urge further to me difficult to evade the result, upon the subject would be likely to that, if I do not mean to keep THAT lead to a re-consideration of the law as well as the rest, I have no bupoints at issue between us—but to siness to join in that response.
I ask the favour of a short statement of feel that I have no claim to ask this the grounds on which you
consider favour at your hands, and that your the spirit and essence of the Fourth occupations are too valuable to be
Leylands, March 10th, 1840. SIR,—Though I received your letter too late to avail myself of your friendly offer to confide your proxy to me, under certain limitations, yet I cannot omit thanking you for your kindness in this respect, and for your obliging answer to the question which I proposed to you. We perfectly agree that “the Jewish law, so far as it was Jewish and not moral, is at an end.” Nothing is clearer than this. But I cannot so easily admit, that it is only an assumption to predicate of the Ten Commandments, that they are all moral. Surely it is not too much to affirm, that it is at least prima facie evidence of the fact, that the Fourth Commandment is moral as well as the rest, that it was promulgated with awful solemnity, incorporated with and made part of the Decalogue, and written by the finger of God
himself. These circumstances alone invest it with a dignity and importance, which never
to have been vouchsafed to ceremonial observances. Paley's reason for singling out the Fourth Commandment as not being of moral and universal obligation, whilst all the rest are confessedly so, appears to me to be singularly unhappy and almost irreverent. It is this; “that the distinction between positive and natural duties, like other distinctions of modern ethics, was unknown to the simplicity of ancient language.” Mor. Phil. v. 2, p. 85. Thus subjecting a command, written by the finger of God to a comparison with human compositions.
In the next place, is there any
commandment more moral in its effects than this? I should say that the high standard of religion and morality in this country above all the nations of the continent, is mainly referable to the better observance of the Lord's Day. Take away this great bulwark, which protects both our morals and our religion, and the flood-gates of licentiousness would be opened, and the elevated position which England holds in the scale of nations would be lost.
Debating the point with a Churchman, I would further say, ought any abrogated ceremonial law, which is not a moral law, or of universal obligation, to be placed in the most conspicuous part of our churches, so as to mislead a plain, simple-minded man into the belief, that it formed as much a part of his duty, as that he should do no murder, or that he should not steal, or commit adultery?
Or ought we to be called on (as I before stated) to respond to the Fourth Commandment, “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law,” if we believe this law to be no longer as binding as the rest?
With respect to the Catechism, although the part to which you allude contains no specific and express directions for keeping the Sabbath holy, yet the preceding part enjoins the observance of this law equally with the others.
Q. “You say that your godfathers, &c. &c., that you should keep God's commandments: tell me how many there be?”
Is the Fourth expunged? So far from it, it stands there (as it seems to me) an imperishable monument of the equal authority of all in the opinion of the compilers of our Liturgy. It will not, I am sure, be disputed by you, that the Lord of the Sabbath, who gave the command, had power to alter or modify the law? The only question is, did He alter it? The answer is, “not by any direct or positive enactments; nor at all in the spirit and substance: but it seems equally clear, that the Lord of the