Page images
PDF
EPUB

can show

Dare you

C6

that are

they are only signs. A cloud as a gry, ignorant? No; they have no man's hand arises out of the ocean; very pressing wants at present. the floods, we augur, are at hand. Indeed! then I

you

those The shaft is sunk into the mine; who have—many a Lazarus lying we have seen already specimens of at your gate, without home, withthe mineral we are to expect; (as, out bread, without friends, and full for example, in the contribution of of putrifying sores. £5,000 towards the building of the pamper your children with many new churches in the metropolis, coats, while thousands want one? from “ One seeking treasure in Dare you feed them on luxuries, heaven :"_to this may be added, while thousands ask for crumbs ? £6,000 to the Church Missionary Who was it that said, he that Society, by one who styles himself hath two coats, let him impart to “ Less than the least;”—but the him that hath none ?” You answer, vein will soon be fully opened. “that was a proverb.” Oh! take Then shall it be again, as in the heed, lest it become a by-word. days of Solomon, when silver was Have you forgotten the feast which nothing accounted of in Jerusalem. God hath chosen : - Is it not to

Do I, my dear friends, appear to deal thy bread to the hungry, and you to raise the standard of that thou bring the poor Christian beneficence too high ? cast out into thy house; when Are there any secret objections thou seest the naked that thou working in your minds against the cover him; and that thou hide not practicability of what I am recom- thyself from thine own flesh ?” mending to you? What are those (Isaiah lviii. 7.) But it is very objections? I would, if possible, possible that you are liberal in remove every scruple and difficulty. showing kindness to the poor, in You may, perhaps, be disposed to relieving their temporal wants. So urge, “The claims of my own far well. Shall we, therefore, confamily are great; by the time I clude that you have done all that have provided for my own house

That is the point to be hold, I find little or nothing re- considered. What great sacrifices maining for charitable purposes.

have
you

made ? A little occasional Remaining! what, then charity charity; a loaf, a garment, or a forms no part of your actual ex- few shillings: these cost you but penditure; it is not an item in little. What do you give towards your regular accounts; you give the relief of the spiritual necessities God none of the ore, but only the of your fellow men ? scoria, if I may so speak, of your ever given largely as God counts fortunes ; your libation to God is largeness? ever lived more selfnot from the brim of an overflowing denyingly, that you might bestow cup, but from the bottom, from the more freely? If not, you have to dregs. The principle on which you show a reason for withholding here. set out is wrong. God first, and Your reason must be a strong one; then the remainder to other pur- you must, indeed, make out an poses, should be the principle of urgent case of necessity, ere you domestic economy. But, now what can be justified. Scarcely any are these claims of your family, thing short of absolute poverty will which shut up the hand of libe- bear out the substitution of prurality? Are your children in want dence for liberality. Do you know of food, or clothing, or needful the real state of things around you? education? Are they naked, hun- When we speak of religious desti

you can ?

Have you

hind me.

tution, you may, perhaps, imagine nor lands, nor money to leave be. that our observations apply to hea

Thou hast given me then lands alone. Are you aware wife and children, whom I now that you are dwelling in the midst restore to thee. Lord, nourish, of practical heathenism ? Read the teach, support, preserve them, aš occasional papers published by the

thou hast me. Can you believe Church Pastoral-Aid Society. Look that the Heavenly Father failed to at the moral waste portrayed in execute this will ? Let, then, the them; can you behold it unmoved ? worst happen that can befal

youSurvey it well. Think of the let it be supposed that your libethousands hourly passing from its rality should somewhat impoverish miseries to woe eternal; then go your children, I would remind you, and lay up in banks, for future and that the poor are not despised in imaginary wants, if you can. heaven. But is it come to this ? Rather, with such a destitution Are

you

driven to this extremity ? around, happy the man, and wise, Were you to treble your charities, whose last will and testament who would be in want?

Let conshall run in the words of Martin

science speak.

Have you done Luther's :-" I have neither house, what you might? what you can?

A SEA-SIDE MEDITATION.

sea.

The morning was sunny and cloud- and scenes of his own life, reless as I walked down to the beach minding him of the various feelings to inhale the fresh breezes of the with which, at different times, he

The snow still lay on the has listened to its delightful music. neighbouring hills, and the air was It brings before him the great exsharp ; but on the dancing waves ploits that have been acted

upon

its rested the sunlight, clothed in the surface, with the wondrous beings splendour of summer. The liquid who have walked by its side, and plain seemed a huge mirror in then leads him on to the august which the sun was viewing his events of which it may yet be the glorious face, while to the serious witness; thus crowding in bemind it reflected still more vividly wildering confusion deeds and men, the

power and love of God. It is from the time when the Spirit of scarcely possible for any but the God first brooded upon its dark most thoughtless to gaze without bosom, to the hour when, having deep interest upon the sea : there been previously summoned to give is something in a lonely walk by its up its dead, it shall be sent back to side that stirs up the sublimest its original nothingness. But to feelings of the heart; and a multi- the Christian one class of ideas is tude of associations, connected with prominent. He may be compelled individual experience or the history to think of the battle of Salamis of nations, rush upon the observer, or the triumphs of Trafalgar, but as he lingers, in silent rapture, his thoughts pass from these to beside this mysterious production muse on the Sea of Galilee, and of creative skill. It calls his that gracious Being who there sat thoughts far away to other days on the waters and instructed the JUNE-1845.

2 K

on the

sea

people from a ship, bringing the calm. And thus does not youth minds of His hearers into subjec- often make its entrance tion to the truth, and achieving a world ? All that meets the casual triumph in which the vanquished glance is smooth and radiant: and are crowned by their victor with joyously we venture into a imperishable wreaths. He may re- which is to bear us to some fancied member the old story of Xerxes island of pleasure. For a while, flinging chains on the Hellespont, all may appear tolerably pleasant : or he may think of the magnificent it is true, a wave, now then, will ceremonial with which the Venetian shake the boat; but its violence is Doge was wont to be wedded to the momentary, and the liquid depths sea; but he turns from these specta- again smile as before. But should cles of human vanity, to meditate the storm arise and the heavens on Him who trod the azure plains become dark-should those we with the step of a sovereign, and loved be swept from our side, or whom the vassal waves wafted, un- should sickness spread its black injured, to the shore. He may wings over us, or should we see think of the rapture of the Greeks, our choicest hopes dashed to pieces conducted by Xenophon, when they before our eyes—ah! whither, first caught a glimpse of the waters then, are we to betake ourselves ? which told them their home was How helplessly do we look towards near, and eagerly shouted Sea ! the protecting haven, where we see sea !” but he endeavours to picture vessels exposed to the same vioto himself the far deeper rapture of lence as our own, but which, being the ransomed sinner when he shall held firm by their anchors, are able first come within sight of the sea to defy the storm! For, happily, of glass before the throne of God, there is an anchor provided for the and know that he has reached the mariner tossed by the storms of shelter of a heavenly home. He life. The man whose hopes are may think of Demosthenes prac- fixed on the rock, Christ Jesus, tising those orations that were need not fear when the tempest of afterwards to astonish the world, sorrow rages, for it will not be able but it is with far more delight that to rend him from his hold. he thinks of that loftier eloquence hope which is set before us” in the which pleaded persuasively in the Gospel is anchor sure and court of heaven, when St. Paul stedfast,” for it is not cast on the and his affectionate companions sand of

merits and “kneeled down on the shore and strength, nor on the loose ground prayed.”

of mere outward ceremonies ; but But besides these historical asso- it is driven into that interior and ciations, there are other thoughts secured spot, beyond the veil of which press upon the believer's

visible things, “ whither the Foremind. How striking an image of runner is for us entered, even human life do these blue waters Jesus” to whom it clings, and who present! Now, as I look upon

will never let it go. them, they lie tranquil as an in- Here, too, the believer is refant's sleep; and I see the boatmen minded of that encouraging declapushing out their little skiff, which ration of the prophet Micah, where, rushes into the water and bounds addressing God, he says, “Thou upon its surface, as though, ani- wilt cast all their sins into the mated by human feelings, it were depths of the sea.” If I take up rejoicing in the sunshine and the a stone and cast it far out into

- The

an

our

own

these waters how completely is it but we may be certain that those hid and swallowed up in the waves sins which God has thrown into beneath! And to the convinced concealment will never rise up in sinner how cheering would be the judgment against us. conviction that his sins would be The sea, also, is an emblem of thrown into a similar concealment! eternity, ever flowing on without The many transgressions of his life weariness or cessation, and spreadgather in hideous array around him: ing out into an expanse of which he feels that it is not in human the eye can only take in a very power to make that undone which limited part. It is a difficult task has once been committed, nor to tear for the imagination to pass backfrom the register of the Most High ward, through the thousands of the page containing the record of years that have elapsed since the his guilt. Oh! for some recess in creation of our globe, to the period which he might shroud himself ; when, at the word of the Almighty, some cavern in which he might the obedient waters rolled away bury the memory of his shame. from the face of the earth and But earth contains no such hiding- gathered into one place ; while the place : the sea says,

“ it is not morning stars sang together” as with me :” and time itself, before they looked down on its blue surwhom the mountains crumble and face, gilded by the light of the rivers are dried up, refuses to lend newly-created sun. Yet of this its annihilating power to aid in the event God has been pleased to give destruction of a single sin. There us a written record, and we can fix is but one refuge for the sinner, with tolerable exactness the date pursued by the memory of his guilt: of its occurrence. How, then, shall there is but one voice which can the mind attempt to form an idea confidently say, Come unto me,

of those distant ages which existed all ye that labour and are heavy- before time had a beginning, and laden and I will give you rest.” the history of which lies hid in the The Gospel alone declares how the mind of Him whose footsteps none sins that agonize our hearts may can trace. And it is as impossible be obliterated, and wrapt in a dark- to comprehend in our imperfect ness which even the eye of God vision that part of the ocean of will not pierce. (Numbers xxiii. eternity which lies before us, as it 21.) “ If we confess our sins He is to travel across the vast tract is faithful and just to forgive us

that lies behind. Yet on the shore our sins, and to cleanse us from all of this solemn ocean it is that men unrighteousness." If the grace of are sent to wander awhile, waiting the Holy Spirit have led us to fly for their turn to launch forth into for refuge to the atonement of its boundless deeps. Christ, we have good reason to their days in collecting gold, others hope that in respect of us will the in gathering up those painted shells declaration be fulfilled, “Thou wilt called honours and pleasures; while cast all their sins into the depths a few, guided by an invisible hand, of the sea.” What has been are made to stoop down and see the thrown into these material waters pearl of great price which their may by the advancing tide be cast companions had heedlessly passed again on the shore : even frag- or rejected with contempt. For to ments of a wrecked vessel have, the soul bowed down in penitence after the lapse of years,

been the Gospel becomes a gem to be brought once more to the surface; pressed eagerly to the heart: while

Some pass

taken up:

In many

others find in it no attractions, or Yonder are fishermen engaged are too proud to assume the lowly in their hazardous labours : and attitude in which alone it can be can I look towards them without

thinking of those fishermen of In the unfathomable depths of Galilee who were made “ fishers of the ocean we have an emblem of men”? Poor, unlettered men were the inscrutability of the Divine they, such as I here meet on the counsels: “ Thy judgments, 0 beach, and yet their teachings have Lord, are a great deep.” In gone out into all lands, and their parts of the ocean it is in vain that writings to the end of the world. the plummet is let down lower and Whence, then, but from heaven lower : it meets no resistance, it could they have received those finds no resting-place, and the ma- doctrines whose sublimity and pusiner draws it back in despair. So rity far exceed all systems of ethics is it when men by searching think that the world has seen? How to find out God, to account for could they have proclaimed to the many mysteries of providence mankind such a history as that of and grace, and instead of content- Jesus of Nazareth, had they not ing themselves with gazing in de- really seen and heard what they vout gratitude on such parts of his there assert to have been done and works as are legitimate objects of and said ? In adopting these contemplation, endeavour to intrude humble men as his first disciples into the pavilion of dark waters and and preachers, Jesus made it manithick clouds behind which hedwells. fest that the work they were sent to But instead of exhibiting an undue do was entirely his own, that his curiosity to know what God has kingdom was not of this world, hidden; it becomes fallen man to and that it is “not by might nor glow with thankfulness for what by power,” but by his Spirit that he has revealed. In his secret the minds of men are brought in council-chamber lies concealed the subjection to the Gospel. And as, volume of his decrees, but from the while pursuing their temporal callveiled seclusion comes forth a voice ing, they had “ toiled all the night declaring that he is waiting to be and caught nothing,” yet when, at gracious to the returned prodigal: the word of Jesus, they let down and to that man on whom the Holy the net " they inclosed a great Ghost has bestowed grace to obey multitude of fishes :” so, in vain the call, it will not be a difficult would have been their contending task to bow in resignation at his with the turbulence of surrounding footstool, content to “know no- wickedness, in vain their generous thing but Jesus Christ and him

exposure of themselves to perils in crucified.” And, probably, here- the city, in the wilderness and in after it will form no small part of the sea, had not their Divine Master the enjoyment of the saints in followed them with his invisible heaven to make, day after day, fresh presence, and given success to their excursions on the ocean of truth, labours by his effectual grace. to learn more and more of the When I watch yonder vessel in Divine will, to dive deeper and her stately progress over the waves, deeper into the depths of God, I am reminded of the extraordinary whence the soul may come back means by which God brings about glowing with a warmer love, and his purposes. This mighty volume fall before the throne with a more of water thrown between nation intense adoration,

and nation, would seem calculated

« PreviousContinue »