Page images
[ocr errors]

for he was determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified. This was the subject of his exhortations, this was the burden of his midnight songs when in prison, this was the theme of his weighty" epistles, in which the Greek language, copious as it is, sinks under him, as he struggles to give utterance to the thoughts of one who had been caught up to the third heaven, and had there heard unspeakable words. Thinking no suffering too keen, no toil too excessive, no danger too great to be incurred in the prosecution of his one glorious task, the proclamation of the Gospel, he pressed heroically on "through evil report and good report," undeterred by calumny and unspoiled by praise, till he was able to exclaim, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day." Like a conqueror in the games, he stands at the end of his course, gazing with confidence towards the judge

of the contest, at whose hand he is certain to receive the crown.

How does the trembling believer in those seasons of darkness, when he fears that he shall yet be vanquished in his long struggle with sin, sigh to participate in these triumphant feelings of our apostle! But it does not become such an one to despair. For let us inquire who it was that led Paul through this difficult course? Did he contend in his own strength? Did he go in this warfare at his own charges? Oh, no! It was the grace of God, the power of the Holy Ghost, "without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy," and who is able to make of the bitterest persecutor a devoted adherent, and of the feeblest believer a hero in the holy war, which led him safely through and made him more than conqueror at the last. The vessel which contained his glorious gifts was but of earth, but God consecrated it to His own use, and filled it with a costly incense, the perfume of which is still arising, and can never be extinct. M. N.

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

lifted up to glory. Like a refreshing stream, it cheered them on their pilgrimage; and, like the honey to Jonathan, gave them fresh strength and courage for the battle.

O my dear friend, what a conIsolation to think that salvation is all of grace-that no creaturerighteousness is required to entitle us to partake of those blessings which Christ has to bestow. All the fitness he requireth, is to feel our need of him. How beautiful is the simplicity of faith! it takes God at his word-it receives Christ as offered in the Gospel-it makes no bargain for heaven, but believes in the promises, and receives salvation through a crucified Redeemer as the free gift of free grace; freely wrought out by the Son of God, and freely bestowed on whomsoever divine grace and sovereign will is pleased to bestow it. Such a faith lays self in the dust; humbles the proud heart of man; strips him of self-righteousness; exalts the Saviour, and glories in the eternal Trinity. Is this faith the product of Nature? Oh, no! It is altogether the work and operation of the Holy Spirit. It partakes, therefore, of the nature of Him who works it in us; it is a "holy faith," a "heart-purifying faith," a faith that "overcomes the world," and "works by love" to God and man. It brings unseen things into view, and substantiates the hope of glory. It unites the sinner to Jesus Christ, and draws from him everything we need to carry us from earth to heaven. It sits at his feet as a prophet, to be taught by him the way to eternal life; it rests upon him alone as an atoning high priest: it obeys him only as the almighty king. In all spiritual maladies, faith goes to him as the unerring physician for health and cure; as the Good Shepherd, it reposes under his care,

yea, it lives altogether upon him and through him and to him, and ascribes all the glory of our salvation to his eternal merits, being made complete in him, and him alone.

[ocr errors]

Jesus The


I was much struck this morning in reading the 4th and 5th chapters of the 1st Epistle of St. John. We are there taught what is the true faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and what are the effects of that faith. In the 4th chapter, the second verse contains the humanity of Christ: Christ is come in the flesh." 15th verse contains the divinity of Christ: "Jesus is the Son of God." The 1st verse of the 5th chapter contains the Messiahship of Jesus: "Jesus is the Christ." Therefore, by a fair conclusion, Christ is God and man, "the Saviour of the world." (4th ch. 14 v.) In the 4th verse we are told that faith overcometh the world. 5th verse asks the question, Who is he that overcometh the world? The answer is then given; "He that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God"-he who believes in his divine nature, in his eternal Godhead. But his human nature in his sufferings is next described. "This is he that came by water and blood," which flowed from his side as he hung upon the cross. By the blood we receive our title, by the water our fitness for heaven. These are represented in the two sacraments Baptism and the Supper of our Lord—which are the signs and seals of these great blessings received into the heart, and made our own by faith. The 10th verse shows the effect of this faith, 'He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself" by the wonderful change produced in his heart and life, and by the sweet sense of pardon and peace in his soul. The apostle then shows that eternal life is treasured


up in Christ, so that all who possess him shall live eternally. Then he adds, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God," that your faith may be confirmed in this important and saving truth. I

need not say, pardon me for dwelling so long upon one subject, since without faith it is impossible to please God. Let me rather add, Lord, increase our faith-make it more vigorous and lively; and of thy mercy confirm it unto the end. Amen.

Your affectionate Friend,
Leeds, 30th Nov., 1810.

NO. X.


MY DEAR FRIEND,— * * * What says the Apostle? Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity:" and St. John sweetly adds-"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." Love is the grace which gives a charm and beauty to all the rest; nay, I may call it the Queen of the celestial Graces. When faith shall be lost in vision, and hope in enjoyment, love will shine with increasing lustre to all eternity. In proportion as divine love is shed abroad in the heart, in that proportion will the soul be assimilated to Jesus Christ; enjoy communion with him; gain a greater conquest over indwelling sin, and partake on earth a foretaste of the bliss of heaven.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Wherever love reigns, there will also be found humility. Who so humble as the saints in light? and who loves more than they? These graces spring from saving, justifying faith, and prove it to be genuine and sincere, the sole work and operation of the Spirit of God -as a tree is known by its fruit, and by its fruit known to be alive. Oh! that a God of mercy and love, may pour upon us more of his Spirit, and cause us to abound yet more and more in all knowledge and in all goodness :

"He can, for he is power;

He will, for he is love."

And now, my dear friend, may our souls be growing daily more and more like unto Christ. Oh! what a great work is the work of salvation. I feel it, and find it a continual warfare, from an evil heart of unbelief. How lovely is holiness-how precious is the love of God! But sin and Christ cannot dwell together. The heart where Jesus abideth must be purified, and is purified, by faith. I want to feel all my affections alive, when I think upon his dying love; I want more of the mind and spirit of my Redeemer. He alone can

give me what I want. In Jesus is treasured up an infinite fulness of grace and glory. He can and does millions have found him all-suffisupply all his people's need. Yes! cient, and his name is still the same "God, all-sufficient!" (Gen. Faith! xvii. 1.) Then what do I want? Oh! for more of this appropriating grace! It lays hold of will not let thee go, except thou Jesus, and says with Jacob: "I bless me." It will take no nay; and yet its importunity, is pleasing unto God. He loves to be wrestled with, by humble, fervent, believing prayer; and though he may seem to shut his ear, yet all this is done

2 Y

to strengthen faith and patience, and not to disappoint it finally.

We want much humbling, and God knows best in which way to root out this cursed weed of nature-pride. We want much spiritualizing, and infinite Wisdom best knows how to deliver us from a carnal mind. Thus are we often brought into the furnace and the wilderness, into trials and distresses; but what says Bridget"All is love!" Redeeming love appoints the medicine for the healing of our souls, and what a mercy is it, although the potion be ex

tremely bitter. When a person is extremely ill and given up by the

physicians, how often do they say, when speaking of his diet-You may give him whatever he chooses to eat. How dreadful this, when applied to the soul; when all means are found unavailing, and the heavenly Physician says, "Let him alone"-give him the bent of his will; all hope of recovery is past. Sufferings, however great, directed through grace as medicines to the soul, are pleasures compared to such a state, however prosperous and easy in the world. -Believe me,

Your affectionate Friend, T. S. B. READE. Leeds, 15th May, 1811.


THE ruins of kingdoms! The relics of the mighty empires that were! The overthrow or decay of the master works of man is, of all objects that enter the mind the most afflicting. The high wrought perfection of beauty and art seem born but to perish; and decay is seen and felt to be an inherent law of their being. But such is the nature of man, that even while gazing upon the relics of unknown nations, which have survived all history, he forgets his own perishable nation in the spectacle of enduring great


We know of no spectacle so well calculated to teach humiliation. and convince us of the utter fragility of the proudest monuments of art, as the relics which remind us of vast populations that have passed from the earth, and the empires that have crumbled into ruins. We read upon their ruins of the past the fate of the present. We

feel as if all the cities of men were built on foundations beneath which the earthquake slept, and that we abide in the midst of the same doom which has already swallowed so much of the records of mortal magnificence. Under such emotions we look on all human power as foundationless, and view the proudest nations of the present as covered only with the mass of their desolation.

The Assyrian empire was once alike the terror and wonder of the world, and Babylon was perhaps never surpassed in power and gorgeous magnificence. But where is there even a relic of Babylon now, save on the faithful pages of Holy Writ? The very place of its existence is a matter of uncertainty and dispute. Alas! that the measure of time should be doomed to oblivion; and that those who first divided the year into months, and invented the zodiac itself, should take so sparingly of immortality as

to be in the lapse of a few centuries, confounded with natural phenomena of mountain and valley.

Who can certainly show us the site of the tower that was "reared against heaven?" Who were the builders of the pyramids that have excited so much the astonishment of modern nations? Where is Rome, the irresistible monarch of the east, the terror of the world? Where are the proud edifices of her glory, the fame of which has reached even to our time in classic vividness? Alas! she too has faded away in sins and vices. Time has swept his unsparing scythe over her glories, and shorn this prince of its towering diadems.

"Her lonely columns stand sublime,
Flinging their shadows from on high
Like dials, which the wizard Time
Has raised, to count his ages by."

Throughout the range of the western wilds, down in Mexico, Yucatan, Bolivia, &c., travellers have been able to discover the most indisputable evidences of extinct races of men, highly skilled in learning and the arts, of whom we have no earthly record, save the remains of their wonderful works, which time has spared for our contemplation. On the very spot

where forests rise in unbroken grandeur, and seem to have been explored only by their natural inhabitants, generation after generation has stood, has lived, has warred, grown old, and passed away; and not only their names, but their nation, their language, have perished, and utter oblivion has closed over their once populous abodes. Who shall unravel to us the magnificent ruins of Mexico, Yucatan, and Bolivia, over which hangs the sublimest mystery, and which seem to have been antiquities in the day of Pharaoh! Who were the builders of those gorgeous temples, obelisks, and palaces, now the ruins

of a powerful and highly cultivated people, whose national existence was probably before that of Thebes or Rome, Carthage or Athens? Alas! there is none to tell the tale! all is conjecture, and our best information concerning them is derived only from uncertain analogy.

How forcibly do these wonderful revolutions, which overturn the master works of man, and utterly dissolve his boasted knowledge, remind us that God is in them all! Wherever the eye is turned, to whatever quarter of the world the attention is directed, there lie the remains of more powerful, more advanced, and more highly skilled nations than ourselves, the almost obliterated records of the mighty past. How seemingly well-founded was the delusion, and indeed how current even now, that the discovery of Columbus first opened the way for a cultivated people in the " new world." And yet, how great reason is there for the conclusion, that while the country of Ferdinand and Isabella was yet a stranger to the cultivated arts, America teemed with power and grandeur; with cities and temples, pyramids and mounds, in comparison with which the buildings of Spain bear not the slightest resemblance, and before which the relics of the old world are shorn of their grandeur.

All these great relics of still greater nations, should they not teach us a lesson of humiliation; confirming as they do, the truth that God is in history, which man cannot penetrate? If the historian. tells us truly that a hundred thousand men, relieved every three months, were thirty years in erecting a single Egyptian pyramid, what conclusion may we not reasonably form of the antiquities of the continent of America, which is almost by way of derision, one would suppose, styled the new world.

« PreviousContinue »