Page images
PDF
EPUB

differences when the cause of Jesus is to be attacked, and one heart animates the whole infernal host. But the friends of the great enterprise are divided, and much of their force is spent in skirmishes among themselves, while the common enemy in the meantime is permitted to make an almost unresisted progress. It is a pity, a great pity. It ought not to be s). The great aggressive enterprise of the world's conversion demands all our resources, and yet we are expending them in mutual assaults. When will it be otherwise ? When will Christians agree on a truce among themselves, and march in one mighty phalanx against the world, to the service to which the Captain of salvation calls them? When shall it once be? I do not know, but I do know that when it takes place, the first of the thousand years will not be far off.

Fellow-soldiers of the cross ! what are we about? Let us form. Let us put on our complete armor. Some of us are not in full panoply. And let us sing together one of the songs of Zion, and to that music let us march on to the conquest of the world for Jesus. He is already in the field, let us hasten lo his support. Let us go to his help against the mighty. Let us leave all, even our mutual dissensions, suspicions and jealousies, and follow himand presently the world shall be converted.

15. The Conversion of the Church.

We hear a great deal now-a-days about the con. version of the world. It is in almost

every

Chris. tian's mouth; and we cannot be too familiar with the phrase—we cannot be too diligent to promote the thing. It ought to have our daily thoughts, prayers, and efforts. It deserves our hearts. It is the great object of Christianity. But there is another community besides the world, which I think needs to undergo a measure of the same process that the world so much needs. It is the church. While the conversion of the world is made so prominent, I think we ought not to overlook the conversion of the church, especially since this comes first in order.

Every thing, we know, begins at the house of God, both in judgment and mercy. But what do I mean by the conversion of the church ? Is not the church converted already ? Suppose I admit that ; may she not need a new conversion ? Regeneration is but once, but conversion

may

be
many

times. Peter had been converted when Christ said to him, “and when thou art converted, strengthen thy breth

." There is no doubt the church might be converted again, and that without any injury to her.

But why do I think the church needs conversion ? I might give several reasons, but I will assign only

ren.

" about

one. It is founded on Matthew, 18:3: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children." Here we see the effect of conversion is to make the subjects of it as little children, and hence St. John addresses the primitive Christians as little children. Now my reason for thinking the church needs conversion is, that there does not seem to be much of the little child about the church of the present day. There is a great deal more of the old man it, I am afraid. I think if John were living now, he would not be apt to address the members of the church generally as " little children." No indeed. I question whether, if he were even addressing an assembly of the ministers and officers of many of our churches, he would not be apt to apply other terms than "little children" as a preface to his exhortation "love one another," which I am sure he would not forget.

Little children are humble, but humility is not a remarkable characteristic of the church of the present day. I don't think the scholars of either of the schools have got the lesson of lowliness very perfectly from their Master. I fear, if the Master ivere lo come in upon us now, he would be likely to chide many in both the schools. Why two schools ? There is but one Master.

How confiding little children are, and how ready to believe on the bare word of one in whom they have reason to feel confidence, and especially if he

8

Pr. Thoughts.

a

be a father! But not so the church. "Thus saith, the Lord” does not satisfy her sons now. They must have better reasons for believing than that. They must hear first what he has to say, and then see if they can get a confirmation of it from any quarter before they will believe it. How unceremoniously many of these children treat some of the things which their Father very evidently says, because they do not strike them as in accordance with reason, justice, or common sense!

How docile the little child is ! Mary, who “sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word," was such a child. Never a why or a how asked she of him. I cannot say so much for the church of our day. Simplicity also characterizes little children. How open and artless they are—how free from guile. Such was Nathanael. Whether this trait of character be conspicuous in the church now, let the reader say.

Little children are moreover characterized by love, and their charity " thinketh no evil.” How unsuspicious they are! But too much of the charity of the present day, so far from thinking no evil, thinketh no good. It suspects every body. It "hopeth " nothing. Indeed love, and her sister peace, which used to lead the graces, are become as wall-flowers with many; into such neglect they have fallen. They seem to be quite out of the question with many. Some good men appear to think that contending for the faith is the end of the commandment

and the fulfilling of the law. But it is not. It is a duty, an important duty-one too little regarded by many-one never to be sneered at as by some it is. I acknowledge some treat it as if it were nothing. I only say it is not every thing. There is walking in love, and following peace, which, as well as contending for the faith, are unrepealed laws of Christ's house. I believe they can all be done, and that each is best done when the others are not neglected. I am sure truth never lost any thing by being spoken in love. I am of opinion that a principal reason why we are not more of one mind, is that we are not more of one heart. How soon they who feel heart to heart, begin to see eye to eye! The way to think alike is first to feel alike; and if the feeling be love, the thought will be truth. I wish, therefore, for the sake of sound doctrine, that the brethren could love one another. What if we see error in each other to condemn, can we not find any thing amiable to love? I would the experiment might be made. Let us not cease to contend for the faith—not merely for its own sake, but for love's sake, because “faith worketh by love." But, in the conflict, let us be careful to shield love. It is a victory for truth scarcely worth gaining, if charity be left bleeding on the field of battle.

You see why I think the church wants converting. It is to bring her back to humility, and simpli. city, and love. I wish she would attend to this matter. She need not relax her efforts for the world.

« PreviousContinue »