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hatred to the Eternal, and spend their "short” remaining " time ” of liberty in filling this world with desolation and bloodshed!
We cannot tell whether these mighty beings decline in vigour through centuries of sin; but it is noticeable that in human creatures the effect of sin is to wear out strength. With them the fire of evil burns to ashes. Sensual indulgence of every kind saps the forces of both mind and body. Oftentimes we see the direful decay of the sinner. The speckled countenance, the irritable temper, the reddening eye, the pale and clammy skin, all speak of a life in which the lusts of the flesh are anticipating the corruption of the grave. Yes, there are faces old and young, from which men, women, and children shrink shuddering as portents of eternal death. Excess of all kinds takes away the vigour of the body and the energy of the mind, and deadens down to nothing the moral faculty of conscience, so that where there should be a sensitive place in the soul, feeling the faintest touch of the Almighty hand, there is a hard and horny scar, “seared as with a hot iron.” Thus we see men, both in youth and age, blasés, ennuyés, “ used up," the bloom of life all gone, all things seeming dreary because looked at by a dreary eye, and the shadows deepening over the creation towards the blackness of darkness.
Then there is the insignificant commonalty, the people who are not conspicuously wicked, only ungodly ; not criminal, only without a purpose, a passion, a principle“weak characters," we call them. You may spend days in their company, and not feel more impression from their spirits than from the tame domestic animals whom they nourish and defend ; people who seem not to know why they were born; to have come into being by mistake, or only to saunter through life into the tomb where congenial worms await them, as if they existed but to show how contemptible a thing human life may become without even leaving the mark behind it of a memorable or a splendid crime.
And lastly, there are those who are trying to be good and cannot, who know that there is a higher life than their own, yet in the moment of action find their weakness, and are borne away from their ideal by the rush of an irresistible torrent, crying as they are carried over the precipice, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Now for all such, here is a revelation of strength from heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is sent into a world of the weak to give strength for all occasions on earth, and strength like that of angels in God's temple for ever. The might spoken of in this bold exclamation of St. Paul is strength to do and to suffer all things that are pleasing to God. We need not dwell upon our weakness, we are sufficiently conscious of it; our weakness of moral suscepti. bility ; our weakness in respect of noble, clear, and holy thought; our weakness in choosing rightly, persistently, victoriously; our weakness in love and in the gentler graces; our weakness in enduring hardship, loss, and poverty; and our weakness in shrinking from the wars of the Lord. For all these occasions Christ is the ever-present Strengthener, and this he becomes by a double method.
First, by laying the foundation of willing, spirited, eternal service, in a free and immediate acceptance to the believer. “WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW," says Paul; and when men shrink from expressing their ideas of the Gog. pel in the language of the apostles, it is usually because they do not mean exactly the same things with the apostles. The abolition of the law as a means of righteousness before God is the vital essence of Christianity, and reaches the secret centre of the soul and its disease with an effectual remedy, None can strive to do any work that will please God, unless he be first assured that God will be pleased with his endeavours; and this is the very thing that men can never know while labouring under a guilty conscience. We require an assurance of reconciliation. And this "foundation” we have in Christ." Without me ye can do nothing." Through him the worst man may find a full and immediate acceptance with God, when he looks up to God through Christ crucified. As speedily as the bitten Israelite was cured when he gazed believingly on the brazen serpent-as speedily as the man “full of leprosy " was healed when he presented himself before the willing Saviour--80 speedily and effectually is a sinner “saved ” who “ draws nigh” through the blood of sprinkling. He rejoices in a Saviour, not in one who will only make him good and then acceptable, but in one who puts away “the sins that are past" through “ the forbearance of God," and makes him “accepted in the Beloved," through " justifying the ungodly." This settlement of the profound and primary relations of the soul with offended Heaven is beneath all really “good works. It is the root out of which they grow. False religions and semi-religious philosophies teach men to work towards acceptance from their own stand-point. True religion teaches men to work from present acceptance through One who is external to themselves; not to do good works to obtain salvation, but to do them because they are already saved." The song of “Worthy is the Lamb !" is the beginning of the Christian life. “Peace with God” must precede all service, and this peace comes through believing in “glad tidings" to the “lost."
Secondly, Christ, as our indwelling Life Eternal, builds on this strong founda. tion the superstructure of right motives in work and suffering. There are many fair-seeming actions wrought on earth which are wholly unacceptable to God. The Pharisee, full of envy, egotism, vanity, rivalry, performs abundance of works of benevolence, energises most vigorously in matters of opinion, belief, and practice. But all his work is regarded on high as the spasmodic action of a corpse galvanized by powers of darkness. Going about to establish righteousness, he is but a dead man after all, and God accepts not the worship of the dead. The accepted man is the one who alone is capable of a right motive in service. He is not battling for merit with the Almighty, but serving him as “ a son." Christ gives him an unworldly insight, affection, and perseverance. Here is the secret of his power. He receives the impulses of his life from the Unseen, the designs of his work from “ patterns showed to him on the Mount," and he derives his inspiration from a source higher than the opinion or applause of mortals. The Pharisees will work only so long as they can be seen of men ; they will give alms only when the sound of their trumpet can be heard by a multitude. Their works are all works of benevolence or asceticism, which may bring the praise of ignorant fellow-creatures. Works of truth-spreading, of offensive testimony, of spirit-searching rebuke, are unknown in their calendars of merit. Works which “ turn the world upside down" are accounted pernicious, seditious, and destructive. Yet these are among the “ labours" of an inspired “love." And none can perform them except those in whom Christ personally dwells. The idea that people have of the strength requisite for their work will depend on their notion of the work to be done. If God called us only to a life of church-going respectability, of easy subscriptions, of fashionable conformity, the human strength would suffice for this. But we are summoned to a higher and holier conflict. We are to know “ both how to be abased and how to abound”; we are to be “instructed into the mystery both of being full and of suffering hunger.” We are challenged to a war of truth against falsehood, of life against death, of good against evil, in individual, in social, in political relations. And who is sufficient for these things ? None except the man whose soul is the very organ of Omnipotence, and the agent of the Infinite Power unseen. It is thus that we see men who are toiling in their own strength “under the law” breaking down at the first onset of a real battle of principle, and breaking down from patient continuance before they are half way through a combat with a famine or a national calamity. The Eternal Christ alone can inspire an eterDal purpose and an eternal power, can brace us up to disagreeable duties or to
faithful plodding at thankless and wearisome undertakings. Those who look for immediate payment of their efforts in human acknowledgment and gratitude will 800n abandon their designs. Those only who set the Lord always before them, and work as with Christ at their right hand, will push forward to victory. “ Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not to man."
The constant condition of enjoying the help of this indwelling strength, both in action and suffering, is an abiding sense of the impotence of nature and the flesh, and a perpetual entreaty to the Source of Power. This relation between Christ and the soul is beautifully illustrated in a true story just published with the title of “ Eyes and Ears."* A young girl of twelve years old, whose education was barely finished, was seized with a fever, which terminated in the destruction of both eyesight and hearing. Her dreadful condition was revealed to her on her recovery only by finding herself lying in one long, voiceless night, unbroken by her utmost and vain entreaties that a candle might be lighted and that her mother would speak to her. At length the awful truth flashed across her mind as she felt her mother's tears falling thick and fast upon her face ag she pressed her to her heart, and she desired the truth to be told her by pressure of the hand. She was totally deaf and totally blind, feeling, as she said, “shut up in a cold, dark box, full of terror, nothing to see, nothing to hear, and nothing to do, for they could not teach her anything." After some weeks, horrever, her sister attempted to communicate answers to her questions by writing on her hand, and thus for seven years she lived, till she was nineteen, in the darkness and silence. At this time a young lady visiting the sea-coast of England in the south became acquainted with her, and taught her the art of reading the embossed printing for the blind. The book she learned to read was the Bible. The family being themselves without God, had taught her nothing of religion. But now she learned of Christ, as the ever-present Helper. A new world, the world of boundless life, and light was opened to her, and she gazed with her spirit's eyes upon the Sun of Righteousness, a delighted worshipper. Her friend and human saviour speaks of the perpetual communion she now held with God. “ I often heard her literally talking with him. Never being afraid of being alone, now she would sit with her raised Bible on her knee, and, per fectly unconscious of company, would read a verse and talk with her Lord about it. I went in one morning when she was tbus alone, and before I had time to reach her hand she had spoken to him of the verse she had just been reading, • Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. Looking up as though her Lord stood by her side, she said, “Oh, I like to hear you say that; you only told me before that you were my friend, the sinner's friend; I did not know that we were friends of yours. Then turning it into a prayer, she said, • Teach me, O Lord, to do the things which you command me.'” In this state of blissful communion she lived for a few years, and then recently died into the world of joy. Is this Saviour hers alone? Is he not also near us to succour us, in every time of need?
Do you complain of unanswered prayer? Fear not; the act of prayer carriei with it the assurance of a hearing.
All night the lonely suppliant prayed,
* Rivington, London. Price 3d,
Then sank that strieken heart in dust!
“I am cast out; I find no place,
“O dull of heart! enclosed doth lie
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. SUBSTANCE OF A CHARGE DELIVERED AT THE RECOGNITION OF A VILLAGE PASTOR.*
BY THE REV. T. T. GOUGH. DEAR BROTHER, -When the speaker was | our peculiar difficulties and discouragelooking forward to this service, two courses ments. Population is scanty, resources presented themselves to his mind, as appro meagre, intelligence, perhaps, low and priate, either of them, to the occasion on limited, and qualified fellow-workers very which we meet. The one was to discourse | few. Oftentimes a wearisome monotony to you on the theme of the Christian prevails, under which mind itself seems to ministry in general ; its duties and trials, stagnate, and the soul to sleep. Little or the means of its successful prosecution, and nothing occurs which is arousing or imthe glorious result in which it shall ulti proving, and fraternal ministerial intermately issue. The other course was to course may be almost unknown. Some or address to you certain suggestions relating all of these will probably be felt to be chaspecifically to your position, prospects, racteristic of the sphere which you are to dangers, and necessities, as a village pastor. occupy. It has many recommendations This is the alternative I have adopted. and advantages, and this church has a his
The experience of all Christian pastors, tory which it is highly encouraging to conwherever they exercise their function, has template; yet such features in your lot as much in common; but there are specific have been just enumerated, and others difficulties and temptations associating which will readily occur to your thoughts, themselves with this common experience, may render a few brotherly counsels neither arising out of the peculiarity of the sphere inappropriate nor useless. In spite of these of their labours. The pastor of a large i disadvantages, your venerable and muchcongregation, in the midst of an overflow beloved predecessor has just concluded a ing population, surrounded by many fellow | pastorate of nearly fifty years, useful and labourers, between whom an active compe | honourable to the very end, and now retition exists, incurs both toil and danger viewed, both by himself and the people of from which we are comparatively free. On his charge, with complacency and thankful. the other hand, we have to contend with I ness. May your own pastorate here, be it
** Delivered at the recognition of the Rev. S. Williams, as pastor of the church at Hackletoa, Northamptonshire, October 28th, 1862.
long or short, be as usefully and honour | there sometimes long for the cool shade of ably spent.
sequestered spots like that which you 1. Do not attempt to make this position occupy. Each position has in turn its ada stepping-stone to another that shall be vantages and its privations; and the Mashigher. We cannot doubt that God often ter we serve will accept us for the diligence ! prepares his servants in retired situations and devotedness we evince in the lot his į for those which are prominent, and that wisdom has assigned. Accept with thani. this will always be the case. It is na fulness, then, your Divinely-prescribed contural that it should be so. But do you, dition. This is your lot, here to live and my brother, leave the Head of the Church die if it shall please him; or at least to live to work out his own plans in his own way. and labour till he shall bid you cease, o Do not anticipate or forestall his intention. call you hence. You are where he has placed you. Remem II. Accept the inevitable attendant of ber this. You have just professed your be such an appointment; a life of poverty, O? lief in the providence of God in its most of comparative poverty. That all our minute operations; that “the very hairs of churches might do more to prevent this our head are all numbered.” How neces. from being a feature in the lot of their sary, then, is it to believe that he has pastors there can be no doubt; but becaux assigned you this position, in which to our fellow-servants neglect their duty to preach his Gospel and feed his flock. If wards us, we are not to forsake or grow providential appointments are real and weary of the service of the Master. Beactual in any case, then certainly in a case sides, the meanest service is sanctified when like this. If this be true, the probability rendered to him in a loving and lowly of removal should scarcely be admitted by spirit. Peradventure the service may be you until he give the intimation. Do not more acceptable when cheerfully render even think of using his providential ap to him notwithstanding the shortcomings pointments for any other purpose than that of those whose duty he has rendered it to of promoting in them the advancement of sustain us. But, on the other hand, it is his cause. To be hankering after removal, to be borne in mind that there are limits to to be even contemplating the probability the ability of village churches which, in of it, will be likely to injure, in a very high most cases, are soon reached. Let all be degree, both your peace of mind and your done that can be reasonably expected, of usefulness. You will feel unsettled, and that Christ requires, and village paston will be slow to initiate schemes of useful will not be able to live without the most ness which circumstances may suggest; rigid frugality and constant self-denial difficulties will be left to be removed by This is painful when a pastor stands alone; your imagined successor, and will, by but it often becomes a source of anguish delay, grow inveterate; whilst you will when others are dependent upon him. His withhold your fullest and warmest love from children may, as they rise up in life, trace the people of your charge. The last evil their difficulties, humiliations, straits, to will be of most deplorable consequence. their father's voluntary consecration of Your youngest, warmest affection, not being | himself to the service of Christ, and show developed in due season, will be in danger that they have no sympathy with him in of never being fully developed at all. the sentiments by which he is actuated and
To some of his servants the Lord assigns the objects he pursues. In any such cases a very public sphere, where there is no shel the burden of poverty is increased a hura ter from sun or wind; to others a retired dredfold. But the burden must be borna nook, where there is privacy even to con for the Master's sake, and he can and will cealment. But fertility may characterize give strength to bear it. You, my brother, the spot, and trees of righteousness luxu when on some errand of pastoral service riate upon it. Or the spot may be both you may be wearily pursuing your way neglected and barren; but it may be his along the miry road, may meet the equila will to reclaim it by your services, and to pages of the ministers of the State Church fertilize it by means of your toil. Be thank- emulating those of the aristocracy of the ful for the honour he confers. “Instead, land, and for a moment, a moment only, of the thorn may come up the fir tree; in- | may be disposed to ask, Why so great a dile stead of the brier the myrtle tree." Do not ference? But you will not desire these apo sigh, brother, for the open field, the high pliances of their wealth or their "dainty table-land. Your brethren who are placed meat.” Better, you will say, be poor as the