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In the church let the believer be prayerfully concerned that his personal influence may promote the spirituality, the zeal, the liberality, the peace and prosperity, of his fellow-members.
In the domestic circle how solicitous we should be that our influence may be such as to promote the highest interests of those with whom we are so daily and so intimately associated. And this regards not merely parents, for the only Christian in the household may be a child; and who can tell what that child's holy example may effect? it may be the magnet to draw the whole family to Christ. It regards not only masters, but servants : the little maid in Naaman's household was the instrument of her lordly master's healing and conversion to the worship of the true God. In a word, we cannot be neutral ; whether we are consistent or inconsistent, we shall draw others with us ; we must either bless or curse! Let us, then, seek for grace from on high, that our light may shino so clear as to guide many to the Cross; that our salt may so retain its savour as to preserve ourselves and others from the corruption of sin; that our witness may be so true, 80 consistent, and so articulate, as to silence the adversaries. And to Him whose we are, and whom we serve, shall be all the glory, world without end. Amen, · Bury St. Edmunds.
CHRIST'S DOMINION OVER DEATH AND THE INVISIBLE
BY THE REV. J. W. LANCE.* “I am he that liveth, and was dead ; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of
"hell and of death."-Rev. i. 18. “Our fathers, where are they ? and the hand is upon all his saints, and in that prophets, do they live for ever?” Our | band the gift of a divinest life. fathers and the prophets have yielded to! For ourselves, we have, during the past the great conscription, for “ there is no dis- | week, been face to face with death. Many charge in that war." Neither intelligence of us have joined in the funeral procession. nor goodness, neither wit nor wisdom, We have stood upon the green grass of the neither grace nor glory, exempts from the cemetery, and as we looked into the dull common lot, for “ All flesh is as grass, and brick grave, we read upon the coffin-plate, all the glory of man as the flower of which gleamed out so strangely from its grass. The grass withereth, and the flower depths, how William Aitchison died at thereof falleth away : but the word of the forty-four years of age. And if in memory Lord endureth for ever.” And this is that of this we have come here to-day, in soreword which came to John in Patmos-came ness and sorrow of our hearts, I do not to him in the sorrow of his solitude, came know of any words more healing and helpto him in the bitterness of his banishment, ful than these: “I am he that liveth, and as the word of hope comes to the ship was dead; and, behold, I am alive for everwrecked when certain help is nigh. Christ more.” From our resting hearts let the was dead ; the apostles were dead; death devout" Amen” go up to heaven; and so, and hell were threatening to swallow up to-day, shall our prayer be “as incense, the kingdom, the power, and the glory; but, and the lifting up of our hands as the he who was dead is living still, his right | evening sacrifice.”
* A Sermon preached in Commercial Street Chapel, Newport, Mon., on the death of the Rer. W. S. M. Aitchison, the former pastor.
This sermon has been written from memory, without a note to help me in the construction of a single sentence. I have striven to express myself, not as I ought to have done, but as I actually did at the time. I believe I have reproduced it pretty nearly verbatim as delivered. I hope it may interest those who heard it, and perhaps some othera.-J. W.L.
In pursuing our subject, I wish, first of , and more silent grief flowing from her all, to offer a moment's explanation as to this smitten heart. Stand by the silent tomb at word "hell.” I understand by it, not the Bethany till the stone is rolled away, and Gehenna, the abode of lost spirits, but the then, with a curious sorrow, peer into the Hades, or invisible world. It were but darkness till the foul hand that spreads the poor consolation to the afflicted, and little noisome vapours drive you back agian. honour to Christ our King, to regard him Death is here; but the Lord of death is also as keeper of that dismal prison-house; but here ; and by him the child is given back to to bow before him as Lord of all worlds, her parents, the "only son” to his mother, visible and invisible, this is worthiest and Lazarus to the home of the sisters. homage of our hearts, and in it is rest for And while we linger on these things, the our souls. I wish also, so far as our pre thought rises in our hearts, that, in another sent meditation is concerned, to reverse the sense than the mere recall to life-the unorder in which these words “hell and locking of the gates of death-in another death” occur; and that for this simple sense than this, the “Key of death" is reason, that the order I propose is that here. in which these things actually present He whose works are words, and whose themselves to us. Yet, in passing, let us words are works, has in each case said, as not fail to note how it was that, from well as done, somewhat, which to us is as the lips of our risen Christ, the words &"key" to the inystery of death. Listen should come to us as we find them. He, | to him. “The maiden is not dead, but having passed through death, looks at it sleepeth.” “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” from the other side, even from the im O ye sorrowing and heavy-hearted, hear ye mortal sbore. And therefore he says the word of the Lord concerning what ye not, I am he that was dead, and am alive have been calling death. Be not cold and again, but “I am he that liveth and cruel to yourselves: your lost ones are was dead, and have the keys of Hades “asleep." Let the word be to you a " key and of death.” But to us death is the of promise" in your bosoms; and as each more present thought; it stands between day you give the evening and the morning us and the spiritual world ; it is the gate kiss, let the sleep that interposes be to you by wbich we enter paradise, and the key the prophecy of the “rest that remaineth." is in His hand.
And even as we bid our tired ones the last But we remember a certain Scripture, “ Good night," let us be sure of this, that where the devil is said to have the power in a "little while” it shall be followed by of death." The power of death is indeed the great “Good morning" of the resurin one sense with the destroyer, for by rection; for in the sphere of the great him came sin, and by sin came death; grace of Christ, sleep is not only the poetry but to “create or to destroy, to kill but also the logic of death. Let us linger or to make alive," belongs not to him. yet another moment in the shadow of the The hand that of old laid the founda walls of Nain. “Young man, I say unto tions of the earth, that built the moun thee, Arise. And be that was dead sat up. tains and poured out the flood, and that And he delivered him to his mother." o now, every day, feeds the ravens when they happy mother, to receive this thy gift at the cry, is the hand that holds the key, and at hand of such a giver! Still happier we, his will alone the awful gates are opened. who at his hands shall receive back our lost Do we seek for illustrations of his power ? ones to part with them no more for ever. Look at the miracles of Christ ? See how, Then shall we understand why they were wherever he moved, the indwelling life taken from us for a little while, when streamed out, driving death, and his attend- “we know as we are known." Or, if we ant shadows, back into their native darkness. seek for further illustration of Christ's Look at that child of twelve years old, power over death, let us see it in the fact whom death has touched so lightly that that he himself held the key to his own. the smile which the last kiss of affection “I have power to lay down my life, and I had wakened, still lingers on her face, and have power to take it again. No man taketh the flowers she loved best in life are it from me.” “Get thee out, and depart clasped in her tightening hand. Look at hence; for Herod will kill thee," said the that sad company of mourners issuing from Pharisees, judging from their own craven the city gates ; and, amid the hired weepers, hearts the effect of this threat on him. mark that widowed mother, with the deeper 1 " Go ye," he replied, "and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures have ere now, with a strange accuracy, to-day and to-morrow; and the third day predicted the hour for the entering into I shall be perfected.” “Master, the Jews rest. Words that have seemed but as the of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou ravellings of a worn-out and tangled brain, thither [into Judea] again?" said the disci have had about them a sort of mystic proples. But Jesus answered, “Are there not phecy, and have worked on to their fulfil. twelve hours in the day?" "Man is im. ment. To one friend, a few days before his mortal till his work is done." And the death, our brother said, “I shall soon be Lord knew that when he had done his work better. I shall be better when the auhe should go home to the Father's house. tumnal haze comes." And on the morning From first to last the gates of death were of the day on which he died, the “autumnal ever before him, but the key was in his own haze" hung like a “white face cloth” on the hand.
Severn and the Usk, and crept, with the Yet if this were all, if we had merely creeping hours, over the marsh and the these historical facts of the ancient time as meadow; till, as the day grew older, the illustrations of Christ's power over death, glories of the autumn sunlight smote the the consolations were but feeble. He holds mist, and scattered it and chased it to the the power still. HE LIVETH AND WAS DEAD. horizon; and while yet the sun wanted Our times are in his hand. Nor would we some two hours' journey to his pavilion in have it otherwise. “I know not the day the west, he had outstripped it in its of my death ;' but Christ knows; his hand course ; he had run his race; the glow and alone shall loose the silver cord, and at his beauty of the later evening of his own sunword shall the golden bowl be broken. setting were upon him; the haze had come Suppose the power to be transferred to and gone-all gone from the early autumn ourselves, or offered to us, could we dare to of his life ; he was “better" with a Divine accept it? Who is there among us that betterness; for though upon his mortal would not shrink from the responsibility of frame came the cold, wintry band of death, fixing the limit of his life ? Or suppose upon his soul came the kindling breath of that those of us who are parents had the Him who is the Lord of life: the turning power or choice as to the time of our of that “key," which sometimes grates so children's death, Naturally indeed we harshly, was but as the “lifting of a latch ;** should say, Let them outlive us. “Let me and his spirit passed as one passes from a not see my child die!” And yet, are there cold dark room into the warmth and light not cases in which it had been better to of sunshine. have seen this, and suffered all in seeing And not only is the time of our death in that there was to suffer, than to have seen our Saviour's hands, but also its mode. the living death of riper years ? If such Nor can we doubt his sympathy with guf power were offered to us, surely we should fering in its extremest form when we resay, O Christ, our Saviour, take back thy member how for our sakes he “endured the proffered gift! Let us drink of thy cup, cross." Various indeed are the means and and be baptized with thy baptism, if thou modes of dissolution of this mortal body; seest fit; but to hold the keys of death yet all are known to him, and under his and hell thy hands alone are worthy! control. Why should it be that in some
In some instances, indeed, men snatch, cases death is sudden as the lightning or seem to snatch, this power from the flash-in others, lingering as the northern Highest. With wild, delirious hands, the twilight ? Why, in one instance, should suicide wrenches open the awful gates, and fever, with its hot breath, leap upon its madly plunges to the abyss; but the key, | victim, and in another, pale consumption the key that fits the lock and turns in it glide like a spectre, beckoning with slow noiseless and invisible, is in His bands step and sure to the silent land? Why alone. “Noiseless and invisible," and yet sbould the brain soften, the lungs collapse, sometimes, by nearness to the spirit-world, or the heart falter in its motion ? We and within the shadow of its mystery, a know not; but this we know, “He doeth nameless instinct seems to be given to all things well.” I, for my part, during the soul, by which it sees and hears the this goodly summer-time, have been walk. hand, no longer dread and ghastly, laid ing much in the “valley of the shadow of upon the key, and ready at a given moment, death." In circles near and more remote the by a single turn, to give the full release to stroko has fallen, sometimes severing the the wearied, waiting spirit; for the dying tenderest ties. ...."Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” “Precious | preacher he had a polished diction, a in the sight of the Lord is the death of his graceful elocution, a broad theology, and a saints." For dead indeed now to the world, catholic spirit. He was not distinguished they live evermore to him. And this word by what is called power in awakening the reminds us of what now we can but hint at, unconverted; though even in this respect that Christ is Lord not of death only, but God left him not without witness, as I also of the worlds of life. Death and gladly testify; for among those whom I Hades have no more dominion over him, have received into this church are some Having entered once for all into the holy who ascribe to his ministry their first place with his own blood, he ever lives; and dawnings of spiritual life. And herein, as in him live our loved ones whom some elsewhere, is that saying true, "One times, in our sadder moments, we say that soweth and another reapeth.” His strength, we have lost. HIM, the Crucified, they have however, seemed to lie rather in commend found ; and without him what were para ing himself to the more thoughtful and dise itself ? A feast without its founder ; disciplined minds, to whom he had a a victory without the conqueror; a home rare facility in imparting the results without the “master of the house." If of his own taste, and culture, and varied we realize this divine thought, the living reading. In private life he was witty and victorious Christ, how can we fail also and abundantly humorous; his sense of to realize the “Fear not” which as a conse the ludicrous was prevailing; he had quence flows from it? “Fear not” for the a keen satire, but withal a kind heart. He world, for he sitteth on the circle of the was sensitive to a fault ; and this sensitiveheavens; “fear not” for the Church, for he is ness often caused him exquisite pain, as he Head over all things for it; “fear not " for found that he had to live in a world with yourselves, but trust him to the uttermost; | men " of like passions" with himself. (fear not" for our departed brother, for at When I undertook the pastorate of this last he is safe at home. It will not, I church, the understanding was, that, having think, be expected from me this morning I gone to Penzance, Mr. Aitchison had be. that I should give what is called a “bio come, or was about to become, the pastor graphical sketch.” I have no intention of of the church there. This, however, was offering any critical dissertation upon his not realized : he returned to Newport, and ability as a preacher or his character as a my acquaintance with him was, after a time, man. To you who knew him so much renewed. During his illness I visited him better than I did, this would be to my mind frequently. “I should like to live," he but an impertinence. All that I have to said on one occasion, “and do more work gay, however, is based upon my own per for God.” I replied, “I wish it could be sonal knowledge; and let me at once say 80; but if God means to give you rest inthis : I knew him before you did. I had stead of work, you will not complain, will heard bim speak and preach, and had occa you?” “No," he said, “but yet it is sionally enjoyed his company, before his hard to die.” He generally asked me to face or his voice was known to this congre pray with him; but once when his mind gation. When first I knew him, he was was at the darkest, and to all appearance minister at Hemel Hempstead and I at hopelessly confused, I proposed it, several Houghton Regis. I remember once hear. friends being present at the time. We ing him preach from my own pulpit, from knelt down, and in silence he followed our the ninth verse of this same chapter: "I, words, till at the close I heard from him John, who also am your brother, and com the all but inaudible, yet devout “ Amen." panion in tribulation, and in the kingdom His wife asked him if he understood it. and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the “ Yes,” he said, “and it was very good.” isle that is called Patmos, for the word of | And for a little while the light came back, God, and for the testimony of Jesus and he talked with us on Divine things. Christ.” The subject was, so far as I re Hymns, read or recited, soothed him somemember, the Brotherhood and Baptism times. Once he mentioned to me that of of Sorrow; and as he discoursed upon Swayne's :this with a clearness, a fluency, and a grace, “ What must it be to dwell above that were all his own, those of us who At God's right hand, where Jesus reigns,
Since the sweet earnest of his love heard him felt that he was speaking from
O'erwhelms us on these dreary plaina ! the experience of a heart that had had its
No heart can think, no tongue explain, part in this goodly fellowship. Aş & What bliss it is with Christ to reign,"
And as I happened to remember three where he is gone. What would his message
Christ.” “Remember the word that I spake And now that he is gone, and his work, unto you while I was yet with you.” And in part at least, has yet to follow him, let I ask you to-day, brethren, in his name, me ask you, What is the result of that and in the name of the great Master, to rework? The « wood, and the hay, and the member all his words of wisdom and of stubble,” we know will be burnt up; but / goodness, and to cherish them in your the “silver, and the gold, and the precious | hearts, so as to bring forth fruit in your stones," shall remain. How do you feel to lives. Are you likely to become better men day in review of the eight years that are past? and women on account of this bereavement Some of you have been lavish in your lamen and sorrow mingling with the memory of tations and loud in your praises. Were you your late teacher? Are you growing deeper really as devoted to him while he lived as you in humility, higher in faith, broader in your seem to be now that he is dead? It is an easy I charities, tenderer in the best instincts of thing to show kindness to a dead man; not your hearts, and nobler in the purpose of always so easy to bestow it on the living. your life? And are there some of you whom Did you ever grieve him by indifference ? often he warned of sin, and pointed to the Did you ever wound him by a cold nege | Cross, whose hearts are yet unbroken, whose lect? Did you say the worst things you had hands have never yet been laid in faith on to say of him, frankly to his face, and the the head of the great Sacrifice ? I beseech best things behind his back? I say not that you, by the mercies of God, by the long eryou did, or left undone, these things; I ask perience of this loving patience, and by the you to search your own hearts, and to tax renewed promise of his word to-day, thai your own memories, and between God and you yield yourselves to him as those who your own consciences must the judgment are alive from the dead. And so shall wa stand. And now let me imagine that his all meet, pastors and people, when, ou spirit could speak to us to-day, freed from work and sorrow ended, we shall have all earthly influences, and seeing things as passed away “to where, beyond these they are, in the pure light of that world / voices, there is peace."
CHRIST’S QUESTION TO PETER.
BY MRS. H. C. CONANT. * Lovest thou me more than these, thy brethren, love me? Is that the ques. tion which Christ here asks? But does it not, so understood, contain a reproach. ful, almost a taunting allusion to Peter's boast and fall, entirely out of keeping with the tender delicacy of the Saviour's treatment of his humbled and repentant follower elsewhere. No reference to Peter's signal and outrageous desertiva of him in the hour of sorrow has escaped his lips, unless in the special mention of his name to the women at the sepulchre: “Go, tell my disciples-and Peter;" as if he feared lest the shame-stricken man might not otherwise venture to consider himself included in the message. Peter is not now in the temper which drew forth the scathing rebuke, “ Get thee behind me, Satan!" or the solemn warning, “ Verily, verily, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denie? me thrice ;” nor will the Saviour needlessly add a sting to the bitterness of his humiliation and self-reproach. Except by his increased tenderness of manner, he gives no sign that he even remembers that dark passage in their friendship.
Let us think ourselves into the scene, and see if it does not of itself suggest * Author of "The Earnest Man ; a Memoir of the Rer. Dr. Judson” (published in the Bunyan Libraryle