Page images

affairs of his kingdom after this mercantile churches, and the brightest visions that fashion. We acknowledge (without the have gleamed upon us in the moments acknowledgment our labour were worse when, laying firmest hold upon the promises than useless) the entire dependence of all of God, we have risen nearest to his throne Christian effort on the blessing of the in intercession for his cause, shall grow Holy Spirit, and reverently recognise his into realities before our eyes. Let but this sovereignty in all his operations. But sacrifice of devoted effort and fervent supwith the word of God before us, we cannot plication rise continually as a fragrant believe that he will ever permit, in the long incense before the Lord God of Sabaoth, run, the labour, trustful, prayerful, perse and, true to his ancient name, and faithful Tering, of his faithful servants, to be with. to his unchanging promise, he will hear, out result. “Prove me now, saith the | and answer, and bless. “The Lord will Lord, and see whether I will not open the comfort Zion, he will comfort her waste windows of heaven, and pour you out a places, he will make her wilderness as Eden, blessing, so that there shall not be room her desert as the garden of the Lord ; joy enough to contain it.” Let but this spirit and gladness shall be found therein, thanksof prayerful zeal be shed forth upon our giving and the voice of melody."


BY THE REV. WILLIAM BURTON. “ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”—Psalm xxv. 14. “ To fear the Lord” is an expression frequently met with in Scripture. It has various shades of meaning, but in general it implies a right state of heart towards God, as opposed to the alienation of an unregenerate man. It is not to be confounded with that fear which hath torment. It is not the fear of the criminal eluding detection. It is not the fear of the slave crouching at the feet of his oppressor. It is not the guilty fear which led Adam to hide from God. The fear of the Lord does not exclude filial confidence, inward peace, calm joy. Where it is possessed, all cause of terror is taken away, the slavish feeling is gone, and there is left a reverential awe for Him whom all creatures must bow before as the Most High. “ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," i. e. with those that have a true reverence for him, a fear not unaccompanied with love.

We are told by Solomon that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowe ledge.” And this declaration helps us to understand what is meant by “tht secret of the Lord.” When a man begins to reverence God, and to show respecfor his word, then he begins truly to know God. He will know him more intimately, and get into the meaning of much that was before obscure, or altogether hidden from him. To fear the Lord is to enter on the pathway of true knowledge; a pathway which gradually ascends from its lowly starting point, submissive trust, till it conducts to a region of purest light, where we shall know even as we are known; a pathway on which the bright beams of truth shine more and more unto the perfect day. There are many things which we cannot know-mysteries in creation, in providence, in redemption, unfathomable to finite minds. In each of these departments there are depths we cannot sound, heights to which we cannot attain; there are inscrutable mysteries, depths of hidden lore, secrets of philosophy beyond our reach. And hence when we attempt by searching to find out the Almighty, to trace his judgments, which are a great deep, we are baffled in the presumptuous effort, perplexed and overwhelmed in the mysteriousness of his ways. “ There is no searching of his understanding." It is not by attempting to grasp what is infinite, to scale heights which were never intended for human feet to tread, that we in our weak. ness can know God or understand his doings. There is a more excellent way, namely, fearing him, trusting him, loving him. In this matter faith and love will do what intellect and reasoning will fail to accomplish. “If as to power faith can remove mountains, as to perception it can see through clouds."

THIS REVERENTIAL TRUST IS THE DIVINELY-APPOINTED METHOD FOR MAN KNOWING GOD. It is essential to the knowledge of God. How foolishly do men act who think to know him by the mere exercise of intellect! Even reason, enlightened by revelation, is inadequate to know God spiritually. It may be able to deal with the works of God, but not with God himself. In the department of nature, a man may without the exercise of this reverential trust know much. He may expatiate in the wide expanse of creation, and trace the stars in their courses; he may decipher in the structure of our globe the history of long past ages, and understand the intricate laws that regulate the universe: but, after all, his knowledge of God will be confused and broken. He sees only the far-off surroundings of Deity. If he would enter on the real spiritual knowledge of God, faith is needed. “ The secret of the Lord iš with them that fear him."

But even in the study of theology a man may miss the main subject of its teaching, just because he lacks the faculty of spiritual perception—the fear of the Lord. Suppose one approaches this highest of all sciences in an irreverent spirit, without filial trust, with no simple, loving heart, he cannot know God. He may read, and think, and arrange doctrines, and draw out a logical system; but, alas! with all his searchings, he has not found the pearl of great price, he eats not of “ the hidden manna," he receives not “ the white stone with the new name written on it, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” “ Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” What is wanted then, most of all, is a childlike, humble spirit, a confiding heart. How vain it is to seek to know God by the intellect without the heart! As if he were an abstraction which men might reason upon. He is a Person; one, above all others, whom I must trust, and fear, and love. Then shall I know him personally, know him as a person, and know him for myself. “ Blessed are the pare in heart, for they shall see God.” This blessedness is enjoyed not in coneequence of acute intellectual powers, is found not in the exercise of far-reaching speculation, but reveals itself in its clear depths of joy to “ the pure in heart,"

IN THE STUDY OF God's WORD THIS REVERENTIAL TRUST WILL HELP US MUCH. It is to be expected that in a revelation of Divine truth, we, who are so weak, ignorant, and fallen, should find some things that transcend our reach. To come to such a revelation with the idea tbat all will be easy of comprehension, is folly. To shape and cut down truth in order that it may fit neatly into the measure of our capacity and agree with our ideas of harmony, is not only folly but impertinence. To dogmatise upon secret things which belong to God is presumptuous. There are some doctrines distinguished in systematic theology chiefly for the fierce controversies that have raged around them. We would not be found dogmatically laying down the law concerning such disputed points, but would seek a hearing for this truth "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." Let this word fall among the searchers after truth and the contenders for the faith. It is a ray from heaven's lamp, and may aid us all, whatever our doctrinal tendencies and peculiarities, amidst our twilight gropinga. Let us bring to the search for truth “ the fear of the Lord.” Would that in these days of daring speculation and irreverent bandling of the word of God, men were restrained and guided by this spirit! Well has it been said, “ The Most High refuses to utter his secrets, or unfold his glories, to a cold and frivolous caviller. The revelations He has given of himself are given solely for devotional and practical purposes ; in a devotional and practical spirit, therefore, can we alone study them with success. We can never comprehend him with our minds; we can only hope with the aid of his Spirit to love him with all our hearts. To produce this adoring love is the end of all his revelation ; desire for the increase of this love should be the motive of all our searchings.”* The great thing which is needed with regard to the mysteries of religion is submission. The haughty objector is met with the rebuke,“ Nay, but, o man, who art thou that repliest against God?How many have come to the Bible as inquirers, and have made little or no progress in the discovery of truth, just because they have brought to the search only the intellectual part of their nature! The emotions and affections have been unawakened. Hence there are many truths which they fail to apprehend-truths to which the intellect can give no response, with which it has no affinity. They must be known by the heart. “ Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love." This very passage of Scripture may prove to many “a stone of stumbling and rock of offence.” And Jesus, though “the way" for all who will trust in him and submit to him, is no way for them. • The secret of the Lord” is not with such. “ The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will be teach his way.” “ A good understanding have all they that fear thee.” The exercise of the judgment without humility will often lead us into great perplexity. Knowledge without love puffeth up, but love buildeth up; and this is just the difference between being inflated and edified. There is nothing like this reverential trust to enable us to advance in Christian knowledge. No amount of learning, or critical acumen, or speculative powerall good things in their way-will supply the lack of it. To open the Bible, feeling that it is God's word to read it with the heart uplifted in supplication for the Spirit's enlightening-will guard us from many a crooked way, will shed light upon the sacred page, and give us to stand before its grand and awful mysteries in the attitude of those who reverently wait for a clearer light-the noontide glory of eternity-when“ in God's light we shall see light." Meanwhile there is constant room and need for the prayer, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

Perhaps, dear reader, you have read your Bible frequently, but to little purpose. You may have been in the habit of reading a portion every day, although you have not been very much interested in it. It is a sealed book, and you complain that it is dry reading; and when the formal duty is over you gladly exchange it for another more agreeable to your taste. What is it you need in order to make this old Bible a new, fresh book to you, full of beauty, radiant with truth, interesting in all its pages ? It is the feeling that you have a personal interest in its one great theme-salvation. It is the believing heart, to receive its truths. It is “ the fear of the Lord," to yield to its requirements and acknowledge practically its precepts. But if you would come into Christ's school, you must begin by trusting him. The entrance to this school is like a: low-arched doorway. Men must stoop to enter; and the higher they are, the lower they must bow. Over it we may read the inscription, “ Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." The lofty never get across the threshold. The Lord hath respect unto the lowly; but the proud he knoweth afar off." Frome.

** Power in Weaknes


I SHINE in the light of God,

His image stamps my brow, Through the shadows of death my feet have trod,

I reign in glory now;
No breaking heart is here,

No keen and thrilling pain,
No wasted cheek where the frequent tear

Hath rolled and left its stain.

I have found the joys of heaven,

I am one of the angel band,
To my head a crown of gold is given,

And a harp is in my hand;
I have learn'd the song they sing,

Whom Jesus hath set free,
And the glorious walls of heaven still ring

With my new-born melody.

No sins, no griefs, no pains,

Safe in my happy home,
My fears all fled, my foes all slain,

My hour of triumph come;
Oh, friends of my mortal years,

The trusted and the true ! Ye are walking still through the vale of tears,

But I wait to welcome you.

Do I forget? Ah, no!

For memory's golden chain
Still binds my heart to the hearts below,

Till they meet and touch again;
Each link is strong and bright,

And love's eclectic flame
Flows freely down like a river of light,

To the world from which I came.

Do you mourn when another star

Shines out from the glittering sky?
Do you weep when the raging voice of war,

Or the storms of conflict die?
Then why should your tears run down,

And your hearts be sorely riven,
For another gem in the Saviour's crown,

And another soul in Heaven !

Tales and Sketches.

FACT STRANGER THAN FICTION. | rolled away; for he felt sure, and he was BY THE AUTHOR OF “FARQUHAR

quite right, that he had made such arrange

ments with the widow, as would induce FRANKHEART.”

her to look well after them, and retain ONE morning, not a dozen years ago, the them under her care as long as possible. following advertisement appeared in a Lon Charles was about seventeen ; his sister don paper :

nineteen. Private tutors were engaged, “A gentleman wishes to place a son and and for the first twelve months all went on daughter under the care of a respectable well, Mr. Sharp writing inquisitive letters, female in the country. Terms liberal. full of an anxious parent's solicitude ; hig Apply"

son and daughter, and Mrs. Levens, reAmongst the answers to the advertise turning prompt replies, fraught with most ment, was one from a widow, residing at welcome assurances. the time in a small agricultural town in One evening in November, Mr. Charles Yorkshire. An interview took place. returned from a social party with some The gentleman was very minute - the numbers of a periodical, containing the first. widow thought rather impertinent--in his eight or nine chapters of a serial tale. IC inquiries. On one point-his children's had been pronounced by the company-80 morals—he was very strong and explicit. A he informed his sister — witty, sarcastic, bargain was made, with which the female clever. Mrs. Levens asked to see it. Charles was perfectly satisfied, and she had risen hesitated. She demanded to see it, and the to depart, when the advertiser—we will numbers were handed to her. She glanced call him Mr. Sharp-begged her to remain over the instalments of the tale. They were a few minutes, and delivered, not the words marked by lively description and sparkling that we are aware of, but the substance, of dialogue, and bloomed with promise of the following :

thrilling incidents and startling situations. “Mrs. Levens, I repeat that I wish But Mrs. Levens strongly disapproved you to pay particular attention to the of it. Its animus was bitterly anti-religious. morals of my son and daughter. Enforce It alluded with keen, and even coarse scorn, on them truth, uprightness, kindness, and to Christian institutions. Missions were the common proprieties and courtesies of “& humbug;" Sabbath observances an good society. They will of course accom- abuse of the day of rest. Why could it pany you to church. But understand that not be devoted to innocent sport? What I do not wish them to adopt any particular right had the pulpit to frown on the amuseform of religion. I am a man of the world, ments of the "village green”? Meeting myself, and don't see any necessity for, nor houses were a nuisance; preaching mere beauty in, religious fanaticism. Keep cant. The indulgence of natural propensithem, however, from bad company, and ties was too much restrained; and precious questionable resorts. Indeed, it is to save time and much money were wasted, in fosthem from the vices and follies of London tering, or seeking to foster, in the youthful life, that I am sending them away. Good mind, an unnatural growth of spurious senbye, and may you and they be prospered." timent.

In about six weeks—I am guided, of Charles listened to Mrs. Levens' objeccourse, by an informant-Mr. Sharp, his tions to the story with sulky reserve. She son, and daughter, presented themselves at assured them that to the fiction-form of the neat dwelling of Mrs. Levens. The literature she was not opposed. Pure tales father was delighted with the situation. were an inexpensive and harmless source of He stayed all night, dined with them the entertainment. Our Saviour had adopted, following day, and took his departure, en and therefore sanctioned, this mode of raptured with the home he had found for teaching, in the parable of the Rich Man Charles and Caroline, and the bright pros and Lazarus. But against the one before pect of innocent, rural life, that stretched her, she felt bound to protest. She saw out before them.

danger in harbouring such a viper in her “ They're safe now, at any rate,” he said house; risk, serious and considerable, to mentally, with a sigh of relief, as the coach, the moral health of her charge, in the pre

« PreviousContinue »