« PreviousContinue »
The moral resemblance is generally as distinctly marked as the physical one, and this thought should cause deep and abiding concern in the minds of parents concerning their children. BIRTÆ, the saving conversion of children of ungodly parents. Blessed be God, this is frequently the case; multitudes of young people are saved, whose parents know not the Saviour. We know not whether the parents of Paul ever embraced the religion of the Gospel, although Paul himself was converted to the faith of Christ. Now this fact illustrates the grace of God; no man is refused the mercy which the Gospel offers because his parents neglect the great salvation. The proverb used by Israel is no more to be used, • The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." This can form no excuse to unconverted parents to continue in their sins : yet it does display the riches of grace in welcoming every penitent sinner, whatever may have been his ancestry or parentage. BIRTH.-The children of the godly unsaved. This is sometimes--alas! frequently--the case ; and this fact should induce the most serious thoughtfulness and earnest concern on the part of Christian parents and their yet unsaved children. “How can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred ?" If “in our Father's house there is bread enough and to spare," how terrible if they "perish with hunger;" and inasmuch as their salvation, equally with our own, is all of grace, then here is the ground for bope, even amidst deep and anxious thought. Surely, if there be one cross heavier than another for a Christian parent, it is that of seeing his child grow up alien from Cbrist; to behold a man who from earliest days was trained at the family altar and the house of God, who knew “the Scriptures from his youth," now a despiser of religion, hardened against God, dying in sin. And of all the terrible separations at the last day, none will be so terrible as his who was trained in the fear of God, now banished from his presence; who oft had been welcomed to his earthly courts, now hearing " Depart, I never knew you ;" living in the atmosphere of the Gospel, now thrust out into “outer darkness”!
“Oh! wretched state of deep despair ! ” This, however, needs not be the case, Birth may become, as with Paul, a privilege, being followed by conversion and salvation.
2. CONVERSION.-"Who called me by His grace.” Conversion is a Divine change, altogether and entirely distinct from birth. The distinction and the difference are clearly displayed in the teachings of our Lord and his apostles. Our Lord speaks of conversion as a new and necessary birth : “Ye must be born again." You may have the knowledge of religious truth, obedience to religious service, but until “ born again," you are not converted to God. This conversion is not effected by Divine ordinances. Paul was circumcised, but for years afterwards was an unconverted man. Paul was baptized, but it was not until after he was converted; he had obeyed to the very letter all the requirements of the Mosaic law, “after the straited sect of their religion he lived a Pharisee,” yet when enligbtened by the Spirit of God, and led “into the truth as it is in Jesus," he says, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." Dependence on ritual service for salvation is a fatal error. To rest on ordinances alone for salvation is certain ruin. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by his mercy he saved us." You must be saved through Christ, or you will perish. Conversion is not of human merit. If so, Paul had not been converted, nor you, dear reader. It is of grace, “not of works, lest any man should boast.” As the fact of your birth, so the fact of your conversion, is all of grace; grace, which demands our deepest gratitude; grace, which should induce cheerful obedience ; grace, which should be exhibited in a life of practical godlinese. To be converted to God is an unspeakably precious privilege.
3. USEFULNESS.-" To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen," In the apostle's case, this revelation was by vision and voice
(Acts xxvi. 16--18); and although no such vision now greets the new convert's eye, nor audible voice his ear, yet the experience of every one called to labour in tbe vineyard of Christ proves this to be the invariable order of the Saviour. He first reveals himself in them before he reveals himself by them. “I will bless thee, and I will make thee a blessing.” Jesus reveals himself in them for this purpose, with this express design-tbat he may reveal himself by them; in them, as the pardoning Saviour, that by them his pardoning mercy may be made known to others; in them, by his new-creating grace, that by them the nature and necessity of the new birth may be declared; in them, sealing their reconciliation to God, that by them the message, “ Be ye reconciled to God,” might be proclaimed ; in them, that his constraining love dwelling in their hearts might be the living motive, actuating all service rendered in his name. This is the design of Christ; then—when Christ is revealed in you (and not till then)-can you apprehend the work, continue and delight in it, or be successful in pursuing it.
In these privileges Paul gloried; he rejoiced in his birth, as in the order of things to his conversion, and in his conversion as introducing him to the noblest order of useful service for Christ. You are born; are you new-created in Jesus? and if so, are you labouring with joy in his service, and do you consider this as Paul did, a threefold privilege ?
II. CORRESPONDING SERVICE.-"Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Such conduct was worthy of the apostle, and not legs worthy of the cause he avowed. Long enough bad he been opposed to Christ. Long enough had he persecuted the saints. It was high time to awake and commence a new, an altogether different course. This conduct, so worthy of him and the cause he espoused, is commended to your adoption; whatever force or appropriateness it bad as concerns him, it has as concerns you: “He conferred not with flesh and blood.” He did not confer with relatives, nor yet with the high pricst. Ere he commenced this journey to Damascus, he “had gone to the high priest and desired of him letters ” of authority to “hale men and women," who were disciples, “to prison." Stopped on the road by the Lord Jesus, and all his enmity against the Saviour subdued, he instantly gave up his persecutiny mission, and did not return to confer with his relatives or employers. Such a course would have been useless, dishonourable, dangerous. He had received the command of Christ, “ Arise, go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." This command he at once obeyed. This decision of character and conduct we heartily commend to you. When the claims of Jesus press on you, it is unworthy and sinful to confer with his enemies as to the course you should pursue. Manifest towards them courtesy, respect, esteem ; for them let earnest prayer ascend to the throne; but on no account confer with them as to whether you shall or shall not obey the commands of Him whose will is supreme, whose love is immense and all Divine. Remember His words who hath said, “ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” He did not harass himself about consequences. The timid and timeserving would have argued, “If I give up my present appointment I shall be resigoing a certainty for an uncertainty, a profitable position to reap the dishonour which everywhere falls on Christ's disciples; giving up comfort and ease for toil and poverty; caressed now, I shall then be scorned; honoured now, my name will then be cast out as evil; from being in the service of the high priest, I muy be the occupant of a jail, if not the victim of a cross." Not thus did Paul argue; “none of these things moved ” him ; with him it was hearty, earnest obedience, whatever the consequences it might involve. He shrunk not from the contumely, scorn, poverty, toil, probably death, which a fearless avowal of the Saviour might bring to him. Enough for him that Jesus had spoken, the disciple was prompt to answer and to obey. And who, not knowing the results, will say he was wrong! Who knowing the results, will blame him? Who does not rather feel that his example commends itself as the only wiseand right one to each and all of those who, like Paul, are " called by his grace.” He who, kpowing all consequences that would ensue upon becoming the Redeemer of men, yet cheerfully “ bore our sins in his own body on the tree," has an undoubted rigbt to claim from us obedience, hearty and entire, and this obedience irrespective of all consequences which may result therefrom. Obedience is ours, results consequences we may safely leave with him. This service was as prompt as it was decisive. “IMMEDIATELY I conferred not." Some in our day hesitate for weeks, months, even years. So did not Paul. Prompt and unhesitating was his decision for Christ; and so prompt was his entrance on his great and glorious work, that ere the tidings of lis conversion had become known to the church of Galatia, the news of his “preacbing the faith which once he laboured to destroy” had excited their surprise, and called forth their praise. Promptness like this becomes every one who hears a Saviour's call and engages in the Saviour's service. Promptness is the path to victory, whilst hesitancy courts defeat. Promptness ensures the Divine favour, while the halting and hesitating are disowned by Christ and scorned by the world. With concern and earnestness we urge this uncompromising, unhesitating surrender to the Saviour and his service. Imitate him who could say to a monarch on the throne, “ Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision."
We close with tbe fervent wish and prayer that very many who read this article, as they have received the first privilege, BIRTH, and that amidst religious advantages of no mean order, some of whom also know the second, CONVERSION, may all receive the THIRD, and be useful, faithful labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. The field is wide, “the harvest is great, the labourers are few :" we have not a labourer nor an hour to spare, “Yield yourselves to God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness, unto God;" at once enter on the mission of mercy, and persevere in it until, life's last end. Hear the words of this same Paul at the close of life; po, regrets concerning the smallness of his privileges or the service he rendered :“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 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 : AND NOT TO ME ONLY, BUT UNTO ALL THEM ALSO THAT LOVE HIS APPEARING.' - King's Lynn.
ELIJAH'S INTERVIEW WITH AHAB.
BY THE REV. W. T. HENDERSON.
1 Kings xvii. 1. We are left wholly uninformed whether duty, and utters the increage which Elijah had ever seen Ahab, the king of breathed such awful judgment for a guilty Israel, before this time. Probably he had ; land. It has been a day in Israel of rich but, as with many other faithful men of and glowing summer time. The last day God, an idolatrous and licenticus court for years, though men know it not as such, and people had driven him away from the that trees and flowers, fresh from the scenes of public life to utter his complaint | heaven-sent ministry of the rain and the in the wilderness. At the bidding of | dew, will charm the landscape with their Heaven ho again returns to the post of beauteous verdare, or fling their fragrance
through the air. Ahab and his courtiers and heard on all sides. But do not we, the have followed the sport afar. Ribald jest, servants of God in the present age, need profane speech, and many a softly-wbiz the same holy courage as a life and as an pered ambitious dream have marked the inspiration within our souls ? Does not its day, but not one thought or word, through absence largely explain the unblushing imall that gay cavalcade, of Him through pudence and strength of many of the evils whom all paths are dropping with fatness, of life around us? How was it that Elijah, and the hills are rejoicing on every side. i and all whom he 80 worthily representa, The royal pastime is at an end; the sun is were so brave and spiritually fearless in the low in the sky; it is time to return to work of the Lord ? Samaria. It requires no strong effort of I. Elijah was a man often engaged in imagination to see this petty tyrant, Ahab, deep and close communion with God, and, on his tired steed, and the group of fawn therefore, was not very likely to fear the ing flatterers around him. They are think countenances of men. If we see simply this ing and talking now of the feast, and the weak, unarmed man standing in the presong, and the dance, and perhaps of the sence of Ahab and his soldiers, who have midnight scene of crime in Samaria. It is, both the will, and, as it would seem, the then, as unexpectedly as the bursting forth power also, to take away bis life, we shall of storm from some cloudless sky, that you wonder greatly, and be found asking, whemay see this Elijah glide out of the gloom ther this could indeed be. But when this of the forest trees, and with his heaven man is seen speaking alone with God, re: given authority arrest the monarch of ceiving his commission from Divine lips, Israel on his path of crime. In vain the his victories are explained, and we can spur, the rein, the angry summons of the easily understand how communion with guards to seize him. There is that in God became the inspiration of courage the prophet's eye and bearing before which which the sight of no earthly peril could the mightiest kings of earth have always destroy. And it is one of the most promi. stood at bay. Amid the stillness which is nent truths in the history of the Church, only known at eventide as nature herself that whenever a weak man is seen playing prepares for deeper rest, the words were a hero's part in the very front or thick of heard so terrible for human lips to utter, the battle, communion with God is sure to "" As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before be the background of the picture. Daniel whom I starid, there shall not be dew nor on his knees is the preface to Daniel defy. rain these years, but according to my words." ing the lions of Darius. John the Baptist, And as he came, so did the prophet depart. communing with God amid the solitudes of "The king and his company breathed freely | the Jordan, is the preface to John the again, may have even laughed amid the Baptist saying, before a king with a frown lamps of Samaria's palace at the ravings of | on his face and a hand on his sword, " It is the wild man in the desert; but laughter not lawful for thee to have thy brother's not repeated when it beoame known that | wife." Polycarp in the lone house, wrest. not a dew drop glistened on tree or flower ling day and night with God, is the Polyin all the land of Israel.
carp whom Roman soldiers tremble to It is not often that human feet are d-file with their unholy hands. Essential divinely led along so adventurous a path religious littleness, is the foundation of that u luman soul is called upon by the moral cowardice. He who fears man so Lord of hoats to display so commanding a much as even to shrink from doing his own moral heroism. But it is 80 sometimes, clearly defined duty, is usurlly one who has even amid the scenes of common life. Just neither learned to fear nor to trust in God. as Elijah was awakened on his bed of If we would possess Elijah's courrge, it leares to hear the Divine voice command must be acquired at the same source. It ing him to appear before Ahab, so has it must be obtain-d by earnest and close been with numbers of our redeemed race in communion wiih God. all the various paths of human life, and at II. Elijah was one of those men in the least, for their moral courage, they would kingdom of God who thought only of duty, bear to be mentioned side by side with this and left the consequences of duty with Heaancient servant of the Lord. We often ven. There are certainly these two classes meet with such scenes and incidents in the 1 of people in the world. There are peohistory of the past. Pictures depicting | ple who dare much for truth and God. them, and scngs celebrating them, are seen ! They often get themselves into trouble and make for themselves many fues. But they | value, eternal life. Tu calculate is almost are the people after all through whom the sure to lose the battle. The soul which world, in the best sense, moves on. There Heaven goes on to anoint with saintlier and are also people who have no such word as saintlier valour is the soul which rises up dare in their language of spiritual life. They as soon as it hears the Father speak, and rarely ever seem to get into any trouble. goes at once into the battle-ground of daily They have neither friends nor foes, and, as
duty. far as the good of the world is concerned, III. Elijah was taught by inspiration they might just as well have never lived. what all men, sooner or later, are taught As boys at school it was just the same. by experience--that far better is faithfulThey were never in any scrape. They had ness, though associated with trial, than the desire, all the school knew by certain worldly prosperity at the price of dissigns, but they had not the courage. When honour. It is quite clear that men may get they left, nobody hated them, neither did on by unfaithfulness in almost every walk of any love them. The life of their spiritual life. They are to be met with everywhere. A manhood is just a repetition of their school theology has even been invented for their life. Their speech is never rash, their con protection. But it may be safely questioned duct is always free from all risk, they are whether their very success is not really never too much in front nor too much be their present punishment. “Thou didst hind. Such character may possibly have set them in slippery places." And though its use in the Church, but this kind of life, they are not in trouble like other men, it were it prevalent, would be fatal to all true must be knows what the end will be. It progress. Were all men cast in such a is still true, whatever may be said to the mould, nothing holy, nothing beautiful, contrary, "that it is through much tribucould grow around us. That may be a lation that we must enter into the kingdom popular and an applauded ministry which is of heaven.” The “lion” is not yet so 80 measured and shaped as to avoid men's changed that it can lie down with the sins and prejudices, but it is of little prac “lamb." The trial, which comes not tical use. So may a tradesman avoid poli- | through imprudence or intemperate zeal, tical duty through fear of affronting his but which is boru of courageous allegiance customers; but he can never do so without to truth and duty, connects us, by the personal and relative moral loss. All mo surest of all ties, with the holiest saints of dern Christian life teems with illustrations God. of men's want of courage in the scenes of “Life's glory, like the bow in heaven, every day duty. Those who fulfil it, re
Still springeth from the cloud; gardless of consequences, from a lofty sense
And soul ne'er soared the starry saven
But pain's fire-chariot rode. of right, are just the Elijahs of the present
They've battled best who've boldliest borne, age; and those who hear the voice of duty The kingliest kings are crowned with thorn." plainly enough, but close their ears against it, through dread of loss, are just the If we would have the heavens open above Jonahs of all circles, the dead-weights of us we must enter the baptismal stream of modern society. Alas for us! in such a consecration. If we would enjoy the min. world as this, what is called Prudence has a istry of angels, we must resist, even to terrible language, and she knows well how weariness, earth's temptations. If we would to use it. Fame, money, dismissal, want, enjoy the rich luxury of Divine support, ridicule, persecution-these are words of the Divine will must be righteously and great power as they sometimes fall from the bravely done. Obedience may lead us into lips of Prudence ! But, after all, it is Christ, the wilderness of loneliness and trial, but or the world. There is no middle path for “ God is in the wilderness," and there too any of us. If God says, “Go, tell Ahab this,” in ways suited to the altered conditions of we must go. If Jesus says, “ You must, as modern life. He may gladden even our you love me, do this, or leave that undone," hearts with his goodness. “Be thou faiththere is no getting away from it without ful unto death, and I will give thee a eternal dishonour. Obedience is the only crown of life." reliable test of the faith which brings by its Banbury. action, as well as by its divinely assigned