Page images
PDF
EPUB

The

message of forgiveness. As "the Lord turned and looked upon Peter," so did he look kindly on his servant David. He brought him to a consciousness of the evil of his doing and its melancholy result, in giving "the enemy cause to blaspheme;" and when the penitent king unhesitatingly admitted it all-"I have sinned against the Lord" he was met by the unspeakably gracious assurance, "the Lord hath put away thy sin." ground then, on which he stood was that of forgiveness, the free unconditional pardon of sin. He had no claim of moral merit; most probably he had none previously; but if ever he thought he had, where was it now? His safety for a future world lay in this only" But there is forgiveness with thee;" and mark the holy effect of such a consciousness, when God speaks it within the heart; not that he might take a licentious encouragement for further transgression, but "that thou mightest be feared." It is not so much the punishment as it is the pardon, that revives and perpetuates the fear of God in the heart. There is, at least, one of David's writings which speaks directly to his state of mind immediately after the visit of Nathan the prophet; and surely it would not be easy to find any where more striking evidence of contrition, or a more earnest longing after renewed holiness, than the 51st Psalm exhibits; nothing can be more pleasing than the writer's consciousness and avowal of the need of entire and absolute dependance on mercy only, and the utter inaptitude of any ability of his own to amend his circumstances. "Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it thee; thou delightest not in burnt-offering; the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

Now it is standing on this specific ground, that the penitent king declares over the corpse of his infant, "I shall go to him." The lot of my infant is unquestionable happiness in the bosom of God. The mercy of God has secured to him, as a fallen creature, the rest, the inheritance, the joy, without the humiliation and the

conflict; and I, though deeply fallen, and stained by the sin of a wilful disloyalty and rebellion, though defiled with the dark blot of blood-guiltiness -I, through a large measure of the same grace, shall escape from the just visitation of eternal wrath, and shall enter on that same rest that remaineth for the people of God-I shall go to him! Yes! it is a mercy indeed, that a sinful man is permitted thus to entertain a well-grounded hope of once more indulging the natural affections, and cherishing, through forgiveness, in the hour of bereavement, the prospect of meeting again those whom we have loved and wept on earth.

But this is not all. Neither could this alone be satisfactory to the forgiven soul. God, in his mercy, speaks peace to the transgressor, and revives within his breast the hope, that he shall yet be where the angel of his little one always beholds his heavenly Father's face. But that very thought tells of something more and more blessed than a reunion with the departed; there is the hope that Job so distinctly cherished, "In my flesh shall I see God." This to the enlightened and believing mind is the grand expectation. God has manifested himself for forgiveness, through the extraordinary dispensation of an incarnate and humiliated Redeemer. No man hath seen God at any timethe only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. And it is this fact, and the glorious consummation which is promised in connexion with it, which now animates the soul and cheers it on its way. It is not merely that we are come to the general assembly of the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven;" but we are come to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to God the Judge of all." The illimitable God, who inhabiteth eternity, shall be fully manifested to the forgiven soul in the glorified person of Jesus. This is the height of human felicity, when God reveals himself to man, through man, to the utmost extent to which man can possibly know him : "We shall see him as he is;" we shall see, "face to face," we shall "know, even

66

as we are known." Can any lot be conceived more glorious than this? And yet it is the privilege of every real Christian. A guilty and defiled creature, wholly pardoned, plucked as a brand out of the fire, raised to present acceptance and communion with God, seeing the objects of his affection successively snatched from him in judgments, and yet in mercy, and as

he sheds over their bier the tears of natural sorrow, anticipating the day when he shall not only rejoin them, but see, adore, and love, with unreserved affection, the Author of all his mercies, both in time and eternity, made fully known to him in the glorified manhood of his brother the man Christ Jesus.

Let one additional thought close the subject. David could say of his child, "I shall go to him." So may any serious Christian say of his relations who have died in the faith. There is a hope of meeting arising out of the moral assimilation. The people of God meet again in an appointed resting place. But how tremendous is the other side of the picture, when the ungodly man thinks of the departed companions of his iniquity, "I shall go to him." When scenes of passion, violence, or dishonesty have occurred, and a mutual influence has combined

for the perpetration of deeper crime, how awful the thought of meeting in a world of retribution! The rich man in the parable, who knew well the character and influence of his own example, trembled to meet his brethren and probably if there is an agony more deep than any in that world of pain, it will be the merciless and eternal lash of mutual reproach; if there be a pang now more painful than others to shoot across the breast, it is the dread of encountering it. There must be in some minds the gloomy consciousness, that this person or that, has gone down hopeless to eternal despair, accompanied with the soul-harrowing thought, "I must go to him." The dark lot of the victimthe seduced, the betrayed-seems too likely to be the destiny of the victimizer, the seducer, the traitor. What a range of speculation this opens out to the men of this world. Dwelt on, it is too much for endurance. Shall that hand be grasped again, that tongue be heard, that eye be met again in hell? Oh may that practical anticipation of the horrors of its deepest woe lead men, while it is called today, in unreserved humiliation and bitterness to the cross of Christ. LATIMER.

LETTERS TO THE WIFE OF A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.

NO. II.

MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND,-Believing as I do that you can join the Psalmist when he says-" with my whole heart have I sought thee;" (Ps. cxix. 10.) I doubt not that you will be enabled to add-" I will delight myself in thy statutes, I will not forget thy word." (Psalm cxix. 16.) This precious guide will, I trust, lead you through every difficulty and danger; may you have grace to give it that prominence which it ought to have in all your pursuits; that your path may be that of "the just, which shin

eth more and more until the perfect day."

You will, however, soon find that your varied and extensive sphere of usefulness will need much general information. In the great work of bringing back again the lost sheep to the fold of God, an enlightened knowledge of human nature is required; and although your own observation and daily experience will assist you, yet you may be greatly aided by that of others, who have gone before to their heavenly rest. Let some

valuable piece of Ministerial Biography form a part of your daily reading. This will tend to realize in your own mind their deep felt obligations;" and when domestic cares or parochial difficulties seem ready to overwhelm you, you will often find that they have had the same, but out of them" the Lord delivered them." They will often cheer you by the unexpected discovery of a truth we so frequently doubt, that "no temptation hath taken us but such as is common to man; and you will find the faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God verified in their experience. I shall not give you any list, because I would rather refer you to a chapter in Mr. Bridges' "Christian Ministry" on "General Study." Indeed you will find the whole work a great treasure, and it will furnish you with much subject-matter for meditation, conversation, and prayer. Ten minutes spent every day in reading it, will be abundantly compensated for by an elevated and enlarged view of the great work with which you are now connected.

As spirituality of mind, and fitness for your many duties, rather than personal attractions, are, I trust, what you seek for, I mention particularly those books which have the greatest tendency to promote them. You will find Mr. Bickersteth's series on the "Means of Grace," such as his

66

Scripture Help," "Treatise on Prayer," &c., great aids in your own religious improvement and in your "labour of love." From them you may gather many a hint, which may be profitably given in your daily intercourse with your flock. And here let me mention, that I think the lending and recommending solid and profitable works to young persons in the middle and higher classes of society, a most important part of your duty; never derive benefit from any publication, without thinking of some one to whom it may be useful. If you adopt this plan, you will be astonished to find how often the suitability occurs. In my own sphere this has surprised me. I have so frequently found that a useful book lent to me, or read by me, has been needed by some one of our flock. Here, however, I will add

one caution; do not think so much of what will please as what will profit the individual. Remember that your responsibility extends to the watching for souls, as they that must give account; never lend that which will sanction any error amongst your people. The counteraction of evil, and the establishment of God's truth, is your work. It is awful to think how much error is propagated by the incautious lending of books, by really Christian friends! I would affectionately urge you not to admit into your own library any works which have even a doubtful tendency. Recollect that by your people any book on your shelves, or on your drawingroom table, is considered to have your approbation, or to be chosen by you. During a morning call a word may not be said about it, but there may have been an impression left in the mind of a young person, which will have an eternal influence. I know that you may be placed in a situation which renders it a duty, in the spirit of prayer, and in simple dependence upon Divine teaching, to examine where the evil lies in books which have injured or are likely to injure your young people. But whenever this is the case, remember that you are treading on most dangerous ground, and be quite sure that a call of duty, not a feeling of curiosity, leads you to it; otherwise you have no right to rely upon Divine support. Never indulge the idea that you are too well established "to be injured by it;" but recollect that you have still a "heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" to contend with, and a great enemy ever on the watch to infuse his deadly poison. How often does he now succeed through the medium of some book written in a style to fascinate the imagination, before Christian principle can defend the heart! It is not long since that we heard of a young person having joined the Church of Rome from this very cause, and the remark made by a friend was-"she was never convinced, she was only captivated!" Satan only aims to accomplish his end, the means are matter of indifference to him; but in these days,

whilst he succeeds through the understanding of one, he does so through the affections and imagination of a hundred others. You may, however, be asked your opinion of one of the books to which I allude, by a really "anxious enquirer," who has her face towards Zion; it then becomes your duty to see where the danger lies, and to point it out. You will often find an error so serious at the commencement of the book, as to make it needless to waste your time upon it. In other cases the evil is not less fatally, but more artfully mixed up. You would

find Bishop Mc Iwaine's "Oxford Divinity compared with that of the Roman and Anglican Churches," an invaluable help to you, and if will you read it two or three times through, you will always be able to detect error, and you will see the awful evil of the whole system of Tractarianism, at the same time you will observe the importance of guarding against every part of it. It is by reading small portions of this system, written in a captivating style, and by not seeing them in their true connection, that so many are injured by them.

I cannot in this letter enlarge much more on your general reading, but I

is,

must add one work to my list, which "Milner's Church History." I know you have read it, but do so again and again; as it will assist you to point out when and where the various heresies crept into the visible Church of Christ; at the same time your own mind will often be benefited by the Christian experience of those, who, in all ages, have constituted the invisible one. The standard of opinion there raised, is not that of even the most devoted Christians, not of martyrs themselves, but of the infallible Word of God. From the perusal of such works as these, you will, I trust, always turn with a fresh relish to your Heavenly Guide, and be enabled to say,

"Lord, thou art true-and oh, the joy,
To turn from other words to thine!
To dig the gold without alloy,
From Truth's unfathomable mine."

With affectionate Christian remembrance, and a sincere prayer that all your pursuits may be blessed by Him who alone can make them profitable, Believe me,

Your attached Friend,

Bristol, July 6th, 1845.

"WHEN the love of God has been shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, the very smallest of his kindnesses are associated with the hand from whence they flow, and knit the heart to Him with bonds of increased tenderness."

This is strikingly illustrated in the following quotation from the "Life of Wilberforce :".

66 He loved flowers with all the simple delight of childhood. He would hover from bed to bed over his favourites; and when he came in,

[ocr errors]

even from his shortest walk, deposited a few that he had gathered safely in his room before he joined the breakfast table. Often would he say, as he enjoyed their fragrance, How good is God to us! What should we think of a friend who had furnished us with a magnificent house, and all we needed, and then coming in to see all had been provided according to his wishes, should be hurt to find that no scents had been placed in the rooms? Yet so has God dealt with us.-Surely flowers are the smiles of his goodness!''

[blocks in formation]

Poetry.

PROTESTANT MINSTRELSY.-No. VIII.

(For the Christian Guardian.)

OLD ST. PAUL'S. THE PRIEST OF ST. OSITHE'S.*

HARD by the river banks you see

That stately house of GodThe holy threshold-that should be By kindly brethren trod ;

[blocks in formation]

Where, sheltered from our changeful | Oh, there was haste and there was

[blocks in formation]

*William Sautre, the earliest martyr for the Reformation in England. On this account his degradation was performed with great exactness in the cathedral, where he appeared in his priestly vestments. At first, through weakness, he had abjured his opinions, but afterwards proved steadfast unto death.

« PreviousContinue »