Page images

particular forms of vice; to urge to particular phases of duty; to rebuke and exhort ; to warn and beseech; to denounce the impenitent, and plead with and on behalf of the broken-hearted. But all this is as, in one sense, attacking the outposts of a great citadel, or scattering the first drops that forecast a gracious shower. To set forth the need of a guide ; to enforce the worth and glory and desirableness of Him who is offered ; to warn with kindness against refusing the gift of eternal lifesuch bear closely on the great work which, as ambassadors for Christ,” the ministers of the everlasting word are called to.

In the earlier portion of the epistle, Paul had instructed the Romans with great fulness in the matter of doctrine. In this and the preceding chapter he speaks of special duties. He begins this portion of the charge by demanding on behalf of Christ the surrender of their bodies unto him, which he describes as their reasonable service. In the verse where our text is, he completes the exhortation by asking that they “put on the Lord Jesus Christ."

Let us notice here that we are called to the exercise of a habit, not to a desultory effort. How much of our want of success in spiritual things may find its explanation here! With a view to illustrate this, take a globe or a ball into your hand, and turn it as you may, you can only see that portion which is nearest you. That which is furthest away and opposite is invisible. So in regard to the Christian life; it is often but a small section of it that lies exposed to the spiritual understanding of a man. He does not comprehend, often scarcely seeks to comprehend, the completeness of the sphere of duty, and hence is ignorant of its claims. He accepts some familiar exercise as the field of his spiritual activity, and remains in heart, and soul, and strength, and mind, but indifferently affected. Now much of our following of Christ, or putting on of Christ, is of this nature. We deem the height too lofty, and never think of scaling it; or the field too wide, and never attempt to cultivate it; or the claims too urgent and comprehensive to be met and satisfied. And if we ever, in a moment of wider sympathy with the truth, are ready to embrace all that the Gospel demands, we are too often in such temper and spiritual incapacity, that our goodness is as the morning cloud and the early dew. Never let us believe that the battle with the fesh can be fought with divided forces or a broken line, that the fruits of the Spirit can be gathered with a faltering interest--that faith and feeling can be so blended that we may embrace at the same time the world that is, and that which is to come—that we may turn the whole current of life towards the secular or the fleshly, and in any way fulfil our calling as saints. Nay, if our discipleship is to be illustrated by a habit laying its constraining force on every affection of the soul and every desire of the body, moulding our energies towards one object, and fixing our happiness on one achievement-the victory over sin; if it is only Christlike to be continuers in our endeavour to follow his example, to be concerned about his glory, to be diligent about his business ; then how unlike him to know him only through the word preached-to see him listed up, and not be influenced, much less melted, by the spectacle !--to look on his humiliation, his sacrifice and suffering, and never find in these any reason why we should either glorify him or deny ourselves ! No. To run with eagerness in the way of transgressors, neglecting our spiritual life, and consequently our spiritual duties—this is not Christlike, is not Christian : is heathenish and foul; partakes of the teaching and guidance of Satan in its character, and will in the end be certain of his reward.

Here is a feature of the Apostle's injunction which is specially worthy of our attention. It is Christ we are to put on. In this charge we have a contrast to all other teaching. All teachers, it is true, have mingled with their systems more or less of themselves. In philosophy and morals you may always be able to detect the man in the maxims he utters. But if he be a true teacher he seeks to enforce truths and principles altogether distinct from himself. You scarcely find him pointing to his life as the accurate embodiment of his teaching. He is rather anxious, and should be always ready to rest his fame on the recorded expression of his opinions. How differently does the inspired A postle deal with our Lord ! And in the way in which he deals with him, raises him, if we may so speak, far above any level with which experience has made us elsewhere familiar. What then is the line of duty here? We are under strong temptation. We have many duties to discharge. Our warfare is trying. In ourselves we are weak and frail. These will soon become apparent, and swiftly become, if unrestrained, fruitful in evil. If we are to meet them successfully; if we are to know at once our danger and the means of our deliverance ; if we are to be alike successful in our aggressive war. fare against evil, and our defence against the assaults of the devil, then let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ. No maxim, however wide ; no special promise, however precious; no aspect of the Lord's character, no view of the Lord's works, can furnish us in such circumstances with the weapons and the defence we need. To look at these only is, if we may use the comparison, to take the helmet and leave the breastplate unappropriated ; to lay hold of the sword and cast away the shield ; to undervalue our protection and misunderstand our dangers; to rush to the defence of one gate, while the enemy is quietly entering by another ; to take, not the “whole armour of God,” but only a portion of it, and forget that we are complete in him.

It is thus Christ himself—not only as he spoke, and is written of, but as he lived—as we see him set before us in the history of his ministry. Here we reach the point where all human teaching fails. How faulty would the purest and holiest and most self-denying of men be as a complete type of living Christianity! It is the Lord himself who is the centre of his people's affections, and the only sufficient guide of his people's footsteps.

What is it to put on the Lord Jesus Christ to be clothed with him as the term implies ? It is a relation of the very closest description, and a change the most complete. The idea is one which implies need of covering, and points to one through whom it can be effected. We must deal with this in a general way. It is not enough, as has been partly shown, to have sympathy with the Lord, to give our approval to his claims, to subscribe that his teaching is reasonable, and admit that his promises are genuine. No act of the understanding and reason, unless it be accompanied by the will, is of any avail here. The mere sentiment of approval is a temporary feeling. It may spring from the slightest causes, and vanish as rapidly as it was created. Have we not seen the hosanna of to-day become the crucify him of to-morrow? Hence the need to take the character of Christ and substitute it for our own. This is really what must be done. And as a proof that we have done so we must have the same mind in us that was found in him. We must have Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, bearing as we do a nature ruined and vicious—be clothed with that righteousness which alone can cover all our unworthiness and impertections. Christ assumed our nature, and we must become partakers of his. As our humanity was worn by him that we might be made the children of God, so we are to be possessed of the spirit of Christ with a view to the same result. We are to hear about with us the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus, and having this spirit in us, as one has said, we must have his likeness

This will be seen by our becoming living images of the Lord - living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men. In so far as we are so, our action and life, our walk and conversation, must bear the proof that they are Christlike. We should ever exhibit the outlines of the heavenly ; we should always prove that grace has so affected us that we reflect, though it may be imperfectly, the graces of the divine nature. In short, to put on Christ is to be animated by the same zeal, to labour for the same end, to bear the Cross and share the ignominy, and anticipate the reward, which were his. The servant is not above his lord, nor the disciple above his master. Yet how many are there who while pretending to be of the flock of Christ, do not follow his voice, are not found in his fold, nor are partaking of his pastures. If then we are to be in the image of Christ, we must be renewed by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. The divine result can only be brought about by a divine work, and the victory we seek in endeavouring to put off the old man is achieved by the help of Him who giveth us that new righteousness with which God is well pleased. Remember then what Christ has undergone that we may be able to comply with the request of the text--his humiliation, his suffering, his death, his triumph, his present work-the claims which spring from these. Who will attempt to buy his favour by a partial service ? by a surrender which is but the mask of resistance ? Look into Christ's character. Try to measure his claims, especially in the light of so many sins as we are guilty of, and see if we can reasonably withhold what he asks. And if we are unable to do so, let us heartily yield it and enter on the full enjoyment of the blessings of the new covenant.

on US.


Foreign Missions.


In the midst of war and rumours of war in Europe, it is a wonderful relief in the surrounding gloom to be in any way engaged in sending forth goud soldiers of Jesus Christ to do battle with the powers of darkness in heathen lands. Would that they could be as easily enlisted for Christ's cause as they are for earthly monarchs who oppose German to German and friend to friend, that they may slaughter one another by thousands, though

“ What they killed each other for

They could not well make out." One solitary soldier of Jesus Christ has just been sent forth by our Church to join the ranks in the mission-field in China. The Rev. David Masson, from Aberdeen, was appointed at the last meeting of Synod, and was ordained in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Hampstead, on the 20th of June, as already reported in our last number. A valedictory service was held in Regent Square Church on the 11th of July, and Mr. Masson sailed the following day, in the Peter Denny, for China. It is said of one who was leaving home for a similar purpose, that as he issued from the house filled with sorrowing relatives, his heart sank within him under the terrible depression of leavetaking; but as he went forth it was a brilliant starlight night, and as he looked upwards there rushed into his mind that promise:—“They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever;' forth with all his fears vanished, and he was filled with inexpressible peace and confidence. May such promises be the bright companions of our brother David Masson as he speeds on his way to the scene of his labours, and may there be many prayers ascending that he may have a safe and prosperous voyage. He visited as many congregations as he could overtake in the short time at his disposal before sailing. He is accompanied by a young Chinese named Hong-a-way, the son of one of the first converts at Swatow, who came to this country some months ago in the service of an English family, and has been receiving some education. He is moral and amiable, and a Christian by outward baptism. May the Lord reveal bimself to this lad that he may be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and be prepared for going forth as an Evangelist to his countrymen at Swatow.

While the Committee were in the act of sending forth Mr. Masson to relieve the brethren at Swatow, they received letters from Amoy informing them of the unsatisfactory state of Mr. Swanson's health, and of the necessity for his returning home to recruit his strength before the summer of next year. Mr. Swanson has been now six years in China, and during last year (which happened to be very hot in the summer) he had a special weight of responsibility and anxiety, in the absence of Mr. Douglas and the rapid extension of the work, so that the physical exhaustion and mental anxiety have told seriously on his health. While we shall gladly weloome him home,


this will leave the Amoy district seriously crippled, and it is therefore earnestly to be desired that another missionary should follow Mr. Masson as early as possible from this country.

From Swatow we learn that the brethren have been greatly cheered by the addition of Mrs. Gauld to their number. Two new stations have been opened in large towns, one called Am-pow, about nine miles from Swatow, and on the way to the city of Chaou-chow-foo; the other is Ung-kung, about twelve miles to the N.E. of Yam-tsaou, and only two days' journey from Khi-boey in the Amoy district. We subjoin Mr. Smith's letter.

From Formosa Dr. Maxwell writes, under date April 26th, that his new house at Takao is nearly finished, and though in the midst of the Chinese town, he expects it will be tolerably comfortable as a residence for a missionary. It

may be explained that the Chinese house in which Dr. Maxwell has hitherto resided at Takao is rented at the exorbitant sum of £135 per annum, and it was therefore felt to be a wise economy to build a house for a sum not exceeding in all probability a couple of years' rent. The arrival of a medical man to undertake the private practice among the foreign shipping at Takao has proved a great relief to Dr. Maxwell, as it had been only forced on him by the necessity of his position. In regard to the progress of the work, he writes:

“ The work at Sa-te-choo and at this place goes on steadily. Except that we have daily very fair audiences in both places for the hearing of the Gospel, and that especially in Takao, there is a manifestly increasing confidence in the genuineness of the spirit that prompts the work of bodily healing, there is no sign of much individual awakening under the preaching of the word. But our Chinese brethren are of good heart, and go on steadily and vigorously with thuir work."


[ocr errors]


LETTER FROM THE REV. GEORGE us out; but, by God's blessing, the result is SMITH.

that we are only the more firmly intrenched.

What we now specially need is Divine grace Swatow, May 11th, 1866.

to enable us to turn our new positions to A REQUEST FOR PRAYER.

the best account, to rescue souls from sin As regards our work here there is perhaps and Satan, and win them to Cirist. Diffilittle new information to be given. An old cult as it is sometimes to get places for man, nearly eighty, from the village of Tung- mission work in heathen towns, it is still Khau, in the Kit-Yang region, received last more difficult to get the throne of Christ year as a mea ber, has recently died. From erected in the human heart. God's purpose all accounts there seems good reason to be and promises, however, are unfailing, and lieve that he died the death of a Christian. this is our hope. We take with gratitude His son, who has a large family, seems a the mercies received, and would set up our good deal disposed to worship the God of Ebenezer both as a remembrance of the his father. I commend him and his family past, and encouragement for the future. and village, as well as that region specially,

THE ARRIVAL OF MRS. GAULD. to the prayers of God's people.

Truly the Lord is filling us with comfort and hope by all his dealings with us.

Among our many blessings and mercies, Mr. Mackenzie: bas already written re- one of the most marked is the arrival of garding the opening of new stations at Am. Mrs. Gauld, and her residence at Swatow, pow and Ung-kung. At both places strong for the present, in our house. I can hardly efforts were made to dislodge us, and drive tell you how cheered and delighted we are



I shall try

[ocr errors]

for such a gift to the mission. The good official and directing his attention to the effects of Mrs. Gauld's arrival are already past history of troubles in Khi-boey, and to felt throughout the mission, and by God's the right of Christians to protection. We good hand upon us will, I trust, only con- were very anxious that our brethren should tinue to increase. As my time is limited, get a hearing because of the enormity of the I must close,

case in itself. At present I could not With Christian regards,

attempt to enter into anything like a fully I am, yours sincere'y, detailed repetition of the case. (Signed) G. SMITH. to be as brief as possible.

In a village about seven miles from Khi

boey there resides a Christian family, conEXTRACT FROM DR. GAULD'S sisting of several brothers, with their wives LETTER.

and children. Adjoining them lies a very

powerful village, whose inhabitants, on “ Swatow, May 26tb, 1866. hearing of this family having become “ Mr. Smith is in Ampow, a large town Christians, and ceasing to worship idols nine miles distant, where he has, through or observe idolatrous feasts and ceremonies, God's grace, triumphed over opposition began to persecute and annoy them in such as perhaps he has never before en- every possible way. By degrees they grew countered in Tie Chew. He risked his life bolder and bolder, and at last carried off in the issue, and God has brought him one of the boys of the family, and closely through victoriously so far as we see, and confined and ill-treated him.

The boy now he preaches the word there in peace.” brginning to show marks of this bad

trestment, and the aggressors fearing he

might die in their hands, let him out, The following important communication although they had previously refused every from Mr. Swanson hus been received just request to give him up. But matters did in time for insertion, but too late to make not end here. In open day-light and on any comments on it. May this conflict several occasions they came in armed with the powers of darkness in which the parties and carried off the pigs and cattle native Church is now engaged send us, like of the Christians. This was done while Moses, Aaron, and Hur, 10 the place of they were absent at Khi-boey at worship.

Measures were taken in due form to proprayer :

cure redress, but none was given, and the LETTER FROM THE REV. W. S.

offenders SWANSON.

bolder and bolder. The


Christians did not dare to move freely Amoy, May 24th, 1866.

about, and on one occasion I had to keep

them for several days under my own eye at Some time has now elapsed since we Khi.boey. The mandarin promised but brought under your notice a case of gross never performed, and mate's became and violent persecution in the Khi-boey worse and worse. One of thy brothers region. At that same time we told you of died, his death being hastered most cerefforts we were making to get redress for tainly by the long-continued persecution those who were thus tried. Mr. Douglas to which he had been subjected. Th: reand I had together visited the Changpoo after the other two brothers were seized by nandarin, and received a large amount of the enemies, and it was only by the most fair promises, but nothing else. So mat- direct pressure on the mandarin, or rather ters remained till the middle of February, by the action of fear in the minds of those when the mandarin of the district was who were bribing his underlings, and most changed, and efforts were made by our probably also himself, that these men were brethren and ourselves to get some redress freed. The Christians entered complaint and protection from his successor. These after complaint, and we made visit after were equally profitless, and we had pre- visit, but the state of matters was only pared our minds for visiting the new growing worse. The aggres-ors had nothing


« PreviousContinue »