Page images

my faith !

ever been sipping of the į visoned cup, nor Christ, and the angels who attend him. Have you venturing on the enemy's ground, nor sleeping not often told me that he is the friend of children? at thy post, nor putting down thy weapons ? earth, and I am sure he will bid them welcome to his

I have read, too, how he took them in his arms on Alas I these are painful recollections of narrow

arnis in heaven.” Thus early ripe for glory, this dear escapes. Let me be more watchful that I enter child, without a murmur and without a groan,

drew not into temptation; let me awake to righ his last breath, and fell asleep in Jesus. I saw, inteousness and sin not; let me run the race that deed, that his parents wept; but their tears were tears 1, is set before me, looking unto Jesus-looking of joy. Happy, thrice happy parents, called to conso stedfastly unto Jesus as to obtain his sup. sign a spirit thus ripe for glory, unto God who gave

mit such precious dust into the sepulchre, and to report, his intercession, that my faith may never it! fail, but that I may so run as to win the prize, even Christ himself, the author and finisher of

The world is seldom what it seems

To man, who dimly sees;

Realities appear as dreams,
His seat is vacant at table-it is vacant at the fire-

And dreams realities. side-it is vacant at the altar. A thousand afflicting incidents remind his parents that he is gone; but,

The Christian's years, though slow their flight, often as this saddening thought recurs, it is softened

When he is called away, and transformed by the cheering recollection that

Are but the watches of a night, he is gone to glory; and the full hcart almost disbur- And death the dawn of day. dened of its sorrows, responds to the songs of holy

MONTGOMERY. resignation :" Why should we mourn departed friends,

WILBERFORCE AND THE SABBATH. Or start at deatn's alarms? 'Tis but the voice that Jesus sends

The celebrated Wilberforce ascribes his continuance To call them to his arins,"

for so long a time under such a pressure of cares Delightful idea! Supported by this, I have seen and labours, in no small degree to the conscientious the parents of a much endeared child sitting with and habitual observance of the Sabbath. “ O what composure beside his bed of death.

a blessed day," he says, “is the Sabbath, which They were parents familiarized with sorrow. Once allows us a precious interval wherein to pauseta they had been blessed with an ample fortune and a numerous offspring. But the hand of God had been

come out from the thickets of worldly concerns, and upon them. Stripped of the one, bereaved of the other, give ourselves up to heavenly and spiritual objects ! they were left in the decline of life, naked and defence Observation and my own experience have convinced less, like the trunk of an aged oak, whose leaves and me that there is a special blessing on the right embranches have been swept away by the pitiless storms ployment of these intervals. that have beat upon it. One little son, the child of their old age, alone remained to them. His brethren

“One of their prime objects, in my judgment, is to and sisters were dead, and in his life the life of his strengthen our impression of invisible things, and to parents were bound up. Hitherto they had consi- induce a habit of living much under their influences.! dered this son as a special gift of Providence, granted o what a blessed thing is Sabbath, interposed beto solace their sorrows in old age, to minister to their

tween the waves of worldly business, like the divine wants in death, and afterwards to preserve their path of the Israelites through Jordan! Blessed be name and become their memorial He was, indeed, a lovely child; and what rendered God, who has appointed the Sabbath, and interposed him the more so in the eyes of his godly parents was,

the seasons of recollection. It is a blessed thing to that he also feared God. Often as he hung upon his have the Sabbath devoted to God. There is nothing mother's arm, or clambered upon his father's knee, in which I would commend you to be more strictly and stroking back his grey hairs, he would inquire of conscientious, than in keeping the Sabbath-day." them so earnestly about death, and talk to them so sweetly about heaven and Jesus, that their hearts were overcome, and their lips had not the power of

A FATHER'S PRAYER. utterance. Thus did this child increase in wisdom as he in

PHILIP JAMES SPENER had a son of eminent talents, creased in stature; till one day, like the child of the

but perverso and extremely vicious. All means of Shunammite, he cried out, My head! My head!--Like

love and persuasion were without success. that child, too, he was carried from the field unto his father could only pray, which he continued to do, that mother. But, alas! no prophet of Israel was nigh. time and in any way. The son fell sick; and while

the Lord might yet be pleased to save his son at ang No swift Gehazi ran from Carmel to lay the staff of the holy seer upon the face of the child. It was in lying on his bed in great distress of mind, nearly past deed a sickness unto death. His soul, however, was

the power of speech or motion, he suddenly started resigned-his faith in the promises immovable.""Do

up, clasped his hands, and exclaimed: “ My father's not grieve thus,” said he to his aged parents, as they prayers, like mountains, surround me !" Soon after watched the changes of his countenance, and in pen

his anxiety ceased a sweet peace spread over his sive silence bedewed his pillow with tears; “God saved in body and soul. He became another men.

face-his malady came to a crisis, and the son was will take care of you, and he will take care of me too. Spener lived to see his son a respectable

man, in pube My body will be laid in the grave, where the body of my Saviour was laid. My soul will fly up to heaven, lic office, and happily married. Such was the change where I shall see my brothers and sisters, and Jesus

of his life after his conversion.-N. E. Puritan.






THE revelation of Christ, and the grace of God, he was turned out of paradise, so had he been through him, is beyond comparison the best turned into hell immediately; for such the news and most joyful tidings that poor sinners world would have been to his guilty conscience. can bear. It is such a message that no good This is the news God used to tell his people of news can come before it, nor ill news follow it. on a design to comfort them and cheer them, No good news can come before it; no, not from when things went worse with them, and their God himself to the creature. He cannot issue affairs were at the lowest ebb. (Isa.vii. 14; Micah out any blessing to poor sinners, till he hath v. 5.) This is the great secret which God whisshown mercy to their souls in Christ. “God be pers by his Spirit in the ear of those whom he merciful to us, and bless us, and cause his face embraces with his special distinguishing love. to shine upon us.” (Ps. lxvii. 1.)

(Luke x. 21; 1 Cor. ii. 12;) so that it is made the First, God forgives, then he gives. Till he sad sign of a soul marked out for hell, to have be merciful to pardon our sins through Christ, the “gospel hid from it.” (2 Cor. iv. 3.) To wind he cannot bless, or look kindly on us sinners. up this in a few words, there meet all the proAll our enjoyments are but blessings in bullion, perties of a joyful message in the glad tidings till gospel grace, pardoning mercy, stamp and of the gospel. Five ingredients are desirable in make them current. God cannot so much as a message, yea, must all conspire to fill up the bear any good will to us, till Christ makes peace joyfulness thereof into a redundancy. for us—“ on earth peace, good will to men." 1. “ It must be good.” None rejoice to hear (Luke ii. 14.) And what joy can a sinner take, evil news. Joy is the dilatation of the heart, though it were to hear of a kingdom fallen to whereby it goes forth to meet and welcome in him, if he may not have it with God's good what it desires; and this must needs be some will?

good. Ill news is sure to find the heart shut Again, No ill news can come after the glad against it, and to come before it is welcome. tidings of the gospel, where believingly em- 2. " It must be some great good,” or else it braced. God's mercy in Christ alters the very affects little. Affections are moved according to property of all evils to the believer. All plagues the degrees of good or evil in the object preand judgments that can befall the creature in sented. A thing we hear may be so inconsider. the world, when baptized in the stream of gos. able, that it is no great matter how it goes; but pel grace, receive a new name, come on a new if it be good, and great also, and of weighty im| errand, and have a new taste on the believer's portance, this causeth proportionable pleasure. palate; as the same water, by running through The greater the bell, the more strength is resome mine, gets a strong taste and a healing quired to raise it. It must be a great good that virtue, which before it had not. “ The inhabi- raiseth great joy. tants shall not say, I am sick; the people that 3. “This great good must immediately condwell therein shall be pardoned their iniquity.” cern them that hear it”- that is, they must have (Isa. xxxiii. 24.) Observe, he doth not say, propriety in it; for though we can rejoice to " They shall not be sick;" gospel grace doth not hear of some great good befalling another, yet exempt from afflictions; but, “They shall not it affects most when it is emptied into our own say, I am sick.” They shall be so ravished with bosom. A sick man doth not feel the joy of the joy of God's pardoning mercy, that they another's recovery with the same advantage as shall not complain of being sick; this, or any he would do his own. other cross, is too thin a veil to darken the joy 4. It would much add to the joyfulness of the other good news. This is so joyful a of the news, if this were “unbeard of, unmessage which the gospel brings, that God would looked for,” if the tidings steal upon us not have Adam long without it, but opened a by way of surprise. The farther our own crevice to let some beams of this light, that is ignorance or despair has set us from all pleasant to behold, into his soul, amazed with thoughts of so great enjoyment, the more joy it the terror of God's presence; without which, as brings with it, when we hear the news of it.


The joy of a poor swineherd's son, who never 3. The gospel doth not tell us news we are dreamed of a crown, would be greater at the little concerned in; not what God has done for news of such a thing conferred on him, than he angels, but for us. “Unto you,” saith the whose birth invited him to look for it, yea, pro- angel,“ is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord.” Ii mised to him as his inheritance; such a one's love made angels rejoice in our happiness, surely, heart would stand but level to the place, and the benefit which is paid into our nature by it therefore could not be so ravished with it as gives a further pleasure to our joy at the hearing another who lay so far below such a prefer- of it. It were strange that the messenger, who ment.

only brings the news of some great empire to be 5. To fill up the joy of all these, “it is most devolved on a person, should sing, and the prince necessary that the news be true and certain,” to whom it falls should not be glad. And, as or else all the joy soon leaks out. What great the gospel's glad tidings belong to man's nature, joy would it afford to hear of a kingdom be not to angels', so in particular to the poor soul, fallen to a man, and next day, or month, to hear whoever thou art, that embraceth Christ in the all crossed again, and prove false? Now, in arms of thy faith. A prince is a common good the glad tidings of the gospel, all these do to all his kingdom ; every subject, though ever most happily meet together, to wind up the so mean, hath a part in him-and so is Christ to joy of the believing soul to the highest pin all believers. The promises are so laid, that like that the strings of his affections can possibly a well-drawn picture, they look on all that locs bear.

on them by an eye of faith. The gospel's joy 1. The news which the gospel hath in its is thy joy, that hast but faith to receive it. mouth to tell poor sinners is good. It speaks 4. The glad tidings of the gospel were unheard promises, and they are significations of some of, unlooked for, by the sons of men; such news good intended by God for poor sinners. The it brings, as never could have entered into the law—that brings ill news to town, it can speak | heart of man to conceive, till God unlocked the no other language to sinners, but denuncia- cabinet of his own good pleasure and revealed tions of evil to come upon them; but the the counsel of his will, wherein this mysterious gospel smiles on poor sinners, and planes the piece of love to fallen man lay hid far enough wrinkles that sit on the law's brow, by pro- from the prying eye of the most quick-sighted claiming promises.

angel in heaven, much more from man himself, 2. The news the gospel brings is as great as who could read in his own guilty conscience it is good. It was that the angel said, “ I bring within, and spell from the covenant without, you tidings of great joy.” (Luke ii. 10.) Great now broken by him, nothing but his certain joy it must needs be, because it is all joy. The doom and damnation. So that the first gospel Lord Christ brings such news in his gospel, as sermon preached by God himself to Adam anthat he hath lbft nothing for any after him to ticipated all thoughts of such a thing intended add to it. If there be any good wanting in the by him. 0, who can conceive, but one that tidings of the gospel, we find it elsewhere than hath really felt the terrors of an approaching in God; for in the covenant of the gospel, he hell in his despairing soul, how joyous the tid. gives himself through Christ to the believing ings of gospel mercy are to a poor soul, dwelling soul. Surely the apostle's argument will hold amidst the black thoughts of despair, and bor“ All things are yours; yeare Christ's, and Christ dering on the very marches of the region of is God's.” (1 Cor. iii. 22.) The gospel lays our utter darkness! History tells us of a nobleman ducts close to the fountain of goodness itself, of our nation, in King Henry the Eighth's reign, and he surely must have all, that is united to to whom a pardon was sent a few hours before him that hath, that is, all. Can any good news he should have been beheaded, which being pot come to the glorified saints which heaven doth at all expected by him, so transported him that not afford them? In the gospel we have news he died for joy. And if the vessel of our nature of that glory. * Jesus Christ hath brought life be so weakly hooped, that the wine of such an and immortality to light by the gospel.” (2 inferior joy breaks it, how then could it possibly Tim. j. 10.) The sun in the firmament discovers be able to bear the full joy of the gospel tidings, only the lower world. O! it hides heaven from which doth as far exceed this as the mercy of us, while it shows the earth to us; but the gospel God doth the mercy of mortal man, and as the enlightens both at once, “ Godliness hath the deliverance from an eternal death in hell doth promise of the life that now is, and of that a deliverance from a temporary death, which is which is to come.” (1 Tim. iv. 8.)

gone before the pain can well be felt!



[ocr errors]

5. The glad tidings of the gospel are certainly | imprisonment, banishment, invasion by armed true. It is no flying report, cried up to-day, force, murder of wives and children, the axe and like to be crossed to.morrow; not news

of the executioner, the torture and fires of the that is in every one's mouth, but none can tell Inquisition,—all

, all have been employed by in

tolerance for their utter extermination. And whence it came, and who is the author of it; we

yet they have survived these bloody persecu. have it from a good hand, God himself, “ to tions. There remain still in the valleys of the whom it is impossible to lie.” He from heaven Alps more than twenty thousand Waldenses voucheth it. “ This is my beloved Son; hear wbo profess the faith of their fathers. Glorious him.(Luke ix.) What were all those miracles witnesses of the truth, they are connected by which Christ wrought, but ratifications of the

an uninterrupted historical chain to the primitive truth of the gospel? Those wretches that denied Church, and their presence shows that the light

of the Church has never been wholly extinthe truth of Christ's doctrine were forced many guished in Christendom. times to acknowledge the divinity of his miracles; Are they not a living proof of the impotence which is a pretty piece of nonsense, and declares of fanaticism? Ah! if the rage of men could the absurdity of their unbelief to all the world. have destroyed the Waldenses to the last man, The miracles were to the gospel as seals to a

and have abolished their memory, it would writing. They could not deny God to be in the have done it. But no: the sword of Popery miracles, and yet they could not see him in the their work of destruction. There is a God in

and the sword of princes have not succeeded in doctrine; as if God would set his seal to an un

heaven, who protects, who sustains right, justruth. Here, Christians, is that which fills up tice, truth; and if, in his mysterious designs, the joy of this good news the gospel brings, he allows sometimes that iniquity and error that we may lay our lives upon the truth of it; obtain an apparent triumph, he imposes for it will never deceive any that lay the weight of them, as for the waves of the sea, bounds that their confidence on it. “ This is a faithful say- midst of the most violent tempests, a firm con

they may not pass. Let us ever have, in the ing, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus fidence in the decrees of the Lord, and our Christ came into the world to save sinners.” (1 hope will not be deceived. The day of reparaTim. i. 15.) This bridge which the gospel lays tion will come: it must come, because justice over the gulf of God's wrath, for poor sinners to and truth are eternal, like God. | pass from their sins into the favour of God The Waldenses of Piedmont are now free

as free as other citizens of that country; they here, and kingdom of God hereafter, is supported with no other arches than the wisdom, offices in the State; all the old acts of exclu

enjoy the same rights; they can fill the same power, mercy, and faithfulness of God; so that sion are rescinded, and the Piedmontese have the believing soul need not fear, till it sees been received at Turin with acclamations of joy. these bow or break. It is called the

We will give at the close of this narrative, an lasting gospel.” (Rev. xiv. 16.) When heaven account of the great national festival which and earth go to wreck, not the least iota or tittle was held on this occasion: but we must first of any promise of the gospel shall be buried in show what has been the religious and civil

condition of the Waldenses since the revolutheir ruins. “ The word of the Lord endureth

tion of 1789. It will be then easier to underfor ever, and this is the word which by the stand their great joy and their deep gratitude gospel is preached to you.” (1 Pet. i. 25.) to God for the complete emancipation they

have obtained.

The principles of religious toleration, which THE DELIVERANCES OF THE were proclaimed in the eighteenth century, WALDENSES.

had not acquired much authority in Piedmont

and Savoy. This country was governed by THESE humble and faithful Christians have priests. The princes, instructed in the principles been at last fully emancipated, after long of ecclesiastical power, submitted themselves ungroaning under the most cruel oppression. reservedly to the dictation of Rome. The WalTheir sufferings have excited a deep sympathy denses were treated as an inferior caste, and as throughout the whole world. How many times enemies. They had not been exposed, indeed, have we not read the mournful pages which for sixty years, to be led to the scaffold: relate the trials and punishments suffered by Europe would have shuddered with indignation the Waldenses of Piedmont! They have seen, and horror at such atrocities; but they were for more than six hundred years, all the powers still subjected to the most oppressive tyranny. of earth leagued against them. They have The law compelled them to be shut up in their been anathematized by popes, and massacred valleys as in a prison; they were forbidden to by kings. All the varieties of martyrdom occupy any civil office, or exercise any liberal which an atrocious fanaticism could invent-profession; none of their communion could be




[ocr errors]

notaries or physicians. Their children were bitions were continued, and yet the priests often abducted by priests, and when they como complained that the Waldenses had obtained plained, they were answered with threats and too much! Detestable spirit of intolerance ! it insults. A shameful proselytism was carried tramples under foot the first principles of juson among them. The Popish clergy had opened tice ! it calls evil good, good evil

, and thinks it by the side of their churches a so-called house does God service when doing the work of for catechumens, where they fed and clothed Satan! those unhappy persons who consented to sell Two years after, in 1799, Piedmont passed their consciences for money. Heavy taxes under the French rule. Then, for the first were laid on the Waldenses, and they could time, since their origin, the Waldenses enjoyed hardly, by their diligent labour, supply them- real liberty of conscience and of worship. They selves with the means of subsistence.

became citizens like others, and could be apWhen the great revolution of 1789 burst pointed to all public offices. But, alas ! this upon Europe, like a thunderbolt, the poor favour cost them dear. Their valleys, succesoppressed people of Piedmont hoped that their sively traversed by the French, Germans, lot would be amended. But they were still Russians, &c., were completely devastated. The deceived in their expectation for several years. fields were uncultivated, the houses burnt, the Their sovereign called them to fight under his churches destroyed. The most necessary articles banner against France. The Waldenses did of living were enormously dear. The rich their duty bravely and faithfully; they shed could hardly subsist, and the poor died from their blood on the battle-field to defend a want. The pastors especially found themselves country which had not allowed them the rights in the most destitute condition. They no longer of citizens. But with all their zeal they were received pecuniary aid from England, Holland, basely calumniated. As they met with some and Prussia. War had interrupted all comreverses in their contests with the French munications. How could ministers of the gostroops, the Popish clergy accused them of trea- pel supply their most pressing wants? The son and of being accomplices with the enemy. The members of Consistory went from house to Romish population of Piedmont were rendered house, to solicit a morsel of bread for these fanatical by these slanders; and, horrible to spiritual guides, and the general poverty prerelate! a plot was formed to execute another vented often the satisfying of their wants. St Bartholomew against the Waldenses ! The Some pastors then engaged in secular employ. crime was to be perpetrated in the night of ments, in order to support their families; 14th to 15th May 1793. A band of assassins, others tried to bear patiently these severe pri: to the number of 700, had sworn to attack the vations. communes of Saint John and La Tour, and to At last, the horizon became brighter. Napoput all to fire and sword. It was the easier for leon visited Piedmont in 1805, and learning Papists to effect this massacre, as all the Wal- what was the condition of the pastors, he gave denses, capable of bearing arms, were encamped them a salary froin the public treasury. The then upon the summits of the mountains, to Waldenses were faithful to their new sovereign. resist the invasion of the French. The con. They were doubly attached to him, by their spirators would then have found all the women, oath and by gratitude. Some of them served children, old men, and they would have been with distinction in the French armies; they able to butcher these without obstacle or resist- acquired high rank by their bravery, and ance. Happily, this infernal plot was revealed showed that they were worthy of commanding opportunely by two Roman Catholics more hu- others. mane than the rest. The Waldensian soldiers, But the restoration of 1814 came. The king being warned, returned in haste to their homes, of Sardinia, Victor-Emanuel, recovered possesand the conspirators dared not execute their sion of Piedmont. The Waldenses hoped that design. The list of names of these wretches they would be allowed the same rights as the was produced in court at Turin, but the govern- Romanists. Vain hope! Victor-Emanuel re. ment did not institute a judicial prosecution : turned with a numerous company of Jesuits and fearing, apparently, to involve many priests in bishops; he had for his confessor a disciple of this frightful conspiracy !

Loyola. These priests persuaded the prince In 1797 the Waldenses obtained some con- that the laws of the French government were cessions. But what were these? They were anti-catholic and wicked, that they ought to allowed to have physicians of their own religion. restore the old order of things, and that the They were promised protection against the Romish religion must alone prevail. taking away of their children, and a diminution It is easy to imagine the surprise, the grief

, of part of the taxes with which they were the consternation of the Waldenses, wheu, loaded. They had leave, lastly, to repair their by a royal edict, they were put back prechurches, and even to enlarge them, if this was cisely in the state where they were fifteen

judged absolutely necessary. This is all! No years before. After having enjoyed liberty, real liberty; no equality of rights between they again became slaves! The iron poke them and the Roman Catholics; all the prohi- which had oppressed their fathers, weighed

« PreviousContinue »