Page images
PDF
EPUB

HYMN FROM SONG OF SOLOMON,

Then shall inine arm embrace thee,

My love, my reconciled;
Then on my throne I'll place thee,
My dove, my undefiled-
Rejoice! rejoice!"

A. R. C.

THE BELOVED.

99

A BIBLE CONVERT. “ To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet, To smooth the ice, or add another hue Unto the rainbow, or with taper light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess."

SHAKESPEARE.

The bride is sitting lonely,

In the absence of her Lord; This cheers her heart this onlyHis bosom-treasured word,

“I quickly come. She trims her lamp to meet him,

And clasps her garments white, And thus prepares to greet him, Soon as he comes in sight,

To fetch her home.
Pure, faithful, love-inspiring,

Her spirit she adorns,
In holiness attiring;
A lily among thorns,

She blooms alone.
The world that lies beneath her

Has not a charm for her; Beyond the Mounts of Bether, 'l he fragrant hills of myrrh,

Her heart is gone. She sighs for his appearing,

Through the long shadowy night, His nuptial chaplet wearing, Bringing her joy and light

To earth again.
She lifts her eyes to heaven,

Those dove-like virgin eyes,
And longs to see it riven,
And her Day-star arise,

Healing all pain.
Yet through her night of watching,

Her vigil dark and long,
A beam from glory catching,
She pours her hopeful song-

Her turtle's strain.
Beloved, my heart is waking,

Help me to watch and pray!
Till, morning lustre breaking,
I rise and come away,

By thee embraced.
“ See on the mountains leaping,

How the young hart is fleet; Oh! thus to end my weeping, Swift be thy beauteous feet:

Make haste! make haste!" And does her Lord forget her,

While dwelling thus apart?
No! he hath fondly set her
A seal upon his heart,

In suffering traced.
“Wait on, hope on, my fairest,

The marriage-feast is nigh; Soon ev'ry grief thou bearest And ev'ry cloud shall fly,

At my glad voice.

AFTER a public service, on a week evening, several years ago, while walking from the place of worship, with part of my family, I was accosted rather hastily by one of my congregation, who called me aside, and told me there was a neighbour at a little distance who bad a daughter very ill, and in so distressing a state of mind that they knew not what to do for her or with her; and that he had obtained permission for me to pay a visit to the cottage. “I will. go,” said I,“ with you immediately."

We, therefore, directed our course to the house, and though my strength was somewhat exhausted, and I was faint and languid, it being in the height of summer, yet I entered the afflicted cottage with readiness, and with a deep feeling of interest in the case of the young woman, with whom and her connections my companion had made me somewhat acquainted in the course of our walk. I learnt before I reached the neat little garden in front of their dwelling, that the parents, who were doatingly fond of their daughter, were decent churchgoing people, who maintained a fair character in the humble line of life in which they moved, but that there was little reason to think they knew anything of spiritual religion. “Well," said I, “then there the more room for us to try what can be done for them, as well as for their child. Perhaps if our visit is not blessed of God to the one, it may be to the other." And with this we entered the house. We were immediately ushered into a little back chamber, where I saw, as soon as the door was opened, the sickly daughter, seated in an old chair, and propped up by pillows; the mother, an active woman of about five-and-forty, endea. vouring to persuade her child to take some little refreshment, which she was offering her. The young woman appeared about the

age

of eighteen, a fine interesting girl, with that peculiar beauty of complexion, softness of feature, and glassiness of the eye, which are the frequent attendants of consumption, and which, in the

present case, were all heightened in their effect by the hectic flush on her cheeks, and the great ardour of feeling which in each feature seemed to be labouring for expression,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

66

I soon seated myself beside the sufferer, in that there was not something excessive and unwhose agitated face I saw, in an instant, the necessary in her daughter's grief. deep and strong workings of the soul within. My dear mother does not understand it," * Pray," said I,“ take the refreshunent your said the afflicted girl: “she does not know what mother offers, and I will talk to you after- I feel-she does not know what an evil heart I wards.”—“Oh, no," said she, “I want not this have;” and with that she gave a deep and con-I want to know what will become of my poor vulsive sigh, which seemed to tell me that the soul-Can I be saved ?-Oh, what shall I do to burden of her sin was too heavy for her feeble be saved l-I am a sinner-Oh, I shall die, and nature. “O is there salvation? Is there any I know I shall be lost !- Is there mercy?” hope for me? Do tell me, for you are a minis

These questions were put in a manner that ter-may I expect to go to heaven? I want to words cannot describe; nor, if they could, hear of mercy.” would it be understood adequately by those I now found myself called upon to perform who have never witnessed similar scenes. the most delightful part of a Christian minisThey were marked by simplicity, sincerity, and ter's work—to speak of the unsearchable riches ardour. For a few minutes I was overcome, of Christ to a soul that longed to possess them. and sat with my heart and eyes so full that II said some few things about sin, the holiness durst not attempt to speak till I had recovered of God, the worth of the soul; but I found my command of my feelings.

young friend was so alive to all these, that it By any brother minister, accustomed to weep was needless to add anything, and that all she and mourn over the insensibility and want of wanted was to be directed to the Lamb of God. emotion among his hearers, and in the Church I opened the doctrine of the Saviour, and spoke at large, I shall be well understood, when I say, of the great salvation. I endeavoured to exalt these inquiries were so strange to my ears, and the grace of the mighty Deliverer, and I saw the manner in which they were put so touching the poor convinced sufferer drinking in my to my heart, that I felt carried back to those words with an eagerness and a joy that I shall times when the hearers of the apostles were never forget. “Oh !” said she, as I told her

pricked in their hearts, and cried out, Men and of a Saviour's love," that's what I want, that 21 brethren, what shall we do? I had not been pre- is exactly what I have been seeking, and nobody

pared for such a scene. I had not expected about me could tell me of it." such strong and decisive marks of the inward It may easily be supposed that I did not quit and striving power of God's Spirit; and I found the subject till I had imparted some few myself sinking into a sort of mazy reverie, al. glimpses of spiritual comfort to her anxious most like a man lightly stunned, wondering beart, Long I spoke, and spoke with unutterwhat it could mean, or ready to chide myself able delight; and longer I should have spoken, for yielding so readily to an impulse or par- but I found the heat of a small sick chamber, oxysm of emotion, which, in too many former on a summer's evening, with several persons in cases of apparent conviction, have proved delu- it, without any access of fresh air; the agitation sive, by inspiring hopes I had never seen of my own feelings, together with the exhausted realized. This latter thought checked the flow state in which I had entered the apartment—all of joyful emotion I had felt, and calmed me admonishing me that I had forgotten the lapse down to a state of mind better adapted to the of time, and must soon withdraw. The tears discharge of the solemn duty to which I was of an overflowing joy were now falling from the now called.

eyes of the interesting young sufferer, and when "My dear creature,” I heard the mother ex- I turned to look at my friend, who sat by me, I claim, just as I began again to apply my mind saw that smile of delight shining through tears to the situation of the daughter, “My dear of sympathy, which bespeaks a heart dilated creature, don't take on so; you know you have and elevated beyond its ordinary sphere. I been a very good girl; why should you be so then took up a Bible which lay on the table, distressed ? Indeed, sir,” turning to me, “ she and read a portion of Scripture; after which has always been a good child; read her Bible, we lifted up our hearts in solemn and earnest and kept from all wicked company: I can't prayer for divine grace, to enable the afflicted think what she means by being in such distress.” young woman to commit her spirit into the “Ah !" said I, “ I am glad to see it; she feels hand

of Jesus the Saviour. She entered with she is very ill and dying, and she ought to be great interest and emotion into every petition concerned above all things for the salvation of which was put up on her behalf, and expressed, her soul. My good woman, she will find com- at parting, great delight in the seasonable truths fort, and you ought to rejoice to see her so eager which had been unfolded to her. As I and my for salvation; it does my heart good, I so sel- friend withdrew, she said, with much earnestdom see anything like it."

ness, “ I hope you will come and see me again With that the mother seemed a little abashed, very soon.” “Yes, certainly,” said I," it will and sat down quietly in a chair on the other give me pleasure to come and talk more to you side of the fire-place, but with all the tender about the Saviour's love. We then left the feelings of a mother who could scarce believe house.

“ This,” said I to my companion, “ is a very From this period I renewed my visits, at 1 striking, a very interesting case; I think I never short intervals, for the space of about a fortmet with one more so.” “ Yes,” said he, “it night, during which time her disorder had is-it is one of those cases in which God seems rapidly gained upon her. After about ten or to have worked without human means; for she twelve days from my first visit, I found her no has certainly had no teacher but the BIBLE. I more seated in the old elbow chair. The task have known her from her childhood, and am of rising, even for a short space, became too almost confident she has never heard a Gospel much, and she was confined to her bed. In sermon; for nothing like it has been preached all my visits I observed but little variation in in our village church since her friends resided the frame of her mind. She had occasionally! here; and I am sure, from the knowledge I have some fears lest she had prematurely seized on of them, they would not have allowed her to consolation, and would often ask me, with a attend at the meeting.house, nor would they kind of astonishment, resembling the starts of now have admitted you to see her, but for the one waking from diseased dreams, “May I be great distress of her mind, and her wish to see sure that Christ is willing to save me! Do soine person that could speak to her on reli- you think I shall be accepted ?" And then gion." “Ah!" said I, “thus is the word of she would cry out, “ O Lord, I long to be in God fulfilled : ‘I will take one of a family, and heaven, to see Jesus; and to know that my sins two of a city, and bring them unto Zion.' are forgiven.”

After a little more such conversation, we As I renewed my interviews, it became eviparted, and I retired to my home, filled with dent that she could not long survive. Her admiration of the power and grace of God, strength was wasting fast, so that she could which had called, as by his own immediate bear to hear or speak but for a few minutes. voice, this young woman, in a situation where Her breathing became increasingly difficult; she was little likely ever to have been brought cold and clain my sweats, and then violent and to a sense of spiritual things; while scores, or burning paroxysms of fever, succeeded each it may be hundreds, of my own flock, who had other alinost without intermission. Two or for years been listening to all the great and three times I took an affectionate farewell, exgracious truths of the Gospel, were yet unaf. pecting to see her no more alive. Yet she was fected with a sense of their own danger, and always cheerful and confident. Her faith was destitute of a saving faith in Christ. The case tried, but it was strengthened. Occasionally dwelt much upon my mind, and the more I she seemed to think that the grace I had anthought, the more I wondered at what I had nounced to her was almost too much to be seen, and wished to know what would be the expected-too great to be true; yet, still

, when issue.

the authority of God himself was pleaded, and It will be inferred that it was not long before the words of Scripture were quoted, she would i I renewed my visit. The next day I was greet- say: "Well, I will believe. O Lord, help me ed by the mother with a smile. “O, sir, you to believe." have done my dear Sally so much good !-she The friend who had introduced me to the has been quite a different creature ever since family had even more frequent opportunities you spoke to her. I cannot think why she than myself of seeing the sufferer. Scarce a should have been so distressed, and so afraid of day passed without either the one or the other not being saved. But she is now more com- of us spending some time by her bed-side, and fortable; pray walk up and see her.” I was I think I may say we both saw the working of soon by the side of this interesting young crea- the Lord's hand most clearly revealed, and ture, and saw a countenance greatly changed both found the scene replete with salutary infrom what I had beheld the night before. She struction to our own minds. spoke cheerfully of her hope, and rapturously In little more than a fortnight after I first saw of the love of Christ. I now entered more her, my friend called me, rather suddenly, to fully into an examination of the state of her come to her for the last time. He said she could feelings than I had done on the preceding not live, it was thought, many hours. I basted evening. I found that she had been over- to the apartment, where I found her parents and whelmed with those views of the divine purity, friends overwhelmed with grief. She was pant. and the evil of sin, which the Word of Goding hard for breath; the heat of the season contains, and that, for some time past, during and oppression of the atmosphere made her which her complaint had been gaining ground, sufferings indeed great. She could scarcely be she had been reading the Scriptures privately, kept from fainting, and had said but little for and, through the teaching of God's Spirit, had many hours. But when I approached her, and felt her heart smitten and

wounded by an in spoke, she looked up at me, and then said : " I visible but mighty hand. That same hand had

am very near my end. O my sufferings are .. now led her to Calvary, and there she looked indeed great; but Jesus is my hope_he is my up with a believing cye to Him who bore the salvation. I a mwaiting, and longing, and shall sins of his people. In short, she was now re

soon see his glory.” Then she sunk down, joicing as one that findeth great spoil.

unable to support further exertion. I con

RUSSIA AND THE GREEK CHURCH.

249

The pro

[ocr errors]

tinued to point her hope to the realms of im- maintained in both communions; and, as a mortality. She made frequent signs of delight matter of consistency, both hold the efficacy ex and satisfaction in the blessed truths of the opere operato of the sacraments. Gospel, and several times, by brief and low On the other hand, the Greek Church favourwhispers, for her voice was now scarcely audi-ably differs from her Roman sister in the reble, testified her firin reliance on the grace of jection of that cruel and profitable instrument the Mediator. Once more I commended her of priestly power, the pretended sacrament of to Him who had made affliction so profitable to extreme unction; in allowing the elements of her soul; and when I took my leave, she ex- both kinds to the laity in the celebration of the pressed, once for all, the delightful satisfaction eucharist; in strongly testifying against the docshe felt in the prospect of being speedily trine of purgatory; and in so far modifying the released from sin and suffering, and admitted practice of image-worship as to allow only the to the presence of the Lord Jesus. She con- use of paintings in her churches. tinued, through part of the night, to suffer much hibition to marry, which has been so deadly a bodily anguish, and to labour hard with the fountain of immorality in the Romish Church, dreadful disease which was rapidly destroying does not extend in the Greek Church except to her lungs, but occasionally expressed to a Chris- the bishops. But the most important points of tian friend who remained with her the cheer- difference remain, and in these we see the germs ful and blessed hope of glory which filled her of hope and renovation to the Greek commusoul. It had dawned already, and at last it nion. 1. The free use of the Holy Scriptures by burst in its full light and lustre upon her en- the people; a practice ever discountenanced by raptured heart. She expired early in the the Church of Rome, except where expediency morning, full of faith and triumphant joy, has seemed to require a temporary relaxation

I am aware that the brief narrative I have of her rigour, but which is not only permitted, here presented, may appear to many by no but encouraged in the Greek communion. 2. The means extraordinary: and that similar cases, more evangelical character of her creeds and caas to the leading circumstances, may have techisms, which, however widely departed from occurred to others; nor should I have given it by many of her teachers, may yet afford legiti. publicity, but for the sake of one particular in mate ground of appeal. 3. And lastly, the indig. it, which specially interested myself. It ap- nant denial of the infallibility of the Roman ponpeared to me to be a signal display of the power tiff; a presumptuous and impious claim, which of that Word of the Lord which is perfect, the Greek Church has never in any period of converting the soul.”

It was a salvation her history set up for her own patriarch. Some effected withoứt the intervention of any of the of these points of difference may appear comordinary means, except the use of the Scrip- paratively trivial, but others are confessedly of tures; and it supplies an argument for the dis- such importance as to bring the Greek Church tribution of that Word of life, which is frequently many degrees nearer to those of the Reformathe silent but powerful instrument of saving tion, and to make evident the utter unfairness the souls of men.

of classing the two Churches together, as equalTo ministers who know what it is to labour ly hopeless and apostate, and banding them in a for months, perhaps for years, with but little or common condemnation. There appears to our no evidences of success, I shall be understood mind to be a gulf-would it were wider !when I say, this sudden and interesting occur between them. The Church of Rome is like rence had upon me the effect of a powerful the leprous house, every stone of which must stimulus, and a sweet refreshment. In the be taken down; the Greek is like a tree, many midst of hard laboursand numerous discourage- of whose thickest branches are indeed rotten ments, it seemed to smile upon the dreariness and dead, and must be lopped off, but whose of my path, like a solitary rose upon a heath, roots yet strike down into a favourable soil, and and though that rose was now withered, its in whose stem there yet flow some of the juices fragrance long remained behind.

of a diviner life. There is hope concerning this tree, that “with the scent of water it will yet

bud and flourish.” May it not be affirmed that RUSSIA AND THE GREEK CHURCH.

the disease in the one is organic and incurable, BY THE REV. A. THOMSON, A.B., EDINBURGH.

but in the other functional? So, at least, thought

Philip Melancthon, who, while denouncing the In their ecclesiastical constitution, in their Church of Rome, with an indignation that monastic establishments, as well as in many of stirred even his mild nature; held friendly and their forms of worship, the Greek and Romish hopeful correspondence with some of the digniChurches bear a very close resemblance to each taries in the Eastern Churches. The absurdity of transubstantiation

In like manner, the history of the Greek is held in common. The invocation of the Church, when compared with that of Rome, Virgin and the saints, as well as image-worship, presents similar points of resemblance and of are practised by both with an almost equally contrast, so as, on the whole, to present fewer of abject superstition. Sacerdotal absolution is the features of Antichrist. Most of our readers

I other.

are aware that the final separation between youth, had more than once stooped to these these two Churches took place about the middle humiliating indignities, at length revolted at such of the ninth century. Beginning in a theological infatuated assumptions, and be determined to controversy about the well-known phrase filioque | level with the dust the rival dignity. The greater in the Nicene Creed, it was consummated by a portion of its rich endowments were wrestat struggle for power between the pope of Rome from the grasp of the Church. The patriarchale and the patriarch of Constantinople the highest was abolished, and the Holy Synod, consisting ecclesiastic of the East. For some centuries after of twelve ecclesiastical dignitaries, substituti the introduction of the Greek faith into Russia, in its stead. The Empress Catherine II. comthis patriarch appointed the Metropolitan pleted what Peter had begun; the power of the Bishop of Russia. But at length, when Con- Iloly Synod was declared subject to the control stantinople, the seat of the Eastern patriarchate, of the throne, its decisions were henceforth to fell into the hands of the Mussalmans, and be emitted in the name of the czar, while the thereby was shorn of much of its ancient immovable property of the clergy and Church splendour, the pride of Russia would no longer being appropriated to the crown, they were re submit to receive her patriarch from such duced to a state of poverty, and fettered by hands. Accordingly, in a council held at Moss bonds which now give her right to complain, in cow in 1589, the Pontiff of Constantinople was her turn, of the encroachments and insults of constrained to place at the head of the Russian the civil power. The step from Hildebrandis Church and nation an independent patriarch to Erastianism, though seemingly violent, is yet in the person of the Metropolitan of Moscow. natural and retributive. The Greek Church From that time till the reign of Peter the Great which had sat as a queen, and fared sumptuousis ---that is, for a period of considerably more than every day, is now a degraded vassal and mera hundred years—we behold a succession of en- dicant, destined, we trist, to learn, in the bittercroachments on the legitimate province of the ness of her bonds, those lessons which she recivil ruler, and a restless and insatiable grasping fused to learn on the lap of luxury, and in thi at the wealth and honours of the empire, seat of power.* bearing in many respects so close and literal a But while the historic resemblance betwert resemblance to what had already been enacted the two Churches has been so close in this in the Roman Church, that we seem, in perusing respect, there is another important featur the history of these patriarchal usurpations, to in which it is pleasing to think the Green have stumbled by mistake on a volume of the Church comes out more favourably from the conIlistory of the Popes.

parison--I refer to the fact of its more tolerant Revenues flowed into the treasury of the spirit towards the meinbers of other Churche Greek Church, from earth and sea-from the | This may in part arise from the circumstane marts of commerce and from the courts of that neither its patriarch nor its Holy Spoon justice. In many of the departments of law, has ever put forth the arrogant claim of inthe bishops claimed exclusive jurisdiction; mo- fallibility, or denied that salvation may be nastery and hospital, monk and midwife, phy- obtained without the pale of her own com sician and usurer, yea, the very weights and munion. No doubt, as we shall have immedia: measures of the empire, were placed under epis- occasion to show, there have not been wantis copal superintendence. Not content with the the less severe forms of intolerance; but when riches conferred on them by royal favour, or by we are drawing a comparison between her ari royal fear, they employed all the terrors of the her Roman sister, it is something to be able to world to come at.the death-beds of the opulent, say that she has never persecuted unto the death, feeding the fatal imagination that great riches and that while Rome has ascended to powit might procure exemption from the punishment over the graves of martyrs and confessors, 2n of great sins, and that the transgressions of a sought to extinguish truth in the blood of in life might be counterbalanced by a dying be friends, she can stand, though not with unde quest to a monastery. Even the statutes of the filed, at least with bloodless hands. The Churc? realm were sent forth not only with the name history of the East tells of no St Bartholo of the czar, but “ according to the benediction mew's eve; nor did the Greek Church, even in of our Father the Patriarch of Moscow and of all her wildest hour of arrogant usurpation, imagine Russia.” At length the ecclesiastical chair threw to herself that most atrocious engine of myste its shadow over the imperial throne, and the rious deaths and lingering tortures-the Inczar was beheld doing homage to the patriarch.quisition. The patriarch rode on Palm-sunday in proces. And yet it must be conceded that, even in sion through the city, and the czar led the horse this respect, the difference between Rome and on which he was seated. On the feast of All Russia, between the College of Cardinals and Saints the patriarch dined with the czar, and the Holy Synod, is one rather of degreus the latter stood at the table and served him! than of essence; for the very imperfect tolera

These were monstrous usurpations, and the tion which prevails throughout the Russian hour of righteous retribution at length arrived. empire, growing out of no sound or enlightened The bold spirit of Peter the Great, who, in his

* Conder-Pinkerton.

« PreviousContinue »