Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE CHARACTER OF A CHRISTIAN IN PARADOXES

AND SEEMING CONTRADICTIONS. A CHRISTIAN is one who believes things which his reason cannot comprehend; who hopes for that which neither he nor any man ever saw; who labours for that he knows he can never attain, yet, in the issue, his belief appears not to have been false. Hope makes him not ashamed. Labour is not in vain.

He believes Three to be One, and One to be Three; the Father not to be older than His Son, and the Son to be equal with His Father, and One proceeding from Both to be fully equal to Both.

He believes in one nature Three Persons, and in One Person two natures.

He believes a Virgin to have been a mother, and her Son to be her Maker.

He believes Him to be born in time who was from everlasting, and Him to be shut up in a narrow room whom heaven and earth could never contain.

He believes Him to have been a weak child carried in arms who is the Almighty, and Him to have died who only hath life and immortality in Himself.

He believes the God of all grace to have been angry with One who never offended Him, and that the God that hates all sin reconciled him to Himself, though sinning continually, and never making or being able to make Him satisfaction.

He believes the most just God to have punished a most innocent Person, and to have justified himself, though a most ungodly sinner.

He believes himself freely pardoned, and yet that a sufficient satisfaction is paid for him.

He believes himself to be precious in God's sight, yet he loathes himself in his own sight.

He dares not justify himself even in those things wherein he knows no fault in himself; yet he believes God accepts even those services wherein himself is able to find

many

faults. He praiseth God for His justice, and fears Him for His mercies.

He is so ashamed that he dare not open his mouth before God, yet comes with boldness to God, and asks anything he needs.

He is so humble as to acknowledge himself to deserve nothing but evil; yet so confident as to believe God means him all good.

He is one that fears always, and yet is bold as a lion.

He is often sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; often complaining, yet always giving of thanks.

He is the most lowly-minded, yet the greatest aspirer; most contented, yet ever craving.

He bears a lofty spirit in a mean condition; and when he is aloft, thinks meanly of himself.

He is rich in poverty, and poor in the midst of riches.

He believes all the world to be his, yet dares take nothing without special leave.

He covenants with God for nothing, yet looks for the greatest reward.

He loses his life, and gains by it; and even while he loses it, he saves it.

He lives not to himself, yet of all others is most wise for himself.

.

THE NEW YEAR. The Lord bless thee, and keep thee from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”_NUMBERS vi. 24; DEUTERONOMY xi. 12. It is a solemn thought that we are daily and hourly hastening to the end of our mortal life ; and our commencing another year seems more forcibly to remind us of this, and the solemnity and importance of the fact appear for the time to increase. The past we look back upon, but feel we cannot recall it; it has fled into eternity. The future we know nothing about; it is the Lord's. The present only is ours—the present moment-but that, too, is fled ere we can call it our own.

But, whilst we think of the past year, and try to pray the Lord to forgive the sins of omission as well as those of commission which we have been guilty of, the remembrance of which may cause us to weep before Him, we desire also to thank Him for all His mercy, for we must acknowledge it has been "rich in mercy, though “poor in grace.” For every temporal blessing we have received, our daily food and raiment, our home and friends, all demand our heartfelt gratitude, and this we desire and pray the Lord to help us to give. But yet we feel there have been blessings greater than these, even spiritual blessings; and we would bless Him for every glimpse of His dear face, for every visit of His love, and for every longing desire we have had after Him.

These are blessings that will last for ever, and a greater share of which we ask for the future—for this New Year.

May it be indeed "A Happy New Year" to all who love the Lord, and may that happiness consist in knowing and loving Him more, that our hearts may daily burn with greater love to Him who has so loved us, greater love to Christians, and greater love to our poor fellow-creatures who are destitute of God's love manifestively. And oh, that the dear sent servants of the Lord may so grow in grace and in likeness to their divine Master that, as He wept over Jerusalem, they too may weep, pray, and yearn over perishing sinners! Oh, that they may, by the help and teaching of the Holy Spirit, be led more than ever to warn poor sinners of the awful consequences of living and dying in their sins, and point them to the only means of salvation—the Lord Jesus Christ—that, during this New Year, if the Lord's will, many in their congregations may be brought to know themselves as sinners, and Jesus Christ to be their Saviour, through their instrumentality

Speak well of Christ ; oh, lift Him high !
May power divine the Word apply

In quickening sinners dead :
Through you may many souls be bless'd ;
Hungry and thirsty

ones refreshed
With Christ, the Living Bread."
Oh, what an honour to be used of the Lord in proclaiming
His blessed Gospel—the glad tidings of God's grace to sinners !

There is generally much prayer upon entering a New Year. There seems so many things to ask the Lord for, and His goodness in the past ought to encourage us to ask largely for the future. May the Lord help us to pray in faith ; and oh, that

.; our greatest desire and chief request may be to“ grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,” that we may know more what it is to abide in Him, as the branch abides in the vine. The branch yields blossom and fruit, and does the tree credit by abiding in it. Oh, that we, too, may know more of this abiding in Christ, this child-like trust in Him, that we may bring forth fruit to His honour and glory! We cannot honour God the Father more than by loving and trusting in His Son (John xv. 8), for He loves His dear Son so much that He even loves those who love Him; or, since their love to Him is His own grace, He

says, because they love Him (John xiv. 21-23 ; xvi. 27). And the Lord Jesus, in His last conversation with His disciples, told them six times over that prayer offered in His name would be answered; for

grow in

[ocr errors]

“ How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

In God the Father's ear,
When sinners at His throne are found

Pleading that name so dear!" Then how full of meaning are the words of our dear Saviour, “ As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you”! Our poor finite minds seem hardly capable of grasping this blessed truth;

[ocr errors]

it is so great, so astonishing! Oh, for more love-more holy, ardent love—to Jesus Christ ! May His great love to us constrain us to love Him more and serve Him better serve Him with gladness (Psa. c. 2). Oh, that He may become more precious to us this New Year than ever before-yea, nearer and dearer to us than all besides !

Doctor Payson has supposed the various classes of Christians to be ranged in different concentric circles round Christ as their common centre. “Some value the presence of their Saviour so highly that they cannot bear to be at any remove from Him. Even their work they will bring up, and do it in the light of His countenance; and, while engaged in it, will be seen constantly raising their eyes to Him, as if fearful of losing one beam of His light. Others, who, to be sure, would not be content to live out of His presence, are yet less wholly absorbed by it than these, and may be seen a little further off, engaged here and there in their various callings, their eyes generally upon their work, but often looking up for the light which they love. A third class beyond these, but yet within the light-giving rays, includes a doubtful multitude, many of whom are so much engaged in their worldly schemes that they may be seen standing sideways to Christ, looking mostly the other way, and only now and then turning their faces towards the light.”

After reading this extract, who does not long to be amongst those who get nearest to Christ, who are in the innermost circle ? May the very consciousness of how far off we have lived only increase this desire. And surely those of us who have felt the most ignorant, helpless, and vile during the past year are the ones who really need to get nearest to Him this year, to receive of His wisdom, strength, and righteousness, that, as we have experienced “without Him we can do nothing," we may likewise experience, “through Christ strengthening us, we can do all things.”

The Lord does not bless seeking ones for their seeking, but they are often blessed in that exercise, while many who so loudly complain of their lack of grace and of ability to live more to the honour of the Lord, and who seem to charge all their want of fruitfulness to the Lord's withholding grace from them, suffer loss through sloth and carnal-mindedness, and of them it may truly be said, “Ye have not, because ye ask not" (James iv. 2). They are lively in seeking earthly treasure, because their heart is there (Luke xii. 34); and they are walking witnesses of that solemn truth, “ To be carnally minded is death” (Rom. viii. 6). Let us, therefore, seek to be continually “looking unto Jesus," looking into His lovely face, that His bright beams may be reflected upon us (Psa. xxxi. 16; xc. 17). Then, if we live throughout the year, this will make life happier, and its trials lighter; and, if we die, living very near to Jesus, it will make death easier.

May the Lord help us to watch and pray, to watch against overy, thing that hinders prayer, so that we may enjoy more sweet and constant communion with the Father and the Son, through the Holy Spirit,

“ With God may this New Year begin,

With Him each day be spent ;
For Him each fleeting hour improved,
Since each by Him is lent.”

A READER.

MEMOIR OF MARY OVERTON, OF PULVERBACH, NEAR SHREWSBURY, ONLY CHILD OF SUKEY

HARLEY. The life of Sukey Harley having been so widely circulated and read with so much interest, there is no doubt that some account of her only child will be acceptable to our readers. The following brief sketch of her inward life and experience was gathered from her own lips by Mr. Benson, of Pulverbach, in 1879, on her becoming a candidate for the pension of the Aged Pilgrims' Friend Society S

When very young, I had many thoughts about my soul, and would be at times much perplexed. My serious feelings wore off only to return. Once, when quite a child, I dreamt the day of judgment was come, and I saw the sheep divided from the goats. This produced great fear, and not long afterwards I dreamt again, and I saw the Lord Jesus Christ, who looked intently on me,

and said three times to me, “ Your name is written in heaven." These were only dreams, but they made a lasting impression on

me.

a

When about twelve years of age, I was exercised with a continual fear and threatening in my soul, which I have compared many times to Jeremiah xii. 12. I seemed to have experienced the very same that is there written, and I remember soon afterwards being powerfully impressed according to the words which seemed spoken to me, “I will bring you through with a sword.” I thought from these words I should be saved, but this followed me continually_" with a sword," and made me so afraid I could not take comfort from the thought.

I married early, and many troubles befell us. I used to feel that

my mother had the true religion. I often watched her going to some quiet place to pray. She was the same in private and before everybody, and used to be much concerned for my soul. If anything went wrong in our family, she would say, “Oh, Mary,

« PreviousContinue »