« AnteriorContinuar »
The Church lives above the world, and the clergy at the top of the Church; they are, or should be, the eye, the head, the heart, the lungs of that never-dying body of Christ, “ the Church of the Living God.”
These are the men that have to do with the Bible. They are especially Bible-men. But their object is not to monopolize, but to diffuse. They are enriched by giving. By scattering they in crease. Freely they have received, they freely give. It is the essence of their office to make known the truths of the Bible. But a grand
auxiliary is the reading of the Book of God. Books can be multiplied, though divines who labour in the word and doctrine may be rare. But in this the clergy cannot alone supply the millions who need; they therefore engage the nation to join in this “work of faith and labour of love." My paper reminds me that I have already written too much, though I have much more to say; but must with earnest prayer for the diffusion of Scripture and Scripture truth, and your success, remain yours in the Lord,
LETTER FROM AN ABSENT PASTOR TO HIS FLOCK.
, 1845. a way in which there was little deDEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD, mand upon my strength, of speakAND FOR THE LORD'S SAKE, -Since ing the truth to many sinners, and I left you, I have, be assured, not to not a few saints, and not withforgotten you. I may truly say out testimony that the Lord himyou are never long out of my self has been with us. thoughts; greatly desiring that, as And even this is far from being a part of the chosen and redeemed all the claims upon our praise and family of God, you may be filled gratitude. I trust we have enjoy. with his Spirit, and satisfied with ed something of his presence which his love; that you may grow in is better than life, and known grace and in the knowledge of a somewhat of Phil. iv. 7,-“ And blessed Saviour, even the Lord the peace of God which passeth Jesus Christ who is our hope; yea, all understanding shall keep your that you may grow up into Christ hearts and minds through Christ in all things, in the experience of Jesus." Oh, how needful is it his infinite worth, in submission to from time to time, when the Lord his will, and obedience to his com- himself opens the door and gives mands.
us power to enter, to withdraw Beloved brethren and sisters in from the outward circle and go Christ-much goodness and mercy within. I am quite assured, behave followed us since we have loved friends, that it is no uncombeen here. All that kindness on mon case for a man to be usefully the part of Christian friends, and and honourably employed for God quiet and retirement, and a plea in the Church and in the world, sant country could give, we have to be looked up to, to be flattered had. But this has been the least and highly thought of, and in the of our blessings. We have had midst of it all to be dry, barren, some opportunities, in a quiet way, unctionless, powerless, and all for want of retiring into this inner my God and Father; to dwell upon circle.
his love, his unutterable, free, most Casual observers may not per- gracious, most sovereign, most un. ceive it; superficial eyes may not deserved love; to have real tran. detect it; but he is, in some degree sactions with God in his love; and at least, (and a mercy is it when how can this be if there be no he is,) conscious of it; close walk withdrawment from all things and ers with God suspect that it is so all persons, to be alone with God with him, but the heart-searching himself? God knows it altogether.
It was said of Lord Anson, that I do not mean by this retiring he went round the world, but knew from the world such a withdraw. nothing of the world; may it never ment as that I am now enjoying, be said of you and of me, that in for that to some of you is quite the course of regular duties, we go impossible; and that which is out round about the Lord, but do not of the power of a saint of God to really, yea, intimately, know the possess can never be essential to Lord himself; and in order to this, his true spirituality; what I mean we must be much, yea, often, with is, the having some time, however him. small the period may be, for posi- In looking over my letter, I seem tive withdrawment from all things to have dwelt much upon one point. around—the being actually alone But it is one to which my mind has with God, and knowing it and been much led. I think that I have feeling it.
seen some of the evils of its not I am aware that there are great being duly considered in the state difficulties in the way of some on of others; I am quite sure I have this point: but much more may be suffered many of them for the done than is done; and I believe, same cause in my own. where the Lord sees the soul really Beloved in the Lord, we shall panting after this real withdraw soon be in the land of rest-we ment from things outward, in order shall soon be with Him whom we to be alone with himself, he opens love; whether all go to him, or he unexpected doors, or if he do not comes to us, to be with Him is the that, gives such power of with blessing of eternity. drawment in the very midst of Oh! to live for this! I hope engagements, as shall be surprising that I can say-this is after all the to ourselves, and afford us cause language of my heart—the desire for ceaseless gratitude. Secret of my soul—"This one thing I prayer is an immense blessing; we do.” It is my heart's desire for shall never know entirely and fully you also. how great the blessing is, which is The Lord—the Spirit-make the connected with it, till we, through ministry, the lip, the life, more full grace, reach the land where prayer of it. is no more needed. But great as Nothing else is really worth it is, it is not all that is conveyed living for. A dying minister was to us by this secret withdrawment. known to say when he came to In prayer I pour out my heart to die, “ Brother, in looking back, I God, as I feel and all that I feel; am ready to say, we seem but but in order that I feel aright-feel half awake !'” And is it not what I should feel--I require to be really so? really with God to be with him May He quicken us, who, as as my God-my God in Christ the second Adam, is the quickening NOVEMBER—1845.
spirit of his Church-quicken us by the Spirit, be felt, known, expehis Spirit, and in the Spirit. rienced, lived on, and lived out.
I bear you much upon my heart Pray that, as the weakness and before a throne of grace. Brethren, infirmities of age come on, there pray for me ; ceaselessly, importu- may be deeper spirituality, more nately, hopefully, as the Spirit of mental vigour, more vital strength grace and supplication shall help -less of the world and self-more you. Some of you prayed for me of Jesus, more of God, more living when I was young and full of beneath the cross, more living in vigour; pray the more for me now the cross, more taking up the cross. that I am no more young, but Ever, ever, believe me, dear and grey-headed in the work and ser- precious and beloved in the Lord, vice of the Gospel. Pray that all Yours most tenderly its glorious doctrines, promises,
and affectionately, and precepts, may, by the power of
It may be truly said, that the beauty great extent, at least, are what the of religious profession shines the master or the mistress is. The brightest through the faithful and fault in servants is very traceable conscientious discharge of the rela- to some fault in their employers. tive and social duties of life. If I have been led into these rethere be any serious defect here, it marks by two instances in point, dims the light that has to shine which have lately come before me. before men, and in so doing fails to know a lady who had lately glorify our Father which is in occasion to engage a nurse. Two heaven. And yet how little is this young women offered themselves, matter practically regarded; and both with good characters: the how many, even sincere and serious, one plain and neat, and tidy in her Christians, unwittingly perhaps to dress and general appearance; the themselves, are living in some other in her silk gown and satin habitual, but grievous neglect of mantilla, with her ringlets interduty.
mixing with her artificial flowers In no department of duty per- beneath her bonnet. Will it be haps is this more conspicuous than believed that the lady, though conin the treatment of servants. There sidered a truly religious person, and is a growing and general complaint, making a profession of serious and that servants are not what they scriptural religion, did not hesitate once were, and that difficulties to engage the latter, and to confess regarding them are seriously in afterwards to a friend, that she did creasing ; but it may be truly said, not hesitate to do so “because she that as pupils are very much what was such a handsome dresser."* the teacher is, so servants, to a I fear this is no isolated case. I
* If ladies thus act in the choice of servants, how can we wonder they are come to such a pass as the following fact exemplifies : a lady was requested by her cook, who had recently come into her service, to have leave of absence one evening; assigning as a reason, that she had to go to a dance in the town, and was engaged to lead off the Polka!!
fear there are many inconsiderate mistresses who regard it as a fea. ther in their own cap to have their servants dressing well. How can they shut their eyes to the certain consequences ? How can they wonder if the habits of pilfering are formed to support such an expense ; or at any disgraceful entanglement into which such vanity may lead ?
And let any Christian lady picture to herself the unmerited disappointment of the discarded candidate. I know what were her feelings, and how properly she expressed herself on the occasion. There was no anger or ill-nature; but there was heartfelt surprise, that a lady professing godliness could possibly act in such a manner. What a stumbling block, what a scandal was thus presented! What a discouragement to a young female, sincerely and practically endeavouring to fulfil her baptismal vow, and to renounce the pomps and vanities of this wicked world! What a shameful and intolerable act of Christian inconsistency, that the flaunty-dressing, giddy, young servant should be preferred, because of her vanity, and go to her place triumphing over her whose coveted and valued adorning was that of a meek and quiet spirit. Oh! that Christian ladies would lay these things to heart. You have a solemn responsibility in the servants en trusted to your care. There may be many a case where we cannot check a growing evil as effectually as we could wish; but, at all events, it should be your care and study not to encourage it.
It can only minister to a carnal mind to have all as dressy and vain below stairs as it is above. And “to be carnally minded is death.” Yes, let the profession of religion be ever so high, and the knowledge of religion ever so extensive, and the
desire to be identified only with religious characters ever so ardent, “to be carnally minded is death.” And as the tree is known by its fruits, so the carnal mind is known by its tendencies and doings. How sad it is, that even amongst professors there may be the plague spots of death! What need to pray that we may see if there be any wicked way in us, and that we may indeed be led in the way everlasting.
Another somewhat similar case lately came before me. A friend of mine happened to meet the old coachman of the late Lady “ Well, John,” she said, “ you have lost a kind, good mistress ?” “ Yes, ma'am, my lady was very good to us all, and we had need feel her loss.” “ Yes, John, but in higher things I mean ; you had great religious advantages in her service.” “ As for that, ma'am, my lady took vast good care of her own soul, but very little of mine. I lived nine years with her, and in that time I never once got to a place of worship on a Sunday. I had to drive my lady three times every Sunday to her church; and with my horses to see after, it was not possible that I could get myself.”
I knew Lady well. I had watched the integrity and general consistency of her walk for a long period. I had often referred to her as a striking instance of the power of divine grace, which enabled her, amidst high family connexions and peculiar difficulties, to continue steadfast in the fellowship of the Gospel ; and all that I had known of Lady - would have led me to conclude that such a fact was utterly impossible. But how sadly mistaken was this venerable saint in such a practice! If it had ever been faithfully put before her, I am sure that she would have at once seen the impropriety of this spiritual monopoly, and have been thankfully content to restrict here self to two meals on the Sabbath, that her servant might have one. But the thing never occurred to her, and in her ardent longings after the courts of God's house, and her own enjoyment of Christian privileges there, she lost sight of the manifest duty owing to her domestic.
How many similar cases exist in London, as well as elsewhere. Oh! that heads of families would duly consider the duty owing to their household. The Sabbath is the servant's privilege as well as the master's. What a striving then should there be to equalize the privilege as far as possible ; to diminish work, so as to give servants the opportunity of improving the Sabbath hours for their souls' growth in grace.
If there be any serious, scriptural reflection, one would think it impossible that a Christian could have any peace or happiness within the walls of the sanctuary, while his servants are without. There is something diseased and un
healthy in that appetite which can be running after distant churches for self advantage, to the robbing even of one servant of his Sabbath due. The master or the mistress incurs a fearful responsibility, in getting their own gain at their servants' loss.
The Christian's resolution should be not only to serve God himself, but to have his whole household serving him also. “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Oh! that the reproach could never apply to real Christians, “What do ye more than others ?” We want more of practical religion. Sins and infirmities will always have to be lamented; but still we long to see Christian families aiming at practical, daily, consistent, habitual godliness. Let us ever remember, that the ordinances of religion are only the means to the attainment of an end, and not the end itself; and that they prove valueless, and a dead letter to us, however they may advance us in knowledge, if they are not carrying us forward into the details of social and relative duty.
HYMN FOR THE SICK AND SORROWFUL. THY terrors, Lord, at last I know-, Remember what the sum it cost, The bed of sickness, grief, and To make one child of darkness pain;
thine! And thou alone, who laid'st me low, Can'st raise me up to health again. Oh! bring the blood by Jesus shed,
With hyssop purge my guilty soul; The dews of death my forehead Here, wash my hands, my feet, my steep,
head The worm prepares his work within; Nay, cleanse my heart, and make Yet not for pangs like these I weep
me whole ! To me “the sting of death is sin.”
Reproach and murmur bid me cease, O Lord, and shall a soul be lost? To heav'n the thorny path approve, O God, and must that soul be Confess thy rod the pledge of peace, mine?
Thy chastisement the bond of love!