Imágenes de páginas

which nothing but interests of eternal moment could have originated. Not to speak of those who dedicated themselves to the preaching of the gospel, there were many in private life who expended everything they could spare from the bare support of life on the purchase of Bibles, and on every suitable occasion distributed them to the poor,-a gift, the value of which cannot be estimated without taking into consideration the scarcity and the immense price which in those days a single copy of the scriptures cost. But besides this excellent species of charity, which many of the wealthier Christians devised for themselves, there were others who voluntarily submitted to the most extraordinary sacrifices, with the generous view of bringing men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. One man, for instance, is recorded to have sold himself into the family of a heathen actor, and continued for years cheerfully performing the most servile offices, till, having been the honoured instrument of converting the husband and wife and whole family to Christianity, he received from the grateful corverts the reward of his liberty. And not long after, during a visit to Sparta, the same individual, learning that the governor of that city had fallen into dangerous errors, offered himself again as a slave, and continued for two years in that humble and ignominious situation, when his zealous efforts for the conversion of his master being crowned with fresh success, he was treated no longer as a servant, but a brother beloved in the Lord.

"Time would fail us 'to enumerate all the various channels through which the benevolence of the primitive Christians flowed. Some dedicated them. selves to the task of searching out desolate orphans, helpless widows, unfortunate tradesmen, and heathen foundlings,-in these times the most numerous class of unfortunates. Some carried their charity so far as to sit on the highways, or hire persons, whose office was to perambulate the fields for the purpose of directing wanderers, and especially benighted travellers, into the way; while others delighted to lead the blind, to succour the bruised, and to carry home such as were lame, maimed, and unable to walk.

[ocr errors]

Various were the sources whence the Christians drew the ample means necessary to enable them to prosecute so extensive a system of benevolence. The most steady and available fund was the common treasury of the church, which was supplied every Sabbath by the voluntary contributions of the faithful, and out of which there was a weekly distribution of alms to multitudes of widows, orphans, and old people, who were stated pensioners on her bounty. In cases of great or public calamity, fasts were appointed, which, by the saving effected in the daily expenses of all, even of the poor, were an approved and certain means of raising an extraordinary collection; and when that was found insufficient to meet the emergency, it not unfrequently happened, that the pastors sold or melted the gold and silver plate that had been presented to their churches for sacred purposes. Many persons, too, were in the habit of observing in private, quarterly, monthly, or weekly fasts, on which occasions they either took little food, or none at all, and transmitted the amount of their daily expenditure to the funds of the church, while others voluntarily bound themselves to set aside a tenth part of their income for the use of the poor, and placed it in like manner in the church's treasury. Besides, there were many wealthy individuals who, on their conversion to Christianity, from a spirit of ardent gratitude to the Saviour, sold their estates, and betaking themselves to manual labour, or to the preaching of the word, devoted the price of their property to benevolent purposes. Others, who gave up their patrimony to objects of Christian benevolence, chose to retain the management in their own hands,-as, for example, a rich merchant who, with part of his money, built a spacious house, and with the rest of it entertained all strangers travelling in his neighbourhood, took charge of the sick, supported the' aged and infirm, gave stated alms to the poor, and on every Saturday and



Sabbath caused several tables to be furnished for the refreshment of all who needed his bounty." Pp. 172, 173.

In these extracts, we trust we have laid some both profitable and interesting matter before our readers. Some few precious stones we have sought to gather from this strange and incongruous pile. Some few not unattractive flowers we have sought to cull out of a vast field of rank and noxious weeds. From such selections the student may derive profit; and even the private Christian, loving best to trace the records of those who, in different ages, have been found faithful to their Lord, will not peruse them altogether in vain.

[ocr errors]

It has been said, that in the earliest ages of the church, there were wooden chalices, and golden bishops;' but that subsequent centuries had reversed the picture; and then in the train of increasing wealth and degeneracy, there were golden chalices, but wooden bishops.' These antiquities of the Christian Church declare but too plainly, that this figurative antithesis has sad and sober truth for its foundation. Our own day, too, may come in for its share of the application of the figure. We have long had, if not golden, at least silver chalices; and in derisive contrast, wooden ministers in too many parishes, not merely of our own Church, but of Protestant Christendom. And though to the latter we may, perhaps, have had no peculiar fondness, yet to the former we have been too prone to cling,-their material costliness and earthly glitter we have been too ready to admire. God seems now about to reverse the scene, and bring back the blessed picture of the better age. While he is taking from us our silver cups, he is giving us something far superior in exchange,-transferring the costliness and beauty from the vessel, to the ministering hands that bear it at the altar. With the wooden chalices and wooden sanctuaries we shall be content; nay, for them we shall give joyful praise, if, with their return, the golden bishops' be restored. The glitter of the perishable utensil be theirs who may covet it, and who may choose to sell their consciences, or barter their birthright for such a bribe. The glory of the spiritual ministry-the holy priesthood-the primitive apostleship-be ours; and then we shall bless eternally the day, which, while it robbed us of the silver and the gold of earth, left us unspeakably richer, by bestowing upon us spiritual gifts, infinitely more than an equivalent for that which it took away.

ART. III.-1. Sermons adapted to the Celebration of the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. By the REV. CHARLES BRADLEY, Vicar of Glasbury, Brecknockshire, and Minister of St James's Chapel, Clapham, Surrey. London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co. 1842.

2. Sermons on the "First Principles of the Oracles of God." Heb. v. 12. By HENRY ERSKINE HEAD, M.A., Rector of Feniton, Devon, and Chaplain to his Majesty the King of Hanover. 2d Edition. London: E. Palmer & Son. 1841. 3. Memoir and Sermons of the late Rev. Dr Ferrier, Paisley. Compiled by the REV. A. FERRIER. Glasgow: D. Robertson. 1841.

4. Memoir of the Rev. Stevenson Macgill, D.D. By ROBERT BURNS, D.D. Edinburgh: Johnstone, 1842.

5. Memoir of the late Rev. Peter Roe, A.M., Kilkenny. By REV. SAMUEL MADDEN. Dublin: Curry. 1842.

6. Works of William Jay. Vol. V. Containing the Memoirs of the late Rev. Cornelius Winter. London: Bartlett.


A student's note-book is a strange mixture; a curious repertory of varied, and sometimes incongruous reading; an ill-assorted Mosaic of authorship,-thoughts, hints, images, facts, opinions, all being strung or heaped together in almost no observable order save that of time. In such a case it cannot properly be called a record of his own thoughts, or a history of his own mind, inasmuch as it is not intended to detail, neither does it furnish any direct expression of the condition of his mind, or the development of his ripening powers. Yet in an indirect and reflective form it does afford such information; and from it we may gather not a few illustrations of the bent and progress of a mind which, while storing up merely the thoughts of others, is, at the same time, unconsciously letting us understand its own tastes, and capacities, and aspirations.

Many substances in chemistry are only discoverable by their affinities and repulsions. They do not make known their own nature or presence directly; but are manifested by the presence of other bodies, and the effects which the contact of such produces upon them. So is it in the case of which we have spoken above. The student records the author he is studying,-setting down, with all care, what he deems worth preserving, omitting the rest, and perhaps adding a brief expression of his opinion upon the writer and his work. Here we have an indirect,-hasty perhaps, -but most natural record of mind and feeling; all the more valuable because it is unconscious and unartificial. And just as you

may generally gather a good deal of a person's character from the description he gives of another, so you may obtain not a little insight into a student's mind, from observing what has impressed him in the thoughts or history of others.

We know, that in many cases-to a certain extent, perhaps, in all-such a note-book would present contradictory elements. course of study is not altogether matter of choice or taste; but in a measure induced by circumstances, or profession, or opportunities, or the recommendation of others. But still the record of a student's reading as a whole, will partake of the preponderating element of his character, whether literary, scientific, metaphysical, or religious. A man is known by his books, as well as by his friends, notwithstanding (in both cases) the apparent inconsistencies which circumstances may seem to present.

[ocr errors]

In looking over some of these now lying before us, we recognize in them unequivocally, not merely the nature of the studies engaged in, but the exact transcript of the mind that studied. Each successive volume seems to mark a new stage, a new mental epoch, -a new spiritual movement. In the earlier ones, how exclusively almost the light, the imaginative, the sentimental, the mere literary or historical subjects prevail. It would seem as if the very mention of religion, the very name of Jesus, were things only to be associated with sadness and the tomb. That name of names,-the name sweeter than music,-the name like ointment poured forth,' the name that gladdens heaven, -was a disrelished thing; too sacred to be mingled with the wild merriment of carnal joys, too solemn to be breathed amid the stormy impulses of headlong youth, too gloomy to be allowed to overshadow the bright sunshine of an unbroken prime. How true to the very life does the note-book present the image of a reckless, Christless boyhood and youth. In every page of it you trace (how living and legible!) the dark sharp outline, nay, the minute, though shaded and softened, lineaments of the natural man.'

Let us open another volume. We seem to pass into a more elevated, more healthy region,—an atmosphere which, though still earthly, is less feverish, less enervating. The historical begins to assume a more prominent position; mere sentiment and feeling are subsiding into substantial thought. Stanzas and couplets become rarer and shorter,—rari nantes in gurgite vasto. We begin to get glimpses of Rollin, Hume, Hallam's Middle Ages, Taylor's Elements of Thought, Watts on the Improvement of the Mind, Duncan's Logic, Longinus on the Sublime, (in the original!) Cicero de Natura Deorum, (do.,) Homer, (do.,) Enfield's Philosophy, &c., &c. These certainly indicate a change by no means inconsiderable, a progress of a certain kind,-onward, at least, if not perceptibly upward. But, as Augustine said of Cicero, Nomen

Jesu non erat ibi. The soul was still manifestly cleaving to the dust, feeding upon the world's husks. All that can be said of it at this stage, is just, that it was beginning to think. The rush and whirl of youthful folly were settling down into something like thoughtfulness and sobriety.

We open another volume of these note-books, and with it another fold of being is unrolled before us. Immortality begins to dawn. The words Novum Testamentum, with corresponding references, now strike our eye. Critical hints, queries, emendations, &c. Doddridge's Family Expositor, Robinson's Scripture Characters, snatches of church history, along with Reid's Essays, Brown's Philosophy, and only occasionally a line or two from Wordsworth, Coleridge, or Milton. The soul is evidently beginning to think of raising its wing above the things which perish with the using. It is not yet asking the question in dead earnest, What must I do to be saved?' but it is beginning to see the importance of the question, and the necessity of keeping it in view. It sees now there is something in eternity that must no longer be slighted, -something in the Bible pregnant with a meaning which, as yet, it has not fathomed nor felt,-something in the soul craving after higher, purer, and more glorious things.

The thoughts that travel to eternity
Already had begun their pilgrimage,

Which time, nor change, nor life, nor death, could stop.

We take down another volume,-one whose exterior indicates more frequent use and reference than any of the former. It has been so often handled, that it is almost giving way. We open it, and glance over a few of its pages. Ha! what a change is here! There are still one or two books which indicate, that necessary studies had not been altogether forgotten; but the notices of these are few and brief. Another class of authors has now engrossed the whole man, and absorbed the whole undivided soul. First of all, there is the Word of God itself. It covers the breadth of many a page, and seems to have absorbed the meditations of many a morning, many a midnight hour. Then there is Alleine's Alarm to the Unconverted, Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, Vincent on Conversion, Dickson's Therapeutica Sacra, Halyburton's Life, Smith's Great Assize, Charnock on Regeneration, Shepherd's Sincere Convert, Flavel's Fountain of Life. What could better indicate the nature of the change, or show the mighty, the convulsive struggle of the soul wrestling for admittance into the kingdom. The Saviour, the soul, and eternity, are now all in all in its estimation. Earth has lost its influence and grasp; the world appears now as a hated dreaded enemy; nothing now seems precious or

« AnteriorContinuar »