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of the Christian faith, until visited by a minister like Paul. Accordingly, we must beware of asking too eagerly, with reference to the work of the Spirit in the soul, when it was or how it was, but rather inquire, with deepest earnestness, how it is. Is the work indeed begun? Do we believe in the Son of God ? Do we love Him and our brother? For, is there not many a child of God who, if asked the question proposed at the Old South Prayer-meeting (p. 41), “How long have you been a believer, brother ? " could not reply with anything like the statistical accuracy of Mr. Collins, “ I was converted a year ago last November,” yet who could say, with deepest reverence and gratitude, “I know whom I have trusted,” and, “By the grace of God I am what I am!”
(2.) Again, this volume suggests the further caution not to insist that the Christian life shall necessarily express itself in every case with that openness and freedom which appears to be considered, in such meetings as those in the “Old South,” as almost essential to a right confession of Christ, or in order, as it is expressed in America, to “ stand up for Jesus.”
Now, we admit, of course, that no Christian can be ashamed to confess Christ by uncompromising speech as well as by uncompromising action. We acknowledge, moreover, that, among most of our Churches, there is no practical reform more needed than the culture of the social element of the Christian life, by their members “ assembling themselves together” to “consider one another, and to provoke to love and to good
works.” It must be confessed also that there is a coldness and stiffness among us, which is an ambiguous comment upon brotherly love and sympathy with Christ's work on earth. How many seem to think that all the duties of Church membership are performed, and its privileges enjoyed, when they “sit under” some minister, or "join" a congregation, by partaking every six months of the Communion! while others appear to consider their faith in Christ and their love to Him, if it is possible to conceive that in such circumstances any exist, to be a secret which, like a crime, was only to be confessed on a deathbed, and even then not till the last moment, when in articulo mortis. Who can tell how much good and comfort to themselves and others are thus lost by this want of Christian fellowship-frank, yet unostentatious—familiar, yet reverent. What talents are buried! What power is wholly dissipated, that might be used by Church members in prayer-meetings, visiting the sick, counselling the wicked, confirming the weak, cheering the desponding, and gladdening the hearts of brethren! What guilt is incurred by the sloth and selfishness of professing Christians who will not lay aside their cold reserve, and calmly, quietly, but decidedly, “stand up for Jesus," when fitting opportunities are given them for doing so! Until a decided change in this respect takes place among communicants, we see little hope of our Churches becoming more alive and loving, and therefore more united and zealous. We have the bones, thews, and sinews in Scotland, for example, of sound instruction and intellectual vigour, but we are wanting in the blood and nerves, the warmth, tenderness, and personal affection of social Church life and worship.
On the other hand, we must make due allowance for those Christians who, from their peculiar temperament, early training, social habits, and tastes, find it very difficult, if not impossible, at any time to utter, except in private, what they really believe and experience with reference to personal religion. For it can hardly be denied that there are such who could not if they would, and who would not if they could, reveal their “experiences” at any meeting in the manner which seems, judging from this volume, to be common to all classes in America, and, we believe, in many Churches also in this country. But this need not surprise us, or make us suspect the sincerity of those among whom such different habits prevail. The same light may shine through all and in all, though it is affected by the colour or texture of the glass by which it is transnjitted. Accordingly, when God's Spirit converts a man, he is changed in nothing, save from his being in a wrong to his being in a right state, of will and affection towards God and man. In all else he remains essentially the same person, and, we presume, must do so for ever, even in that sphere where “ one star differeth from another in glory.” And thus it will occur, that those persons who are naturally unreserved, impulsive, and ever craving for the sympathy of others, will retain the same tendencies when they become Christians, though these are subdued and brought under the regulating power of Christian principle. Their
peculiar temperament will, therefore, induce such to become speakers at public meetings, and enable them without difficulty to detail their feelings and experiences before sympathising audiences. Those, again, who are naturally fond of excitement and of action, will continue as Christians to be so, though gratifying their propensities by higher and nobler interests. On the other hand, there are not a few of a very different mould, who can never at any time express, except to their most intimate friends, and to them only with difficulty, and in their most confidential hours, the feelings which lie hidden from the world in the holiest recesses of their hearts; who, with keenest sensitiveness, would shrink from the very appearance of display, and repel, as rude and unfeeling coarseness, the demand to utter before an unknown crowd their secret life before God. They might be willing to die for Christ at the stake as martyrs, even as they might die for their country in battle as soldiers; but in neither case would they say much, if anything at all, about themselves. It is unjust, therefore, to accuse such persons of being ashamed of Christ because they cannot stand up at a public prayer-meeting and there speak about His love or their own. As well accuse them of want of love to their beloved dead, because they can hardly breathe a name with their lips, which, nevertheless, is never absent from their hearts; or as having less love than is possessed by some other mourner who is soothed and satisfied in describing the history and exhibiting the variety and depth of his sorrow to a circle of sincere sympathisers. Even silence must not always
be interpreted as, in every case, a sign of indifference. It may be the result of thoughtful love. The mother who sits in prayerful silence, as she gazes on her child walking along a narrow plank that crosses the swollen torrent, or by the edge of a dizzy precipice, may have a far deeper and wiser love, than another who, under the impulse of mere feeling, would utter a cry of agony to save her babe, thus exposed to mortal peril. Let us, then, be just; and beware how we coldly reject from our sympathy and fellowship, those who cannot “ stand up for Jesus ” with many words, or before strangers, while we warmly embrace others as decided and advanced Christians, merely because they can pour out their thoughts and feelings with equal volubility on this, as well as on every other subject which, for the time, excites and interests them. But the speeches at the Old South do not suggest cautions only. They afford examples of hearty confession of personal interest in the Saviour's work, by plain, sincere men, manifesting a spirit which would rouse the apathetic, and put to shame the cold and lukewarm. A genuine revival of love to God and man, will alone destroy the pride and self-seeking which are, no doubt, at the root of much of our silence and reserve. Life will give us freedom, without destroying our soberness, and love of “ order," without checking our zeal.
(3.) Once more. This volume reminds us of a duty and privilege, which it is to be feared we sadly forget, that of Intercessory Prayer. But this requires some explanation.
The apostle says, “ This is the confidence that we