Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

would admit. Violent remedies were ap- pared for the judgment which must follow. plied by Mr. Wilson immediately on his arrival, Again, there are others who, either from the loss and all that skill and experience could do to sub- of those dear to them, or from having long lain due the raging fever was done; but fever, and in on a bed of sickness, have no longer a relish for such a frame as the farmer's, was not easily sub-the vanities or even the occupations of the world, dued ; and for days his state was truly piti- , from which they have been by necessity or choice able.

totally secluded, and who therefore conclude that Had his mind not previously been harassed, and they are waiting as Christians should for the his thoughts not turned so entirely into one melan- change which to them must (they think) be cercholy channel, Mr. Wilson gave it as his opinion tain of gain; as though unfitness for the world that his vigorous constitution would have been able that now is constituted fitness for that which is to to throw off the attack (violent as it was), brought come. This is a dangerous delusion, and one to on by his own imprudence, and that he would be guarded against the more, both by the sick and have rallied. As it was, there was too much by those whose duty it is to lead them in the right " method in his madness" for us to entertain much way, because it is one often employed by the father hope ; and when, hour after hour, and day after of lies to lull the one into false security, and to day, the poor man continued raving, either about deceive the other as to the source whence that his daughter or her husband, who seemed to haunt seeming security springs; while the semblance of him as a frightful spectre, or their child, of whose reality which there is about it, because t'ie more death-agonies he appeared ever to be the wretched deceptive, renders it the more banefuk: the nearer witness, the most sanguine felt that despair was the counterfeit coin approaches in appearance to taking possession of their minds. His brain, the real, the more dangerous its circulation beindeed, was for so long a time disordered, that fear comes ; for none but the most wary can then diswas entertained that, without one lucid interval, tinguish the one from the other; and many receive his soul would be called before its Maker ; but the and pass on the baser metal, from sheer ignorance whirlwind had its mission : there was mercy in the of the marks by which it may be detected. In like stroke ; and Kyle lived to own that it was so. manner, there is a kind of counterfeit piety, whicla His devoted wife, who, during the whole of his is often believed to be genuine by those who feel iliness, never quitted his bed-side, except to take it, and which is generally regarded as such by those the little repose which she felt she must submit to, who witness its effects : I mean the species of deathor her strength would fail, and she herself would bed piety which is sometimes visible in those who, be laid up, and would thus be unfitted for the task having lived without God in the world, yet at the of attending upon her charge, had at length the close of life express great exaltation of feeling, and happiness of perceiving that she was recognized entire readiness, or even longing, to depart hence, by her husband. One evening, as she was ad- and, as they say, to “ be at peace.” Now, I am ministering the soothing draught, so frequently afraid that, unless their life has been the life of the tendered by her gentle hand, Kyle murmured, righteous, their death will not any the more be “Martha ;' and instantly the grateful creature the death of such from their experiencing satiety fell upon her knees, and thanked God for his and weariness of life, and readiness to end it, of goodness. From that time the sick man had but which the charm is of course gone, when the solittle return of the frightful delirium ; but his ciety of friends, the fresh air of heaven, and the strength never rallied : the severe illness through pleasures of the domestic hearth can no longer be which he had passed had completely destroyed enjoyed. A death-bed repentance, at the best, is his constitution, and shattered his aged frame ; but a poor offering to make to the Author of our and when I first visited him I saw death plainly being, whose we are, and whom we were bound written on every feature. His decay was, how to serve all the days of our probation ; and, when ever, very gradual : many weeks he lingered; and it is unaccompanied by the deep self-abasement the time so given was improved to the purpose for which should mark the sinner's return by Christ which, doubtless, by a merciful Father it was to his justly-offended God, when it appears to Fouchsafed ; and pain and anguish, days of produce only excitement of feeling, it should “ tossing to and fro,” and nights of restless be regarded with distrust and apprehension. watching, were blessed to the immortal spirit Such, I humbly yet firmly trust, was not shrouded in that ruined tabernacle. David Kyle the repentance which was vouchsafed to Kyle was indeed an altered man! During the last days upon the bed of languishing. Deep, heartof his sojourn upon earth. I visited him constantly; felt contrition for his past rebellion against and eaeh time I saw him his heart seemed more God's holy will bowed his proud spirit to the dead to the world, and more alive to his eternal very dust; and for many days after the coninterests.

viction took possession of his mind that he had Now, mere indifference to, and estrange- grievously sinned, and that, while his body was in ment from, the world, or the things thereof, are danger of dissolution, his soul was in peril of frequently to be observed in those who are in eternal damnation, his only prayer was that of great pain, or who feel death to be at hand, and the publican, his only thought how duly to apas marks of real Christian readiness for the dread proach the Saviour, through whom alone he knew summons they are not to be relied on. Acute the mercy which he craved was to be obtained. pain deadens the feelings and sensibilities: it of The first time I was admitted into the sick man's course incapacitates the sufferer for taking an in-chamber, the sense of his own unworthiness seemed terest in what is passing around; and death even, a burden almost too heavy for him to bear: he & a means of rescue from its tortcres, is hailed as appeared crushed under the weight of the painful a blessing; and those who in their misery declare and humiliating feelings which it produced ; and, they long for its approach are often the least pre- without offering me his hand, or attering one word

of welcome, he covered his face with the bed-, dismay the doors of his prison lying open, clothes, and wept like a child. The struggle of and thence supposing that his ill- used capmany contending passions and feelings in Kyle's tives had escaped, in amazement at the sight, breast produced a terrible effect upon his weakly and in terror for the expected consequences, frame; and his sobs became painfully hysterical. I insisted on taking his hand, to show that I at the unhappy man had drawn his sword, to least did not deem him too great a sinner to be anticipate by suicide the public death which owned and treated as a brother; and, when he he knew for certain to await him. But did became somewhat calmer, I read to him some he, like the wretched traitor Judas, add to words of St. Ambrose, to let him see that in tears, his other unforsaken sins the dreadful guilt such as his, good men see nothing of which the of suicide ? No. The kind providence of most manly need be ashamed. The words I read God interposed to save him from death, both were these; and they appeared to reconcile the poor man to his weakness: “Tears do wash the temporal and eterual, and to give him life sin, which the voice is ashamed to confess: here and for evermore. St. Paul, too, was weeping doth provide both for pardon and shame- made the honoured instrument by which that facedness : tears do confess our crime, without mercy was conveyed from heaven; for, when offence of our shamefacedness.” Very rarely, he beheld the armed hand uplifted to destroy however, did Kyle give way to passionate bursts that life which God had given, and which of feeling : his remorse was hidden deep within his God alone has a right to take away, he cried breast; and, as a true penitent, he was too humble to obtrude even his allowable grief upon others. aloud,“ Do thyself no harm;" and the man, Still he did not shrink from speaking of his sins; who at one moment was seen overcome with and I believe there was not an evil thought or fear, intending by a speedy death to escape propensity, of which he was conscious, any more the anger of his fellow-men, the next moment than any past sin, either of commission or omission, was seen in humbled form, and with imwhich he did not confess to me, and for which he portunate supplication, trembling at the condid not beg of me to pray especially for pardon. One subject alone he did not enter upon for weeks; sequences of the wrath of God. No longer and I was fearful in his debilitated state to také regarding the opinions or censures of wicked upon myself the responsibility of broaching it : men; no longer thinking of his worldly prosthe father never mentioned his child. It was pects, but totally engrossed with the fears of strange, I thought, that he should not do so; hell and the joys of heaven, in reply to the but grief is often strange, alike in its demonstra- affectionate exhortation of the apostles he is tions and effects. It is directed by no settled law; described as saying, with eagerness and in but the law of kindness” was binding upon me; agitation, “Sirs, what must I do to be wounds which, in the patient's feeble state, it might saved ?" afterwards be found impossible to heal. Never- O, my dear friends, what an earnest and theless, I was anxious on many accounts to speak awakening call must that have been which had to Kyle about Kitty ; and, though it would have such power to arrest a sinner so suddenly in been unfeeling not to have commiserated the his crime, and to convert him so effectually efforts which it cost the poor man to mention her

unto God! And yet why should not the name, yet I could not but rejoice that he at length made it.

same blessed effects be produced now, when (as Ehud said to Eglon) “ I have a message unto you from God;" the_same, the very same to each of you, which Paul gave to his

former overbearing master, but his now humDO THYSELF NO HARM :

bled follower ? It is true, indeed, that an inA Sermon,

spired apostle was then the speaker; but keep in mind that he nevertheless was a feeble

mortal-so feeble, that it is written, he By the Rev. Beaver H. BLACKER, M.A., might preach, but after all it was God alone Curate of St. Mary's, Donnybrook, Dublin.

who gave him utterance, and gave the in

It is likewise true that, when Paul

spake, a mighty wonder was performed; for ACTxvi. 28.

the bars of iron were broken, and the well“ But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thy- chained prison-gates were burst asunder. Be self no harm ; for we are all here."

assured, however, that the same Spirit is

now equally present to perform as great a This, brethren, was the earnest and effectual wonder; since he, “who alone worketh appeal of the apostle Paul to the terrified great marvels,” is ready to pour down upon jailor at Philippi, the circumstances of whose both minister and people the continual dew case, you may remember, were simply these. of his blessing, in order to break within us Having been suddenly aroused at midnight the iron bonds of sin, with which we all are by a mighty earthquake, and perceiving with shackled, and thus to set Satan's miserable

crease.

captives free. Doubtless, it is not to be ex- of course makes him subject to all the threatpected, nor is it necessary, that this marvel-ened terrors of the wrath of heaven. lous change should instantaneously take Now, viewing the requirements of the diplace. Though still as possible, yet, if we vine law in this scriptural light, who can exjudge by the usual method in which grace pect to be clear of sin in that day when God proceeds, it is not probable; and therefore shall appear in judgment, with power and we need not expect to see sinners at one great glory? Believe me, “no man living moment terrified, and at the next in peace, shall be justified ” in his sight. “We have because believing. For surely it matters all sinned, and come short of the glory of not when this needful change may be effected: God,”offending against light and knowledge, it is only important to be sure that it has be- against innumerable mercies and repeated gun, to be careful that it be complete. And warnings, omitting duties, and transgressing hence it follows that this message to you express commands. Need I, then, hesifrom heaven-to“ do yourselves no harm”-tate to take up the words of the apostle, and ought to be as effectual in rescuing you and say to every one here present, as I would to others from destruction, as it was when first him prepared for self-destruction, “Cease : delivered, though the speaker was an apostle, stop thine hand : do thyself no harm”? I and miraculous the scene.

need not speak as though I were addressing I shall endeavour to show that this mes- the hardened and offending inmates of a sage is sent to each of you, and is most ap- prison, or those pitiable sinners, who openly plicable to us all. And may the Lord, the - deny the Lord that bought them”--those Holy Spirit, convince you of this important moral suicides, who openly blaspheme God's truth, and arouse you, one and all, that, holy name. Such language would sound amazed at the depth and greatness of your strangely within these sacred walls, where guilt, and the imminency of your danger, you order and regularity prevail, and where at may heartily respond, and say, “What must least the semblance of piety is so plainly seen. I do to be saved? Who shall deliver me But, though we hear of no horrid blasphefrom the body of this death ?"

mies among you, no murders, no such like What, I ask you, is the “harm” against offences, forbidden by the express letter of which it is my duty to give you speedy warn- | the Decalogue; though as members of soing? Brethren, it is sin—sin in general, sin ciety your morality may be commended, yet under every form and shape. Accordingly do not imagine vainly that therefore you are we are told in scripture that “sin is the trans- exempt from the apostle's declaration to the gression of the law," and that it is sin which trembling jailor. _0, do not imagine, I bebrings the soul of man into danger and ever seech you, that I need not lift up my voice lasting ruin. We know that sin is the viola- after Paul's example, to testify against your tion of that code of laws delivered by him guilt, to exhort you to fly instantly from danwho is holy, just, and good, and with whom ger, to call upon you to “do yourselves no it is impossible to err. We know that this harm”! law condemns not only the outward violation, Let us now examine with respect to our but even the secret lust or passion from obedience; and for this purpose let us take which the atrocity arises; that this sacred the decalogue in brief succession. law, which came from heaven amidst vivid Though you, beloved, may not at any time lightnings and pealing thunders, exercises have atheistically denied the being, existence, control over the most secret thought, be- or power of him who inhabiteth eternity, yet cause all things are naked and opened unto examine and see whether you have not loved, the eyes of him with whom we have to do;" or desired, or trusted in any other save in that the least deviation from the path marked God; for example, in yourselves, or in your out by infinite holiness and wisdom is an of- own imagined righteousness; thereby, like fence; and that, if no atonement had been many others, making the creature, and not made, death and destruction must have the Creator, the object and end of all your been the inevitable consequence. We know fondest hopes. Have you ever trusted in too that our first parents did merely eat yourselves, when Christ alone should be your of the forbidden fruit

, and (to single out but rock of safety ? Have you amidst alarming one more instance of the sad effects of what threatenings been careless, under blessings the world may consider slight and venial of- unthankful, under tribulation discontented ? fences) that 'Uzzah merely touched the Alas! should such be your state of mind, Lord's ark; and yet they died ! From all though nominally believers in a Triune God

we may infer that the slightest wilful (i. e., in one God in Trinity, and in Trinity transgression against the divine law brings in Unity), you are in fact breakers of the in the offender guilty before his God, and first commandment; and, in deep anxiety for

which,

your spiritual and eternal safety, I call upon trol, learn by your precept and example, to you to withhold your hand, to cease from “call the sabbath a delight'? to “ remember sin, to“ do yourselves no harm.”

to keep it holy"? Or, on the contrary, do I may, I think, say that you have never you come here with careless hearts, and leave worshipped a graven image, and that you it without profit, to pass the remaining wonder at the blind ignorance and super- hours of the day in idle talk, unnecessary stition of so many fellow-creatures, who, in business, or indolent self-indulgence? 0, despite of scripture and reason, continue so such things ought not to be! If thus you to do. But are you therefore certain that act, you are manifestly strangers to heartfelt you stand acquitted of all violation of that piety: you are doing yourselves great commandment which forbids such senseless harm;" for, notwithstanding your appearance adoration? 0, dear friends, whom it has so here, and your punctual observance of this long been my happy privilege to address, be appointed duty, you would of course be fore you would be sure, ask yourselves whe- moral suicides, plunging into ruin your imther you have formed no unscriptural concep- mortal souls. tions of the divine nature of your God, either Let us proceed in like manner through the of his holiness or of bis mercy; whether you second table of God's commands. And with are in the habit of worshipping him, as you regard to the fifth, which stands first upon it, ought to do, with regularity, with becoming let me examine you : I should rather say, let reverence of body, with heartfelt submission me assist you in self-examination. of soul; in short, whether you are serving him I may be speaking to some whom death in all the appointed means, avoiding super- has recently deprived of their tender parents, stition on the one hand and cold indifference or who, loving them affectionately, have on the other.

always served them datifully and with willMost probably you have not blasphemed ing hearts. Yet, let not even such persons the holy name of God by perjury or pro- persuade themselves that they must therefore fane swearing. To most of you there is no stand acquitted in God's sight of all wilful temptation; and a general sense of propriety violation of this first commandment with has raised you above this horrid 'vice. promise; for perhaps, brethren, you have Bat perhaps unmeaning and careless prayers been inattentive to, and unmindful of the in Jesus' name have been uttered by your other relations, which connect you with your lips: perhaps you have, either at home or fellow-creatures, besides your father and your here, irreverently read or lightly thought mother, such as the various connexions upon his blessed word : perhaps you have which exist between king and subject, beneglected Christ's holy ordinances, especially tween superior and dependent. Viewing, the sacramental supper; or perhaps you have then, the precept in this extended light, who profaned this holy place by worldly, or vain, can expect to receive the promised reward? or wandering, nay, wicked thoughts: thus sin- Who has punctually fulfilled the various ning, as did the Jews of old, when they made duties which that precept has enjoinedGod's temple“ an house of merchandize, and honour, submission, and reverence to all, to a den of thieves."

whom they are justly due ? In obedience to the fourth commandinent, Again, I think that I am addressing peryou do not neglect the public and decorous sons clear of all blood-shedding; persons who Übservance of the sabbath-day. But with have never wilfully harboured designs against respect to yourselves, before the service of the the life of any man. Yet to how many presanctuary begins, how are you employed? Is sent may I point ont the sixth commandthe rising sun, rejoicing to run his course, an ment, and exclaim, as I would to a murderer emblem of your awakening souls? Do you or suicide, “Do thyself no harm”! You carefully call to mind why this day was in- are violating, you have often broken this stituted?—to commemorate weekly the crea- precept, against which angry judgment bas tion of the world, and the resurrection of the been denounced, if you have ever wished for world's Redeemer. Does serious and devout the death of those who have interfered with meditation upon these grand events bring you your own advancement; if you have ever here with minds prepared to receive the full unreasonably quarrelled with a neighbour; if benefit of the public ordinances of religion ? you have cherished envious or malicions senDoes rest from worldly business give certain timents; or if you have omitted to cultivate evidence that you are actually and actively meek, forbearing, and forgiving tempers. engaged in spiritual exercises? When your Again, I do not here accose you gross devotion here has ended, how proceeds the and flagrant violations of the next divine day? Is it sanctified in your homes? Do commandment; but, after our blessed Saall around you, over whom you have con- viour's example, I warn you to judge your

of

selves as strictly by the spirit as by the letter. inclinations. We do so, whenever we pine Ask yourselves whether, with all your out for the honours, or wealth, or comforts of ward purity of conduct, the secret lust of the others; whenever we envy thuse who are in heart, indulged and cherished unknown save prosperity; whenever we undervalue our own to God and each individual, has not ranked gifts, and are forgetful of divine favours; or you amongst even flagrant sensual offenders. whenever our pursuit after earthly possessions For, take the commandment in an extended interferes with our religion, and induces an sense. Has any carnal worldly wish been inattention to spiritual concerns.

O, how indulged and left uncurbed, as regards either deep and searching are the holy commands appetite, or conversation, or habit? O, how of God, who trieth the very hearts and reins that all-searching eye, which “neither slam- of all his creatures! How incontestably do bers nor sleeps," must have detected crime in they prove that every man living is day after every heart! How many characters, appear- day “ doing himself great barm”! ing to human eye temperate, and mortified, When the terrified Philippian was conand chaste, must seem to God impure, and vinced of this, he acted in a manner which, utterly unfit for the sanctified abodes of men, having been recorded for our learning, welí who have been made perfect in the blood of demands our closest imitation. He gave up the Lamb!

at once his plans of self-destruction: he Again, it is written, “ Thou shalt not called for aid : he eagerly sought counsel : he steal." Have you ever incurred a debt inquired of Paul and Barnabas, Sirs, what which

you did not fully expect to be able to must I do to be saved ?” repay ? Have you ever wasted your sub- Now, it has been written for our admostance ? exacted more than what was due ? nition, that“ to be carnally-minded is death" withheld a just demand? availed yourselves by nature we are all so: how many, of another's wants? or taken advantage of his alas! remain in their original condition !); ignorance? Have you violated any trust, that “ without holiness no man shall see the or abused any loan? If you have, brethren, Lord” (how many are without this necessary you have sinned against the eighth com- holiness, and seem not to value it!); that mandment, and therefore are “ doing your- “ as the tree falls, so must it lie;" and that selves great harm.”

in the state in which we die, in the same preYou are solemnly forbidden to accuse any cisely shall we rise again. Well then, inman falsely. Have you observed tbis law - deed, may each of us, in the sad and bitter you, who never took an oath in public, or contemplation of our manifold sins, look never gave false evidence upon a formal trial? anxiously to our own circumstances, as well Before you venture to reply, consider well as to the state of those around us, and, like what are your daily habits. Perhaps in the panic-stricken jailor, inquire, “ Is there social intercourse you have mis-stated facts, no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician have maliciously or uncharitably reported of there? O! is there not a remedy? What a neighbour, have published without neces- must I do to be saved ?" sity another's faults? or perhaps you have To all such awakened sinners, to all so underrated the good, and overrated the bad, penitent and distressed, there is indeed a and, without giving testimony of their most cheering message, as revealed to the worth, have suffered the innocent to be tra- world in the Lamb's book of life. For, duced.

though you have come short of the glory of But who can stand the test of the tenth God, and a curse deep and total is impending commandment, which St. Paul declares to over you, you nevertheless need not be dishave first convinced him of his own sinful heartened. It was said to the penitent jailor, nature? “I had not known sin,” he says, and through him to you, “ Believe on the “but by the law; for I had not known lust, Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, except the law had said, Thou shalt not and thy house." The transgression, it is covet." Brethren, who, tell me, is innocent? true, is universal; but so is likewise the reor, as article xi. of our church expresses it, medy, being free to all. “For, if by one "accounted righteous before God." The man's offence death reigned by one, much scriptures declare that “none are righteous, more they which receive abundance of grace, no, not one." We are commanded not to and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign covet; and yet have we not, one and all, de- in life by one, Jesus Christ. “Therefore, as tected ourselves offending? In fact, we do so, by the offence of one judgment came upon

all whenever we murmur against the dispensa- men to condemnation, even so by the rightetions of heaven, so many of which are past ousness of one the free gift came upon all our finding out, and are so trying to our men unto justification of life. For as by one faith, because so much opposed to our natural man's disobedience many were made sinners,

« AnteriorContinuar »