« AnteriorContinuar »
Sailors and passengers drew near to witness the scene, which the estimable character and seriousness of the missionary made interesting to all.
"It is a free gift,' repeated the sailor, 'pray, sir, take some beer.' I say,' answered the minister, 'that I cannot drink it unless you will offer it to me for the sake of Jesus Christ, and as a disciple of his.' After a moment of respectful silence, my comrade consented, and the minister resumed, 'Well, then, you give it to me as a Christian, and as such do I receive it. You now confess the name of Jesus Christ in public. May he, at the last day, own you as one of his servants, and may you then remember the gift that you now offer to me!" "
"Surely," said I, interrupting Manasseh, "this was a solemn moment. Did you not feel it such?"
He answered, "The few words that the missionary spoke, had more effect on us than a long sermon would have had. A deep stillness followed, while the pious man, having tasted the beer, returned the cup to the sailor, and shook hands with him cordially, while every countenance beamed with pleasure and respect. I was standing behind that sailor, and had felt my own heart touched when the minister spoke of the Lord's day, and I could not wholly repress my feelings, which occasioned a sort of struggle, that had almost the appearance of laugh. This the minister saw, and coming up quietly to me, he put one hand on my shoulder and laid the other on my heart, and said to those around me, 'This man has not a heart of stone, I find.'
“Oh, sir! I cannot tell you how I felt when these words were said. I was quite upset, and seemed as if I had been thunderstruck. Then the missionary said to me, in a very gentle whisper, My friend, follow my advice, and ask for a new heart, a heart of flesh, full of love to God; turn your thoughts toward Jesus, and rely on his love.' I could only utter two words in answer, 'I will.' This was a day which God blessed to me, it was the day of my deliverance. Jesus, my gracious Lord, opened the gates of my prison-house, broke the chains of my captivity, and caused me to feel that 'the acceptable time' was the present hour, that the time of liberty and grace, the hour for repentance and peace was then come. This day, sir, was to me the beginning of *Foreign manners must be taken into account, and also the missionary's evident desire to conciliate, and to avail himself of an acknowledgment of Christ to press His claims.
another life. I withdrew to a secret corner of the ship, where, falling on my knees, I shed many tears; I could only weep, I could not speak, but I felt that I was kneeling before God, and that he had broken my heart. The impression remained, though I hid it from the sight of men. With God alone I had to do, and with my inmost heart I returned to him, and sought again to be admitted into the fold of the Good Shepherd, who had come so far to seek his wandering sheep, which had otherwise been utterly lost and ruined.
"He did not forsake me. The people of the Lord in old time were brought out with a strong hand, and in my case he showed himself still mighty to save. A few weeks after this memorable day, I was taken with a dangerous illness, but this was the means of my receiving other blessings. The chaplain of the hospital to which I was sent was a faithful minister of Christ. He often visited me, and to him I opened my whole heart; his kind instructions and his frequent and fervent prayers were the means of completing the work which the Lord, in mercy, had begun.
"This kind benefactor also procured my discharge, and giving me a small sum of money, which he had collected on purpose for me, he said with those accents of kindness which are known to Christians only, Go, my brother, go, and the Lord be with thee. Thou hast been brought to know him as a shepherd, and he will feed thee. Return to thine own land, to thy native mountains, and there, labouring with thy hands, continue to live at peace with God, until he call thee home to himself. May the light of his countenance shine upon thee, and cause thee to rejoice.'
"With these good wishes I set out, and in a few months reached this village, in which I chose to settle rather than in my birth-place, where I should have had no friends, and only sad recollections.
"My old schoolmaster, the first earthly guide of my soul, was dead, and my neighbours of my own standing had either been removed or else had forgotten me. In one town on my journey I halted, that I might learn the trade of a shoemaker, and by such work, under the blessing of God, I have gained a living for twenty-five years among people who are willing to employ me, though they look upon me as a strange being, not far from mad, because I exhort them to fear God, to believe in his word, and to love the kind Saviour who died on the cross for us. You have now, sir, heard the whole of my history. You see that my life has been that of a
wanderer, but also, that it is marked by many mercies from the Lord, and that it is described in a few words, in the language of the apostle Paul, I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting,'" 1 Tim. i. 13, 16.
Manasseh ceased speaking, and we both remained silent for a while. I thought of the long-suffering of God, and the freedom of his love to man, through Christ Jesus, and wondered at his dealings with a man who had been rebellious to his commands, but had now, for so many years, sought, with a lamb-like submission, to follow the Lord fully.
"How were you received, when you first came to settle here?" I asked.
"Not very readily," he answered. "They knew something of me, and remembered my former disorderly habits. But in time they saw that the Ethiopian had changed his skin, and the leopard his spots. I also, with a good deal of difficulty, was able to pay off my old debts, to escape which I had fled, and this action alone gained me many friends. They thought more of a single transaction of mere justice among men than of all that the mercy of God had done for me. He is a worthy man, he has paid all,' they said. 'What a pity it is that he is so over-religious.'
"Why," I said, "did they reproach you for this? Had you at all affronted them ?”
"Oh no," he answered, "for that would have been uncharitable. I tried to mix with them as much as ever I could, yet striving to act faithfully, by telling them of the duty of love to God, and of obedience to his will. I decidedly refused to join them in gambling, drinking, and idle habits, and, above all, I showed them that I considered the Lord's day as sacred, and to be spent alone with my God, or in endeavours for his glory. Some persons understood and approved my views, because they also had learned Christ. But many of my poor neighbours withdrew from me, thinking me a troublesome monitor, who spoke against their vices and irreligion. I am still known to them as the aged Manasseh, and they look upon me as a good sort of man, but very strange, and with a religion that is different from anyone else's." "I wonder," I said, "that they send their children to be taught by you."
"Ah!" said he, 66 they were not very willing at first. I
have only access to five families, and that has been but during the last ten years. Yet I trust that God will bless these dear children, so that others may be led-but," he added, with a peaceful smile, "I shall not live to see their progress. My course is nearly over. My body becomes daily weaker, and my spirit longs to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better. Oh! sir, how delightful it will be to be with him and see him as he is; to bow in his presence, and give him thanks for his unspeakable mercy."
I remained a short time with Manasseh. The young woman was gone, and we were alone; we united in prayer together. I then returned home, enjoying that sweet peace which Jesus gives when he is present with those that seek him.
"You look very happy," observed my host, when he opened the door to me. "I am happy," I said, "for I have just seen a striking instance of the power and goodness of my God. I have been to see your aged neighbour Manasseh, and his conversation is very profitable."
My poor friend coughed, pretended some excuse, and withdrew. As for me, my beloved friend and fellow-believer, I retired to my own room, where I thought over all that I had heard, and prayed that I might be as grateful, as faithful, and as devoted to my Saviour, as my new acquaintance the aged Manasseh.
WHAT IS IN CHRIST.
CONSIDER Well what is in Christ, whom I persuade you this day to receive. Did you know what is in Christ, you would never neglect or reject him as you do.
God is in Christ. The Deity hath chosen to dwell in his flesh; he is "God manifest in the flesh." A Godhead dwelling in flesh is the world's wonder; so that in receiving Christ, you receive God himself. The authority of God is in Christ. "My name is in him." "Him hath God the Father sealed;" he hath the commission, the great seal of heaven to redeem and save you. All power in heaven and earth is given to him; he comes in his Father's name to you as well as in his own name. The wisdom of God is in Christ yea, in him are hid all the treasures of "wisdom and knowledge." Never did the wisdom of God display itself before the eyes of angels and men as it has done in Christ. The angels desire to look into it, yet they are not so much
concerned in the project and design of this wisdom in redemption as you are.
The fulness of the Spirit is in Christ; yea, it fills him so as it never did nor will fill any creature: "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." All others have their limits and measures, but the Spirit is in Christ without measure. Oh, how lovely and desirable are those men that have a large measure of the Spirit in them! but he is anointed with the Spirit of holiness above his fellows. Whatever grace is found in all the saints which makes them desirable and lovely, wisdom in one, faith in another, patience in a third, they all centre in Christ, as the rivers do in the sea.
The righteousness of God is in Christ, by which only a poor guilty sinner can be justified before God. We are "made the righteousness of God in him." He is "The Lord our righteousness," the author of our righteousness, or the Lord who justifies us; by that name he will be known and called by his people, than which none can be sweeter.
The love of God is in Christ; yea, the very yearning of Divine love is in him. What is Christ but the love of God wrapped up in flesh and blood? "In this was manifested the love of God towards us," and "Herein is love-that God sent his Son:" this is the highest flight that ever Divine love made; and higher than this it cannot mount. Oh, love unparalleled and admirable!
The mercies and compassions of God are all in Christ. Mercy is the thing that poor sinners want, it is what they cry for at the last gasp; it is the only thing that can do them good. Oh, what would they give to find mercy in that great day! Why, if you receive Christ, you shall with him receive mercy; but out of him there is no mercy to be expected from the hands of God; for God will never exercise mercy to the prejudice of his justice; and it is in Christ that justice and mercy meet and embrace each other.
The salvation of God is in Christ; "Neither is there salvation in any other." Christ is the door of salvation, and faith is the key that opens that door to men. If you therefore believe not, if you do not receive Jesus Christ as God has offered him, you exclude yourselves from all hope of salvation. The devils have as much ground to expect salvation as you. what is in Christ to induce you to receive him.
Flavel's Method of Grace.